Photo by LeeAnn Cline on Unsplash

The trend of international buyers purchasing homes in Texas shows no signs of slowing down, as revealed in the latest Texas International Homebuyers Report.

Released September 6 by Texas Realtors, the report shows that the Lone Star State remains the No. 3 hottest U.S. destination for international homebuyers. Texas ranks behind Florida and California for the fourth consecutive year.

From April 2022 to March 2023, 9,900 Texas homes were purchased by buyers from outside the U.S. These homes make up 11.7 percent of the total number of Texas Realtors sales transactions.

For comparison, Florida (No. 1) accounted for 23 percent of purchases, with California (No. 2) at 12.2 percent.

"Texas has long been one of the most popular states for international buyers," said 2023 Chairman of the Texas Realtors Marcus Phipps in a release. "Our strong economy, diverse population and high quality of life make the Lone Star State an attractive destination."

International buyers spent $4.3 billion on these Texas homes during the time period, the report says. Nearly half (49 percent) of buyers avoided the need for a mortgage by paying for their homes in all-cash.

In all, 84,600 international buyers bought property in the U.S. between April 2022 to March 2023, down from 98,600 buyers in last year's report.

The report further states that the median home price for international buyers is slightly lower than the overall Texas median: $320,800 versus $342,000. However, the average purchase price for international buyers was significantly higher, at $446,100.

In a breakdown of the foreign buyers, over half (51 percent) bought a primary residence in Texas. Mexico made up 41 percent of the top buyers, followed by China (8 percent) and India (7 percent). Nigeria and Venezuela accounted for five percent each within the top foreign buyers.

Photo courtesy of City of McKinney

North Dallas neighbor takes new title as No. 1 U.S. housing market, report says

Real estate report

When it comes to places to buy a house, you can't do any better than McKinney. So says WalletHub's highly anticipated 2023 report on the best real estate markets in the U.S.

The new study by the personal finance website, released August 22, names McKinney the No. 1 most attractive real estate market in the country. It's followed closely by No. 2-ranked Frisco.

Dallas-Fort Worth housing markets have dominated WalletHub's report throughout the years, showing resilience as other markets rise and fall. McKinney and Frisco have been in the top five since 2021, but the 2023 report is the first time McKinney has dethroned Frisco from the No. 1 spot, after ranking No. 3 in WalletHub's 2022 edition and No. 4 in 2021.

With a great housing market come new businesses. It's no wonder that hot new restaurants, coffee shops, and other attractions are opening in McKinney or choosing the city for new locations.

July 2023 data from Realtor.com shows median home prices in McKinney have fallen 2.8 percent year-over-year to $550,000, with homes selling for an average 2.03 percent less than their asking price. Homes are spending an average of 30 days on the market, another indicator that buyers are willing to hold out for that perfect home for the right price.

Potential owners should attempt to buy their home soon while sellers are more willing to negotiate on housing prices in the wake of higher interest rates, according to Kelly Snider, an urban regional planning professor at San Jose State University.

"More important for the housing market is that brokers and agents pay attention to what buyers want and spend less time listening to what sellers 'expect' or "deserve,'" Snider said in the report. "It is becoming a buyers' market, and 2024 should be good for people looking to buy a house."

Two additional Dallas-Fort Worth cities, Denton (No. 4) and Allen (No. 6), earned top 10 spots for the second year in a row. Denton moved up four spots from No. 8 in 2022, while Allen fell four spots from No. 2.

Other Dallas-Fort Worth area cities that earned spots in the report include:

  • No. 22 – Fort Worth
  • No. 24 – Plano
  • No. 28 – Richardson
  • No. 36 – Irving
  • No. 42 – Carrollton
  • No. 43 – Dallas
  • No. 53 – Grand Prairie
  • No. 70 – Garland
  • No. 84 – Arlington
  • No. 120 – Mesquite
The study analyzed 300 U.S. cities across 17 metrics in two categories to determine the best real estate markets. Datapoints include median home price appreciation, ratio between rent to sale prices, housing affordability, job and population growth, and more.

The full report can be found on wallethub.com.


