Jeff Dworkin 2012With inventory short and getting shorter, many home buyers are looking for land or teardowns and building up from there, making their dream home vertical rather than bidding again and again after properties and coming up short.

What is new and exciting, though, is the buyer who knows what they want and demands quality construction. They are everywhere these days, with buying power galore thanks to the resurgent North Texas economy.

So we asked Jeff Dworkin, founder of JLD Custom Homes, a CandysDirt.com approved builder, what buyers are asking for this year. Dworkin has several completed projects in East Dallas, some of which are amazing homes in Forest Hills, Little Forest Hills, and Lakewood enclaves that buyer’s snatch up before the dust settles. Dworkin’s company is known for building homes that blend with existing architecture, and are cost-effective and green to boot!

“We are seeing folks wanting some clean lines — squares, rectangles, etc. — in tile and flooring,” Dworkin said. “We are also seeing folks ask a lot more questions about energy efficiency and what their utility bills will be.”

Steam Shower1

 

Dworkin’s company has worked hard on its designs, several of which are certified by Green Built Texas. These homes meet stringent standards of energy efficiency that make them attractive to those who wish to conserve resources and lower their electric bills.

Dworkin says clients are also asking for open floor plans, with kitchens open to large, much more casual family rooms that serve several purposes. “A lot of folks do not even want a dining room anymore, especially those under 40,” Dworkin added, saying that large eat-in kitchen islands are preferred.

IMG_3189

While some owners want upscale or luxury stainless steel appliances in their homes, demanding brands such as Wolf, SubZero, Miele, and Viking, Dworkin isn’t seeing much of that yet.

“In the under $750K price point, we are not seeing the request for Viking/ Wolf as of yet, but outdoor built-in grills, spots for wine fridges and the ‘professional looking’ appliances,” he said.

Built-in Grill

Jeff Dworkin 2012With inventory short and getting shorter, many home buyers are looking for land or teardowns and building up from there, making their dream home vertical rather than bidding again and again after properties and coming up short.

What is new and exciting, though, is the buyer who knows what they want and demands quality construction. They are everywhere these days, with buying power galore thanks to the resurgent North Texas economy.

So we asked Jeff Dworkin, founder of JLD Custom Homes, a CandysDirt.com approved builder, what buyers are asking for this year. Dworkin has several completed projects in East Dallas, some of which are amazing homes in Forest Hills, Little Forest Hills, and Lakewood enclaves that buyer’s snatch up before the dust settles. Dworkin’s company is known for building homes that blend with existing architecture, and are cost-effective and green to boot!

“We are seeing folks wanting some clean lines — squares, rectangles, etc. — in tile and flooring,” Dworkin said. “We are also seeing folks ask a lot more questions about energy efficiency and what their utility bills will be.”

Steam Shower1

 

Dworkin’s company has worked hard on its designs, several of which are certified by Green Built Texas. These homes meet stringent standards of energy efficiency that make them attractive to those who wish to conserve resources and lower their electric bills.

Dworkin says clients are also asking for open floor plans, with kitchens open to large, much more casual family rooms that serve several purposes. “A lot of folks do not even want a dining room anymore, especially those under 40,” Dworkin added, saying that large eat-in kitchen islands are preferred.

IMG_3189

While some owners want upscale or luxury stainless steel appliances in their homes, demanding brands such as Wolf, SubZero, Miele, and Viking, Dworkin isn’t seeing much of that yet.

“In the under $750K price point, we are not seeing the request for Viking/ Wolf as of yet, but outdoor built-in grills, spots for wine fridges and the ‘professional looking’ appliances,” he said.

Built-in Grill

Jeff Dworkin soldThe indicators are liking Dallas more and more, and we are getting a reputation around the country for being pretty hot stuff — in our real estate market, that is. According to the latest CoreLogic report, Dallas-area home prices in February were up 7.3 percent from a year ago, February 2011, this in CoreLogic’s latest nationwide price comparison.

And then if you do what CoreLogic does so well, take out distressed sales, values shot up  9.5 percent.

