More than 60 Realtors from across Grayson, Cooke and Fannin counties gathered in Sherman Wednesday to discuss issues that are facing the local real estate market. The Realtor Day events were hosted and organized by the Greater Texoma Association of Realtors as a way to keep area agents up to date on developments in Texoma.
GTAR Association Executive Lindsay Wright said the move to hold the event comes during a time when the region has seen significant growth particularly from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and a high demand for housing and other real estate.
“The growth is coming,” Wright said. “However, if we can’t keep up with that demand, then we will be unable to meet those needs and miss it.”
This is the first year for GTAR to hold the event, and is meant to follow Realtor Day events in Austin that are held during legislative session years, Wright said. With the Texoma event, Wright said organizers wanted to bring something local as a way of keeping area Realtors informed of events and developments in Texoma.
Wright added that organizers planned the event for April as it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Fair Housing Act of 1968.
For Wednesday’s events, organizers held talks with county leaders, officials and economic developers, among others. The event was capped off with a legislative update by Josh McDaniel, a field representative for the Texas Association of Realtors.
In the past session, McDaniel said there were more than 3,000 bills that directly or indirectly affected real estate with topics ranging from property tax reform to home equity loan reforms.
“Property tax will be a major discussion this next session,” he said. “Where it will go, I do not know.”
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the region is in a unique place in that it is close enough to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to reap its benefits while being distant enough to avoid many of its problems.
Among the benefits of the region, Magers highlighted area water infrastructure, its clean air and North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field. With regard to the airport, Magers said it is unique in that it is in the growth path for the Metroplex but is not affected by its air traffic.
“At some point, that airport will be a tremendous asset to the community,” he said.
Clay Barnett, who serves as director of the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization, briefly gave an update on planned improvements to area roadways, including more than $167 million of improvements to the U.S. Highway 75 corridor. The project will see the widening of the roadway and other upgrades to bring the highway up to interstate standards, and improvements to the intersection of Hwy. 75 and U.S. Highway 82.
Members of the crowd asked whether the improvements to the intersection would involve the construction of a clover leaf and why the project was not given priority over others. Barnett said the answer comes down to funding. At full build out, Barnett said a clover leaf might be necessary, but noted it would require about $240 million.
“Really, the traffic does not justify a clover leaf right now,” he said. “At this time, the intersection sees about 6,000 cars a day.”
Representatives for the Sherman Economic Development Corporation and Denison Development Alliance also spoke with regards to development taking place in their respective communities. SEDCO Executive Vice President Frank Gadek spoke primarily on developments taking place across Sherman, including the upcoming opening of the new Finisar facility in the former MEMC building.
Gadek said the electronic components manufacturer plans to open up operations at the Sherman facility as early as July. The facility will manufacture vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser technology that will be used in Apple products.
“They are already calling Sherman the VCSEL capital of the world, and we are OK with that,” Gadek said.
DDA Vice President William Myers said his organization has historically been tasked with recruiting new industries and employers to the city. As this has proven difficult in recent years due to low unemployment and other concerns, Myers said the organization has shifted its focus to providing quality of life improvements aimed at bringing residents to Denison.
These efforts by the city have included the development of new home amenities, the city’s affordable housing program and the mixed-use community in Gateway Village, among other efforts.