The impact of Hurricane Harvey on Houston, whose real estate market has been more than hard hit, is almost startling by this chart. The impact of Irma is yet to be seen since she made landfall in the Florida Keys on September 10 before continuing up the west coast of Florida and heading inland. But widespread preparation and evacuations in Florida reduced mortgage applications by more than 25 percent before the hurricane arrived as business ground to a halt. When you are running for your life, you tend to forget about things like house closings.

Harvey was unprecedented in its rainfall for the coast of Texas and caused flooding that affected up to 30 percent of the state’s population.  As one Houstonian whose property was unscathed told me, “everyone in Houston knows someone who was affected.” The effect on our real estate market, too, will be unprecedented, though possibly less in Houston than Florida. 

Even as the fall semester starts and temperatures begin to drop, North Texas real estate continues its record-setting hot streak. Out of the 300 cities studied in WalletHub’s recent report of 2017’s Best Real-Estate Markets, three local markets reigned supreme. From home appreciation, to sales turnover, to job growth, Frisco, McKinney, and Allen top the charts for the very best places to make your real estate investment. In fact, with Richardson sneaking in at No. 5, and Carrollton snagging the No. 8 spot, five of the top 10 best markets in the country are all within a handful of miles.

For long-term growth, equity, and profit, there’s no need to look beyond our own backyard!


Real Estate aggregation and data website is in hot water in Illinois.  Zillow has been successfully sued in the past for using photos without permission. They’ve been hauled to court over low Zestimate “appraisals” by sellers who’re listing well above the estimates. Even at the other end of the spectrum, they’ve been accused of inflating prices which resulted in some market froth.

The latest suit, seeking class-action status, was filed on behalf of builders who’re trying to sell homes that Zillow persistently undervalues.  This causes prospective buyers to low-ball the homes using Zillow as “proof” their offer is more realistic than the seller’s price.


dallas housing

We’ve been saying it for ages: the Dallas housing market (DFW, really) is on fire. This is evidenced by a shortage of housing stock, incredible buyer demand, construction everywhere, and a tendency of many houses to fly on and off the market in a matter of days (especially those under $300K), among other things.

Now, it’s easy to find an expert to support almost any position. But we’ve found a few with reputable sources and a history of accuracy that agree with us. We’re interested in why they think the Dallas housing market is one of the strongest in the nation. Read on to find out more.


Gates of Highland park

Juli Harrison and Stephen White at Allie Beth Allman are marketing one (or actually, two) of the most expensive properties in Highland Park, and, for that matter, all of Dallas: 4311 and 4321 Lakeside Drive. Dallas dirt doesn’t get much pricier than this.

The two lots are being sold together, or separately. List price is $12,500,000 each or $25,000,000 for the both. These lots have an incredible history in Old Highland Park, as they sit at the very entrance to one of the country’s most upscale communities as you first enter from Dallas.

The lots have been available for a number of years, and Juli herself has been trying to trade them since 2010. Listing price started at $15,100,000 for one 1.17 acre lot back in 2010, $16,225,000 for the other. Pricing may have been a little aggressive for 2010. That was like $31 million for 2.34 acres at the gateway to Old Highland Park. But there is just no other dirt that compares.

Today, the duo released a beautiful new video marketing the property in a very unique way.

If you are selling a very high end property, you constantly wonder: is there any NEW real estate thing in the universe my agents or I can do to help move this dirt? 4321 Lakeside has been in MLS, advertised in almost every print pub in town (fat lot of good that has done), the Wall Street Journal, Zillow, the usual suspects. All bases have not only been covered, they have been saturated. Drenched. Drowned. So what now?

Enter Eric Pierce. I met Eric several years ago because he worked for Peter Kempf International, where he still consults today. (Peter Kempf was also one of our NAREE vacation home panelists in 2012.)  PKI markets haute luxury vacation home properties from Napa to Italy, villas to vineyards. Peter really is a “Who’s Who” in luxury real estate:

Having been the Director of International Real Estate for Christie’s, Vice President and Midwest Regional Manager for Sotheby’s International Realty and a member of Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, Mr. Kempf is considered to be one of the leading authorities in international real estate and is a frequent guest speaker at international real estate conferences.

Now Eric is running his own operation, Clearview Elite, a Boise, Idaho-based digital firm that builds custom property websites for luxury real estate properties luxury real estate properties.

