east dallas property prices increase

Advocate lakewood / east dallas

March 2001


By Advocate Staff (http://lakewood.advocatemag.com/author/advocate-staff/)

 

Make more than $200,000 a year? You might be interested in some property in East Dallas.

In the last three years, the number of millionaires living in Dallas has increased by more than
35 percent to 95,000 people with a net worth of $1 million or more, according to one research
group.

And lots of those people are looking for places to settle down.

Some are dot commers. Others are young yuppie families, looking to rear their children in a
cosmopolitan area not quite as sheltered as where they grew up. Many can talk about their
investment portfolio, or boast enough cash to live wherever they want.
So why East Dallas?

For some, instinct or just old habit might lead them to think of places like Highland Park or
even north to Plano. But for those who want the suburban community feel with more than a
hint of urban character, the area east of North Central Expressway is becoming the place to
be.

“People relocating from out of town companies headquartered in Plano or Las Colinas end up
with real estate in those areas,” said Missy Vanderbilt, a RE/MAX Associate of Dallas who’s
sold property in the area for 20 years. “They never even know our part of town exists.”

More evidence of the increasing popularity of the area is housing prices. East Dallas prices
were up 14 percent through the first three quarters of 2000, and have been rising ever since.

As Dallas/Fort Worth grows, so people are looking to live closer to their jobs to minimize time
spent in the car, one real estate analyst said. It’s just one reason East Dallas is becoming
more attractive to people moving from other areas of the Metroplex.

“Commutes are getting tougher,” said Greg Willitt, spokesman for MPF Research, a Dallasarea
real estate consulting firm. “In general, there’s been a general economic upswing, and
that area has been safer than it’s been in the past.”

But for those who know about the area, Lake Highlands, Lakewood and East Dallas are
starting to emerge as magnets for the young, cool and newly wealthy, say some local real
estate agents and their clients.

“The common denominator is that they all want a stable, family oriented
neighborhood,” Ms. Vanderbilt said.

Other factors contribute to the area’s recent image boost, she added.
An improved economy over the past decade also helped renew the interest in older
neighborhoods like East Dallas.

“DART also really helped give good access to downtown,” Ms. Vanderbilt said. “Now they see
the northern rail line opening up and they see that they can do that reverse commute to the
Telecom Corridor.”

The widening of Central Expressway and good schools have also helped attract more
families, she added.

And an improved image makes for an increased demand for property in the area, Ms.
Vanderbilt said.

“We have a whole category of waiting buyers, who will buy immediately – if it’s the right place,”
she said. Realtors keep those clients on file, and are constantly searching for their dream
house.

People who are attracted to the East Dallas and Lakewood areas aren’t easily stereotyped,
realtors and others said.

“It crosses all types of people, single people, families with children in school, one income and
two income families,” Ms. Vanderbilt said.

“They’re family oriented neighborhoods, but it’s also a diverse world. It’s the best of both
worlds here,” she said.

The typical move she sees is young people moving out of downtown, wanting a more
community oriented place to rear their first child.

Also popular is the practice of “flipping,” or renovating and reselling houses. Many properties
in the East Dallas area have benefited from flipping – an often addictive hobby especially with
people who have expendable funds and a yearning for breathing life into the oldest and most
neglected buildings.

Flippers will redo walls, refinish floors, add rooms and relandscape to their liking, and then
resell it to the highest bidder. Banks in the area are even becoming more receptive to lending
for projects that contribute to the overall improvement of the community, encouraging more
“flipping.”

Although new mansions in places like Preston Hollow and Plano are springing up regularly,
many rich off the socalled “new” economy are gravitating instead to more charming,
unassuming residences in East Dallas and Lakewood areas.

Some celebrities have even made their nests in the area, looking for neighborhoods that
provide character and a relative cloak of anonymity.

Singer Erykah Badu doesn’t like to publicize her home base, but reports confirm that the single
mother bought a Lake Highlands home in 1999 and spent about a year renovating it, adding
two more stories to it.

Areas on and around Gaston Avenue are enjoying a rejuvenated state thanks to two brothers
who have made East Dallas a profitable passion.

Craig and Braden Power, the siblings behind Power Properties, have been working to improve
the area’s image with their renovated apartment buildings.

“The area has a lot of character. It’s the only area that has any trees and hills besides
Highland Park,” said Craig Power, who added that he thinks the East Dallas area has
“definitely” become more of a hot spot in recent years.

The Powers hope their investments will help inspire other developers to renovate and attract
even more people to the area.

But not everyone knows about the area’s increased popularity. Some residents said they’re
still battling stale, outdated impressions people have of East Dallas.

“We have to convince people that gun shots aren’t regularly heard here anymore,” said
longtime resident Cheryl Morris.“It’s getting better every year.”

Lori Lass, secretary and Web master for the 1,000member Lakewood Neighborhood
Association, said her neighborhood has seen some change since she moved there about
three years ago.

“It’s boomed a lot, and since we moved it’s boomed even more,” she said, adding that some of
her neighbors are dot com executives. “People like being by the lake, and this part of town
has a neighborhood feel.”

Ms. Lass recalled comments from coworkers at her job in Plano: “People would tease me, tell
me I can’t go to Fair Park, it’s too dangerous, I might die.”

But the misconceptions about safety in East Dallas are slowly but surely dying, she said.

“We aren’t as rich as Highland Park, but we have more character. We have a lot of Highland
Park wannabes. People show off their money in Forest Hills, not in Lakewood,” Ms. Lass said.
WANT MORE?