A Suburban Oasis with International Appeal: What to Know About Buying a House in Plano

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When you think of Texas, you might not immediately think of international allure. But Plano will change that.

This north Texas city has become a much sought-after destination for homebuyers. In fact, Plano’s economic development group predicts that it will grow from a population of 279,088 in 2018 to more than  300,00 by 2040 — a rate 2.5 times that of the rest of the country.

With its agreeable weather, phenomenal schools, 3,800 acres of green space, strong sense of community, and its envious roster of regional headquarter offices, Plano has become a hot destination for serious homebuyers. It has earned a livability score of 91/100 on Areavibes.com, which is considered exceptional. Oh, and did we mention that Dallas is just a short 30-minute drive away? Plano has all of the perks of the suburbs with a metropolis in reach — it’s a win-win.

What really seems to be attracting homebuyers in droves to Plano is its international appeal. A 2020 study ranks Plano at 46 out of 500 U.S. cities for its cultural diversity. This means Plano residents enjoy an array of international cuisine options, increased innovation, a rise in access to cultural institutions (think museums and art galleries), global shopping opportunities, sporting events, and greater prospects for personal and professional growth. And the city proudly celebrates its diversity with its annual Plano International Festival.

To give you a closer look at this burgeoning city, we spoke in-depth with single-family-home expert Seychelle Van Poole Engelhard, a Plano native and top real estate agent who serves the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area. We also scoured dozens of reputable resources to gain insight into inventory, culture, staying competitive in a hot market, home inspection tips, and when to buy a house in Plano.

Know how to budget when buy house in plano
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Budgeting in a competitive market

Before we dive any deeper, we should talk about budget. Budgeting is a critical first step in the homebuying process. As of February 2021, Plano faces what Van Poole Engelhard calls a “serious shrinkage in inventory.” A tight inventory of available homes for sale is all the more reason to plan your budget accordingly and prepare for competition if you want to buy a house in Plano.

The median price of homes sold in Collin County in June 2020 had risen from the previous June in all ZIP codes but one. The median price of a home in Plano as of February 2021 is $320,100, which is considerably higher than the national median home value of $217,500. Van Poole Engelhard points out that Plano is currently sitting at a 1.3 month supply of available homes for sale, meaning the current housing inventory would be gobbled up by buyers in 1.3 months if no additional new houses were built or if no other homes were put up for sale.

The silver lining to building your budget to buy a home in Plano is that Texas is one of nine states that doesn’t collect income tax. The average effective property tax rate in Collin County, where Plano is located, is 1.94% of assessed home value as of February 2021. This is higher than national average of 1.07% of assessed home value, but when all is said and done, Texas remains a more desirable place to reside when looking at taxes exclusively.

Another line item to consider when building your budget is deciding whether you should set aside funds for renovation projects. Plano had its first wave of housing development in the late ’80s/early ’90s, and a second wave in the early 2000s, according to Van Poole Engelhard. This means that large renovations are often not an immediate concern for buyers. However, many buyers opt for a fresh coat of interior paint, new lighting, or new stain on hardwoods to spruce up their new home. Others may opt for larger projects like a covered outdoor patio that includes an outdoor kitchen.

There is much diversity, which is good when buy home in plano
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Community and culture in Plano

If you buy a house in Plano, you’ll need to be reliant on your own set of wheels. While Plano isn’t known for its public transportation options, it is easy to get from one side of the city to the other in less than 30 minutes. The streets run on a grid, north to south and east to west, making the Planoite’s commute a breeze.

However, the downtown area is home to the DART Light Rail station, offering visitors and residents alike a quick and easy way for navigating all that downtown Plano has to offer. Plano’s historic downtown arts district is brimming with galleries, performance venues, shops, restaurants, and Plano’s famous Haggard Park, where you can soak up 5.5 acres of outdoor relaxation and entertainment.

With a short drive from downtown Plano, you’ll find a few of the city’s most coveted neighborhoods that boast their own charming characteristics.

West Plano

West Plano is home to a few of the city’s most attractive shopping centers and recreation areas. Some even refer to it as the “Beverly Hills of Dallas.” The Shops at Legacy and shops at Willow Bend offer posh retail options, eateries, and beauty services. Whether you’re looking to catch a flick on date night, pick up some local produce at The Red Tent Farmer’s Market, work out or join a recreation class at the Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center, or walk through the 200-acre Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, West Plano has a lot to offer.

