Articles by Contributor

05/17/18 2:56pm

Dallas Builders Association executive officer Phil Crone says that the Dallas ordinances on parks and trees need refinement before a final vote.

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

On May 16, the Dallas City Council heard separate proposals concerning a new Park Land Dedication Ordinance and revisions to Article X, which concerns tree planting and conservation in the city limits. A vote on each is expected before the council’s July recess.

My personal involvement on the tree ordinances dates back to 2009, when the Dallas Builders Association began to talk with stakeholders about possible improvements. Article X has created challenges for new development, especially in South Dallas. The premise of the ordinance is to assign fees to the removal of trees on private property. Property owners can attempt to reduce or eliminate fees by preserving the existing tree canopy, replanting desirable trees using best practice methods, and/or other sustainable development methods.

The new draft of Article X does provide property owners with more carrots, but it also adds more sticks and lacks transparency on key items such as the fees and how they are used. Another problem

Phil Crone

is that the ordinance now assigns a mitigation fee to nuisance trees such as Hackberries and thorn-ridden Mesquite trees, albeit at a lower rate than others. Hackberries are found in large numbers on property throughout Dallas, meaning that several small fees add up to one large fee when it comes time to remove them. The larger a Hackberry grows, the more brittle and dangerous it becomes. Their leaves attract aphids that drip honeydew on everything below. Eventually, black sooty mold grows on the honeydew. In other words, a Hackberry has no redeeming qualities. The Dallas Builders Association is proposing a measure that allows property owners to remove smaller, less desirable species, defined as Class 3 trees in the ordinance, without paying a fee.

Article X currently lacks the credit for new replacement trees now required by state law. House Bill 7, which became effective in December, was supported by the City of Dallas and the Dallas Builders Association in the most recent legislative session. By focusing on credit for planting replacement trees, we felt this was a better alternative to more aggressive proposals that sought to remove municipal authority from tree preservation entirely. The proposed changes to Article X outline the process that, in most cases, should achieve the result state law allows. However, inclusion of language from the statute would guarantee property owners no worse than the outcome provided for by the legislature.

Our final concerns with Article X deal with transparency. (more…)

05/09/18 8:00am

A Title Plant is not a big factory that produces property titles. Nor is it a flowering bush used in real estate transactions.

A Title Plant – also called an Abstract Plant – is an operation used as the basis for delivering title insurance. The main focus is on historical records organized by county. The Texas Department of Insurance oversees title plants and states they “shall consist of fully indexed records showing all instruments of record affecting lands within the county.”


05/03/18 11:51pm

by Deidre Woollard
Special Contributor

Affluent buyers are younger, big home footprints (5.000 plus) are returning, and traditional Victorians and Georgians may soon trump the McModern. These are just a few of the revelations we got from the gal who knows luxury buyers like the back of her hand, maybe better!

Stephanie Anton is the President of Luxury Portfolio International®. She has been with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World since 2005 and is responsible for overseeing day-to- day operations of the companies’ high-end marketing division, Luxury Portfolio International®.  Stephanie researches and frequently speaks to audiences around the world about the luxury industry, real estate marketing, research and insights into that most sought-after consumer, the affluent. She has been named to a myriad of lists from Inman’s 101 list of innovative leaders driving industry change, the Swanepoel Power 200 list of most influential real estate professionals and Luxury Daily’s  Luxury Women to Watch. She also sits on the Board of Managers for the real estate industry initiative, Upstream.

CD’s west coast correspondent Deidre Woollard sat down with Stephanie to zero in on the latest in luxury marketing:

CD: What should the luxury home buyer and seller know right now? (more…)

05/02/18 8:57am

Chateau Des Grotteaux at 6941 Gaston Avenue has a very colorful history.

By Donovan Westover
Special Contributor

For years, I have observed my friend restore the castle exterior and grounds at Chateau Des Grotteaux with such precision, that when I heard he was selling his super iconic Lakewood home, I did a spit take with my morning commute bourbon. Most drivers-by are familiar with the French Normandy style home’s turret and slate roof poking above the stone wall, while ducking below the tree canopy along Gaston Avenue.  The 1928 house, being constructed by builder Edwin Cox, was intended as a speculative residence for the Pasadena neighborhood which boasted “Pasadena Perfect Homes.”  However, the house was purchased prior to completion by R.L.Thornton after seeing it advertised in a State Fair of Texas brochure.  Thornton brought in Dallas’ only landscape architect at the time to lay the footing for the grounds.  There is lots of history associated with the “House of the Cave” including the cave itself, which went to White Rock Lake, and as folklore has it, was used to transport liquor during prohibition.


05/02/18 8:30am

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Contracts are signed, inspections completed, movers are scheduled, and the big day is almost here. It’s full speed ahead to closing day. That’s the big day when paperwork is signed, money changes hands and the keys are handed over.

But what happens when one of the individuals can’t make it to the title company office on closing day to sign those all-important papers? It can become a big speed bump in the process. The contract stipulates a closing date and if one of the parties to the contract fails to close on time, it can become a legal issue. If handled correctly, there are solutions that can keep the deal heading in the right direction.


04/26/18 11:35am

With the Abstract of Judgment, the skeletons of a property’s title may come out of the closet.

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Judgment Day in the title business is when the title search comes in and the skeletons in the closet come out. These types of skeletons often come in the form of an Abstract of Judgment. Most law abiding folks aren’t familiar with an abstract of judgment or how it affects real estate. But we see it in the title business regularly.

In Texas, an Abstract of Judgement (AJ) is basically a lien that is filed on a property for an unpaid debt. First a judgment for debt is rendered and then the creditor may file an Abstract of Judgment on the debtor’s property. It is designed to prevent the transfer of that property until the judgment has been paid.


04/24/18 9:00am

home warrantyIt seems like just about everyone has an opinion about home warranties, and just about everyone has a love/hate relationship with theirs.

Shopping for a home warranty company, therefore, can also be difficult. Asking friends and neighbors can yield subjective and varied opinions, leaving you just as unsure about which company to choose as you started out.

But aims to change that by providing objective reviews and easy-to-understand breakdowns of what each company offers, said James Edwin Surrey, Marketing Manager and Head of Operations for the company. (more…)

04/18/18 9:30am

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit. Grab a seat fellow Texans. You may need it when you hear about the way they finalize real estate sales in some of our fellow united states. Let’s start with a peculiar Yankee custom that’s a changin’.

A recent revision to New York property transactions stipulates that it is no longer allowable for buyers or sellers to tip to the title closer. Yes, you heard that right. The long-held tradition in the Northeast of buyers tipping the real estate closer with cash, gifts, tickets, etc., has been squashed by the New York Department of Financial Services. Anyone else getting a chuckle out of the mere thought of tipping your closer?