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Dallas Fends Off Housing Downturn

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Dallas Fends Off Housing Downturn


Dallas Fends Off Housing Downturn

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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We're ending our series of discussions with realtors this morning with a relatively bright note: Dallas. We've heard about a crisis in Miami and one in Southern California, but in Dallas housing sales have slowed but not nearly as much as the rest of the country.

With us from member station KERA is realtor Jeff Updike, who specializes in residential real estate in Dallas. Good morning.

Mr. JEFF UPDIKE (Realtor): Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Why are you there in Dallas so much better off than the rest of the country?

Mr. UPDIKE: Texas went through a really tough time in the mid-'80s because a lot of our economy was dependent upon the oil industry at that time and the crash of the price of oil, and that caused a big crash in our banking industry here, and you know, that's - a lot of that's where our financing money is going to come from, and so I think - I think that a lot of those institutions didn't want to be in that boat again.

MONTAGNE: So is it the case in Dallas that banks didn't go nuts, if you will, with these no-down-payment loans and all kinds of mortgages that were risky?

Mr. UPDIKE: I think they were very careful about that here. One of the challenges that some other markets had was they began trying to get people into homes at points where they could just barely qualify for it, and we just didn't do that here.

You know, our prices didn't rise the way they did in other markets, so we weren't fighting to get people into homes just barely scraping by.

MONTAGNE: You have seen a bit of a slump there in Dallas. What has that amounted to?

Mr. UPDIKE: Well, we've seen a slump in the number of transactions. We really haven't seen a slump in our prices. You know, Dallas has experienced, over the last 10 years, probably a four to five percent average price increase. We haven't seen the rollercoaster up like many parts of the country have so we're not experiencing the rollercoaster down. Our average price has actually gone up two percent from July to July of last year.

MONTAGNE: Are some neighborhoods doing better than others?

Mr. UPDIKE: Oh, absolutely, and some price points are doing better than others. Really, our lower-end price point, even with the tightening of the credit, which in many cases takes the lower-end purchaser out of the marketplace, our lower-end prices are still doing very, very well.

It's sometimes that mid-market, that $300,000 to $800,000, that really is the slower segment, price-wise, and I don't know that they're really being hurt necessarily; it's just that they are having to wait longer for their homes to sell, and it really hasn't even gotten too out of whack in terms of inventory.

We've actually seen our inventory over the last months decline about 10 percent.

MONTAGNE: Why is that?

Mr. UPDIKE: People that had their homes on the market at an unreasonable price have taken those off the market. There's also a smaller inventory with new construction now than there was 12 to 18 months ago. I think a lot of our building community realized what was coming because they saw it coming in other markets and tried to adjust for that.

MONTAGNE: So is this the case with the rest of Texas, or is Dallas something of a - just a real bright spot?

Mr. UPDIKE: Well, if you look at Austin, for example, they're experiencing a lot of what we are. Houston's the same way. They've had about a one percent price appreciation, and their number of transactions is off about 14 percent this year.

So it seems to be a real common thread, at least through a lot of the larger communities in Texas, and just in the last 12 months in Texas we've had 238,000 jobs created.

MONTAGNE: Jeff Updike is a realtor with Remax Urban in Dallas. Thanks very much.

Mr. UPDIKE: You're welcome. Thank you, Renee.

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