For those wanting to live in a high-rise in North Dallas, 1981’s 16-story Bonaventure is pretty much it. On the upside, it sits on over seven parklike acres dotted with water features. However, on the edge of the apocryphal double-edged sword, it also averages arguably the lowest cost per square foot of any high-rise in Dallas.
The reason I looked at the Bonaventure at all (which is a riff on the Italian words for “good luck”) was because unit 1117 popped into my feed last week after a price drop. I was shocked. It’s a 3,370-square-foot double unit listed for $410,000 with Robyn Carafiol of Keller Williams Midtown – that’s $121 per square foot. It was originally listed in July 2019 for $700,000, meaning today’s price represents a 41 percent drop. Of course, to my eyes, it’s a gut.
When I looked further I saw that there are 20 listings in a building with 336 units (three of which are currently under contract). Of those three, all were listed in mid-2019 with two remodeled and one “Ready to be redone!”. This means that while they’re inexpensive, they’re also a long sell – not the best combination for most.
However, for those on fixed incomes, a combination of larger units, low prices, low HOA dues, and low property taxes are a boon. Of course, there are trade-offs.
Beyond unit conditions, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The lobby and hallways must be kept up to get buyers in the door. That’s two-fold. First, it’s the front door for visitors (reflecting on owners’ status and taste). And second, it’s unchangeable for an individual homeowner – you’re just stuck with it.
If the Bonaventure hopes to increase buyer interest, it needs to risk centuries of bad luck and renovate the lobby. But super-low HOA dues probably mean there’s no money in the pot. And there’s the rub. Do you spend thousands on Windex or a special assessment?
For anyone buying a home, I encourage you to create a table of a property’s pluses and minuses to see where you are. But for more clarity, rank how important each is to you on a 1-10 scale.
For example, the bad items in my Bonaventure list are all financially driven. The lobby and hallways are a result of low HOA dues. But those knock-on into slower sales, iffy ability to recoup renovation costs, and ultimate resale values. That you can buy a unit here for well under $200 per square foot after huge post-recession gains is telling.
But if this purchase is literally your last home, perhaps having heirs deal with any financial downside makes sense (finding a unit here with a walk-in tub seems pretty easy – jus’ sayin’).
Besides, all those financial downsides equate to lower property taxes. And if you’re on a specific budget, low purchase price, low property taxes and low HOA dues (currently $0.51 per square foot) might make sense for you.
Emphasize The Positives
The Bonaventure isn’t all bad. It sits on an enviable 7.6 acres, which means views are likely pretty stable simply because the next buildable lot is further away. View-wise, the Galleria is probably the most visible night-light, with downtown Dallas a speck in the distance. The acreage also equates to plenty of outdoor space for walking, swimming, or playing tennis.
Also in the positive column, unit sizes are really good, with those currently for sale ranging from 1,685 to 3,548 square feet (eight of the current listings and two of those under contract are the 1,685-square-foot size).
These are pretty generous for a high-rise of this vintage, which means it was built as a higher-end property (as the acreage verifies).
As with all high-rises, your love of a specific floorplan is a personal decision – but there is space. From the floorplans I’ve seen, it appears the Bonaventure floorplans are situated where all or most have central kitchens with living on one side and bedrooms behind the kitchen.
The graphic above lists all the currently for sale and under contract properties. As you can see, there are eight units where a buyer should rush to DCAD to get their taxes lowered even more (green). Depending on final sales price, DCAD seems pretty accurate on nine of the properties, leaving just three undervalued. Of those currently under contract, there’s one in each category (units 432, 216 and 1016).
A good deal?
Returning to the 3,370-square-foot double-unit 1117, is $410,000 a good deal? There’s one unit larger currently listed for sale – the 3,548-square-foot double-unit 932 asking $649,000. It was first listed in November 2018 for $749,000 (before a series of up and down price changes and a June 2019 pending sale).
Both are essentially original units (combined at some point) with as-built cabinetry, plumbing and largely original flooring (although if you’re Jonesing for fuchsia carpet, 1117 is for you). Unit 932 has been updated with de-popcorned ceilings and painted woodwork.
About the only other difference is the views. Unit 932 looks southwest over the heavily landscaped side of the building whereas unit 1117 faces southeast and largely overlooks a surface parking lot. Both have great long-distance views.
Maybe it’s the mood I’m in these days, but I think the best financial outcome for 1117 is to drive a hard bargain and split it back into two 1,685-square-foot units. Renovate the one without a kitchen and remodel the other. A smart and quick flip might net an investor a decent profit. Even though half the current listings are those 1,685-square-foot units, buyers want renovated homes – especially the older buyers most high-rises attract. I feel long-term appreciation will continue to be below-market rates.
Just be sure to blindfold buyers until they’re away from the lobby.