Dallas Breakdown for Diff Family Types

Breakdown of Monthly Income Required to Live as a Human in Dallas According to the Economic Policy Institute

By Jon Anderson

Candy and I have been opinionating back and forth on low-income citizens and how their access to safe and affordable housing is a means to promote economic upwards mobility. After all, if the poor are less poor, they will live richer lives (by any definition) and contribute more to society.

Unlike the rich who sequester money in intangible investments or various savings schemes, when the poor have more money, they spend it – because they need to. This creates a cycle that reverberates throughout the larger economy. If the poor buy more, manufacturers must make more which means hiring more people which in turn creates more people with money to spend, and so on, and so on. It’s exactly like the recession when governments were screaming for money because tax revenues took such a hit. Once people were put back to work, tax revenues rose, and in some states like Texas, overflowed.

In fact, recessions in general would be rarer and less dramatic if companies were forced to keep workers on the payroll or if unemployment benefits paid close to salary levels. As it is, recessions create a domino effect where one company dumps workers and then its suppliers dump workers because they’re not getting orders – and on and on. Call it trickle-back economics.

Personally, I spent nearly three years unemployed during the telecom meltdown that sent 500,000 skilled workers out on the streets early in the millennium. Desperate, I was open to anything and willing to uproot my life and leave my partner for any job. In the end, I was required to move to another state which led to the dissolution of my relationship. And compared to many, I was lucky.

For part of that time, I collected unemployment benefits that paid me the maximum $1,600 per month, a tiny fraction of my former salary. (Let me tell you, swallowing my pride and taking unemployment was one of the hardest things I’ve done – even though I’d paid into it for years. It felt like a stigmatizing failure.) All that check did was slow the eventual evaporation of a three-year “emergency fund.” I tell you this because $1,600 per month is more than the minimum wage in America and it was crippling even with a free place to live and extensive savings. Before you groan, this column isn’t about the battle for living wages, it’s about documenting and understanding how much it takes to live as a human being in Dallas. (Spoiler alert: it’s not the current minimum wage.)


employment growth

In Texas, it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

A new report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University says that the Texas economy gained 276,400 nonagricultural jobs from June 2014 to June 2015, an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent, compared with 2.1 percent for the United States. Many of the major metropolitan areas in the state saw much bigger gains, like North Texas.

The Dallas-Plano-Irving metro area ranked No. 2 in job creation in the state (Midland was No. 1), followed by Odessa, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Austin-Round Rock, and San Antonio-New Braunfels. Fort Worth-Arlington ranked No. 7, with 2.7 percent job growth.

“The North Texas economy is more dependent on the U.S. economy, so it’s not energy-based, compared to the Houston or Midland-Odessa economy, where energy has a bigger weight,” said Real Estate Center research economist Luis Torres. “Because the U.S. economy is growing and doing better, you’re seeing that reflected in the Dallas economy.”

In fact, every single Texas metro areas except Wichita Falls had more jobs in June 2015 than a year ago.

Big sectors for job growth were:

  1. Leisure and Hospitality: 5.05 percent growth
  2. Education and health services: 3.87 percent growth
  3. Professional and business services: 3.54 percent growth
  4. Transportation, warehousing and utilities: 3.52 percent growth
  5. Construction: 3.34 percent growth

“The correlation between the Dallas economy and the U.S. economy is very high, and the main reason is because Dallas is a transportation hub and all the goods and services that pass in the state use Dallas transportation systems,” said Real Estate Center research economist Ali Anari.


Texas Condo Report Mid 2015 Graphic

Condo sales are still brisk compared to last year, but sales have decreased an average of one percent between January and May of 2015, says the Texas Association of Realtors‘ recent report. Using data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, The 2015 Texas Condominium Mid-Year Sales Report shows that condo and townhome sales are flat or slipping in the four largest markets.

With runaway demand, Austin still leads the price-per-square-foot category, while condo sales actually decreased 12 percent year-over-year in the state capital. Both Dallas and San Antonio posted modest gains of 3 and 6 percent, respectively. Houston condo sales dipped just 1 percent from the same time last year. Jump for more interesting stats.


