Galveston's west end is hot property

September 11, 2009 5:39:30 PM PDT
Galveston is marking the one year anniversary of Hurricane Ike and an area that was heavily damaged is now starting to rebound. It's happening on Galveston Island's west end -- a big wave of cash is rolling in for real estate. [IKE ANNIVERSARY: Look back at the storm that changed SE Texas]

It's a big day for Vicki Melcher. She finally gets to see the inside of her dream home, a three bedroom beach house on Galveston's Pirates Beach that's just been put up for sale. Vicki is a potential buyer in what can only be described as a hot real estate market on Galveston's west end. This home is on the beach, has three levels and a sundeck. At approximately $650,000, completely furnished, it's considered a bargain.

"Galveston and the entire Texas coast are so much more reasonable than any east coast, west coast real estate," Melcher said. "This is 45 minutes from home. This is 45 minutes from where I work, so it's the perfect weekend getaway."

Since May, beach home purchases have more than doubled. Home sales in Galveston have reached $66 million in the past six months. It's a remarkable recovery considering what Galveston's west end looked like a year ago.

Ike's fury flattened Galveston's west end, destroying older properties and damaging everything else. While signs of Ike's scars remain, a strong buyer and summer rental market have pumped new life into the recovering community. Families are returning ready to have fun.

Summer renter Paul Margraves said, "The price is right for what you get down here at Galveston, especially with the beaches looking like they do, it is a good price."

Developer Randall Davis shows Diamond Beach, a new 120 condominium structure he's building on Galveston's west end. They have an outdoor pool, an indoor pool and several other luxuries. Of the 120 pricy condos for sale, half are under contract to close. Davis believes Galveston is the best bargain for buyers who want to live on the water.

"We have obviously great proximity to Houston. It's an hour away and I don't think people give the Galveston beach all the credit they should," Davis said. "The water is a little bluer than you think it is and the beach is a little nicer than you think it is."

Despite a looming hurricane season, Galveston's west end recovery is booming. Record sales indicate people want to live and vacation here.

"It's wonderful, it's terrific," said realtor Nichi Dunphy. "We're ready for it. I've been working for it all along."

Living on any beachfront is risky, but some consider the view and laid back atmosphere on Galveston's west end worth the risk. Beachfront properties can be even more expensive than those further inland. Add an extra $10,000, minimum, for windstorm and flood insurance.

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