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The hurdles are raised for first-time homebuyers in Texas yet again, as rising interest rates demand an overall higher income for mortgage approval.

The Texas Real Estate Research Center released findings in its new Texas Housing Affordability Outlook that Texans buying their first homes need $10,000 more in income than at the beginning of last year to be approved for a $229,000 house.

Purchasing power, the center explains, and mortgage interest rates are indirectly related. Higher interest means higher monthly payments; it takes a higher income to keep up. “... As long as the rise in home prices continues to outpace the increase in income, purchase affordability, or the ability of a household to buy a home, will continue to diminish,” explains the report.

The $229,000 figure represents the first-quartile home price in Texas in Q1 2022, described as "the highest home price among those lowest-priced 25 percent of homes sold" in the state. The state's median home price for the first quarter of 2022 was $319,000. Year-over-year growth was slightly higher for the median figure (18.4 percent) than first-quartile figure (17.5 percent), but both are at their highest rates since the beginning of the chart in 2012.

Unsurprisingly, the Austin-Round Rock area is driving a large part of this growth, with a 29.2 percent change in first-quartile prices since Q1 2021. That figure in Austin now sits at $420,000, almost double the state's first-quartile home price. Dallas’ numbers are slightly above the state average, San Antonio’s nearly exactly match, and Houston’s are slightly below.

Unfortunately for many Texans currently renting, only 37.4 percent of them are making the qualifying income ($61,652) to buy one of those first-quartile homes with a 3.4 percent interest rate (that was the national interest rate at the beginning of the year; by mid-May the interest rate had risen to 5.25 percent).

Photo by Zach Spross Photography

Opulent Dallas condo dubbed ‘art lover’s masterpiece’ paints $2.7 million price tag

A residential canvas

A plush Dallas condo being painted as an “art lover’s masterpiece” is on the market for nearly $2.7 million.

The 3,415-square-foot condo sits on the 10th-floor western corner of the 33-story Bleu Ciel project, which is at 3130 Harwood St. in Victory Park. Bleu Ciel is within walking distance of the Dallas Arts District.

Nadia Black of Douglas Elliman Texas has the listing. The asking price is $2.695 million.

Designed by Dallas-based HDF and Paris-based Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Bleu Ciel supplies “a resort-like ambience with curated garden environments,” according to Douglas Elliman.

The Gonzalo Bueno-designed condo features more than $180,000 in upgrades, including:

  • top-of-the-line art lighting
  • gold-leaf gilt walls in one of the bathrooms
  • custom closets
  • custom-made wrought iron doors in the main suite
  • media room with custom suede walls

The condo, with three bedrooms and three-and-half bathrooms, offers two expansive balconies that afford views of the Dallas skyline, as well as a chef’s kitchen and two garages.

Building amenities include a 10,000-bottle wine cellar with three private climate-controlled storage rooms, two junior Olympic pools, a library, 24-hour concierge and valet services, and a highly acclaimed spa.

The 3,415-square-foot condo sits on the 10th-floor western corner of the 33-story Bleu Ciel project.

3130 N Harwood Bleu Ceil
Photo by Zach Spross Photography
The 3,415-square-foot condo sits on the 10th-floor western corner of the 33-story Bleu Ciel project.
Gruene Hall/Facebook

Dreamy new riverfront condos spring up in historic Hill Country town

Hill Country respite

Dallasites with dreams of owning a riverfront Hill Country condo are in luck. Construction is underway next to the Gruene Historic District in New Braunfels on a 15-unit luxury condo project — the city’s first waterfront condo development in more than 10 years.

Located along the Guadalupe River just west of the Gruene Road Bridge, The Agave at Gruene Rapids sits on a 2.3-acre riverfront lot at 1228 Ervendberg Ave. Perfect location for avid tubers on the river.

Prices of the condos range from $485,000 to $825,000.

“These condos are ideal for those seeking a second home or anyone looking to escape the city life and enjoy all the Texas Hill Country has to offer,” Michael Fredrickson of New Braunfels, one of the project’s developers, says in a news release.

