Christmas is right around the corner, and you can certainly tell here in North Texas. The trees are decorated, holiday music is playing on the radio, and eggnog lattes are back at your favorite coffee shop. With Santa’s visit just a few short weeks away, we are highlighting our favorite Dallas-area apartments with fireplaces and chimneys for Santa to use. Don’t worry — all these chimneys are big enough for Santa to fit without feeling claustrophobic. Some even have rooftop pools and balconies for Santa’s reindeer to play in while they are waiting for the jolly old elf to finish delivering presents.

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Is Dallas likely to get Amazon’s HQ2?

Right when you think that we’ve talked it absolutely to death, the Wall Street Journal had to go and breathe life into the corpse of the Amazon HQ2 story. But wait! Do all of these fancy pie charts mean what we think they mean? Is Dallas proper about to get the crown after finding ourselves at first runner up too many times?

According to the numbers (I’m not great at math, so I’m going to trust them a bit here), the big draw for Big D is all business — available labor, low taxes, and relatively affordable cost of living (for now, at least). Big points for meeting Amazon half way with college population and cultural fit (Dallas County is blue, y’all). But when it comes to fiscal health, we got low marks.

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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.

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Having a car can be expensive — beyond monthly car payments, there are costs associated with insurance, gas, oil changes, repairs, and parking. Even if you own a car, public transit is a great alternative means of commuting. You can avoid sitting in traffic and save on paying for parking in downtown Dallas. We’re featuring great apartments that are just a short walk from the closest DART station. These apartments will make your daily commute a breeze!

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Rentberry already counts over 1,000 rentals in the Metroplex

Rentberry already counts over 1,000 rentals in the Metroplex

I don’t like Uber and Lyft because they operate on an uneven playing field. I don’t like Airbnb for similar reasons, and for the in/out/party upheaval they can cause to neighborhoods. I don’t like drug companies that raise prices just because they can.  Therefore, it’s no surprise what I think of new apartment rental apps Rentberry and Biddwell.

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It seems like there’s a new press release with new data in our inbox every day telling us that more and more people are moving to Dallas now than ever before. And just as often we are reading news stories about slow apartment leasing and price reductions in some areas of the market.

If you’ve been overwhelmed with the seemingly ubiquitous data-driven news showing both how fast we’re growing and how troublesome the rental market is looking, here’s a little breakdown of the most recent news regarding Dallas growth and Dallas real estate. The takeaway: Expect to see more of these guys.

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"The Worst Room" is a hilarious and depressing Tumblr blog focusing on the sad state of rentals in New York and beyond. This listing, via Dallas Craigslist, is especially sad.

“The Worst Room” is a hilarious and depressing Tumblr blog focusing on the sad state of rentals in New York and beyond. This listing, via Dallas Craigslist, is especially sad.

I stumbled across this sad, sad Tumblr blog not too long ago and completely forgot about it. It’s the blog of a New Yorker who was going through the depressing task of finding a suitable rental in the city that wasn’t a dungeon, a closet, or a tent in the backyard of a derelict Brooklyn Brownstone (they’ve seen it all!). It’s somewhat in the vein of Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos, which we love.

And then someone sent me a Facebook message pointing me to a post about a Dallas room for rent, offered by a “single Hispanic man” who prefers a female. While this is a one-bedroom apartment, don’t worry, you won’t be sharing rooms. He’s offering up his unfurnished living room because, hey, he’s not using it right now. If you have $300, this empty living room has some things going for it, including a window and access to the outdoors.

Sounds perfect and not sketchy at all!

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.