How Missing the Bubble Hurt Dallas Real Estate

Sure, our home prices didn’t collapse like they did in other parts of the country. But that’s not necessarily a good thing.

photography by Scott Womack


Is hip also happening?

THE OVERVIEW: Sure, median prices have dipped from 2007, but low inventories and relatively high sales-to-listings ratios show promise for a recovering market. Plus, median prices in Kessler Park, which anchors North Oak Cliff, actually shot up 31 percent in the third quarter of last year.

“Kessler Park and the whole North Oak Cliff area have been fine,” says Katrina Whatley of Nest Realty Group. “Prices may have flattened out a bit just in the past year. But sales are just as good as they have been in the past few years.” Whatley says the Bishop Arts District, and the live-in art that are many of Kessler Park’s modern homes, have drawn buyers who once wouldn’t have ventured south of the Trinity River. “You used to say Oak Cliff and people would get scared,” she says. “But that’s starting to change.”

CLIFF DWELLERS: Scenic topography, architectural diversity, and the red hot Bishop Arts District make Kessler Park a popular buy. photography by Scott Womack
Historic downtown McKinney. photography by Scott Womack


Slow and steady, with foreclosures on the horizon.

NORTHERN HEIGHTS: Wendy Hulkowich sees more activity in Allen and Frisco than Plano. photography by Scott Womack
THE OVERVIEW: North Texas’ suburban boom towns went quiet when the state’s economy softened, especially because new home construction came to nearly a complete stop in the panicked days of late 2008. That’s led to tight inventories. Far fewer homes are now on the market than is typical for Plano and the communities north of 121. That likely has kept prices from making a rapid descent.
Pricey neighborhoods in West Plano have been hardest hit. North Central Plano, between Preston and Central Expressway, saw median prices fall more than 7 percent late in 2009. In even tonier Southwest Plano, between Preston and the Dallas North Tollway, prices fell 15 percent from the third quarter of 2008 to the same quarter of 2009.

THE REAL ESTATE AGENT’S OUTLOOK: “We’ve definitely seen some price softening,” says Wendy Hulkowich, lead Realtor for the Hulkowich Group, which specializes in northern Dallas suburbs, including Plano and Frisco. “But our market here has picked up tremendously.” That’s because of the soon-to-expire federal home tax credit, which, in Hulkowich’s territory, brought first-time buyers looking for homes priced from $100,000 to $200,000—or just about right for much of McKinney, Allen, and Frisco. Those markets have been more active than Plano, Hulkowich says, mostly because they contain a larger percentage of newer, less expensive homes. But, she says, buyers have found some luck in all of her markets at moderate price ranges. “People have been going gangbusters trying to find homes,” she says. “The nice houses are going quickly.” 

A LOOMING CONCERN: Many of the properties Hulkowich is showing on the fringe of Frisco and the developing communities beyond are in foreclosure, and real estate experts warn that the outer rings of the Dallas area may be susceptible to an increasing number of foreclosures as this year goes on and another round of specialty loans resets to higher interest rates. For the moment, though, just 1.4 percent of all homes in Dallas are in foreclosure—less than the national rate.