Archive for March, 2012

Snakes and Speed: Two Neighborhoods in Dallas You May Want to Avoid: Dallas Real Estate News

Posted by    |    March 31st, 2012 at 5:15 am

If you have an aversion to slithery creatures, might not want to move over to Harry Moss Park off Arborside Drive and Royal Lane in Lake Highlands. Homeowners there have lost dogs to nasty snake bites from Copperheads. Some are even afraid to let dogs romp in the park. In fact, there are now signs at the park along with hanging snake skins warning residents because it is apparently mating season for snakes, and I guess our recent rains have made them frisky. No way I’m going over there to take a picture of the signs! And BTW, this is why I refuse to live on a creek, no matter how picturesque.

Then a little west on Royal, homeowners say the mess that is LBJ has the traffic taking over Royal Lane. In fact, coming home last night, I saw FOUR DPD cars on the eastbound side parked, talking to one tall man AFTER I passed a car wreck. It was like 8:30 p.m. Neighbors say the speeding is atrocious and the semi’s are squealing down the street at all hours. Neighbors suspect drivers are dodging construction and traffic on LBJ Freeway and cutting through their neighborhood, which runs parallel to the freeway and a couple of miles south. You’d wonder why they wouldn’t take Forest Lane, which is one major thoroughfare north, but I guess Forest has more traffic than Royal. Do be careful on Royal and keep your speed down when wet: in 2002, two precious St. Marks boys lost their lives on that elevated curve just east of Hillcrest.

And if anyone wants to vent about LBJ madness or what a pain it is to use the north entrance at DFW now, go for it right here. I’m waiting for some enterprising young soul to start a helicopter-to-DFW biz to tide us over until construction is complete.


— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at

Nasher to Museum Tower: Watch Your Glass, It’s Frying Us

Posted by    |    March 31st, 2012 at 5:15 am

Great article in Thursday’s Dallas Morning News by Michael Granberry about an ensuing battle between Museum Tower and the Nasher Sculpture Center that we can only hope won’t lead to the l-word: lawsuit. Of course, the story is behind the paywall, and I highly recommend you read it. If not, here’s a synopsis:

Sometimes it’s tough to get along with your neighbors, especially if they encroach on your property. With homes, it can be noise or the neighbor’s dog who defecates in your yard without clean up, or something else obnoxious that disrupts your quality and peace of life.

Well, the Nasher Sculpture Center says it’s the newly installed glass at Museum Tower that’s frying up their gardens and art. The glass is sleek and curved and reflects the sun just so efficiently — too efficiently — that the Nasher folks claim the building’s oval shape actually “directs the glare from its exterior into the Nasher galleries.”

 Further, they contend that the effects of the tower’s glass appear to violate a city code and contradict a 1998 covenant covering the tower site that was drafted before the death of museum founder Raymond Nasher in 2007. (The covenant expired in 2008.) “It all comes down to a very basic principle,” said Jeremy Strick, director of the Nasher Sculpture Center. “You don’t do harm to your neighbors. And if you find yourself doing harm, you fix it. You stop and you fix it. In this case, Museum Tower is causing harm to the Nasher and to the Arts District as a whole.”

Oh boy, we have five months to go before August and already the fun has begun. Museum Tower has firmly said they will be good neighbors. Crisis PR expert Merrie Spaeth who apparently represents the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, is on the job and wasted no time reassuring:

“We are completely committed to studying this issue and offering expert-based resolutions. This is a complex issue and we are confident that we are close to identifying a mutually beneficial solution. We have come to the table to partner with the Nasher and will continue to do so.”

So what’s the deal? It’s not as if the Nasher and half the country has NOT known about Museum Tower going up for what, four years now, and that is made entirely of glass? This is not a surprise structure that just showed up. The issue, according to Granberry’s fine reporting, first cropped up in September when the glass was installed. ”Weird reflections “started to occur. At first, just a few, but then they became more pronounced.”  Nasher director Jeremy Strick says  “measurements taken in the garden in January found pools of light caused by Museum Tower to be 10 degrees hotter than surrounding areas. Measurements taken in March, he said, recorded the same pools as 25 degrees hotter.” August might fry the thermometer.

Such sharp increases “can damage or kill the plants,” Strick said. “We are looking at the potential effect of our garden being destroyed.” Dr. Robert E. Moon, the Nasher’s horticulturist, agreed in a report dated March 14.

On the other hand, I am seeing a way to perhaps create some cheap energy here… hmm.

Granberry reports that when Italian architect Renzo Piano designed the Nasher,  he was operating under a 1998 covenant, which limited the height of the tower and reduced the glare. Originally, MT was supposed to be 21 stories tall but was stretched to 42 stories, the highest high rise in Dallas. The news touched MT’s original architect, Renzo Piano, who said he was “deeply disturbed by the damage being caused” to the Nasher.

