With 12 counties, more than 200 cities
and a population of nearly million,
there’s no doubt that’s a lot of area to
cover. Each county and city has its own
unique lifestyle, identity and culture, and
that can be a dizzying prospect for those
new to town.
But the good news is that, for residents
and those relocating to the Dallas and Fort
Worth areas, that kind of explosive growth
has meant even more housing options –
from suburban neighborhoods and small
towns to planned communities and downtown, urban living.
Housing is affordable here, too. Overall, the
Dallas/Fort Worth area has a low cost of
living that’s typically several points below
the national average and considerably lower
than major east and west coast cities. Refer
to our Cost of Living comparison in this guide
for a more comprehensive chart to compare
other costs of living here, like healthcare,
groceries, transportation, and more.
Home prices in the DFW metroplex have
also stayed relatively stable during the recent
economic recession – without either the
rapid price escalation that occurred on the
West and East Coasts, or the plunging of
home values that happened in other regions.
The fact is that the strength of the DFW
market is the result of a diverse economic
base that has kept unemployment figures
below national levels – and that has also
kept area housing affordable.
HOUSING OPTIONS FOR ALL
The first step is deciding on the kind of
home you want – and the metroplex offers
plenty to choose from, like single-family
homes, high-rise downtown lofts, garden
homes, condominiums and zero-lot line
homes. Selecting the perfect home really
comes down to individual choice and preference about the type of ownership and the
style of home that will best suit an individual’s or family’s lifestyle.
Single-family homes, garden homes and
zero-lot line homes are built on individual
lots – and the main difference is the size
of the yard. Single-family homes typically
have front and back yard areas, while garden
homes and zero lot line homes have little or
no yard and therefore no yard maintenance.
Instead, these homes offer owners small
terraced areas or patios they can choose to
landscape. Garden and zero lot line homes
may be built within 10 feet of each other,
or within five feet of the lot line, and often
share a common fence. Two attached single-family homes on one lot are considered a
duplex, and give the owner the option to live
in one half and rent the other.
Townhomes may be one-story structures,
depending on the lot size, but are usually
two-story homes constructed in rows to
avoid a “bowling alley” feeling in the design.
Usually, townhomes share sidewalls, with
unobstructed front and back entries and
small lawns or patios.
Condominiums and lofts offer even less
outdoor upkeep. While the homeowner
is responsible for indoor maintenance,
the exterior is the responsibility of a
management company appointed by the
homeowner’s association. Condominiums
are often gated communities with more
homes on the lot, while the homeowner’s
association assures the property maintains
its value. The difference between a loft and
a condominium is that a loft is usually found
in the downtown area as part of a high rise
building, while condos may be built on a
regular lot and share a common wall, similar
to a duplex or an apartment.
RENTING: TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
The idea of renting before committing to
a home purchase makes good sense for
newcomers who want to learn more about
the Metroplex and the surrounding communities. Corporate housing gives renters
unique living options, and allows time to
investigate different areas, school districts,
and living options. There are several excellent sources to help unravel the intricacies of
renting property in Texas.
The Texas Tenants Union in Dallas (214-
823-2733) hosts free weekly workshops
discussing tenants’ rights, and provides
written information, counseling and referral
services. Although located in Austin, the
Austin Tenants Council website offers detailed
information about Texas property code
and tenant-landlord information at www.
housing-rights.org. You can also find more
information from the Attorney General of
Texas Office of Consumer Protection at 800-621-
0508 or online at www.oag.state.tx.us.
BUYING A HOME
Before settling on the home of your dreams,
it’s important for future homeowners to
understand the basics of Texas real estate
law. In Texas, a homestead is defined as “the
place of residence for a family or individual
and is secure from forced sale by general
creditors.” The Texas Constitution guarantees that the only way a person can lose his
or her homestead rights is by death, abandonment, sale of property, or foreclosure of
a lien against the homestead.
There are two types of homesteads in Texas:
urban and rural. | continued page 98 >