They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, and homes are no exception. In fact, a recent survey found that three of the state’s metro areas—Houston, Austin, and Dallas—are among the top 10 markets with the largest homes in the country.
But in some parts of the Lone Star State, density is on the mind of developers and builders as land prices creep up and homeowners become more willing to sacrifice square footage for easy commutes and good schools. One example can be seen around Exxon Mobil’s new business campus in northern Houston. The 385-acre complex that opened last year has fueled an influx of new-home buyers, many of them settling down in nearby master-planned communities such as 28,000-acre The Woodlands.
To benefit from the expected uptick in business—known as the “Exxon Effect,”—national and local builders are scooping up land in the area and maximizing the lots they have. Houston-based Trendmaker Homes is meeting the burgeoning demand at the Crossroads at Benders Landing community five miles from the Exxon offices. Open since December 2014, the 2,800-acre development is known for large wooded lots and easy access to the Exxon headquarters and downtown. But recently, Trendmaker has begun offering a more land-efficient product there, with houses built on smaller lots that average about a quarter of an acre.
At the Crossroads, the firm—a member of Irvine, Calif.-based TRI Pointe Group—will offer 104 single-family units. Traditional homes ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 square feet are on 70- to 80-foot-wide lots; patio-style homes (shown here), ranging from 2,700 to 3,100 square feet, fill zero-lot-line sites with smaller front and back yards and minimal side yards.
Although they’re on smaller parcels of land, the homes feel spacious, says Trendmaker president Will Holder. They’re outfitted with three to five bedrooms, three- and four-car garages, and ample storage spaces, including backpack racks for children.Interior finishes such as dark-stained floors, plentiful oversized windows, granite countertops, and slate patios in the backyards add a touch of luxury. In addition, residents have access to a range of community amenities, including a clubhouse, resort-style pool, walking trails, and a lake.
The neighborhood, which will have several gated sections, is scheduled for completion later this year, Holder says, adding that buyers have been receptive to the concept. “It’s not really different for us, but it is smaller by Benders Landing standards,” where other builders still offer l- to 2-acre lots, he says. “We actually do a lot of work throughout Houston in 70- and 80-foot lots and flexible-size side lots in all different styles.”
The development’s proximity to the just-unveiled Grand Parkway, a third highway loop around Houston, means it will be ideal for buyers no matter where they work, Holder adds. “It will allow for quick access to jobs for both members of a household, whether they work at Exxon or not."