Collin County is one of the hottest areas in the country for job creation, as evidenced by Toyota’s recent announcement it was moving its North American headquarters and 4,000 jobs to Plano.

As Toyota’s employees begin moving to the area over the next few years, they will be greeted by a housing market where the demand outpaces the supply, said Marvin Jolly, president of the Collin County Association of Realtors. Still, the new workers will likely be shocked at the quality of home they can buy for the money they were spending in California, he said.

“They are going to find an extremely attractive housing affordability level,” Jolly said. “Everyone knows our houses in Plano are cheaper than those in Southern California. … People in Plano are making 60 percent more than they need to purchase the median home. That leaves a lot of extra spending power for people to go out and buy cars, eat and enjoy life.”

The average house in Torrance, Calif., where Toyota is headquartered, costs $607,000, compared to $205,000 in Plano, Jolly said. Relocated employees will be able to spend less money and get a bigger house, he said, adding there are other benefits to moving to Collin County.

“The Southern California lifestyle in most cases involves a commute of 45 minutes to one hour,” Jolly said. “When people move to our area, they are going to be able to get a home that is 10-15 minutes from work that is a great value since it will probably be cheaper and larger.”

The demand for houses is seen in the amount of time they are spending on the market. Information from the North Texas Real Estate Information System shows that in 2012, houses took an average of 82 days to sell. That number decreased to 58 last year and is at only 37 this year. The same report shows that the price of the average home sold during that same time span has increased from $210,000 to $240,000, evidence Jolly said proves supply isn’t keeping up with demand.

“Collin County has the lowest inventory of homes for sale in the state,” he said. “That could be perceived as a negative thing for buyers, but there is a positive in there. While prices are up nearly 11 percent over last year, homes are still undervalued in our market from a historical perspective. Over the past three years, appreciation has not kept up with a 30-year trend of home prices. Even with the increase from last year, we are below the trend line, so buyers in 2014 may be paying above list price for homes; but, over the next three to five years, they are going to see a very, very strong appreciation [in home prices].”

Another sign of the healthy real estate market in Plano is that foreclosures have decreased dramatically over the past three years. The number of foreclosed homes reached a 10-year high of 1,800 in 2010 but dropped to 719 by last year, said George Roddy, a local real estate analyst and publisher of the Roddy Report.

Roddy said it is impossible to tell why the number of foreclosures dropped 50.4 percent from 2012 to 2013, but he thinks lenders may be giving people a longer leash.

“In my estimation, they are keeping properties off the market for one reason or another,” said Roddy, who began his real estate analysis business in 1970. “I don’t have the exact answer, but I think the federal government has told the lenders to slow it down. … They have just quit foreclosing, and there are many people who have lived in their house for a year or 18 months without paying a nickel. They have taken a complete opposite approach from what they were doing in 2010 and 2011 when they were going like gangbusters.”

While Roddy believes the foreclosure numbers will soon stabilize, he said the lack of supply in the housing market makes now a good time for real estate investors to purchase foreclosed properties, fix them up and put them back on the market.

“You have the best of both worlds right now,” he said. “There is a hot real estate market and plenty of foreclosed properties to purchase. You have a demand from buyers right now that sellers are not able to meet.”

With the market the way it is and the other intangibles the area has to offer in the way of entertainment, low cost of living and easy access to parks and recreation areas, Jolly said he doesn’t think Toyota will be the last major corporation to relocate to Collin County.

“We are seeing corporations opting to make decisions to improve the lifestyle of their employees,” he said. “It is not just monetary considerations that they are looking at. They are looking to do things that make their employees happier, more productive and improve the lives of their families.”

Inside Plano’s housing numbers

2011 2012 2013
Median sales price $210,000 $216,500 $240,000
Average days on market 82 58 37
Month’s supply of inventory 4.6 2.8 1.7

Source: North Texas Real Estate Information System