Spec homes are a sign of strong builder and bank confidence in a market, as they are created without any specific buyer in mind, just the belief that one will be interested once it is completed. The higher the price tag, the higher the stakes.
In our inventory-parched market, homebuilder Les Owens, President of LRO Residential Development, has that confidence in the Dallas market, even at multi-million-dollar levels. He’s starting two spec houses this month, one in Preston Hollow for $3.15 million, and another in Devonshire for $2.2 million.
Both houses are available for customization, but Owens is breaking ground now and says he will complete them in late summer/early fall this year.
As we reported earlier this month, luxury home sales in Dallas-Fort Worth skyrocketed in 2014—those with prices of $1 million and up grew 15 percent year-over-year, the second highest sales volume in Texas (bested only by Houston).
Luxury home sales in DFW represented 1.2 percent of the market, and top-performing luxury brands are seeing more multi million-dollar sales in areas that have strong resale value and high existing demand.
“Established neighborhoods and homes of significance in coveted areas such as Highland Park, Preston Hollow, Greenway Parks, and The Volk Estates are desperately pursued, and the quality of the design continues to be a driving factor,” said Caroline Summers, a Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s agent. Jump to read about the houses and see photos!
The Preston Hollow house will be located at 6115 Desco Dr., near the intersection of Preston Road and Walnut Hill Lane, in one of the most coveted areas of lower Preston Hollow. Owens estimates a completion date of October 2015.
The lot is heavily treed with mature live oaks and red oaks, and measures a huge 100 feet wide by 187 feet deep.
The house will be 6,150 square feet on two stories, with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and an elevator. The architectural design is a collaboration between LRO Residential and Brian S. Easley Residential Designs. The two have worked together on dozens of new homes in the Park Cities, Preston Hollow, and Devonshire areas of Dallas, so this is a comfortable working relationship.
The style will be Southern Traditional, a clean-lined, light, bright home, Owens said. Details will include custom antique copper gas lanterns throughout the exterior by Bevolo in New Orleans and a custom steel front door.
LRO Residential builds only Energy Star certified homes, and this house is no exception. All their homes are HERS index rated, inspected, and documented through a third-party independent energy inspector to meet a higher standard of both environmental quality and home energy performance.
The interior will make use of reclaimed antique oak floors, 125-year-old hand-hewn beams removed from a railroad bridge in Idaho for the vaulted ceilings, and reclaimed antique bricks on both the interior and exterior of the home.
Other interior details will include floor-to-ceiling Kolbe clad-wood windows and doors, a Lutron-controlled lighting system, and Isokern masonry fireplaces. The kitchen will have Wilson Bates Sub-Zero appliances and Carrera marble.
In keeping with the biggest homebuilding trend of 2015 we wrote about earlier this month, the house will have smart home controls for all mechanical systems, lighting, and security systems. Additionally, a three-car garage and gated motorcourt will allow for security when entering and exiting the property.
Another big trend for 2015 mentioned by builders was big, gorgeous outdoor spaces. This house will have two outdoor living areas, one being a fully screened in living space with vaulted ceiling. The large backyard has room for a pool, sport court, or outdoor cabana. The large front yard has plenty of room for a kids’ neighborhood soccer game.
All main living areas will be located on the ground floor, including the master suite and a guest suite. Owens said this makes it perfect for empty nesters or a growing family, particularly because of the proximity to some of Dallas’ best private schools, like St. Mark’s School of Texas, Ursuline Academy, Episcopal School of Dallas, The Hockaday School, and Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.
The Devonshire house will be located at 5634 Caruth Blvd., near the intersection of W. Lovers Lane and Inwood Road in the much-desired north end of the neighborhood. Owens estimates a completion date of August 2015.
The lot measures a generous 92-by-145, and the proposed house will be 5,550 square feet on two stories with five bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms and space for an elevator. The design is a collaboration between LRO Residential and John Lively & Associates. The two worked together on a Bluffview house this past summer that won the Dallas Builders Association award for best contemporary design.
The style of this house will be transitional architecture with a brick and Texas Lueders limestone stone exterior, a dark slate and metal roof, and custom iron exterior doors.
The floorplan has both a master suite and guest suite on the first floor. Other interior details will include museum-level smooth sheet rock walls, accented by 100-year-old hand-hewn antique beams, floor-to-ceiling Marvin wood-clad windows, a Lutron-controlled lighting system, and Isokern masonry fireplaces.
Like the Preston Hollow house, this one will have smart home controls of all mechanical systems, lighting, and security systems, as well as a three-car garage.
With so much land, Owens is aiming for lots of outdoor living possibilities. At the back of the house, a sliding door wall will open to the large yard. There will also be retractable phantom screens that can automatically roll down to allow use of the space at any time of the year. The yard certainly has room for a pool or other outdoor feature.
Owens said his sales are driven by people looking to change up their living situations in Dallas.
“Most of my clients are empty nesters who are moving out of the Park Cities because they don’t need the school district anymore,” he said. “They get a new house with more space, less maintenance, and they save money on property taxes, but they are relatively in the same location.”
The economic growth and prosperity in Texas have contributed to the luxury market, making it one of the strongest segments of housing in Texas in 2014, and it looks like this year is shaping up to bring much of the same. In additions to empty nesters, the luxury market is being driven by relocations to the Lone Star State from California, Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Illinois.