Photo courtesy of Robert Hensley via a Creative Commons license

Photo courtesy of Robert Hensley via a Creative Commons license

Dallas is one of 15 top markets poised to attract baby boomer homebuyers because of an affordable cost of living, sunny weather, and friendly business climate, according to new research by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

NAR looked at 100 metro areas with lower state taxes (or none at all, as is the case in Texas), stable job market conditions, and strong migration patterns of “leading-edge baby boomers” (those 60-69) moving to that area. By doing this, they predicted which housing markets are likely to see a boost from baby boomers. Cost of living, housing affordability, and housing inventory availability were also factors in their rankings.

For these reasons, Dallas was identified as one of five markets with strong potential for attracting baby boomer homebuyers.

“It comes down to housing affordability, and lower tax rates in the Dallas area and the state as a whole,” said Adam DeSanctis, NAR economic issues media manager. “More boomers after 65 are working, some because they have to, or feel like they have to, but also those that are healthier and want to maintain an active lifestyle. Those [baby boomer] business owners come to Dallas for its dynamic local economy.”

(more…)

Tres and E houseA few months ago, my son bought a home in the Peninsula area of San Francisco, home of the priciest real estate in the country.  I assumed they were getting a shack, but paying for a mansion. The equivalent of our M Streets homes or 1950’s mid century moderns go for $800,000 plus on the Peninsula. He bought in Redwood City, just a few blocks from Palo Alto. That geography saved him a bundle: you cannot get much under $1,000,000 in Palo Alto, and a million there is the price of a starter home.

The home they bought is a “remodeled” 1950’s ranch, but it’s mostly new. The slab was kept intact because in California, regulations make it impossible (and more expensive) to build a new home. So builders retain a part of the original structure, enough to pass as a remodel. My kids’ home is, from the slab up, fresh, new and adorable. Seriously, this is better than a new baby! I absolutely adore it because now I have a bedroom in Cali and when I’m there, I happily vacuum the coffee stained floors as much as I can because I love those floors so much I could eat them. They are reclaimed from an Atherton mansion, hand-scraped, wide wood perfection. And there is a lemon tree right in the front yard!Treas and E house Tres and E house LR Tres and E house DR

Buying this home was a frenzied pace and exhausting, and I was back here in Dallas! The day my kids went to look at the home, the first day it was open, was a mad house. Fifty people converged, found an open door, and within moments were crawling over every molecule of the 1600 square feet. Some were sparring. My son says he almost called the police until he learned this was just a typical California open house. This was last February, before things got really nuts. Buying it was tricky: there were multiple offers and they had to reach over the asking price. My son was so happy to have a Realtor who had a strong relationship with the seller’s agent. In tight markets, you need agents more than ever.

After all that, I found this article entertaining: word that the California market is cooling  a bit from the madness that began right after the new year. I know this madness; my children were a part of it. All the crazy stuff you’ve heard about the California markets are true — homes have been selling for more than asking, there are bidding wars, multiple offers, throngs fighting each other to be the first inside a listing, cash offers, deals on commissions. This swing to a seller’s market happened first in California and Arizona, then spread to other parts of the country. Now, the inventory crunch is upon us: some homeowners hesitate to sell for fear they won’t be able to find a place to buy. Cali Realtors cannot throw a simple cheese and wine sip and see for homes — they’d have to buy five cases. Buyers cannot even go to Costco:  “Some of our buyers don’t even like to go into a Costco for too long if it will block the cell signal they need to get instant (real estate listing) alerts.”

But now, Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, a technology-powered real estate broker backed by Madrona Venture Group and Greylock Partners, says that market is cooling. And while we live in Dallas, where foreclosures are down by 40%, it’s worth a minute to see WHY it’s cooling and if that trend will venture our way:

Bidding wars, says Kelman, are still common, “with Redfin agents facing competition on 95 percent of all homes in May 2013, the highest of any of the 21 markets Redfin serves. For example, Redfin Silicon Valley agent Brad Le reports that this nice-enough $2 million Cupertino listing got 12 offers, and likely went under contract in June for well above $2.4 million. But fewer bidders are competing.”

Agents believe demand is waning not because buyers no longer want a home but because they’ve despaired of ever being able to get one — maybe tired of the craziness.

“About one in four of our Bay Area homebuyers have told us at some point in the last three months that they’re taking a break from their search out of sheer frustration,” says Kelman.”