West Plano hosts a diverse mix of architecture from contemporary and modern to French and Tudor. While most homes were constructed in the ’90s and early 2000s, recent changes in zoning laws have allowed for the construction of new homes. If golf course views are your thing, West Plano real estate may be right up your alley.

East Plano

Things move a little bit slower in East Plano. An abundance of luscious outdoor spaces, tree-lined streets, recreational areas, and a sense of community have drawn young families, first-time homebuyers, and empty nesters to buy a house in East Plano. Some would describe this neighborhood as eclectic or worldly. It’s where you’ll find Oak Point Park, the city’s largest park.

It’s also home to Legacy Central — a mixed-use campus that houses state-of-the-art amenities, green space, restaurants, and offices. Peloton, Samsung, and Transamerica are a few of the businesses that run their day-to-day operations out of Legacy Central’s 85-acre campus.

Recent restoration efforts have given rise to East Plano’s popularity, and the average home price is more amenable to those on a tighter budget. The city’s dedication to a program called The Great Update Rebate gives financial assistance to Plano homeowners who care for older homes. The program was awarded the 2016 City Livability Award, and Plano homeowners have been awarded more than $2.5 million since the program’s inception in 2014. Way to go, East Plano!

Know the quirks when buy house in plano
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Get to know the housing quirks

There are some common issues that can arise during a home inspection in Plano, so we turned to home inspection expert Bud Rozell to break them down. Rozell has been operating his business as a home inspector in the Dallas area since 1996. He’s also the former Chapter President of the American Society of Home Inspectors and has maintained his ASHI certification since 2005.

Foundation, foundation, foundation

Plano sits on what used to be a prehistoric swamp, which is why the soil makes for such fertile farmland. It also means that the clay soil, also known as black gumbo, expands and contracts with the weather as much as 3 inches, according to Rozell.

By code, foundations in Plano are only required to be built 3 inches below the frostline, and the frostline in Plano is 6 inches below the surface of the ground. What does this all mean? It means that most Plano foundations are slabs. It also means that very few, if any, homes in Plano are built with basements.

Slabs are prone to damage like angular cracks and upheaval, and while foundation repairs are not something to fear, they are something to be aware of when you’re having a home inspection. It also means that when you buy a house in Plano, having an experienced home inspector with knowledge of local geography and soil is critical.

Pests in Plano

Plano is in the humid, semi-tropical climate zone. The weather is, without doubt, one of the draws to the area, but it also means that pests like termites are prevalent.

The good news is that termite problems can be easily treated. An experienced and knowledgeable home inspector will look for any signs of pests, but you may want to look into getting a separate pest inspection.

The impact of weather on Plano roofs

Texas has a high solar rating, which is great news if you’re considering installing solar panels. But this also means that the age of a roof on a Plano home is an important consideration for homebuyers. Plano is also known for having intense hail storms, and hail can wreak havoc on a roof. According to Rozell, a roof that would typically last 35 years in other geographic locations may only last, on average, 14 years in Plano, so it’s important to assess roof damage during an inspection.

When to buy in Plano

While there are many factors that determine mortgage rates, such as credit score, loan type, and down payment, historically low interest rates are favoring buyers in the 2021 real estate climate.

Traditionally, most people buy a house in Plano between March and September, so many buyers start perusing the market around spring break. While you’ll have less competition between October and February, you will also have a smaller inventory to choose from. If you really want to give the competition a run for their money, consider buying in the off-season and spending some quality time vetting real estate agents in the Plano area. In fact, it’s not uncommon for buyers to purchase homes sight unseen, which is where a reliable, vetted, and trustworthy agent really comes into play. There isn’t a “wrong time” to buy in Plano; in fact, buying in the off-season has its perks:

  • Mortgage lenders and home inspectors have more availability.
  • You have more negotiating power.
  • You may have more time to weigh your options with less competition.
  • Bidding wars may ease up.
Pick a quality agent when buy house in plano
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Selecting a top agent in Plano

Having a top buyer’s agent on your side during the homebuying process is always important, but it’s crucial when housing stock is low and bidding wars are prevalent like they are in Plano. A real estate agent is your savvy negotiator and the person who has their finger on the pulse of the market each and every day.

Top buyer’s agents in Plano save clients an average of $40,367 and help buy 1.8 times more property than average real estate agents. They understand the nuances of the market and know how to get creative. They scour for properties that aren’t yet listed, and they’re able to recommend experts like lenders and home inspectors, They’re also first on the scene when a new listing pops up, and they’re your eyes if you have to buy sight unseen.

Let our team connect you with a vetted, local buyer’s agent today.

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