My parents bought their piece of the Texas dream in Plano in 1962. They had come by way of Wisconsin and Colorado for my dad to take a job as an engineer at Collins Radio. According to my mom, Plano had only one stoplight and a Dairy Queen back then, but they found a 1,300-square-foot home on Eighteenth Street with three bedrooms and one bath. For the most part, it looked like every other house on the block, but there was no doubt it was home. It was big enough for my brother and sister, and when I came along a decade or so later, Dad decided to add a den and another bedroom and bath. I can still remember every detail of that house, including the feel of the linoleum floor in the kitchen, where I played with my Star Wars action figures, and the rows of corn my dad once planted in the backyard that I used to hide in.
I lived in the same room of that house for the first eighteen years of my life, a time when Plano rocketed in size and importance. As massive, high-end subdivisions rose all around us—Los Rios to our east, Deerfield to our west—Mom would marvel, “Where do all these people work to afford such homes?”
Construction, it seemed, never stopped, and today Texas is in the midst of a real estate boom that prompted senior editor John Nova Lomax to set out across the state to try to understand the market. John’s history with Texas real estate goes back a bit further than my family’s—his great-great-grandparents arrived in Bosque County around 1870, buying 183 acres and a twelve-by-fourteen-foot home—and his road trip took him to San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston. The result is an impressive survey of a dynamic, ever-shifting market, from established neighborhoods to downtown high-rises and new master-planned communities. What he found in each place was at once fascinating and intimidating: prices remain at all-time highs even as the economy is starting to lose steam. Buyers today are seeing tremendous change, just as my parents did, but they all still want the same thing: the chance to own a piece of the Texas dream.