Southern Dallas Buyer’s Guide: A Detour — Jumping I-20 For (Some) Newer Homes

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I had to feature one renovation candidate

Let’s pause and enjoy our halfway point — this fifth installment of the Southern Dallas Buyer’s Guide marks the end of the DART Blue Line.  For those just joining us, you can get going here.

A lot of folks tell me that while they enjoy watching all those renovation shows in HGTV, the thought of picking up a hammer gives ‘em the willies.  Since Halloween is fast approaching, I decided to comfort those move-in folks by moving just south of I-20 and into the jagged borderland of Dallas and Lancaster. You’re still a close to the UNT DART Blue Line Station making public transit an option.

That short distance picks you up a Kroger, In-N-Out Burger, and a Starbucks, which I’m sure has nothing to do with the diminishing percentages of minorities.  The home prices can be a bit more than north of I-20 (remember, I said the bargains were in the old redline areas), but the homes for sale are much newer overall. This is mostly because Lancaster and DeSoto were fields a lot more recently than north of I-20.

For those seeking a vintage housing stock, that’s going to be harder to find here.  Instead, you’re in for a plethora of suburban tract home chic and a lot larger homes.

But before we get there, I had to show you a 1970 ranch at 833 Stanford Drive (above) with 1,008 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths that’s listed for $83,500. Sure, three bedrooms in 1,008 square feet is a tight fit, but I’d knock one bedroom out that I’d give some space to the living room and some to a larger bathroom. I bet I’m going to hear from Realtors that a two-bedroom home is a tough sell, but at $83,500 plus some renovations, you’re still talking about a whole lot less than rent money … for a house. The home is listed with Kelly Snodgrass with JP & Associates.

First, note that the owner has kept the original garage.  So many smaller properties steal the garage and leave the cars in the driveway.  Also, the blue trim is bad as are the Home Depot trellises in front of the windows.  You can barely make out a sad front deck in back of the two bushes. Nix that, too.  Plant some bushes and flowers. Quick and easy curb appeal fix that’s more sweat equity than contractor bucks.

Inside there’s awful tile to replace.  The wall on the left is the bedroom I’d kill.  It’s next to the master — lose it and reapportion into more living space and bathroom area.  Doing that, the living room picks up three feet in width. The paneling on the right wall just gets removed. For more light, add a glass-paneled front door.

The way the home is laid out, you’re supposed to enter into the living room. I hate that. The front door makes for a narrow space, so put the dining table there instead.  The foreground of the picture becomes the living area and now faces the rear of the home and is next to the kitchen giving a more open feel without totally trashing the kitchen.

Here’s the kitchen and the back of the “new” living room.  Ax the back door and replace the window with French doors (remember, this will be at least three feet wider). Call that $3,000 – $4,000.

Because you can’t open the left wall of the kitchen, the options here are a nice Ikea kitchen (don’t overspend and they’re good quality).  You can see the wallpaper border hides a sort of cubby area that houses the washer/dryer. Blow out the left stub wall and place the fridge back left and a stacked washer/dryer on the right (enclosed in closet). Between the visual foolery of matching flooring throughout and the rework, the kitchen is a lot larger, feels connected and had plenty of light coming from the over-sink window and adjacent French doors. If you want to get extra credit, remove the soffits above the cabinets and take them to the ceiling. Call it $10,000 – $12,000 depending on appliances (no electrical or plumbing work, just new floor, cabinets, counters and appliances).

The bathroom is no great shakes, but picking up the square footage from the lost bedroom and you can install double sinks with a little plumbing help.  The rest is new vanity, toilet, tub and tile. Call it $6,000.

As you can see, there’s a big’ ol’ backyard.  From the left there’s the master window, sacrificed bedroom, window-cum-French doors, covered back door and kitchen sink window.  Assuming some overages, figure with a little sweat you can spiff the home up for $25,000 on top of whatever is negotiated from the $83,500 asking price. That’s about a grand a month for mortgage and property tax payment … for a house that’s 10 minutes from the ever growing UNT campus and a quick walk from Lancaster High School.

But OK, you want something ready to go.

Next up is 1420 Swift Fox Drive listed with Ebby agent Butch Reynolds for $234,900. This is an enormous 4,295 square feet ($54.69 per foot!) with five bedrooms and four baths. Bedrooms are three up and two down (including master). The home was built in 2004, so most anything you decide to do is taste rather than required.

Large combined formal living and dining areas

My only quibble (besides needing a map for such a large home) are the popcorn ceilings that I’d thought were dead. As you enter there are formal living and dining areas before you get to the “best” part of the home, the kitchen and family room.

A sea of kitchen awaits the cook.  Plenty of room for the kids to raid the cupboards and fridge after school without disturbing dinner preparations. Entertaining?  It’s also open to the family room. Stainless steel, granite, and double-bowl sink. (You don’t have to replace the fluorescent lights that belong in a garage, but you could for a couple hundred)

Family room has a fireplace and a big wall for the TV. If you’re feeling the need to do something here, you could re-tile the fireplace and put a glass door for more light.  Certainly not necessary, but I can’t help myself.

With over 4,000 square feet, the spaces aren’t going to be small. The master bath has it all with double vanity along with a separate tub (you) and shower (me). A lighting upgrade and a little less beige and I’m all good.

Even picky me sees only some lighting upgrades and popcorn-ectomy.

Is 2004 still not new enough?  How about 2017 and you’re the first person to sleep here?  Then there’s 1664 Lyon Street listed with Blanca Garcia of Century 21 Judge Fite for $269,000.  It’s a three-bedroom, two-full-and-one-half-bathroom home with 2,153 square feet resting on one third of an acre.

Here’s the open concept you want right from the front door (which is in back of the photographer). The door in the distance is actually the back door (though looking rather front door-y). You get a generous open living room with an oversized stone fireplace. To the right there are bedrooms and to the left the room opens to the kitchen with a breakfast nook far left.

The kitchen is slightly clumsy for the avid cook looking for counter space.  There’s a pantry through the door, but the cabinets don’t go to the ceiling and there’s no real place for the fridge. Why there’s that giant arch between the kitchen and the breakfast nook with no connecting cabinets is a mystery, it’s not load-bearing.  Perhaps the builder would work with a buyer to figure this out.

And there’s one other oddity. The half bath?  It’s in the garage.  Is the architect telegraphing his own digestive issues into his/her designs?

On the upside, the master bath is all you could hope for (and it’s not in the garage!).  Separate everything … water closet, shower, tub and two vanities at opposite ends of the room. Plenty of windows and light … nothing wrong here.

There you have it.  Three homes on the southern side of the UNT DART station. As you can see, regardless of age, no home is perfect.  I tend to steer towards older homes where tinkering often generates more payback than ripping into newer homes. In our next installment, we’re moving east of I-45 to see what’s out by Fair Park and beyond as I jump aboard the DART Green Line … first stop, Fair Park.


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 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

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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