Dallas buyers must earn this much more to afford a starter home in 2023

affordability gaps

A new income analysis by online real estate brokerage Redfin has revealed just how much more a potential homeowner needs to make this year to afford a "starter home" in Dallas, a concept that's becoming seemingly less attainable with rising mortgage rates and increased competition among buyers.

The report revealed that first-time homebuyers need to earn $72,885 annually to afford a Dallas home in 2023, which is 10.6 percent more income than was required in 2022.

It's also $8,482 above the national average. According to Redfin, the average salary needed for a typical starter home in the United States is $64,403, about 13 percent more than a year ago.

These findings further confirm that affordability is one of the biggest struggles for potential buyers in the current real estate market.

What was considered a generous salary to afford a home in Dallas a year ago is no longer the case, as median sale prices are sitting at $275,000, and median mortgage payments are about $1,822 a month, the report said. However, the analysis indicated home sales in the city have risen 2.5 percent since this time last year.

Redfin senior economist Sheharyar Bokhari said in the report that it's a "wild goose chase" for homebuyers seeking their first home in the current market.

"The most affordable homes for sale are no longer affordable to people with lower budgets due to the combination of rising prices and rising rates," he said. "That’s locking many Americans out of the housing market altogether, preventing them from building equity and ultimately building lasting wealth. People who are already homeowners are sitting pretty, comparatively, because most of them have benefited from home values soaring over the last few years."

Bokhari predicted the wealth gap between current and potential owners could become "even more drastic" if current trends continue.

Buyers looking elsewhere in the Metroplex might find some success. Even though the income necessary to afford a Fort Worth home has risen by 14.4 percent, that only amounts to $64,933.

Elsewhere in Texas, a first-time homebuyer would need to make $57,513 to afford a home in Houston, which is nearly 14 percent more than in 2022. San Antonio saw the highest percentage increase in income necessary to afford a home, at 18.7 percent, with buyers needing to make $55,657. In Austin, potential homeowners saw a 3.3 percent decrease in income needed to afford a home, but it's still the highest income required out of all Texas cities in the report: $92,057.

The full report can be found on redfin.com.

Photo courtesy of Lake Highlands Home Tour

Here's how much Dallas homeowners will spend to boost curb appeal this year

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Sure, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but that doesn't apply to a vast number of million-dollar homes in this city. It's probably safe to say that many locals (or tourists) have been guilty of window shopping Dallas' most gorgeous houses while cruising around town.

Experts from home services website Thumbtack have confirmed Dallas-Fort Worth's incredible curb appeal and ranked the city No. 5 in a recent study that surveyed homeowners around the country.

Thumbtack partnered with Nextdoor to ask more than 1,000 homeowners to set tangible values to curb appeal: both how much they care, and what kind of exterior home improvements have the most influence. It also ranked cities on how much they spend.

The study found that Dallas-Fort Worth residents will spend up to $4,592 on many "small curb appeal investments" – such as replacing the front door, installing outdoor lighting, pressure washing the driveway, or painting their fence.

But if a homeowner really wants their property to stand out, major projects like installing solar panels or maintaining a perfectly manicured front yard are surefire ways to catch people's attention and admiration. So much so, that 82 percent of survey-takers said investing in landscaping is a substantial improvement, and 73 percent believe a well-kept lawn dramatically improves curb appeal.

"At its core, curb appeal is a homeowner’s first presentation of themself to the neighborhood," the report said. "An individual home’s curb appeal impacts the whole neighborhood — and, as a result, can build relationships or even create tensions on the block."

Costs, of course, are driven up with the scale of the projects. Cost estimates for garage door or gutter replacements can ring up at $1,310, with Metroplex homeowners budgeting up to $12,615 for their "medium-sized" home improvement projects.

The study designates some projects as "large curb appeal investments": things like painting the entire exterior of a house, replacing property fencing, or installing a sprinkler system. Estimates for multiple large-scale projects can cost up to $24,000 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Nextdoor's Head of Revenue, Heidi Andersen, said in the report that a home's curb appeal can show the owner's "deep investment" in their neighborhood, and can improve their fellow neighbors' pride within the local community.

