If you are considering building your own custom home in Dallas, now is the perfect time. According to the Dallas Business Journal, new home construction in Dallas soared in 2020, even after the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, the construction of new single-family homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area surged by 30% last year. To put that in perspective, that was the highest new construction volume in over a decade.
Ben Caballero, the owner of HomesUSA.com, says, “Dallas-area new home sales continue to impress…Builders in the Dallas-Fort Worth market simply can’t build homes fast enough to meet the remarkable demand.”
Let’s look at the local trends to understand why this is happening, the best ways you can (and should) respond, and finally, how you can use this information to have the home of your dreams.
Dallas is Definitely a Seller’s Market: By the Numbers
54% of real estate experts who responded to the latest Zillow Home Prices Expectations Survey predict that DFW will be the sixth-hottest housing market in the country and outperform the national average. Right now, median home prices in the area have reached an all-time high of $330,000, representing an astounding year-over-year spike of nearly 32%.
Realtor.com agrees — their March 2021 Market Hotness Report says that the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington market is “heating up” and that inventory is moving 26% faster, both compared to 2020. On average, homes spend 16 less days on the market than they did last year.
There are more house-hunters and buyers than there are homes for sale in Dallas. The total number of sales has increased by nearly 9%, while the number of active listings has gone down by over 25%. As a result, inventory is at an all-time low. Right now, the Months of Inventory in Dallas has dropped to 1.2 months. In May of 2020, the MOI figure was 3 months.
What are the Takeaways from All of This?
First and foremost, it means that for existing homes in and around Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington, it is absolutely a seller’s market. Existing homes are harder to find, they are being sold faster, and they are more expensive than ever. That is the reality for you as a buyer.
But looked at another way, these challenges present an exciting opportunity. Since it is getting harder and harder to buy a home, more people are building a home in Dallas. According to the National Association of Home Builders, there were 43,844 single-family construction permits issued in DFW in 2020. That makes Dallas #2 among all U.S. metros.
For you, that means that the best way for you to find the home you are looking for is to build it. YOU set your budget, YOU choose the plan and the features, and YOU work with your builder to make your dream home a reality.
If you have never had a home built before, let’s look at some of the hottest trends in Dallas custom homes.
Location, Location, Location: Where to Build Your Dallas Custom Home
Obviously, you need land to build your home, but it can be difficult to find undeveloped land for sale or a vacant residential lot within the city limits. You can stumble upon such a location from time to time, but not in any specific neighborhood, and not with any regularity
This issue has led to a suburban boom that is happening across the country in general, but in the Dallas area in particular. In fact, just a few years ago, Realtor.com ranked Dallas #2 in the country among cities with the fastest-growing suburbs. The standouts include:
- Richardson (12 miles away): Population 121,323. Growth since 2010 +22%
For over a decade, Richardson has been included on a wide variety of annual “Best of” lists, including Places to Live, Safest, Places to Raise Kids, Workplace for Commuters, Happiest, Suburbs for Young Professionals, and Best Real Estate Market;
- Carrollton (15 miles): Pop. 139,248. +17%
In 2020, personal finance technology company SmartAsset named Carrollton one of the Most Livable Cities in the U.S. and one of the Best Places to Do Business in Texas. In 2021, the company also named Carrollton as one of the Top Safest Cities Nationwide.
- Plano (17 miles): Pop. 287,677. +11%
Over two dozen Fortune 1000 companies have corporate headquarters or major regional offices in Plano.
- Allen (20 miles): Pop. 105,623. +25%
In 2017, CNN Money ranked Allen #2 in both its Best Places to Live and Best Places to Launch a Career lists.
- Forney (21 miles): Pop. 27,236. +86%
Homes.com ranks Forney #2 on its list of the Best Suburbs to Move To in 2021.
- Wylie (24 miles): Pop. 53,067. +28%
In 2016, NerdWallet ranked Wyle as the #1 Small City for a Family.
- Frisco (25 miles): Pop. 207,748. +78%
WalletHub ranks Frisco #6 nationally and #1 in Texas on its list of the Fastest-Growing Cities in America.
- Little Elm (28 miles): Pop. 53,126. +105%
In 2013, the FBI proclaimed Little Elm to be the Safest City in Texas.
- McKinney (32 miles): Pop. 199,177. +52%
In 2014, Money magazine rated McKinney as the Best Place to Live in America.
- Prosper (34 miles): Pop. 31,700. +264%
Conveniently, the North Dallas Tollway runs through Prosper, making for an easier commute.
- Denton (40 miles): Pop. 141,541. +25%
Denton is home to two colleges: the University of North Texas and Texas Women’s College, with a combined enrollment of over 45,000 students.
