Trulia Heatmap Tornadoes Dallas

 

(Graphic: Trulia Heatmap From NOAA tornado data)

love what Trulia manages to do with a little data. This company is consistently making the best tools that break down statistical information, helping homebuyers decide which areas best suit their needs. 

Their newest tool, the Natural Hazards heatmaps, are perfect for seismophobics, potamophobics, brontophobics, and pretty much any other weather-related phobia you can think of. With data from the USGS, FEMA, NOAA, and the Forest Service, Trulia has created color-coded models showing which areas pose the greatest risk for these natural disasters.

Of course, if you plan buy wherever you want — data be damned — I’m sure these maps will help you negotiate your homeowner’s insurance policy. Take a minute to click around on their Trulia Local page for Dallas. It’s interesting stuff.

On the flipside, if you want to avoid natural disasters altogether, Trulia Economist Jed Kolko has compiled a list of the top-10 U.S. cities least likely to be hit with an act of God. Topping that list is Syracuse, N.Y., with Cleaveland and Akron, Ohio, in second and third, respectively. Fourth is Buffalo, N.Y., and fifth is Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md.

 

Atlantic Cities Uber

 

(Photo: The Atlantic Cities)

Update: Here’s an online form to write to your city council person and tell them to leave Uber alone! http://www.ci.dallas.tx.us/forms/mcc/MCC_Mail_Form.htm

Living in a city has a lot to do with transportation. You want to get from A to B in the most convenient, safest way possible. In NYC, Boston, Chicago, and LA, you have tons of choices, including catching a ride from any of the hundreds of cabs that circulate through these cities.

So, what’s the problem? Well, try hailing a cab in Dallas and your question is answered. It is impossible to find a ride unless you call a cab dispatcher, and with more bars and restaurants popping up in downtown, and greater density in Uptown and the Park Cities, we need a way to find a ride when we are carless or shouldn’t otherwise drive. Public transit increases accessibility and desirability of urban areas, and Dallas just doesn’t have enough of it.

Uber ScreenThat’s why I really like the idea of Uber. In the age of smart phones, we have a serious need for a smart company such as this that connects a person desiring a service with a service provider, especially considering our dearth of public transit options and the lack of cabs in our growing urban core. It fills a gap left between light rail, bus service, and cab companies when it comes to ease of use and accessibility. Also, the guys who run Uber are ridiculously smart, using trip data from their app to discover trends that will help the company adapt and develop strategies. Brilliant stuff. Imagine what they could learn from Dallas …

What does Uber do? The service, which launched in Dallas a year ago, dispatches a car to your location via a smartphone app and GPS coordinates. Obviously, this irritates cab companies, but let’s be serious about one thing — Uber is serving a group of people that weren’t using cabs. And asking City Hall to cut Uber out of the equation, as this story from the Dallas Morning News suggests, is ridiculous.

Cab companies should compete with Uber in the new market the company has created for itself. Likewise, they shouldn’t be able to create a city-sanctioned monopoly in an urban area that already suffers from a severe lack of public transportation options. People obviously want Uber, as well as more accessible transit.

What do you think?

Hiding identity at computerIt’s not like you have to do a background check on every single client who contacts you when you are a Realtor. But then again yes, maybe you do! When you have agents’ faces plastered all over glossy mags and billboards, they are noticeable but maybe to the wrong people.

Kristin Sims with Carolyn Shamis told me a story that sends shudders when you think of what COULD have happened. She wanted me to post this to see if other agents had ever had this experience, or anything similar. Full disclosure: Kristin has had issues with a stalker; this could be related. I felt it was super creepy, so tell us what YOU think!

kristinKristin was given a client referral  by another agent who had received a cold call for a high rise rental in the Turtle Creek area. Kristin calls and emails the client, they talk several times. He drops designer Adrienne Faulkner’s name, says he is going to be working with her in Dallas. He said he was a baseball player. He had just transferred to the Texas Rangers from the San Diego Padres, but he had not yet formally started with the Rangers and so asked to keep the info mum. The deal was not public yet, he said. Said he had looked at properties around Texas stadium and did not like, and he had no real estate agent. He was already in Dallas, staying in a hotel. He definitely wanted to lease, was interested in the W, Azure, and properties along Turtle Creek. He then car-bragged: said he had a Ferrari and a Bentley convertible and a third car (back in San Diego). Also, relatives came to stay with him for weeks at a time, so he needed guest flexibility.  Kristin warned that might be a problem with some of the HOAs. The player gave his name as one  “Jesus Morales.” Kristin and Jesus spent a great deal of time communicating by email, by phone, and text. “Morales” spent some time communicating with Adrienne as well.

