Home builders have been working to fill the housing demand in Tomball and Magnolia, where new homes have been selling quicker than usual in a seller's housing market with few resale homes available.

In the second quarter of 2013, there were 1,648 new homes under construction in Magnolia and Tomball, compared to 1,196 homes in the second quarter of 2012, said David Jarvis, Houston director for Metrostudy, which compiles data on new construction.

Meritage Homes is building a total of 200 homes in three sections in the Tomball community of Cypress Trails. The first section is sold out and the second section only has eight homes left of the 64 that were available in the spring, said Neva Nice, sales manager for Meritage Homes at Cypress Trails.

"We saw a huge increase all summer long [in home sales]," Nice said. "Normally, in the fall, it slows down, but this year it has not. We've been doing really great. We have been selling homes in a week to two weeks."

Meritage will begin selling about 50 more homes in the third section of Cypress Trails in February.

"We need inventory," Nice said. "Our inventory is so depleted. We're just trying to put them up as fast as we can. As soon as we start one, it sells. We had to push everything up because we've almost run out of lots in our new section. We didn't know it would sell that fast."

The housing boom is attributed to the area's explosive population growth during the last decade, which has meant a shortage of resale homes. Energy companies moving to the area such as Baker Hughes and Noble Energy have also fueled growth, real estate agents said.

"New construction has really kicked in to high gear; builders are feeling a lot more confident in the last year and a half," saidRick Raanes, a Realtor with Keller Williams in Magnolia . "With the Exxon campus and the growth of other commercial interests in Montgomery County, builders are becoming more aggressive with their starts."

And, real estate agents say, homebuyers are getting ahead of the ExxonMobil move to the area in 2015.

"I see people who are trying to beat the rush, and that's causing somewhat of a rush itself," said David Hageman, realtor with Century 21 in Tomball and Magnolia. "Buyers are saying 'I want to go ahead and get in now' and try to beat the price increase they perceive is going to happen because of supply and demand."

Seller's market

In addition, there are fewer inventories of older homes for buyers, Raanes said. In the Magnolia area, for example, the inventory is down to a three-month supply from a previous six-month supply of resale homes, he said.

In Tomball and Magnolia, the average days on the market for a resale home has decreased to 33 days from 49 days last year, according to the Houston Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service.

Sales of single family resale homes in Tomball and Magnolia have increased this year to an average price of $242,900 from $212,710 a year ago. The number of resale homes that have sold from January to October this year has increased to 2,095 from 1,638 during the same time last year, according to the Houston Association of Realtors' MLS.

"The number of people coming into the area is phenomenal," Raanes said. "And for every three people moving to the area, only one is being transferred away. We're growing like crazy. The challenge is finding properties for the people relocating to our area."

And growth will continue as area transportation is improved.

"Everybody's scrambling, especially with the Grand Parkway coming through Tomball," Jarvis said. "Every square foot of empty space is being looked at. As access becomes easier, we're going to see a lot more growth in the Tomball area, followed by Magnolia."

In addition, real estate agents notice a trend with homebuyers wanting to live in The Woodlands but because of a tight housing market in the area, are willing to purchase a new home a few miles further outside the township, in either Tomball or Magnolia. The greatest growth in new housing sales is in the areas near The Woodlands, Hageman said.

"Up and down Kuykendahl, we're seeing significant growth that we hadn't seen in the past—Auburn Lakes, Augusta Pines," Hageman said. "The Woodforest community had been very slow and now their growth is phenomenal."


There are many new apartment communities in the area as well.

The Alexan Creekside, a new apartment complex in Tomball at 8627 Hufsmith Road, is under construction and now leasing. Once complete, there will be 380 units of one to three-bedroom apartments. The first building is scheduled to open in December. And the second building is almost full.

"We're leasing quickly," said Malerie Sayers, a leasing professional at Alexan. "We've had a lot of people say 'It's about time there are some new apartments in the area.' We're happy to be that community."

Good value

Builders in the area are still able to offer new homes at low costs per square footage, Raanes said.

"New construction may be a little further away, but I'm able to get exactly what I want," Raanes said. "It's a nice value for the new construction. They just have to decide if the commute is worth it, and most think it is. I can get a little more for my money and maybe have a little more land associated with it, it becomes a nice value proposition."

Typically new home construction takes a buyer between 120–150 days from purchase date to being move-in ready.

"Builders are trying to speed that process up," Raanes said. "They know the demand is there. It's becoming very attractive—close on a home that's 10 years old or by a new one and I pick out the color of walls I want."