DALLAS — With 15 years in the local market, Keller Williams Realtor Bruce Lynn can remember a day when people bought nice homes in North Texas for under $140,000.
"You can’t find a $140,000 house anymore," he said.
Actually, you can. They’re just not as plentiful.
At that price point, we found about 2,000 local homes for sale on Zillow. But then we searched for homes in the $300,000 to $600,000 range and found almost three times as many properties available.
Prices have gone way up. Lynn said he now has a lot of "wow" days as he looks at recent sales.
"Where you say, ‘Wow! That house sold that fast, for that price?’"
There have been enough of those "wows" to make some economists say "whoa." Professor Ken Johnson of Florida Atlantic University is one of them.
"I can see no sign that prices will continue on like this for an indefinite period of time," he told us.
Johnson helps to put together the Buy vs. Rent Index, which advises whether it’s more financially beneficial to lease or own in cities across the country.
Right now, the index strongly recommends renting over owning in North Texas, and suggests that renters would be much more likely to increase their wealth by investing in things like stocks and bonds instead of local real estate.
In fact, since last summer, every time we’ve checked in with Johnson, he has progressively warned that home prices in North Texas are poised to fall.
But then every time, home prices surge higher.
Bruce Lynn has seen evidence of the increases in deals he’s done. He points to a townhome near downtown Dallas he’s handled in the past. In 2009, it sold for $200,000. The same property sold last summer for $304,000.
"The second one down, same thing; they paid about $150,000 in 2009. Then in June (2015), it sold for $280,000," he said.
Lynn is not surprised that the Dallas-Fort Worth housing market was listed this week by S&P/Case-Shiller as one of three hot spots (including Denver and Portland, Oregon) that have set new all-time high price points.
But with that new record, we hear the same broken record from Professor Johnson. He is still sounding an alarm: "The near-term future is not rosy at this point in time."
Johnson reminds everyone that his index foresaw the nationwide housing crash in 2006 and 2007.
"Dallas is where Miami was in 2005. There are storm clouds all around," he warned.
Johnson even advises homeowners in North Texas who might be considering moving away in the next one to three years to sell now and rent until they leave; he’s that certain that prices are about to go flat or go down.
Perhaps way down.
"We could see a doomsday scenario where we could see a 25 percent drop over the next one to three years," he said.
The MetroTex Association of Realtors says there is no real concern of a bubble in the Dallas-Fort Worth housing market. In a statement, the association maintains:
"Our local economy is incredibly strong and our affordability still ranks very high compared to other cities in the U.S. Those things, combined with low interest rates, still make North Texas one of the top housing markets in 2016."
Bruce Lynn concurs. Looking out over the next two to three years, he can’t see a possible cool down.
Food for thought for anyone shopping for a home in North Texas right now.
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