Creepy Crawlies

Houston Has the Highest Percentage of Infested Homes in the Nation

The Bayou City takes the No. 1 spot for household pests, according to a new study by Porch.

By Alexia Partouche August 24, 2022

The Bayou City takes the No. 1 spot for household pests, according to a new study.

In Houston, we’re constantly winning. From topping the charts in having the least annoying neighbors and best housing markets to being among the best destinations for digital nomads, annual movers, and college graduates, we’re racking up top spots in every category.

But not every win is worth celebrating; see, for example, our recent mention as a top 10 city for stressful driving. That’s even more evident with a recent study conducted by real estate software company Porch, in which Houston ranked first among big US cities for the highest percentage of infested homes.

Porch used information from the American Housing Survey to determine the percentage of homes in the 25 biggest American cities infested with mold, rats, mice, or cockroaches in the past year. Unfortunately, Houston beat the rest at 14.9 percent—over 2 percentage points higher than New Orleans’s second-place spot at 12.7 percent and Atlanta’s third-place spot at 12.4 percent. Houston’s percentage noticeably towered over Seattle’s last-place rank at 2.9 percent.

So what exactly is to blame for such a high percentage? It comes down to our Bayou City weather. Houston is one of the most humid cities in the country (something Houstonians are well aware of), but that humidity does more than frizz our hair. All the moisture in the air causes mold to develop and even attracts cockroaches, who thrive in warm, humid areas. It’s no wonder Porch also found that 35 percent of homes in Houston had cockroaches in the past year—showing no improvement since 2021, when Houston took first place in the percentage of homes with roaches and rodents out of the 15 most populated metropolitan areas.

Porch also compared the percentage of homes affected by other essential housing factors: structural damage, heating, electrical, and plumbing issues. Thankfully, Houston fared much better in these categories. Only 2.9 percent of local homes dealt with heating issues in the past year, landing the city in the third-lowest spot among the 25 biggest US cities. In structural damage, we landed squarely in the middle of the pack at 5.1 percent, significantly below Pittsburgh’s 11.1 percent but still above San Francisco’s 2.1 percent. As for electrical issues, our performance was weaker: 4.8 percent of Houston homes had electrical issues in the past three months, only 1.9 percent less than Baltimore’s top spot.

But the city took another hit in the plumbing department: in the past three months, 4.8 percent of Houston houses were burdened by plumbing problems such as leaky pipes, sewage breakdowns, and water supply stoppages, the second-highest percentage behind Washington, DC’s 6 percent. All told, an average of 6.5 percent of Houston homes deal with critical housing issues.

A big city like Houston comes with its ups and downs, and we’ll always be on an occasional negative survey's radar. It’s still our favorite place to live—just don’t act like we told you everything was perfect.

To learn more about the ranking and methodology, visit porch.com.

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