Raphael HouseIf you love Swiss Avenue, you will absolutely adore Ennis, Texas, just 30 minutes south of Dallas. You need to get down there tomorrow for an unprecedented home tour and luncheon featuring the most historical homes in Ennis listed by some tip top Dallas agents: Eric Holmes, Joe Kobell, and Lauria Mah. These three have partnered to introduce us to some fabulous properties a wee drive south of downtown.

I know Ennis. At one point, I think my husband delivered every baby in Ennis and I have spent many a holiday party at Hamilton House. We have also been to the beautiful, historic Raphael House, now owned by the darling of the design world, Miss Harriet Adams! I love Harriet with all my heart and soul and swear to bring you her story someday! Harriet remodeled Raphael House and I saw it before her talents ever touched it. We have stayed there, having attended one of her famous “Lights of Ennis” parties. Oh my, that was a night to remember. First of all, it was the night of Hurricane Rita, so the interstate was shut down southbound to allow more people to evacuate north. Second, we were spending the night at Raphael House so Candy enjoyed her wine a little more than usual. She went bidding and thought she had bid on “garden gnomes” (Which weighed a ton, how to get them home? Who knows, who cares, just drink wine!) but alas, she had bid on a trip to JOHANNESBURG as in Africa. I know, garden gnomes, Johannesburg, yeah, it was definitely a blonde night. (more…)

2264-Lipscomb FWWe know most of us will be on Swiss Avenue this weekend, at the Swiss Avenue Historic District Mother’s Day Tour — I will be there, I’m a docent at Aldrege House, which is owned by the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance, and is where my dear friend Pam Brannon of Briggs Freeman Sothebys was installed yesterday as president of the Alliance! Also — this is really a hoot — Aldrege House is the set for the whore house in the current DALLAS series on TNT. I about died when I saw that Harris Ryland’s mother, Judith, played by Judith Light, runs a house of ill repute right there on Swiss Avenue. Well, it is conveniently close to downtown Dallas! (more…)

Craig ranch TPC overviewWe shot our second episode of PartyLine Real Estate tonight up in a luxury townhome at 17 Green, at Craig Ranch in McKinney, sipping wine as the sun set over the TPC. The luxury townhomes at 17 Green ALL overlook the Audubon-certified natural greens of the TPC Craig Ranch golf course. The homes feature formals, huge masters, rocking master baths, outdoor living spaces with fireplaces, and second-floor terraces that take in the beautiful view of more than 200 acres, all care-free. Prices are great — listed with Christy Berry, Briggs Freeman Sothebys. By care-free I mean that at 17 Green, everything is taken care of by the nice folks at Craig Ranch, even the perfect-sized green patches in your own backyard! Of course, what makes Craig Ranch so special is that it’s really one of the most intelligent, walkable urban planned communities set in a charming city. And one of the healthiest: my Lord there’s Cooper Fitness Center with a rock climbing wall (!) and one of the biggest lap pools in the state. There’s Playtri, the new triathlon mega-store in Craig Ranch’s Time Square building. (more…)

9995 Hollow way ext front

It’s one of those cold, gloomy Monday mornings that turned into a perfect day. Kind of like this house. I had 100 plus peeps for barbecue last night, and whenever I entertain large groups it opens my mental vistas to floor and traffic patterns in homes that make party-giving more of a breeze: like 9995 Hollow Way in Preston Hollow. This home is like a peaceful retreat where you can still throw great parties on .90 acre with expansive interior windows that bring the outdoors in. That is particularly wonderful if you happen to have, say, 100 people coming and Mother Nature decides to open up and sprinkle away, as she did Sunday night. Sometimes the party just has to stay inside! (more…)

belkdayfinal-web (2)

We’re living in high cotton now!

Well, I got to tour Belk Friday, the new, hip, and oh so southern department store at the old Marshall Fields/Saks Fifth Avenue store at the Dallas Galleria. You recall how we interviewed the store’s (hot) manager, Salem Boohaker, he’s finer than frog hair split four ways. We helped him find a place to roost in Uptown. And he found me plenty of places to roost in his new store, from the custom designs by Cynthia Rowley to the Kate Spade department. (more…)

