white rock cottage

There are a fair number of small houses in East Dallas near White Rock Lake. Many of them were built in the 1950s and 1960s, when closets were tiny, floorplans were divided up with lots of walls, and families were perfectly happy with just one bathroom.

As homeowners renovate some of these houses, they’re rethinking the use of space. Today’s Tuesday Two Hundred exemplifies smart reno choices that make the most of the small footprint of a midcentury house.

The White Rock cottage at 6464 Fisher Rd. near Northwest Highway and Abrams Road measures a modest 1,124 square feet. But nothing feels cramped or confined in the house. Owner and listing agent April McGowan at Keller Williams’ Park Cities office took the house to the studs in 2013 and reimagined a bright, modern interior. The living room and kitchen share one open space that’s multifunctional and well conceived. She tore apart the outdated bathroom and added a second, and they’re both luxe: think Carrera marble floors and a frameless shower with freestanding soaker tub.

Because of its small size, this house will naturally have lower energy bills than larger builds. But McGowan took that a step further, installing low-E windows, new insulation, new electrical wiring, and a tankless water heater to make monthly bills feel like pocket change.

Oh, and did I mention it is zoned for the coveted Lakewood Elementary? I predict this house, newly listed for $269,000, will go fast.


Mortgage loan

Getting a home loan can be a challenge for self-employed people: A typical mortgage lender wants to see one job with steady month-over-month income.

But an independent contractor might have time off between jobs, varying amounts of income each pay period, and business income that looks low because of capital investments, which are common tax write-offs for the self-employed. This often means they can’t qualify for a traditional home loan, even though they’re earning enough to afford it.

In fact, about one in four borrowers see their traditional purchase loan applications rejected in areas like Dallas and Travis counties, where self-employment is roughly 30 percent, according to Zillow. Around the rest of Texas, the chances of being rejected can be even higher for well-qualified borrowers, including small business owners, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and self-employed borrowers.

“It’s not that they aren’t financially capable of buying a home—it’s that they’re up against a traditional lending system that hasn’t adapted to a changing workforce,” said Michael Slavin, CEO of online mortgage lender Privlo, which rolled out its services in Texas Friday, one of nine states in which it is currently doing business.

“We underwrite each borrower and are able to tailor the loans,” Slavin said. “We’re using technology to be a lot more flexible because we deal with the exceptions to all the lending rules.”

Because of those exceptions, Privlo considers many more data points beyond the typical W2 used by traditional banks and institutions to assess a borrower’s creditworthiness, like tax returns and bank statements.