That still skirts the overall national increase of 10.2 percent, the biggest increase in about seven years, but I’ll take 9.5 percent anyday. We have not seen home prices increase this much in seven years.

Markets seeing the best price increases were in markets that were wiped out by the Great Recession, which really started because of housing. We call them the Sand States: Nevada, where prices shot up 19.3 percent, Arizona which is back from the dead, prices up 18.6 percent, and Miami 9.5%, all those out-of-country buyers. But look at California — up 15.3%, and even Idaho up 15.3%, while Hawaii rocked it at 15.5%.

Yep, paradise is getting more expensive. Prices in Nevada are still 50 percent lower than they were before the housing bust — which is a good thing!

If you are house shopping, or looking for a house, CoreLogic predicts the double-digit home price gains will continue. The firm is calling for a 10.2 percent nationwide increase in home values for March. Here in North Texas, home values are up about 8 percent according to the various multiple listing services. And I’ll tell you that new homes are going to see price increases like a Texas tornado. Come June 1, the cost of lumber is going up, Jeff Dworkin of JLD Custom Homes tells me, because of a lumber span charge. Builders have to use 2 by 8′s, not the 2 by 6-inch boards they have been using. This will affect spacing of studs — either closer spacing or bigger studs. This means when framing a house, there will be more wood in that frame, which will take a framer more time to frame, meaning more to pay your framers, which trickles down to price increases of 10 to 15% per new home built.

“I have 2 or 3 people who called me last summer, they were on the fence,” says Jeff, “Now they are ready to pull the trigger but I tell them, it’s a different world. It’s 10 to 15% more now to build than it was last summer, and that doesn’t include the price of land.”

Which, according to CoreLogic and MLS is about 9% more expensive than it was last year.

So there you have it: Jeff says that the buying floodgates opened after January, with record low interest rates, once the election was over, once we realized the world was not going to end on the fiscal crisis. People had jobs, got loans, got a house.

At least, that’s what happened in Dallas.

 

 

 

Jeff Dworkin soldThe indicators are liking Dallas more and more, and we are getting a reputation around the country for being pretty hot stuff — in our real estate market, that is. According to the latest CoreLogic report, Dallas-area home prices in February were up 7.3 percent from a year ago, February 2011, this in CoreLogic’s latest nationwide price comparison.

And then if you do what CoreLogic does so well, take out distressed sales, values shot up  9.5 percent.

That still skirts the overall national increase of 10.2 percent, the biggest increase in about seven years, but I’ll take 9.5 percent anyday. We have not seen home prices increase this much in seven years.

Markets seeing the best price increases were in markets that were wiped out by the Great Recession, which really started because of housing. We call them the Sand States: Nevada, where prices shot up 19.3 percent, Arizona which is back from the dead, prices up 18.6 percent, and Miami 9.5%, all those out-of-country buyers. But look at California — up 15.3%, and even Idaho up 15.3%, while Hawaii rocked it at 15.5%.

Yep, paradise is getting more expensive. Prices in Nevada are still 50 percent lower than they were before the housing bust — which is a good thing!

If you are house shopping, or looking for a house, CoreLogic predicts the double-digit home price gains will continue. The firm is calling for a 10.2 percent nationwide increase in home values for March. Here in North Texas, home values are up about 8 percent according to the various multiple listing services. And I’ll tell you that new homes are going to see price increases like a Texas tornado. Come June 1, the cost of lumber is going up, Jeff Dworkin of JLD Custom Homes tells me, because of a lumber span charge. Builders have to use 2 by 8′s, not the 2 by 6-inch boards they have been using. This will affect spacing of studs — either closer spacing or bigger studs. This means when framing a house, there will be more wood in that frame, which will take a framer more time to frame, meaning more to pay your framers, which trickles down to price increases of 10 to 15% per new home built.

“I have 2 or 3 people who called me last summer, they were on the fence,” says Jeff, “Now they are ready to pull the trigger but I tell them, it’s a different world. It’s 10 to 15% more now to build than it was last summer, and that doesn’t include the price of land.”

