housing starts

It used to be fairly easy to find a new home for under $200K in North Texas. But according to a recently released report from Metrostudy, first quarter 2016 data shows a “new normal,” reflecting a meteoric rise in starts above $200,000, meaning it’s harder than ever to find a new home in the sub-$200K price range.

“When comparing the increase in starts and closings year-over-year, starts between $250,000 and $299,999 are nearly three times the closings increase,” said Paige Shipp, Regional Director of Metrostudy’s Dallas office. “Starts between $300,000 and $349,999 jumped 81.2 percent, which is almost twice the increase in closings. Conversely, starts below $200,000 have dropped 14.6 percent and closings plummeted 31 percent.”

With rapidly rising land and development costs, developers tell Metrotex there is not much hope for the revival of the sub-$200,000 new home market in North Texas. This will remain an issue until cities, developers, and builders understand and deliver higher-density lots and smaller homes to the market, Sharp explained.

Metrotex isn’t the only one ringing this bell — for some time, other experts have said the same thing. We wrote a piece in November of last year where Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, explained:

“For years in Texas, we have had the most affordable housing for a major metro area,” he said. “Affordability and workforce housing are going to be a major issue — we are not building enough houses in the $150,000 to $200,000 bracket.”



Ebby Halliday, Mehrdad Moayedi, and builder extraordinaire Mickey Munir

Smart Steve Brown. That clever guy went and focused on the new Stoneleigh Residences while we were all going ga ga over Museum Tower. And what a great interview with the man I christened Saint Stoneleigh, Merhdad Moayedi, because he saved the Stoneleigh, bought it out of bankruptcy from those Prescott/Apollo peeps in 2009 as I told you when I wrote DallasDirt.  If you haven’t read Steve’s tome, get to it as soon as possible.

(There is more news coming down the pike about the Stoneleigh, too.)

Steve also does a nice backgrounder on Mehrdad, who Ted Wilson calls the biggest lot developer in North Texas or, er, TEXAS –Good Lord the man says he will develop 3000 lots this year:

“Mehrdad is the biggest lot developer in D-FW and probably in Texas,” said Ted Wilson, principal with Dallas-based housing analysts Residential Strategies.

Mehrdad, age 51, is an Iranian immigrant who went to school in Bedford and stayed in the U.S after the Iranian revolution of 1979. He got his start as a developer working with Fort Worth home builder Herman J. Smith. When Smith died in the early 90’s, Moayedi teamed up with Ross Calhoun, another former Smith exec, and the two formed Centurion American. The company is headquartered on I-35 in Lewisville.

Moayedi also has a custom homebuilding firm, Crescent Estates, that is a subsidiary of Centurion. Crescent has built homes all over Preston Hollow, including the Moayedi’s..

His family is delightful — and his wife told me she finds some of his best real estate deals. The Moayedis live in The Creeks of Preston Hollow.

Brown’s piece also puts some perspective into the Dallas condo market, which is picking up pace: Condo sales were up 17 percent last year in North Texas, he says, meaning all over the place NOT just Uptown, and even better: median condo sales prices rose 12 percent from 2011 in the MLS.

I think Mehrdad timed this perfectly. He has that touch, hallmark of a great developer: he knows when to time the market. Last spring we were treated to a preview party held at the Dorothy Draper designed penthouse at the Stoneleigh hotel, which has just been acquired by Le Meridien Hotels and will be managed by Starwood. Teresa Gubbins over on Culturemap broke the news January 9:

The Stoneleigh Hotel changed hands yet again over the weekend, and it will become a Le Méridien on January 31, to be owned by private equity hotelier HEI and managed by Starwood. According to Starwood’s website, the hotel will be called “Le Méridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh.”

Steve did not say in his story whether the Stoneleigh condos will continue their relationship with the hotel, but we will find out shortly. Carlton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Associates designed the 7,200 square foot penthouse which was once the biggest in Dallas.

cn_image.size.carleton_varneyI recall the opening of the Stoneleigh Hotel, back in 2008 when Jeff Trigger personally met guests at the door, martinis flowed in the sales center, wine and champagne flowed at the bar. Food par excellente. The rooms were lovely — a near-flawless re-do. The bathrooms are spacious and the bedrooms have walk-in closets with Baronessa Cali bath products. Jud Pankey told me Prescott/Apollo was looking forward to completion of the Heritage at the Stoneleigh, the high-rise next door as it was called, connected by underground tunnel.