Each of the first two floors of The Agave at Gruene Rapids will feature five standard units. The third floor will have five two-level penthouse condos. Every three- or four-bedroom unit will be decked out with high-end finishes, including premium cabinets, stainless steel appliances, wood and tile floors, and granite countertops.

The Gruene Historic District attracts thousands of tourists each year. Highlights of the rustic district, which dates back to the 1870s, include Gruene Hall, the state’s oldest dance hall; the Gruene General Store, which opened in 1925; and the Gristmill Restaurant, built in 1977.

Frederickson’s partner on the project is Brad Beago. Both men are principals at Austin-based Agave Investment Partners LLC. The company has developed vacation rental properties and apartment complexes.

Frontera Construction of Del Rio is the builder. Open Studio Architecture of San Antonio is designing the condos, and real estate agent Jill Christian of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty is marketing them.

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Texas startup adds new services to help apartment-dwellers combat COVID-19

Keeping Clean

A Texas startup that provides concierge services — like cleaning and dog walking — to apartment renters has expanded its services outside the apartment units to help multifamily properties sanitize and disinfect against COVID-19.

Spruce, which provides services to many apartment communities throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, has a new suite of services for disinfecting common areas — like leasing offices, hallways, and mail rooms — using EPA-compliant chemicals.

"Now, more than ever, it is critical for apartment communities to make sure their common areas are regularly decontaminated and disinfected to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and to prevent as many infections as possible," says Ben Johnson, founder and CEO of Austin-based Spruce, in a statement.

The services include a weekly disinfectant of high-touch spots — like door handles and elevator buttons — as well as a weekly comprehensive cleaning that involves mopping, surface cleaning, and vacuuming. The startup also offers a bimonthly fogging service that can completely cover both indoor and outdoor areas with disinfectant. This solution can protect surfaces for months, according to the release.

"This is an unprecedented public health crisis, and we worked closely with our clients to determine the biggest need and hope these services will give apartment communities one more weapon to use in the fight against COVID-19 and will help give both operators and their residents peace of mind," Johnson continues in the release.

Spruce still offers its usual suite of services for individual apartment units, such as daily chores and housekeeping and pet care, but extra precautions have been added since the coronavirus outbreak. Service providers are required to go through temperature checks before entering the properties. They also wear gloves, changing them out between units, and are incorporating paper products when able.

Since its founding, Spruce, formerly known as Apartment Butler, has expanded throughout the state and into South Florida, Denver, and Salt Lake City. Spruce has raised over $6 million in venture capital, per Crunchbase data, and that includes funds from Austin-based Capital Factory, as well as Houston institutions like Mercury Fund, the Houston Angel Network, and Fitz Gate Ventures.


This story originally appeared on our sister site, InnovationMap.com.

One DFW city listed among top U.S. luxury home markets to watch in 2020

Residential royalty

While Dallas and Houston might draw much of the attention in Texas when it comes to luxury homes, Fort Worth is now stealing the spotlight.

A new report from Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC and the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury program lists Fort Worth as one of the five top luxury markets to watch in 2020. The others are Boise, Idaho; Charlotte, North Carolina; Cincinnati; and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“Today, the city that’s in Dallas’ shadow is establishing itself as a luxury outpost,” the report says.

Part of the rise of Fort Worth as a luxury home market stems from its desirability as a place to live and work.

“Fort Worth’s laid-back atmosphere, convenience to DFW International Airport, and business-friendly environment make it attractive for companies,” Lori Arnold, owner of Coldwell Banker Apex Realtors, says in the report.

In the 10 percent luxury category, the median list price in 2019 for a single-family home in the Fort Worth area was $743,100 and the median sale price was $643,100. Meanwhile, the highest list price was $12 million and the highest sale price was $6.5 million. In all, 2,890 luxury homes were sold last year in the Fort Worth market.

