The Allie Beth Allman Allmanac is a weekly digest of real estate headlines from the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, Texas and across the country 

October 13, 2017

Dallas home starts, home sales on record pace

Dallas: Home starts are the highest in a decade, according to Residential Strategies. Builders started 8,583 single family homes in the third quarter for a total YTD of 32,234 new homes. House starts under $500,000 were up 14.5%. Sales rose 14% over last year with more than 8,000 homes sold in the quarter. Median new home prices are over $350,000 in North Texas, about $100,000 more than a mid-priced preowned home.

Dallas: North Texas preowned home sales in 2017 will set another record, up 4% so far over last year’s record, with 81,000 sold through September. 9,285 homes and 621 condos were sold in September, with 8,909 pending for homes and 549 for condos. So far prices are up 10% with the median price at an all-time high. Home listings are up 11% to 22,298 and condos up 7% to 1,498.

Dallas: A $1 billion mixed-use development in Farmers Branch is planned for more than 3,000 residents. The 370-acre Mercer Crossing is on the north side of the LBJ Freeway near Luna Road. Houses in the development, with the first phase of 660 lots, will begin at $300,000.

Dallas: DFW leads U.S. markets in net-office leasing through the first three quarters of the year, in a study from Cushman and Wakefield. More than 3.8 million square feet have been leased and overall vacancy rate is about 16%. DFW is the second-busiest construction market with more than 6 million square feet underway, second only to midtown Manhattan, with 9.5 million square feet.

LA: The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reports the 21 wildfires have already burned almost 220,000 acres in northern California, destroying 3,500 homes and businesses. There are 31 confirmed deaths and 400 persons missing. In Santa Rosa, virtually destroyed, 2,834 homes are gone including the home of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. CoreLogic estimates more than 172,000 homes are at risk in Napa and Santa Rosa counties, which could amount to around $65 billion in combined reconstruction costs. Many vineyards have survived. The future for real estate is uncertain. There will be an obvious demand for housing, especially short term rentals.

Malibu: An estate formerly owned by Johnny Carson is on the market for $81.5 million, who bought it in 1984 for $9.5 million. Current owners added two contiguous lots in 2007 for about $46 million. The oceanfront site home has 7,000 square feet with an indoor arboretum and tennis court.

October 6, 2017

Texas losing land to cities

Dallas: Davy Crockett School, vacant since the 80s, is 114 years old. The East Dallas landmark is being converted into 52 apartments in the 400-600 square foot range with rents starting at around $1000/month. Located near Baylor Medical Center and Deep Ellum, Crockett School is across from Buckner Park. The half-block adjacent schoolyard has been renovated into park space. Two additional historic schools are undergoing change. Dallas High School, built in 1907, is rebuilding into a $50 million office and retail project. South of Downtown in the Cedars area, the vacant Mirabeau B. Lamar School on Corinth Street has plans for the 1920s school to become about 30 apartments.

Dallas: A Nerdwallet survey of 944 US cities of 25,000-75,000 residents ranked 4 Texas cities in the Top 10 for affordability, growth, prosperity and family friendliness. In the Top 10 were Little Elm (#2), Leander (#3), Flower Mound (#7) and Cedar Park (#8).

D.C.: Workforce housing is usually defined as apartment buildings catering to middle income renters. Pensions & Investments states this sector is largely recession-proof and an estimated 4.5 million are expected to be in demand by 2030, appealing to the investment community. The overall apartment market dropped 10% year-over-year, but affordable housing units declined only 4%.

NYC: The international luxury residential market will see more demand than supply the next three years, with 25% of high net worth individuals expect to buy compared to the 17% who want to sell, states a new report from Luxury Portfolio International, global partner of Allie Beth Allman and Associates. Most of the world’s wealthy consumers live in North America, with the number of $10 million-plus households increasing 146% in the last seven years.

Austin: More than 95% of Texas land is private, 142 million acres. Texas leads the nation in loss of working land. From 1982-2010, the USDA reported conversion of more than 4.1 million acres of working land to urban use. In 2012 the average appraised value of working land was $1,573/acre, a 214% increase over a 15 year period, the largest increases noted around major metro areas. More working land loss is anticipated. Although the USDA notes nearly 249,000 farm and ranch operations in the state, average ownership size has declined from 581 to 521 acres from 1997-2012.

September 29, 2017

Congestion costs Dallas billions

Dallas: Money magazine’s Best Places to Live List ranked Allen as #2 and three other Texas cities in the top 25: #19 Grapevine; #20 Wylie and #23 Bedford. The list focused on cities with population of 10,000-100,000. Allen’s population is 96,000, job growth is 17% and median household income is $104,524. High school graduation rate is 96.9%.

