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Like they say, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

Realtors and brokers won’t come out unscathed from the federal government shutdown, as a report from the National Association of Realtors shows. If you’ve got a closing coming up, best be prepared to have some hiccups.

While the NAR report says that FHA will “continue to endorse new loans in the Single Family Mortgage Loan Program, multi-family loans won’t be processed. VA loans will be processed, too, and flood insurance from FEMA will get a government stamp, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still keeping the gears greased.

On the flip side, if you have to process IRS forms or verify Social Security numbers through the SSA, you’re out of luck because these offices are closed.

Read the whole document below.

NAR Government Shutdown Brief

Severe WeatherThanks, Joanna, for posting about the importance of storm shelters. There are a lot of bomb shelters around town — one right next door to me — constructed during the atomic war threats we lived with during the 1960′s when I was a kid. They make great tornado shelters. We had regular bomb drills to cover our heads and get under our desks when I was a kid. Or we’d pile into the inner hallways, arms and head folded against the kid in front of us.

That is all I thought about yesterday when I heard about the children at Plaza Towers Elementary School.Plaza Towers Elementary

We have a lot of personal ties to Oklahoma. My daughter’s in-laws live in Edmund and OKC. She went to law school for a bit there, lived in Bricktown in downtown OKC. We made sure she saw the tornado shelter that was right across the street from her complex.

In Oklahoma, they take tornados very, very seriously.  It’s ”Tornado Alley” there, too — Moore OK has been hit by five severe tornados now. I’m sure you have seen this touching video of the hearty woman who did what she has done for years whenever the tornado sirens sounded: sat on a stool in a “safe place” in her home.

Well, in yesterday’s EF5, no place was safe. Heartening, of course, that she found her little dog — I can totally relate. (Biscuits and water are in my tornado room.) But I am haunted by the thought of those parents who took their children to school in the morning only to have the school walls ripped away, blown apart, by Mother Nature.

Moore OK Medical Ctr

Moore OK Medical Ctr

Bernadette Schaeffler, Dallas Design District showroom owner extraordinaire, is furious — furious that we don’t have better storm shelters for children in schools.

“If we can build them at all, why can we not have them near schools?” she asked me.

Paige Winburn, who works for Bernadette, is leaving for Moore, Oklahoma this weekend to support her home state. Paige attended college near Moore and wants to reach out to help. She is collecting clothing and other items, but she was told by the Red Cross this morning that monetary donations are most helpful. That way money goes directly to victims to assist them to bu

y the basics on their own.

Bernadette started thinking about the devastation in Moore — THOUSANDS are homeless — and decided to take immediate action:

I immediately decided to support her by opening the showroom this Friday, May 24th from 4-7 p.m, ” said Bernadette. “This will be a fundraising event where you either can donate on your own or for any purchase made I contribute 10% of the sales price to the efforts to help the tornado victims in Oklahoma.”Oklahoma red

Katherine Campbell at Superior Abstract & Title is collecting clothes:

“Please bag them in small bags and label them…Example: Ladies size 8 or girls size 4 or boys size 6. **Additional information to follow on supplies needed. Drop off during week, 9am to 5pm @ Superior Abstract & Title – 8240 Preston Road, Suite 250, Plano, TX 214-705-1310.”

This is just the beginning. The good thing about us is we love to help our fellow human beings when tragedy strikes, and we do! My friend Barbara Workman, an Oklahoma native, has her Facebook page loaded with ways to help.

Also, I wonder if we should hold off on buying bottled water in Dallas stores — they may need it in Moore.

Here are the many other wonderful organizations seeking to help our friends and family in Oklahoma:

American Red Cross
The Red Cross has shelters in various communities. You can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund here, and the organization also suggests giving blood at your local hospital or blood bank. Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, gave a one million Red Cross pledge via his family foundation.

Missing Relatives: check the Red Cross Safe & Well’s site.

$10 donation can be sent to the Disaster Relief fund via text message, you can do so by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999.

Phone: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575; for TDD, 1-800-220-4095.

OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund
The state of Oklahoma, in coordinating with the United Way of Central Oklahoma,  established the OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund for the needs of victims of the May 20 tornado in Moore and the May 19 tornado near Shawnee.