They planned to meet on a Tuesday in June at Kristin’s office to see properties. “Morales” said he was renting a car and would come by the office with his manager and personal assistant. He would PICK HER UP and they would all go look at props together.

Kristin, insisted she would drive because she was more familiar with the neighborhood.

Morales wanted to drive, saying he wanted to make sure the car had plenty of legroom

My car has plenty of legroom in the back seat, Kristin told him

The following Tuesday, meeting day, Kristin had a tour schedule starting at the Azure at 4 pm. Morales was to meet her there. I may be running a little late, he said, as I will be doing volunteer work at Children’s Medical.

Tuesday afternoon came, Kristin was sitting in lobby of the Azure with Adrienne Faulkner, waiting. Morales  texts “running late, have to run back to play a game, go look and just pick out a property for me, I trust you.”

During the next couple of hours, he texts several times, asking for progress on the property search. Wrapping it, he says I’ll call you Sunday.

The very next day Kristin is in contact with a friend who happens to work at Children’s Medical Center. Kristin asks how the Texas Rangers appearance went.

“We never had any Texas Rangers there, ” she told Kristin.

That’s weird. Kristin called the Texas Rangers, was referred to HR, who never returned her call. But a former baseball playing friend checked both rosters of the Rangers and the San Diego Padres: no Jesus Morales on either team.

Skeptical, Kristin next has a long conversation with the agent who referred him to her. She contacts the police and does more digging.

The 972 phone number he used turned out to be registered to a woman in Irving, Texas.  The email addresses were registered to someone who had published air conditioning repair manuals.

Neither she nor Adrienne Faulkner ever heard from “Morales” again.

It appears the guy was a fake. But what’s scary, of course, is he and his “agent” insisting on picking up an agent at her home and “drive” to the listings. Could be innocent, or could be scary.

Has anyone out there ever heard of such a scenario? I know about the guys who make dates with women to go look at multi million listings, pretending to be big shots with deep pockets. I know about Steven Breed. But posing as a Texas Ranger? Said it before, I’ll say it again: you can’t make this &#@* up!

I grew up in the ’80s, wallpaper’s verifiable heyday. It seemed like anyone who was anyone had wallpaper in pretty much every room in their house, even the laundry room. That was when you could decorate any room in any theme you wanted and the chances of you getting side-eye from your friends was slim.

That’s not the case today, though. Paper went out of fashion in the late ’90s along with pegged jeans and neon accessories. But just like the questionable styles of the ’80s, wallpaper is making a comeback, too. That’s what Texas Paint and Wallpaper’s Marcey White-Pillow claims in this feature on the Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog.

Wallpaper is a great investment for Metroplex homeowners, [White-Pillow] says, but with a modern twist.

Home buyers aren’t going for the look that their grandmas had. “People aren’t necessarily doing the whole room,” she said. “They pick a great pattern and create an accent wall.”

I totally agree about that. You won’t seen four walls clad with busy floral prints nowadays, but according to White-Pillow (what a name, right? Love it!), Midcentury Modern and “Mad Men” inspired graphic prints like chevrons are finding their way into tastemaker’s homes.

Ceiling Wallpaper

Refrigerator WallpaperI also agree with Marcey that “greige” — a neutral grey — is the best color for homeowners looking for a palette that will attract potential buyers but won’t feel too blah. And if you think that wallpaper is just for walls, well, I’ve seen some pretty fabulous applications on furniture and appliances, too!

While I have yet to try my hand at hanging wallpaper, I spend an awful lot of time on Houzz.com looking at all the fabulous accent walls (and ceilings, too!). Do you think that wallpaper is making a comeback, or are there some decor trends that are better off dead?

6195 Palo Pinto Front

Happy Father’s Day to all those great dads and grandfathers out there! You deserve to kick up your feet, enjoy a beverage and a homemade card, and maybe a little barbecue while you watch the Rangers try to shake off this funk that’s keeping them from scoring.

