Real Estate Story
Ray and Jessica Mabry and their children

Ray and Jessica Mabry and their children

By day, Jessica and Ray Mabry are architects at HKS, with busy careers and two young children. As if work and parenthood don’t already add up to plenty for most of us mere mortals, The Mabrys recently formed Lark Properties and took on their first flip. While that seems like a lot to handle, the couple says that the eight-month labor of love became like any hobby and an overall positive experience for the family.

“We ate out more often than I would have liked and I think my children also received some independence a little earlier then they might have otherwise,” said Jessica. “But really it just folded into the rest of the craziness that we call life.”

“In the end we do it all for the love of our kids and their futures,” Ray added, stressing that the rewards of the project far outweighed any of the challenges.

The Mabrys’ story is one of our favorite kinds because it comes with before-and-after shots. Join us after the jump for more on their journey and some great eye candy.


Real Estate Story
Jennifer Kilpatrick

Jennifer Kilpatrick and her son Jack

Single mom and attorney Jennifer Kilpatrick is a Dallas native and Ursuline Academy grad who moved away in 1992. After a divorce in 2016, she and her son moved back to North Texas, renting an apartment in The Village. She wanted time to find a new house in this competitive market, and focused her search to the area in which she grew up.

“I began searching for a house a few months ago, and wanted to buy a house in east Dallas, since I grew up in Lake Highlands and Jack goes to school at St. Thomas Aquinas,” she said. “I confined my home search to Lake Highlands, Little Forest Hills, Lochwood, and Ridgewood Park (and small, ill-defined neighborhoods around those places).”

We’ve followed her home-buying journey, from first searches to closing on a Lochwood cutie this month. It’s a great story!

Full name: Jennifer Kilpatrick

Occupation: Attorney

Location: East Dallas

Price Range: Under $350K

AgentCindy Johnson with Keller Williams


Real Estate Story

At $230,000, the house at 9348 Highedge Cir. in Dallas costs about the average for a home here.

With home prices soaring in Dallas, many buyers wonder what it would cost to live in other cities. Turns out, inventory is tight around the nation, not just in North Texas.

In Dallas, the average home price is $230,500, a year-over-year increase of 9.76 percent, according to The means you need an annual salary of $53,824 to buy here—with a 20 percent down payment—and not end up house poor (with a mortgage rate average of 3.61 percent in Dallas, that’s a monthly payment of $1,256). With 10 percent down instead of 20, the required salary increases from $53,824 to $61,581.

What does it cost in 26 other cities around the country? Jump to find out!


Real Estate Story


For people looking to Internet rankings when searching for their next place to live, 24/7 Wall St. produces some solid information. As opposed to some list-makers, they actually do real research with scientific data and come up with interesting findings.

They recently reviewed data on the 550 American cities with populations of 65,000 or more (measured by the U.S. Census Bureau). They looked at a range of variables, including crime rates, employment growth, access to restaurants/attractions, educational attainment, and housing affordability, and they identified America’s 50 Best Cities to Live.

Two Texas cities made the 24/7 Wall St. list, and both are in DFW. In the top five, Richardson, and in the top ten, North Richland Hills. Intrigued? So were we. Read on to see why they chose these two places for their list.


Real Estate Story

champions live

The digital age is with us. Real estate students and Realtors now have the option to skip the in-person classroom experience and learn via live instruction broadcast online.

The Champions School of Real Estate is rolling out this newest offering, ChampionsLive!, to offer people more options when it comes to classroom instruction.

“Part of what makes ChampionsLive! so exciting is the state of the art tech we use to deliver these courses directly to our students,” said curriculum development division manager Henry Britt. “Each ChampionsLive! studio is a fully realized shooting studio, with the very best in lighting and production equipment, including 4k cameras to give our students the best possible video quality…the product we offer is unmatched in both real estate education and other industries nationwide.”

The classes are streamed from two studios in Houston and taught by Champions School of Real Estate instructors. Students can attend class from anywhere in the world so long as they have access to a laptop, webcam, and mic.

