‘Remote Control’ Real Estate: From Tokyo to Dallas With Love (Sorry San Antonio!)

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Coinciding with cherry blossom season, I received a note from a reader in Japan (Candy covers the world!). The writer, an American school teacher is contemplating relocating back to the US in a couple of years. She’s specifically looking at midrise and highrise buildings in Dallas with a view. Her idea of “view” could be a tree-lined street or a sweeping panorama.

She’s never lived in Texas, but has relatives and friends in the Metroplex and San Antonio. This isn’t her first foray into remote-control real estate, having purchased a rental home in San Antonio during the depth of the housing crash. That said, she’s not keen to settle in San Antonio as “… it seems like one big suburb. At least Dallas has art, music, a real international airport, and restaurants beyond Olive Garden.”

Ouch.

During a visit to Dallas, she has seen units in Preston Tower, Imperial House, and others “Behind the Pink Wall.” Preston Tower didn’t seem to be a fit for her as the unit she viewed there has obvious signs of water condensation problems. Having lived in highrises before, she rightly knows that even small water leaks in neighboring units can become a huge problem.

Her fear of Preston Tower water problems played out a couple of months ago when a fairly significant leak was observed at the building. Walking by the building, emergency plumbing vans were seen, as well as wet rugs and towels hanging on balcony railings across several upper floors.

This buyer, like us all, is concern with Texas property tax rates. While there are rumblings of increases in Homeowner exemption rates, there’s no escaping that Texas has some of the highest property tax rates in the nation. By comparison, a home in Hawaii with triple the valuation of a Dallas home, pays half as much tax.

Her ultimate goal will be a Texas-sized two-bedroom home – a huge luxury over her current 600-square-foot Tokyo apartment. For reference, compare Dallas prices to Tokyo’s where 1,000-ish-square-foot, two-bedroom apartments routinely sell for over $1 million – and we’re not talking about Museum Tower-like buildings either. The cheapest Tokyo two-bedroom I saw was 450 square feet for $266,000 – yes, two bedrooms (one without a window), and 450 square feet (floor plan below).

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My advice to her was to contact buildings she is interested in and ask to see floor plans. Looking over the Tokyo real estate listings for this blog, I noticed that while virtually no home published interior photos, every single listing had a floor plan listed (along with a picture of the outside of the building). The same is true of other countries where floor plans are … just … there.

Why in the US this is not done, I’ll never know. Personally, I’d rather see a chicken-scratch floor plan on the back of a napkin than nothing. And when looking at high-rises it’s doubly irksome as all the plans, no matter how old the building, are on file in the management office. What’s up with that?

So far she’s probably a couple of years from buying so engaging a Realtor may not make sense at this stage – unless they are interested in a really, really long game. Periodically, I’ll update you on her progress as she continues to share her journey.

If you’ve ever purchased real estate remote-control or have suggestions for this reader, please write them in the “comments” section. I’m sure they’ll be appreciated.

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Remember: Do you have an HOA story to tell? A little high-rise history? Realtors, want to feature a listing in need of renovation or one that’s complete with flying colors? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (as soon as they’re legal in Texas)! sharewithjon@candysdirt.com