- Melissa (40 miles): Pop. 12,117. +158%
Melissa students graduate at a higher rate and score better on standardized tests than the state average.
Looking at the population explosions in these DFW suburbs, you can see that the top custom housing trend in Dallas is that people are flocking to the suburbs, more than happy to trade a daily commute for a happier overall lifestyle.
What About Planned Communities?
Another growing trend that affects custom home building in the Dallas area is the expansion of master-planned communities. Because the development process takes years, these communities often have hundreds of empty lots available. Right now, there are dozens of master-planned communities in the DFW area, with tens of thousands of opportunities available.
Although they are often thought of only in terms of pre-designed “cookie-cutter” houses, in reality, most master-planned communities do allow custom-built homes that stay within their architectural guidelines.
It’s the best of both worlds — the home builder adheres to standards set by the community and the owner gets the custom-built home of their dreams.
How hot is this particular trend locally?
According to RCLCO Real Estate Consulting, 4 of the top 50 fastest-growing master-planned communities are here in North Texas, each within commuting distance of DFW.
- Woodcreek Fate (Little Elm)
- Union Park (Little Elm)
- Silverado (Aubrey)
- Pecan Square (Northlake)
Landscaping: Your Public Face and Private Space
For most people who build a custom home in Dallas, their landscaping is somewhat of an afterthought. They focus so much on the house itself that they do not give enough consideration to the flora and fauna of the surrounding grounds.
That’s unfortunate, because your landscaping acts as your welcome mat to the world for both visitors and even passers-by, by expressing your personality and your pride of ownership. For yourself, your landscaped areas represent beauty, relaxation, and recreation, whether it’s for gardening, cookouts, or just getting in touch with nature.
Look at it this way — on average, Dallas enjoys 234 sunny days a year. That means you are going to be spending a lot of time outside. In other words, your landscaping matters.
And, if you ever decide to sell your home, the right landscaping can have a huge positive impact on the all-important curbside appeal to potential buyers. In fact, Turf Magazine says that upgrading your landscape from “average” to “excellent” can increase your home’s value by as much as 12 percent.
Longtime Dallas real estate professional Diane Bearden Barrett says there are 5 landscaping trends to watch out for in 2021:
- Low-Maintenance Options: If you don’t relish the idea of spending hours maintaining your yard and plants, try incorporating no-fuss landscaping ideas such as lighting, rocks, statuary, or even potted plants, which typically need less care than in-ground plants.
- Native Plants: Not every plant can thrive in the North Texas climate. Instead, opt for native plants like White Honeysuckle, Maximilian Sunflowers, Engelmann Daisies, Indian Paintbrushes, Post Oaks, and of course, Bluebonnets.
- Multi-Season Plants: With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy flowers and greenery year-round. This means that your garden should have a mix of flowers and other plants that bloom during different seasons.
- Pollinator Gardens: One of the most eco-conscious trends is to include plants, vegetables, and flowers that attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. This is an important contribution you can make, because in some parts of the world, 40% of butterflies and bees are threatened or have declining populations.
Outdoor Living Spaces Blur the Lines
Social distancing during the pandemic highlighted the importance of maximizing your home’s potential. Following this trend when planning your custom home could include building a gazebo, deck, pergola, firepit, or pergola to create an extra “room”.
In fact, multiple experts predict that outdoor kitchens and dining areas might be the next big thing in custom home design. What used to be as simple as setting up a grill and a picnic table in the backyard has evolved into a much more elaborate, yet-popular addition increasingly seen in new constructions.
An outdoor kitchen is exactly what it sounds like — the top setups will have virtually everything your interior kitchen has, including appliances, refrigeration, lighting, electrical outlets, plumbing, countertops, and cabinetry. The biggest difference is, in an outdoor kitchen, everything also has to be weather-resistant and able to stand up to the elements.
Your Custom Home’s Interior: Spending Quality Time
In many ways, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forever changed our lives, including how we view and use our homes. Now, we expect more of our living spaces, demanding better comfort, functionality, versatility, and aesthetic value, and those expectations are reflected in these 2021 design trends for custom homes in Dallas.
The Home Office is Now a Necessity
According to Fixr’s 2021 Single-Family Home Trends Report, home offices are the most-requested additional spaces in new construction projects.
Even before the pandemic began, remote jobs in Dallas-Fort Worth were on the rise. Between 2005 and 2017, the number of full-time telecommuters soared 123%, to a then-total of over 160,000 people. In fact, pre-COVID-19, the Dallas-area remote job share was already above that of the average of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas…and still climbing.
