WylyFrom Staff Reports

It took about 30 minutes or less for Sam Wyly’s 244-acre Colorado ranch to sell at auction, and when the dust settled (although one might argue three bidders can’t kick up that much dust), a familiar name in Dallas development emerged. (more…)

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This enormous, luxurious estate at 3420 Ranchero Road will hit the block with Heritage Auctions on March 14, but read below if you want an exclusive tour tomorrow!

We all know about Ranchero Road up in Plano, one of the toniest addresses you can have.

The area is literally in the heart of Plano, off Parker Road, between the Tollway and Preston. The lots are gigantic, wooded, with tanks and ponds and natural surroundings that lure you into believing you are in the country, especially at night. Shhhhhhh.


Penson House

O’Neil Ford-designed 3756 Armstrong is also called the “Penson House.”

You may have noticed a proliferation of real estate auctions lately — even before the election — of large trophy properties that have hung on the market for several seasons. For properties like these, auctions are the perfect solution and these homes are easing off the lot and into happy ownership.

3908 Euclid ext

3908 Euclid

Thus far, at least two of the local auctions have actually closed. And now Heritage Auctions has done it again, snagging 3908 Euclid, a Dave Perry-Miller listing with Martha Tiner at the helm listed for $6.4 million, that will be going, going, gone on Dec. 13. Like I said, get those bidding biceps ready! (more…)

3756 Armstrong Ave ext2Just moments ago, in Highland Park, O’Neil Ford’s largest creation in Dallas sold to the highest bidder, a couple, at Heritage Auctions’ very well-orchestrated real estate auction of 3756 Armstrong, which we have written about and followed extensively on this blog.

With about 12 bidders in the house, bidding started at $3 million and the estate sold at $4.950 million (including the 10% buyers premium). The buyer was represented by Allie Beth Allman.

The family story behind 3756 Armstrong is the best. Custom built for a young, attractive Dallas couple who took ownership in 1954, it remains an architectural icon that has been named by Preservation Dallas as one of the major Dallas buildings in danger of destruction:

…the Penson House was designed by O’Neil Ford, and built in 1954 for Jack and Nancy Penson. It is one of Ford’s largest residential projects and was designed in one of his favorite styles, Texas Regionalism. The exterior and interior of the 9,800-square-foot home remains very close to the original design with the exception of a second story addition, a master bath expansion, and enclosure of a rear porch.

I caught up with Read Penson Gendler, who happens to be a neighbor, and asked her about her earlier years growing up in this house, and also how she feels about handing the house off to new owners.

“Our family moved in when I was two,” she told me. “My earliest memories are actually at our first home on McFarlin.  I don’t think I realized the significance of the home until much later.”

She says she grew up with other kids who also had large contemporary homes, some of them larger than her’s. But Armstrong was definitely her parents’ dream house.

“They never talked about moving,” says Read, “both said they would go out of that house feet first.”

Her parents did entertain frequently in 3756 Armstrong, deb parties, teen parties, birthday parties and charitable events. And her children — the Penson’s grandchildren — have fond memories, as well, of going to Nan and granddaddy’s house on holidays, most often swimming in that pool and enjoying a barbecue outside. Just regular family time and fun.

Will the three Penson daughters miss it?

Says Read, who has a beautiful house of her own: “whatever we do with it now will be in our own hearts.”

The home is solidly built and can very well be remodeled. But should the unthinkable happen, is she prepared? Here is what she told her sister.

“Yes,” says Read. “I told my sister, in a way, this is our house and always will be the way our parents built it, and how our family lived there. If someone else tears it down, now, then we will have been the only ones — no one else gets to live there.”

3756 Armstrong Avenue

3756 Armstrong Avenue

3756 Armstrong Ave rear3756 Armstrong in Highland Park goes to auction tomorrow at 2 p.m. They say it was not because they got so very many bidders registered on the Highland Park estate, but because of the incredible quality of the bidders, who have said they want a shot at buying the architecturally significant Penson home that the reserve has been lifted.

“We had a very easily attainable reserve,” says Nate Schar, Director, Luxury Real Estate, Heritage Auctions. “The property is owned by an estate that is being finalized, and the sellers saw it only as an insurance policy against an unlikely series of catastrophic events leading up to auction day, like a financial market crash.”

Based on the incredible interest generated about the estate, from the many stories, and the qualifications of those bidders, the sellers are confident in Heritage’s ability to capture true market value, says Nate.

So that reserve is gone. Adios! The auction takes place at the Armstrong Avenue estate tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. selling to the highest bidder.  (It is NOT TOO LATE to sign up.) The auctioneer will open the bidding and determine the starting number. And things will roll from there.

The home has been listed, as we told you, at a high of $7.5 and then later reduced to the current appraisal of $6.1 million for the land. That means the 8900 square feet of living space created by the grandfather of Texas Modernism is basically FREE.