6195 Palo Pinto Den

What better place to enjoy Father’s Day than from a media room with a projector TV, plenty of comfy chairs, and a wet bar? Well, this Lakewood custom home at 6159 Palo Pinto has all that and a bag of chips! (Seriously, he’ll probably want some chips, people.) It’s listed by Dave Perry-Miller agent Angela McCants for $750,000.

6195 Palo Pinto Kitchen

With four bedrooms, four bathrooms, formal living and dining areas, a study, and more than 4,600 square feet, this home is all about living large in Lakewood. Built in 2001, this house has major upgrades and curb appeal. Viking appliances, including a built-in refrigerator, double ovens, and a huge breakfast bar. There’s designer lighting throughout the home, as well as gorgeous hardwood floors.

6195 Palo Pinto Study

There are two spots in this home that dad will love — the wood-paneled study and the media room. The study, a huge room with built-in cabinets and book cases is perfect for the father who has to take work home with him. The media room, though, is all play. It has a built-in microwave, sink, and ice maker, meaning that dad doesn’t have to miss a second of the action when the big game is on.

6195 Palo Pinto Media

In the backyard, the entertainment continues with a beautiful saltwater pool and spa and an outdoor kitchen — great for a dad who grills! It’s a great area for a summer get-together for family, neighbors, and friends. Wouldn’t your dad love this place?

6195 Palo Pinto Backyard

peacegarden_0000gd

When I was a member of the Urban Acres Co-op, our pickup was at Promise of Peace Garden off East Grand Avenue. That was when I met Elizabeth Dry, the founder of the garden. At that time, the DISD teacher told me that she was looking to relocate the garden to Casa Linda park, which sits between Casa Linda Estates, a railroad track, and Little Forest Hills. That plan went bust, though.

A few weeks ago I heard stirs that the huge piles of mulch that had materialized on Old Gate and Diceman, across the street from White Rock United Methodist Church, were to form the new home for Promise of Peace. While I may not live in Little Forest Hills, many of my friends do, and some live within startling proximity of the garden’s new location.

What residents say is that, although there was a community meeting regarding the garden, far more people disapprove of the garden’s proposed location than have been reported. In fact, they’ve surveyed nearby residents and at least 20 of them are against Promise of Peace moving in. Truly, this controversy has nothing to do with the Methodists giving the Catholics at St. Bernard of Clairvaux a place to park. It has everything to do with a poorly planned community garden right next to an established neighborhood, and the severe lack of communication between the Methodist church and those neighbors. In fact, the homeowners directly adjacent to the garden’s proposed location were never contacted, were never asked for input or permission of any kind. Galling, I know.

For the full response from one neighbor uncomfortably close to the situation, jump.

No one from the garden has ever attempted to contact my husband or myself directly. I went over to the church on April 30 and sought out some answers after the mulch pile began to appear. The assoc. Pastor admitted that someone “should have contacted you as you will be most greatly affected” by the project due to our proximity (directly next to) to the proposed garden. I was told that there would be several raised beds in a u-shape, bringing them very close to my property line and no fence. We have no other direct contact since.

During the last week, we have circulated a letter to over 60 homes in the streets directly adjacent to the parking lots. These letters have asked the residents to vote for or against the garden. There are 20 returned letters have marked that they are against the garden. There has been one positive response. We are hoping that more people will return the letters so we can have a more representative sample of the mood of the directly affected neighbors as a whole.

It seems that there are more than a few disgruntled people as these blog posts seem to keep implying. Sheffie Kadane was also quoted in the Dallas Morning News as saying there are 3-4 people against the garden.

Also from the DMN article:
“Dry, who lives in the neighborhood, introduced the plan to a meeting of the Little Forest Hills Neighborhood Association last month and “the reaction was positive,” says Max Davis, the group’s co-president.

Then came the first signs that Promise of Peace was indeed moving in. A tree-trimming company dumped a load of donated mulch on the parking lot, and Dry added a sign saying “Imagine a Garden.” Several nearby homeowners — Davis puts the number at five — visualized things far worse.”

I was told by someone who was at that meeting that there were about 15 people in attendance, hardly a sampling of the entire neighborhood. And she is against it. Was she considered part of the positive response or are these folks just trying to ignore the dissenters?

