cheapWe often show you some of the fanciest houses for sale in Dallas, but we got to thinking recently — have we ever shown our readers the cheapest habitable houses in Dallas?

Statewide, houses sell fastest in a particular sweet spot right now — homes between $200,000 and $300,000 sell in about 54 days on average, recent statistics show. Homes priced less than $200,000 sold in about two months. (more…)

According to ABODO, Dallas' 75216 Zip code is a hotspot for flippers. (Map: Google Maps)

According to ATTOM Data Solutions, Dallas’ 75216 Zip code is a hotspot for flippers. (Map: Google Maps)

Flipping a home is more of an art than a science. While budgets should be a consideration for any real estate investor, creating a home that someone wants to live in so much that they’ll put in an offer above asking price is paramount. But that’s tough in some areas where lot values are skyrocketing and materials costs are through the roof. But more budget-friendly areas, neighborhoods where you can get a lot of house for a little, are becoming more attractive to flippers.

In Dallas, that area is the 75216 Zip code. For the uninitiated, that’s a vast swath of southern Dallas between Interstate 35 East and Interstate 45 just north of Loop 12. Neighborhoods such as Cedar Crest. Interestingly enough, according to Realtor.com there are just 84 single-family homes on the market in this area, and 152 listings total. Seems like a hot area, but that could change because flipping is actually slowing down. At least that’s what ATTOM Data Solutions says.

The company, which calls itself the “curator of the nation’s largest fused property database,” said that the number of homes flipped in the US has actually decreased from the 6-year high reached in the previous quarter. That’s falling from a 5.6 percent flipping rate to 5.1 percent, or from 53,892 flipped homes to 49,305. Flippers buying with cash accounted 67.9 percent, down from 68.2 percent in the previous quarter and down from 69.0 percent in Q3 2015 to the lowest level since Q3 2008 — an eight-year low.

According to ATTOM, a flip is a home sold for the second time in a 12-month stretch. The company surveys more than 950 counties, which comes out to approximately 80 percent of the American population. Let’s see what that looks like in 75216.

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The WOw Factor Modern Family

(Photo: ABC/Modern Family)

Loved this column in the Dallas Voice about flipping, mainly because I have said this myself a time or two: Flipping homes is a lot harder than it looks!

And yet, TV shows such as Will & Grace, Modern Familyand innumerable programs on HGTV and DIY show people navigating the dicey waters of flipping residential properties.

“Surely it can’t be that hard,” a friend said to me at a get-together. “Well, cut in a few laugh tracks and at least it sounds like fun, right?”

In Arnold Wayne Jones’ Oct. 4 column, he notes that when it comes to flipping homes, gays are like moths to a poorly decorated flame. “Clearly, it’s something the gays were meant to do,” he says.

The truth is much more complex — and expensive — according to Dallas Realtor Keith Yonick. You’ll have to read the whole story, but the gist is that if you want to try flipping, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and find an experienced Realtor to help you find a good investment.

Jeff Harding makes an excellent point. What we heard yesterday proves our housing market is years from the bottom, and those of us who keep saying, OK, this is it, are continually blown away by the sweeps of foreclosures and short sales that are coming on the market. Those are watering down prices and will for years. Yes, years. I agree with everything Jeff says but want to make three points.

One, if you are a cash buyer, really start paying attention.

Two, real estate is a LOCAL story. Prices are down but sales are up in Dallas, particularly higher end sales. Wall Street ain’t hurtin’. If Washington would at least pretend to care about housing, I think we’d see a psychological attitude reversal.

Third, if you are seeking financing, it’s almost now or never. Really, once the government backs out of the GSE’s mortgage life is going to be very different and very expensive. If they mess with the home mortgage deduction, God help us all. What he says is similar to what I was saying last week — who cares how cheap homes are in some communities, what are the chances those places are going to be recovering any time soon? Where are foreigners buying? Where are rich people sending their kids to college? Where are people with money buying second homes?

Las Vegas? No. South Florida? Maybe with retiring Baby Boomers plus foreign money seeking cheap deals in the Sunbelt. Location is everything as they say. If the supply was more than 12 months, I would be cautious. I would make sure in really overbuilt areas I was buying the best property location and amenities on that market.  Cheap is sometimes, just, well, cheap. Be concerned about property tax increases as states look for sources of revenue. As you know, there is no substitute for good due diligence and market research.

You don’t just want cheap. You want solid. I love Texas, but worried, based on what happened here last year, we are heading to “Taxas”. I agree I’d buy in certain coastal areas because they are not making any more of it, but there are always disasters — hurricanes, oil spills. We can look at the Gulf oil spill to gauge how quickly the area has recovered.

And know what other state has been on my radar for investment? Arkansas. Stay tuned.