The four reasons he outlines for the slowdown —

The inventory problemo: “Bay Area real estate is again becoming a free market, where the only people selling are the ones who want to sell. As any East German will tell you, this transition is hard. It’s almost as if homeowners have forgotten how to sell. We expect the supply of homes for sale to increase by the Super Bowl, but if it doesn’t increase a lot, we’re going to have a silent spring, with meager sales gains.”

Sellers monopolize: “…there’s an enormous difference between competition of any kind and no competition whatsoever; it’s like the difference when raising venture capital between having one term sheet or two.”

Flash Sales, Thank You Twitter: “With so many home-buyers across the Bay Area now getting alerts instantly rather than nightly, the whole home-buying cycle here is becoming more like a flash sale, with properties lasting a day rather than a week.”

Crazy-ass offers: “People just get tired of losing, and say, ‘Screw it.’” In just the past few days, a $1.8-million listing in Silicon Valley attracted six offers clustered around a price of $1.95 million, which was at the high end of what recent comparable sales could justify. This kind of competition was familiar to us. But the seventh offer came in half a million dollars higher, at $2.45 million, with no contingencies for an inspection or an appraisal. The seller’s agent was flabbergasted. These are the kinds of shots that send a shiver down the market’s spine.”

Folks cashing out 401K etc. to pay cash for homes: “As the U.S. government approached a fiscal cliff, plenty of folks in Silicon Valley with stock in their own companies became worried that capital gains would be taxed at a higher rate, and so rushed to sell their shares by December 31.”

What we deal with in Texas: more sensible home prices, but this scenario could easily apply to piping hot areas like Lakewood, Park Cities, etc. We have the jobs and everyone is moving here, relocating from economically dismal states. So fasten your seat belts: market trends happening in northern Cali could well be heading our way, along with the population.Tres and E house bedroom1 Tres and E house master bath Tres and E house study

 

 

5312 State Highway 11 gatesA home with an active producing vineyard in North Texas? You bet your chardonnay! I just got in a few hours ago from the Peninsula of northern California where we spent some time near Saratoga Springs at a shooting range. Yes, Virgina, people do own guns in California. Along the winding mountain road we saw numerous, charming little winery estates tucked into the hillside. Then I come home to find out all I have to do is head north a few miles from Dallas to Sherman to find a 44 acre estate with picturesque horizon views and a bountiful 15-acre vineyard of Chambourcin grapes: Angel Ridge Manor at 5312 State Highway 11. The winery produced 9 tons of grapes in 2011.Chambourcin grapes

Yes, Virginia, there are vineyards in North Texas!

Angel Ridge Manor — love the name — also includes a nearly 14,000 square foot residence, two ponds, groves of trees, a barn and a three-bedroom guest house with basement. The main estate home has no less than seven living areas because, I suppose, you need to taste wine in each one. Or at least I DO! I’m sure the family room makes the Merlot take on a more casual cache, while the formality of the parlor tones up the Beaujolais.

Oh my, don’t let me stop there with FORMALS!  No no no, this house is amazing — cooler, maybe, than the Thomas Dundon home over on Northwest Highway just west of Inwood. This veritable palace has a four-tiered home theater, spa, party rooms, an Irish-style pub, music exercise and billiard rooms. There is an indoor lap pool with water falls. There is also, in one of the formal rooms, a 20 foot cast stone fireplace. There is also an elevator or two, extensive stone columns, a secure/tornado/panic room, cabana with fireplace, outdoor kitchen, horseshoe pit, and regulation size tennis and basketball courts. The 70 by 40 foot barn houses a complete water treatment system with 3500 gallons of storage. 5312 State Highway 11 vineyard 5312 State Highway 11 ext pool 5312 State Highway 11 indoor pool 5312 State Highway 11 Master 5312 State Highway 11 Kit 5312 State Highway 11 LR 5312 State Highway 11 theater 5312 State Highway 11 billiards

This place may well be what I have always dreamed of: a freaking compound with WINE!

I’m actually a little disappointed there is only a four-car garage, but at least it is climate controlled to protect the leather seats on the Rolls and Ferrari.

Situated high on a ridge, the very stately approach to this estate features a quarter mile wrought iron and brick pillar fence leading to a gated entry and a lighted bridge along the dramatic tree-lined drive. Asking $2,650,000 which is reduced from $2,700,000 which tells me these sellers are SERIOUS with a capital S and… I’m in the mood to go up and taste some wine. How about you?

 

 

Phillips Creek Ranch houseDare I say it — after all I’m a transplant, too, from Illinois, though I got here as quick as I could: tell these immigrants they are welcome, but leave their higher tax and social spending mentalities back in their previous home state!  