The idea of resident only parking has been discussed amongst a few people on my block and the procedure has been researched. So that is definitely a possibility to be addressed in the future. Displacing 60 parking spaces will have an impact on several side streets during the busy holidays, weddings, funerals, bazaars and other events that occur at the churches.

As for calling me a NIMBY, well this is garden will actually be right against my property line. Therefore it will not only be in my BACK Yard, but also my SIDE yard, and my FRONT yard. So far the “garden” has brought a pile of mulch that stinks after rain. When the wind was in the right direction the stench filled my home even with the windows closed. When the wind shifted my neighbor across the street noticed the same stench in her home. The smell lessens after the surface dries out. One of the neighbors has seen the mulch covered with rats in the middle of the night. That is certainly activity that I want to encourage.

I have yet to figure out why anyone would want to try to grow vegetables in the middle of a black parking lot in the Texas summer. I have been told that there is not a plan to fence the area as that would hinder the sense of “community” that the garden is hoping to promote. The people planning this garden do not see the 50+ people that walk/jog through that parking lot every day. It is a major thruway. Some people are on their healthy daily walk, most with dogs, many with multiple dogs. (Is a raised garden bed as good as a fire hydrant? I am sure we will see) I am sure that all of those people are very honest folks that would never take a tomato as they walk past. Like the folks that walk across my yard, right up to the porch to collect the fallen pecans from my trees every autumn. And those that are apparently availing themselves of “free” mulch as the “Do not take mulch” signs that have appeared this week attest. The greater produce thieves are the birds, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, possums and other creatures that roam the area. They will be greatly attracted to the area for the buffet. Plus mulch and loose dirt means new cat boxes!

I see the necessity of a fence going up along my property line at some point. One of the reasons we bought this house was because of the open feeling because of nothing along one side of the property.

I was under the impression that community gardens were in areas where there are no yards. For example, inner city neighborhoods, areas dense with apartments/condos. Everyone in this neighborhood has a yard. Where is the need to rent a box of dirt in a parking lot where the only shade comes from a telephone pole? Why not plant in your own yard?

Why doesn’t Ms Dry put this garden at the school where she teaches? Or behind the church in the lot that is not adjacent to homes? Or some other place? Why isn’t the rat infested mulch pile next to her yard?

Our greatest concerns are simple.

1. Increased traffic and noise.
a. Look at the POP website. Yard sales, cooking classes, bus loads of children, live music and other events. Ms Dry claims that she will not be doing these things in the garden in the future. So if all of your events are to take place inside the church why is the garden across a busy street from that church? Why not put the garden in the other lot adjacent to the church? The parking lot that is not directly adjacent to homes.
b. Displacing 60 parking spaces therefore increasing the on street parking in the neighborhood.
2. Decreased property values. The homeowners within a stone’s throw of the garden feel that the garden will greatly decrease the ability for any of us to sell our homes.

I understand that the church can do what they want with their property and the garden will end up in the parking lot. There is nothing we can do to stop it even though a majority of the local residents oppose it and only a small percentage is for it.

BurtonKnightLawn

 

Photo: City of Dallas via Unfair Park

Burton Knight is a smart fellow — he has a horticulture degree from my alma mater, Texas A&M University — but all the wits in the world might not be enough to win a fight against Dallas City Hall.

If you’ll recall, Knight xeriscaped his Junius Heights front yard with Texas native plants and gravel, which earned him admiration from his neighbors and a citation from the city, who says his lack of lawn makes his home historically inappropriate. That’s  a big no-no in Junius Heights, a designated conservation district.

Still, he’s presented two alternative plans that help maintain most of his landscape as is to the city’s Landmark Commission. Read the report from Eric Nicholson on Unfair Park.

This story was the impetus for a question we asked Dallas City Council candidates running in the May 7 election. Early voting ends today, so go out and make your choice. If you haven’t already checked our our collection of questionnaires, you can take a gander on how they view the issues right here.

Buy a bigger house

More and more homeowners are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and as the downward trajectory of the housing market turns upward, they are also seeing missed opportunities.

Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist, says in a Wall Street Journal interview that national home prices are up 7.2 percent annually and that most homebuyers regret not buying a bigger home when the getting was good.

In Dallas, with our super hot housing market, you’ll be lucky to find a home at all. With a brisk market turning agents and sellers to hip pocket listings, I’m sure we’ll see more growth in the months to come.