Overview of Texas Housing Market
While Texans do not have a state income tax, they pay the price of homeownership with high property taxes. Property itself in much of Texas is relatively cheap compared to the rest of the U.S.
National Mortgage Rates
Note, for purchase the minimum down payment on a $ home is , or $
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This is based on our recommendation that your total monthly spend for housing and debts should not exceed 36% of your monthly income.
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Factors in Your Texas Mortgage Payment
Texas is known for having high property taxes compared to the rest of the country. It’s one of the first things to add to your housing budget if you’re planning to buy a home in the state. The average effective property tax rate is 1.94% which is the fourth-highest in the U.S. That said, Texas doesn’t have income tax or state property tax, so the majority of local government services such as libraries, police, road systems and schools are paid for by locally administered property tax.
Property tax rates in Texas are levied as a percentage of a home’s appraised value. The percentage depends on local tax rates from schools and other county concerns, so it varies per area. For example, a house appraised at $250,000 in Houston or one of its suburbs has an effective tax rate of 2.3% or $5,750 a year. Harris County, which contains Houston and its suburbs has some of the highest tax rates in Texas and the U.S. at large. The lowest tax rate in the state is 0.61% in Ward County, which is in the western side of the state. If you owned a house appraised at $250,000 in this sparsely populated county, your annual property taxes would only be $1,525.
Wondering how your home is appraised? Each year the county will determine the current market value of your home, and that’s the number your tax payments are based on. Tax bills are sent usually in early October and are due by the end of January in the following year. The good news for Texas homeowners is that there are a number of different exemptions to property tax that may apply to you. If you’re a veteran, disabled, older than 64 or living in your primary residence, you may qualify for a property tax exemption.
Along with high property taxes, Texas is known for having some of the highest annual homeowners insurance. In our study of most affordable places to live, Texas ranked fourth-most expensive for insurance at an average $1,710 per year. That puts the Lone Star State right after Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, all states that have heavy hurricane and flooding risk.
While Texas does have many of the same weather risks, with large cities frequently exposed to hurricane, tornados and hailstorms, there are other reasons the insurance price is so high in this state. According to a white paper issued by Texas’ Office of Public Insurance Counsel, agent commissions and acquisition costs, advertising and underwriting are 65% higher in Texas than the U.S. average.
Costs to Expect When Buying a Home in Texas
One of the first things to consider when you find a home you’d like to buy is a home inspection. In Texas, expect to pay $300 to $400 for the service. If you want a termite or mold inspection or radon testing, you’ll pay an additional fee for each service. If you’re curious about your inspector’s education, Texas issues inspector licenses so the industry is regulated.
Closing costs are another expense you’ll have to consider before buying a home. Luckily, these fees are only charged once at the closing of the mortgage, and don’t carry on annually like insurance and property taxes. The rule of thumb for closing costs are to save 2% to 5% of the purchase price to cover all fees. Fortunately, Texas is one of the few states that doesn’t levy transfer taxes or include state recordation tax, which will save you a percentage of overall costs.
Closing Costs by County
|County||Avg. Closing Costs||Median Home Value||Closing Costs as % of Home Value|
Our Closing Costs Study assumed a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment on each county’s median home value. We considered all applicable closing costs, including the mortgage tax, transfer tax and both fixed and variable fees. Once we calculated the typical closing costs in each county we divided that figure by the county’s median home value to find the closing costs as a percentage of home value figure. Sources: US Census Bureau 2015 5-Year American Community Survey, Bankrate and government websites.
At the time of closing, you’ll be responsible for paying the mortgage lender a number of fees. This includes origination points, commitment fee, broker fee, processing charges, tax service and more. You’ll also be responsible for a credit report charge, flood certification and possibly appraisal, survey and attorney fees, if you opt for those services.
