505WestHuntStreet-McKinney-TX-75069

Photo: Lance Selgo/Unique Exposure Photography

Historic districts are some of my favorite neighborhoods. When my husband and I first moved in together, it was a Craftsman bungalow in Junius Heights that set the scene for some of our first days and weeks as a married couple. That huge, open front porch was a great place from which to meet our neighbors, and we loved the cool little details that evoked the home’s own memories.
Sunlight filtered in through the wavy glass in the almost 100-year-old windows, and the hardwood floors were patched with an old yardstick from a neighborhood hardware store now long gone. It’s that built-in character that makes these homes treasures to be cherished.
When restored, of course, these prestigious homes become gems that glisten in the hearts of towns that are growing fast. While newer models are popping up like mushrooms overnight in nearby developments, these homes will stand the test of time. That’s what I love about Historic Downtown McKinney. While the Collin County suburb has fabulous schools and plenty of great new home developments to choose from, everyone gathers at the heart of this neo-Mayberry that calls itself “unique by nature.”
And this prairie home, a diamond that shines so bright, has been restored to wonderful results. Jump to see the perfectly staged interiors within this listing from Christine Hogan of Ebby Halliday Realtors.

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Blind 6

(Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a hopefully regular series from Jon Anderson, in which he dishes on the inner-workings of life in the sky. Anderson’s take on Dallas high rise living is both entertaining and educational. You can read his first installment here.)

By Jon Anderson
Special Contributor

Driving up and down our High and increasingly Toll “ways” one can’t help but be proud of the number of housing units built for deaf and blind people. This has picked up considerably since the recession and something we can be proud of.

Or course I’m kidding about the deaf and blind, but how else can you explain the huge numbers of apartment blocks and condominiums lining our dirty and unendingly noisy six-lane thoroughfares? Otherwise, I’d be forced to think developers actually believe people with functioning ears and eyes would not only want to live facing a high-speed motorway but use a balcony overlooking it all.

Here’s just a sample…

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Home For Sale Sign Dallas

Let’s just say that my eyes widened a little without the help of coffee when I read this story from Steve Brown. According to Fitch Ratings, Texas home prices are way overvalued, by 11 percent they say, and there could be a reckoning coming thanks to falling oil prices.

The financial analysts at Fitch are concerned about the year-over-year growth in Houston, Austin, and Dallas, which posted home price increases of 20 percent since 2011.

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Property For Rent

To rent or buy. This is a topic swirling among my 30-something friends and seems to be in constant discussion.

Based on a brief survey CandysDirt.com conducted on a group of 25 to 40 year olds, results showed that 25 to 30 year olds are significantly more likely to rent compared to any other age group surveyed. This information provided me with a resounding “duh.” This age group is made up primarily of college graduates and young adults just starting out. As one renter put it, I’m a “recent college graduate who makes below poverty level.” Which is shown by 40 percent of our renters paying less than $1,000 a month in rent.

Other reasons people choose to rent include:

  • Lower-than-average rental rates
  • Mobility, or plans to move for various reasons
  • You are in an astoundingly expensive housing market such as Malibu or Breckenridge

The downsides of renting begin with the security deposit. Although most are returned after the contract has ended, it is out-of-pocket money. The yearly costs of rent and renter’s insurance also stack up the price. Opportunity costs can put renters behind when they eventually go for their first home purchase since they haven’t been building credit and investing in a property.

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But what about FHA loans? Won’t that help renters get some momentum with the more conventional loan process? Yes and no. Down payments with a FHA can be as high as 10 percent, which is still difficult for our under 35 group. These loans also prove more difficult when it comes to choosing a home for purchase. The limitations on the maximum purchase price have made it more difficult for some buyers to even qualify in more expensive housing markets, or highly sought-after ones such as the Park Cities.

According to our survey, 35-40 year olds are twice as likely to buy rather than rent, that is, if they can qualify for a loan. September 2013 data from Zillow, reports that three out of 10 Americans are unlikely to qualify for mortgages. Typically, the better mortgage rates are kept for borrowers with credit scores of 740 or higher. Only around 40 percent of Americans fall into that category.

On the flip-side, if you’re able to secure a mortgage and purchase your home, the yearly costs, including maintenance and improvement, can be substantial. Wait, you have a new job and need to move? Now to sell your home. People who use a Realtor will pay as much as 10 percent of the selling price in costs associated with selling. Let’s add on the cost of the inspection and a pre-sale facelift. Have out your calculator? Relocation costs, and exactly how long will you be sitting on that home of yours?

Regardless of age, 55 percent of those surveyed are putting their money into a home as an investment rather than renting. Owning provides more stability and an opportunity to accrue equity. Of those surveyed, most responded that they would rather put their time and money into a home that is theirs. An obvious conclusion. As a 30-something myself, I am not at all surprised by the narrow gap. Renting provides more flexibility for entrepreneurs, families with small children, and frequent travellers or jet-setters.

Renting may seem to be a waste of money to some, but there can be lower maintenance required as well as a welcome tax break. With loan qualifications like they are, some would love to buy but just aren’t able to. Renting becomes one of the only option and also requires less commitment.

Of course, you could always move in with your parents …

photo (26)Candace Tharp is a real estate-obsessed former food writer who has blogged about tacos, cupcakes, and haute cuisine before joining the team at CandysDirt.com. Have an interesting story to share? Contact her at candacetharp@hotmail.com.

Michael Turner 2013

Sure, when a builder or architect wants to show off their skills, you can sometimes end up with a structure that is beautiful but not very practical. For Michael Turner and his firm, Classic Urban Homes, they stay true to their motto: “Building for the way people really live.”

You can see that in his work, which has won numerous awards. Find out more about Turner and his firm, a CandysDirt.com Approved Builder, after the jump!

CandysDirt.com: Where are you from?
Michael Turner: I grew up in Arlington.

CD: How did you get into custom home construction?
Turner: Started working for a builder in high school and it just stuck.

CD: What project are you most proud of?
Turner: The “Serenity House” at 6720 Greenwich, a 4,238-square-foot modern home that won 8 ARC awards including best overall architecture and interior design. Designed in collaboration with WARE Architecture Studio, it was featured in the 2013 Dallas Modern Home Tour.

6720 Greenwich ext

CD: Where is home for you in Dallas?
Turner: I live near the Midway/Forest area.

CD: What’s your favorite neighborhood in Dallas to build in and why?
Turner: Bluffview, because it is an eclectic neighborhood and lends itself to more variety and not cookie-cutter homes.

CD: What materials or shapes evoke your signature style?
Turner: Clean lines, linear design, functional, uncluttered, liveable. Our tag line is: “Building for the way people really live.”™

CD: What was your most challenging/memorable project?
Turner: 6720 Greenwich, because of the amount of glass in the design and the steel substructure that was required.

6720 Greenwich DR

CD: From concept to completion, what is the fastest you have completed a project?
Turner: Six months (Editor’s Note: WOW!!!)

CD: How many projects reached completion last year?
Turner: Six.

CD: What have you learned about building that makes you so successful?
Turner: Always be responsive, respectful, and be there to answer any questions from clients to subcontractors. Having a good team in place to make things run smoothly.

CD: If you ever change careers for an encore you’ll…
Turner: Work in the medical field since it is recession proof.