Boot Ranch Chef Aaron StreitmaterBoot Ranch Executive Chef Aaron J. Staudenmaier wasn’t always counting bluebonnets in the Texas Hill Country. Aaron began working the graveyard shift at a truck stop at age 14 and eventually made it to The Mansion in Dallas, working under Chef Dean Fearing. For the 13 years prior to his escape to Boot Ranch, he worked under Chef Kent Rathbun at Abacus, Jasper’s and at the farm-to-table concept, Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen in Preston Center. Now ensconced in the hills of Fredericksburg, he says nothing announces the change of farm season in Texas and the hint of warmer weather like that first delivery of creamy, nutty English peas just waiting to be cooked up. And so, over on SecondShelters.com, we are offering up his recipes…for vacation home “inner peas”…


CoreLogic HPI Jan 14

CoreLogic’s newest HPI report released today showed that Texas real estate professionals have good reason to blame their busy days on the hot market. Home prices in Texas are at new highs (yes, higher than pre-bubble manic market highs!), with January 2014 up 10.1 percent over a year ago, and home prices up 1.2 percent from Dec. 2013 (numbers include distressed sales).

In the Dallas-Plano-Irving MSA, home prices are up 12.2 percent year-over-year including distressed sales, and up 10.4 percent excluding distressed sales. National numbers show home prices up 12 percent year over year for January. This is the 23rd consecutive month that home prices have increased, and Texas is one of only three states that has reached a new peak in home prices after the housing bust. And despite near-record appreciation, Nevada is still 40.1 percent below peak prices, CoreLogic’s report showed. Incredible.

“Polar vortices and a string of snow storms did not manage to weaken house price appreciation in January,” said CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming. “The last time January month-over-month and year-over-year price appreciation was this strong was at the height of the housing bubble in 2006.”

So, winter didn’t slow Dallas down, and we’re looking at a brisk spring selling season ahead. Still, real estate prices are a hyper-local economy, and while some areas are seeing hand-over-fist sales and appreciation (we’re looking at you, Lake Highlands and University Park) some areas will only see more modest gains. The key, of course, is pricing a home correctly and being flexible.

Where are you seeing break-neck appreciation and sales pace?

So, as it turns out, if household income increases, then more families have more money to buy new homes.

I know. I’m totally shocked, too.

What you’ll find interesting is that Texas, with our steady job market and low taxes has resulted in the Lone Star State leading median household income growth AND new home sales for 2013. In Texas, homebuyers are basically like this:

Aziz Ansari Make it Rain

And home builders, they’re like Liz Lemon here:

Tiny-Fey-Money Dance Make it Rain


“This year’s Texas Homebuyers and Sellers Report is showing the impact of the last few years’ strong housing market and economic growth on Texas homebuyers and sellers,” said Dan Hatfield, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors. “Households are earning more income and new home development continues to play an increasingly important role to meet our state’s ever-increasing housing demand.”

Yup, we’re makin’ it rain, folks. The report, which uses data from the National Association of Realtors, says that Texas homebuyers’ median household income is up 9.6 percent to $91,700 year-over-year in 2013. That’s almost twice the increase in buying power of the average American homeowner, which increased just 5.6 percent to $83,300. First-time homebuyers are making more scratch, too, with a 9.3 percent increase in median household income to $67,800 year-over-year. Repeat homebuyers are making more modest gains, though, with median incomes up just 4.9 percent to $107,100. Still, that’s a lot of simoleons, peeps. And I wonder how many of these new homebuyers are using homebuilding concierges such as Page One to make their experience even better.

Interesting takeaways from the report:

1) Of all homes purchased in Texas for 2013, 30 percent were new homes, up 4 percent from 2012 and almost twice the proportion among home sales nationwide.

2) With tight-fisted lenders rivaling Scrooge McDuck and home prices skyrocketing, married couples continue to lead the homebuyer demographic, up 2 points in 2013 to 71 percent.

3) First-time homebuyers in Texas are a shrinking share of the market, down 2 percent to 33 percent.

4) “In 2013, the average Texas homebuyer was 43 years old, while the average first-time buyer was 31 years old and the average repeat buyer was 50 years old. This is on trend with the ages of homebuyers nationally,” the report stated.

5) The time frame a homeowner actually owns a property decreased from nine years to eight in 2013, but nationally, figures still show homeowners staying in their home nine years. tenure of owning a home in Texas decreased one year to eight years in 2013, but remained unchanged at nine years nationally.

6) 94 percent of Texans sold their home with a Realtor in 2013 (YAY!), compared to 91 percent nationally. Likewise, “FSBO homes in Texas sold for significantly less than homes sold using a  Realtor. The average Texas FSBO home sold for $153,500, compared to $200,000 for the average Realtor-assisted home sale.”

What tidbit of data strikes you the most?