“Ooooooklahoma where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.” You knew that was coming, right?! Now that that’s out of the way, if you’re craving a place where “authentic Western heritage meets thriving modern metropolis,” then look no further than Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — a town that was literally born in a day.
Teeming with Western culture and a modern art scene, OKC is the place to be. With 14 distinct districts in the downtown area, there is something for everyone, from the aspiring cowpoke to families in search of adventure. And the suburbs offer a range of living — from city scapes to country acreage.
Buying a house in Oklahoma City isn’t without its challenges, however. As part of Tornado Alley, Oklahoma sees an average of 62 tornadoes a year, with a record 146 seen in 2019. Cycles of high rain followed by drought can cause foundation problems.
With the knowledge of where to go and what to do, we’ve created the ultimate resource for moving to OKC. We picked the brains of top-selling agents and industry professionals to get to you the inside scoop on the market, the districts, and the neighborhoods. Armed with this definitive guide to buying the right house in Oklahoma City, you’ll enter this modern frontier with confidence and buying power.
The lay of the land
Where you choose to buy a house in Oklahoma City, as in other cities, is greatly dependent on your budget. In Nichols Hill, the median home price is over $700,000. But The Village, less than a mile away, has homes priced closer to $125,000. If your budget falls in between these two, Edmond’s median home price is a little over $225,000 — which is closer to the median price in OKC overall.
Home styles in the downtown areas of Oklahoma City vary widely, depending on the specific neighborhood. Neighborhoods such as Classen North Highlands and Classen Ten Penn have historic homes — many of which have been renovated — ranging from $50,000 to $400,000. If you’re looking for an eclectic mix, architectural styles in the sought-after Crown Heights neighborhood include Colonial and Tudor Revivals and span all the way to Minimal and Art Deco, priced between $300,000 and $800,000.
To find newer construction, you’ll have to move to a suburb of the city, such as Edmond or Moore. But even those are beginning to get crowded and more and more people are moving further out to areas like Choctaw, where you can find some acreage.
Things to be on the lookout for
When you’re looking to buy a house in Oklahoma City, there are a few unique issues you’ll need to keep an eye out for. But if you go in with eyes wide open, you’ll likely find the gem you’ve been dreaming of.
Check the roof
Because of its location in Tornado Alley, OKC sees a lot of strong winds, rain, and sometimes hail. These conditions, understandably, can lead to high wear and tear on roofs. When you’re checking out potential houses, make sure to take a peek at the roof. Missing or damaged shingles and discoloration on the ceiling are both signs that the roof may have some issues.
Water damage is also a possibility if the roof has been in need of repairs for a while, so checking nooks and crannies for mold or mildew will help you get a good sense of how much work will need to be done on the roof.
One way to help ensure you’re purchasing a house free of leaks is to hire a home inspector that is a Certified Residential Thermographer. Steve Bennett, a certified master inspector and certified residential thermographer, and owner of Redbud Property Inspections, uses a thermal camera that looks for temperature to catch any leaks that may not be visible. When he scans the ceilings and walls, he says “a wet surface will show up as colder than a dry surface, and sometimes you’ll find an anomaly like blue circles that shouldn’t be there.” Such a discovery could point to a roof leak or a leak from a shower pan or plumbing.
Foundation and drain line issues
The weather in OKC has the tendency to go from periods of high rain to periods of drought. Tom Hall, a top OKC real estate agent with 16 years of experience and over 230 transactions, points out that “in a drought that red clay’s going to shrink up, and it’s going to pull away from the foundation and then in a heavy monsoon area, it’s going to impact and push up against the house.” This also leads to cracked drain pipes and is the reason that most homes don’t include a basement.
Sagging floors, doors and windows that don’t open or shut smoothly, and cracks are all signs that the foundation will need work. Foundation repairs are costly, ranging from $1,700 to $3,700, but, luckily, this is generally a cost taken on by the seller. Even so, it’s still something to be on the lookout for.
When you do buy a house in Oklahoma City, Hall says “you’ll need to make sure your home is properly water maintenanced,” and you have “gutters and sprinkler systems keeping an accurate and consistent soil moisture,” to help prevent future foundation issues.
According to Hall, in Oklahoma City, “any house has had or will have termites.”
Termite inspections are required, but they must be conducted by a licensed termite inspector. Some home inspectors do double duty as termite inspectors, but others don’t, so do your research.
Expect some issues
Bennett says that the biggest surprise for buyers is that nearly every home, even a new home, has issues that will come up during the inspection process.
“Sometimes we’ll do an inspection on a brand new home, and we’ll have a list of 20 items that need to be addressed,” he says. “New homes have problems. Old homes have more, but new homes aren’t perfect.”
