Tight High-Rise Inventory Means Less Choice: Dallas Affordable High-Rises

Dallas hasn’t been a great high-rise condo town when compared to other cities. It seems like Dallas builds a lot of high-rises that come online the day before there’s a huge recession. Many old-timers connect high-rises with recessions as financially troubled properties hit the skids when storm clouds circle. Their touchpoint is the 1980s S&L scandal-driven recession that hit Texas unmercifully hard.

And while it’s true that high-rises took a bigger hit even in the latest recession, the difference was single-digit. And when the economy came back to life, so did high-rises – often with a vengeance. One Turtle Creek high-rise is trading at triple its recession low.  Even had I not renovated my lowly Athena condo, it would have still risen by 75 percent in the six years I owned it.

This is all to say that condos are pretty much as resilient as single-family. Which is good considering Dallas, like the rest of the planet, is becoming more urban. In 2015, the US Census reported that on average, 62.7 percent of US residents lived in cities with Texas reporting 65 to 75 percent urbanization. The Census further reports that 39 percent of Texans live in its top 20 cities – in a state with 41 cities over 100,000 residents. The United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects say 82 percent of US residents live in urban areas. While there is a 20-point disparity here, likely driven by definitions of “urban,” it’s still a lot.

We all know Texas, and specifically Dallas, is growing rapidly – Texas is one of nine states that account for half of the US population. We also know that a lot of our new arrivals come from markets that are more high-rise markets – e.g. California and New York – and their money goes further in Texas.

What do high-rise buyers have to buy?  Not a lot…

If you total up all the high-rise condos (buildings above 12 stories) for sale at this minute in downtown, Uptown, Victory Park and Turtle Creek, there are 133 by my count.  There are an additional 11 under contract. For reference, The Warrington at 3831 Turtle Creek has 132 units in total. That’s right, the sum total of high-rise buyers’ options would all fit inside one building.

Availability from $150,000 to $300,000

If you’re looking for reasonably-priced high-rises, there are 11 active listings (and four under contract). They’re all in three buildings – 1200 Main Street, 3883 Turtle Creek known as “21” and The Renaissance at 3225 Turtle Creek. (Sure, there are a bunch more in the mid-rises, but we’re talking high-rise.)

Sizes ranged from a 5th floor, 538-square-foot studio under contract at The Renaissance listed at $185,000 to a 7th floor, 1,287-square-foot two-bedroom at 3883 Turtle Creek listed for $289,000. The buy of the bunch might have been the 21st floor, 862-square-foot ,one bedroom (at 3883 Turtle Creek) with a list of $183,900 or $213.34 per square foot that’s under contract.  Well-priced inventory moves very quickly here (as it does in all housing types) – a third of listings are under contract.

Ground floor unit at Mayfair

$301,000 to $500,000

At 34 active listings, this is price band offers the most choice by far. While listings also include the three buildings listed above, we begin to see listings at Park Towers (3310 Fairmount), Crestpark (4242 Lomo Alto), The Centrum (3111 Welborn), The House (2200 Victory), The Mayfair (3401 Lee Pkwy), Turtle Creek North (3701 Turtle Creek), The Warrington (3831 Turtle Creek) and even the W Residences (2430 Victory Park Ln.)

With a large number of buildings, what you get for a buck varies. For example, you can get a 1,745-square-foot, 3rd floor, three-bedroom, at The Renaissance for $415,000. Meanwhile, at the W Residences, $419,925 will only snag you an 825-square-foot, one-bedroom – but it’s on the 26th floor. In most buildings, higher floor and view increase prices. Throw a few more shekels into the budget and there’s a 1,549-square-foot, one-bedroom at The House for $499,000 on the 12th floor (wallpaper steamer not included).

But strange of strange, maybe you like the idea of a high-rise but without the “high”. You’re in luck, there’s a one bedroom at the Mayfair on the ground floor that includes a 371 square foot terrace. It has 837 square feet indoors and it’s recently listed for $350,000.

The House unit 2201 view

$501,000 to $700,000

In this price bracket there are 17 active listings with none under contract at the moment. Oddly, there are no listings in downtown over a half mil. The closest we get is Victory, where there are two units on the 22nd floor for sale at roughly the same cost per square foot. For $600,000 you can get a very spacious 1,540-square-foot, one-bedroom with a corner balcony. Down the hall you can drop $99,000 more for a second bedroom in this 1,807-square-foot home. As I said, same floor, different views. The smaller unit has downtown views while the larger unit has up-close-and-personal views.

The House unit 2207

There is something smile-worthy when you’re home and looking at the top of a neighboring building. Most people see the tops of buildings from the ground whereas your perspective changes in a high-rise. A friend told me he thought my 11th floor Athena condo felt higher than the (coming) 18th floor unit at the Claridge. As best as I could figure, the uninterrupted Athena view offered no anchor to the ground whereas the surrounding Turtle Creek high-rises did.  As much as I like the long view, there’s a drama to a reach-out-and-touch view of another high-rise.

Of course in this price bracket, there are Turtle Creek options. One is a two-bedroom unit on the 5th floor of The Warrington with 1,597 square feet of indoor/outdoor space. At $650,000, it will need a renovation.

Well, my chickadees, that’s where I’ll leave you for now. This is the end of the road of what’s largely considered “affordable” in the high-rise world. In part two, we’ll show what’s available from $701,000 to infinity. Y’all come back now, ya hear!


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

6 Comment

  • It would be interesting to get your take on list price vs sold price on the various condos, and how long they typically sit on the market.

    • mm

      Any buyer needs to be keenly aware of how long a property has been on the market. The longer on the market, the larger the disparity between original list and selling price. Some will be relisted so their original price is masked a bit, but a Zillow search will reveal listing/price history.
      .
      Like any property, there are over-confident sellers who think they’re worth more (and agents who will list over-priced properties). It takes time to bring that back to reality. It’s a seller thing, not a high-rise thing.
      .
      Example. My Athena condo was sold to the first buyers. The condo I’m buying was on the market for four years.

  • If you expand into North Dallas, there are at least six units for sale in Preston Towers under $300,000 and two just under $350,000.