Why consider renovating an old house in Corsicana?

The small town off of Interstate 45 between Dallas and Waco is familiar to some Dallasites, if only for the stigma-defying fruitcake at its Collin Street Bakery.  But recently, Corsicana has been enjoying quite a different sort of buzz — a downtown art center, 100 West, or 100W, as it is known, is calling attention to the community, and in a good way. An artist and writer’s residency program offers space and support for promising creatives. Gallery space is springing up. Shops and restaurants are being cultivated in the historic downtown.

Corsicana was a thriving metropolis in oil boom years of the early 1900s. Wealthy residents built lovely houses. Many still exist and are good prospects for renovation. It’s a chance to get in on the ground floor of the promising renaissance of a small town. See an example of a house which would make a lovely bed and breakfast, or second home under an hour away from Dallas-Fort Worth. Read more on SecondShelters.com now.

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If you like the idea of having a home on the range but can’t imagine living in the middle of nowhere, you might take a look at Corsicana. The first oil boom town in Texas, it was founded in 1848 and by the early 1900s it was one of the top 10 cities in the nation with the most millionaires. It’s stuck to its small-town roots ever since.

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Beacon Hill

Barrons is bragging how they called it: the second home market has bottomed, and the rich are out swooping up the bargains. Prices of high-end second homes have sunk, some as low as 40%. And Barrons lists the top second home markets in the US. Sea Island, Georgia was rated number one. Next comes Maui, The Hamptons, Aspen, Martha’s Vineyard, Lake Tahoe, Kiawah Island, S.C., Palm Beach, Pebble Beach, Greater Palm Springs, Sun Valley, Bray’s Island Plantation, Lake Geneva (where I used to go as a Chicago kid), and Ashville, N.C. The Barrons report (not sure if sub. req.) tells why these places are so glorious, and lists average prices like $2.5 to $4 million. With prices and places like these, no wonder readers got ticked off — check the comments!

Here’s the deal, and one of the many reasons why I started this blog. Second home ownership is totally affordable. I repeat: you do not have to be a zillionaire to own a second home. Like anything, it sure helps. But you can buy second homes for right around a million or less. $150K to $500K even.

I agree the bottom has hit the second home market, and the rich are buying. I will add some are striking deals and paying cash. Today I had lunch with Andrew Hadley, Director of sales and marketing at Beacon Hill. Beacon Hill is a beautiful community on Cedar Creek Lake, which I call the Pebble Beach of Dallas, and it’s only 45 minutes away.

And totally affordable.

Here’s the deal: the rich always set the pace. But second home ownership on a way less than $2.5 million basis is out there, and many communities are within driving distance of Dallas, Austin and Houston.

Beacon Hill plans a state of the art jetty-protected marina, floating boat slips, decked-out party rooms, deck space, boat launch, and a sandy beach. Party rooms will be veritable sports bars, with multiple flat-screen televisions, bars, and private owner storage. Construction is using ocean-grade specs. Lots start at $125,000.

Andrew, who has practically worked all his life in second home sales — he worked in chi chi Aspen, too — tells me people want affordable second homes. Couple to three thousand square feet, no giants. Lock and leave. Cedar Creek is really popping — I plan to live out there this summer. There’s the 505 Cedar Creek Ranch Club — 56 waterfront home sites, archery, skeet shooting, ATV, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, camping and future polo field. Home sites start at $295,000.

Cinnamon Shores, down in Port Aransas: get a house for $525,000.

The Reserve at Summit Rock plans a 50-home, golf-front development overlooking Summit Rock Golf Course, a soon-to-be-completed Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. The Reserve at Summit Rock fronts holes 17 and 18 of the course, which will be owned and operated by the Horseshoe Bay Resort and is expected to be ready for play by May 2011. Oh and some of the homes will be Jack’s “Signature” houses. Casitas, none larger than 3000 square feet.

You want to talk townhomes and condos, talk to me. Gulf Shores Alabama is a fire sale right now. I’ll bet you could pick up a beach condo there for $125,000. Or less. A friend with a condo in Watercolor is building a home in the area, South Walton, Florida. These people are professionals who have certainly worked hard and educated their kids and now want to have a place where family can gather as they wind down working. Maye it’s a future retirement home. Maybe they’ll create a family vacation compound so the kids and grandkids can go there long after mom and pop are gone and remember the old geezers with fondness.

People have been escaping to second homes for centuries, But now second homes are not just for the uber rich.