Top Places for First-time Homebuyers in Dallas-Fort Worth

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Top Places for First-time Homebuyers in Dallas-Fort Worth

Long known for its sunny business climate, the Dallas-Fort Worth area is one of the most populous metropolitan regions in the country — and it continues to grow fast. Since 2010, it has added about 528,000 residents, which beat the growth of the New York City area.

What’s the attraction? Part of the appeal of the Dallas-Fort Worth area has been the affordable housing. From 2010 to 2013, home prices increased 2%, almost half the rate for the state as a whole. In the past year, however, prices in the area have surged nearly 13%, according to Zillow.

Buying a home can be difficult, especially the first time. To help those who are preparing to make the biggest purchase of their lives, NerdWallet examined income and housing data to determine the top places for first-time homebuyers in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

How much can first-time homebuyers afford?

For our calculations, we assumed a first-time homebuyer in Texas earns an annual salary of $54,524. We also assumed a personal savings rate of 4.8%, based on the U.S. 10-year average as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Starting with nothing in the bank, we then estimated how many years it could take to save for a 20% down payment. Of course, the actual number of years of savings will vary depending on each individual’s financial situation.

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By following the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s recommendation that homeowners shouldn’t allocate over 28% of their monthly income to housing costs, we determined that a homebuyer in the Dallas-Fort Worth region could afford to spend $1,272 a month.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in Dallas-Fort Worth

1. Princeton

Princeton lands at the top of our list as a quickly growing community that’s still affordable. With a median home value of $120,500, Princeton is less expensive than most places in Collin County, where it’s located, except for Garland. Princeton’s home values are substantially lower than in the nearby cities of Melissa and McKinney, which are also growing fast. Princeton offers proximity to Lavon Lake and Plano, and it has a crime risk score of “most safe” from NeighborhoodScout data.

2. Rendon

Located about 16 miles south of Fort Worth, this census-designated place has seen housing values jump 19% from 2010 to 2013. The population of Rendon has increased 11.2% over the same period. The city’s proximity to a diverse range of public and private employers in Fort Worth and Arlington has made Rendon attractive, but it comes with a price: the 2013 median home value of $176,600 was substantially higher than our list’s median of $142,300.  

3. Bridgeport

Located on the northwest outskirts of the metroplex, Bridgeport is an ideal location for those willing to trade proximity to a big city for more affordable housing. Bridgeport has a median home value of $88,800, and a median property tax rate of 1.37%, making it one of the most affordable communities in the metro area. The city also boasts a crime risk rating of “safe” from NeighborhoodScout data. However, if you plan on driving to Fort Worth, allow yourself some time — it’s 46 miles away.

4. Hutchins

Hutchins is the most affordable place on our list, thanks to a median home value of $68,200, which is less than half of the metro area’s median value. For those with a median income of $54,500, homebuyers would need to save about six years to afford a down payment, compared with the average of almost 13 years in the rest of Dallas County. While Hutchins does have a crime risk score of “less safe,” it has positive indicators, including a home value growth of 11.07% and a population increase of 9.26% from 2010 to 2013.

5. Melissa

With a population increase of 25.2% and a gain of 14.6% in home values, Melissa exemplifies the growth happening in Collin County. While home values have jumped to $198,100, more than $50,000 above the list’s median, this community still has plenty of land that could be developed. Melissa is also quite accessible, sitting on parts of highways 121, 5 and 75, and is a 22-mile drive to Plano. While home values are high in Melissa, so is safety — the city received the best crime risk score of “most safe” from NeighborhoodScout data.

6. Pecan Acres

Located along the banks of Eagle Mountain Lake, Pecan Acres, a census-designated place of about 5,100 residents, has experienced tremendous growth. Its 45.9% population growth from 2010 to 2013 was the highest on our list. While the community has plenty to offer — natural beauty, proximity to downtown Fort Worth and a high safety rating — its 2013 median home value of $315,700 will price out most first-time homebuyers. Given this, it’s unsurprising that at 2%, Pecan Acres has one of our lowest family poverty rates.

7. Little Elm

The largest community in our top 10 continues to grow. Little Elm added about 6,000 residents from 2010 to 2013, for a total population of 27,966. While the median home value of $157,600 was above our list’s median of $142,300, many homebuyers might be persuaded to pay the premium here for one of the many lakefront properties. The city — which received the best crime rating of “most safe” — is 35 miles from downtown Dallas.

