4610 Wildwood poolWe know that sales of homes priced at $1 million plus are out of sight and up 53 percent in North Texas from a year ago. I think my message from Luxury Portfolio last month in Las Vegas was clear: luxury and multi-million dollar properties are not just alive but selling well.

Sales of modestly priced houses in the area have slowed down about 25% less than they were a year ago, according to Steve Brown, who also says overall sales by real estate agents are flat this year.

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Houseboat Shipley ArchitectsLast week I saw that Dan Shipley’s brilliant design team over at Shipley Architects got posted on ArchDailey, one of my fave sites. This home is located over in the Urban Reserve, Diane Cheatham’s ahead-of- it’s-time green enclave of zero-lot line modern residences near both a light-rail station and the Northaven Trail. The area’s location was once a landfill and you enter the area via a nice neighborhood of middle class homes off Forest Lane, east of central. There is proximity to DART and the zero-lot-line community encourages space-efficient house designs. Shipley’s home for Rick & Julie Fontenot is a mere 1490 square feet, the size of a Preston Hollow master closet! While this home is not for sale, plenty over there is and bears a look/see.

Dan Shipley says that one of their biggest challenges building in Urban Reserve was the site’s poor soil quality:

“The property was once a landfill, and its weak, expansive soil has a low bearing capacity.”

Solution: float the house above the earth on steel beams supported by concrete piers. This siting method also upped the home’s green quotient, due to its minimal disturbance of the land. And there’s a little romance in the picture, too: the design team incorporated salvaged wood—2-inch-by-12-inch planks from the dance floor at the clients’ wedding—into the main floor frame. But love can be practical: like many of the firm’s recent projects, a geothermal system heats and cools the house:

“We’ve been doing geothermal a lot lately,” Shipley says. “People like the idea of it. It uses natural means for the heat exchange, and it gets rid of awkward, clumsy condensing units.” Pressure-treated wood that typically would be used for porch flooring makes an unconventional siding material. “It just goes up quickly,” he notes. And a ramp of metal grating creates a more substantial entry passage into the 20-foot-wide home. “In small houses, the question is always, How do you have a sense of arrival and movement?” he says. “Once you do go in the front door, you’re right there at the kitchen island. The ramp was a way of leveraging or extending the sense of arrival.” The gang-plank-like ramp, along with the home’s compact, floating nature, inspired the nickname “Like a Houseboat.”

6601 Hunters Glen gatesRemember this little piece of paradise in the heart of University Park Estates? The one with the putting green and in-ground trampoline? Well, go on over there and jump for joy because that puppy has a hot contract on it. Yep, $19.5 million is the ASKING price. I hope Doug Newby is booking his next Euro cruise. Why Doug and not Erin Mathews? Because with this estate property moving, the Hicks Crespi estate can not be far behind.

Telling you, I need hotpads on my fingers to type these days, that’s how hot our market is.

6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX
6601 Hunters Glen Rd. University Park, TX

 

 

 

 

Do you read Homes of the Rich? It’s one of my fave luxury real estate drool sites, and it was founded by a 20 year old kid named Kenny. Maybe he’s 21 now. Anyhoo, Kenny picked up Erin Mathews newest listing last week, a stunning French Chateau at 4617 Meadowood Road in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, TX. Technically, this is more towards Bluffview — Meadowbrook is in the honey pot. But nothing shabby about this circular street and in fact, I like this area even better than the honeypot because it’s further away from the tollway.

The 10,815 square foot home home was built in 2005 on 2 acres, features a slate roof, stone exterior and circular driveway. There are 5 bedrooms, 5 full and 3 half bathrooms, 4 wood-burning fireplaces, wood floors and crown molding throughout, two staircases, of course a formal living room, a formal dining room with butler’s pantry, gourmet kitchen, breakfast room, house manager’s office, wood paneled family room with built-in shelves, library with the most gorgeous hardwoods I have seen, recreation room on lower level, covered terrace, 3-car garage, swimming pool, formal gardens and more.

The gourmet kitchen and breakfast room are Dean Fearings’ dream with two Wolf ovens, drawers and shelves. A magnificent armoire between the two bookshelves against the back wall disguises a double Sub-Zero refrigerator. Nearby are the walk-in pantry, house manager’s office and utility room. Adjacent to the kitchen is the family room with its walls of wood paneling and shelves. The home is large, but it can get larger. When more room is needed for entertaining, the metal-and-glass French doors along the entry hallway and in the family room are easily opened to include the covered-back terrace and the palatial grounds with a pool.

The master suite is on the first floor with a bathroom highlighted by the finest woodwork, wall coverings that beg to be touched, and luxurious appointments adjacent to his-and-hers dressing rooms with window seats, cabinets, shelves and rods from the floor to the ceiling. I LOVE the library, a showcase with its wood wainscot and black leather, windows that open to the grounds and a walk-in wet bar.

In addition to the four guest suites — yes, every bedroom is a suite — and gameroom overlooking the main entrance on the second level, there is a stunning lower level that includes wet and snack bars. Every inch of this house is utter, sheer perfection.