Which, according to CoreLogic and MLS is about 9% more expensive than it was last year.

So there you have it: Jeff says that the buying floodgates opened after January, with record low interest rates, once the election was over, once we realized the world was not going to end on the fiscal crisis. People had jobs, got loans, got a house.

At least, that’s what happened in Dallas.

 

 

 

Jeff Dworkin

Jeff Dworkin started out working for a big production builder, but decided to strike out on his own to give his clients a custom home that won’t break the bank. We love what JLD Custom Homes offers clients — luxury finishes anyone can afford — and that’s why he’s a CandysDirt.com-approved builder. Dworkin, who is known to go the extra mile for his customers, told us a little more about what motivates him.

CandysDirt.com: So, where are you from?

Jeff Dworkin: Originally from a town just north of NYC. Left there to go to school at University of Texas and now just go back to visit!

CD: Why did you come down to Dallas and how did you get into real estate?

Dworkin: I was transferred here from Austin in 2002 with one of the big production builders to head up operations and became their division president shortly thereafter.

CD: Where is home for you in Dallas?

Dworkin: We live in southwest Plano, just north of the PGBT (Editor’s note: That’s President George Bush Turnpike, for those of you who rarely venture outside 635!).

CD: And you drive a… let me guess, Mercedes Benz???

Dworkin: For work, what else, a Ford F-150. Weekends, have a little Lexus SC430 Convertible, 10 years old and only 40k miles.

CD: What’s your favorite ‘hood in Dallas and why?

Dworkin: Knox/ Henderson area. I like the restaurants and the area — why not, since we build in the area.

CD: What business transaction are you most proud of?

Dworkin: Many, whenever folks say someone won’t buy in that neighborhood or in that location, we look at it as a challenge and bring that “affordable” custom home into the area!

CD: JLD Custom Homes is a brand with staying power. Likewise, how did 2012 treat you?

Dworkin: Business has picked up and we have noticed a lot of new signs and faces in the East Dallas neighborhoods. What we ask people that are out looking is “How long has that company been in the business? How long have their principals been in the business?” We are one of the survivors of the recession because we planned and executed. A lot of good builders that had been in this business for 30 or 40 years went under during the last few years.

CD: What have you learned in 25 years of building?

Dworkin: You gotta change with the times and constantly have your eyes and ears open. It is also important to be “involved!” That’s why I got heavily involved with the Dallas Builders Association and am the first VP.

CD: If you ever change careers for an encore you’ll…

Dworkin: Be a sommelier. I love a good glass of Merlot or Syrah and have traveled many times to Napa and Sonoma to sample the fruits of the vine!

CD: Where is the perfect location for a second home?

Dworkin: On a lake close enough to a ski area that you can use it during the summertime to boat and in the wintertime to ski! Areas around Deer Valley, Utah, fit this description.

Jeff Dworkin

Jeff Dworkin started out working for a big production builder, but decided to strike out on his own to give his clients a custom home that won’t break the bank. We love what JLD Custom Homes offers clients — luxury finishes anyone can afford — and that’s why he’s a CandysDirt.com-approved builder. Dworkin, who is known to go the extra mile for his customers, told us a little more about what motivates him.

CandysDirt.com: So, where are you from?

Jeff Dworkin: Originally from a town just north of NYC. Left there to go to school at University of Texas and now just go back to visit!

CD: Why did you come down to Dallas and how did you get into real estate?

Dworkin: I was transferred here from Austin in 2002 with one of the big production builders to head up operations and became their division president shortly thereafter.

CD: Where is home for you in Dallas?

Dworkin: We live in southwest Plano, just north of the PGBT (Editor’s note: That’s President George Bush Turnpike, for those of you who rarely venture outside 635!).

CD: And you drive a… let me guess, Mercedes Benz???

Dworkin: For work, what else, a Ford F-150. Weekends, have a little Lexus SC430 Convertible, 10 years old and only 40k miles.