Last couple weeks have been a real estate blur. I was up in Frisco at Phillips Creek Ranch, where the dirt is flying as Republic Property group develops 957 acres into 547 home sites, bringing in more than 2,500 homes and 12,000 residents — whew! Across Legacy, Craig Ranch is getting hot. In fact, go north of Legacy and you may need a bandanna — dirt is just blowing in the wind as the ‘dozers prep homesites for thousands of families. I spoke to the marketing director of a large national home builder who knows his website stats forward and backwards: people are moving to Texas in droves, he told me, and the top feeder states are the boo-boo blue states California, Illinois and New York, in that order.

Which correlates totally to what Joanna wrote awhile back: it may not be our lower taxes that are bringing in all these transplants. It may be our great housing prices.

The blue states, writes Joel Kotkin, seem pretty intent on keeping that steady stream of affluent migration to us streaming. Shall we thank them? Pretty soon the only folks left behind in the “boo-booed” blue will be the very rich and the poor:

They appear to have chosen an economic path that essentially penalizes their own middle and upper-middle class residents, believing that keeping up public spending, including on public employee pensions, represents the best way to boost their economy. Yet the gambit of raising state income taxes could not be coming at a worse time. The president’s adopted tax reforms have eliminated write-offs for state taxes for those individuals with incomes over $250,000 and families earning over $300,000. As a result, the affluent residents of these states — California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois alone count for 40% of these deductions nationally — now can expect to get whacked coming and going.

The affluent, notes Kotkin, are not billionaires. Between 2006 and 2009, he writes, California lost a net 45,000 taxpayers earning between $5 million and $300,000 a year, according to the Ca. State Department of Finance. That’s your work-horse population: they are abundant, hard-working, procreate and consume. They also pay taxes but are the ones who seem to get really whacked, as Kotkin calls it, whenever Washington or the state legislature needs money. Why? Well the poor slug earning $30,000 a year isn’t going to pay up, and the billionaires have at their fingertips staffs of CPAs and off-shore trusts — minimum investment $500,000 — where they can minimize taxes and run their estates like corporations. Look at corporations like Facebook, Wells Fargo, and General Electric who apparently pay no taxes.

Another plus for us: those $300K to $5 million a year wage earners moving to Texas also buy houses, often plural. I’m hearing now that US Air execs are starting to house hunt in Dallas, moving here from Phoenix.

Kotkin says that last year, all ten of the leading states gaining domestic migrants were low-tax states, including five with no income tax: Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Washington and Nevada. The highest rates of outward-bound migration came from New Jersey, New York, Illinois and California. That will leave those states with fewer to support the tax raises and pension benefit increasing they are enacting — which may act as a fiscal band aid at first, the “fiscal crack”, as revenues increase and the economy appears to recover.

But then, slowly, the $300K to $5M a year worker bees say we’ve had enough, see ya’, wouldn’t want to be ya, and they come to Texas.

Dare I say it — after all I’m a transplant, too, from Illinois, though I got here as quick as I could: tell these immigrants they are welcome, but leave their higher tax and social spending mentalities back in their previous home.

 

Phillips Creek Ranch houseDare I say it — after all I’m a transplant, too, from Illinois, though I got here as quick as I could: tell these immigrants they are welcome, but leave their higher tax and social spending mentalities back in their previous home state!  

Last couple weeks have been a real estate blur. I was up in Frisco at Phillips Creek Ranch, where the dirt is flying as Republic Property group develops 957 acres into 547 home sites, bringing in more than 2,500 homes and 12,000 residents — whew! Across Legacy, Craig Ranch is getting hot. In fact, go north of Legacy and you may need a bandanna — dirt is just blowing in the wind as the ‘dozers prep homesites for thousands of families. I spoke to the marketing director of a large national home builder who knows his website stats forward and backwards: people are moving to Texas in droves, he told me, and the top feeder states are the boo-boo blue states California, Illinois and New York, in that order.

Which correlates totally to what Joanna wrote awhile back: it may not be our lower taxes that are bringing in all these transplants. It may be our great housing prices.

The blue states, writes Joel Kotkin, seem pretty intent on keeping that steady stream of affluent migration to us streaming. Shall we thank them? Pretty soon the only folks left behind in the “boo-booed” blue will be the very rich and the poor:

They appear to have chosen an economic path that essentially penalizes their own middle and upper-middle class residents, believing that keeping up public spending, including on public employee pensions, represents the best way to boost their economy. Yet the gambit of raising state income taxes could not be coming at a worse time. The president’s adopted tax reforms have eliminated write-offs for state taxes for those individuals with incomes over $250,000 and families earning over $300,000. As a result, the affluent residents of these states — California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois alone count for 40% of these deductions nationally — now can expect to get whacked coming and going.

