Susan Halsey

Susan Halsey

Incredibly tragic news for Fort Worth’s business and real estate community. Word comes from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that one of Cowtown’s biggest boosters, Susan Halsey, has succumbed to cancer. We are heartbroken to hear about this terrible loss, and our thoughts are with Halsey’s friends and family.

If you’re not familiar with Halsey, this paragraph from her obituary really speaks to how dedicated she was to the Fort Worth community:

But beyond the high-dollar deals, Mrs. Halsey felt so strongly about Fort Worth and its commercial real estate community that when leaders with the Real Estate Council in Dallas asked her more than a decade ago to a meeting to talk about how they could tap into the Fort Worth brokerage community, she returned to Fort Worth, called on some high-powered leaders and single-handedly started the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth. Today, the organization has more than 350 members focused on public policy issues.

What an amazing woman and professional. She will be sorely missed.

 

On Sandage St. near TCU, two large, zero-lot-line homes have been built next door to one another. To curb the trend of investors tearing down homes to build "stealth dorms," residents are supporting greater restrictions for the number of co-habiting adults in these homes. (Photo: Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

On Sandage St. near TCU, two large, zero-lot-line homes have been built next door to one another. To curb the trend of investors tearing down homes to build “stealth dorms,” residents are supporting greater restrictions for the number of co-habiting adults in these homes. (Photo: Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

This is an interesting story out of Fort Worth, as some neighborhoods push back against big, zero-lot-line homes full of college kids by proposing an overlay to limit unrelated adult residents to three per single-family home instead of the current five. The overlay, which in its current version would not grandfather existing properties, is facing some stiff opposition from investors. They’re pooling their funds and preparing for a legal battle, according to the story in the Star-Telegram:

“We did it how they said to do it,” Kyle O’Keefe, an investor and resident in the overlay, said of the homes they built. “If they go back and change it, that is a break of trust. That is saying, ‘Hey, you guys come in and invest in our city make it a great city and then we are going to screw the hell out of you in a couple of years.”

This is interesting, because while the restrictions are aimed toward protecting the integrity of the neighborhoods surrounding Texas Christian University, they’re targeting a specific group of homes: Large four- and five-bedroom houses in districts surrounding TCU, that are usually rented to college students and dubbed “stealth dormitories.” Residents are mostly concerned about noise, trash, and traffic.

(more…)

Top 10 Markets for First Time Homebuyers

North Texas is a hot area for first-time homebuyers, says Realtor.com in a new ranking released today. The data, pulled from Realtor.com searches and U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, ranks the Fort Worth-Arlington MSA fourth and the Dallas MSA eighth in their list of top 10 markets for first-time homebuyers. Pittsburgh, Pa.; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.; and Philadelphia, Pa.; were the top three markets for first-timers to buy.

“As we head into home buying season, these markets show favorable conditions for first-time buyers, which is encouraging because these buyers are crucial to the housing market,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc. operator of Realtor.com. “First-time buyers have a widespread impact on the local housing markets. In transitioning from renters to owners, new buyers pay property taxes and other fees and taxes associated with homeownership that benefits local schools and services.” (more…)

4258 Altura Front

Let’s head west to Fort Worth this morning, where we’ll find an incredible modern home that has fantastic museum-worthy interiors and has some huge windows overlooking the heavily treed lot.

This home at 4258 Altura Road in the Westcliff neighborhood is an amazing 1980s modern that feels so fresh and open. It has aged so well, and with a few updates it can be a post-millennium stunner. It’s just south of TCU and north of Interstate 20, a fantastic location for anyone who wants to live inside Cowtown and close to tons of great shopping and amenities.

4258 Altura Hallway 4258 Altura Living

Designed by architect Emory Young, this home was constructed to take advantage of the change in elevation on this more than 1 acre lot. The result is a tree house-like feel, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows with views of treetops and blue sky.

It’s serene, really, and considering the condition of this home and the size of the lot, it’s priced exceptionally well — $1.695 million with Suzanne Burt of Burt Ladner Real Estate. Besides excellent design, you get five bedrooms, four full and one half bath, and more than 5,500 square feet.

