02/06/16 4:29pm

Shady Oaks Drive Westover Hills


Betimes a bitter sweet experience, to walk a house before it goes on the market, before it has been carefully staged, while vibrations of the past owners are still strong and a devotedly maintained decor conjures up an earlier era and affords an  unusual opportunity to sift through experiments in decoration past-some timeless, some not. Such wistful musings might, perhaps, describe a tour of  1512 Shady Oaks Lane in Westover Hills. (more…)

02/05/16 6:32pm

Much is said about creating curb appeal when you put your home up for sale. But is it really that important in our sizzling real estate market? And what projects will get the biggest bang for the buck and attract the right buyer?

Why not ask Realtors? They’re on the front lines with buyers, hearing comments and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

“Curb appeal is one of the most important factors when it comes to the marketing of your home,” said Brandon Travelstead, a Realtor with Dallas City Center Realtors. “It’s all about what the potential buyer sees when they pull up out front, get out of the car, and walk to the front door—you really have 30 to 45 seconds to capture that buyer’s attention before they form their first impression.”

Dennis Hammett, Ebby Halliday’s 2015 “Rookie of the Year,” considers curb appeal one of his areas of expertise and offers specific recommendations for clients.

“I work with a wide range of buyers, sellers, and investors in the readiness and prep to get the most of the home’s appearance,” Hammett said. “Whether listing a $200,000 or a $2-million property, you only have one chance to make that first impression—I’m always looking for that ‘wow’ factor that will attract potential buyers.”

We asked top Dallas Realtors to weigh in on curb appeal improvements sellers can make to their properties. We’ve divided their answers into budget-friendly, mid-range, and high-end so you can easily see where to best spend your money. Let’s hear what they have to say!



02/05/16 2:34pm

Crazy People Are Coming

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good HOA schadenfreude moment. Sensing your need for a fix (and a reader with a crazy HOA board meeting me for drinks), well, here we are.

All board meetings start with the same tedium of roll calls, calling for votes on topics residents don’t understand (because residents are not privy to the info) and other recurring agenda items before digressing into inanity. This meeting, first after elections, had a “new” board. Each member’s committee roles were announced and just one, the hard-working but powerless Social Committee was looking for committee volunteers. The rest were all presumably filled with cronies and besties connected to the board. (Danger Will Robinson, Danger!)


02/05/16 2:14pm
Luxury Home Staging

This luxury home at 17615 Cedar Creek Canyon Drive was completely staged for the seller.  Photos: Lance Selgo/Unique Exposure Photography.

Home staging has been receiving some nice press lately. The New York Times ran two articles in January about the art and necessity of staging to bring top dollar for your property. Do you need to spend $45,000 and replace all of your furniture to get that longed-for list price?

No, not in general but there are instances when it happens. While staging is the norm on the West Coast, and certainly in the luxury market on the East Coast, the rest of the country falls somewhere in between, thinking either staging is a must or that it’s not imperative.  The issue lies largely in the perception of the term. What is staging?

It’s not an easy answer.


02/05/16 1:21pm



You can find custom gold foil prints by My Blue Avenue at IBB Design Fine Furnishings next week. (Photo: My Blue Avenue)

There’s no better way to spread the love than buying wonderfully crafted, hand-picked treasures from local artists for your sweetheart. If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, or just celebrating yourself, head to IBB Design Fine Furnishings on Feb. 11 to peruse some of the stylish pieces produced by local artisans.


02/05/16 5:19am

Opendoor start-up team

Sell your home with a click? A lot of things have changed about buying a home in the last ten years, from the way we shop for real estate (on line, or via mobile device) to the way we sign closing documents. And though the disruptors Redfin Inc., Zillow Inc. and Trulia Inc. have made searching for homes easier by taking the process online, the process of actually SELLING a home still has not really changed. Still pretty slow and cumbersome.

Experts say this is the next real estate horizon.

A San Francisco-based startup that just landed in Dallas may just be the disruptor to shake it all up. Opendoor.com has technology that replaces the traditional “cash for homes”  market — you know, “We Buy Ugly Houses”, or those signs on the street corner saying, “We buy houses.”

There is, of course, a huge market for investors who want to buy troubled (read: cheap) homes quickly. Opendoor may be their Nirvana. Or it may be great for the person who just doesn’t want to mess with the time it takes to sell.

Opendoor redefines how real estate is transacted, transforming a more-than-two month process into an instant and frictionless experience. Instead of dealing with the hassle of listing and showings, upfront costs and repairs, negotiating with multiple parties, and the risk of the home not closing, homeowners can visit Opendoor.com, receive a guaranteed Opendoor offer and complete their sale in a few clicks.

The startup is expanding from its test market cities to buy homes nationwide. Thursday, OpenDoor launched in Dallas, one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. (more…)

02/05/16 2:18am

NorthPark center Dillards

Northpark Center is nowhere near this fate, because it is one of the best managed, best retail anchored, and most innovative shopping centers in the world, not to mention one of the most beautiful and well-maintained.

But it had better do something to check the crime. Heather LeClair’s petition asking Northpark Mall to beef up security after at least three documented crimes since December 16 has more than 1100 signatures — click here if you have not signed.  Soccer moms vote their concerns with their Black Cards.

I was reading an old article from 2008 about one dead shopping center, Southwyck Shopping Center, in South Toledo, Ohio that closed down completely after 36 years as a leading regional shopping venue. It was one of many that shuttered in Ohio and the midwest for a number of reasons including the economy. But experts cited crime as ONE of the main reasons:

Other often-cited reasons for Southwyck s decline include the increased competition from strips malls and the growing Franklin Park complex, the South Toledo mall’s lack of major renovations or upgrades, and a lingering perception of crime or danger at the mall.

They have some of the same landscaping and benches that were there when it opened, and you just can t do that in any type of retail setting, said Rob Ludeman, an agent with Danberry Co. Realtors and a former Toledo city councilman whose district included Southwyck.

The mall and its parking lot were the scenes of several incidents of vandalism, assaults, drug deals, and fights in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The crime perception is hard to overcome. The 70’s and 80’s were heydays for large shopping malls, and many managed to survive 20 to 30 years before becoming dangerous. Crime is, unfortunately, all around us and perhaps that is the shelf life for criminals to move from one location to another: from a “bad part of town” that gets cleaned up to the suburban-esque mall. (Some police have told me you never really get rid of criminals, you just make them move elsewhere, become another person’s problem.) Shopping centers are like feed lots for criminals: shoppers have money, expensive gadgets, and autos. They are distracted and prime targets.


Also, if you have not seen this BuzzFeed post on Nine of America’s Abandoned Malls, here it is (who knew there was a Dead malls Enthusiasts Facebook group?):

Dead malls are popping up all over the states, particularly in the Midwest, where economic decline has sped up the “going out of business” process. This map, put together by a Dead Malls Enthusiasts Facebook group, shows that well.

As Americans are faced with multiple shopping options and more stores are leaving malls, it should be interesting to see if malls and mall culture will survive.

What you are about to see is what happens when malls are abandoned. It’s apocalyptic and really, really creepy.

Dallas open houses

The house at 8550 Eustis Ave. in Forest Hills Estates is one of the four featured this week in our open house roundup.

If you’re looking for romance before Valentine’s Day, skip the drama and love these listings! We’ve found four open houses you should definitely make a date to visit this weekend. They range in price from $240K to $935K, in neighborhoods from Forest Hills to Preston Royal. Enjoy!