The affluent, notes Kotkin, are not billionaires. Between 2006 and 2009, he writes, California lost a net 45,000 taxpayers earning between $5 million and $300,000 a year, according to the Ca. State Department of Finance. That’s your work-horse population: they are abundant, hard-working, procreate and consume. They also pay taxes but are the ones who seem to get really whacked, as Kotkin calls it, whenever Washington or the state legislature needs money. Why? Well the poor slug earning $30,000 a year isn’t going to pay up, and the billionaires have at their fingertips staffs of CPAs and off-shore trusts — minimum investment $500,000 — where they can minimize taxes and run their estates like corporations. Look at corporations like Facebook, Wells Fargo, and General Electric who apparently pay no taxes.

Another plus for us: those $300K to $5 million a year wage earners moving to Texas also buy houses, often plural. I’m hearing now that US Air execs are starting to house hunt in Dallas, moving here from Phoenix.

Kotkin says that last year, all ten of the leading states gaining domestic migrants were low-tax states, including five with no income tax: Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Washington and Nevada. The highest rates of outward-bound migration came from New Jersey, New York, Illinois and California. That will leave those states with fewer to support the tax raises and pension benefit increasing they are enacting — which may act as a fiscal band aid at first, the “fiscal crack”, as revenues increase and the economy appears to recover.

But then, slowly, the $300K to $5M a year worker bees say we’ve had enough, see ya’, wouldn’t want to be ya, and they come to Texas.

Dare I say it — after all I’m a transplant, too, from Illinois, though I got here as quick as I could: tell these immigrants they are welcome, but leave their higher tax and social spending mentalities back in their previous home.

 

HomePrices_Migration_California

Actually, it’s probably a combination of these factors, says Bloomberg News’ Josh Barro. States that have low or no income taxes such as Texas are also more friendly to developers, resulting in lower housing costs.

Trulia economist Jed Kolko found that for every 100 people who moved to California in 2011, 120 people left. Those people tend to be low-income and middle class residents whose bucks would get more bang in Texas.

Who leads the charge out of California? Even though California’s richer residents face high tax rates, lower-income households are more likely to leave. From 2005 to 2011, California lost 158 people with household incomes under $20,000 for every 100 who arrived, and 165 for every 100 people with household incomes between $20,000 and $40,000. In contrast, just slightly more people with household incomes in the $100,000-$200,000 range left than came to California (103 out per 100 in), and California actually gained a hair more people in the $200,000+ range than it lost (99 out per 100 in). The rich aren’t leaving California, but the poor and the middle class are. … What does Texas have that Californians want? Cheaper housing, more jobs, and lower taxes.

It’s Barro’s story, though, that draws party lines, showing the reader that both Texas Governor Rick Perry and his Californian counterpart, Jerry Brown, have a lot to learn from the effects of their policies on the housing market.

The conservative economic agenda tends to be driven by wealthy people who would benefit a lot from lower taxes, rather than middle-class people who would benefit a lot from lower housing costs. And lots of conservatives fail to identify restrictive planning and zoning policies, driven by local governments, as big government in action.

Some liberals have a gut-level distrust of the idea of housing as a market good. They look around and see new condominium buildings springing up in neighborhoods where prices are rising sharply, misidentify the cause and conclude that allowing development causes prices to rise.

In the end, it’s not that liberal or conservative policy is more effective or gets better results, its the misinterpretation that lower taxes brings people to Texas rather than its attractive housing market.

What neither story mentions is that so many people from tons of different demographics are moving to Texas, leaving us with just a 3 to 4 month inventory of existing homes. Unless inventory increases, we might see some level of housing scarcity soon, resulting in higher prices across the board.

That’s what James Gaines of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University said earlier this year. According to Candy’s post, we could see double-digit rate increases when it comes to North Texas home prices. Home prices are up 7.6 percent for the year ending in December.

What do you think?

To a real estate junkie like me, this was almost as exciting as getting a new Porsche: People are starting to get wise about Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller report. Did you notice that numbers came out this week, Monday in fact, the news was pretty bleak IN SOME LOCALES, but no one (here, at least) freaked out? Then the Wall Street Journal produced what I think is one of the most significant real estate articles in eons. If you don’t subscribe and cannot read it, here is what it says in a nutshell: REAL ESTATE IS A LOCAL STORY.

