Realtor.com lists Dallas as its 11th hottest market.

Realtor.com is hailing it the longest inventory decline in two decades. According to a new report from the online property search site, there were 11 percent fewer homes available in June 2016 than the previous year. The drop marks the 24th consecutive month of falling inventory – the longest streak in 20 years. Home prices also reached a new record, selling for 9 percent more than in 2016.  Together, these trends present enormous hurdles for buyers.

Currently, median inventory age in Dallas hovers at only 38 days, well below the national average of 60 days. As the Realtor.com’s 11th hottest real estate market, Dallas feels the strain keenly, but it certainly isn’t alone. “More markets than ever are struggling with inventory problems,” said Javier Vivas, manager of economic research at Realtor.com. “In 80 percent of markets there are fewer homes for sale currently than this time last year.”

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Logo Sign - PRINT 16x16

If you like the idea of having a home on the range but can’t imagine living in the middle of nowhere, you might take a look at Corsicana. The first oil boom town in Texas, it was founded in 1848 and by the early 1900s it was one of the top 10 cities in the nation with the most millionaires. It’s stuck to its small-town roots ever since.

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The Makerspace at Walsh

Conceptual rendering of The Makerspace in Walsh

A new word is circling the globe.  Well, maybe it’s not a new word but it’s certainly one that you’re going to hear more and more as it pertains to real estate and development.  The word is “makerspace.”

Also known as “hackerspace,” “hacklab,” or “metalabs,” a makerspace is a collection of people with similar interests that congregate in a collaborative work space to make things, share ideas and foster education.

It’s a club with membership based on a common interest.

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Halloween Decorations

Photo: Randy Robertson via flickr.com

WalletHub, one of our favorite sources for all of those ranking lists that pit cities against each other on a wide variety of somewhat pointless criteria, just crunched the numbers to discover what American cities are the best places to celebrate Halloween. Now, this annual day of spooky decor, jack o’ lanterns, and politically incorrect costumes that are shared all over the internet is big business, expected to net $8.4 billion in 2016, WalletHub claims. But what towns get their Samhain on better than anyone else?

Jump to find out!

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Ranch style home

Photo: Realtor.com

What is the quintessential American home? That’s a question that can creates a hot debate. Is it the Colonial beauties on the East Coast, or the classic traditional? How about a Cape Cod?

A recent Realtor.com study points to another style that is the most popular in 29 of the 50 states: the ranch style home.

“The ranch style signals a lifestyle change of that age. Front porches went away, and people are more into backyard living and protecting privacy,” said Tim Cannan, president of PreservationDirectory.com.

This isn’t a big surprise, because ranch houses can be built quickly and relatively inexpensively. They’re also highly customizable for buyers and regional preferences. Their low-slung style may be inspired by the Old West, but it quickly spread from that coast across the nation with the rise of automobile culture in the 1960s. Their design naturally accommodated one or even two cars and became popular in newly built suburbs.

But what about other styles of homes?

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The Perfect Name for a Hong Kong Real Estate Brokerage (“wasted” on a restaurant)

The Perfect Name for a Hong Kong Real Estate Brokerage (“wasted” on a restaurant)

In case you missed Part One, you can read it here.  In that section I wrote about how the thirst for safe investments that return a decent profit has changed the real estate markets in cities across the globe, particularly Hong Kong. You may think Dallas is nowhere near the bustling city of Hong Kong, but consider that Hong Kong’s population is roughly 7.24 million and the Metroplex is roughly 7.1 million — where we differ is land mass.  The Metroplex sprawls over 9,286 square miles while Hong Kong manages on a much more restrictive 1,064 square miles … nine times the density.

Hong Kong housing can be thought of as a compressed version of Dallas.  There are insights to be gained. This installment covers the results of investment, development, and the shortfalls of grand government plans.

Empty Homes

The results of parking income in real estate can be seen in cities like Seattle, Vancouver, and London where vacant, investor-owned properties are used as oversized piggy banks to park excess cash.  Most of these properties aren’t in the rental pool, depriving the local market of a housing unit. It’s been estimated that between 40 to 50 percent of London homes are empty on a given night … and London is not alone. (Homelessness in these markets is the height of irony.)

As Dallas housing continues to trend, it’s important for governments to study the mistakes and successes of other hot markets.  In hot markets, owners are rewarded on the backs of tenants and those forming households.

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Hong Kong Real Estate Broker Window

Hong Kong Real Estate Broker Window

Many of the hottest global real estate markets didn’t get that way due to local requirements.  They’re hot because of investors looking to either park money or seek a better return on investment than can be found in traditional banking.

I had thought about writing about second home opportunities in Hong Kong for CandysDirt.com’s sister blog SecondShelters.com, but I think there’s more value for Dallasites to learn.  I won’t say, “there but for the grace of god …” but in smaller ways Dallas should learn lessons from cities that already have high-growth.

Many readers are old enough to remember when money market accounts, bonds, CDs and even savings accounts could be combined for a decent, low-risk annual gain. Today we know all too well those instruments offer rates equivalent to mattress stuffing.  After all, the same low interest rates found on residential mortgages and business borrowing are killing returns on those low-risk investments (interest paid to savers is tied to interest generated by loans).

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Lincoln Ave

Happy Birthday America! We are so proudly grateful to be Americans today, and so fortunate we live in a country that lets us say pretty much what we want, build (generally) what we want, and encourages home ownership. Our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers gave their youth and in some cases, their lives, to fight to keep the American standard of liberty free. In my case, one set of ancestors can be traced back to World War I and II and probably even further back to other wars. But my mother’s set fought instead to leave their native country behind and immerse their children in a brand new land free from the persecution they endured at the hands of Communism. My maternal grandmother kissed her mother goodbye and was sent to the U.S. to live with her older brothers when she was 12 years old. She never saw her mother again. Her pride was the home she bought, birthed and raised her family in, and kept intact during the Great Depression by selling moonshine, I was told. She lived in that home until a few weeks before her death. For awhile, the family ran a grocery general store on the first floor. When my uncles returned from World War II, she had created an apartment for each one of them that she later turned into rentals. In this way, her home became her piggy bank and she refused to leave it until she had no physical choice. She bought her home with cash before mortgages existed, before FHA loans, before PMI.

That piece of dirt was my grandmother and grandfather’s rock of Gibraltar.

A recent essay by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the 1.1 million strong National Association of REALTORS, in Forbes, outlines a concern I have that people in America today are not partaking of home ownership as previous generations have. We hear from pundits that the younger generation prefers sharing over owning, from apartments to cars to clothing. Hogwash: maybe they like Uber, but they cannot afford homes because of college debt they were lured into by banks. And now those same banks, the ones we bailed out during the Great Recession, are demanding higher lending thresholds.

Yun argues that Americans are doing well overall, fabulously well, the “net worth of everyone combined reached $88 trillion as of the first quarter of this year, which has essentially doubled since the turn of the new century in 2000. In 1980 the total net worth was $10 trillion. Some of the increases are due to inflation and from a growing population. Still, the increase over the years has been quite stellar.”

But guess who is not partaking in that celebration? Young people under age 35… some Millennials, some Generation Z, some whatever you call them: (more…)