"For many neighbors, the neighborhood is a gathering place, a central hub, and most importantly, a place they come to for genuine connections, support, and shared experiences among its residents," said Andersen. "Every day, neighbors everywhere are transforming houses into homes, and streets into welcoming avenues for their communities."

Austin also made it into the top five by ranking as the U.S. city with the 2nd best curb appeal behind frontrunner Atlanta, Georgia.

The top 10 metros with the best curb appeal are:

  • No. 1 – Atlanta, Georgia
  • No. 2 – Austin, Texas
  • No. 3 – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • No. 4 – Washington, D.C.
  • No. 5 – Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • No. 6 – Baltimore, Maryland
  • No. 7 – Seattle, Washington
  • No. 8 – Orlando, Florida
  • No. 9 – Tampa, Florida
  • No. 10 – Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
The full report can be found on thumbtack.com.

Dallas sold more $10-million-plus homes than any other city, report says

House For Sale

Luxury home sales in Dallas-Fort Worth have grown by a monumental 200 percent for the first half of 2023, according to the new mid-year report by Compass Luxury. This staggering growth indicates a new trend for the city's impressive and explosive real estate market despite recent economic troubles and limited housing inventory.

Dallas-Fort Worth ranked at the top with Houston on Compass' list of ultra-luxury real estate markets — meaning homes selling for $10 million or more — during the first six months of the year. There were 13 total markets that had more transactions surpassing the $10 million mark in this time period than this same time last year.

For some perspective, Compass' data says there were three homes in the Metroplex that together sold for a total of $43.79 million during Q1 and Q2 of this year. That's compared to just one sale in 2022 at $10.95 million.

Dallas-Fort Worth claimed the No. 1 spot in the report, well above rich enclaves such as Martha's Vineyard and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and edging out Houston, whose sales volume amounted to a mere $31.5 million for the same number of sales in Q1 and Q2.

Compass real estate agents Michelle Wood and Amy Detwiler said in the report that high-earning buyers have been seeking homes in DFW since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the cities' low taxes, a thriving economy, and the value of homes in the region.

"Preferences of the ultra-luxury buyer have evolved to prioritize quality and oversized lots over competitive prices on a price per-square-foot basis," they said. "The shortage of oversized lots in the Park Cities has led to a lack of inventory at ultra-luxury price points."

Jonathan Rosen, principal agent at The Rosen Group, echoed Wood and Detwiler's statements regarding what the ultra-luxurious crowd is searching for in a Dallas-Fort Worth home.

"In 2023, we’re continuing to see great demand for new construction ultra-luxury homes in Park Cities," Rosen said. "Inventory levels are incredibly tight due to the limited amount of ultra-luxury listings available in Park Cities and Preston Hollow. Ultra-luxury buyers in Dallas-Fort Worth increasingly expect high-end finishes and lots sized to at least an acre."

The top 10 real estate markets with transactions over $10 million for the first half of 2023 are:

  • No. 1 – Dallas-Fort Worth (200 percent)
  • No. 2 – Houston (200 percent)
  • No. 3 – Boulder, Colorado (100 percent)
  • No. 4 – Jackson Hole, Wyoming (60 percent)
  • No. 5 – Greater Seattle (55.5 percent)
  • No. 6 – Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts (50 percent)
  • No. 7 – Westchester County, New York (50 percent)
  • No. 8 – Greater Boston (42.8 percent)
  • No. 9 – City of Boston (40 percent)
  • No. 10 – Wine Country, California (25 percent)

The full mid-year ultra-luxury real estate report can be found on Compass Luxury's website.

Photo courtesy of Estately.com

Dallas unlocks No. 12 ranking among U.S. cities with most million-dollar homes

The luxe life

With median home prices sitting at $412,000, it takes quite the leap for the average Dallas home to be considered a luxury listing. And yet there are many; 22 percent of all real estate listings in Dallas are homes worth over $1 million, according to a new study.

The report, by online real estate marketplace experts Point2, ranks Dallas No. 12 nationwide among U.S. cities with the highest shares of luxury homes. Dallas ranks second in Texas, behind Austin.

In Point2's 2021 report, Dallas ranked No. 13 with only 13.9 percent of real estate listings with a price tag for more than $1 million. These new findings confirm that Dallas is on the rise as one of the best housing markets for growth, while also opening up possibilities for redefining what the term "luxury" means for real estate in 2023.