Finally, some wisdom, what I have been preaching long as I’ve been blogging. Not only is real estate a local story, it is a HYPER LOCAL story, which is why Park Cities and now Preston Hollow home prices are inching upwards. Which is why North Dallas and Bent Tree is still soft and the caboose on the train.

A smattering of home-price indexes is painting a confusing picture of where housing markets are headed. One reason for the confusion is that there’s no such thing as a national housing market. That may have been true in 2004, when all housing markets rose together, or in 2008, when they all fell together. But one difficulty in writing about “the housing market” is that there isn’t “one” market—and increasingly, the nation’s many housing markets are moving in different directions.

What we are seeing are serious price declines in some parts of the country — what did someone who recently visited Detroit tell me? A home a guy bought there for $525,000 on the riverfront, once appraised at $625,000, can now be bought for $35,000. Pennies on the dollar. Atlanta, God help those poor people. (The plight of the Atlanta market will hurt second home sales in the Redneck Riviera.) Chicago is a wreck probably waiting for Obama’s re-election to pull them out. What perplexes me is that the likes of California and the Northeast are not jumping out more, with agents in the Silicon Valley area saying don’t count on the FaceBook IPO to generate any upward pressure on prices as the dot.com boom once did. New York City? Rents are going up faster than hemlines. From Bloomberg, who says investors are swooping up apartment buildings as fast as they can:

In UDR’s four other Manhattan properties, leases are being renewed at average rents that are 9 percent to 14 percent higher than a year earlier, Alcock said. New agreements are commanding rates that are 9 percent to 13 percent more. The buildings are 97 percent occupied.

New York is an international city, an economy protected, in a sense. The costlier it gets to live there, the greater the class disparity — only peeps who can afford to live there are those earning in excess of $500K a year, or their post-grad children. In Texas, we have oil and don’t punish developers — or jobs — as much as California does. Listen to Joel Kotkin:

Well, Texas has created 200,000 oil and gas jobs over the past decade; California has barely added 20,000. The state’s remaining energy producers have been slowing down as the regulatory environment becomes ever more hostile even as producers elsewhere, including in rustbelt states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, ramp up. The oil and gas jobs the Golden State political class shuns pay around $100,000 a year on average.

Want more proof? Recall my Tuesday $200 of last week? Under contract four days after the post went up. I’ve got more big sales news for you next week and Tuesday, Champ D’Or closes…

 

 

 

Adrian Beltre's magic bath

Homes are getting smaller and people are downsizing… are you kidding? The latest fad in home design: homes with a gazillion bathrooms. The Los Angeles Times reports California Real Estate brokers who cater to the rich say their clients are now asking for homes with at least two bathrooms for every bedroom.

Here in Texas, we have long Tex-ified bathrooms. Every grade school child learns all about the Alamo and knows the master bath must be a MASTER SPA with spacious counters, bubbling tubs, floor lamps, dressing areas, seating, rainwater showers, wine and coffee bars. The home Braden Power built at 3816 Turtle Creek, now owned by Lee Bailey, has a sitting room off the Neiman’s-sized closet which is off the master bathroom, which is essentially the entire second floor. I’ll pit Lee’s bath against a Cali bath any day! Then there is the home of Lisa Blue, widow of Fred Baron. Her Master bath was so overwhelming I think I may have lost some brain cells when I saw it, but I do recall the guest powder baths that were his and her’s and ginormous.

Don’t tell me anyone in California has better baths than us: they have water restrictions up in Carmel, which puts a huge damper on fixture choice: no waterfall showers up there.

Here’s what the Times says:

“The bathroom has become the dressing room,” said Bob Ray Offenhauser, a Studio City-based residential architect who routinely encloses the shower and toilet in their own rooms within a room. “They really don’t look much like bathrooms anymore.”

Offenhauser’s arithmetic is to figure two bathrooms for the Master bedroom and one for each bedroom, a couple of powder rooms scattered about and of course a bathroom for the swimming pool with exterior door. He says he then prepares himself for the client to ask for more!Dallas builder Mickey Munir of Sharif & Munir once told me that you absolutely had to have a spacious, elegant bathroom in the guest suite because so many of his clients put in-laws in there.

