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Conroe is a city in Texas, United States. It is the seat of Montgomery County and is a principal city within Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. This city is about 40 miles (64 km) north of Houston.
As of 2016, the city population was 82,286, up from 56,207 in 2010. According to the Census Bureau, Conroe was the fastest-growing large city in the United States between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016.
The city is named after Northern-born Union Cavalry officer and Houston lumberman Isaac Conroe. Conroe founded a sawmill there in 1881. The city originally gained in wealth due to the lumber and oil industries. Originally named "Conroe's Switch", the area saw an influx of residents in the late 19th century due to the lumber demands on the piney wood forest of the area.
During the 1930s, because of oil profits, the city boasted more millionaires per capita than any other U.S. city, though only briefly. After the construction of Interstate 45, many Houstonians began to settle communities around Conroe.
The Office of Management and Budget classifies Conroe as a principal city within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. The city is about 40 miles (64 km) north of Houston.
When Conroe incorporated in 1904, the city limits encompassed a 5.44 square mile area. From 1970 to 2000, the city limits expanded from 7.15 square miles to 42.35 square miles. Beginning in 2007, the city outlined a plan to continue expanding its city limits through annexation. According to Chapter 43 of the Texas Local Government Code, home rule municipalities like Conroe may annex territory that is adjacent to the city's current boundaries, with certain restrictions. The city's 2007 plan was to double the size of the city through a combination of voluntary and involuntary annexations. For voluntary annexations, the city enters into an agreement with the property owner to annex the territory once it has been developed. Involuntary annexations occur when the city places adjacent unincorporated territory into a three year annexation plan without obtaining consent from property owners. As of 2018, the city has annexed territory in each consecutive year since 2007, increasing the city limits from 52.8 to 72.0 square miles.
April Sound, a gated community located along the shores of Lake Conroe, was annexed by the city on January 1, 2015. Prior to annexation, the community's water and sewage services were provided by two separate Municipal Utility Districts. When annexation was first approved by the Conroe city council in December of 2011, the districts opposed the annexation. In response, the city negotiated an agreement in 2013 which would allow the districts to continue to provide services to April Sound residents. However, some April Sound residents did not support the annexation, including a group of residents who filed a lawsuit against the city in April of 2015. The lawsuit was dismissed in March of 2017. Involuntary annexations were a major issue in the 2016 mayoral election, the first in which April Sound residents were incorporated into the city. Proponents of annexation contended that annexation was a useful tool to "promote and facilitate growth and progress," while those in opposition were concerned about whether annexed territories receive a "fair shake" in the negotiations. Toby Powell, who campaigned against "forced annexations," won the election. In 2017, the city council voted in favor of additional involuntary annexations over Powell's objection.
Conroe is located in the southwest corner of the East Texas Piney Woods. The Piney Woods consist of pine trees and hardwood forests. The most common type of tree in the southwest region of the Piney Woods is the loblolly pine. Shortleaf pine are also abundant. Pockets of blackland prairie vegetation are also present, but are disappearing due to urbanization.
In 1926, the Texas A&M Forest Service purchased 1700 acres of the Piney Woods forest to establish W. Goodrich Jones State Forest. The forest serves as a research and demonstration area for sustainable forestry techniques. The forest also preserves the habitat of the red-cockaded woodpecker, a species classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. In 2017, Texas A&M asked Conroe state Senator Brandon Creighton to author a bill setting aside 10 percent of the forest for educational and research-related development. The bill also opened the possibility of commercial development on the land. Public concern over the bill persuaded Senator Creighton to revise the bill. The final version of the bill, which passed the Senate unanimously, protected the entire forest from development.
The West Fork of the San Jacinto River flows through the western edge of Conroe. The entire city is located within the river's watershed. The river flows southeast from Lake Conroe, a 19,640 surface acre lake dammed in 1973 as an alternative source of drinking water for Houston.
Conroe is located on several geologic layers of underground aquifers which supply the city with fresh drinking water. Due to the rapid development of the land and increased population of Conroe and the surrounding area, the groundwater supply is being withdrawn faster than it can be replenished. As a result, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, which oversees groundwater usage in Montgomery County, mandated that Conroe reduce its groundwater usage by 30 percent of 2009 amounts by January 1, 2016. As part of the groundwater usage reduction plan, the San Jacinto River Authority began in September of 2015 to supplement Conroe's groundwater supply with surface water pumped from Lake Conroe. The SJRA charges the city usage fees to cover the cost of pumping and treating the water. On August 27, 2015, the City of Conroe filed a lawsuit against the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, claiming that the LSGCD did not have the authority to limit the city's groundwater usage. The city also refused to pay SJRA water usage fee increases in 2016, resulting in a separate lawsuit filed by the SJRA against the city. As of 2017, both lawsuits are still ongoing, resulting in legal fees charged to the city of over $836,313.
