The cornerstone of the American dream is to own a home (no matter how modest). Home is considered to be synonymous with stability and a sense of belonging – it’s called ‘home sweet home’ for a reason, right?
Dallas, or Big-D, is Texas’ green space, offering its residents the opportunity to own a home that sits on the lap of nature. As we move towards the downtown area, the atmosphere is more urban, with a vibrant art scene, theater galore, and bustling shopping experiences.
However, a sad reality of home ownership in Dallas is that housing affordability is shrinking by the year. The average median price of homes has risen by 76% in the past decade, and the city’s housing costs are 11% higher when compared to other US cities. Such challenges can make home ownership a distant dream for many.
Fret not! This article has you covered; we will discuss useful tips on finding affordable housing options in Dallas, Texas.
1. Shortlist Affordable Neighborhoods
Much like any other US city, Dallas-Fort Worth also has certain neighborhoods that are more affordable than the others. An area’s real estate costs depend upon factors like modern infrastructure, proximity to important spots, and concentration of parks, businesses, etc.
That does not mean budget-friendly residential locations have no amenities to offer. If you wish to experience the beauty of Dallas without burning a hole in your pocket, look for a property in these areas –
- Lake Highlands
The homes at Lake Highlands are suitable for singles, families, retirees, young professionals, and students. This is a fairly large neighborhood located at the northeastern edge of the city. The area is lined with restaurants serving delectable local cuisine, along with premium shopping stores.
This neighborhood falls under the Richardson Independent School District, which makes it suitable for families with school-going children. Even the Richland Campus of Dallas College is located nearby. Some top entertainment spots in this area include the Lake Highlands North Park, the Westlake Skate Center, and the Café Laziz.
- Oak Lawn
According to Century Communities, people love to settle down in the Dallas metropolis because of its rich cultural scene, top educational opportunities, and plenty of entertainment options. The Oak Lawn neighborhood offers all that, along with affordable housing.
It is a vibrant locality situated in the uptown area of the city. Since it is the center of Dallas pride, Oak Lawn’s community is the most inclusive, welcoming people from all walks of life. This community is bordered by roadways on three sides and is most suitable for young professionals or singles.
- Winnetka Heights
Among the safest neighborhoods in Dallas, Winnetka Heights is charming, artsy, and relatively tranquil. It is wrapped with nature on all sides, and retirees or families looking to raise children in serenity will find this area ideal.
The residents of this neighborhood gather together each month for events like ‘Happy Hours’ to interact and engage with others (the community is close-knit). The houses are modest and affordable, while the entire area is pedestrian-friendly to enjoy the natural beauty.
2. Opt for Pre-Approval before House Hunting
Before you start looking at homes for sale in Dallas, ensure you approach a local lender and get yourself pre-approved for a mortgage. This is crucial because the seller looks at a pre-approved buyer as a more viable and lucrative option. Since you come across as more intentional than buyers who are not yet pre-approved, the seller will find your offer more compelling.
This process also helps you understand what you can afford based on your credit score and history. Your friends, co-workers, or even a realtor can provide you with a referral. Gather your options, scrutinize each, and proceed with a lender offering competitive interest rates.
3. Choose Properties below Your Budget
Just like they say that the secret to always having enough is to live below your means, the secret to purchasing a budget-friendly home is to shop below your budget. Your lender only decides what you can borrow; you still have the power to choose what you can afford.
Based on the nuances of your spending patterns and daily lifestyle, choose a home after deducting costs such as furnishings, repairs, and landscaping, among others. Also, do not feel tempted to invest in an extravagant home unless you can afford it. A better alternative is to carefully assess your family’s needs and choose a home that meets them.
When you shop under your means, there’s no need to break savings (you can let that corpus grow for retirement), and it becomes easier to avoid future financial burdens.
4. Keep an Open Mind
While it is important to move forward with a plan, you should always leave some room for changes. This is because the market is huge, and it can be challenging to find a home that meets all your needs in terms of features, locality, amenities, budget, and more.
For instance – if you want to go with a modest budget, you may need to adjust a little to the neighborhood or the amenities. But that is not necessarily a bad thing – if you keep an open mind during the house hunt, you might be pleasantly surprised.
So, consider properties that may have spent longer days in the market, houses that were taken off but are back in the market, and so on.
5. Have Your Finances in Order
Purchasing a home, especially for the first time, is both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. It would be unwise to advance without proper planning. If you wish to purchase an affordable home in Dallas, one way is to start saving for the down payment early on.
If you want to qualify for the down-payment assistance program, it is important to have a credit score of 640 or more. To maintain a high credit score, ensure all debts are cleared, don’t get close to your credit limit, never take too many loans, and monitor your credit utilization ratio frequently.
The one-year market forecast for real estate in Dallas is 4.8%, which shows a positive outlook for both sellers and buyers. However, there are factors besides price that must also be accounted for.
These include the locality, infrastructure and amenities, neighbors, ventilation, layout and design, structural integrity, hidden costs, security, and resale value. As you keep the price point as a priority, look for properties that complement your lifestyle and living needs.