The Beat Condos Ext

Modern and affordable, Buzz Lofts in the southern Dallas neighborhood of The Cedars are a popular choice for those who want loft living south of downtown Dallas.

Condos are hot and getting hotter, according to the Texas Condominium Mid-Year Sales Report from the Texas Association of Realtors. Statewide, condo sales rose an average of 10.5 percent year-over-year between the months of January and May of 2014. In San Antonio condo sales were up 18 percent, followed by Austin at 14 percent, Houston at 6 percent and Dallas at 4 percent.


Kings Road Demolition(Photo: Dallas Morning News)

We published an unedited statement from Dallas Housing Authority President and CEO MaryAnn Russ on Friday, in which she said that DHA clients have just as much right as nearby residents to live in an upscale neighborhood, and that the property on Kings Road must be affordable housing because of federal laws.

OK, that makes sense, but the main gripe of community advocates isn’t having low-income housing, it’s how much of it is planned for the site. Before it was demolished last year, many nearby residents said that the Kings Quarters development, a 70-year-old 200-unit public housing project, was rife with drugs and crime. DHA plans include more than doubling the number of units and decreasing parking. It’s a recipe for disaster, says a former neighbor to the DHA development that was razed.

I think that this would seriously impact the surrounding projects.  Having lived there I know first-hand what this can do to a community and unfortunately the bad element that can come along with this.  I think making it more dense will hurt resales nearby and increase crime.  I have watched SWAT teams bust down doors on busts at apartments across the street from these homes, and even personally wound up on an episode of a crime show that profiled our landlady, who carried a shotgun with her when she walked the property and stopped a break in one night.  It was a rough area and I for one don’t miss it.

But Russ says in her letter that DHA has owned the property longer than anyone aggrieved by the new development, and that improvements to the area started long before Kings Quarters was vacated and demolished. “We believe that by very careful screening of applicants and strict property management, we can retain the positive aspects of this fine area,” Russ added.

But that’s the rub for folks who saw how Kings Quarters descended into squalor due to lack of maintenance and upkeep. Advocates say DHA wouldn’t allow them to help tidy the property by planting flowers or helping with peeling paint.

“I hope when it is rebuilt that they will take better care of it because they sure didn’t the last time,” said a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. “I would like to see it more mixed with some units at market rates and some subsidized. I think then the community would have a better chance of being a good neighbor and would help keep out some of the bad element that can come with these projects. It’s been public housing for years and I know we need it but I’d hate to see them make it so dense and reduce the parking. I don’t think that’s the right recipe for a good neighbor.”

I have a hard time disagreeing with that perspective. What about you?

6224 Aberdeen $1.65 ish multiple offers sold in 6 days in February


6238 Aberdeen listed for $1.79ish in March

Recent convo with an agent who is seeing a problem in the market with new listings right now. Because the first quarter of 2012 was brisk, he thinks maybe prices are goosing up. Quarter One was brisk because buyers and sellers had become more reasonable, not because prices were up. When that excitement is “improperly communicated”, sellers start “overpricing” their homes, because of the perception that the market is busy, he says.

“I think it is seller driven,” he says. “The seller hears chatter in the marketplace that the market is stronger so the SELLER gets a little too optimistic. I have gone into listing presentations where I show all the sales for the last 12 months. Dollars are flat, but transactions are up – I suggest a list price of say $600,000. The SELLER will respond, “But I hear from other people that the market is sooo hot right now, let’s list at $675,000 and see what happens.”

What happens is that you go 60 days with no action, and end up selling for less, say $530,000 and eating up all that time.

I sat through listing presentations last week where the seller just did not want to hear the market value of his home. “But I’d like to get XX,” he said, ” that is my comfortable number.” Well, comfort or not, the truth is the market sets pricing, not your comfort levels, just as it does in the stock market. My comfort level with my AOL stock (please pass the Tums) is $20 or $25 a share, ain’t happening.