Portions of Conroe surrounding the West Fork of the San Jacinto River are located in a floodplain. Significant flooding occurs along the floodplain when rainfall exceeds nine inches in a 48 hour period. The Conroe area has approximately a 10 percent chance of receiving this much rainfall in any given year. Urban development in Conroe and the surrounding area has also exacerbated the risk of flooding. Montgomery County experienced three consecutive years of 500-year floods in May of 2015, April of 2016, and August of 2017. A 500-year flood has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in a year. In addition, a fourth major flood occurred in May of 2016, resulting in two major floods in two months. The flooding in August of 2017 during Hurricane Harvey dropped nearly 32 inches of rain on the city. To protect the integrity of the dam, officials with the San Jacinto River Authority released 79,100 cubic feet per second of water from Lake Conroe downstream into the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, exacerbating the flooding already taking place along the floodplain. Conroe city officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of McDade Estates, a neighborhood located on the banks of the river. As a response to the flooding, Montgomery County commissioners in October of 2017 requested $1.25 million from the federal government for a flood mitigation study, along with an additional $95.5 million to implement various flood mitigation projects.
Within the first decade of the 21st century, the city attracted many new residents from the Houston area. Renée C. Lee said that Conroe around 2002 was "a sleepy, backwater town" and that at the time, Conroe city officials needed to use financial incentives to attract home developers to Conroe. Between 2003 and 2006, Conroe became a hotbed of construction of new houses. As a result, Conroe's population grew from 36,811 in 2000 to 56,207 in 2010.
As of the census of 2010, there were 56,207 people, 18,651 households, and 13,086 families residing in the city. Since the 2010 census, Conroe's population has continued to grow. Between 2014 and 2015, Conroe was the sixth fastest growing city in the United States. The following year, the US Census Bureau reported that Conroe was the fastest-growing large city in the United States. It had a 7.8% growth rate between 2015 and 2016. New housing developments throughout the city have contributed to the rapid population growth. Conroe's annexation of growing communities within its extraterritorial jurisdiction has also contributed to the city's population growth.
The demographics of the city's downtown area south of SH 105 differs from the rest of the city. In 2010, The population density of the entire city was 1066.2 people per square mile (411.7/km²). By contrast, the population density in downtown was between 3,475.2 to 4,119.3 people per square mile.
The racial makeup of the city was 69.7% White (including Hispanic), 10.3% African American, 1.2% Native American, 1.8% Asian, less than 0.05% Pacific Islander, 13.7% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 38.5% of the population. White alone (not Hispanic or Latino) were 48.3% of the total population. In the southern portion of downtown, White alone made up between 20.4 and 22.4 percent, African American were between 19.0 and 20.3 percent, and Hispanic or Latino were between 56.6 and 57.7 percent of the population.
According to the 2016 American Community Survey, The median income for a household in the city was $50,517 and the median income for a family was $60,087. Males had a median income of $44,343 versus $37,747 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,672. About 12.2% of families and 16.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.4% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over. According to the census bureau data aggregation website Statistical Atlas, the median income for a household in the southern portion of downtown was between $22,476 and $30,966. In response to income inequality, several non-profit groups including the Montgomery County United Way, The Salvation Army, and the Crisis Assistance Center help provide residents of the area with a variety of services ranging from transportation to food and shelter.
In the early 1980s, Exxon considered consolidating its employees to a site in Conroe. The company ended the plans after the local oil-based economy collapsed.
According to the City's 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
Within downtown Conroe, the city's Central Business District is host to multiple venues for the arts. The oldest arts venue is the Crighton Theatre, which opened on November 26, 1935. The theatre is named after Harry M. Crighton, Conroe's mayor from 1932-1933. The theatre functioned as the community's movie theatre until 1967, at which point the building fell into disrepair. In 1979, the theatre was renovated, and now hosts live theatrical productions. Another theatre, the Owen Theatre, is also located in the district. The Central Business District has outdoor performance venues at Conroe Founder's Plaza and Heritage Place, which host multiple festivals throughout the year. The Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival, an annual event first held in 1990, features live music performances, arts and crafts vendors, and a carnival in addition to catfish and other Cajun food. In 2017, the festival prepared for a three-day attendance of 25,000-30,000 people.
