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We’ve been talking about this trend for some time, but thanks to the business-friendly environment Great State of Texas and our fantastic job market, more people are moving to our state from areas where there are fewer jobs and houses cost a whole lot more.

And of course, when more people relocate to Texas, that means more real estate clients. A total of 138,057 new clients according to the statistics from the Texas Association of Realtors’ “Texas Relocation Report.”

The report, which uses data from 2013 American Community Survey, the 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as the U-Haul 2013 National Migration Trend Reports shows that Texas is outpacing Florida, California, Georgia, and North Carolina in the number of people moving from out of state.

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John Wiley Price's Home at 406 E. 5th Street in North Oak Cliff

John Wiley Price’s Home at 510 E. 5th Street in North Oak Cliff

John Wiley Price was arrested this morning at 8 a.m. on an FBI indictment alleging bribery, mail fraud, tax fraud, and other crimes associated with influence peddling. Co-defendants in the 107-page indictment, which was released this morning, include longtime assistant to Price Dapheny Fain and political consultant Kathy Nealy. A fourth defendant, Christian Lloyd Campbell, was also named in the document.

Price’s attorney, Billy Ravkind, was stunned by this morning’s arrest, alleging that neither he nor his client knew that the indictment was coming out today. Jim Schutze thinks that this means that there is no cooperation coming from Price or his associates, or that a crucial player has recently opted to flip to federal authorities. We’re certain that things will become more clear after the U.S. Attorney addresses the media later today, and as the days and weeks progress.

One thing is certain: a lot of real assets will likely get caught up in this arrest and indictment, one that is swiftly becoming the biggest public corruption case Dallas has ever seen. Price currently resides at 510 E. 5th Street in North Oak Cliff, which was raided by the FBI almost three years ago to the day, but he was listed as owner for several other properties, too. Agents found more than $229,000 in cash inside Price’s home during the June 2011 raid, which also targeted Fain and Nealy’s homes and offices.

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Grandwick 3 JoEngland

You already know that Grandwick, the former Dallas headquarters of the Church of Scientology, was reduced to ashes by a three-alarm fire Thursday. The owner, David D. Anderson, said that he was unable to obtain insurance on the property because it was vacant.

It would seem like this is a tragic, singular occurrence, but the truth is that Anderson owns several homes throughout east and southern Dallas, and many of them are vacant, overgrown, and generally eyesores.

In total, Anderson, who also owns two music stores in the area, has 23 residential properties in Dallas County according to records pulled from the Dallas County Appraisal District website. Of those 23 properties, four are rated “Unsound,” seven are rated “Poor,” and seven are rated “Fair.” Only five are rated either “Average” or “Good.” Grandwick, which is considered a commercial property, is not rated using the same system.

David Anderson East Dallas Properties

According to an official with DCAD, a property that is rated “Poor” often has more than a few code violations, the most common of which is peeling paint, overgrown landscaping, broken windows, as well as some structural issues. An “Unsound” property is often considered unfit for occupation, with serious structural issues, boarded up windows, along with a significant number of code violations.

Grandwick 2 JoEngland

A firefighter whose station responded to the blaze at Grandwick said that while they are unsure what caused the blaze that reduced the stucco-clad 1950s Spanish estate to a pile of rubble, Anderson told firefighters he suspects students from nearby Gaston Middle School. It’s a popular theory, especially considering the number of nearby residents who complain of vandalism and graffiti, as well as the previous 911 calls to Grandwick after break-ins.

So, if a property is sitting vacant and is a magnet for vandals, why not sell it to someone who could put the time and money into refurbishing it? It’s a good question, especially since vacant properties are many times more likely to be broken into and suffer catastrophic damage.

A neighbor to one of Anderson’s East Dallas homes in Forest Hills said that he visits his property at 8310 Forest Hills Blvd. regularly, but doesn’t live there. According to DCAD, this is the home Anderson uses as his primary address. The neighbor, who declined to be identified, didn’t think Anderson was acquiring all these properties just to let them rot, though. Instead, she said Anderson was amassing an estate for his daughter to inherit.