But I have to ask: isn’t this just how a bull market begins? I know Robert Shiller keeps beating us with that wet noodle of “home prices falling” and he has an excellent point. Nationally, home sales fell in January to a new cycle low but even Shiller says it is not as bad as he even thought it was. However, it ain’t Miller time. Far from it. We just don’t know what the future could bring. As he says: prices could go up, prices could go down. Don’t expose yourself to too much real estate.  Like most of the problems in our business world, the uncertainty out of Washington is killing us. I recently tried to refinance our home: it was a disaster.  I can hardly wait to share the story. I will soon be knocking on Richard Fisher’s door to get in on the “Break Up The Big Banks” movement. Federal regulators are stifling lending because, of course, of all the bad lending that took place and got us in this mess. So it’s corporate punishment: a few screwed up, so now we just say no to almost everybody. Fannie and Freddie are a mess and really the only source of home financing for anything under $417,000. Jumbo money is starting to loosen up and there is promise of more on the horizon. Then, as Steve Brown wrote last week (paywall) about home appraisals: even though the market is picking up, the appraisals are not keeping up because often appraisers use sales from three months ago that might be lower. So a buyer comes in, makes an offer, only to have the appraisal come in and blow the deal.

Appraisers, in turn, say don’t stone us, we are just doing our jobs, and if a house can’t be valued at the proposed purchase price, that’s just what the market is telling us. (Who cares about your comfort level.) Lenders for sure don’t want to provide mortgages if properties are overvalued. That was part of the reason for the home market bust. Expect more of this friction in the year ahead as the North Texas housing market recovers.

As home prices rise — and they already are in some neighborhoods, and in San Antonio, see example above — appraisals will trail behind. Like I’ve said, a home may be priced at the greatest price in the world but if you cannot get financing, it’s not selling. And you aren’t going to get financing if the appraisal come in low. Mortgage companies are sticking with tough underwriting standards when it comes to appraisals and standards. The appraisal process is much, much tougher with new requirements, giving the perception that appraisers are holding values in check. In reality, they are taking marching orders from the feds.

Then there are the Z sales… don’t get me started.

So what our writer is saying is take heed. We’ve got a great spring market ahead, we’ve got multiple offers and the big properties are finally starting to turn. But let’s not get “irrationally exuberant”. Price those properties right, else they may get stuck in the constipation of the appraisal/financing system.









Dallas-Fort Worth

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Four Texas metros hit the U.S. News and World Report list of best places to live — and Dallas-Fort Worth was in the top 25. But how did the city fare in a study of diversity? And where do Millennials want to move?

We cover all this and more in this week’s roundup of real estate news. (more…)

live at homeWhere did Dallas fall in a study of adult children living at home with their parents? What cities will dominate new home construction this year? What did housing sales look like in February?

We have all this and more in this week’s roundup of real estate news. (more…)

A recent report from , a tech-driven real estate brokerage, found that Dallas/Fort Worth was among the top 10 markets nationwide for career-focused single women to live. The analysis was based on a variety of factors, including the percentage of single female homeowners, female median earnings, and female unemployment rate. The Metroplex has some unique factors that make it a great place for single professional women looking to buy a home. (more…)

Seattle transplant Kelly Gurnee recently joined Clay Stapp + Co. He’d spent the past three and a half years at Gurnee & Associates, a firm in his hometown started by his brother.

This is actually Gurnee’s second stint in Dallas. In 2009 he helped build a dental group that a friend started. For the six years, he oversaw 10 offices and was responsible for many of their business operations. When his friend sold the group in 2015, he returned to Seattle where they hoped to repeat the same business model in a new location. Gurnee ultimately elected to dive in real estate and hang up dental for the time being.

“I did really well but I wanted to get back to Texas all along,” he said. “If I’d had my way I probably wouldn’t have moved back. I met a lot of good people here.”



Everglade Park will be home to one community project to receive funding from the Dallas Neighborhood Vitality Grant Program (photo courtesy City of Dallas).

Which Dallas neighborhoods will receive grant dollars for community projects? What is holding many back from becoming homeowners in Dallas? We’ll look at that, plus see news on Opendoor’s newest round of funding and how it impacts North Texas in this week’s roundup of real estate news.

Sixteen Dallas Neighborhood Projects Receive City Funding

Sixteen projects across Dallas will receive Dallas Neighborhood Vitality Grant Program dollars this year to implement community improvements. (more…)