4258 Altura Kitchen 4258 Altura Dining

Besides the views, I love the courtyard like patio and pool, which you can see from the expansive kitchen and breakfast area. Really, this home has so much light from the windows and transoms that you’ll hardly ever need to flip a switch! It has tons of storage, too, so you don’t have to clutter your floors or walls, and there’s a three-car garage as well.

4258 Altura Master 4258 Altura Master Bath

The master bedroom is huge at 21 x 20, and features huge windows and a separate sitting area, including a fireplace. The layout is great, with built-in storage and desk at an angle from the bed area, which means you can leap from your slumber at the moment of inspiration and bang out the next chapter of the next great American novel without waking your partner. The master bath will need some updating, but considering the size and location of this home, any updates will pay off significantly in the future. I can imagine tons of marble and a cool contemporary soaking tub (and maybe even an oversized steam shower!) in this master bath, which has even more fantastic views, thanks to the adjoining balcony. Imagine coming from the bath on a warm day and having a little air dry out there? Perfection.

4258 Altura Deck 4258 Altura Backyard 4258 Altura Pool Twilight

Outside, well, this backyard is a dream. You can either enjoy a soak in the pool and spa, or enjoy the views from the deck. What do you think of this modern home in Fort Worth?

Property For Rent

We wanted to get some boots-on-the-ground perspective from North Texas Realtors after Forbes named Fort Worth-Arlington and Dallas-Plano-Irving as the top two “best buy cities,” or areas in the U.S. where buying a home is a good investment. Forbes teamed up with Local Market Monitor to measure the “equilibrium home price,” which strips away several layers of market influence such as speculation and the cyclical boom-bust nature of housing.

Fort Worth-Arlington, Tex., and Dallas-Plano-Irving, Tex., top the list of our Best Buy Cities, at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Both cities offer homes that would be within reach for middle-class Americans, at $168,383 in Fort Worth-Arlington and $180,645 in greater Dallas. Prices in greater Fort Worth are considered 20% below their actual value, according to Local Market Monitor. Homes in the greater Dallas region are 12% down, so less off, but they are expected to rise more–29%–over the next three years.

For buyers who intend to rent out their homes, the populations in these cities are growing at a healthy clip: from 2009 to 2012, at 4.9% in Fort Worth and 6.1% in Dallas. At that rate, Dallas is tied for the fastest-growing city on the Best Buy Cities list. It’s ranked fifth in terms of job growth, at 3% as of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics stats.

 

While we do like our reports from Local Market Monitor, which give clear investment outlooks, our major sticking point with broad surveys such as this one is that real estate markets are hyper-local, meaning that West Plano could be having an outstanding year, with tons of price increases and new development, but on the other side of U.S. 75, growth may not be as great. The same holds true for neighborhoods such as Berkeley Place in Fort Worth, where some homes are reaching price peaks never seen before, while northern Fort Worth suburbs may be struggling to break even.

Still, Realtors remain optimistic, pointing to growth across all price points and through many different developments. Condos are up, single-family homes are up, new homes are up, and investment buyers are out of control.

“The fact that Dallas, Plano, and Irving are named as the No. 2 metro area to buy a home for investment in the U.S. is no surprise at all,” says Vivo Realty founder David Maez, who is based in Plano. “Our job market is, and always has been one of the best in the nation. That together with low cost of living, a high percentage of renters, and good schools, it’s an investor’s dream.”

Maez specializes in the northern suburbs of Dallas, where you’ll see tons of single family homes for sale and for rent, in his area, Realtors are noticing tons of activity on MLS for buyers and for renters. Maez is currently working with many investors, both local and out-of-state, all of which are looking to capitalize on the North Texas market.

“In the field we are seeing no more than 10 to 15 days on the market for a good lease, sometimes leasing on the same day. Supplement to that, home prices are also very affordable — you can find an amazing home here for $160K to $200K,” Maez added. “So whether you’re looking to purchase your first home or are a first-time investor looking to pick-up a rental, this is an amazing market to do so.”

