Three months back, you may recall, attorney-turned-acclaimed writer
Ben Fountaintook a long, hard look at the increasingly empty Highland Park Village parking lot
and wondered why come forThe New York Times
. It was the first installment in a slow-going, ongoing series of bad-economy close-ups to which three others are also contributing, and it picks up again this morning with a look at Dallas's foreclosures -- this one titled "Live Large, Think Big, Skip Town
," hardly what the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau had in mind
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For his op-ed, Fountain interviews the cousin of an old friend of mine: Mark Kreditor, the longtime CEO of Get There First Realty Services on Airline Road, which manages more than 1,500 residential rental properties in Dallas, Collin and Tarrant counties. Over lunch, Ben asks Mark for the veteran's perspective on the state of the local real estate market. Mark's response is unequivocal and hardly optimistic:
"From the outside, Dallas looks great to investors -- strong population growth, relatively strong employment, great weather, a transportation hub and so on, but you scratch away that veneer, it gets ugly pretty fast," he said. Dallas has one of the lowest consumer credit scores of any major American city. Tenants will skip at the drop of a hat, and shrug off nuclear threats to their credit rating. "Property code by Smith & Wesson," is how Mark describes it. In any given year his company files more than 500 eviction proceedings, and can expect fully 20 percent of tenants to fail to fulfill their leases.
"Don't," he tells prospective out-of-town investors. "Dallas is not a normal market."