Bella Vita Custom Homes set up offices all over Austin, but failed to deliver on their promises to clients according to an investigation by KXAN.

Bella Vita Custom Homes set up offices all over Austin, but failed to deliver on their promises to clients according to an investigation by KXAN. (Photo: KXAN)

According to a brand new investigative report from KXAN in Austin, Dallas-based Bella Vita Custom Homes has declared bankruptcy. The builder, after failing to pay subcontractors and losing vast sums of client money, has permanently closed and remains a target in lawsuits.

Bella Vita was founded in Dallas in 2010, with its trademark white crest on a navy blue background popping up on lots all over Dallas and the Park Cities. But just after Tracey and Joel Lackovich selected Bella Vita to build their custom home in the gated community of Spanish Oaks just outside of Austin in Bee Cave, construction slowed and problems began to crop up. That was in 2015, and since then, the Lackovich family has dealt with one nightmare after another.

But what can be done to protect a homeowner from a less-than-honest builder? Not much, the story alleges.

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crespi-hicks-estate-most-expensive-house-4

In fifteen more days Andy Beal will have owned the Hicks Crespi Estate, aka Walnut Place, for a whole year. My how time flies. This was the biggest real estate transaction in Dallas last year, and in the state until the sale of the Waggoner Ranch in Vernon, Texas. Of course, Waggoner is practically its own community, Walnut Place is  huge, historic Dallas estate that sits in the middle of the moneyed Preston Hollow honeypot. A former U.S. President’s property is adjacent. Rumor is that Beal, who is very close to President-elect Donald Trump, wants to sell or subdivide the Hicks Crespi Estate because he also snapped up the $34 million estate of the late Trammell Crow in Highland Park.

Recall this home was originally priced for sale, not in MLS, for $130,000,000. When Allie Beth Allman got the listing from Doug Newby, she popped it into MSL and lowered the asking price to $100,000,000. The sales price was undisclosed, but rumored to be in the $61,000,000 range.

Beal takes the cake for swooping up the most expensive Dallas real estate in 2016. If President Trump ever comes to Dallas, likely he will be staying with Beal at the Crespi/Walnut Place. Had Hillary Clinton won, she would likely have stayed with Lisa (Baron) Blue at the Baron estate, on the market for $28,500,000.4500-Preston-Rd-ext (more…)

Adeo VR

Click HERE to be taken to YouTube to watch a 360 Adeo VR video

Virtual reality is a technology that’s gaining traction in the real estate marketplace.

The idea is visionary: allow homebuyers to experience a property in an immersive, realistic way with their mobile devices or virtual reality headsets. This could have big implications for the luxury market, in particular, where Realtors have to work hard to differentiate their properties and make them memorable to potential buyers (and there tends to be more marketing budget for tools like virtual reality).

A new Carrollton-based company called Adeo VR is launching in July with some truly cool technology with tons of applications for the luxury real estate market, but also useful as a marketing tool for any size property. Company co-founder Shawn Willis promises it will be “affordable for most agents, even though the target market for this product will likely be the luxury real estate market, because of the size of the homes.”

“This let’s people experience a space in a new way and it solves some real estate problems because it let’s buyers experience a home before they drive all over DFW,” Willis said. “The neat thing about the video is it gives people a way to view it on their smartphone or tablet without having to use a virtual reality headset.”

Buyers can experience virtual reality with these 360-degree videos, which can be viewed on Facebook or YouTube, by opening the video and moving their devices left, right, up, and down. Videos can also be viewed on a computer with Chrome or Firefox browsers (if you’re using any of these platforms, be sure to check out the video above!). They are also compatible with Google Cardboard and Samsung virtual reality gear.

“I think the Adeo VR technology is an amazing way to view the space of any home,” said David Maez, Broker and Co-Owner at VIVO Realty and consultant for Adeo VR. “You can use your mobile phone to view the home in virtual reality and it’s like you’re inside the home—this is a game changer and will be the standard for selling luxury property.”

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A 3D showcase of a property allows potential buyers to "walk through" a home, even from the other side of the world. Photo: Worth3D

A 3D showcase of a property allows potential buyers to “walk through” a home and explore it in detail, even from the other side of the world. Photo: Worth3D

In the competitive business of luxury real estate, attracting attention to a listing and making it memorable are critical for Realtors hoping catch the eye of potential buyers and land big sales. This is particularly true of out-of-town or international buyers viewing multiple properties online, narrowing their selections, and making an offer before ever setting foot in town.

Worth3D is a new business in Fort Worth aiming to give Realtors an edge by creating an immersive, interactive, 3D showcase to enhance online listings. This allows buyers to “walk through” a house and and understand the context of the layout and amenities more completely than traditional real estate photography, says Worth3D co-owner Tim Sehnem, who founded the company with Mark Smith last year. Their product is designed to complement MLS photography, give buyers an additional resource when scouting properties online, and offer Realtors a “latest-and-greatest” tool to differentiate themselves from competition.

“This software works with Redfin, Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia, so Realtors can upload it with their listing and when buyers go to ‘virtual tour,’ it will launch the 3D viewer,” Sehnem said. “It allows buyers to refine their search, and they find it useful after seeing a property to help them remember details.”

