In 20 years, the urban area of Dallas-Fort Worth grew 40%+
Development of the Dallas-Fort Worth real estate market has moved quickly in the last 20 years. By our estimates, about 40 square miles of land per year get developed. This is an area larger than the massive DFW airport, or about 15-20,000 football fields, every single year1. That is also the same as 11,000 Costcos!
That means the urbanized area has grown by 40-50% in the last 20 years from 1,400 square miles to 2,200. Therefore, the Metroplex has added almost one additional New York City, in terms of land, over 20 years. We calculated this using satellite imagery.
In the chart below, the black dots represent urbanized land within 40 miles of DFW airport, while light grey shaded dots represent undeveloped land within that same area.
And yet today, inventory, or homes for sale, in the Dallas and Fort Worth housing markets is extremely low. We wrote about this last year, as some segments of the market were falling below 2 months of inventory, Since then, the market has tightened even further. Houses that get listed on the market are snapped up quickly, sometimes in hours. There are simply not enough houses on the market, as sellers are held back by the ongoing pandemic, while demand surges due to the improved affordability.
Building more houses
There’s still plenty of land to build on. A quick look at the breakdown reveals that 44% of the land within a 40 mile radius from of DFW airport is simply “grass.” Without mountains or other impediments, much of this land is easily buildable.
Developers are scrambling to buy land to build more houses. Some cities that were mostly grass and dirt a decade or two ago are increasingly built out with housing.
Based on today’s city limits, cities like Prosper went from 9% built-out to about 55% today. Buildable space in these markets is getting snapped up quickly. Below, we compare some of the Collin County markets, which are growth hotspots:
Of course, not all undeveloped land is buildable, but this gives a starting point. Some cities have become heavily urbanized in a short time.
As search for land continues, there always a tradeoff of buildable space vs price vs location. In our analysis, we account for these tradeoffs by looking at job access and future job growth.
What it means for homebuyers
Homebuyers and investors can look forward to a greater supply of new housing in the future, but this may take several years. Until then, competition may be fierce.
1 Using a more conservative estimate, the number could be 15,000 football fields per year.