By the way, why does Erin remind me of Angelina Jolie at The Oscars? I guess I could so see her in that dress!Erin has it listed at $8,495,000. But did you know this is the house of Kristen and John P. Mullen, he of investment banking moolah, Kristen the talented wife who did all the decorating herself? It was featured on the popular blog, Cote de Texas. You know now it is more chic to be featured on a blog than in a shelter rag — you get far more pageviews!

 

The swimming pool. Wall mosaic depicts a fave northern family vacation spot.

It was like a coming out party this afternoon over at 3505 Turtle Creek Blvd. as every high end agent in town tossed on a fur wrap and checked out the former home of Bill and Margot Winspear. Mrs. Winspear now lives in a smaller unit in the same building. You cannot blame her: this one is 14,740 whopping square feet and they were not kidding when they said 24 foot ceilings! I got lost five times and felt like I was in a Matrix-like version of the game CLUE. For some reason, I kept wandering back into the Billiards Room.  Everyone marched through, from Claire Dewar and Nancy Holloway and the whole darn team, half of Briggs-Freeman Sothebys, Erin Mathews and David Nichols (air kisses!) Dawn Rejebian, Debbie Ingram, Katye Sloan, some of US led almost by the hand by listing agent Ralph Randall lest you (ME) get lost. These photos turned out better than I expected given the gloomy day, and Ralph promises o-quality photos soon. Overheard: “At this new reduced price ($6,695,000), whoever buys it is basically pocketing $4 million.”

Porcelain fish in the waterfall poolMedia RoomPool overviewThe dining room, well one of them

Like my mother used to tell me, don’t ever give it away for free. Smart Texas Monthly. You have to buy an issue to read Jason Sheeler’s profile of super agent Erin Mathews,  Give Me Shelter, in the current issue of Texas Monthly. I suggest you buy, read, and then read it again to capture the picture of what he so very well painted of the Honeypot real estate world, Area 25, where the refrain goes like this: no one ever gets fat, ugly, poor, or has an underwater mortgage.

Jason contacted me when I was in Pebble Beach this August. He wanted to talk to me for whatever insight I could provide on selling real estate in Dallas. When I got home, we sat down at my kitchen table and chatted. I asked him why he was focusing on Erin, because yes, I knew she was a super agent, but there were others doing just as well who are a little more, shall we say,  under the radar? Was there a special reason (that I was missing)? I asked mostly because I love to keep track of the best publicists in town for agents — most of the top agents have them, if not all, and of course, I had just launched CandysDirt. Publicists are just part of the game. He told me he was using her profile as a vehicle for telling the high end real estate game story. Fair enough. It says a lot about Jason that he didn’t care how much the other high-producing agents would bitch and moan that they had not been included. He was laser-focused on telling the story, and Erin was the tool by which he took the reader into the high-stakes multi-million dollar real estate game of our area. I wrote a similar  story years ago for D when the game was just amping up: How Dallas Sells Real Estate. My vehicle was a glitzy party at what was once Robert and Maureen Decherd’s home on Hollow Way. After publication, agents called to complain that by publishing that, I had basically ruined their lives because now they were all going to have to spend more money on parties and promotion.

In other words, they were going to have to work harder.

What Jason showed in the TM article, and remember a good writer shows, doesn’t tell, was how hard Erin works at selling homes. (Which I told him. Of course, that is true of all the high-production agents in this town.) She embraced social media, she staged, she showed up when she was dog tired, ergo she sells. I love the vignette of the Preston Hollow house being transformed by her home stagers, hauling out boxes of fake plastic ivy (bet you two hundred it was on the top of the kitchen cabinets) and Erin and her staff moving around patio furniture in her couture, no less.

A few interesting observations I have heard:

-Note that the four major firms mentioned, this prior to any Ellen Terry-Dave Perry-Miller merger news, were Erin & her partner David Nichols, Allie Beth Allman, Dave Perry-Miller and Briggs Freeman —  ”like they were the only four companies that exist”.

-Some agents are asking if it is all factual questioning, I guess, Erin’s sales claims. I am sure TM’s fact-checkers did not miss a beat. 

-Others say it didn’t really capture Erin’s personality, except for describing her background in fashion retail and at Neimans. (“Oh. So that’s why she likes to dress up.”)

- A few LOVE the way she carefully portrayed herself as a servant of her clients, and takes caution not to fall into the Eleanor Mowery Sheets trap of (A) overspending and (B) believing her own press releases.

- She said she doesn’t have her face on her signs. One agent said, funny, she doesn’t mind them in all those magazine ads.

- While Erin always looks like she just stepped out of Vogue, which has written about her, she lives fairly modestly even though she drives a white MercedesS-Class. Jeeze, car stature is as vital among agents as the lockbox combo.

- Some agents say Erin really IS a great agent because even Sheeler fell for her selling herself to him. Wouldn’t be the first time. 

I think it was a great article. I’m only irked at one thing: he mentioned Erin’s age at the get-go as 62 (Jason, really, that’s why I wouldn’t tell you MY age!) but failed to tell us who does her microderm and what plastic surgeon, if any, she uses. Because I think Erin looks fabulous, more like 38, 40 at the most. So who cares about the number?

Photo caption: Mathews in a home she recently sold at the Creeks at Preston Hollow.
Photograph by Darren Braun