You’re also responsible for title insurance, which helps guaranteed the property against problems such as outstanding liens and taxes. It’s a hefty charge. In Texas title insurance rates are set by the state, which means pricing isn’t competitive - it’s set. And, according to Dallas News, Texas pays near the highest in the nation for title insurance. Luckily, you do save in other areas: In Texas, you won’t have to pay mortgage tax or any local or transfer fees.
Details of Texas Housing Market
Texas is the largest state by size in the contiguous U.S., taking up roughly 261,800 square miles. It’s the second-largest state by population (behind California) with an estimated 27.8 million residents.
Most of Texas’ population resides in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth, which are the five largest cities in the state. Overall, Texas has three of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. by population. Texas also has one of the healthiest housing markets. The state ranked number one in SmartAsset’s Healthiest Housing Markets study. The study was based on stability, affordability, fluidity and risk of loss. Texas’ number one spot is good news for potential homeowners, as it shows that it’s one of the best states to buy a home in. The overall median home value was $169,900 in this state, as of August 2017.
If you’re hoping to live in Houston, you’ll likely have to have a bigger budget as the median price of homes listed is $312,900. For those considering the southwestern tech hub of Austin, you’ll be looking at prices around $399,000. Austin has had one of the highest home value increases in the past few years thanks to a number of tech companies moving to the capital city. Thinking about San Antonio? Median prices are a little lower at around $237,990, for a home in the seventh-largest city in the U.S. (All figures as of August 2017 and from Zillow.)
Houses move fast in Texas. They’re only on the market for an average of 62 days, according to Zillow data. Another good sign is that in 2015, about 88% of homes sold for a gain. And in 2016, that number increased to about 94%, which is a 6% increase. That means that most homeowners made money selling their homes instead of taking a loss. As for how long Texans live in a home, it’s about 15 and a half years.
Local Economic Factors in Texas
It’s no mystery what industry Texas dominates. With over $123.9 billion generated in 2015 by oil and gas extraction, Texas is the nation’s leading energy producer. However, after more than five years of a lower unemployment rate than the national average, as of May 2017, Texas’ unemployment rate was 4.8%, while the U.S. average was 4.3%. Falling oil prices might be to blame, but according to an economic study by the University of Texas A&M, oil production and active rigs increased and stimulated 6,600 new mining and logging jobs. In addition to growing industry, Texas has also increased from its total population by 2,716,496 from 2010 to 2016. In comparison, the largest U.S. state, California, only increased by 1,995,495 people.
Texas’ economy remains robust thanks to some of the largest public and private companies calling Texas home. On top of industry giants such as ExxonMobil, Valero and Phillips 66, Texas is also host to AT&T's headquarters as well as Sysco, Halliburton and American Airlines.
As for what the cost of living difference will be if you’re relocating to Texas, it’ll depend on what area you’re looking at. For example, if you and your partner are moving from New York to Dallas and you have a pre-tax combined income of $110,000, your cost of living will be 17% lower in Texas on average. Tax and housing are 26% lower in Dallas and food is about 13% less. Let’s say you’re considering Austin instead. In that case, the cost of living in the same scenario is about 14% lower on average. One of the biggest benefits of moving to Texas is that there is no state income tax. That means if you’re looking at renting rather than buying, the only taxes you’d effectively pay would be federal. You could stand to save a good bit of money, especially if you’re coming from a heavily tax-burdened state like New York or California.
Mortgage Legal Issues in Texas
Texas is considered relatively consumer-friendly for mortgages. The state put its own protection measures to help prevent foreclosures well before the housing crisis, which helped the state escape relatively unscathed during the real estate meltdown. Homeowners weren’t allowed to even get home equity loans until 1997. Another protection measure is that mortgage debt cannot exceed 80% of a home’s market value, which means you can’t borrow more money until you have more equity in your house. It can help prevent defaulting on the loan or getting into more debt. You also can only take one home equity loan per year, and you can’t get a secondary loan prior to repaying your primary home equity loan. There’s a generous amount of time for closing, as well. You have 12 days after you apply and receive official notice of your rights to change your mind and opt out of the loan. This is helpful if you need time to review the terms and make sure your finances are in order.
