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A Texas Land Rush Has Builders Too Busy

Strong employment drives bidding wars in a state that dodged the bust
Housing construction in Dallas
Housing construction in DallasPhotograph by David Buffington

After losing his third battle for a Dallas-area home, Johnny Tseng offered the winner $10,000 to walk away. The buyer declined, and Tseng understands why. “If I were under contract right now and somebody came along and offered me money, I would be hesitant,” says Tseng, a 31-year-old financial analyst for a Dallas-based commercial bank. “There just aren’t that many options out there.”

Known for its open spaces and cheap land, Texas is experiencing the real estate bidding frenzies more common in tightly built markets such as New York and San Francisco. Prices of existing homes in Dallas and Houston are up more than at any time since the oil boom of the 1980s. Homebuilders, caught off guard by the ferocity of demand, are struggling to recruit workers to complete houses.