Donations for can be made online at UnitedWayOKC.org.

Phone: 1-405-236-8441.

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief

Think of the basics these people need. OBDR says donations will “go straight to help those in need providing tree removal services, laundry services and meals to victims of disasters.”

It is requesting monetary donations, not clothing. For more information, and to donate, visit Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief’s website.

Salvation Army

God bless the Salvation Army, always organizing disaster response units to serve hard-hit areas. This time, it’s central Oklahoma, including Moore, where it is sending mobile kitchens that can serve meals to 2,500 people a day, and to South Oklahoma City.

I just love the SA! Supporters can donate online via the organization’s website, SalvationArmyUSA.org. You can also text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation via cellphone. If you want to send a check, the Salvation Army asks that you put the words “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK., 73157.

Phone:  1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

Feed the Children

Feed the Children has set up five locations in Oklahoma City to accept donations to help victims of the Moore tornado. Talk about basics: the organization is accepting items including diapers, canned goods, non-perishable food, snack items, water and sports drinks.  Donate online, or make a $10 donation by texting the word DISASTER to 80888.

Phone:  1-800-627-4556

United Way of Central Oklahoma
A disaster relief fund is being activated as of May 21 so that individuals can specifically donated to tornado relief-and-recovery efforts, the organization says on its site.

“Financial contributions are the best way to help unless otherwise requested.” Donations can be made online at

United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund is open.  Donations may be made online here. Checks, with a notation of “May Tornado Relief” can also be sent to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK , 73101.

Feeding America
Through its network of more than 200 food banks, Feeding America, whose mission is to “feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks,” says it will deliver truckloads of food, water and supplies to communities in need, in Oklahoma, and will also “set up additional emergency food and supply distribution sites as they are needed.” You can donate onlinehere.

Phone: 1-800-910-5524.

Operation USA 
The international relief group, based in Los Angeles, says it is “readying essential material aid — emergency, shelter and cleaning supplies” to help Oklahoma’s community health organizations and schools recover.

You can donate online here. You can also give a $10 donation by texting the word AID to 50555. Checks should be sent to: Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., PH, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone: 1-800-678-7255.

Convoy of Hope
The Missouri-based nonprofit organization has done work in other disasters, including the Haiti earthquake, with a mission of getting food and water to those after disaster strikes. Now it’s doing the same for Moore, Okla. You can donate online here. Convoy of Hope is also going the crowd-sourced route, using HopeMob, a site similar to Kickstarter but for raising money to help disaster victims and others in need, which charges no fees to the organizations that use it.

Phone: 1-800-988-0664

Direct Relief 
The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based, non-profit organization provides medical assistance and personal hygiene items to those hurt in disasters, as well as in other circumstances.

“So far we have heard from health center partners responding in Oklahoma and are preparing an emergency shipment to help support the efforts there.  Direct Relief has been receiving requests for emergency supplies, personal care and protection items — including hygiene supplies, infection control products, gloves, soap, shampoo, deodorant, sanitary napkins, diapers, wipes and formula,” said Kerri Murray, Direct Relief vice president, in an email.

To donate, visit DirectRelief.org.

Phone: 1-800-676-1638

AmeriCares
The Emergency Response team for AmeriCares is in Oklahoma, “coordinating deliveries of emergency aid and assessing the needs of survivors and health care organizations in the disaster area.”

Since 1982, the Connecticut-based nonprofit has delivered medicine, medical supplies and aid to those in need around the world and across the United States.

You can donate online here. You can also give a $10 donation by texting the word LIVE to 25383. Checks or money orders can be mailed to: AmeriCares, 88 Hamilton Ave., Stamford, CT 06902.

Phone:  1-800-486-HELP (1-800-486-4357)

Operation Blessing International
Humanitarian organization Operation Blessing International, which last week coordinated more than 500 volunteers here in Granbury, Texas, is working with The Home Depot and dispatching a construction unit, mobile command center, trucks with tools and supplies and a team of construction foremen to Moore.

