The lifestyle in Rowlett is pretty comfortable. The average family income for the town is a little over $83,000. That's pretty good. Many towns in Texas don't measure up so well. However, with North Texas' good fortune and expanding economy, the cost of housing is rising faster than our average salaries.
Towns, as well as nations, need a strong middle class. They're the people that make things work. They are the teachers, nurses, firemen, policemen, business managers, and their employees. They are the young fresh faces that are starting their new careers. They are the seniors that play with the grandkids, visit long time friends, and guide the fresh young faces. All towns, just like Rowlett, needs these very special people. But, there's a problem. Many of these people that want to live and work in Rowlett can't.
Let's say a recent young college graduate that majored in police administration lands a job in Rowlett at an entry income of $50,000 a year. Let's say his new wife wants to help get the new family off to a good start and takes a job as a teacher with a starting salary of $40,000 a year. Both love Rowlett, and the lake, and the DART availability, and the Tollway access to all of DFW, and the newly arriving water entertainment of Bayside.
Now, where are they going to live? There are no nice apartments currently available, although many are in the pipeline to come on stream. However, they are staring at $1400 a month for a two bedroom, two bath unit, which allows for family expansion. Furthermore, our new family have some student debt, and are paying for one decent car that can get to work and back without breaking down. The wife gets that. He drives a $1000 klunker. Car repairs come at a regular schedule.
So.......can they live in Rowlett? Not easily. I don't have an exact study of current average prices, but I follow inventory, inflation, home sales very closely. Some in Rowlett "officialdom" will say the average price of a Rowlett home is $160,000. That is pure poppycock. That is probably based on the average of the Dallas Appraisal District numbers of at least three years ago. Folks, the real world is quite different. I would say the average sales price of a home in Rowlett is at least $250,000 and maybe well on its way toward $300,000. Wanna shock? Go try to buy a house in Rowlett for $160K. See what you can get for that price, if any are available. Talk to a real estate agent and see how much inventory is available.
Have you been following the news stories, usually by Steve Brown of the Dallas Morning News? We've been averaging 9-12% a year of increasing home pricing over the past four years. Just to make it easy to figure, let's say 10% a year average. In the past four years, the $160K house became a $224K house. A $200K house of four years ago is now a $280K house.
Now, what's our young couple to do? If they wish to buy a $200K house with conventional financing, they would have to save up the 20% ($50K) while paying down student loans, paying $1400/month for an apartment, and trying to keep their cars out of the garage. They could put off plans for a family and cut their rent by $200/month. By saving $200/month, it would only take them 250 months (20.83 years) to save up the down payment. They could apply for an FHA loan. That would only require a 3% down payment ($6,000), but with closing costs, it could easily become $12,000 to close. That's still hard for our new family. That would only require that they put off having a child for five years.
So, we have a delightful young couple making a little over the city's average family income, and can't qualify for a loan to purchase an average house in Rowlett. This is a terrible situation. All caused by North Texas' good fortune.
So......what are our options? We could say we don't want them in Rowlett. Some already know they're riff raff if they live in apartments, right?
What about building new houses for the "non riff raff" people to live in. Land values and other construction costs are so high that good, new, affordable homes are just not available, or typical financing is just too expensive for a start up family.
Folks, the young family above, and others just like them, and some seniors that don't want a big house, is what we really need around here.
If you have been following my blog, you know I am an advocate of setting up a Housing Financing Corporation. This is not a subsidy program!! It a financing program whereby "fat cats" purchase tax exempt bonds and tax credits and the proceeds of such sales are applied to down payments, interest costs, and closing costs. It really helps our workforce and senior citizens.
I have been pushing this program since last September. Somebody in Rowlett "officialdom" has been purposely dragging their feet. I don't know why. I don't care. Whoever is responsible for it needs their butts kicked one kick at a time all the way to Texoma.
We need these families for the growth of Rowlett. We will have plenty of high income homes. It's too nice a place to live to keep the high income earners out.
Ya gotta help me out here. Send City Council an email. It's easy. You can email them all at once from the city's website. Raise some hell.