Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Get caught up and read part one of Jon Anderson’s Property Tax series here.

Tax Dodging 101

Every Realtor I have asked has completely agreed with this statement, “The more expensive a home, the less accurate DCAD’s valuations are.”  The translation here is that the wealthier you are, the more able you are to pay taxes but the less likely you are to be paying your share.

And why not cheat?  We read almost daily of some large corporation relocating to Ireland to dodge taxes in what’s called a “Double Irish With A Dutch Sandwich” or the likes of Google’s outrageous UK deal to settle a ten-year tax dispute for a measly £130 million based on profits of £7.2 billion. Why not the little guy too?

We have become a society where given a choice, too many will take a shortcut when offered.

There are three components that abet property tax shortcuts.

  1. Non-disclosure
  2. DCAD inefficiency
  3. Tax challenges


Pothole SM

Taxes are paid so that government can pool monies that enable it to embark on projects that enrich society as a whole. When government is underfunded, education and infrastructure suffer. Anyone who jumped for joy at their measly property tax reduction this year also abdicated their right to complain about DISD, potholes, or Fair Park.  The 37 cents a day I saved was invisible to me and certainly wouldn’t pay for much municipally on its own.  But when joined with the savings of every other household in Texas, it equates to $3.8 billion statewide in 2015-2016.

Without taxes, there would be no public libraries, police, fire, ambulance, public schools, roadways, etc. Without taxes, every single road would be a nightmare of privately-owned thoroughfares, collecting tolls with each change in ownership.  We’ve all read stories in recent years about homes that were allowed to burn because the homeowner hadn’t paid their subscription fee for fire protection.  It’s estimated there are 1,200 such subscription-based municipalities in the USA.

The Texas Transportation Commission acknowledges an annual underfunding of $5 billion in transportation infrastructure improvements.  In the 16-county area covered by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, this equates to roughly $2 billion a year in underspending.

Tie those two numbers together.  The entire state gave back barely enough money to properly fund Metroplex roads.  Still feeling good about that piddly tax reduction?

Now before you get all uproarious in the comments, I’m not a fan of Texas’ high property taxes.

I hear you saying, “First he says government is underfunded, then he says taxes, which fund government are too high.”  That appears contradictory, doesn’t it? Not really.



Sure, Zillow and Trulia are popular portals for consumers to shop for homes, and there are a lot of fantastic luxury properties marketed as hip pockets, but does that spell the end for MLS systems everywhere?

Sure, Zillow and Trulia are popular portals for consumers to shop for homes, and there are a lot of fantastic luxury properties marketed as hip pockets on select sites, but does that spell the end for MLS systems everywhere?

Inman contributor Creed Smith wrote a column published on the real estate news site suggesting that the system real estate agents use to access listing information, the Multiple Listing Service, was on the way out. It ignited a heated debate among Inman staffers and commenters, earning a reply from Inman managing editor Matt Carter. 

If the real estate industry were invented today, there would be no NAR (National Association of Realtors) or MLS (multiple listing service), and perhaps no franchises — there might not even be real estate brokers.

The MLS was built for three reasons:

  1. To place all information on homes for sale and sold homes into a central location for brokers.
  2. To create a percentage of sale price payment agreement between brokers.
  3.  To elevate NAR and the MLS companies to almost godlike status with monopoly power.

The marketplace now demands a system built on their desires, not those of NAR. How would you build a system for selling and buying homes based on market desires with today’s technology and market dynamics? You would offer an open-source international database (website … portal).

You can read Smith’s full-length piece on his Demon of Marketing website, but we wanted to get the perspective of local brokers and Realtors on the cutting edge of real estate here in North Texas as to whether we should be writing a eulogy for the MLS system.



Homefacts App Home Page Homefacts App - School Details Page

We love a good app here at CandysDirt, and when RealtyTrac announced their new Homefacts app, we had to give it a test. We’ve reviewed several good real estate apps before, and some of them are great for just run-of-the-mill home shopping (, Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin), some give you a more visual clue on a property ( Doorsteps App), and there’s even an app to see if you can afford a home before you get pre-approved.

But the Homefacts is a horse of a different color. It’s a much more comprehensive real estate app in that it uses GPS data or an address search to dissect areas not by homes for sale, but by other factors that may affect a neighborhood’s desirability, such as relative proximity to convicted sex offenders and former drug labs, school performance, unemployment, crime risk, median home value, and disaster risk.



This morning when I was doing my regularly scheduled RSS blog-reading binge, I noticed this post from D Magazine‘s Tim Rogers, asking just where Museum Tower officials came up with the figures in their recent marketing email:

In 2013, growth in Dallas’ high-rise neighborhoods was truly remarkable. According to MLS there was a 36.4 percent increase in the number of units sold, and a 49.6 percent increase in volume.

Increasing demand for luxury high-rise homes generated a 9.7 percent rise in prices during the same time period. Nearly 25 percent of Museum Tower’s square footage has been claimed by residents with an appreciation for the unconventional and uncompromising.

