At Bungalo, we’re dedicated to demystifying the home buying process. Often, the mystery starts with the market—and Dallas-Fort Worth is no exception.
In the past few years, DFW has had a bit of a moment in terms of growth and opportunity. The job market is booming, the economy is strong and the metro-area is growing at a rapid pace—between 2010-2017, the population increased by nearly 15 percent. Known for its consistently good weather, strong sense of community and expanding downtown, it’s no surprise that people are flocking to Dallas.
But while Dallas was once considered one of the best places to make the most of your money when it came to buying a home, the recent influx of people has made the housing market considerably more competitive, according to Dallas-based broker Elizabeth Gassos. So if you’re planning to make the transition from out-of-towner to Dallasite, first: huge congrats! We know you’ll love it here. Just keep these tips from local agents in mind so you can settle down in Dallas-Fort Worth with confidence.
Same-Day Offers are On the Rise
Making a same-day offer after seeing a house might sound intimidating, but because Dallas has one of the fastest home sale rates in the U.S., it can be a necessary part of the process.
“Any listing under $300,000 in Dallas is going to be pretty competitive due to the number of buyers looking to buy at that price point,” says Gassos.
As of July 2018, the average house in Dallas sold for $305,800. “Houses over $500,000 can also be competitive but it’s really going to depend on the neighborhood at that point,” she explains. Gassos is typically seeing between 2-5 offers per house, but has seen as many as 10-20 when the market was really hot.
What does that mean for you? Tour homes with your financing in order and be prepared to make an offer almost on the spot if you find your dream home.
Get Ready for Foundation Issues (But Don’t Stress About Them)
In Dallas the saying goes:
“It’s not if but when you will have foundation issues.”
Why? Because the city sits atop clay soil. Houses built before 1990 have a slab foundation made of poured concrete, which is not only prone to air bubbles but shifts significantly over time. (Sidenote: The clay soil means that basements aren’t a thing in Dallas, so cross subterranean storage off your “want” list.)
Don’t worry too much about a faulty foundation; just make sure to do your homework. “It’s not something to be scared of, it’s something to be knowledgeable about,” assures Gassos.
When you do a walkthrough, pay close attention to any cracks in the foundation, which mean the house has already experienced issues. If you’ve researched inspectors (both general and foundation specialists) with deep local experience ahead of time, you’ll have a trusted group of people to call in the heat of the moment, says Dallas-based broker Cerissa Lair.
Looking at a home built after 1990? You can likely breathe easy, since updated building codes require post-tension foundation technology, which is more stable than poured concrete and shouldn’t move. Newer foundations also tend to come with lifetime warranties that can be transferred between owners.
Brick Houses Reign Supreme
DFW real estate has a little bit of everything when it comes to style—new construction townhomes, single-family ranches, starkly modern homes, sprawling estates and more—but traditional brick houses dominate the landscape. Why? The aforementioned clay soil is excellent for brick-making and Acme brick company (of Looney Tunes fame) has been headquartered in Dallas since 1891.
What this means for prospective buyers: If your taste runs towards the classic and timeless, a brick home may have exactly the charm you’re after. But if your heart is set on a more contemporary style, you just may have to pay a little more—at least until they city’s recent growth and new construction trends lead to an influx of modern homes on the market.
Relocating? Remember, Bigger Isn’t Always Better
For transplants moving to Dallas from more expensive urban areas, the city’s homes and lot sizes often seem delightfully spacious and comparatively affordable—for the time being, at least. Dallas-based agent Jennifer Clark, who specializes in helping out-of-towners find their dream homes, says relocating clients sometimes lose sight of their actual needs when they find out everything really is bigger in Texas.
“When people move here from coastal cities or bigger markets, they can pretty much get three for three with all their wishes, but that can actually make it harder,” says Clark. “People have fantasies about a bigger house and more space and it’s easy to get in over their heads because Dallas has so much to offer.”
But a bigger house doesn’t just mean more space, it means more expenses for things like furniture and taxes and more time needed for maintenance and upkeep.
Case in point: owning a ranch might sound great in theory, but if you are moving from San Francisco…are you really ready to deal with mowing and landscaping a sprawling ranch? If you find yourself clicking through listings that are wildly different from your current housing situation, just take a step back and work with your realtor to determine your true wants and needs.
Texas Terminology is Unique…
Clark says out-of-towners often come to her feeling frustrated that they can’t find their ideal home or layout. The problem, she says, isn’t that their wish list doesn’t exist, it’s that Texans have their own terminology—even when it comes to real estate.
“People will come to me and say ‘I want a double master’ or ‘I’m looking for a great room,’” says Clark. “They’re already frustrated because people are telling them the Dallas market doesn’t have those things, but the problem is actually the vocabulary.” (A Double Master is commonly known as a “second master” or “mother-in-law suite” and a great room is known as an “open concept” or “open kitchen in” Dallas.)
If your realtor says a certain feature isn’t available in Dallas, Clark recommends taking the extra step of describing it in-depth to make sure you’re in sync.
…and So Is This Tax Break
Before Texas agreed to join the United States in 1845, it was an independent country. This means the Lone Star state has some tax breaks you won’t find in other states. The one that affects homeowners most noticeably is the “Homestead Exemption,” which allows you to subtract part of the value of your primary residence from your yearly taxes.
The only catch? The exemption can only be added to your property in January, so you’ll need to buy before December or wait until the following year to begin applying the exemption.
We know moving to a new city can be discombobulating. But take a deep breath and relax—you’ve got this. We’re always here to help bring clarity, confidence and excitement to your house hunt in Dallas.
This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.