“The first time I learned of ChampionsLive!, I was a bit apprehensive, because I prefer to learn in person,” said student Joshua Hussong. “After taking the courses, I realized it’s actually a really good delivery method in that it gives you the opportunity to speak with an instructor who is not there with you. ChampionsLive! gave me the ability to take these courses that I otherwise would not have been able to take. I, for one, am now a big supporter of this delivery method”


Real Estate Story


Right about now is when people usually start thinking about getting away from the heat with a vacation home somewhere that is cooler. Its not that we don’t love Dallas — sometimes this heat is a bear to bear. Our pool is perfect for me right about now: 88 degrees. Come August it inches up to 95 and I want to toss in ice cubes. No relief comes until the end of September so yes, a lot of us sleep with visions of vacation homes dancing in our heads.

Like Jackson Hole. Like Lake Tahoe. Like Big Sky, Montana. Like Santa Fe or Colorado.

So no shock that the top laces where Dallasites go to escape the heat are Breckenridge, Colorado; Santa Fe, New Mexico, which I have always called a bedroom community of Dallas; South Padre; Galveston and the Gulf Coast of Florida: Alys Beach, Watercolor, Seaside and Rosemary Beach. Panama City Beach sucked up 8.3 percent of all Dallas originated searches for vacation homes on Trulia. This comes from a special report by the folks at Trulia, who checked into which vacation home hot spots are becoming more popular for second homes.”

Texas is climbing as a popular destination for people in colder climates seeking warm weather, while we are escaping to cooler climes including, believe it or not, McCall, Idaho. One of the top ten most popular vaca home spots in the nation is Hallettsville, Texas, a rural stretch in Lavaca County between San Antonio and Houston. The whole story about Hallettsville — who knew? —and the most popular vaca destinations from Dallas is over on our sweet sister blog,

Meantime: where do you have (or dream of having) a vacation home?


Real Estate Story
Leah Shafer | Candy's Dirt

Leah Shafer at her new home.

Leah Shafer is a senior writer for, and in her time with us, she has written 454 blog posts about real estate, buying a house, trends, selling, and staging … the whole banana. But never in that time, or ever, has she herself owned a home.

In fact, Shafer has moved 20 times in her adult life, 11 of them since 2008. Settling down and buying has been a dream, but never a possibility, before now.

“I’ve loved home design and real estate since I was a girl — in my sixth-grade yearbook, I said I wanted to be an interior designer, and it’s no coincidence that I’m writing about houses for,” Shafer said. “I think all my moves have made the idea of owning and settling in one place all the more appealing. I am absolutely over the moon to finally be a homeowner.”

Shafer and her husband Greg recently bought a house for their family in the Cottonwood Heights neighborhood of Richardson. While they’re still unpacking and settling in, she’s excited to share her real estate story with us.

Full name: Leah Shafer

Occupation: Freelance writer; senior writer

City: Richardson

Price Range: $300,000-$350,000

AgentHarriet Shaw, Keller Williams Urban Dallas


Real Estate Story

Best and Worst Texas Cities for Families

The Lone Star State is thriving economically, doing much better than many other parts of the country. We’ve also got hoards of people moving here for jobs at places like Plano’s Toyota headquarters near Frisco, JPMorgan Chase, and Liberty Mutual Insurance. As these people consider DFW, ranking the cities becomes important.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, just released an in-depth analysis of 2016’s Best Texas Cities for Families. The good news? Eight cities in North Texas made the top ten. The bad news? Dallas is ranked 107 out of 112.

Analysts at WalletHub compared 112 of the state’s cities across 21 key metrics in four categories: family life and fun; education, health, and safety; affordability; and socioeconomic environment. Their data set ranges from the number of playgrounds per capita to the the violent-crime and divorce rates.

So what made the ‘burbs so appealing and Dallas rank so poorly?

“Many big cities struggle in being family-friendly, especially depending on the size of the family— Dallas ranked poorly due to having the 2nd most expensive housing market in the state and the 4th lowest median family income (adjusted for cost of living) at just $47,428 per year,” said Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst. “It also has both a high crime rate and divorce rate, 27.18 percent, ranking 99th.”