 

Beth Fitzgerald 214 801-4992  09-05-08 A

Beth Fitzgerald is down to earth, and that’s what we love about her. After retiring from AT&T and becoming a Realtor just when the bottom dropped out of the market in 2008, Fitzgerald has used her optimism and no-bones-about-it attitude to serve her clients, and the many clients that are referred to her. She’s just that amazing and easy to talk to.

We think you’ll enjoy finding out more about Fitzgerald, a hard-working Realtor who has earned a spot as this week’s Featured Realtor, sponsored by Jeff Lindgrin of Great Western Home Loans. Of course, every sale should have a lender that works just as hard to get a great deal as their Realtor. What has your lender done for you lately? Find out what you’re missing by contacting Jeff Lindigrin with Great Western Home Loans today.

Read more about Beth after the jump!

 

CandysDirt.com: So are you a native Dallasite or where were you born?
Beth Fitzgerald: Army Brat, born in Alexandria, Va., but grew up in Fort Worth.

CD: Where do you live? House or Condo? House style?
Fitzgerald: I live in Coppell in a one-story traditional.

CD: And you drive a… let me guess, Mercedes Benz???
Fitzgerald: Lexus RX 330

CD: What’s you favorite ‘hood in Dallas and why?
Fitzgerald: Bishop Arts/Kessler Park. It reminds me of area that I grew up in Fort Worth — Mistletoe Heights.

CD: If you could move in Dallas, where else might you live?
Fitzgerald: Lakewood

CD: How the heck did you get started in real estate?
Fitzgerald: I was with AT&T for 26 years selling bits and bytes of voice and data networks to Fortune 500 companies. When AT&T merged with SBC, I was able to retire. I always loved looking at homes and I had an amazing experience with my last Realtor. I decided that helping people realize their dream of home ownership would be more interesting and fun. I have only had my license since August of 2008, when the bottom dropped out of the market. Needless to say, my expectations were “things can only get better.” My first broker was a “boutique” office in Park Cities — didn’t survive the market downturn. Most of my training came from Lori Arnold with Coldwell Banker APEX; an incredibly smart lady. Currently work at Keller Williams Realty in Coppell.

CD: What’s your worst sales nightmare? Just worst transaction ever?
Fitzgerald: People that watch HGTV and think that they know everything. They usually know just enough to be dangerous. Worst transaction was a woman in the middle of leaving her common-law husband and so anxious to buy her own home that she had unrealistic expectations of financing and the whole homebuying process. It was a real mess and she lashed out at everyone in her path. Funny thing was that she was referred to me by my best client!

CD: What’s your best/highest sale?
Fitzgerald: $526,000

CD: How quickly have you ever turned a house?
Fitzgerald: Three days before it went on the market!

CD: How much did you sell last year?
Fitzgerald: More than any other year!

CD: Secret Sauce to marketing a house?
Fitzgerald: Clean, clean, clean!

CD: If you ever change careers for an encore you’ll…
Fitzgerald: Owner of the Kessler Theater. I love live music.

CD: Finally, what is your favorite place for a second home and why?
Fitzgerald: I would love to have a home in Lake City, Colo. Beautiful little town and everyone knows everyone. Beautiful San Juan mountains.

Lance Armstrong Lake Austin

We knew 2013 was a banner year for Dallas Realtors as our market pulled itself up by its bootstraps and posted post-recession growth that amazed even the most seasoned brokers. But according to research from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, the market posted year-over-year numbers that showed Texas flexing its economic muscles like never before.

Numbers are up across most demographics, with condo sales, luxury sales, and investment properties getting snatched up at record paces.

“The Texas real estate market showed strength in sales volume and price all year long and the fourth quarter was no exception,” said Texas Association of Realtors chairman Dan Hatfield. “We’ve now seen year-over-year increases in both sales volume and price every quarter for more than two years. This makes it clear – demand for Texas homes is strong and enduring.”