"Once used to describe famous estates recognizable by name alone or opulent residences redefining the apartment concept, luxury may now be reduced to a convenient location and cushy amenities," the report says. "Its meaning varies even further when analyzing different-sized markets across the United States, beyond the well-known house-hunting grounds of affluent home seekers."

Austin ranked No. 10 nationally with 24.7 percent of all active real estate listings for sale for over $1 million. No other Texas cities made the top 15.

The study looked at all available real estate for sale in the 30 largest, mid-size, and smallest cities in the United States, and categorized the listings by their $1-million-plus price tags.

In the category for the smallest U.S. cities, Grapevine ranked No. 13 with 13 percent of all real estate listings for sale worth over $1 million.

The largest cities also were analyzed for active real estate listings worth over $5 million.

The study admits that luxury homes worth over $5 million are the true indicator of what "real luxury" looks like specifically for the largest American cities. In Dallas, only 1.8 percent of real estate listings fit that criteria, earning the city No. 8. Austin, with 1.5 percent, land just behind Dallas, at No. 9.

The top 10 largest cities in the U.S. with the highest shares of luxury real estate listings worth over $5 million are:

  • No. 1 – Los Angeles, California (11.6 percent)
  • No. 2 – Boston, Massachusetts (9.4 percent)
  • No. 3 – San Diego, California (7.6 percent)
  • No. 4 – New York City, New York (7.4 percent)
  • No. 5 – San Francisco, California (7.1 percent)
  • No. 6 – Washington, D.C. (2.1 percent)
  • No. 7 – Seattle, Washington (2.0 percent)
  • No. 8 – Dallas, Texas (1.8 percent)
  • No. 9 – Austin, Texas (1.5 percent)
  • No. 10 – San Jose, California (1.1 percent)

The full report and its methodology can be found on point2homes.com.

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Cool Dallas mid-century hotel off I-35 gets funding to become apartments

Hotel News

Developers of the historic Cabana Hotel, the distinctive mid-century Dallas lodging where the Beatles once stayed, received a $41 million go-ahead from the Dallas City Council to turn the building into apartments.

Cabana Sycamore Development Inc., a subsidiary of Sycamore Strategies, plans to transform it into a $116 million, 160-unit mixed-income apartment building.

Located at 899 Stemmons Fwy., the Cabana was built in 1962 by Las Vegas entrepreneur Jay Sarno, who several years later developed Caesars Palace hotel and the Circus Circus in Las Vegas. The Beatles stayed there on their 1964 U.S. tour, reportedly followed by other British acts including the Who, Led Zeppelin along with President Richard Nixon.

The hefty cash outlay, which will be paid through the Design District tax increment financing (TIF) district once the project is complete, is a marked increase from a $15.5 million incentive that was approved in 2019, when building owner Centurion American Development Group sought to renovate the hotel and open it as luxury lodging once again.

A TIF allows cities to subsidize developers by refunding or diverting some of their taxes.

Centurion, who renovated the similar Statler Dallas in downtown Dallas, had gone so far as to gut the building, but after four years of inaction, put it up for sale; Sycamore Strategies' lead Zachary Krochtengel put it on contract in May.

The project had few dissenters at the Dallas City Council's September 27 meeting other than former city council member Ed Oakley who was in office in the early 2000s when the Design District TIF was first created.

Oakley noted that, with the $116 million price tag, each unit will cost $725,000, and reminded the council that the current TIF board voted against it on September 11, objecting to its "higher than typical costs."

But council member Omar Narvaez said the building is needed in part to introduce housing for those working within the Design District.

“There is no workforce housing in this area and that’s something we have all committed to fixing,” Narvaez said. “This is the mixing of income levels and brackets that we have talked about.”

Okla. favorite Hideaway Pizza tiptoes into Texas with first shop in Plano

Pizza News

A new pizza purveyor is coming to Texas where it will bravely enter the Dallas-Fort Worth market: Hideaway Pizza an Oklahoma-based chain serving pizza, craft beer, and cocktails, is making its DFW debut with a location in Plano, at 5410 SH-121.