Late Monday, Operation Blessing International also “loaded and deployed two tractor-trailer truckloads of food and emergency relief supplies from its warehouse in Dallas, Texas, in partnership with the humanitarian organization, Mercury One,” said a Operation Blessing spokeswoman.

The Virginia Beach-based group’s online link for donations is here.

Phone:  1-800-730-2537

Samaritan’s Purse
The international Christian relief organization focuses on cleaning and repairing damaged homes and sent two disaster relief units from North Wilkesboro, N.C. to Oklahoma Tuesday. “The tractor-trailers are stocked with heavy-duty plastic, chainsaws, generators, and other tools and equipment. The units also will serve as command centers for the response,” Samaritan’s Purse says on its website. Of course, how many homes are left standing to clean and or repair? You can donate online here. You can also give a $10 donation by texting the word SP to 80888.

Phone:  1-800-528-1980

Jewish Federations of North America
The Jewish Federations of North America is working with the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma, which is coordinating efforts with a local food bank, Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross. The Jewish Federations of North America has established an Oklahoma City Tornado Relief fund. Donors can contribute online here.

Checks can also be sent to the JFNA national mailbox at: The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, P.O. Box 148, New York, NY, 10268. Please indicate “JFNA Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund” on all checks or in the designation box online.

DonorsChoose.org
DonorsChoose.org is creating a special online fund to collect donations for the teachers and schools of Moore, Okla., to help respond and rebuild. Donors Choose will work with the teachers of Moore to assess what they need for their classrooms and allow them to identify the real-time solutions and supplies their community and their students need: everything from clothing for their students to first-aid kits.

To donate, visit www.donorschoose.org

How to know if you are helping or being scammed?

The Federal Trade Commission has guidelines about charity donations, including these tips:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust. Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events, like the tornadoes.
  • Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer — or if you don’t like the answer you get — consider donating to a different organization.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.
  • Never send cash: you can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
  • Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting theNational Association of State Charity Officials.

Woman Homebuyer

Sure, it’s easier to buy a home when you have a spouse. Dual income households tend to be a no-brainer to some mortgage lenders. But that hasn’t kept all the single ladies from becoming independent women with homes of their own and, of course, bills, bills, bills.

In fact, this segment of real estate consumers has been a survivor of sorts, reporting record growth as the economy digs its way out of a recession. According to a recent study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, the National Association of Realtors, and the U.S. Census Bureau, single women outpaced single men by a factor of two as new homeowners in 2011. And in that year, 56 percent of single women owned their own home, whereas just 47 percent of single men did.

Here’s a little excerpt from a great story about the topic from the Southern Way of Life blog:

For those skeptical about why a single woman would want to buy a 3 bedroom/2 bath home with a 2-car garage in a master-planned community, Cullinane has a quick rebuttal: “Many single women aren’t buying for themselves.  In fact, a recent AARP survey found that 40 percent of single female home buyers would consider having a non-romantic roommate – maybe a sister, maybe a long-time friend who’s also single.”  A larger home means two sisters or friends can lead separate lives, but not at twice the cost.

“And builders have been onto this trend for awhile now,” Cullinane said. “They’re building what I call ‘women-centric homes,’ or homes that can accommodate changing lifestyles. That’s why I’m a big proponent of something called ‘universal design’ – homes designed with tomorrow in mind.”

Jan Cullinane, a consultant and author of The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement, also sees this demographic as one that will grow as women age, either after divorce or being widowed.

Here’s my question for you ladies: If you were to buy a home without a spouse or partner, what are some features you couldn’t live without?

I’ll go first: I’d put a huge lighted vanity and makeup table in the master bathroom fit for a Hollywood starlet. What about you?

This is pretty cool to those of us obsessed with second or vacation homes. Which is, like all of us. Everyone knows that the Hamptons is the vacation home playground of Manhattan — or it is? Actually, yes. A cool blog called PropertyShark did all this research to find that 35 percent of Hamptons vacation homes are owned by Manhattanites, who have poured $20.8 BILLION into homes here, paying $100 million in property taxes.  Overseas buyers own only about 100 vacation homes in the area, with three quarters of those owners hailing from Britain.