Going into the home inspection knowing that there will likely be some issues to address will help you manage your expectations and eliminate some of the surprise factor.
Oklahoma City boasts 14 distinct districts, each with their own vibe. From steaks to art to adventure, there is something for everyone in this diverse mix. And though they may call to mind the districts of “The Hunger Games,” these districts are full of fun and excitement (and no one needs to volunteer as tribute to get in on the action). Let’s take a peek at a few!
When you move to OKC, head straight to Stockyards City where you can take in a live cattle auction at the Oklahoma National Stockyards.
But first, you need to dress the part. Stop into Langston’s Western Wear to choose your chaps. Step into a new pair of boots at Little Joe’s Boots, and pick up a hat at Shorty’s Caboy Hattery.
Keep the cowboy party going by finishing off the night at Cattleman’s Steakhouse. They’ve been featured on both “Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives” and “Man vs. Food,” along with being included in the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” It’s a can’t-miss staple of Oklahoma City.
Paseo Arts District
Whether you are an artist, an art art lover, or just enjoy a lively outing, the Paseo Arts District is the place to go if you want to do OKC like a local. Teeming with local restaurants and bars, this district features 20 studios, many of which are attached to galleries.
During First Fridays on the Paseo each month — winter months included — you can poke into galleries, enjoy street entertainment, and grab a bite at a food truck.
Home of Michael Murphy’s Dueling Pianos, Bricktown has a lively nightlife. If you’re not in the mood to watch piano players duke it out on stage, you can check out the Bricktown Comedy Club, or grab a drink at a local bar.
For the non-night owls, Bricktown also has a water taxi that allows you to take in the sites, along with a narrated tour by the taxi staff. You can also visit the American Banjo Museum and Painted Door gift boutique. If you want to thrill your inner child (or actual children), check out Brickopolis for laser tag, mini golf, and arcade games.
Bricktown real estate can be hard to come by, but if you’re set on the area, you’ll likely be looking at condos in historic buildings.
The area is also just a short walk from Deep Deuce, a district where you can explore the area that led Oklahoma city in jazz music and African-American culture in the ’20s and ’30s.
Tinker Air Force Base
Tinker Air Force Base is located just east of Oklahoma City. It employs over 26,000 military personnel and civilians, making it the largest single-site employer in Oklahoma. This base “drives 50% of the overall real estate economy in Oklahoma,” says Hall.
Time to go house hunting!
Whether you’re into the downtown scene or looking for some acreage, OKC has a place for you to call home.
Edmond is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in OKC, but its desirability means that it’s quickly getting crowded. Many military personnel are directed to Edmond when they move to the area because of its great school districts and many conveniences, with more than 75 shops and businesses to cater to your needs. But, as a result, it is becoming more compact and dense.
Nichols Hills is the “Beverly Hills of Oklahoma,” according to Hall. With home prices over $700,000, this area is great for those with large budgets. With a Trader Joe’s, Orangetheory Fitness, Organic Squeeze juice and smoothie bar, and unique restaurants like The Hutch, serving rustic-inspired dining creations plus an extensive wine list and classic spirits, you won’t have to go far to find everything you need.
With highly rated schools and a median home price a little over $140,000, Moore is a great place for families to settle down. But more than just a place to put down some roots, Moore also offers exciting outings like axe throwing at Twisted Axes Throw House and the Moore Escape Rooms. A wide range of restaurants help to make Moore an ideal place to live, work, and play.
As people crave more space and open areas, they are increasingly moving to areas like Choctaw, where they can purchase a home with a few acres of land. With a commute between 30 and 40 minutes to the city, this area will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Ready to buy a house in Oklahoma City? Use a top agent to get the best deal
When you’re ready to buy a house in Oklahoma City, finding a top agent is the key to getting the best deal. Not only will they have the best scoop on the neighborhoods, but they have the negotiation skills to get you the best deal.
It’s important to interview agents to make sure you find the right agent for you. Ask questions to ensure that “you’re hiring somebody that has experience or the leadership or a track record that can show proven results,” says Hall.
Some questions to ask prospective agents include:
- What is their track record?
- How much money do they save their buyers on average?
- What is their overall record of conversation rate to rejected offers?
One thing to beware of in the Oklahoma City market is the influx of new real estate agents and other industry professionals, such as home inspectors. With a hot market and ongoing revitalization, you want to work with someone who has the experience needed to get you the best deal on your new home.
Bursting with culture and vibrancy, Oklahoma City offers a diverse mix of real estate opportunities and just might be the perfect place for you to call home.
Header Image Source: (Justin Prine / Unsplash)