We agree, as the Texas tech industry continues to boom in Austin, pushing up prices and demand reminiscent of the Bay Area’s unfettered growth. High salaries and limited inventories — the statewide numbers show a precipitous drop to a 3.6-month supply of homes (6.5 is recommended for balance between supply and demand) — have resulted in huge price increases. But, as Candy pointed out, not all growth is good for everyone. As prices increase, housing affordability decreases, pushing out lower wage earners.

But Austin’s growth isn’t isolated, as every metropolitan area in Texas posted sales volume and price increases in the fourth quarter of 2013. According to the report, 60,998 single-family homes were sold in the state during the fourth quarter — 6.78 percent more than fourth quarter 2012. Median home prices increased 8.48 percent from fourth quarter 2012 to $172,600, and the average home price was a whopping $226,216 — up 8.88 percent from Q4 2012.

Real Estate Center economist Jim Gaines Ph.D. explained: “One thing that is notable about the price increases seen in the fourth quarter is that they are relatively consistent across the state. Those increases are being seen in markets of every size, not just in the largest Texas markets, so that indicates broad-based appreciation for Texas real estate.”

“Demand for Texas homes in 2014 should continue, but it’s possible that a shortage of inventory could inhibit sales volumes,” Gaines added. “The steady price increases we’ve seen recently should help alleviate that, enticing more sellers into the market, but buyers should continue to expect to compete for desirable properties.”

Interesting outlook for 2014. What do you think? Will the growth price-wise lure more sellers to the market?

3608 Overton Park Front

One of my guilty pleasures is this hilarious Tumblr blog “Catalog Living.” It follows the life of Gary and Elaine as they live in their Pinterest-worthy surroundings that are often so perfect they’re absurd.

Absurdly perfect is how I’d describe this gorgeous remodeled traditional in Fort Worth’s Overton Park subdivision. This neighborhood is so sought after that I would be stunned if 3608 Overton Park was on the market for more than a month. This beautifully remodeled six-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home is listed by Virginia Cook Realtor Jeff Anderson for $1,085,000. Sure, it looks unassuming from the curb, but this home is packed full of “WOW!” from the entry on through.

3608 Overton Park Entry 3608 Overton Park Dining 3608 Overton park Den

This home is just stunning, and as you click through the slideshow, you’ll notice that this home, which has just some ridiculously cool finish-out, feels like pages from a catalog. I could totally imagine Gary and Elaine leaning over the kitchen island, tasting the souffle Elaine just pulled from the commercial-grade oven. Or perhaps Gary is watching the Rangers rout the Mariners from his loggia, where he’s got a top-notch outdoor kitchen.

3608 Overton Park Kitchen 3608 Overton Park Breakfast

And consider the rather plush life Gary and Elaine’s rugrats live, what with their space-themed playroom and made-for-sleepovers bunk bed room. With the pool and treehouse in the backyard, they’re probably the envy of the entire neighborhood. Add that this home is right next to a park and it just turned into a home more perfect for a family than any house ever featured in Leave it to Beaver.

3608 Overton Park Bunk Beds 3608 Overton Park Playroom 3608 Overton Park Pool

Seriously, though, the attention to detail in the finish-out of this incredible home is nonpariel. I love the cabinetry in the kitchen, the beautiful light fixtures with Edison bulbs throughout the living area, and the master bath rocks one of the coolest cast iron sinks I’ve ever seen in my life. That vanity just makes my millennium. Swoon-worthy and then some, right?

3608 Overton Park Master 3608 Overton Park Bath

You’ll also adore the sixth bedroom, which is a guest suite above the pool house. It’s above a living area just off the kitchen that has a separate entrance. Perfect for your 20-something that has flown back to the nest before finding their wings. Just be prepared if they aren’t ready to leave after a few years. You might have to change the locks!

3608 Overton Park Backyard 3608 Overton Park Sunroom 3608 Overton Park Sunroom bar 3608 Overton Park Guest

Really, the only downside I can think of to this home is the lack of covered parking or garages. Still, as Anderson’s listing tells us, with a half-acre lot, there’s plenty of room for you to find a spot to park your Land Rover.

Such a beautiful property! What do you think?