He said a 3D showcase is particularly useful in marketing homes over 4,000 square feet, where it’s easy to forget what you saw where just because of the scale of the house. An online virtual tour allows buyers to revisit properties as many times as they want, and see specific details that might not be pictured in the MLS photos.

 

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Ltd Edition 2505 TC

Oh this one just gives me shivers — cannot wait to see the completed project, and it won’t be long now. Groundbreaking is scheduled shortly after the New Year, and I understand construction fences are going up even as I type. Everything the folks at Great Gulf do is a total Class Act, from the hot starchitect who is nurturing the project, Siamak Hariri, to hand-delivering the press release to my office with a box of delicious dark chocolates.

(I wonder if all the real estate reporters in town got the same chocolates because if so, I may just try to snag Steve Brown’s!)

The news is out that Ltd. Edition 2505 Turtle Creek will begin official sales on Saturday. Contracts have been printed, and the HOA docs are hot off the presses. I am glad to hear this because I spoke with Siamak Hariri in September for an update. I don’t think a starchitect has ever been more psyched about a project. Christopher Wein, the president of Great Gulf, the Toronto-based developer, says “discerning Dallas buyers looking for an alternative to the traditional low-rise estate home will find it here.”

Right there on Turtle Creek, where the views really are unparalleled.  I was at a dinner party a week ago on Turtle Creek and we just supped on the magnificent view of downtown for several minutes.

“The site is really the strongest amenity,” says Katye Sloan, who, along with Jeffrey Lester, are the Briggs-Freeman Sotheby’s team marketing Ltd Edition 2505. (more…)

Floor plan three in the Long Lake development. Photo: Scott Hogg

A rendering of residential floorplan three in the Long Lake development. All renderings courtesy of Scott Hogg

All eyes are on the fiery hot North Texas real estate market, even from 7,000 miles away: A luxury new housing and commercial development in Corinth is underway, backed by an entrepreneur based in Beijing, China.

The Long Lake development is located about 34 miles from downtown Dallas, in Denton County. This 107-acre enclave will have 91 acres dedicated to 99 single-family homes, ranging from $1.1 million to $3 million and up. In its center is a 15-acre lake, and commercial development is planned for later phases.

The development is backed by Lelege USA, a corporation focused on real estate development and management in DFW. It is owned and chaired by entrepreneur Long Zhang, who also owns Lelege Group (Beijing Capital Group Investment, Ltd.), a multibillion-dollar corporation headquartered in Beijing. Lelege Group is a diversified investment firm with worldwide branches engaging in real estate, mining, wealth management, high-tech IC foundry, pharmaceuticals, and cultural art collections. It has total assets of over $3 billion under management and nearly $2 billion in services and management.

“There is a lot of Chinese investment money moving in the U.S. and [Zhang] has looked in the hot real estate markets,” said Scott Hogg, Vice President of Investor Advisory Services, Virginia Cook, Realtors. “He found this property in Corinth up on the lake and had a vision of developing something where they could invest in million-dollar residences in the U.S.”

A rendering of floorplan eight in the Long Lake development.

A rendering of residential floorplan eight in the Long Lake development

Phase one is underway, with 11 lots for sale. The two builders currently working on the development are Ron Davis Custom Homes and Bella Vida Custom Homes. The project is slated for completion in early 2018.

“They will break ground on the property as soon as we get the first lot sold,” said Hogg. “We are marketing these homes and we have clients looking at Ron Davis and Bella Vita model homes that can be built in Corinth. Lelege has their own in-house builder, as well, with a group of architects and house renditions, and all of those come from Tsinghua University.”

Houses in the gated community will be offered in three ranges. At the top, with lot prices of $1.02 million and home prices of $3 million and up, the houses will be 9,200 square feet and larger on 3.93-acre lots. In the mid-range, lot prices will be $385,000 with houses priced $1.5 million and up, with 6,500 square feet of interior space on a 0.71-acre lot. The low-end of the range offers $230,000 lots and $1.1 million homes with 5,500 or more square feet sitting on half an acre.

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man caves

The 19,500-square-foot house at 4105 Hartlee Field Rd. in Denton has multiple man caves. All photos: Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty.

Man caves provide a place for dudes to recharge their batteries after a long day on their jobs, and a space where they can hang out with buddies, family, or alone. Many people say that men have a basic, primal, instinctual need to have a space to call their own, and the man cave fulfills that. They come in all shapes and sizes—sometimes, it’s a shed in the backyard. Other times, it’s a super posh spot in the house.

The folks over at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty have six houses on the market now that take man caves to their highest level. These ultra luxury digs showcase man caves in all their glory, from a full basketball court with airstrip outside, to a ten-car garage created to be the ultimate relaxation space, too.

Read on to get inspiration for your man cave.

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pedipalace

 

It’s true, you need these items in your home: a pedicure chair with warm, oscillating water and massage chair, and a place to sit while your hair gets done. I’m telling you, this is the new must-have in luxury Dallas real estate. Come back for details on Monday! (more…)