Merriman Park

Merriman Park Elementary parents and local business banded together to create a more welcoming and cheerful space for the school’s 60 teachers. Their efforts inspired us to begin matching schools with businesses and groups who would like to do the same. (Photos courtesy Merriman Park Elementary PTA)

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Katy Hancock, a PTA officer at Merriman Park Elementary School, the kind that I love to get.

In it, she told me about how three parents (who just happened to be experts in their fields) banded together to spearhead a makeover of the teachers’ lounge — a teachers lounge that was sad, dark, and dysfunctional.

Before

Before

“The PTA had a little money left over at the end of the year,” Hancock said. “We thought maybe we could get a few cabinets and a new countertop.”

But then Kim Armstrong, a parent and owner of Kim Armstrong Interior Design, offered to manage the project.

“Kim stepped in, some amazing MPE families stepped up, and OMG…we have ourselves one very amazing teacher’s lounge,” Hancock said.

Fellow Merriman Park parents Derek Kellogg and Kevin Bryant of Richland Renovations and Bentwood Kitchens, respectively, also got involved, providing labor, materials and more.

“Their contributions and a whopping PTA budget of $2,500 made this possible,” Hancock said in her email.

I took Johnstone up on her offer to see the completed space in person, and met with her, Kellogg, and Armstrong in the now bright, cheery room that is a vast improvement for the 60 teachers that use it. (more…)

Lake Highlands

Apartments like The Trellis (pictured) and others make one zip code in Lake Highlands one of the cheapest areas to live in Dallas, according to new research by Realtor.com.

We know rents are high in Dallas — we’ve written more than a couple of stories about how much it costs to live in the Big D. But where can you consistently find the cheapest rents? Turns out, one zip code in Lake Highlands, in particular, is exactly where you should start hunting.

Realtor.com decided to take a look at several large metros with higher rents and find the most affordable neighborhoods in each — with a few provisos.

The researchers said they began by analyzing median one-bedroom rents as of May by zip code, and then searched neighborhoods within a 45-minute commute to downtown during morning rush hour based on data from Google Maps.

Researchers said they also “made sure crime wasn’t over a certain threshold based on crime data provided by Sperling’s Best Places, a site that collects data on communities across the U.S.” (more…)

951 Woodview Prosper | candysdirt.com

Does your life revolve around kids’ basketball games and cheer practice? We’ve got the home for you! And if you have OU in mind for their college destination, you won’t even have to redecorate. Amenities of this backyard of this spacious new listing in Prosper include an outdoor basketball court bedecked in University of Oklahoma’s colors and logo, a permanent tumbling track, a trampoline set in-ground, and a fabulous pool to cool off in after the game or workout is done.

Set on a one-acre lot backing up to private lake, the 5,598-square-foot, two-story, five-bedroom, six-bath home at 951 Woodview Drive is set in the Whispering Farms neighborhood of Prosper. Once the central railroad stop between Dallas and Sherman, Prosper is an affluent suburb located 35 miles north of downtown Dallas and 55 miles from Fort Worth. From this small town, it’s a quick jaunt to Frisco to the west, McKinney to the east.

Here’s a look:  (more…)

rents

(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

There may be a lot of apartments being built in Texas, but that’s not necessarily translating to more affordable rents, one economist said at a recent conference on affordable housing held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Greg Willett, chief economist at RealPage, told the group assembled that the same affordable housing issues that have begun to block families from purchasing homes have begun to crop up in the rental sector as well.

“We are starting to see the same affordability challenges in rental housing,” he said, adding that this issue is occurring despite a boom in apartment completions across the country. (more…)

We are estimating there are approx. 21 renter households for every available home.”

Denver has a pretty snazzy downtown. We were there this summer for NAREE, the annual June convention of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. We toured pricey new construction in barrio-like ‘hoods that were quickly turning to glam. I thought the prices were as high as the altitude.