 Agents tell me they believe the master bath alone holds one million dollars in marble. If you are a mid-century aficionado, this home is your Mothership.


Surrounded by trophy properties, such as the estate of Jerry Jones, Troy Aikman, and other Dallas movers and shakers, many wonder why this trophy home with so much architectural significance has not yet sold on the open market. In fact, it is one of a handful of O’Neil Ford creations in our city.

“When it was listed, a lot of buyers didn’t have the vision or expertise to realize they could buy it for lot value,” says Greg Rohan, president of Dallas-based Heritage Auctions. “Then they could spend a couple of million dollars to return it to its original splendor.”

At lot value plus a full restoration, you could end up spending $8 million for a sprawling masterpiece on one of Highland Park’s most prized lots.

At that price, it would be $17 million cheaper than the house across the street.

Thinking of picking up a historical Highland Park bargain? Then get thee to the auction. (more…)

3756 Armstrong Ave ext2One of my favorite journalists, Alan Peppard, is back and running at the Dallas Morning News. Alan toasted his return with a great piece on 3756 Armstrong Avenue, the Penson House, where we had a wonderful CandysDirt.com VIP party and preview Tuesday evening.

Alan asks the formidable question: why didn’t this major historic property, designed by O’Neil Ford, one of a handful in the city, so incredibly significant, sell?

Across Armstrong is the estate of Jerry Jones. Five lots to the south is Troy Aikman’s new place. Across St. Johns, the nearest house is on the tax rolls at $25 million.

But when the 8,900-square-foot Penson house at 3756 Armstrong was listed for $7.5 million and later $6 million, a buyer did not materialize. A recent appraisal of the property valued the land at $6.1 million.

I just got off the phone with Jonathan Miller, one of the nations’ top real estate appraisers and experts. Jonathan was in Dallas last week for the annual Relocation Appraisers & Consultants conference in Frisco. I asked him if he was seeing more trophy properties going to auction and he said, yes indeed, and we will see more. Because that is what the Penson house is: an architectural wonder, but a trophy property. And the market everywhere is a little soft for them.

Alan spoke to Greg Rohan, president of Dallas-based Heritage Auction, who said a smart buyer could come in, spend $2 million to refresh the home’s interiors, and enjoy an $8 million investment in a sea of $25 million mansions:

When it was listed, a lot of buyers didn’t have the vision or expertise to realize they could buy it for lot value,” says Rohan. “Then they could spend a couple of million dollars to return it to its original splendor.” At lot value plus a full restoration, the cost would have been about $8 million for a sprawling masterpiece on one of Highland Park’s most prized lots.

At that price, it would be $17 million cheaper than the house across the street.

Peppard’s story also yields great insight into the one family that built and owned this house. As we all know by now, it’s the story that makes a home.

So here’s the story and exclusive photos from our event where the Dallas real estate world really lived it up :

Penson House (more…)

Austin Street Center

If you’ve dreamed of vacationing in Taos, New Mexico, Crested Butte, Colo., or Destin, Flor., mark your calendars for a fabulous silent auction in Dallas, Texas, offering stays at three luxury vacation homes in those locations.

The No Place Like Home vacation home silent auction event will benefit Austin Street Center, a North Texas nonprofit that has provided emergency shelter, food, and clothing to the most vulnerable homeless men and women in Dallas for 30 years.

“By leveraging vacation properties owned by Austin Street Center supporters and friends, we will be able to provide a unique opportunity to both our donors and auction winners,” said Becca Leonard, development director at Austin Street Center. “Donors will generate much-needed funds for Austin Street at little to no cost to themselves, and attendees will have the chance to win a stay at one of many fabulous spots around the country—only their vacation will benefit the homeless here in Dallas.”



This property in Northwest Dallas is up for auction via Hubzu.com.

This property in Northwest Dallas is up for auction via Hubzu.com.

Let’s say you’re one of the buyers vying for the mid-century home at 3631 Seguin Dr. in Northwest Dallas. This is a super-hot market, and you don’t want to miss out on bank-owned deals that can net you a pretty penny if flipped. But in most auctions you’d have to have cash on hand, ready to pay up right after you win. You’re not an institutional investor, though, and ponying up $88,000 in a matter of hours may not be an option. However, with Hubzu.com’s new buyer’s financing contingency option, you can bid on the property and secure financing after you win.

“Since 2009, institutional investors and sellers have found tremendous value using Hubzu to auction and buy homes,” said Steve Udelson, President of Altisource Online Real Estate. “Now consumers, who seek an affordable auction property but need to secure financing if they win an auction, can use Hubzu just as easily as investors who already have financing in place or pay cash. This enhancement continues to demonstrate that Hubzu is a great marketplace to transact for all qualified buyers.”