Steve Brown naree

Writing this while listening to the economics panel, so bear with me on any boo boos. The biggest takeaway from the panel of distinguished economists was how rising rents are forcing millennials into the housing market, but could also be hurting us/them and creating inflation that will ultimately lead to higher interest rates:

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR, says low 30 year interest rates are being assisted by lack of inflation and low gas prices. But come November, those “gas benefits” might end. (Midland Odessa, take note.) Rising rents, a huge red flag all four experts agreed, might push inflation up about 3% by the end of this year or early next. That in turn could push interest rates up. Yun predicts a rate hike in the federal funds in Oct. of 2015. (more…)


Candy is in Miami right now, wading through all of the amazing real estate news at the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ annual conference. While we are a little jealous (OK, we are A LOT jealous) of her temporary location and proximity to so many brilliant minds at #NAREE15, we did score this bit of news from Realtor.com’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, who was on the “Mortgage Availability for Millennials and Other First-Time Buyers” panel:

“Despite the slow indicators we saw earlier this year, 2015 is on pace to be one of the best years for housing since 2006 due to strong sales and higher than predicted home prices,” said Smoke. “Additionally, we’re observing an uptick in millennial traffic and sentiment that we expect will result in more first-time home buyer sales in the later part of the year.”

This conclusion comes from a survey conducted by Realtor.com, showing a slight increase in Millennials ages 25-34 visiting the website with the goal of buying a home.


Homes are flying off the market, often before a sign is put in the yard. Still, Texas metro areas could experience a slower market toward the end of this year.

Homes are flying off the market, often before a sign is put in the yard. Still, Texas metro areas could experience a slower market toward the end of this year.

Corrected figures from the National Association of Realtors show that Dallas home sales have increased 1.82 percent in the first quarter of 2015 while median price grew 11.99 percent.

Statewide figures show a strong start to 2015 for Texas home sales, with a year-over-year increase of 4.16 percent. Inventory is still an issue, with available homes dropping to an all-time-low of just 3.1 months, which is less than half the supply required for a balanced housing market. That’s a precipitous 8.82 percent decline from the first quarter of 2014. More detailed figures are available through the Texas Association of Realtors.

“Homes are being built as quickly as possible, yet most are not in the price range where inventory is needed most – the entry-level market,” explained economist Jim Gaines of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. “Interest rates are still low, but tight lending standards, rising home prices, and slim inventory have created a tough market for first-time homebuyers.”

It sounds like a good problem to have, right?


Screen shot 2015-04-14 at 2.39.13 PM

Here we go again: CoreLogic’s latest HPI report is telling us what our boots-on-the-ground Realtor sources already know. Fewer homes on the market has meant higher-than-average home price appreciation ahead of one of the most brisk times of year for Dallas-area Realtors. The spring selling season has been filled with cold calls and pleas from Realtors for homeowners who are on the fence about selling to just get off their duffs and do it.

But, while the limited inventory may be a pain in the posterior for those searching for the right home, it has had one side-effect worth mentioning: Market stabilization.

“Since the second half of 2014, the dwindling supply of affordable inventory has led to stabilization in home price growth, with a particular uptick in low-end home price growth over the last few months,” said CoreLogic chief economist Dr. Frank Nothaft. “From February 2014 to February 2015, low-end home prices increased by 9.3 percent compared to 4.8 percent for high-end home prices, a gap that is three times the historical difference.”


The Lone Star State isn’t the same place as it was during the big 1980s oil bust, and is better weathering falling oil prices, but further price plunges and worker layoffs could negatively impact home sales and construction.

This is according to new research by Texas A&M Real Estate Center research economist James Gaines, who published Texas 2015 Housing Market and the Price of Oil last week. The six-page report explains that Texas’ economy has diversified significantly since the 80s bust, relying much more on healthcare, technology, and other sectors.

Here’s the takeaway:

The price of Texas oil and the upstream energy sector is a prime cause of concern for Texas’ 2015 economy and housing market. History shows that Texas’ housing does not depend on high oil prices. In fact, the state’s housing market has thrived at prices within a wide range of oil prices lower than those experienced in 2013 and the first half of 2014.

Read the full story over on MidlandDirt.com!