finds its way to
the top of real estate market!
An Investment with a View
Bolivar Peninsula among the hottest properties in the U.S.
By Brenda Cannon Stancil" Staff Writer
The entrancing call of the waters of the Gulf of Mexi¬co, easy access to Beaumont, Winnie, Galveston and Houston, good restaurants, fantastic fishing, birding, all water sports and friendly neighbors blend to make Bolivar Peninsula one of the hottest real estate spots in the nation these days.
Guy Husband, a developer and investor living on Lake Rayburn, has been buying up beach property on Bolivar for a number of years. He said, "My wife and I started investing years ago when the prices were really afford¬able. I've just bought two more houses and the Meecham Pier and they are all good investments. When we decide to retire, we'll build there and move on down fulltime." Two of Mr. Husband's houses have just been listed at $210,000 each and both are oceanfront property with a view of the Gulf. "I don't really care whether I sell them or not. If I just hold on to them, they'll keep on appreciating and, for now, I can rent either of them for vaca¬tion homes," he said. "One brings $1,100 per week and the other brings $1,250 per week. My money is safe either way."
People who have held on to beach and bay property purchased years ago are now reaping the benefits and profits of good investments," said Joyce Cooley, co-owner of Beach or Bay Real Estate, located on the Peninsula. Cooley went on to say that her company had just received an article published by Thames River concerning the ranking of housing affordability in U.S. tourist towns. The article said, "Housing has become prohibitively costly in many of America's best-known tourist communities, and Colorado, Florida and California towns are at the top of the list, according to a new study by the Wyndham Financial Group."
The article listed Aspen, with the average home price of over $4 million, as topping the list as the least affordable of 250 beach, mountain and resort communities in America.
What attracted the attention of the Peninsula residents and business owners is this quote from the article, "Interestingly, the steep rise in housing prices has not occurred in every beach and mountain community, even in places that are attracting large numbers of second home buyers. Of the 250 communities listed, the most affordable is Bolivar Peninsula, Texas, where a typical house is in the $60,000 range."
Cooley disputes that the typical range is still $60,000. Instead, she believes that the houses and land have appreciated more.
"We used to say that the land has appreciated somewhere in the 10 to 15 percent range in the past few years, but it is moving faster than that now. We still have some houses in the $60,000 range, but more than likely, most cost more."
Cooley has partnered with Mary ElIen Smith to form Beach Or Bay Real Estate on Bolivar Peninsula and said they are seeing a brisk business.
"Since the article came out, we have had lots of calls from out-of-state investors who are interested in the Peninsula property; she said." We have heard from potential buyers all over America and they are excited when they find out what we have to offer."
Anne Willis, owner of Swede's Realty and Bolivar Peninsula Chamber of Commerce president for the past six years, agrees with Cooley's description of what's happening on the nearly 30 mile strip between High Island and the Galveston Ferry Crossing located at the tip of the peninsula. Willis has called Bolivar home for more than 40 years and has been a business owner for more than half of that time. Swede Realty's bright yellow signs are everywhere one looks on the Peninsula.
"We love living here," said Willis. "Our lives are grounded here and it is exciting to see the growth. We need to add to the tax base and we’ve worked to get it where it is now. A group of us banded together and went to Austin to plead our case. Squeaky wheels do get the oil."
Willis went on to describe some of the improvements made on the Peninsula and especially the effort to help control and prevent beach erosion. "In 1998, we actually had some houses falling into the water. The erosion and protection efforts have paid off. Properties have been restored and erosion has been controlled. The Gulf is beautiful and if a person loves water, then this is paradise."
Willis also points to new multi-million dollar projects under construction, along with the new modern school being built for the children.
"We have The Biscayne and now Laguna Harbor. These are big investments of money being spent on Bolivar and they are attracting new residents who want to live here year-round," she said. "Normally, Bolivar boasts about 5,000 fulltime residents, but when spring and summer arrive, so do about 15,000 more people. The population swells to over 20,000."
Popular festivals draw visitors to the Peninsula and the next one scheduled is the 20th Anniversary Texas Crab Festival, May 6-8.
This year the committee is planning on 60 food and craft booths, a great crab cook-off, carnival, petting zoo, rock climbing wall, clowns, Weiner dog races and the famous crab race itself.
"There will also be the 'Mr. and Mrs. Crab Legs Contest,' a Mother's Day surprise and a talent show and entertainment all three days," said Willis.
For additional information about the 20th Anniversary Crab Festival, call 409-684-5940 or log on to the www.BolivarChamber.ORG website.
Attracting vacationers and year-round residents are the beauties of the Gulf itself. From fishing to shelling, swimming to sunbathing, the beach and the surf beckon all ages. Bolivar Beach Flats, located just East of the ferry landing provide a wide, flat expanse of beach that has very little surf and shallow water, making it an ideal experience for small children or families to play.
Shell collecting is a highlight of any visit and Bolivar offers a wide variety. Channeled whelk, moon snail, Mitchell's Wentletrap, the olive shell, purple Janthina, baby's ear, sand dollars, limpet, spiny cockle, sundial, tulip, worm shell, whelk, rock shell, angel wing, slipper shell, sea beans, spimla, pen shell, augers and scallop shells are found in abundance.
The 200 yards of the paved north jetty, leading to the granite rocks, make for great fishing and history buffs can explore Fort Travis Seashore Park for hours of history and excitement. The old Bolivar light is being restored and can be viewed in its different moods, depending on the time of the night or day and the weather pattern of the hour.
Times have changed since the wife of the first Bolivar lighthouse keeper wrote, "Life at the lighthouse is very lonely and friendless. There is very little visiting because travel is non-existent from the point to Galveston. We pass most of our time by reading books."
Reading a good book at the beach can still be done, but not because there isn't anything else to do. Bolivar Peninsula is filled with fun in the sun and pleasure in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Brenda Cannon Stancil can be reached at 409-832-1400, ext. 227 or at email@example.com
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