Broken tree trunk

We know that Icemaggedon doesn’t discriminate between homes it hits, and while you may have worked tirelessly to get your listing ready for MLS, a downed branch or broken limb is a huge issue when it comes to showing a home.

So, what should you do as a Realtor if one of your listings was hit hard by our recent history-making ice storm? Harold Spiegel of Preservation Tree Service says that you shouldn’t do a thing — let a trained arborist handle it.

Pear tree split“Potential buyers are looking for big mature trees, but the key is a healthy tree,” Spiegel says. He recommends homeowners partner with a Certified Arborist to help them achieve this goal. “Tree work should be completed only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees, because your home’s value depends on it.”

Of course, just like our last catastrophic ice storm, tree companies will litter neighborhoods with flyers and business cards, but Spiegel warns that not all tree trimmers are created equal.

“There are many individuals with no more than a truck and a chainsaw who sell themselves as ‘tree care professionals’ or ‘arborists,’ ” Spiegel adds. “They’ll tell you they can take care of your trees and happily take your money; only to leave you with what translates to a butcher job and trees that will most likely succumb to decline from poor treatment.”

To avoid these “tree fakers” as Spiegel calls them, follow these tips:

Always ask for ISA Arborist certification numbers for staff they say is certified. Will one of their certified arborists come inspect the trees beforeany pruning work or treatments are performed? Are they accredited and insured? If they damage your property, will they be responsible, or will you? A logo doesn’t equal legitimacy. Nor does simply calling oneself an expert.

If you are trying to sell your home, Spiegel recommends you prioritize tree care and pruning, especially after an ice storm, because this is important to curb appeal and a huge selling point. “Trees add value to the property, help cool your home and neighborhood, break the cold winds to lower heating costs in the winter, and provide food for wildlife,” Spiegel said. “Homes with healthy mature trees also sell faster.”

Of course, when weather like Icemaggedon hits, firms with trained arborists and tree-trimming experts are often backlogged with customers, especially in areas with tons of mature trees like East Dallas and the Park Cities. Patience is important, Spiegel says.

“Don’t let anyone come in with a chainsaw,” he warns, “because they could cause irreversible damage to the structure of the tree, leave it susceptible to disease, and even harm the curb appeal and beauty of the tree, which will cost the homeowner money.”



Paigebrooke Fireplace 2You know how some folks make fun of those who build build huge homes with multiple fireplaces? Why do you need multiple fireplaces in Dallas, they jeer, it never gets cold here.

Yeah, right, and we never are without heat, are we?

There’s a reason for fireplaces, and the folks in these homes know that too well. They are warm and cozy right about now WITHOUT HEAT whether in their living room, family room, kitchen, trophy room, breakfast room, master bath taking a bath (you could heat the water over the fireplace, of course) hot tub (assuming somehow you could get that hot and bubbly without juice, maybe through a gas heater) or outdoor patio.  Why? Because these homes have a minimum of 8 fireplaces, and a few have nine — Mount Vernon over by White Rock Lake, and Paigebrook, my favorite home in the world out in Westlake. By contrast, Champs D’Or, which sold at auction last year, only had 7 fireplaces in 36,630 square feet of living space. Clearly, 7 is not enough but that did include a fireplace in one of the powder rooms, which guests would have appreciated during the Icepocalypse.

Perhaps that’s why it took so long to sell Champs — not ENOUGH fireplaces!

In California, you can no longer even build a fireplace, at least not in a new home, though I am sure the Silicon Valley elite find ways around this.

So here we go: to keep you warm today in case you are one of the 20,000 still waiting for juice to kick on your heat. Homes across the area with 8 or 9 fireplaces to keep you toasty, from Fort Worth to Flower Mound (lots of fireplaces up there) to Dalworthington Gardens in Arlington.

Read fast, before the natural light goes down…

Mt Vernon fireplace4409 West Lawther drive, aka Mt. Vernon, has nine fireplaces. See here how you could hang in the family room, read by the fire and even shoot pool if you lived here. This is, of course, the famous home of firsts in Dallas built by H.L. Hunt on the shores of White Rock Lake.

Mt Vernon ext

Now asking $19,000,000 (reduced from $29,000,000) this home has 10,511 square feet and enough fireplaces to survive any heat loss in the formals, master bedroom, and outside patio. The only thing I’d worry about is the cars in the 16-car auto concours and I cannot recall seeing a fireplace in the bowling alley. Ah well, that’s why there’s antifreeze!

5504 St Andrews extSt Andrews fireplaceNext on our list is an amazing house in Plano at 5504 St. Andrews Court, reduced from $5,875,000 to $4,950,000. How have I not seen this place before? Listed by Cindy O’ Gorman (of course, she has the BEST listings!) this pup has 8 fireplaces in 13,001 square feet.  Six bedrooms, six full and three half baths. It is, Cindy says, a masterpiece in European design, exquisite workmanship, and state of the art technology. It is tucked onto a private cul-de-sac lot with panoramic greenbelt & lake views from most rooms. There’s a wine cellar, elevator (oops that won’t work without juice), art galleries, and both upper & lower level sun decks that won’t do us any good today, will they? The walls are custom plastered walls, the floors are wood, limestone, & marble flooring, the kitchen is commercial to-die-for, and the outdoor living area has a saltwater pool, full kitchen and of course a fireplace. Note to owners: move that ceramic vase, get you some firewood!

Watagua fireplaceThen there is Watauga in Bluffview, off Midway. I have been meaning to write up this home for quite some time, it is one of my “O” homes! Giving it a once-over here because I have toured it and there is too much to cover. Suffice it to say: 13,713 square feet, six bedrooms, six full and three half baths, and eight fireplaces including one in the fabulous exterior kitchen pavilion. See here, take a bath by this fireplace and you will be all warm and toasty. It’s $7,500,000.

I really cannot wait to show you this home. Hint: it was built by a radio news personality. Stay tuned… don’t touch that dial…

More to come, must make this quick lest the Blogging Gods get irate… and I need more hot coffee…