Dallas: Dallas is ranked #4 among the fastest-growing-big-box industrial markets in the nation, with 17 million square feet under development. There are 478 big box buildings, with 33 vacant and rents averaging $3.83/sf.

Seattle: A traffic data survey of 100,000 traffic hotspots in the nation’s 25 largest cities puts Dallas as #5 in traffic jams and cost of traffic congestion. Los Angeles led the list, followed by New York City, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In Dallas the worst hotspot was along I-20 West between exits 451 and 456. The average traffic jam lasted 109 minutes and was 4.5 miles long. Dallas congestion costs were estimated at $28.3 billion for its 6,720 hotspots. Estimates for the value of drivers’ time factor in median household income and other data including the U.S. Department of Transportation value of $12.81/hr for a commuter and $25.19/hr for business travel. Other data were costs of fuel/minute and carbon emission at $0.57/minute.

Chicago: Hugh Hefner impacted Chicago real estate. The original Playboy Mansion on State Street was bought in 1959 for $400,000. It was leased in 1984 to the Art Institute of Chicago for $10/yr, and in 1990 converted into condos at $3 million each. First offices on Superior were across from Holy Name Cathedral. In 1965 the magazine leased floors 4-12 in the Palmolive Building and put a neon sign atop the building. In 1988, the offices moved to North Lake Shore Drive until consolidating on the west coast The first Playboy Club opened in 1960 on East Walton, moving several times before closing in 1986. The original location is now One Magnificent Mile. Hefner bought the Knickerbocker Hotel in the early 1970s, rebranding as the Playboy Towers, losing the name in 1976.

New York: A penthouse in the landmark Woolworth Building is on the market for $110 million, which would shatter the current record for a downtown apartment of $50.9 million. Luxury rentals in Manhattan for August were up 12.6% to 708, with median rent of $8,000/mo. Super luxury rentals above $10,000/mo. rose 29.4% to 211 with median rent of $13,500/mo. President Trump will save $45,000 in 2017 property taxes by declaring his primary residence his triplex penthouse in Trump Tower. His tax bill for the unit is $255,500. Eligibility for the abatement is based on owner’s status as of January 5. The White House now will be his primary residence.

September 22, 2017

Austin home sells for Bitcoin

Houston: Hotel occupancy in Houston has surged as thousands are unable to return to their homes. At the start of the week, more than 66,000 people who fled the storm are in hotels with FEMA vouchers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Some 46,120 homeowners and renters forced to relocate have received FEMA financial assistance. 4,700 people remain in Red Cross shelters. An estimated 14,952 homes were destroyed, 50,712 suffered major damage and 76,364 saw minor damage. Officials say 130,000 single family homes in Harris County were affected in some way. Between 2,000-3,000 large apartment buildings sustained damage and up to 5,000 minor apartment buildings. Changes in listings and sales over $1 million two weeks before and two weeks after Harvey (using HAR data):

  Before After  
Median List Price $1,574,000 $1,525,000 - 3.11%
No. of listings 1,420 1,528 + 7.61%
Median Sales Price $1,385,000 $1,354,000 - 2.24%
No. of sales closed 103 50 - 51.46%

Miami: South Florida was spared by Hurricane Irma but it will take time to assess the effect on potential home buyers. The local real estate market relies heavily on foreign investors, with cash purchases accounting for 20% of Miami-Dade transactions — double the national average. The August report from the Miami Realtors Association shows mid-market single family sales were up 9.5% over last year and condo sales were up 9.8%. The county’s total transactions went down 9.7%. In Broward, single family sales went down 8.1% in August and condo sales were down 10.6% Median sales prices in both counties continue to climb.

Austin: A new custom home has been purchased entirely with the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, the first such transaction in Texas. The most expensive bitcoin home purchase to date was $1.6 million in a Lake Tahoe community. Currently one Bitcoin (BTC) is valued at more than $3,429. Bitcoins are a series of complex, military-grade encrypted alphanumeric characters that can be stored on paper or digitally. A London-based group and a British baroness are now offering luxury Dubai apartments for Bitcoins. Miami and the United Arab Emirates are adapting the Bitcoin Blockchain network for financial and settlement purposes. South Korea has passed China as the center of Bitcoin trading.

Dallas: A mortgage website,, ranks Dallas-Plano-Irving third among the nation’s 100 biggest metro areas for the level of home price recovery since the recession. In the second quarter of 2017, home prices in DFW were 56.7% above peak value in the mid 2000s. Austin ranks #2, with home prices 60.6% above the peak, and Houston is #4, with prices 47.8% above their peak. Leading the list is Denver, where second quarter prices were 69.6% above the prior peak. Data used was from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.