8. River Oaks

River Oaks is a great option for those seeking an affordable city near downtown Fort Worth. Just 5 miles from the city’s center, River Oaks has a median home value of $87,400, and monthly owner costs of $1,008. Home values grew 6.59% from 2010 to 2013, and will likely continue to increase as the city plans to further develop on the SH 183 corridor.

9. Roanoke

Located at the intersection of highways 377 and 114, Roanoke is accessible to Fort Worth as well as the natural beauty of Grapevine Lake. What makes it even more attractive is the city’s median home value of $131,800, which was below the median of our list. While residents in Roanoke also benefit from a low property tax rate of 1.76%, the city was the only one in the top 10 to see a decrease in the median home value from 2010 to 2013.

10. Ennis

Ennis is another example of a place where residents have accessibility to the outdoors and an urban center, too. The city of 18,600 borders Lake Bardwell and is located within commuting distance of Dallas. While a median home value of $106,400 was well below our list’s median of $142,300, the home value in Ennis represents 14.7% growth from 2010 to 2013. It would take the average homebuyer here nine years to save for a down payment. However, it’s worth noting that Ennis is the only location in the top 10 to receive the lowest crime risk score of “least safe.”

 

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Top places for first-time homebuyers in Dallas-Fort Worth

Scroll through the table below to see the data for all 93 places in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Rank Place 2013 population 2010-2013 population growth 2013 home value 2010-2013 home value growth Median property tax rate Monthly owner costs Years to save for 20% down payment Crime risk
1 Princeton 7,184 14.01% $120,500 8.66% 1.95% $1,190 10.1 Most safe
2 Rendon 13,700 11.17% $176,600 19.00% 1.83% $1,741 14.9 Safe
3 Bridgeport 6,050 2.51% $88,800 8.42% 1.37% $1,232 7.5 Safe
4 Hutchins 5,333 9.26% $68,200 11.07% 2.13% $1,006 5.7 Less safe
5 Melissa 5,213 25.22% $198,100 14.57% 2.53% $1,935 16.7 Most safe
6 Pecan Acres 5,051 45.86% $315,700 58.64% 1.93% $3,088 26.6 Most safe
7 Little Elm 27,966 25.97% $157,600 7.07% 2.32% $1,612 13.3 Most safe
8 River Oaks 7,517 2.26% $87,400 6.59% 2.15% $1,008 7.4 Safe
9 Roanoke 6,252 12.08% $131,800 -0.23% 1.76% $1,290 11.1 Safe
10 Ennis 18,631 2.02% $106,400 14.66% 2.05% $1,239 9.0 Least safe
11 Anna 8,528 18.48% $130,900 -0.30% 2.29% $1,470 11.0 Most safe
12 Royse City 9,485 15.08% $131,500 0.77% 2.26% $1,508 11.1 Most safe
13 Lucas 5,607 15.30% $452,600 15.61% 1.87% $3,189 38.1 Most safe
14 Murphy 18,412 20.66% $272,200 10.43% 2.13% $2,309 22.9 Most safe
15 Granbury 8,266 6.55% $142,900 6.17% 1.51% $1,363 12.0 Least safe
16 Joshua 5,910 2.14% $142,300 10.31% 2.20% $1,444 12.0 Safe
17 Sanger 7,091 7.07% $106,200 4.63% 2.10% $1,305 8.9 Less safe
18 Cleburne 29,677 2.27% $97,600 4.83% 1.95% $1,172 8.2 Least safe
19 Fate 7,123 31.37% $171,900 -1.77% 2.41% $1,659 14.5 Most safe
20 Celina 6,387 13.99% $179,700 7.03% 2.49% $1,929 15.1 Most safe
21 Decatur 6,147 2.48% $128,600 7.35% 1.87% $1,343 10.8 Least safe
22 Sachse 20,930 13.76% $181,500 2.37% 2.42% $1,803 15.3 Most safe