According to a spokesperson, the restaurant will open in mid-October.

Based in Tulsa, Hideaway was founded in 1957 by Richard "The Big Kahuna" Dermer and his wife Marti in 1957 near the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater. They became known for making deliveries via a fleet of Volkswagen Beetles.

In 2006, the company was purchased by Brett Murphy and Darren Lister who've successfully retained the anti-chain irreverent spirit and laid-back atmosphere, with employees wearing tie-dye shirts. Their help-wanted ad, for example, says, "We're looking for Weirdoughs and Fungi's to join our team!"

There are now 23 locations across Oklahoma and Arkansas, and they recently made a list of the "10 Established Casual-Dining Restaurant Chains Consumers Love" by Nation's Restaurant News.

Expanding to North Texas made sense because the area has many OSU alumni as well as Oklahoma transpants. The owners also observed that many pizza concepts have moved to to-go only.

"The pizza casual dining space has been vacated by competitors chasing delivery and quick dining," Murphy said in a December 2022 interview. "Hideaway offers premium pizza and a fantastic dine-in experience you can’t find anywhere else."

For pizza, they have two crust options: thin and hand-tossed, slightly thicker and puffier. There are also two alternative crusts: GF and cauliflower.

Signature pies include 17 options, from chicken Florentine with alfredo sauce to the Capone, with sausage, pepperoni, Genoa salami, bacon, red onion, black olives, garlic, and their "Parmesan-herb shake."

There are sandwiches, pastas, salads, meatballs, and garlic cheese bread. Their fried mushrooms are a big customer favorite, and beer is served in frosty cold mugs. Their Sweetza cookies dessert are big boys baked in a six-inch pizza pan and topped with vanilla ice cream. They also have a full bar.

Following Plano, they'll open a location in McKinney at 2101 N. Hardin Blvd. in early 2024, and have Fort Worth penciled in next.

Famed Seattle piroshky bakery makes stop in Dallas on Texas-wide tour

Meat Pie News

A Seattle bakery is coming to Dallas for a special pop-up: Piroshky Piroshky Bakery, which specializes in handmade piroshki, AKA Russian hand pies, will stop in Dallas on a national tour.

The bakery will be at Outfit Brewing, 135 John W. Carpenter Fwy, on October 5 from 5-7 pm, with luscious offerings, both savory and sweet.

Piroshkis are small pies of Russian origin, made from an enriched yeast dough, with savory fillings like meat, vegetables, or cheese, the most traditional being meat and rice or potato and onion.

Piroshky Piroshky Bakery was founded in Seattle in 1992, and offer their pastries in all sorts of delectable fillings: from beef & cheese to cabbage & onion to vegan-friendly mushroom & potato. They make authentic pastries, as well.

Their piroshky are individually made from scratch and hand-formed into unique shapes that help differentiate the flavors and fillings inside.

The company has five locations across Seattle, and also sells their products online. Their original location at Seattle's Pike Place Market serves more than 20 varieties.

But they also make annual tours, just like a rock band, to bring their goods to towns across the U.S. They last came through Dallas in November 2022.

The tour features options such as:

  • Smoked salmon pate piroshky
  • Beef & onion piroshy
  • Impossible beef & onion piroshky
  • Ham, spinach, & cheese piroshky
  • Potato & cheese piroshky
  • Veggie chipotle piroshky
  • Chocolate cream hazelnut roll
  • Cinnamon cardamom braid
  • Pumpkin toffee braid
  • Caraway cheddar cheese stick
  • Poppyseed cinnamon roll

The full menu is online, and pre-ordering is required. The cutoff order date for Dallas is October 3 at 4 pm. There's a minimum of $50; individual items run between $5.25 to $7.25.

In addition to Dallas, they're also making three other stops in Texas:

  • Fort Worth at Martin House Brewing, 220 S Sylvania Ave. on October 4, from 5-7 pm. You must order by October 2; pre-order here.
  • Austin at Twin Creeks Park, 2303 Dervingham Drive, Cedar Park, on October 6, from 5-7 pm; pre-order here.
  • Houston at Elks Lodge, 10150 W Airport Blvd, Stafford, on October 7, from 5-7 pm; pre-order here.