The city supports several arts organizations, including the Greater Conroe Arts Alliance. The Alliance is a network of multiple arts groups in the city such as the Conroe Symphony, the Conroe Art League, and the Montgomery County Choral Society. The Alliance also sponsors, along with the state of Texas, the Young Texas Artists Music Competition. The competition, founded in 1983, showcases young musicians who aspire toward professional careers in classical music. In 2009, the city sponsored the Art Bench Project, which converted 13 stone benches scattered throughout the central business district into works of art. Each bench portrays different parts of Conroe's history and culture, from historical figures like George Strake and Charles B. Stewart to contemporary art groups such as the Crighton Players.
The city contains multiple parks which pay tribute to the history of the area. The Heritage Museum of Montgomery County, located within Candy Cane Park, maintains artifacts of the early settlers to Montgomery County. The Lone Star Monument and Historical Flag Park, located next to the Montgomery County central library, pays tribute to the history of flags that flew over Texas. The flags are positioned in a circle around the park, with a statue of a Texian stationed in the center. Each flag comes with a plaque which describes its connection to Texas history. At the entrance of the park is a statue of Charles B. Stewart, who is claimed to have designed the lone star flag.
Montgomery County War Memorial Park, located in downtown Conroe next to the Montgomery County tax office, is a memorial to the 166 soldiers from Montgomery County who have been killed in active duty. The park's dedication ceremony was in 1976 and featured a speech from then-president Gerald Ford. In 2017, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court and the City of Conroe both agreed to relocate the memorial to a location next to the Lone Star Monument and Flag Park. The park will also be expanded to include the names of up to 50,000 soldiers who have lived in Montgomery County. Construction on the new memorial was projected to begin in early 2018.
Lake Conroe, located northwest of downtown Conroe, is the source of several water-based activities such as boating and fishing. The most common fish in the lake are Largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, white bass, and hybrid striped bass. Crappie may also be found in the early spring and fall.
According to the city's most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Fund Financial Statements, the city's various funds had $58.3 million in Revenues, $71.6 million in expenditures, $69.6 million in total assets, $7.6 million in total liabilities, and $57.5 million in investments.
The structure of the management and coordination of city services is:
The city employs 128 police officers.
The county operates the main branch of the Montgomery County Memorial Library System.
98% of Conroe is represented in the Texas Senate (District 4) by Republican Brandon Creighton. A small portion of the northern part of Conroe is part of District 3, represented by Republican Robert Nichols.
In the Texas House of Representatives, 94% of Conroe is part of District 16, represented by Republican Will Metcalf. The southern portion of Conroe is in District 15, represented by Republican Mark Keough. Less than 1% of Conroe residents are part of District 3, represented by Republican Cecil Bell, Jr.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates the Conroe District Parole Office in Conroe.
At the Federal level, the two U.S. Senators from Texas are Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Conroe is part of Texas' US Congressional 8th District, which is currently represented by Republican Kevin Brady.
The United States Postal Service Conroe Post Office is located at 809 West Dallas Street.
The city is served by the Lone Star College System primarily by the Lone Star College-Montgomery Campus and LSC University Center. Other campuses in the county include the EMCID Center in New Caney, and the Conroe Center. The territory in Conroe ISD joined the community college district in 1991, and the territory in Willis ISD joined the district in 1996.
Almost all areas of Conroe are within the Conroe Independent School District though a small northern section of Conroe is within the Willis Independent School District.
All of the schools listed here are in the city of Conroe. All of the Conroe ISD section of Conroe is zoned to Conroe High School.
The three junior high schools that serve the CISD portion are:
Some intermediate schools that serve the CISD portion are:
Some elementary schools that serve the CISD portion are:
The Willis ISD section is zoned to Turner Elementary School, Brabham Middle School, and Willis High School, all of which are in unincorporated Montgomery County.
The closest Catholic high school is Frassati Catholic High School in north Harris County; Conroe is in the school's intended catchment area.
The Courier is a daily newspaper published in Conroe, Texas, covering Montgomery County. In 2016, the newspaper was purchased by Hearst Communications, a media conglomerate which also owns and operates the Houston Chronicle.
In 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau designated the area around Conroe and The Woodlands as a "large urbanized transit area," an area defined as having over 200,000 residents, making it eligible to receive federal transportation funds.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Conroe has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
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