I’d like to do this with Colorado and Santa Fe. I’ll estimate 25% of vaca homes in those states are owned by Texans… what do you think?

According to Bankrate.com’s recently announced 2011 Closing Costs Survey, Texas once again has the second-highest closing costs in the country, behind of all places, New York – ouch! While the nationwide average is $4,070 (up nearly 9% from last year), Texans pay $4,944 on average. This is the fifth year in a row we’ve had the dubious honor of being #2. I chatted recently with Marcus McCue, SVP of Guardian Mortgage Company about why our closing costs are so high and what, if anything, can be done about it.

Candy: What’s with all the fees going up up up?

Marcus: Several factors impact costs – some are in the lender’s control, and some aren’t. Assessed by the lender, the “Origination Charge” includes the lender’s costs to provide financing – like processing and underwriting fees.

Third-party fees include title, appraisal, postage/courier and survey charges. In Texas, the state’s Department of Insurance sets one overall fee for title insurance, title search and settlement services, so title agencies compete on service, not price. The standard owner’s title insurance premium (which protects the homebuyer) on the purchase of a $225,000 home purchase with an $180,000 loan is $1,450. Although the seller on resale contracts typically pays this premium, it is much higher than the $605 national average from the Bankrate.com survey. If you add the $240 lender’s title insurance premium (protects the lender) on the same loan, then the total title insurance premiums is a whopping $1,700.

Candy: According to the survey, origination fees went up by over 10% this year nationwide, why is that?

Marcus: Much of the increase is a result from the stricter mortgage regulations the government has imposed over the past year. More paperwork and regulatory compliance means more staff, which means higher costs. Even in areas where additional staff is not required, required software updates and revisions increase costs. Nearly all software vendors with products focused on the mortgage industry have made significant changes to become compliant to changing government requirements for disclosures, quality control and document revision. This additional cost for making these changes is passed on to the mortgage companies using the software, which then results in higher costs for borrowers.

Candy: What can a homebuyer do to reduce closing costs?

Marcus: First, make sure your lender goes over the Good Faith Estimate (“GFE”) with you carefully so you understand all the fees and where they are coming from. If you are reviewing more than one GFE, then check each lender’s “origination charge” against each other. Again, this is the cumulative total of the lender’s cost associated with providing the financing. This fee can vary greatly from lender to lender.

The “required services that we select” section of the GFE includes items that are required by the lender, but are solely selected by the lender. The most common of these fees are the appraisal, credit report, flood certificate or the upfront mortgage insurance premium on FHA financing. Charged by vendors selected by the lender, these costs are passed-through, so you may see differences from lender to lender. Because you are not able to provide the lender with other vendors for these services, you should consider these fees with the “origination charge” when deciding which lender has the best loan terms for you.

The “required services that you can shop for” section of the GFE includes things like pest inspection or the cost of a survey. Unlike the services the lender selects, you have some options here. These are again pass-through costs, but you can lower them by identifying a lower priced provider and making the recommendation to the lender. If you see a lot of variation among lenders on this item, it may be worth your while to source another provider.

In addition, if you are refinancing a loan within seven years of your last loan closing, you will qualify for a “re-issuance” credit on the owner’s title policy. You will have to pay a new premium for the title policy to be renewed and extended to the new loan, but this credit will reduce the cost of that new premium. This credit is on a sliding scale, with the largest credit being a 40% reduction of the premium if the refinance occurs within two years of the last closing. This credit is available from all title companies, so it does not require using the same lender or title company from the last closing.

Candy: Is there anything else that can be done to reduce closing costs?

Marcus: Obviously, the lenders have some control over their own fees. Last week Guardian Mortgage announced we joined the Lenders One Mortgage Cooperative of independent lenders. One of the big benefits of being part of a cooperative is collective buying power. These cost benefits from the cooperative will allow us to keep our costs lower than our competitors as they continue to increase their fees to accommodate those aforementioned changes with government regulations and compliance. In addition, we will be able to offer more services to our customers and provide better training to our staff. It’s exciting news for our customers and us.

If you have additional questions about your particular situation, feel free to contact Marcus McCue at (214) 473-7944, marcusmccue@gmc-inc.com or on facebook.

