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The house at 810 Millard Street in Oak Cliff is for sale.
And potential buyers better act fast — Dallas is in a housing crunch, and this property is in an up-and-coming neighborhood. The online listing very urgently declares: "MULTIPLE OFFERS RECEIVED."
The median price for pre-owned Dallas homes is above $260,000. This house is listed for $20,000. Now, it may not have any appliances, or heating and cooling, but it has four walls, a roof and municipal water hookups. At 606 square feet, with ramshackle walls and more plywood than hardwood, it looks a little Huck Finn-esque.
And when it sells, the number of single-family homes on the market for under $50,000 in the city of Dallas will dwindle to five, according to listings available on Realtor.com.
But seven years ago, the story was different. There were about 375 houses for under $50,000 in Dallas in 2011, and about 850 in the metro area, according to data from Redfin, an online real estate brokerage. The numbers have plummeted since then as home price appreciation has squeezed affordable housing stock out of the marketplace.
"There’s been severe price pressure at the lower end," said Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist with real estate listing site, Zillow.
In 2009, when median price was $133,000, a quarter of Dallas homes listed for sale was under $62,000 according to Redfin data. Now, that so-called first quartile is at $187,000.
A home for 50 grand or less was at the far left tail of price distributions in 2011 just as it is now, but the market was much different then. The market was bottoming out, with high foreclosure rates and home values plummeting, Terrazas said. So the stock of low-cost homes was higher.
Now, the few houses left at that price point aren’t worth much more than the land they’re on. At the Millard Street house, the improvements are valued at $9,200; the land is priced at $7,500.
It’s likely that those few houses still on the market are foreclosures or in need of renovations that exceed the value of the home itself, said Randall Guttery, director of real estate programs and a clinical professor at University of Texas at Dallas.
This hints at their likely fate. Many of the houses at this price point are not marketed as toward people in need of a cheap place to live. Rather, brokers advertise them as, in the case of the Millard house and others, an "investor’s dream." All of the six houses at this low price point are listed as "pending," meaning that some deals are in the works.
Meka Saravanakumar, a realtor with Ebby Halliday, is brokering a $40,000 house on Morris Street in West Dallas.
While this house may find a live-in owner, she said she fields many calls from investors, both institutional and individual, about buying the land to build something new.
One of the first houses she sold in Dallas was a one-bedroom worth only $12,000. But she said that was long before home prices shot up.
Now, attentions are turned toward what’s under the house, not inside. As Dallas’ population grows, developers and investors see green in the brown of an empty lot, even if it means tearing a house — often a very old one, in these cases — down.
"People want the land," she said.