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Housing

A New Study Explores Rental Housing Cost in DFW (Spoiler: It’s Going Up)

We’ve lost more units under $800 than just about any metro in the country, and we’ve added a ton of units in the muddled middle and high-end.

Dallas-Fort Worth’s most affordable rental housing stock took a major hit during the decade ending in 2018 but made gains in more expensive apartments. Meanwhile, the region quadrupled in rentals that cost more than $1,400 a month, according to a new study from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The metro area lost 238,000 rental units priced below $800 a month over the decade. The region added 110,000 units costing between $800 and $1,000 a month. It had just 64,000 units at $1,400 or more in 2008; today, there are 263,000.

The study’s five brackets breakdown like this:

$600 and under:
2008: 264,000
2018: 127,000

$600-$799:
2008: 300,000
2018: 200,000

$800-$999:
2008: 170,000 units
2018: 280,000

$1,000-$1,400:
2008: 129,000
2018: 314,000

$1,400+:
2008: 64,000
2018: 263,000

DFW has lost more units under $800 than any metro outside New York City. Third place on that list goes to our neighbors down I-45, although most of Houston’s losses came via that $600 or less bracket. Dallas and Houston are the only metros in the U.S. to add at least 100,000 rentals in each of the upper three cost brackets, the analysis says.

Part of this is inflation: according to the federal government’s Consumer Price Index, $600 in 2008 was $700 in 2018. But the bigger issue is that Dallas isn’t replacing its older housing stock. Revisit this piece from 2017. Land values and construction costs have skyrocketed in recent years, meaning developers are building more luxury units to recoup their investment. Fannie Mae found that Dallas’ multifamily hard construction costs were $171 compared to the national average of $205, well below the max of $277 in New York and $268 in San Francisco. But looking at Harvard’s numbers, it’s fairly clear what price point is occupied by the 47,000 apartments that have come online here in the last three years. This is also a summation of the entire metro area, so add to those factors the rising populations in places like Frisco, Plano, and McKinney, where apartment complexes have been built to target new corporate growth.

Despite the changing rental stock, the analysis says the share of cost-burdened DFW renters remained steady over the period, at 46 percent.

Dallas passed its first ever Comprehensive Housing Policy in 2018, a first step toward dealing with decades of concentrating public dollars in poor neighborhoods with little access to jobs and services. It did so with the city’s stated belief that it was 20,000 affordable units short of where it needs to be. While Dallas continues to fight its own battle with affordable housing, the analysis offers an interesting view of our region’s changing housing stock. Take a look here.

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