Tim asks in his FrontBurner post, just where the Museum Tower folks came up with that number? According to his calculations using Dallas Central Appraisal District data, only 13 percent of the Dallas Arts District highrise is actually sold.

Well, we know that DCAD data isn’t always the most current information when it comes to real estate. MLS data is updated every nano-second it seems, so that would seem more pertinent. But regardless, we wanted to know where the figures came from, too. That’s why we asked Barbara Buzzell of the Buzzell Company, Museum Tower’s PR rep, where the marketing information came from. As you might expect, the real explanation is a lot less sensational:

“Not every home at Museum Tower is the same size,” Buzzell explained. “As you may know, we have nine different published floor plans. Because of the many variable home sizes sold, we have released the aggregate amount of saleable square footage sold. That number is nearly 25% of the building’s total saleable square footage.”

Seems logical, especially considering how many different floorplans there are. I’m not a math major (understatement of the decade), but this seems kosher to me, especially considering that Buzzell would have access to the most recent sales figures, which won’t post to DCAD for some time.

So the questions we pose to the Realtors out there in the field: are you showing Museum Tower? Are people buying? How long is the lag time between sales and what is recorded in DCAD — Candy has been told six to eight weeks. And finally, are Museum Tower sales unusually slow for a luxury high-rise condo building priced at just under $1,000 per square foot that has been open for sales now for just one month over a year?

(Full Disclosure: Museum Tower is an advertiser on

Since our Monday Morning Millionaire is so fresh to the market, we didn’t even have interior photos to share earlier today. But now we do! And talk about a poster child home for perfection, 5543 Edlen (listed with Vicki White, Keller Williams Elite, but not yet in MLS) is it! I am loving those baby’s butt smooth as silk wall finishes, the curved ceilings, the limestone and wood floors, the huge master. And you know how much I love “Keeping Rooms”! Well, this one is a keeper! Coming up: the Master Bath!edlen entry Edlen living room edlen dining Edlen family Edlen kit (2)Edlen keeping rm edlen study Edlen master Edlen pool Edlen rear pool back edlen patio

MetroTex logoI’m off to a meeting, but just read this fascinating article that bears a look/see.

Do you think we could ever live without an MLS? These Chicago folks say no way. But I think there could be changes… what do you think?

Lots of news to report to you on what’s happening with MLS’s around the country and the syndications: Austin’s out.

Also, a lot of folks I know are in San Francisco either at NAREE or the National Association of Realtor’s conference. We will have reports on that next week.

9800-Rockbrook-back-sweep-575x383I don’t know if you get the Dallas Business Journal or not, but as of late (like ever since I started this blog,) they have been tinkering with residential real estate. Tinkering I say because like most media outlets, the poor journalists have to cover about five different subject areas and mop the bathrooms after five, plus report, write and blog. So I understand how things run behind or not at all. But this truly gave me a chuckle.

You have to pay for a subscription to the DBJ, so I will quote Carlisle’s piece for you:

“Interestingly, I’ve discovered that not everyone lists multimillion-dollar properties on the market when they’re for sale.”

Eureka? Have we not been talking about these things called hip pockets since, oh, about March or May?

(Killing me: Don’t give me such shocking news, Candice. Excuse me, Candace.)

Then she quotes  Rogers Healy,our Rogers Healy (who sold the M Mansion by Auction), who is practically my son, as saying that not listing an expensive home doesn’t hurt a mansion’s chances of selling, and in some case can help it.

“There’s some exclusivity of not putting a house on the market,” Healy told the Dallas Business Journal in an exclusive tour of a $12 million mansion that’s for sale, but not listed on the Multiple Listing Service. “When you look at who buys a multimillion dollar mansion, these people aren’t searching MLS.”

Selling homes in a hip pocket sale — a residential real estate industry term for an off-market deal — has gained traction in recent years as the housing market heated up, Healy told me.

The house they were touring was 9800 Rockbrook, which we showed you over a month ago. Rogers told Carlisle that the no-MLS route gives buyers the illusion of exclusivity, and has been working positively for the Rockbrook mansion on the market. He said he has shown it, a 10,600 square foot home on 1.73 acres, to three interested buyers. The story posted on on August 21, 2013.

This got me thinking: we know that having properties in the MLS increases exposure to more, way more buyers. In fact, Rogers himself says “With a number of out-of-state relocations bringing high-end buyers to the Dallas-Fort Worth market, Healy said he expects the luxury home market to continue to remain hot for some time.”

Question: how are those out of town buyers going to find any homes to buy? They will be on the internet looking for homes, and if the home is not in the MLS then it won’t make it to a third party portal. They could find it here on CandysDirt, of course, the agent is smart enough to call me, as Rogers did. Which may be why he had three serious showing.

Or smart enough to get Candace Carlisle to write about it.

I just don’t understand how sellers expect agents to sell homes, in MLS or not, if they cannot market them. You need to tell the world, rich and poor, about the house so the right buyer perks his ears up. You cannot be all anonymous and find buyers. I mean, can you?