As for foreclosures, Texas has judicial as well as non-judicial processes depending on your mortgage document. If you have a deed of trust, which is another type of mortgage document, your lender can invoke the “power of sale,” which is a non-judicial foreclosure and generally has a quicker timeline than the court (judicial) option. However, Texas does have a number of provisions in place for homeowners. It’s a non-recourse state which means if your house sells for $150,000 at public auction, but you owe $175,000 to the lender for it, the lender can’t pursue the remaining deficiency, which is $25,000. That said, situations can differ depending on what type of mortgage you obtained and the specific foreclosure proceeding, so you may be liable for the deficiency in certain situations.
In Texas, lenders are required to give at least 20 days’ notice to cure (pay) the mortgage payments in default before accelerating the loan. If you don’t pay the delinquent balance in those 20 days, the lender or mortgage servicer will request that the trustee that was designated in the deed of trust (mortgage document) to sell the property. After that, the trustee starts the process by giving a 21-day advance notice of the sale by posting and filing a number or notifications. The property will be sold at public auction on a Tuesday, and you are allowed to bid on your own property. However, Texas doesn’t have what’s called the “right of redemption” which enables the foreclosed borrower to repurchase the property after the auction for the price it brought at the sale.
The state itself also provides resources if you’re in danger of foreclosure. You can find links to advice, government agencies that provide help and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HOPE Hotline) on the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website.
Texas Mortgage Resources
|Resource||Problem or Issue||Who Qualifies||Website|
|Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs - My First Texas Home Program||Down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers, closing cost assistance and competitive interest rates are available through the My First Texas Home Program.||To qualify, Texans must meet the income and purchase price limits for the area where they intend to purchase a home.||http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/homeownership/fthb/down-payment-assistance.htm|
|Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs - Mortgage Credit Certificate||The Texas Mortgage Credit Certificate provides qualified borrowers with up to $2,000 per year in a federal income tax credit based on mortgage interest paid in the tax year.||Applicants must be first-time homebuyers and must meet income and purchase price limits.||https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/homeownership/fthb/mort_cred_certificate.htm|
|Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)||Housing counseling, foreclosure avoidance counseling.||Homeowners who are delinquent on mortgage payments are eligible for free housing counseling from HUD-approved counseling agencies in Texas.||https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/housing-counseling/|
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) offers a multitude of resources for homebuyers. You can take a two-hour “Becoming a Homeowner” course online, which covers preparation, financing and purchasing your home. This course is required if you want to take advantage of another of TDHCA’s offerings: My First Texas Home. This program offers 30-year fixed interest loan underwriting and down payment and closing cost assistance. While this program is for first-time homebuyers, if you’re a veteran and looking to buy a home in Texas, that requirement is waived.
TDHCA also offers a program for federal tax credits up to $2,000 a year. There is criteria to meet in order to receive the credit. You can find out more about the benefit on the Texas Mortgage Certificate Program webpage.
Another state agency for homebuyers is the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation (TSAHC). Homebuyer assistance programs are offered for a variety of special populations including teachers, police officers, veterans and low-to-moderate-income homebuyers. If you qualify for the program, you can benefit from 3% to 5% down payment assistance (that doesn’t have to be repaid), 30-year loan rates and options, as well as help even if you aren’t a first-time homebuyer. TSAHC offers education classes in person as well as online for a variety of prices from free to about $100.
Texas has large quantities of United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan-eligible land. You have to meet certain income restrictions to qualify for a USDA-backed loan, but if you do, it’s a good resource to help you on your home owning journey. The program helps with down payments, home repair costs and rural businesses, as well.
For those soon-to-be Texans, there are some things you should know before moving to Texas. Good news for potential homeowners: no. 13 on the list is “Texas homes are affordable.” And if that’s not enough, you can take a look at the true cost of living in Texas, which will help you see how food, taxes, healthcare and other costs will factor into your overall budget.