The project went into bankruptcy in 2009 with only about 12 floors of the condo structure finished.  There was even worse news to come: a  construction worker was killed when a hook snapped off a crane at a construction project behind the Stoneleigh in June, 2008.

Steve says Moayedi paid $4.55 million to buy the development out of Chapter 11, then took out a $25.3 million construction loan to finish the project. Which at that time, think 2009 folks, was effing amazing. I imagine he had some very, very good collateral.

Mehrdad also told Steve that Centurion Development’s investment in the project is much lower than the original developers — he has a loan to value ratio of about 25%, which keeps him from jumping through hoops, as he said. He also says he’s pre-sold six units, with another six buyers circling.

Mehrdad House

Moayedi Residence Creeks of Preston Hollow

As for the condos, like he told me back in the spring, he plans to finish a few as models and then let people buy shells and finish out their own units, using Shariff-Munir or Crescent. Note: Museum Tower even has a few shell floors like this. It’s smart — many times buyers in this price range are picky and totally want to customize their own units as far as layout and design. It is also less risky for the developer — less skin in the game, but may take longer to sell, says Dallas housing analyst Mike Puls, who thinks Mehrdad is smart to focus on large units. The original Stoneleigh Heritage was more than the 75 units in 22 stories now planned — I am recalling 95? The units will be pricey: one million per shell.

Good question for my next meeting with Mickey Munir: how much to finish out one of those puppies? Could these be pricier than Museum Tower?




Your home value could be 4.3 % lower today than it was last year if you follow the guys over at Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller, which released their Home Price Index this week. That means home prices have been falling for an entire year in the 20 major U.S. cities that create this way over-quoted housing market indicator. Case-Shiller tracks only previously owned home sales, not new construction. Of course, new construction across the U.S. is the lowest it’s been in 50 years.

No one metropolis was spared: all the 20 major U.S. markets in Case-Shiller’s survey for June saw home-price declines from mid-2010, even Washington D.C.

Nationwide, home prices shot down 4.5 percent from June 2010.

But Dallas was singled out, along with Denver, the major Cali cities, and D.C. as having bottomed in 2009 and kept their (our) heads above the water.

“Relatively strong markets,” Standard & Poor’s David Blitzer said in the report.

Prices in most markets — including Dallas’ 1.4 percent blip — were up in June from May, to expected in the buying season.

Steve Brown says that if you count 2007 as the peak year of pricing, Dallas-area home prices are down about 9% from that Rocky Mountain High.

My favorite economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Dr. James Gaines, says what we all know: the short sales and foreclosures dragged pricing down and will continue to do so until we clear them out in 12 to 18 months.

The good news there: Dallas foreclosure rates are diminishing.

The cities that took the biggest hits were (ouch) Minneapolis (10.8 percent), Portland, Ore. (9.6 percent) and Phoenix (9.3 percent).

The smallest price drops happeend in, no surprise, government-employee rich Washington, D.C. (1.2 percent) and Boston (2.1 percent). Watch for those market to go up first.

But it’s all local. Ted Wilson of Residential Strategies says the foreclosures depend on what part of town you live in. In affluent neighborhoods with few distressed sales, such as the Park Cities or Preston Hollow, prices recently have been flat or are actually higher. Many gargantuan homes that have languished for years have sold.

But good news: the number of foreclosures has dropped in the northern burbs, and price declines are softening. For the first time in eleven years, year-to-date residential postings declined. Here are the facts from Roddy’s Foreclosure Listing Service Inc:

  • “D/FW quarterly residential foreclosure posting activity has dropped to its lowest level in eleven quarters.”
  • “With just 12,876 foreclosure postings on D/FW homes in the third quarter of this year, quarterly postings fell below 13,500 for the second quarter consecutive quarter.”
  • “Over the last year, third quarter home postings plunged downward 21%.  
  •  “On a quarter-to-quarter comparison, third quarter’s posting level was down 3% from the 13,310 notices filed for the second quarter of this year.”
  • “All four counties within the D/FW Metroplex had a decline in third quarter’s posting activity compared to one year earlier; and, in all four counties, quarterly postings dropped to their lowest level in two years or more.”
  • “Among the four counties, the deepest decline was a 25% fall in homes posted for foreclosure in Dallas County, which most often ranks with the highest volume of home postings among the four counties in the Metro.”