Not totally local Dallas Real Estate news, but the house IS on Mockingbird Lane — in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Paradise Valley is like the Highland Park — no wait, make that Vaquero — of Phoenix.  Paradise Valley is in Maricopa County, home to twelve resorts, and one of Arizona’s top tourist destinations. Very pricey dirt: the median home price is about $2.74,  many homes exceeding $10 million, some over $40 million. So when there is a foreclosure there, people drop their fingernail files.

And this one is a doozie. This sumptuous five acre estate at 5636 East Mockingbird Lane would be perfect for a man with, say, multiple wives. Or girlfriends. It has seven bedrooms, ten baths, for a total of 35,000 sq.ft. under roof, but relax: only 25,000 square feet needs to be cooled or heated. (Can you FATHOM the A/C bill?) Only two years old. Incredible amenities include flooring of six foot marble slabs (as opposed to 12 by 12 or 18 by 18 tiles, like the rest of us peons have) from Italy. The library has $350,000 Pierre Lang mahogany cabinetry, $1,200,000 Avia high tech security & sound equipment. There is a 13 seat mahogany theatre with movie projection and those D-box chairs that move with the movie action — I saw those at Robb & Stucky back in 2006 and wondered who the hell would buy them. The marble in this house must have cost a least a couple million to ship: the luxurious master suite has a bathroom with six foot onyx slabs and the boutique closets are so built out they resemble a Fifth Avenue department store.  There is a two-bedroom guest house of nearly 2,000 square feet, his and her’s libraries, his and her dressing rooms.  Oh, I can’t forget the $1.2 million security and sound system and its own solar electric generating station. Oh and not one, but TWO swimming pools, including a solar heated lap pool for frosty days. Did I tell you about the 21 car garage that would be Jay Leno’s dream? It has $400,000 finish-out — reminds me of former Dallas City Coucilman Mitchell Razansky’s garage on steroids: rubberized colored floor tiles, lights, lighted gas pumps. Of course there is also a billiard room, wine room, piano room, three family rooms — maybe one for each wife or girlfriend? Exercise room (only one, sorry), two libraries , a 2,000 square foot two bedroom guest house, outdoor marble walkways because cement is not fancy enough, and in case this home sucks all of the energy out of Maricopa County, it has it’s own solar electric generating station.

Goes without saying: lovely mountain views with ultimate security. Owned by M&I Bank, started at $17,900,000, now an REO for $15,995,000.

You know me, I just had to know more about this property. My first thought was that someone from like Bahrain had built it then fled the country. But no, no one from the Middle East built this palace. I had to dig and bug my realtor friends in Phoenix and said, hey, who owns this? Turns out he is an All-American guy who went to West Point. (I’ll bet, not sure, but will bet he even played football.) And me thinks this is a strategic foreclosure. Which is really a business decision, I understand. And don’t tell me this is what brought down the housing market: multi-million dollar foreclosures are a very small piece of the market crash. More than 80% of the homes in foreclosure in Dallas County, for example, are $200,000 homes or less, and the story is not much different elsewhere. But I still think this is a fascinating foreclosure story.

So this home was built in 2009 by Cal Christiansen, big time home builder in the Phoenix area. The owners are listed as Phillips and Patricia Smith. Dr. Phillips Smith has been, since January, the Chairman of Lightwave Logic, which does something with high speed fiber-optic telecommunications and optical computing. Dr. Smith is actually brilliant, and has an amazing background in lasers and such. From the company press release: 

“Dr. Smith has over 35 years of experience with high technology companies serving as both chief executive officer and chairman, and in corporate officer positions at three Fortune 500 Companies.  In 2001, Dr. Smith brought TASER International, Inc. public through an IPO and most recently served as Chairman of TASER International, Inc. (Nasdaq: TASR) until his retirement from that position in December 2004. Dr. Smith subsequently resigned his TASER board seat in October 2006.  Since then, Dr. Smith has been actively involved as an investor in start-up companies.”

TASER — those guns all the police use to zap criminals and tame the populace. This guy was Chairman of TASER and his home was foreclosed!