8310 Forest Hills 3 JoEngland8310 Forest Hills Blvd. is rated in “Poor” condition.

It kind of makes sense, but wouldn’t his daughter benefit more from property that is properly maintained? For example, 8310 Forest Hills Blvd. is rated in “Poor” condition by DCAD. On the flip side, Anderson bought his daughter Belle Nora at 8254 Garland Road, just a few blocks from his Forest Hills Boulevard home, for her 16th birthday. Since then, though, it’s sat empty save for Christmas dinner last year.

After reports from passers by and Forest Hills residents that the property wasn’t being maintained, we asked Realtor Vicki White if she had heard anything adverse about Belle Nora. In a Jan. 28 email, White said that while Anderson wanted to move into the stately mansion overlooking White Rock Lake, he couldn’t move his parents there, who are in poor health.

“He does own several houses, and some of them are in disrepair,” White added. “I don’t think that’s the case with Belle Nora.”

However, since that date, much of the property has become overgrown, and the wrought-iron fence facing White Rock Lake has been held together with some nylon rope for months, rusting without repair. It is rated in “Average” condition by DCAD.

Belle Nora Fence

Is it a pattern of neglect, or is it a property owner spread too thin? As Anderson’s Forest Hills neighbor claims, he’s spending much of his time with his ailing parents, and only visits other homes. She called the fire at Grandwick “a tragedy,” too.

But for some people who have visited his Garland Road music store, they say it’s a pattern of disorganized neglect. Patrons and East Dallas residents have likened the store to a hoarder’s home, with stacks and piles of equipment and very little concern for the structure or contents.

We tried to contact Anderson for this story, but our calls were not returned before deadline. Our attempts to contact Anderson at two different nearby Zoo Music locations were not returned. 

1608 Crest Ridge JoEnglandThe home at 1608 Crest Ridge is considered “Unsound” by DCAD.

 

Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images

(Photo: Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images)

Dallas is a pretty dang popular place to move to, with 54,388 households moving into Big D according to the National Association of Realtors. While Dallas County ranks second behind Houston and ahead of third-place Tarrant County in households relocating to our fair burg, more people are packing it in.

“Data from the Texas Relocation Report shows that the continued growth of the Texas housing market is not a housing bubble but a genuine surge in demand fueled by job and population growth across the state,” said Shad Bogany, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors. “People are moving, and they’re moving to Texas. Clearly, Texas is a domestic migration destination.”

Sure, Texas is a job destination for many folks, with more households moving into the great state than leaving. But Dallas has a net migration of -1,845 while our neighbor to the west, Tarrant County, has a net migration of 3,138.

Interesting, no? Dallas posted the highest negative migration numbers in the state, which makes me wonder where all those folks leaving Dallas are going, and why they’re leaving in the first place? Is it housing costs? Corporate downsizing? What’s your theory?

 

Rob Wheelock headshotYou have a few more days to protest your property taxes, then it’s all over for another year. While he sifts through the late-comers who decide they need a pro to help them lower property values before the May 31 deadline, I asked Rob Wheelock to give us the low down on  property tax rates across North Texas. I knew that life in the Park Cities was a pretty good deal — low taxes and great schools. No wonder those property values barely dip! Live in Preston Hollow, pay .79700 per $100 valuation, and oh yes, send your kids to private school. Another shocker: Irving FCD1 has the highest property tax rate. No wonder Tony Romo is moving to North Dallas!

PS: One of my North Dallas properties got a smidgen of an increase, but I am sending it to Rob to nip right in the bud!