As for luxury condos in the 10 percent category, the median list price in 2019 was $508,500, while the median sale price was $463,454. In all, 125 of these condos were sold last year. The highest list price, meanwhile, was $3,235,500, and the highest sale price was $1,780,000.

“It’s amazing what you can get for $500,000, like a four-bedroom house with 4,500 square feet and a three-car garage on a sizable lot,” Arnold says. “There’s an influx of buyers from California and New York, and [the] cost of living is much lower here. Clients say, ‘My gosh, we paid that for our starter home!’”

Elsewhere in Texas, the same report ranked Austin among the country’s four top-performing luxury home markets in 2019. The others are Arlington, Virginia; Malibu, California; and San Diego.

Coldwell Banker says it found Austin and the three other top performers “had an evenly distributed hold on the top 10 percent of luxury sales in 2019. Their sales prices in relation to other luxury markets made them the top performers of the industry this past year.” In the Austin market, the annual pace of sales for homes above $2 million has climbed 45 percent since 2015, according to the report.

The report indicates that the local heavy demand for single-family luxury homes and luxury condos has been driven by highly paid employees of tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Dell, and Facebook.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Leggy crane flies land atop this week's 5 most popular Dallas stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Crane flies have landed ever so lightly in Dallas, which means one thing. The crane flies have arrived in Dallas, and this year, they're here in droves. Fragile, leggy, and whisper-light, crane flies are most often found around streams and lakes. But at certain times of year, they show up in urban areas, hovering and bobbing around houses and doorways.

2. Site of former Valley View Mall in Dallas meets sad unfortunate end. A once-beloved North Dallas mall is meeting its timely ending: The former Valley View Mall at LBJ Freeway and Preston Road saw demolition begin on March 16, putting an end to nearly a decade of inept waffling. The mall closed in 2015, with big plans for redevelopment that never happened.

3. Grab this '60s East Dallas home with only one owner before flippers get it. A '60s house in East Dallas with only one owner that's basically untouched is on the market at a great deal of a price. Located at 2323 Homeway Cir., it's a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home built in 1969, with 1,802 square feet and an attached two-car garage.

4. Country music bad boy Morgan Wallen headlines ACM Awards benefit show in Dallas-Fort Worth. Dallas-Fort Worth will be the center of the country music universe on May 11, when the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards are broadcast from The Star in Frisco. As with any worldwide, Super Bowl-level event, there'll be many happenings leading up to it. First up: a benefit concert headlined by Morgan Wallen.

5. Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with cool cocktail specials. It's always good to support your local watering hole but sometimes the heart wants something else, and even better when it's something cheap. For our March edition of Where to Drink, we spotlight five drinking opportunities around Dallas that include a seasonally-focused happy hour, a one-day drink special, a new happy hour for the summer, and a new happy hour at an Arts District hotel bar.

Texas rises through the ranks of most innovative states, says new report


The Lone Star State has again taken a step up on an annual report that ranks the most and least innovative states in the country — this time cracking the top 15.

Texas ranked No. 15 in personal finance site WalletHub's 2023’s Most and Least Innovative States ranking. It's a steady improvement for the state, which ranked No. 16 in 2022 and No. 17 in 2021.

The report analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia and how each performed across 22 key metrics, including population of STEM professionals, venture capital investment activity, number of technology companies, patents per capita, and more. The data was pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, United States Patent and Trademark Office, and other records.

Here's how Texas performed at a glance:

  • No. 18 – for share of STEM professionals
  • No. 16 – for projected STEM job demand by 2030
  • No. 25 – for eighth grade math and science performance
  • No. 21 – for share of science and engineering graduates aged 25 or older
  • No. 13 – for share of technology companies
  • No. 31 – for R&D spending per capita
  • No. 18 – venture capital funding per capita

For the 11th year, Texas won Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup, the governor's office announced earlier this year. The award, which Texas has won 19 times since its inception in 1978, recognizes the nation’s top-performing state for job-creating business relocations and expansions.

