IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BUY A HOUSE IN HIGHLAND PARK

Drive through the most prestigious residential area in Dallas and you’ll see a sure sign of the times-signs that say REDUCED staked in the front yards of many homes for sale. If you’ve ever dreamed of living in Highland Park, now’s your chance. Market prices are down an average of 20 percent, and in Highland Park, that almost constitutes a clearance sale. Houses that would have sold last year for $1 million now have bargain basement price tags of $800,000. And if you have cash capital, you can even barter that price down, according to several realtors. “Cash is king,” one said. “If you can take a homeowner out of his loan or at least come up with a sizable down payment, you can find some real deals.”

A high percentage of Highland Parkers have incomes that fluctuate with oil and gas prices, or the banking and commercial real estate industries. And at the moment, those incomes are fluctuating to new lows. Homeowners who have overestimated their incomes are now eager to sell. One realtor who’s been selling Highland Park homes for ten years says that the cuirent market is the best opportunity for buyers she’s seen in eight years or more. ’The sellers who have their homes on the market need to sell,” she says. “Consequently, prices are back to reflecting real value.”

Builders have some of the best deals available: they’ve bought modest homes, originally planning to tear them down to make room for new homes. Now that those plans have been put on indefinite hold, the builders are ready to sell. Or they may have finished brand-new luxury “spec” homes, which will cost the builder money almost by the minute until the house is sold.

Another trend is trading. One realtor quips that it’s “one Highland Park house for ten in Piano.” But. seriously, some real estate agencies are now keeping a list of tradable homes, and many Highland Park homeowners are wanting to “trade down.” One Park Cities condo complex with capital to spare is trading space in its building for Highland Park homes.

The current season adds a bonus to this already bullish market. A very experienced realtor says this is a traditionally slow time of year for sellers, thanks to the holidays, the social season, and the Dallas Cowboys football season.

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