Jason Wheeler, WFAA
PLANO — Toyota’s new $350 million North American headquarters building near the intersection of the Dallas North Tollway and the Sam Rayburn Tollway isn’t due to be completed until Spring 2017.
By the end of next year, the auto giant plans to house about 4,000 employees there, many of them transplants from Toyota’s current headquarters in Torrance, California.
Two groups of workers — about 420 in all — have already made the move to North Texas. Company management said that when it surveyed its current workforce outside Texas, they found about 75 percent expressed an interest in moving to the Plano area, a larger percentage of than prior surveys had indicated.
An influx of workers for the carmaker means Realtors and homebuilders are striving to meet the demand for living space.
More arrivals could strain an already tight housing market around the new campus.
Construction abounds right now on new homes to accommodate the expected influx of employees as Toyota speeds ahead with construction of its new home.
Christy Thompson, a broker, specializes in the area around the headquarters development. She said business boomed last year following the 2014 announcement that Toyota was moving here.
“It was definitely a record year for me,” she said.
It was a banner real estate year for all of North Texas, according to the MetroTex Association of Realtors, which reports sales near $25 billion in 2015. Average home prices near the Toyota site were up an average of five to eight percent.
Now — even in the usually slower dead of winter — Thompson is sliding the “sold” sign in front of another listing about 20 minutes away from the corporate campus construction site.
“I listed it on a Monday morning and it had an offer by Tuesday morning,” she said.
Vincent Sitker and his wife are the sellers. They are moving out of state and were astounded by how quickly it all happened.
“We knew people were coming here, and I knew it was going to be a good market… and it is just fabulous,” he said. “Everything is just falling into place. My wife and I are ecstatic. When she gave us the full-price offer, my heart just leapt out I was so excited about it.”
They actually got multiple full price (and above) offers. The open house this past weekend was a madhouse, Thompson said.
“We had some 45 families walk into the house ready to buy a house right now… in January. And they weren’t even Toyota employees from California. Even though competing Realtors have put up pages specifically wooing the Toyota transplants, Thompson said she hasn’t encountered one buyer who works for the automaker.
What she has seen are ordinary homebuyers desperate to find a place, with few properties from which to choose. Thompson thinks there’s so little inventory because many of the buyers she has dealt with have been investors, snatching up properties anticipating a “Toyota effect” that might soon drive demand and home prices even higher.
Still, transfers from California may find the local market to be a relative bargain. Checking Internet real estate company Zillow.com, the most recent median sale price for homes in Torrance, California was about $721,000. The most recent median sales price in Plano was about $261,000.
And Toyota management says its California employees who transfer and keep the same job title will also maintain their current rate of pay.