Here is the North Texas property tax rate low down, 4 days and counting ’till you can protest no more:

“There are several entities that make up the total property tax rate depending upon where you live.  Everyone in Dallas County pays County and School Equalization at the 2012 rate of .253037% and Parkland Hospital and Dallas County Community College District at the 2012 rate of .390375% for a combined total of 0.643412%, but then there’s City and School taxes plus a few Special Districts.  Those vary, and the difference can be significant.  To give you an idea, I’ve highlighted a few below;

 

City Estimated Tax Rate 2013
Addison

.58000

Dallas

.79700

Highland Park

.22000

Plano*

.48860

University Park

.27845

 

School Estimated Tax Rate 2013
Addison

1.290347

Dallas

1.290347

Highland Park

1.134200

Plano*

1.373400

University Park

1.134200

*Plano is in Collin County

As you can see, the Park Cities enjoy a lower rate on both city and school taxes than other neighborhoods.  Highland Park has the lowest city tax rate in the County, but property values are among the highest.  Wylie has the highest city rate at 0.8889, with Lancaster and Cockrell Hill close behind.

On School taxes, again Highland Park ISD has the lowest rate in the County at 1.1342, with Grand Prairie and Irving having the highest school tax rate at 1.465.

So what’s all that really mean?  Let’s take a look at a home valued at $1,200,000.  Assuming the property is your Homestead (which gives you a 20% reduction), if it was in Preston Hollow or anywhere in Dallas ISD you would be paying $26,212.48 in property taxes.  In University Park your tax bill would be $19,735.39 and in Highland Park $19,174.27.  In Plano you’d be looking at paying $22,384.71.

The highest tax rate in Dallas County belongs to property owners in the Irving area that are part of the Dallas County Flood Control District #1.  Their total rate is a whopping 5.757012.  That same $1,200,000 home owner in this area would be paying $55,267.31.  Remind me not to move into that neighborhood!

(Editor’s note: Geeze Louise!)

On a different subject, homeowners that are over 65 and are considering downsizing need to remember to transfer their Over 65 Homestead Exemption from their old home to the new one.  It’s something I’ve seen several people forget and could cost you thousands of dollars.  When you turn 65 your school taxes basically freeze at that dollar amount, as long as you don’t make improvement to the property. When you move, the percentage savings can transfer to the new property, but only if you request it.

Property taxes are high in Texas, but remember, we don’t have a State income tax.”

(Editor’s note: yeah, yeah yeah.)

If you have any other property tax questions or would like to have your property taxes monitored each year, please call me at 214-212-6910 or contact me at   Rob@PropertyTaxManagers.com .  For more information visit www.PropertyTaxManagers.com

Ashley Okland

The real estate agent, a beautiful 27-year old woman, was gunned down at 2 pm in the afternoon in a development of about 70 town home units, only about a year old, on the Dallas County side of West Des Moines. The area is about 1¬Ω miles from Jordan Creek Town Center, if you know Des Moines. If I were an agent — if I were an agent who actually sells real estate — I would not hold open houses without security. Years ago, a top producer now at Ellen Terry, and one of the dearest people I know in this town, saw her life flash before her eyes when she was robbed at an open house off Midway.

Open houses are scary: do we still need them?

Update: My nephew’s girlfriend lives in Des Moines and has mutual friends. She tells me the neighborhood where Ashley was killed was upscale and a beautiful newer area that gets lots of attention from national chain stores — in fact, it has Iowa’s only Apple store.

I survived, but John Ames’ office … or maybe last month’s ice storm… is certainly responsible for the demise of my complexion. I received not just a tax delinquency statement but a pile of letters from lenders wanting to “help me out”:

“Your 2010 Texas property taxes were due on January 31, 2011. According to our records, you have unpaid taxes in Dallas County and have incurred 7% in fees from county taxing authorities.”

I paid our taxes on Jan. 31 and had paperwork to prove it. So I popped off an email and just off the phone with DCAD. Seems our account is paid in full. Because of the ice storm, some postings were late and the system generated an auto-collections letter.

Anyone else get an almost-heart attack over this?