The Gates of Highland Park from Goldeneye Media on Vimeo.



Is the McMansion dead? To find out why “McMansion” is a pejorative in the architecture world, check out this hilarious Tumblr blog, McMansion Hell. (Image: McMansion Hell)

Recently, Trulia analyzed data from 2006 to 2016 for the 100 largest metros, seeking to understand the new home premium.  They dubbed recently built (2001-2007) 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot homes as McMansions and compared them to homes outside that age and square footage range.

It’s worth noting that for all the tiny house rage, average home sizes are at historic highs (after a short-lived retreat during the recession). There was a tiny decline in the first half of 2016 (from 2,658 to 2,616 square feet) that’s being attributed to a shift towards more entry-level housing. This partly explains why Trulia defined McMansions as being as much as double the national average in size.Trulia McMansion 1


Using highly selective data from Trulia, news outlets trumpeted the death of the McMansion. The Chicago Tribune blared, “The day of the McMansion has come and gone” complete with misty-eyed millionaires having to take a loss on their McMansion (because they’d bought another one). Meanwhile CNBC hailed, “’Death of the ‘McMansion’: Era of Huge Homes Is Over.” Even The Dallas Morning News reprinted a Bloomberg article titled, “Once a booming real estate trend, McMansions now a bad investment.”

These outlets (and many more) pinned their ideas on Trulia’s research that seemed to show that, much like new cars losing value the minute they’re driven off the lot, so too did new homes.  Or did they?


Best real estate markets 2016

Nearly a decade after the housing crisis that sent the U.S. economy into freefall, housing is most certainly back—just look at our DFW market. Citing U.S. Census Bureau data, the New York Times recently reported that sales of new single-family homes nationwide were higher this past July than in nearly 10 years.

Nationwide, a company that tracks the health of U.S. real estate, reported at the end of quarter two that “the overall U.S. housing market is sustainable,” adding that “few regional housing markets are vulnerable to a housing downturn.”

In a new study, financial services site WalletHub compared 300 U.S. cities across 16 key metrics to help prospective home buyers find the most attractive real-estate markets. Their data set ranges from “median home-price appreciation” to “housing affordability” to “job growth.”

North Texas cities scored big: Frisco, McKinney, Richardson, Allen, and Plano made their top-ten list of best real estate markets nationwide in 2016. Denton, Carrollton, Fort Worth, Irving, Grand Prairie, and Dallas scored in the top 50.

So what made DFW cities score so high?

“North Texas cities have healthy and sustainable real estate markets,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “Very few homes have negative equity, home appreciation in the past seven years has continued to increase, and foreclosure rates are extremely low. In addition to having a healthy real estate market, these cities are affordable with low maintenance costs and cost of living. Not to mention, the economic environment in North Texas is thriving, boasting some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country (under 3 percent across the board).”



Crusty Jim Schutze of The Dallas Observer wrapped a very long, very sad week in Dallas history with some stuff to be actually positive about.

He didn’t come out and say it, but it’s really our real estate market:

Burdened as we are by a peculiar past, even hobbled by a certain disconnection from national progress, the fact remains that Dallas and its environs in the last decade have become a marvelous new realm, or, maybe more accurately, a couple of marvelous new realms.

Both new realms reflect changes that already took place in many other American cities 20 years ago. But they are happening here now, and these changes should make us all strongly optimistic for our future.

That peculiar past: the old way of running a city, he says, with iron fists, white iron fists. I wasn’t here in the sixties or even 1978, when Schutze says he arrived. But he is probably the most knowledgeable person in the city when it comes to race relations in Dallas. When I got here in the 1980’s and saw what people told me was a separate drinking fountain — separate for who, I asked?  Oh yeah, I had heard of those where I grew up, but had never actually seen one in Chicago, Boston or New York City. The whole concept of segregation like that was just so — so mean. I may have grown up in a Lily white Chicago suburb, but I never forgot the day my doll lost her shoes — wind blew them off — while walking down State Street in the Windy City with my parents. A kind man chased them down and returned them to me.

He happened to be black.

Schutze says he was info central this week for the out of state reporters here for a crash course in race relations, etc. They were reporting on the downtown ambush that left five of our finest dead. I’ve been cringing over this event since last Thursday night. How would it shape our city? Why Dallas? Schutze went ahead and told the out-of-towners about the skeletons (I wonder if he mentioned the name John Wiley Price), then he said something very positive: (more…)