Dallas

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…)

North Dallas Foundation Repair’s Eddie Zansler and his family. (Courtesy photo)

It’s the dead of summer. You begin to notice cracks appearing at the corners of your doorways. Closets won’t close. And you get the sinking feeling (pardon the pun) that your foundation needs some attention.  If you don’t have any experience with foundation repair, addressing the problem can be daunting. Finding a professional you trust, one who won’t oversell or underperform is key. And so is arming yourself with the knowledge to know the difference. We spoke to Eddie Zansler of North Dallas Foundation Repair, a trusted name in the industry, to get the lowdown on raising your foundation.

First, a couple of basics. The goal of foundation repair is to stabilize a house built on unstable soil by anchoring it into stable soil, or bedrock.  Soil in the Dallas area is notoriously unstable. Over time (usually decades), our homes shift. Proper watering can prevent some shifting, but not all. And the phenomenon is so common, it’s not unusual to see several houses in a neighborhood undergo repairs in the same season.

Stick with us after the jump for some practical advice on repairing and maintaining your home’s foundation.

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home ownership

In a new national survey of renters, almost everyone dreams of home ownership, but affording it is not an option for many.

In Dallas, 97 percent of respondents claimed they want to own a home, but only 63 percent of those individuals could afford a mortgage in the city. The survey of 6,000 renters was created by Zumper, an apartment rental search company.

“The main contributing factor to this discrepancy seems to be that home values in Dallas are outpacing wage growth,” said Tanguy Le Louarn, head of data science at Zumper. “Various for sale reports in the Dallas area show an increase in home prices around 10 percent in the last year, some even report up to the mid double digits. Meanwhile, the Dallas Fed report recently stated that there has been a slow down in wage growth as higher paying jobs are being lost to lower paying ones—Dallas wages cannot keep up with the increasing home values.”

In fact, in a third of the surveyed cities, under half of renters earned enough income to qualify for a mortgage.

Interestingly, even though almost everyone surveyed wanted to buy, only 71 percent of respondents believe that the “American Dream” involves homeownership.

“While almost everyone wants to own a home at some point, the fact that only 71 percent of our respondents believe that the ‘American Dream’ involves homeownership highlights a potential shift in mentality of how this ideal can be achieved,” Le Louarn said. “While owning a home tends to be a good financial investment, it does not seem to be the end goal for as many people as it used to. Right now, homeownership is at its lowest ever and the renter population only continues to increase, especially among Millennials.”

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I’m bullish on home ownership, even these last few days after I’ve dealt with spewing water pipes. But this report from CNN/Money made me laugh. Out of the top ten metro areas in the nation, it tells us what we already know: Dallas is a great place to buy rather than rent, and with median home prices at $163,100, your break-even time (which they do not define but I am interpreting as the time to recoup a 10% down payment) is just under 3 years.

And no duh: you are better off renting in New York City, San Francisco, Boston and LA.

Back home to Dallas again: that median home price is NOT a downtown condo. And they talk about Westover Hills, in Fort Worth, where it would take you 11 years to break even because of higher home prices. Somehow they managed to miss Highland Park entirely, where I’m guess-stimating a break-even of 12 to 15 years. But that’s what you get when you don’t have boots on the ground reporting.

Do you agree with this report? What is the break-even time on home ownership in downtown Dallas and Highland Park?

A Reader who has had her house on the market for over a year writes:

Dear Candy:

It has been a nightmare trying to sell my home in Prosper. I’m a single mother of two. I paid about $280,000 for my home 2.5 years ago. Been on the market for two years. One buyer came in and backed out at the last minute, after I’d signed a lease on a rent house. (That was costly!) Now we have another buyer at $263,000 on a $275,000 asking price. I put $40,000 down on this home and with this offer, will only net $3,000. That’s a lousy investment on $40K. It’s a solid buyer, all pre-approved, clean deal and they are paying all fees. I just don’t know what to do! Do you think home ownership is worth it? Everyone keeps telling me that they are going to take away the tax deduction, and I should just sell and lease. What’s the real story? I need a real estate expert? I’m afraid my agent wants me to sell just to get rid of me and make some money off me.

Thanks,

JH

Dear JH,

Wow, that’s a tough call. I still believe in investing in real estate now, maybe more than ever, but only if you can afford it and hold it for the long term. The market is improving, but disasters keep happening — Japan, Libya, the Middle East. There are signs of inflation everywhere but in housing it seems, and that’s because of all the foreclosures and short sales out there.

I think that if you need to sell, you should take this offer, maybe counter at $269,000. I think you should be happy you will not be taking your checkbook to closing but will, instead, get a check, no matter how small. Think of it this way: you lived in the home and it only cost you $11,000 (assuming you sell it at $269K) plus maintenance for 2.5 years. That’s $366. per month, and that’s not figuring in your tax benefits, if any. (Some folks don’t enjoy the mortgage deduction thanks to the Alternative Minimum Tax.) So you have a nice home in Prosper with great schools for less than $400 a month. Houses are not ATMs.

Are you secure in your job? Can you hold off for another year? It’s a gamble, because while the market may get better, it could get worse and interest rates could go up. Personally, I think prices will stay flat for several years (sorry) and there is an election coming up, which throws in yet more variables. So you could stay in your home,¬† knowing you may make out the same in a year or even two. It really depends on your situation.

Why don’t you map out a “worse case scenario” if you stay in your home, worse case if you move out. Renting is a great idea if you want to be flexible — someone today at an Urban Land Institute Meeting said Paris France is a city loaded with apartment renters. But don’t give up on housing for the long term. I hope this helps. I really wish I had a crystal ball for you!

Now we need to ask the SecondShelter community what they think you ought to do!

By the way, Darling Homes is raffling off a brand new home in Prosper — check it out!