Dallas and Austin are two cities that have recently made a significant impact in the housing market. According to a report featured on Culture Map, a source for entertainment, events and news in Texas, Austin ranked as the number one U.S. city for best housing market to invest in this year—Dallas is close behind and ranked five.

How different is the real estate market in these two cities? Over time, their home values have slightly depreciated. According to Local Market Monitor, a website that forecasts home prices, Austin’s housing market is overpriced by 8 percent. In contrast, the housing market in Dallas is underpriced by 9 percent. However, this has not impeded Austin’s ability to flourish. The population in Austin grew by 8.9 percent from 2010 to 2013.

Residents in Dallas or Austin looking for potential homes should be mindful of the market when looking for a property. Adam Green is the principal engineer at Crosstown Engineering, a firm specializing in home inspection and foundation repair in Dallas. Recently, he provided some home buying tips to from a structural engineer’s perspective.

Drought & Humidity

Dallas and Austin are both victims to heavy periods of drought and humidity. Homeowners should be aware of how weather conditions can affect a home. For example, hot and dry weather in Texas can cause moisture retention, which makes the clay soil shrink and become active. Austin’s proximity to lakes and water makes its soil more susceptible to foundation damage.

Potential homeowners in Dallas and Austin should talk to neighbors before purchasing a home because they can inform you of any harmful foundation activity within the neighborhood that may not be identifiable to the naked eye.

Previous Repairs

It is important for homeowners in Dallas and Austin to look for previous repairs and consider the following questions:

- Does the new paint job look a little thicker in some areas around the doors and windows?

- Did homeowners paint over some patchwork on the interior?

- Is there a discolored mortar between the bricks outside?

Previous repairs and damage usually isn’t at the top of a homeowner’s list of features when selling a home, so it’s important to do you due diligence and ask specific questions. If you suspect there may be undisclosed damage, or if you notice damage in other homes from the neighborhood, it may be a good idea to bring in a third party inspector for an unbiased inspection and opinion.

Hire a Structural Engineer

Individuals who are looking to buy a home in Dallas and Austin, two cities that are highly susceptible to foundation issues, should consider hiring a structural engineer to conduct a home inspection.
A traditional home inspector may not know if the pier and beam area meets city codes or if it’s in compliance with FHA loan standards. They also may not have the tools or experience to diagnose foundation issues or structural problems typical in the Austin and Dallas areas. Structural engineers will evaluate the property, look for current issues, identify repairs that will be needed to prevent further damage or deterioration, and present their findings in an engineering report.

While the Austin and Dallas metros are experiencing somewhat different market activity, their landscape compositions are very similar. Regardless of what market in on your shortlist, it’s important to protect your investment from the ground up. For more information on the Austin and Dallas markets, or if you have questions on how to find your dream home, contact the pros as Home City today.