By Valerie Wigglesworth – Community Impact

Litsey Creek Cottages is building 396 single-family homes for rent in northeast Fort Worth.

When it comes to residential real estate in Northwest ISD, the numbers speak for themselves.

Northwest ISD finished at the top of a recent demographic report by Zonda Education ranking 20 North Texas school districts by the annual number of homes sold or newly occupied within its boundaries.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, the district saw 3,579 new home closings.

NISD also ranked first during that period among those districts based on the number of homes that year that started construction—4,579.

The inventory of homes—meaning those still under construction or not yet sold by the end of the first quarter of this year—totaled 2,467, according to the report delivered to school trustees in May by Zonda Education.

Another 2,982 vacant residential lots within the district are primed for construction crews, the report stated.

As for the future, the report shows at least 38,594 single-family lots on the books to be built in the coming years in NISD.

More homes mean more students at a pace that Zonda Education demographer Bob Templeton estimated will continue for decades.

“Because of your size, the amount of vacant land and the location, [that] really puts you in a position to be a fast-growth district for at least 20 years,” he told NISD trustees in May.

Record growth

NISD spans 234 square miles and 14 communities, including parts of Keller, Roanoke, Fort Worth and Westlake and all of Trophy Club.

Its student population last year was 27,612. This fall the district is projected to grow 9.2% to about 30,154 students, according to the report.

“Northwest ISD had a record-breaking year of growth this year,” Templeton said of the 2021-22 school year. “And I suspect you’re gonna break a record again this next year.”

That growth translates into the need to build at least one new elementary school each year between 2023-24 and 2029-30, according to Tim McClure, NISD assistant superintendent for facilities. More middle schools and a fourth high school are also part of the district’s future needs.

By the 2031-32 school year, the demographer’s report projected NISD to have 49,838 students.

NISD’s long-range planning committee will reconvene this fall to look at options, including the possibility of a bond election in May 2023 to fund more facilities.

In May 2021, voters approved three of four bond measures totaling $737.5 million to fund capital improvements.

That approval last year came after the failure of a $986.6 million bond package in November 2020.

The combination of higher construction prices, a surge in new homebuilding, supply chain issues and growth in students means the district’s 2021 bond funds will be depleted sooner than expected, McClure said.

“We’re having to take care of more kids at a higher construction rate at a sooner pace than what we thought,” he told trustees in late June.

Home prices rising

With all the newly constructed housing being built in NISD, Templeton said home prices are worth keeping an eye on.

As of March, the average price of a new home in NISD was $442,720, which is about a 27.78% increase from the average price of $346,476 in 2019, according to the demographic report. The average price of an existing home in the district in the first quarter of this year was up nearly 31.75% compared with the year before the pandemic from $320,410 three years ago to $422,127.

Templeton said that price point primarily affects first-time homebuyers and those looking to move up to a new home.

“It does not have as big of an impact on relocation buyers,” he said.

The June housing report from the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors stated home prices are stabilizing.

“Recently we’ve seen more price reductions,” said Shannon Ashkinos, 2022 president of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors, in the report. “This could be indicative of sellers continuing to try to overprice and the market making an adjustment, but it’s likely we’re headed toward a more normalized market. The question is, what does that look like now?”

Community of rentals

The rising cost of homes was on the minds of the developers behind Litsey Creek Cottages, which is under construction just west of Roanoke on a newly annexed property in northeast Fort Worth. The 64-acre development in NISD consists of 396 single-family homes being built for rent.

“In our master-planned communities, we were watching that starting price point inch up and up and up and up, and it just got really out of hand,” said Tony Ruggeri, co-CEO of Record Street Residential, a subbrand formed by Republic Property Group to bring Litsey Creek Cottages to market. “It’s a lot more challenging to qualify for a mortgage.”

He said the goal with Litsey Creek Cottages is to offer a single-family home with a yard and a two-car garage at prices similar to apartment rent.

The homes are clustered in smaller U-shaped groups with a central green space, Ruggeri said.

“We’ve oriented them in such a way to curate a sense of community,” he said. “We have these little pocket neighborhoods, and in these pockets, we hope that we can have some interaction and encourage people to get to know their neighbors just like they would in one of our larger master plans.”

He said the first homes should be available for move-in by October.

The build-to-rent model is new enough that Ruggeri said he and his partners are not sure what kind of residents it will attract. It could be singles and young families just starting out or empty nesters looking to downsize, he said.

“We’re excited to see who ends up choosing to live in Litsey Creek Cottages and call it home,” Ruggeri said.

Community Impact, July 22, 2022, Valerie Wigglesworth | View Original Article