Southern Dallas Buyer’s Guide: Looking For a Reasonably Priced Home? Let the Redline Map Be Your Guide

If it’s Red, full steam ahead; if it’s Yellow, say “hello;” if it’s Blue, you might’ve missed your queue.

Last week, Seth Fowler wrote about a client of his looking for a home in the sub-$200,000 market close to his job in Bedford.  “Ted” had been on a roller coaster of 43 showings and 11 contract offers … still without a home eight months on and counting. In today’s Dallas, it’s a story that’s been accelerating since the housing market began recovering in 2013. While slacking in the upper end of the market, the entry level remains full steam ahead.

Also last week, Alex Macon posted on D Magazine’s Frontburner about the legacy of redlining and a new set of charts overlaying 1930s redline maps against the current racial makeup of Dallas (U.S. Census data).  It’s clear that the 30-year pox of redlining, from the 1930s until 1968, still infects the Dallas landscape (as it does nationwide in many previously redlined areas).

But what’s the reality? I’m going to find out.

Many talk about neighborhood revival with the tacit understanding that for something to revive, it must be neglected in the first place. When racial redlining was made illegal in 1968, another type of redlining emerged.  Economic redlining is alive and well regardless of income level or race.

The Park Cities used to be multi-income neighborhoods. Counting a gas station, garage, and grocery store as first tenants, Highland Park Village, began more to serve the upscale and everyday needs of local residents (Harry Winston isn’t an everyday need). Owners, as well as employees, were able to live nearby. After decades of McChateauing, little remains of those modest dwellings. When a holdout hits the market, it’s a teardown.   When areas retreat upmarket, away from their multi-income roots, it’s viewed as success.

4942 Kildare is a four-bedroom, two-bath home with granite counters and 1,595 square feet. This new build is priced at $149,000.

Conversely, lower-income areas attract negative press because from bungee jumping to crime stories, we seem to thrive on fear coupled with the relief that adversity missed us.  We all know minorities historically earn less than Caucasians, so economic redlining served much the same purpose as its predecessor.  Minority neighborhoods suffer the double whammy of lower resident income coupled with municipal neglect.

Dump all that in a mental bowl and stir in wage stagnation.

Wage stagnation has been going on for decades even within the six-figure set. This had been a creeping, almost unnoticeable issue in Dallas, as our housing hadn’t experienced the booms of other areas. But the past few years of rapid population growth, plus a continuing decade of crippled housing starts triggered by the Recession, have put Dallas housing firmly on track to enter the realm of true unaffordability.  Add in banks reining in residential development loans and supply may get worse as another lever pushes up housing costs.

Sick Irony

Because of the wage stagnation driven by their greedier grandparent’s generation combined with the century-old racial and economic redlining of minorities, the best place to look for reasonably-priced housing is the redline map itself.  Thankfully (on many levels), each successive Caucasian generation is becoming less concerned with race.

1908 Argyle. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,568 sft. 1 block from Cedar Crest Golf Course. $119,900

A commenter on Seth’s post calling him/herself US Navy Veteran asked why CandysDirt.com didn’t feature more sub-$200,000 homes. My answer was that in that blazing end of the market, there simply wasn’t time to write about a home before it was under contract. Of course my answer dripped with North Dallas bias. US Navy Veteran continued that he/she was looking in Oak Cliff, Cedar Crest, and West Dallas, and asked if the Fair Park area was worth considering and (stereotypically) whether gun ownership was necessary. When these locations are shared with north suburban family, they “invariably shriek in response,” but they’ve also never even been to Bishop Arts or Trinity Groves or The Cedars.

Challenge Accepted

This is all a lead-in to my riding the rails of the southern sections of the DART Blue and Green lines as they snake south of downtown. In the coming weeks, I’ll be profiling neighborhoods and showing housing stock for buyers in need of great homes at reasonable prices.  Included in my journey will be Dallas Zoo area, Cedar Crest, Five Mile Creek, Glen Heights, Lake June, Lawnview, and of course Fair Park among others.

Buyers, Don’t Wait For Me

Like Northern neighborhoods, homes in the best of these areas don’t stay on the market long.  Homeowners report regularly getting flyers on their doors from investors wanting to buy their homes. The reasons are easy to understand.  The homes are often in decent shape, priced very low compared to a few miles away and the feeling that something will happen with Fair Park that will attract adjacent interest and investment. Oh, let’s not forget the deck park coming to the Zoo area that’s meant to restitch the east and west neighborhoods scarred by I-35E.

8205 Palisade Drive has three bedrooms, two baths, and 1,846 square feet priced at $104,900.

Sellers Don’t Sell

Because of this, I have a warning to existing residents: Stay.

If you sell, where will you go?  Even further afield?  Selling now, on the eve of what many believe is a coming uptick, leaves you out of the fun and profit of living in a changing area.  If I-20 is the southern I-635 and Ledbetter Drive the southern Northwest Highway, as the urban core grows, Oak Cliff spills east, and The Cedars begins to move south, this becomes much more prime real estate. Add in a success at Fair Park and in the immortal words of Dan Savage, “It gets better.”

I suppose we should be thankful that the city has for generations sold out south Dallas by bowing to State Fair to impair Fair Park’s success while kow-towing to the Perot’s and Alliance instead of building Inland Port. If they hadn’t, Southern Dallas might be just as unaffordable as North Dallas.

 

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.

 

11 Comment

  • Great article Jon.

  • Good story and thanks for writing this. I’ve often thought about where people would go if they sold today, but I’m not sure “stay” is always the answer.

    There are people living in super-hot Central Oak Cliff that paid less than $100,000 for their homes and suddenly they’re worth twice that. What’s wrong with cashing out and building some wealth for retirement or to pass down to their kids? Maybe they wouldn’t mind moving to Pleasant Grove or Cockrell Hill. Gentrification doesn’t have to suck for everyone.

    • You’re right, “Stay” isn’t always the answer. If you’re OK with moving away, cash out. But if you think the $100,000 to $200,000 appreciation will buy you a similar home in the same sort of area, that may be a mistake. Most likely a mortgage will go up (if that’s OK, fine) as a buyer trades up.
      .
      Similarly, selling out now for wealth-building, retirement or inheritance may be a mistake depending on where you want to live. And besides, as these area gets hotter, the appreciation will continue to grow. Today’s $100,000 windfall may be double that before the money is needed in retirement. I’d never recommend selling assets today for inheritance reasons. Live your life and let heirs scrabble over the estate once you’re dead.
      .
      Bottom line, you always have to plan your next move before you cash out. It’s not a windfall, it’s where you live and you’ll need a place to live.

  • Thank you, this article is a 10.

  • The prices featured in this article seem fantastic. I can deal with less than stellar schools because I don’t have kids and I’m not as afraid of crime as most people.
    The problem is I have no idea where I would work if I lived in the southern part of Dallas. All the jobs seem far to the north of these neighborhoods.

    • There are jobs in the urban core of Dallas as well as near many stops along the northern end of light rail. Ultimately, there are jobs where you’re willing to commute to. Everything is a trade off. But yes, the prices are a refreshing reminder that you can be close to the city and not pay a fortune. You also may have to do some renovations if you don’t buy one of the MANY new builds going up in south Dallas. With lower income often comes lower maintenance.

    • If you happen to work downtown like more than 100,000 people do, Oak Cliff could not be better. I live walking distance to a DART red line station and work outside the Saint Paul Station. Work pays for $65 of the $80 pass. 25 minutes max on the train each way.

  • So much great information, and very timely. Thank you!