Previously, he was Chairman and CEO of CAE Systems (sold to Tektronix Inc. for $75M in 1986), CEO and Chairman of EDGE Computer and CEO and Chairman of ZYCAD, a public company on NASDAQ.

Dr. Smith received his B.S. degree from West Point, an M.B.A. from Michigan State University and a PhD from St. Louis University.”

You can see where he has been able to finance his taste in big homes. What the heck happened with 5636 East Mockingbird Lane? It’s located on Mummy Mountain for God’s sake.

My theories:

1. The house is haunted.

2. The two owners got carried away, like when they brought in that Elvis statute in the theater office. (And TWO pools? 21 car garage? What is this, the next Concours D’Elegance?) They decided the house is too big, too muddled: a strategic default over bad aesthetics?

3. With all the rooms they built, they forgot the most vital: a room to play laser tag.

Like my friend Tom says, it appears the true hardship facing the previous owners of this bank owned beauty is deciding on Brazilian hardwood or Italian marble for their new digs.  My suggestion: bamboo. And who needs marble sidewalks?

There is one phrase we are hearing a lot less of these days: ”We’ll get it back when we sell the house.”

Used to be, you could sink money into your home almost endlessly and rest assured it would come back to you, maybe even at a profit, when you sold. Buyers often have little vision to see how great a home can look, how it can change with new paint or minor renovation. So many agents advise sellers to have homes looking perfect, as if they were ready for a shelter magazine photo shoot. Perfect walls, floors, everything. Many sellers think they can create the rooms of their dreams and recoup the cost upon selling.

But there is increasing evidence that, these days, unless you keep those projects practical, you might be throwing good money down the toilet. According to Remodeling Magazine a solid front door is good while a tricked out master suite is bad: you won’t get 100% of your money out.

Is this true?

Each year, Remodeling magazine looks at the hottest home upgrades and renovations and then calculates just how much owners get back with they sell.

Not surprising that upkeep is more popular than upgrades these days, according to Remodeling’s Sal Alfano, editorial director. But prices and returns do vary regionally, he says, so what brings in more buyers in say Phoenix (um, weed?) may not be a must-have for the Dallas buyer.

Fr example, I think we are all about outdoor kitchens. I thought that would be a given in northern California, but it is not. Maybe that’s the “southern” touch in Dallas. But Cali buyers are much more into Feng Sui.

So what brings the lowest return when you sell? High-dollar, high-end and highly personalized add-ons that make you drool except — would you put your money there? A super luxe master suite addition — we’re not talking just bathroom and marble, we are talking sitting room with Yoga floor, coffee and wet bar: $232,062 to put it, you get out 52.7%. A sunroom averages about $75,224 to put in but do not count on getting more than 48% of that back. (I would think you’d do better with a sunroom in the north, not the south.)  An extra bathroom costs about $40,000 to put it — I always figure $50,000 when I look at homes because I like nice plumbing, but the experts say you only get 53 cents on the dollar back.

I disagree: give me a home in Midway Hollow with two bathrooms and you are pulling a higher sales price than a one-bedroom bungalow. 

Back up generators are great to play up the “safe from doomsday” scenario, but they cost about $15,000 to install and you’ll only net 48.5%.

Home office: I find this surprising, too. It costs about $28,000 for the average home office addition or finish out, and experts say they net only 45% of that. Of course, does anyone count in the deduction for the home office?

Then there’s the garage. I’m sorry, but I love a showplace garage. I have artwork in mine. Why oh why should you come into the same spot day after day to see ugly chaos? Super Dallas builder Cy Barcus got me thinking this way when I wrote about his personal home — his garage is pristine and beautiful, loaded with so much art it looks like a gallery. Oh and the doors are glass.

But the fancy-pants garage costs $90,053 and you get back 53.6%. That’s even better than a bathroom!

To summarize, the six improvements that rank dead last nationally when it comes to getting the dollars back at resale: home office remodel, back-up power generator (“doomsday is coming”), tricked out master bedroom suite, sunroom, a bathroom addition (I totally disagree) and fancy-pants garage with rubberized floors, car wash stalls, and antique gas tanks.

You know what other room I think we cannot live without in Dallas? The laundry room.

What do you think?