CD: What’s your favorite ‘hood in Dallas and why?

Dworkin: Knox/ Henderson area. I like the restaurants and the area — why not, since we build in the area.

CD: What business transaction are you most proud of?

Dworkin: Many, whenever folks say someone won’t buy in that neighborhood or in that location, we look at it as a challenge and bring that “affordable” custom home into the area!

CD: JLD Custom Homes is a brand with staying power. Likewise, how did 2012 treat you?

Dworkin: Business has picked up and we have noticed a lot of new signs and faces in the East Dallas neighborhoods. What we ask people that are out looking is “How long has that company been in the business? How long have their principals been in the business?” We are one of the survivors of the recession because we planned and executed. A lot of good builders that had been in this business for 30 or 40 years went under during the last few years.

CD: What have you learned in 25 years of building?

Dworkin: You gotta change with the times and constantly have your eyes and ears open. It is also important to be “involved!” That’s why I got heavily involved with the Dallas Builders Association and am the first VP.

CD: If you ever change careers for an encore you’ll…

Dworkin: Be a sommelier. I love a good glass of Merlot or Syrah and have traveled many times to Napa and Sonoma to sample the fruits of the vine!

CD: Where is the perfect location for a second home?

Dworkin: On a lake close enough to a ski area that you can use it during the summertime to boat and in the wintertime to ski! Areas around Deer Valley, Utah, fit this description.

Jeff Dworkin DMN jan 2013

Photo courtesy of Kye R. Lee/Staff Photographer, Dallas Morning News

I think we’ve been saying this in so many words for a few weeks: our market is doing better, much better, and now even Steve Brown my “Debbie Downer” NAREE colleague at the Dallas Morning News is paying attention: He’s even saying our homes (all of them?) may soon cost more:

“North Texas homebuyers are going to have to dig deeper to pay for a new house. And even if they can swing the bigger price tag, finding an available property won’t be easy. A growing shortage of undeveloped land and lots in many new home neighborhoods and rising construction costs will mean significantly higher prices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this year and in 2014.”

Then I just got off the phone with Steve’s photo star, builder Jeff Dworkin, a CandysDirt approved builder (all hand selected because I know the quality of their work: Jeff, Michael Turner of Urban Classic Homes, Mickey and Michael over at Shariff-Munir, Mark Danuser at Tatum Brown, Tom Greico, Marc Kleinman, Dennis Mullinix, Matthew Thomas, these are the good guys) who confirmed the home in the photo, 7231 Coronado, will be completed later today but sold weeks ago prior to completion at $530k. Unreal price. But that’s the story everywhere. And he thinks the home would have sold for $20 to $30K more had he put it in MLS.  (He has another one going up two blocks from Coronado, so holler at Jeff if you are interested.)

Jeff is in Vegas today at the National Home Builder’s show but has to come back before it ends because he’s closing on two more homes Friday morning. The home builder’s problems, if we can call them problems, are what Steve outlined and I’ve been telling ya –

-Home inventory (pre-owned) in Dallas is down to a four month supply of pre-existing. Six months is normal. It’s even less in Austin — 3.3 months!

-Builders stopped building specs after 2009, and banks stopped lending money for specs so, as we predicted, specs became a hot commodity.

-The supply of vacant lots is down by 40% in Dallas/Fort Worth.

-Building materials are costing more: wood, concrete, roofing materials (because almost everyone in North Dallas got a new roof courtesy of last springs’ hail storm), plumbing, concrete.

-Skilled labor is at a premium. As Jeff and my other builders told me months ago, the number of home builders in Dallas has been chopped by almost half of what it was before the recession. The work went away, so many subs turned to other careers. Today’s home builder needs loyal subs.

Michael TurnerI had lunch with Michael Turner of Classic Urban Homes last week, and I was lucky to get the man to sit down for 30 minutes, that’s how busy he is: six customs under construction, three in the design stage.

