We all know that anything under $1 million is flying off the MLS faster than a Cabbage Patch Kid in the 1980s. In the $1 million-plus market, homes are still flying off the shelves like Cabbage Patch Kids … in 2016.
Sure they’re still selling, but no one is getting trampled. This sentiment was echoed recently at the National Association of Real Estate Editor’s conference by journalists nationwide.
To me this means that if you’ve got the means to buy in the luxury market, there are some bargains to bag. Here are two.
3756 Armstrong Avenue
I toured this home recently with listing agent Ben Jones from Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s. This is a large home with a long and swanky past. Designed and built in 1954 by O’Neil Ford, one of Texas’ most influential 20th century architects, this home is just cool … and a bit frightening.
Candy “sneak peeked” this home when it hit the market last November for $7.5 million. At that time conventional wisdom figured this home would follow the purported fate of the Mayrath home into the dust of history. While the home is now priced at $5.9 million, Jones believes the market has changed and now the most likely buyer will restore the home to its original wonderful-ness (fingers-crossed). In speaking with Jones, he thought a complete restoration and rejiggering for modern living would cost about $1.5 million … or in other words the $1.6 million price decline has priced the renovation in.
The main level of the home could be oh-so-special. To the left of the front door is a large, long living and dining space divided by a free-standing paneled fireplace. Sure, the flooring needs to be shot, but the reeded wood ceilings are wonderful. They’re a naturally light wood that doesn’t bring the room down.
The architect was thoughtful throughout the home with more in-floor electric sockets than I’ve ever seen to make furniture placement a breeze or to enable a Christmas tree forest. He was also a gadget guy. There is a household intercom, hidden stereo speakers in every nook and cranny, and an original security system that includes the largest motion detectors I’ve ever seen (they’re about 3 x 12 inches). There was also a separate system in the master to protect the jewels (something I’d need to buy).
In addition to flooring, the main floor needs two big, big jobs. The first is to renovate the largely original kitchen (located in back of the back wall in this picture) and expand it into a neighboring room to create the best kitchen in Dallas. The second job is to restore the patio. In the picture above you can see a raised stone pond on the right and two sets of pillars. The pond and its fountain were originally outside. At some point the windows were moved out to the edge of the patio to enclose its 12 x 58 feet of space (because at 8,000-plus square feet you needed a pinch more space?).
Upstairs and to the right of the front door, there is a paneled office/den that would need conserving. Underneath is the original pool house area with a bathroom that’s been turned into a bedroom.
Upstairs and to the left of the front door, are a series of bedrooms ending in the master. All the bedrooms are pretty dang big, but the master is a boggling 21 x 25 feet. Two king-size beds wouldn’t look crowded. The bathrooms are another renovation project, although I hope some of the original 1950s sinks and faucets could be saved for nostalgic campiness.
The master bathroom, on the other hand makes your eyes bleed. To call it unattractive is a kindness. It’s large … very large … but every surface is covered in a rather pronounced onyx. Back in the day I’m sure it was the height of wealth, but to today’s eyes, it’s an affront. Even the drawer fronts (and there are MANY) are plated in the same onyx. I tried to take a picture but the camera refused.
On the upside, it’s great space and a new owner would gut it anyway. This way they’ll feel like they’re doing humanity a favor instead of trashing something attractive but just not their style.
The home is situated on .84 acres and has a pool. The land is raised with stepped retaining walls on one face. The agent tells me a new owner could extend the retaining walls to the edge and gain another 25 feet on to the backyard. The pool could then be resituated and a garage installed underground … a neat trick the neighbors were approved to do. This would free up more ground space to give the lot a real park-like feel.
I suspect the reason this home hasn’t sold is because of the extensive restoration work that needs to be done. However, owning and saving a piece of Texas’ architectural history, returned to its glory, is not something most of their compatriots could claim.
3505 Turtle Creek, Unit 14A
The Vendome has always been a high-rise for those with more traditional tastes, its buyers not dissimilar to those of the Ritz or Mansion Residences. Unit 14A is a 4,780-square-foot, two-bedroom home with three full and one half bathrooms. Yes, 4,780 square feet and two bedrooms! This home was meant to have folks over for a sit-down. It’s also becoming more and more of a bargain each day.
Originally, the unit was listed in 2011 with Judy Pittman for $5.9 million and withdrawn a year later. It popped back in 2014 with Allie Beth Allman’s Anita Nosnik for $4.995 million. A couple of weeks ago it had its latest price decrease to an even $3 million. Basically a half-price sale. Factoring in the newly listed, same sized 17A, literally priced at $1 under $7 million, a buyer could buy two 14As and still pocket a mil.
While traditional is not my thing, this home knocks it out of the park on my Hotel-O-Meter scale. I couldn’t see myself living in this home, but I’d sure be gobsmacked were I given the key to this “hotel” for a week.
The custom millwork in this home is exceptional. From the fabulous floors to the extensive cabinetry, this unit has the homey feel usually found in single-family homes. The high ceilings and large windows are just what high-rise buyers want in order to drink in the views either inside or outside on the large balconies. It’s a good mix of traditional home plus high-rise.
For once, we have a bathroom that says, “I’m a man.” I love the paneled bathtub and the half-shutters for enjoying the outside view while only flashing a waist-up one. From the large format stone tile to the paneling, it’s definitely a bathroom where a toppled pair of high heels would look suspicious. Hurrah!
The kitchen is surely no slouch either with more custom cabinetry and expected ultra-luxe kitchen apparatus.
I’m not sure why both of these homes have been so long on the market, but they will undoubtedly make two very different buyers very comfortable.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email email@example.com.