"Texas truly is America’s economic engine, and we stand apart as a model for the nation. When choosing where to relocate or expand their businesses, more and more innovative industry leaders find themselves at home in our state," Governor Greg Abbott says in a news release about the award.

"I congratulate the exceptional economic development teams at the local, regional, and state level who have worked so diligently to attract and retain these growing businesses and the jobs they create in diverse communities across this great state," he continues.

The most innovative states included the District of Columbia, which ranked at No. 1, followed by Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, and California, respectively. The least innovative state was identified as Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Arkansas, respectively.

Source: WalletHub

Access to quality education is a significant contributor to each state's innovation economy, the experts say in the report.

"Investing in education, particularly K-12 but also at the University level, it is no accident that innovative ecosystems develop in states with strong education systems and research universities," says David L. Deeds, professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. "These institutions build strong capable modern workforces that attract capital, and jobs and create innovations. The benefits do not happen overnight, in fact, they take years if not decades, but consider what The UC’s or the University of Texas at Austin have meant for the development of premier innovative ecosystems."

Hall Group to open new hotel in mixed-use re-do of Frisco office park

Hotel News

Frisco is getting a new hotel at one of the city's pioneering office developments: Called the Hall Park Hotel, Autograph Collection, it'll open at Hall Park, and will be part of the Autograph Collection Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy collection.

According to a release, construction is anticipated to be complete in late 2023, with an opening set for spring 2024.

The hotel is part of the first phase of a $7 billion new masterplan to shift Hall Park from an office focus into a live-work-play community. It'll be owned by Dallas-based Hall Group, and operated by Coury Hospitality.

Autograph Collection Hotels – Marriott Bonvoy is known for its diverse independent hotels that champion individuality.

Hall Park Hotel will feature:

  • world-class contemporary art
  • outdoor pool
  • 4,000 square-foot ballroom
  • state-of-the-art fitness center
  • chef-driven restaurant and lounge
  • expansive patio

There will be 224 guest rooms and 60 well-appointed suites, supporting both short term and longer stays, with a focus on business travelers, events, meetings, regional “staycationers,” and tourists visiting Toyota Stadium, The Star in Frisco, regional youth sports tournaments, the upcoming PGA of America complex, and Universal Studios Park.

This makes the second hotel for Hall Group, the first being the Hall Arts Hotel which opened in the Dallas Arts District in 2019; and the fifth Autograph Hotel in the DFW area (others include the Adolphus in downtown Dallas, Hotel Vin in Grapevine, the Sinclair in Fort Worth, and Hotel Drover in Fort Worth).

Coury Hospitality is based in Las Colinas, with a portfolio of more than 30 hotels and restaurants, including 10 hotels in the Autograph Collection.

“Our partnership with Autograph Collection Hotels provides the opportunity to deliver a one-of-a-kind property to the residents and visitors of Frisco that will include a museum-quality art collection and world-class food and wine offerings,” says Hall Group chairman and CEO Craig Hall. “Framed by views of the art-filled Kaleidoscope Park, which is currently underway, hotel guests will be able to experience Frisco not only as a business and sports hub but also as an emerging arts and culture destination.”

Other new developments at Hall Park include The Monarch, a 19-story, luxury apartment tower expected to open in the fourth quarter. It'll have 214 units with 29 floorplans, including eight penthouse units with oversized balconies and high-end appliances and finishes, spa-inspired master baths and park views.

Amenities include a club room with kitchen, pool, fitness center, outdoor grilling areas, yoga and meditation space, bike storage, pet washing area, and meeting space.

The base of the residential tower will hold a 10,000-square-foot eatery, slated to open in 2024, with a diverse selection of 10 unique, chef-driven restaurants.

They're also building The Tower at Hall Park, a 16-story office tower that shares a podium with the hotel and will boast multiple terraces on every suite level, outdoor amenity space, and direct park access. That tower will also include 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space facing Kaleidoscope Park. It's also forecast to open in the fourth quarter of 2023.