“No building in an urban environment exists in a vacuum,” says Piano, adding the Museum Tower has “given us an example of how things can go wrong when the context of the city is ignored.”

Nasher officials complained to the city of Dallas,  and Mary Suhm is concerned. Very concerned about this pickle:

“They’ve spoken to us. They told us about the pickle they’re in. It’s something I’m concerned about. I’ve been assured by both sides they’re going to work it out. It’s not something we have jurisdiction over.”

Jeremy Strick says it all started in 2008, months after Nasher’s death. MT’s four developers brought in a new architect,  Scott Johnson. Strick says the new team unilaterally increased the “degree of allowable reflectivity to 35%”, which was not discussed with MT’s neighbor, and which Strict only learned about through a public filing.

The good news is they are communicating: four meetings since September, but Strick says thus far “solutions they recommend so far are changes to our building.”

That’s probably because MT  commissioned their own engineering study which says the solution lies with Nasher. Nasher’s study, meantime,  suggested a mesh fabric or louvers or something that would “span all 42 stories of Museum Tower and nullify the glare.”


The 15-page report by the owners of Museum Tower concedes the reflectivity of the glass, but says there’s really nothing you can do about it.  Correction: THEY can do about it.

 “No matter what the normal reflectivity is,” their report reads, “glass becomes very reflective at high angles of incidence. Changing the glazing will not help for these circumstances.”













— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at

More Good Real Estate News: Second Home Sales Were Up In 2011, Including Vacation Home Sales!

Posted by    |    March 31st, 2012 at 5:15 am

Get the details over on

— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at

Stone Street Gardens developer wants to bring ‘entertainment venue’ to Downtown Dallas

Posted by    |    March 31st, 2012 at 5:15 am

The just-posted agenda for Monday’s meeting of the Landmark Commission contains several items of interest, all of which we’ll get to in advance of the get-together. But let’s begin at Stone Street Gardens downtown, which Thomas Taylor rescued a little more than a decade ago by uncovering and restoring the circa-1910 F.W. Woolworth Building (seen below) at 1520 Elm Street, now home to the downtown Campisi’s, and filling the pathway between Main and Elm with restaurants’ patios and people.

According to docs filed with the Landmark Commission, which you’ll also find below, Taylor now wants to make a significant change to the old Woolworth’s. As you can see above, he wants to put a balcony on the second floor in order to accommodate “an entertainment club” that wants to lease out the space above Campisi’s. The balcony would also serve as a canopy for Campisi’s, complete with ceiling fans needed to cool down folks trying to dine beneath the summer sun.

Read more at Stone Street Gardens developer wants to bring ‘entertainment venue’ downtown. But he needs a balcony … and Landmark Commission’s OK. | City Hall Blog |

The Rich Worry: Will the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare Affect the Luxury Real Estate Market? Like Maybe Cool Luxury Sales?

Posted by    |    March 30th, 2012 at 5:15 am

AP photo

I was in California over the weekend, and sat through several presentations from top agents in Silicon Valley as a favor to a friend considering putting his home on the market. It was interesting to see how they presented comps and market homes out there. Only one of the agents still uses print ads to market homes, another never places ads in the larger circ papers — “waste of money”,  said he, preferring smaller hyper-local pubs, if any. For this crowd, it’s all about the web and emails/texts. 89% of buyers search for homes online, they said. But get this: among buyers aged 25 to 44, a whopping 95% use the internet to search for a home. Internet buyer’s incomes are 25% higher than traditional buyer’s incomes. More buyers find their homes on the internet than through signs, home builders, or print ads combined. (more…)

Breaking Dallas Real Estate News: Where is Prudential Turtle Creek and Why Is The Office Empty?

Posted by    |    March 30th, 2012 at 5:15 am

I received word today that Prudential’s Turtle Creek office over at 2 Turtle Creek Village, suite 250, (off Blackburn) has shuttered. In fact, one agent had to run down to another real estate office on Oak Lawn Avenue to use the computer to print off a listing agreement and other vital real estate documents. So I ran down to check and sure enough, the office suite at 250 is as bare as a newborn baby’s butt – no sign of life. The security guard told me the tenants snuck out of the place last week, middle of the night,  leaving it empty. As far as where they are now, he said, I have no idea.

Kind of bizarre behavior, no? What do you do when you wake up and find your broker no longer has an office?

Update: Sources tell me that Prudential on Greenville Ave has taken in the agents so they can work.

— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at

Thursday Three Hundred: Empty Nesters Dream Home on Cole by Diane Cheatham

Posted by    |    March 30th, 2012 at 5:15 am

Update 3/29: Dang, this one is sold leased! This hot market is making my job even harder!

Do not tell me we do not have gorgeous, sleek, affordable contemporary housing within steps of everything you need — well, the Katy Trail, Knox shopping, and some of the city’s best restaurants. You tell me a lie I will hit you over the head with 4525 Cole Avenue, No. 11: a three story empty nesters’ dream den. (more…)

Got $250K? Only Three More Days to Register for the Champ d’Or Auction Coming Up This Saturday — but Maintenance Could Eat You Alive!

Posted by    |    March 29th, 2012 at 5:15 am

This is Briggs Freeman agent Joan Eleazer and her beautiful real estate selling family in the main parlor up in Hickory Creek. Layne Pitzer is Joan’s daughter pictured here with her precious children, and Joan’s husband (Layne’s dad) Jeff Eleazer. They were all up at Champ d’Or weekend before last for the special invitation pre-view party before Saturday’s big auction. I loved it when Layne introduced her perfectly-mannered angels to me, adding they are doing just what she did as a child: hanging with mom while she works selling real estate. That was, she said, how she learned the business: toting along with her mother to open houses and showings. But I’ll bet Layne never played tag in a 48,000 square foot mansion while mom worked! Only thing I want to hug more than some listings is these precious babies. Joan et al are, of course, the current agents on the Champ listing and the one who has had the listing the most.

Awaiting word on who has signed up to bid on Champ. As you know, it takes a $250,000 refundable deposit to even get into the auction. No looky-loos but only those with the means to follow up with a check for at least $10.3 million need apply or wire transfer $250,000 over to Concierge. (more…)

Tuesday Two Hundred: Tiny but Mighty, This Has Got To Be The Cutest Dang House in Hollywood Heights!

Posted by    |    March 29th, 2012 at 5:15 am

Tiny but mighty: I love the house, the charm, the floorplan, the sidewalk, even the name of the street: 7006 Vivian Avenue. Who wouldn’t want to live on a street named Vivian? This charming cottage in the Santa Monica Conservation District is just overflowing with warmth and cuteness, and so clean and neat on the inside you wonder if anyone really lives there. You get three bedrooms, two living areas, and only one bathroom but that is pretty typical (unfortunately) for the area. A second powder room COULD be added, but you might lose part of a bedroom or closet and the home totals at only 1320 square feet. Hey, I’ll trade utility bills with the owner anytime! This angel is worth a serious look/see because the interiors are knocked out and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that clean galley kitchen — those are the most efficient kitchens, you know. Built in 1939 with significant updates, this home has gleaming hardwood floors, pier& beam, the bath has been updated with bead board and great tiles, ample closets, attic storage and a study nook. The kitchen is just fabulous with natural light & sliding French doors to the lush quarter-acre back yard and raised deck which is where the party begins. Oh yes: HVAC, dishwasher, hot water heater tank, fence & deck on the newer side of old, which is better than being totally trashed. No garage, which makes me sad. I am loving the price at $258,000. Your taxes are only $6400 a year! This is one of those times when buying may really be cheaper (and smarter) than renting… (more…)

Getting Your Financing Ducks In A Row

Posted by    |    March 28th, 2012 at 5:15 am

Here’s an overview of what buyers should be discussing with their lenders at the onset of the prequalification process. Getting these items in order will streamline the process and limit the surprises.

At a minimum, a borrower needs to know and convey to their loan officer the following in order to obtain accurate pricing:

  • Credit score
  • Property type
  • Loan amount/down payment percentage
  • Intent to waive or not waive escrows
  • Desire for paying points or no points (as rate and closing costs go hand in hand)
  • Potential close date

At a minimum, a borrower needs to know and convey to their loan officer the following in order to obtain a reasonably solid pre-qualification:   (This list includes but is not limited to the following)

  • Citizenship (US Citizen, PRA (permanent resident alien), work visa, or foreign national
  • Social Security number for credit pull
  • 2 years work history
  • A solid understanding of their pay structure (now and for the last 2 years)
  • A solid understanding of where their money sits (retirement/non-retirement, liquid/non-liquid) as well as deposit activity in each account for the last 60 days
  • If other properties owned, a thorough breakdown of the costs associated with owning each property (mortgage payment, insurance, tax, and HOA)
  • Many nuances to a borrowers profile may trigger the need for a loan officer to analyze tax returns (personal and possibly business returns) and other critical credit documents
    1. Self employment
    2. Commissioned employees
    3. Side businesses
    4. “Other” income sources (dividend/interest, oil/gas royalties, etc.) (more…)