“It’s like someone flipped on a light switch 6 months ago, ” he said. Whereas Jeff might be selling to younger families in East Dallas wanting a new home for around half a million, Michael’s Classic Urban gets 80% of their calls from people in Park Cities, Preston Hollow and Bluffview who want to downsize to about 3000 square feet, or what one of my dear friends calls a “lock and leave”. But they still want those homes loaded.  Michael says three things are driving all this new construction: low interest rates, pent-up demand from the last four years, and the herd mentality.

That’s not to say he is not also selling to younger what we once called DINKS, double income, no kids.

“People in their mid thirties, young professional couples, both working” says Michael. “they are wanting new, a modern, contemporary home they plan to stay in longer. We are trying to keep up with the demand.”

A few consumer trends Michael sees: engineered wood flooring is hot, stainless steel still rules in the kitchen, greener countertops like Silestone and Cesaerstone are running neck to neck with granite, a “flex room” which can be a study/office/craft room combo, and the end of the living room as we know it.

“The formal living room is dead,” says Michael. “And people are also giving up media rooms.”

Contemporary design, however, is here to stay, he says.

Builder Leo Savino of Significant Buildings and Construction agrees that contemporary is not just hot, it’s here to stay. He, too, is finding building lots as scarce as a needle in a  haystack. In fact, now he has several commissioned remodeling projects for some clients who choose to stay in their current home lot and make, well, Significant improvements to it.

“I have a client in the Park Cities who loves, loves, loves her street and never wants to leave,” says Leo. “So we are doing a major interior remodel, going contemporary and larger in a 1920′s house.”

If you are thinking of building, one thing you DON’T want is a builder who beats on his subs too much for pricing. Such a builder may find himself without subs in this heating up market.Significant

 

Busy day here yesterday at the ranch, as we emptied and discarded these babies for an Eternal GU 195S on demand hybrid gas fired water heater. In effect, we are going tankless. Woo hoo! These two hot water heaters are 12 years old, about the age when they start to break down. One broke on Christmas Eve, but it was no big deal because our hot water heaters sit in pans that have drains attached — water bugs notified us of the leak while we were at church. We turned off the broken unit and used the other one — the joy of being empty nesters!  A few weeks ago, I heard rumblings in hot water heater II — it was loud and bouncy, as if pebbles were popping inside. Was someone having a party in there?

Sure enough, that popping noise is a sign of sediment in the heater tank, an indication it’s about to bite the dust. This happened, of course, when I was in San Francisco last week. But if a hot water heater is going to break, late July is probably the best time ever. Sonny over at Great Southwest Plumbing saved the day — Sonny does all the plumbing for Classic Urban Homes and JLD Custom Homes, among other fine Dallas home builders– as you know, I’m picky about my homebuilders.

When you replace those big momma heaters and go tankless, it may not always be so smooth. Check for a few things: one, we have 3/4 inch copper pipes, at least 3/4 inch is required. Secondly, the roof vents: we chose the Eternal because we could vent it into the same roof vent both heaters had used, using the same flashing. I have done enough home remodeling to know you are asking for trouble when you start cutting new holes into a roof. We also needed an electrical outlet in the attic, and God bless my home builder, we had one.

These are the pesky details, that make “going green” so hard to carry out in reality. Had our home been fitted with small pipes, would have been a whole lot more labor and retro-fitting!

Did we run into any problems? Only one: we have a fire sprinkler system installed by Urban Fire Protection. The plumbers were cautious and didn’t want to go about soldering in the attic with the risk of setting off the fire sprinklers — that would have been a disaster! The good folks at Urban Fire talked us through shutting down and draining the sprinkler system so they could solder away. Another reason why you need intelligent, cautious people on the job!

The Eternal is so compact I may create a storage closet in the space those old heaters hogged. Our water is very hot and seems to get hot faster: we are getting 14 gallons per minute, so two or three people can shower simultaneously and still have hot water, plenty of it.

As for those two big mamma tanks, one of the plumbers says he’s going to recycle them into a BBQ pit… and promises to send photos!