Home prices up overall, but not in all areas of Dallas
10:59 AM CDT on Friday, May 9, 2008
10:59 AM CDT on Friday, May 9, 2008
By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News
Since the last housing recession here in the early 1990s, the tax values of homes in the Dallas area have jumped about 70 percent.
Overall, the 14 homes in a sample by The Dallas Morning News have seen their tax values rise almost 20 percent in the last five years - an increase in line with federal price increase estimates for North Texas.
But the recent increases differ dramatically by area of town.
A North Dallas house has seen its tax value increase by more than 50 percent. And one of the homes in the comparison - in Lake Highlands - saw a drop in tax values during the last five years.
The proposed tax values for 2008 show more increases on the north side of the Dallas area, while the houses in the comparison in neighborhoods south of the river had no increases. Proposed tax values for the Cedar Hill house went down more than 10 percent.
Five of the houses tracked by The News had increases in proposed value.
In 1993, The News began watching sales prices and tax values for more than a dozen houses in the Dallas area. The News compared how much each house sold for in 1985 and how much each went for again coming out of the down cycle in 1992. A comparison also was made with 2002 and 2007 tax appraisals for those properties from the Dallas Central Appraisal District.
While the rest of the country has suffered double-digit home price declines, in North Texas the drop so far has been small - only about 4 percent in the most recent survey. And by other measures, the decrease in Dallas-Fort Worth residential values has been even smaller.
"When I compare D-FW to the rest of the nation, our market appears to be in pretty good shape," said Ted Wilson, with Dallas-based home building analyst Residential Strategies Inc.
But Mr. Wilson acknowledges that it's "the hot topic nationally in housing right now - how much prices will drop."
Dallas is no stranger to home price drops.
In the last big housing downturn - brought on 20 years ago by a regional recession and years of overbuilding - home prices fell at an even greater rate than we are now seeing in some California and Florida markets.
Between 1987 and 1990, the value of a then-average-priced $100,000 home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area fell by about 30 percent, according to surveys done in that period.
And it was seven years from the peak of 1980s home prices to the turnaround in the market in the early 1990s.
Even the most pessimistic home market forecasts for North Texas don't talk about that kind of debacle.
And mortgage insurance companies - notably California-based PMI Group - are predicting that two years from now, Dallas-Fort Worth home prices will be no lower than they are today.
Of course, that assumes the local economy keeps outperforming the rest of the nation.
"All bets are off, however, if we lose 50-70,000 jobs around here like we did in the late '80s," said Dallas appraiser Chuck Dannis.
The best gauge of where home prices in the Dallas area are going is the number of homes on the market, analysts say. In recent months, the number of preowned homes for sale here has leveled off.
About a 6.5-month supply of preowned homes is on the market here, compared to almost 10 months nationally.
"The point is that D-FW levels of inventory are in pretty good shape - and most important - I don't see us adding to it anymore," Mr. Wilson said.
"Nationally, however, it is going to take some time to work that inventory down, and that is going to continue to apply pressure to house prices," he said.
In North Texas, housing conditions vary quite a bit by neighborhood.
"Some neighborhoods are holding up well in values, while others are suffering," said appraiser Jack Towers. "Overall, volume of sales is down significantly; I can attest to that.
"Just about every report I have done in past year or so, the sales volume has dropped to about half what it was the previous year," he said. "This has to eventually work its way into an oversupply of listings creating more price competition."
The high volume of home foreclosures here - almost 20,000 in 2007 - is also adding to the number of for-sale signs popping up across towns.