Dennis Henson is a full-time real estate investor and Internet marketer in Arlington, Texas. Henson is also president of Vanguard Marketing and Investments, Inc., and the Arlington Real Estate Association of Investors. Henson speaks and writes on real estate investing, and is the inventor of "Turbo-Bidder" real estate investing software.
Dennis Henson, real estate investor
Henson began investing in real estate in 1971 and has owned property in the southern U.S. He holds a B.S. degree at Jacksonville State University in education and a Master's Degree from Mississippi State University, also in education.
Henson enjoys investing in real estate, helping people find and purchase a new home, working with new investors and teaching investment seminars. His years of experience, constant study and love for teaching have made him a mentor, trainer and coach. Learn more at dennisjhenson.com.
NuWire: What about the Arlington market in particular should be exciting for investors?
Henson: We've had sustained growth because we're in between Dallas and Fort Worth, and we get a lot of their overflow. The new Cowboys football stadium is scheduled to be completed in about a year, and then we're going to have a Super Bowl here in 2011.
We've been having a lot of road construction up until now, but with the coming of the new football stadium, I imagine we're really going to have a lot of new highways coming to Arlington.
We also have a lot of other entertainment venues: the [Rangers] ballpark in Arlington, Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor and just next door in Grand Prairie we have horse racing at Lone Star Park. Also we’re just a few miles from the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. So there's a lot of activity around this area.
NuWire: What advantages does Arlington have in comparison to other areas of the U.S.?
Henson: I can't think of a better place to live than Arlington. If you go west, you have the big city of Fort Worth with a cowtown atmosphere. And if you go east, you have the more sophisticated Dallas. But what's really exciting is if you go south, you're out in the countryside with the cattle and horses and the open spaces, so that's just the best of all worlds. Property prices here are lower than most other parts of the metroplex, not to mention the other bigger cities in the United States. A $100,000 home here in Arlington would sell for around $160,000 in parts of Dallas, but it would sell for more than $1 million in Los Angeles...so why wouldn't people want to move here?
NuWire: Can you talk a bit about the job growth and commerce in Arlington?
Henson: This is not really my area. But with all the retail outlets that are going up and the restaurants and the new Dallas Cowboys football stadium, I see a lot of people moving here, so it must be pretty strong. And it seems like every day there's a new shopping center or a set of apartments or a new hotel going up or some great big store along the freeway, so I think the commerce here is strong.
NuWire: How has the market changed over the last few years?
Henson: The biggest change I've seen is the increase in foreclosures. Just in my zip code one month last year, we had over 550 bank-owned properties listed for sale. But market values haven't dropped very much, if at all, and in many areas of Arlington they've gone up.
NuWire: How do you see the market changing over the next five years and into the future?
Henson: I see the Arlington market getting a lot stronger with continued growth and increasing property values due to the Cowboys football stadium, the new road construction and the other construction surrounding it.
NuWire: Which areas of the city or maybe even surrounding cities are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth, and why?
Henson: Arlington is kind of a unique place. It really doesn't have a downtown area like Fort Worth and Dallas...even though it's one of the largest cities in Texas. It's sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth, and since we get their overflow it grows pretty quickly in all areas and pretty evenly, but I would suspect the greatest growth would be around the major arteries and freeways.
NuWire: If you could talk about specific neighborhoods, that would be helpful. Can you think of any...that might be growing faster than any others?
Henson: The areas that are most desirable are the ones around the lake....Lake Arlington is a very beautiful lake. I'm a part of the homeowners' association near the lake and a builder is also a part of our homeowners' association. They're building a new project on the other side of Arlington Lake from where I live, and they're selling out of lots before they're even starting construction...so I imagine that would probably be the fastest-growing area at this time.
NuWire: Which areas would represent the best opportunity for investors interested in doing rehabs and flips?
Henson: The area around the General Motors plant would be the best for flips because there are always a lot of people needing housing in that area. And then there's a lot of growth in the south part of Arlington going towards Mansfield because the Mansfield school system is really one that everybody wants to send their children to, so...that's a good one to be able to purchase houses and turn them over quickly.
NuWire: Are there any other types of creative real estate investing that...are popular?
Henson: Investors use all kinds of techniques in order to purchase and market their homes, using partners and using investors' money, hard money loans...making and selling contracts. General property auctions are a good way to purchase. Buying with notes. That's just a few of them. In this market...you're only limited by your imagination.
NuWire: What is your favorite type of real estate investment?
Henson: I enjoy buying newer single family homes, built after 2000. By buying the newer homes, I avoid a lot of the problems that older homes have with plumbing, foundation and so forth. I usually buy them from HUD, VA and banks. Buying from auction gives you the opportunity to research and put together good figures. I've developed a software to determine the amount to bid (Turbo-Bidder.com). Using the software I'm able to bid on 20 or 30 homes every week. I've been very successful in getting some really great properties that way.
NuWire: You mentioned the growth that's happening around the stadiums....Are there any other trends in specific areas of town, whether economic, demographic trends, housing trends...within Arlington that you think investors should be aware of?
Henson: I did mention road construction earlier, and I believe that the Texas Department of Transportation thinks that Arlington is going to be growing in the next few years because of all the work they're doing here. They're expanding Highway 360 all the way through Arlington to Mansfield, widening I-30 and the George Bush Turnpike will soon be completed, which will link Arlington...all the way to Carrollton and north Dallas. And those new arteries will bring a great number of people into this area and it will be much easier to get here.
NuWire: Can you talk a bit about areas of future opportunity for investors within the Arlington market?
Henson: When I think of Arlington, sometimes I think it's the best of all worlds. There must be 25,000 houses within 15 miles of where I live and work. And with all these foreclosures that are happening...it's amazing at the opportunity that real estate investors have in this area.
Throughout the rest of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the values are much higher than here in Arlington, so you have the opportunity to buy homes at a lower price, and you know that in a few years that water is going to seek its own level and it's going to balance out and you're going to be able to make a great profit.
Not to mention, with the new stadium...that's exciting...and we’re going to have a Super Bowl here! The eyes of the nation are going to be pointed right here in little Arlington, Texas, so what do you think property values are going to do? I think they're just going to skyrocket.
And one other thing, Arlington is sitting atop a massive oil and gas field. Just this year I've...leased five of my properties for oil wells or for gas wells.
It would be hard for me to imagine a better circumstance anywhere in the United States for a real estate investor than right here in Arlington, Texas.
NuWire: I'm interested in knowing more about the property taxes. Can you talk a bit about...how close actual values are to assessed values?
Henson: That depends. I teach my students never to use the tax appraised value to determine the price of the property. They should always go by the comparable sales because tax values vary so much. Occasionally the tax values may be exactly what the house is worth, but that's just not the rule. Most of the time the tax values are much less than the actual value of the property. Sometimes you'll see one where it's more, but that's not the general rule.
NuWire: Hypothetically on...a $100,000 house, what would someone expect to have to pay for property taxes?
Henson: About $3,800 on a $100,000 property.