Jessa McIntosh has lived all over the U.S., but like many East Coast families, a job opportunity resulted in a move to Dallas. While her husband, Forgan (awesome name, right?) was settling in to his new job, a pregnant Jessa and her 2-year-old daughter, Sayer, were tasked with finding the perfect house for their growing family. And after a few deals fell flat, they will close on a fabulous home in Greenway Parks this month — plenty of time before baby No. 2 is born in May. The house has almost every thing they wanted, plus a guest cottage in the back. That will be perfect for visitors after the baby is born! It was meant to be!
While the home search may have ended, that doesn’t mean that Jessa is slowing down. An entrepreneur in her own right — Jessa co-founded custom textile company Loom Decor — she hopes to introduce to North Texans in need of better upholstery and linens. While we welcome the McIntoshes to Dallas, let’s go easy on them this summer when they find out what “hot” really means!
Location and amenities you’re looking for (address/subdivision): Greenway Park, Bluffview, Devonshire, Briarwood, and Park Cities. Stroller friendly for walking, shops within walking distance (we are from NYC so this is definitely a huge bonus), great schools (public or private), close to dog-friendly parks, close proximity to downtown and airport
Agent: Erica Kuppin; Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s
Why are you moving?
My husband was offered a great opportunity at a high growth energy company. With an expanding family and a desire to do something totally out of the box, we took a leap and decided to go on an adventure to Dallas!
Thoughts on temporary housing?
We had visited Dallas once before making the decision to move so we had very little understanding of the real estate market or where we would want to settle down. While we definitely explored neighborhoods such as the Park Cities, Greenway Parks, Preston Hollow and the M Streets and Lakewood in East Dallas, we ultimately decided we would rent a furnished condo for three months in an area that we thought we wanted to live in to make sure it was right for us. This was the best decision could have made because it really solidified our decision on the areas we like best and has enabled us to really get a good picture of the market. So we are big supporters of temporary housing.
How long have you been looking for your new home?
We began our search in November and looked very broadly around the Dallas area with some guidance from friends who were also recent transplants from NYC. They helped us narrow our search but we explored lots of neighborhoods so that we could get a sense of our budget in different neighborhoods and to understand what the tradeoffs would need to be.
What is on your list of must-haves?
Coming from NYC, our must-haves and compromises are probably a bit different then true Dallasites. We are coming from a 900-square-foot apartment so anything over 1,000 square feet would feel like a palace!
Our must haves are:
• Old house character – both my husband and I grew up in New England, so while we knew we weren’t going to find an old antique farm house in Dallas, we did want something that had some older character and not something that felt like a complete new build.
• Four bedrooms – we are expecting our second baby in May and will have many visits from our family over the next year, so an extra bedroom is key.
• A semi-shaded back yard – A yard is an absolute have to have and we have been told how brutal the summer is, so we felt that some shade was a must.
• 2,300-plus square feet – with two kids, a dog and frequent house guests, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t feel like we were going to out grow our house in the first two years.
• This will sound funny to most but I really want double sinks in the master bath! For the past 8 yrs, my husband and I have been having elbow wars brushing our teeth together!
• First floor open concept floor plan
What are you willing to compromise on to get the location you want?
• We could compromise on the fourth bedroom if there was an opportunity to renovate in the future to create the extra bedroom, or a space that could be used as a guest room during visits.
• Square footage – we don’t need a ton of extra space as long as the house functions really well for a family and the space is designed efficiently.
• Yard size – we don’t need a huge yard if we are close to parks.
• I can give up my second sink if I have to!
• We’re not used to huge walk-in closets, so if we had to, we can give up this luxury.
What shocked you about the buying process in Dallas?
Obviously, the housing market is much more affordable in Texas versus the Northeast. We have lived in Boston and NYC, where both cities and their surrounding suburbs are extremely expensive. When we began our house hunt, we were definitely pleasantly surprised by how far our budget went in certain neighborhoods; however, we were surprised by the fact that while compared to what we could get in the Northeast, our budget didn’t go as far as we thought in our most-desired neighborhoods. We found that square footage was the biggest compromise.
What pleased you?
The major bonus about the Texas market no matter the neighborhood, is people love to renovate. So everything we looked at, no matter the price range, was updated with great fixtures and appliances and generally speaking, most homes had the open floor concept. In the Northeast, half the “charm” of an older house is all its quirks. While I love the quaint quirks of antique homes in New England, it’s nice to not have to deal with them while we have young family.
If you were to start your home search over from the beginning, what would you do differently?
• We don’t have a lot of regrets about our search process and are actually very pleased with how things are going.
• Early in our search we made a few offers on some homes that, looking back on now, we are very happy didn’t work out. Now that we have much better sense of neighborhoods, even down to how busy certain streets are during rush hour, we are so happy we waited.
• Moving into a temporary home during our search was also the best decision we made. Even though we are expecting a new baby very soon and would ideally want to move into a home before that happens, we felt it wasn’t a good long term decision to buy a home before we actually lived here and new more about the areas.