In 2016, FlexJobs named Dallas as one of its Top 5 Cities for Remote Work.
Because of social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates, working from home became the new normal. Consider these statistics about telecommuting and COVID-19:
- 97% of U.S. companies cancelled their work-related travel plans.
- 88% of businesses asked their employees to work from home.
- Companies had 38% fewer employees actually in the workplace.
- Having worked from home, 77% of employees now want to have a hybrid telecommute/workplace schedule.
- Only 12% want to go back to the way things were.
- Even with the vaccine and the ability to physically go back to work, it is predicted that by the end of 2021, up to 30% of employees will work from home at least one day a week.
Of special relevance, 29% of people who work from home find it hard to achieve a good work/life balance. 54% of remote employees feel stressed during any given workday, and 45% feel extremely anxious.
Part of the problem is that most people do not have a dedicated distraction-free workspace in their home where they can focus on their job. They end up working on the couch, the kitchen table, or in their bedroom, all places where they are sure to be interrupted. Including an office in your home design plans solves that problem.
Work Out Without Going Out
Similarly, the coronavirus outbreak changed Americans’ exercise habits. Sheltering in-place meant people had more time on their hands, and many decided to use that time productively. By June of 2020, 60% of people polled said they were meeting the physical activity recommendations of the World Health Organization. That was a significant 11% increase over their pre-pandemic fitness routines.
That is good news for local residents, because in 2019, the American College of Sports Medicine released their annual list of the Fittest Cities in America, and Dallas did not score very well, ranking #61 among the 100 largest cities in the country.
COVID-19 also interfered with people’s ability to go to the gym, and many were afraid to even perform solo fitness activities like cycling, walking, or running. Stuck at home for months, exercise enthusiasts became accustomed to working out in-place.
Now that lockdowns have ended, people want to keep enjoying the convenience of exercising at home, but they want their bedrooms, living rooms, and garages back. This is why there is a growing demand for dedicated fitness rooms where people can set up home gym equipment like weight benches, treadmills, stationary bikes, yoga mats, and other fitness products.
How hot is this trend?
The Washington Post reports that revenue from health and fitness equipment more than doubled between March and October of last year, climbing to $2.3 billion. Treadmill sales jumped 135%, and stationary bike sales nearly tripled.
Having It Your Way with an Open Floor Plan
In a poll of the building and design industry’s leading experts, 91% responded that open floor plans are the most popular option for new custom homes.
Again, this trend was influenced by the pandemic, as we all had to rely on our homes more than ever before. They needed to be not just our homes, but also our restaurants, schools, gyms, theaters, playgrounds, offices, and libraries.
Only one floor plan is this versatile. By design, an open floor plan is adaptable so the interior spaces of your home can fulfill whatever needs you and your family have at any given time.
Open floor plans are particularly popular with larger or growing families with hectic schedules. For example, on busy mornings when everyone is rushing around trying to get ready for school or work, the “traffic” moves a lot smoother within the great room common area than it would with the walls and doors of a closed floor plan.
Open floor plans also make it easier for family members to communicate and be together, even when they are doing their own thing. Because they aren’t separated by barriers, family members can talk with each other, parents can keep an eye on young children or pets, and everyone can interact, even while they might be individually cooking, working, studying, or playing.
Bigger is Still Better, But So is Versatility
With the aforementioned increased demand for home offices and fitness rooms, it is no surprise that most experts believe that new homes will be getting bigger. In fact, take a look at what people are requesting, in order of preference:
- Home Offices
- Extra Storage (closets, pantries, etc.)
- Playing Spaces
- Home Gyms
- Learning Spaces
- Disinfection Spaces
- Meditation Spaces
Although some of these will most likely be separate rooms, in other cases, you can have your individual needs met by having multi-use rooms. For example, with the right storage, a learning space can easily convert to a playroom when lessons are done, or your meditation space can be in your fitness room.
But either way, homes ARE trending bigger, in terms of both number of bedrooms and the overall square footage.
According to Today’s Homeowner, 89% of new single family home construction projects have 3 or more bedrooms. Even more telling, in 2010, only 35% of new single-family residences had 4 or more bedrooms, but today, that number has climbed to 43%.
The Bottom Line About Custom Home Trends in the Dallas Area
Ultimately, the choice of which trends, if any, you choose to follow when you build your Dallas custom home will depend on your preferences, your family’s needs, and your budget. We hope this information has served as a good jumping-off point that has given you something to think about as you start the process of designing and building your dream home here in the DFW area.
At the same time, we want to hear from YOU about your experiences during the whole process. Please leave any comments or questions and feel free to reach out if there is a specific topic you would like to see addressed.