Realtor Tanika Donnell is often the bearer of bad news when first-time home buyers start shopping.

She shares the reality of rising housing prices and interest rates, which often force her clients to search beyond where they want to buy a home.

“A lot of times they’re having to seek out other opportunities, probably within 45 minutes to an hour from the base where they originally wanted to start,” the broker and owner of TD Realty said.

Say you have a budget of $220,000 and want to buy a home in Fort Worth’s Central Meadowbrook neighborhood, where the median sales price for a home in April was $275,000, according to

 “If you want to be part of the homeownership dream, you are hopefully going to be open to surrounding areas that may be a little bit farther out because that could be all that they can afford,” Donnell said.

So instead of Central Meadowbrook, you head 35 miles south on Interstate 35W to Alvarado, where the median sales price for a home in April was $219,000.

As demand for new or previously owned homes remains high in Tarrant County, the barriers have a more significant impact on Black homeowners than their counterparts. 

Data from the National Association of Realtors show that in 2021 in Tarrant County, 37% of Black people are homeowners, while their white counterparts came in at 66%. Asians have the highest homeownership rate at 69% while Hispanics are at 52%. 

Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of real estate research at the National Association of Realtors, said Black households are spending more of their income on housing. 

By being cost-burdened, they are less likely to qualify for a home.  

Black households “have a high income (compared to the national average) but due to the higher home prices, we see that it’s not enough,” Evangelou said of Tarrant County. “This makes them lag behind other races because of the affordability issue in this area.”

That’s when the migration to find affordable housing outside the loop begins.

“You get more for your money if you go south if you go to Cleburne or Godley,” said David O’Brien, executive director with Housing Opportunities Fort Worth, Inc. “You get more for your money, but your transportation costs would be much higher.”

Donnell echoed O’Brien’s thoughts.

“Unfortunately, it can affect a household drastically if you don’t have the means or the opportunity to drive a certain distance. It could cost you more in order to live out far if I’m paying more in gas in order to commute to my job,” Donnell said. 

Donnell’s realty company, which serves the entire Dallas-Fort Worth region, said her clientele is moving farther out in all directions. This includes as far south as Alvarado.

“Most of the time those areas are growing, and they may have new build opportunities out there. But unfortunately, you can’t find anything now probably for under $300,000. So that cuts off probably about 75% of the first-time homeowners that are coming into the market,” the real estate agent said.

Moving to Mansfield

If you ask Mansfield Mayor Michael Evans why people move to his city, he’ll describe the “old-fashioned American” feeling and wholesome community. 

At least that’s what attracted Evans in 1989 when he moved from Houston to Mansfield, where he also serves as the pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Tarrant County’s oldest African-American church

Mansfield, which sits 20 miles southeast of Fort Worth where U.S. 287 and Texas 360 merge, has seen its population double over the past two decades, reaching over 77,000 in 2022. The Black homeownership rate there has also grown from 13% in 2016 to over 18% in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

In comparison, the city of Fort Worth’s Black homeownership rate has remained constant at 14%. 

“We are what I would like to call the garden spot of Tarrant County, for southeast Tarrant County as well,” Evans said. 

While Mansfield offers amenities and opportunities for residents, it has not been spared from rising housing prices. The median home value in Mansfield rose from $204,800 in 2016 to $302,000 in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Still, by moving outside of urban cities, people who can’t afford the pricey and luxurious homes there can have a chance at upward mobility in places like Mansfield.

Mansfield ISD, where 32% of the students are Black – up from 26.5% in 2013 – is also a big draw for families.

“They see those things that they want for their children and for their children’s children,” Mansfield Mayor Evans said. “I’m African-American, and I want the same things for my kids as anybody else does.”

Low homeownership rates for Blacks is not unique to Fort Worth

Evangelou, the National Association of Realtors researcher, said owning a home is one of the primary ways for households to build wealth. The long-term social and financial benefits of homeownership impact not only the individuals but the overall economy of an area, she said. 

By having a lower homeownership rate, Black households have a lower net worth. 

“Not everybody has the same opportunities for homeownership, and many of them are facing constraints in their efforts to become homeowners,” Evangelou said.

The net worth of a typical white family is about eight times greater than that of a Black family, according to the Federal Reserve.

The low Black and brown homeownership rate in Tarrant County is a trend seen nationwide, said Thiru Vignarajah, CEO of Capital Plus Financial, a community development financial institution that lends mostly to low- to moderate-income minority borrowers nationwide.

“The reality is the problems we’re seeing in Fort Worth are problems that we see across the country, and they’re not new,” Vignarajah said. “The racial gaps in homeownership go back literally decades, and they have been a challenge that faces virtually every city and suburb in America.”

Remnants of historical housing discrimination tactics can still be seen in some lower-income, minority neighborhoods across the country, including Tarrant County, Vignarajah said. That can manifest itself today in the form of credit deserts, financial literacy gaps and corporate profitability. 

“If you are a traditional bank, and you’re choosing where to deploy your resources, it is not uncommon that you focus on the most profitable corners,” he said. “So the constellation of these problems — historic redlining, modern credit deserts, financial literacy deficits — … creates a real stress in modern efforts to make housing more equitable across races.”

One of the solutions to making homeownership more accessible is to diversify the housing stock

In Tarrant County, over 31% of the land is used for single-family housing, according to 2020 data from the North Central Texas Council of Governments. In comparison, less than 3% of the land is multifamily — which includes apartments, condominiums, residential hotels, townhouses, duplexes and other single-family attached units. 

“A four-bedroom, two-floor, single-family home with a garage may be the American dream for some, but it’s not for everyone, and it’s not accessible for everyone,” Capital Plus Financial’s Vignarajah said. 

Donnell encourages her clients to be flexible in buying where they can to build equity. 

“If a buyer is flexible, if a buyer can understand the equity play, it is a win,” she said. “It may not be the dream home that I want… but for the next two years, you’re probably going to have to rent anyway.”

As for Mansfield’s mayor, he continues to welcome more residents and is not shying away from growth. Instead, he sees it as a positive. 

“You can’t stop growth,” Evans said. “So the question is, since you cannot stop it, then how can you direct it? How can you affect it to meet the needs of the people who live there now? And also, how can you be proactive in regard to meeting the needs of the people who will come in the future?”

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at or on Twitter at @ssadek19

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Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Houston, she graduated from Texas State University where she studied journalism and international...