It’s the commodes that seem to be reproducing now like bunny rabbits whose employers won’t cover birth control.Pickfair, the Beverly Hills estate of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, had 30 bathrooms added in a recent remodel. In LA,. the record seems to be 41 bathrooms in an 18,400-square-foot Mediterranean-style Bel-Air home– $40 million. Over on Park Lane in Preston Hollow, the 23,151 square foot home of Kelcy Warren has 10 full baths and six powders, yet only six bedrooms! The 16,600 square foot Bradbury, CA. home of Texas Ranger Adrian Beltre and his wife, Sandra is still on the market for $19.5. It has 16 bathrooms!

“We use them all,” Sandra Beltre told the Times. Must be an Activia family. Sandra worked with the architect on the custom-built home, and says she is glad she insisted on adding more bathrooms than originally planned.

I’ve never known anyone who ever built a home regret adding on something, except for the higher mortgage payments.

In the Beltre’s main house, in Cali, all the bedrooms have en suite bathrooms. That means the bathroom is large, and spacious, and located WITHIN the bedroom, sometimes with a closet. None of this inconvenience of walking down the hall to a COMMON bathroom where you might have to carry your Clorox wipes. There are bathrooms  off the children’s playroom, the kitchen, the game room and the gym in the Beltre home. Their guesthouse has two. The pool cabana has his-and-her bathrooms, there is one conveniently located in the gardens of the 4-acre property (nice!), and another in the 2,500-square-foot batting cage area. No need for bladder control in this family!

No doubt we have moved way beyond the one-bathroom-in-the-hall days, which are as antiquated as ice cube trays. I recall when my parents built their home with a Master Bath: it had double sinks in a cultured vanity top, a commode across from a shower. This was 1960 something. My Aunt Marion, who had great taste and lived it up, put in pink marble in her bathroom and a pink tub, this before Mark Kay even knew she’d be buying a stucco pink mansion on Douglas Avenue. But there were no jets or bidets or waterfall showers. We kids had to slum it, sharing one bath in the hallway and rinsing “things” out of the tub if the previous bather was a slob. This is the hardship story I will tell my grandchildren:

“I shared a bathroom with your great-aunt! And we had no Clorox wipes!”

Building many bathrooms provides convenience and privacy for homeowners and guests. For example, I would not live in a house that did not have a bathroom very close to the garage door entrance to the home. That should be a cardinal rule of architectural design. And of course, the powder room was invented to keep your own bathroom pristine and keep guests from sneaking a peek into the medicine cabinet, something I actually miss.

This California agent has a phrase that hits close to my heart: “You almost cannot have too many bathrooms.”

And once upon a time, a half-bath was all you needed for guests. But agents say buyers of multimillion-dollar homes want three to five powder rooms — one directly off the study, another off the library and two for the media room. Well yes, all that coca cola has caffeine and, well, you know. And if you have staff quarters you must have en suite bathrooms or they will simply not tolerate it and find an employer with better baths.

“Buyers can be as picky about bathrooms as they are about kitchens.”

Viking or not, who cooks? We’d rather bathe in luxury, a trickle down effect from hotels. Todays’ home bathrooms are reminiscent of those in very fancy hotels, says Lynwen Hughes-Boatman of Deasy/Penner & Partners, who is listing the Beltres’ Cali house.

Another Cali agent says a buyer asked to see only homes with at least 15 bathrooms because of his frequent entertaining. They are strange out there: another agent says one wealthy couple sat on every single toilet to “see how it felt.” His clients want huge steam showers, tubs in the center of the room. Maybe that’s the Vegas touch.

There is a home in Rockwall with a tub right in the Master bedroom!

You know once the rich start doing it, it trickles down to us peons, pun intended. Not only has home square footage increased over the last ten years, then decreased a smidgen with the recession, even we commoners have more bathrooms in our average homes and McMansions. The number of new homes with three or more bathrooms increased to 26% in 2010, in 1987 the number was up only 15%. And the number of homes with two and one-half bathrooms more than doubled, this according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

Let’s face it: a home with one bath can be as charming as Prince William but it will be a blue light special or a tear down. And now buyers are beginning to feel that way about two bathroom homes on the second home or buy-up. Dallas Realtors tell me it’s at least three and a half or bust.

And here’s yet one more thing we can blame on Baby Boomers: we are going for exactly what we want. The Times quotes Diana Schrage, senior interior designer at the Kohler Design Center in Kohler, Wis, where they make Kohler and Kallista, as in Newt Gingrich’s wife, as saying it’s because of our changing attitudes towards health and wellness. We want a spa experience nighly at home as our bodies get older and more creaky. Bubble massages and different water experiences soak away those aches and pains: just please, no weed in the bathtub!