23 The Colony 37,614 7.63% $142,400 0.85% 2.25% $1,547 12.0 Safe
24 Lake Dallas 7,205 2.93% $146,700 3.38% 2.36% $1,576 12.3 Safe
25 Midlothian 18,666 12.53% $144,500 -1.16% 2.12% $1,493 12.2 Safe
26 Commerce 8,174 0.94% $75,600 8.62% 2.46% $1,028 6.4 Least safe
27 Seagoville 15,099 7.49% $84,800 -3.20% 1.99% $1,109 7.1 Least safe
28 Weatherford 25,971 7.20% $133,700 4.05% 2.29% $1,399 11.3 Less safe
29 Burleson 38,165 11.69% $122,100 1.41% 2.41% $1,420 10.3 Less safe
30 Watauga 23,798 2.60% $104,400 2.25% 2.57% $1,256 8.8 Safe
31 Flower Mound 66,523 5.51% $264,100 6.58% 2.09% $2,199 22.2 Most safe
32 Trophy Club 9,037 12.37% $284,500 10.36% 2.20% $2,301 23.9 Most safe
33 Forney 15,356 16.68% $144,700 0.28% 2.51% $1,571 12.2 Safe
34 Greenville 25,729 1.24% $82,000 3.54% 2.18% $1,065 6.9 Least safe
35 Allen 87,213 12.04% $199,100 3.64% 2.36% $1,884 16.8 Most safe
36 Lewisville 97,462 4.87% $153,000 2.07% 2.05% $1,533 12.9 Less safe
37 Bedford 47,727 1.60% $161,100 7.11% 2.25% $1,544 13.6 Less safe
38 Benbrook 21,655 2.89% $134,200 2.99% 2.40% $1,402 11.3 Less safe
39 Haltom City 42,906 2.94% $87,400 -0.68% 2.24% $1,134 7.4 Least safe
40 Briar 5,109 -15.69% $94,000 -16.67% 1.34% $1,101 7.9 Most safe
41 Corinth 20,126 8.27% $170,500 -0.41% 2.32% $1,744 14.3 Most safe
42 Waxahachie 30,412 7.55% $130,800 2.11% 2.25% $1,375 11.0 Less safe
43 Glenn Heights 11,459 9.32% $122,000 2.69% 2.54% $1,431 10.3 Less safe
44 Wylie 42,384 14.31% $155,300 -0.26% 2.66% $1,663 13.1 Most safe
45 Richardson 101,528 4.12% $187,400 6.78% 2.12% $1,740 15.8 Less safe
46 Kennedale 6,936 5.01% $159,500 10.53% 2.86% $1,745 13.4 Safe
47 Rockwall 38,958 11.01% $191,900 -0.05% 2.13% $1,764 16.2 Safe
48 Azle 10,752 -0.16% $110,000 4.36% 2.31% $1,360 9.3 Least safe
49 Highland Village 15,364 4.50% $265,500 5.65% 2.14% $2,290 22.3 Most safe
50 Richland Hills 7,912 0.71% $100,700 -4.00% 2.23% $1,221 8.5 Less safe
51 Farmers Branch 29,405 4.42% $143,600 1.41% 2.15% $1,417 12.1 Least safe
52 Denton 117,895 7.97% $148,100 2.35% 2.32% $1,537 12.5 Less safe
53 North Richland Hills 64,677 4.39% $149,300 3.25% 2.34% $1,619 12.6 Less safe
54 Carrollton 122,613 4.16% $167,700 2.07% 2.12% $1,660 14.1 Less safe
55 Balch Springs 24,294 6.66% $85,200 -3.73% 1.88% $1,178 7.2 Least safe
56 Pecan Plantation 5,288 1.07% $227,400 6.16% 1.42% $1,783 19.1 Least safe
57 Euless 52,127 3.65% $144,700 1.69% 2.20% $1,491 12.2 Less safe
58 Saginaw 20,347 10.23% $122,100 -2.63% 2.51% $1,391 10.3 Less safe
59 Heath 7,396 12.18% $372,500 7.38% 2.24% $3,151 31.4 Most safe
60 Forest Hill 12,523 0.51% $80,300 -3.25% 2.17% $1,113 6.8 Least safe
61 Kaufman 6,796 0.97% $87,900 -4.14% 2.41% $1,114 7.4 Safe
62 McKinney 137,643 16.01% $187,100 0.97% 2.37% $1,818 15.7 Safe
63 Keene 6,085 -0.85% $112,800 3.58% 2.50% $1,389 9.5 Safe
64 Plano 266,740 4.16% $217,800 3.47% 1.98% $1,917 18.3 Safe
65 Grapevine 47,688 4.70% $227,400 7.26% 2.02% $1,916 19.1 Less safe
66 Terrell 16,027 3.13% $90,300 -3.32% 2.20% $1,202 7.6 Least safe
67 Rowlett 56,856 5.70% $158,500 -2.22% 2.35% $1,715 13.3 Safe
68 Duncanville 39,000 3.23% $112,700 -0.97% 2.34% $1,352 9.5 Least safe
69 Frisco 123,663 19.88% $250,400 1.17% 2.11% $2,200 21.1 Safe
70 Keller 40,872 9.27% $277,200 6.57% 2.33% $2,385 23.3 Most safe
