By Grace Cassidy
Only six years into his career as a real estate agent in Houston, Avi Sheleg has earned a reputation as a market leader with a veteran’s understanding of the property landscape.
Born and raised in Israel before emigrating to the U.S. in 2014, Sheleg jumped into the game two years later and soon began building a team. Since joining Douglas Elliman in 2020, the Sheleg Team has been ranked the brokerage’s No. 1 team in sales volume, gross commission income, and rental transactions for all of Texas in 2021.
Given how dramatically Texas real estate—and the Houston market in particular—has accelerated in the past six years, it’s clear Sheleg has thrived in the crash-course pace of change. Among other shifts the market is experiencing, he and his team have capitalized on the demand for rental property fueled by an influx of new residents and an uncertain economy.
“People are coming here from coastal locations—from New York, California, and even Chicago,” said Sheleg. “There are so many draws to being here: gas and housing is cheaper, there’s no individual income tax and there is so much to do downtown.”
Houston’s international character is reflected in the Sheleg Team, which includes agents from Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico, Moldova, Ukraine, Venezuela and Russia.
Meanwhile, inflation and climbing interest rates have made rental property especially attractive.
“There are less people willing to take a risk,” Sheleg said. “Some think that housing prices will go lower, or that interest rates will go higher. When there are a lot of question marks people prefer to stay on the safe side and just keep renting.”
As a result, there is significantly less action around single-family homes. According to Norada Real Estate Investments, “single-family home sales dropped 17.1 percent” in July of this year compared to the same month in 2021. “It’s not uncommon to see homes on the market for over 60 days, whereas when interest rates were below 3 percent, these same homes would have sold in less than seven days,” Sheleg said.
Instead, he added, more people in Houston want the lifestyle afforded by renting in a luxury building. Beautifully updated apartments, onsite amenities and maintenance are becoming more desirable, even if that means tenants get less space than they would in a single-family home. And with more and more people moving to Houston from cities where high-rise living is more common, builders are meeting the demand with new luxury developments like Brava.
Located in downtown Houston and neighboring the Theater District, Brava was designed by architects at Munoz + Albin and thoughtfully constructed to allow each resident uninterrupted city views. Floor-to-ceiling windows, modern kitchens, spacious open layouts and luxurious bathrooms are just some of the many features included in each unit. Amenities include a 47th-floor sky lounge, fitness center, complimentary coffee bars, a pool and nearby outdoor kitchen, an outdoor zen garden, and more. The Sheleg Team represents several rental units in the building.
“A decade ago, high rises in Houston weren’t really a thing,” Sheleg said. “Typically, you’d see more single-family homes here than in cities like New York, L.A. or Miami. But now, more luxury rentals are popping up every year.”