Now comes word that Denver is overloaded with luxury apartments. The Mile-High city added 12,000 apartments since 2015 and another 22,000 more are under construction, this according to CoStar Group Inc. as reported in The Wall Street Journal. Further, “More than 90% of those units are considered luxury, meaning they incorporate higher-end finishes and amenities.”

You know, granite and quartz countertops, higher end appliances, vessel tubs, bigger closets and balconies. Things that cost more but draw in the higher-rent crowd. Sound familiar?

There are currently 16,000 vacant units in metropolitan Denver, up 5,500 from three years ago, according to MPF Research. Rents for a typical one-bedroom in Denver range from around $1,200 to $1,600. Rents for luxury apartments are at the top end of that range.

Because the buildings are higher-end, landlords won’t have to undergo the rigorous frequent inspections that make some wary of other government-subsidized housing programs, said Nancy Burke, vice president of government affairs at the Colorado Apartment Association.

There’s one reason why, perhaps, developers prefer building higher end buildings: less oversight intrusion. Save that thought.

Now let’s look at Dallas. We have been going great guns in the apartment building department. We are churning out some GREAT mixed-use developments in Uptown — have you seen The Katy yet? Knock your socks off. Walked in there during the holidays and ran into three people I know living there in luxury and loving it. And the building is leasing up rapidly because quality sells.

Take a gander up and down Coit Road in my ‘hood, District 11, near the new Costco: it’s apartment city. Look at that structure across from Trinity Groves, Sylvan 30. We need apartments, yes, because statistics show that when people move to Dallas on average they lease for at least a year before buying.

But do we have too much?

Sydney Bennett just told us that Dallas metro added more new rental stock than any U.S. metro: 22,851 deliveries in 2017, up from 15,459 in 2016. ALMOST TWENTY THREE THOUSAND UNITS. Most of these were, like Denver, higher end units with hefty rent tags. But can teachers or editors or police or administrative assistants — the bulk of the workforce, in other words — afford these units?

Sydney says “Dallas remains more affordable than many surrounding cities, but apartments in hot neighborhoods including Uptown and Highland Park are often well above the Dallas median. Plano is the most expensive of the 10 largest cities that we have data for in the Dallas metro, with a two-bedroom median of $1,410. Of all the cities we have data for, Flower Mound remains the most expensive, with a two-bedroom median of $2,180.” Now that’s a head-scratcher. Because it’s closer to DFW? (more…)

Rents are forecasted to rise 8 percent in the coming 12 months, and new home starts are up — giving the market some serious optimism when considering our housing supply issues. But Bob Johnson (AKA BobMortgage — senior mortgage advisor at the nation’s oldest private lender — Wallick & Volk), has some wisdom to share with renters: “You’re already paying a mortgage, it’s just not yours,” he says in this week’s issue of The Mortgage Report. “Stop giving the money to your landlord.”

This week’s episode shows you have to take the good with the bad. Though new home starts are up, so are initial jobless claims. And while there’s plenty of positive momentum in the market for the close of 2017, the bond market doesn’t seem to be getting that message. Should you lock or float? Tune into this week’s Mortgage Report to find out: 

(more…)

What would it take to get Amazon to locate it’s HQ2 here in Dallas? Jon Anderson says you don’t want to know, and we shouldn’t be so sure we want the e-retailer here anyway.

And according to new stats from ApartmentList, if Seattle’s fallout from HQ1 is any indication, Dallas and Austin renters should expect a bump in cost of living should Amazon HQ2 land in these major Texas metro areas.

(more…)

Rents are up again in June, according to various reports released last week. But the severity of the situation varies, depending on which report you read.

Numbers released in the National Apartment Report by Abodo.com show median rents for one-bedroom apartments in Dallas rose 5.12 percent since last month. Five percent in a month! That’s the seventh highest rent increase for a metro area in the country. But their data comes strictly from their own listings, which may be the grain of salt we need to take with this. Private listings tend to feature more luxury apartments, which skews the rental data toward costlier properties.

(more…)