71 Colleyville 23,465 5.62% $405,500 5.13% 2.11% $3,242 34.1 Most safe
72 White Settlement 16,372 3.03% $73,900 -4.15% 2.46% $1,153 6.2 Less safe
73 Irving 220,856 5.16% $136,400 -0.07% 2.31% $1,569 11.5 Less safe
74 Grand Prairie 178,195 7.49% $124,300 0.73% 2.53% $1,494 10.5 Less safe
75 Coppell 39,551 3.19% $281,500 10.31% 2.36% $2,282 23.7 Safe
76 Prosper 10,969 34.21% $339,200 5.67% 2.30% $2,636 28.5 Safe
77 Crowley 13,287 11.70% $110,400 -3.16% 2.82% $1,355 9.3 Less safe
78 Garland 230,177 3.24% $115,700 -2.53% 2.32% $1,365 9.7 Least safe
79 Mesquite 141,201 3.88% $110,600 -2.90% 2.29% $1,371 9.3 Least safe
80 DeSoto 50,014 7.27% $142,300 -1.79% 2.31% $1,663 12.0 Least safe
81 Dallas 1,222,167 2.94% $129,300 -0.39% 2.12% $1,496 10.9 Least safe
82 Hurst 37,822 1.84% $134,700 -1.82% 2.14% $1,482 11.3 Least safe
83 Cedar Hill 45,505 7.20% $131,900 -1.42% 2.54% $1,554 11.1 Least safe
84 Fort Worth 761,092 7.90% $120,700 0.33% 2.56% $1,430 10.2 Least safe
85 Everman 6,192 2.33% $74,500 -9.26% 2.47% $1,121 6.3 Safe
86 Red Oak 10,898 9.73% $138,500 -5.65% 2.28% $1,584 11.7 Less safe
87 Arlington 371,267 3.30% $130,000 -1.89% 2.41% $1,417 10.9 Least safe
88 Mansfield 57,529 12.93% $179,600 -1.97% 2.69% $1,854 15.1 Safe
89 Lantana 7,809 33.26% $294,400 -4.60% 2.74% $2,656 24.8 Most safe
90 Sunnyvale 5,310 14.27% $289,600 -5.91% 2.04% $2,618 24.4 Most safe
91 Addison 14,114 7.36% $268,700 -1.18% 1.88% $1,979 22.6 Least safe
92 Lancaster 37,087 8.49% $101,400 -9.63% 2.69% $1,412 8.5 Least safe
93 Fairview 7,592 16.42% $284,900 -12.23% 2.16% $2,278 24.0 Safe

Methodology

We evaluated all cities and census-designated places in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan statistical area with populations of 5,000 or more. We excluded Highland Park, University Park and Southlake because of limitations in home value data. All housing and demographic data are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Our score is based on these factors:

Value appreciation is 40% of the score. To determine value appreciation, we looked at the median growth rate for population and home value from 2010 to 2013. Within this total, home value appreciation is 70% and population growth is 30% of the score.

Housing cost is 40% of the score. To determine housing cost, we averaged the median property tax rate, how long it would take a first-time homebuyer to save 20% of the median home price and the difference in selected monthly ownership costs of each location and the recommended $1,272 in Texas. Based on the assumption that Americans on average bought their first home at age 34, we looked at the 25- to 44-year-old group’s income, which in Texas was $54,524 in 2013. The personal savings rate is from the U.S. 10-year average, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Prosperity and safety are 20% of the score. To determine prosperity, we looked at the percentage of families living in poverty in each city. For safety, a crime risk index for Texas was provided by NeighborhoodScout. We grouped the index, with scores from 0-100, into categories of “most safe,” “safe,” “less safe” and “least safe.” To find out more about how the crime score is calculated, go to NeighborhoodScout.com.


Downtown Fort Worth, Texas, via iStock.