Although the Houston real estate market is seeing slight improvement, it’s no where near the prosperous rate it was just a few short years ago. From 2011-2014, Houston saw some of the lowest home-buying rates ever. Houston is the eighth largest city in the U.S. And unlike its counterparts — Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago — the city had a never-ending supply of affordable homes. The energy boom, which was expected to bring additional prosperity to the area, ended up adversely affecting the industry.

Twitter shows the building of affordable homes has come to an almost standstill. “Many builders are focusing on building homes where they can make a profit,” according to Houston real estate agent Mario Negron. He went on to say that just a couple of years ago when he and other top agents were selling some 300 homes a year. Many agents believe that Houston’s fledgling real estate market will back to its former gravy days in short order. Houston has seen a rise in home sells in the first quarter of 2015. The numbers weren’t stellar, but it does indicate that better days are ahead.

Real estate developer Haidar Barbouti has been seeing good days since 1992. His highly-profitable Highland Village shopping center is one of the most successful and most shopped center in Houston. Barbouti actually purchased the property against the advise and wishes of his partners. Barbouti saw the potential of the shopping center and had a vision — so he bought it. It turned out to be the best investment he ever made.

Highland Village is home to a number of upscale tenants including Crate and Barrel, J-Crew, Sprinkles and The Apple Store. More and more tenants are expected to come knocking. It was Barbouti’s “If I build it, they will come,” philosophy that is the main reason for the success. He put millions of dollars into remodeling the center. The stunning architecture inside and out has transformed a former drab, rundown property into a show place.

Many are hoping that Houston’s real estate fortunes will continue to rise. It will likely be a slow process that could take many years. Until then, many home buyers will look outside Houston for affordable housing. Some of the suburbs have reasonable homes that are ideal for first-time buyers.