“Beck is also wisely excluding the mineral rights to his property, though I doubt anyone would drill in Vaquero.”

Glenn Beck may be trying to sell off some of his Westlake property because, according to various news reports, his media empire is not doing all that well currently. According to The Daily Beast, just a couple weeks ago:

The right-wing cable and digital media company—founded by Beck shortly before he exited Fox News in 2011—fired another round of staffers this week, shrinking a workforce that has already been reduced to less than 50 employees, according to two sources who spoke with The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity. The two sources also confirmed that more than a dozen employees had been laid off over the past several days.

I don’t know, maybe it’s the new tax bill. Maybe the very private Beck can no longer afford his almost 10,000 square foot spread on three and a half acres at 2224 King Fisher Drive in Westlake, where tony Vaquero is nestled, now that he can only deduct $10,000 of the approximately $57,000 in property taxes on the place. I mean, we assume Beck lives there: the home is owned by the “Prince Whipple Trust” headquartered at the same address.

“Prince Whipple Trust” also owns 11.8 acres directly behind the King Fisher property, likely for added security. These two properties at 4101 Aspen Lane are not formally on the market.

Beck moved to Texas in 2011 and first leased another Vaquero home belonging to Jorge Piedra and Swarovski crystal heiress Vanessa Swarovski, now his ex. Beck never bought the 7,900 square foot home that was sold at auction to Greg and Klaudia Brady. Rather, the Becks perused the area for their dream home, landing on Brant Jobe’s spread at 2224 King Fisher, down the street.


Word from the Fort Worth Star Telegram that Glenn Beck has settled on a location for his media empire: The Studios at Las Colinas. Nice, but not too close to his home in Vaquero. I was in the posh gated community over the weekend and asked how the latest famous Vaquero resident was doing: pretty low key. I’m told neither he nor Tania have not been out and about that much. Maybe been too busy shopping for studio space. He withdrew his bid for his first choice of locations, yee old Gateway Church building in Southlake, for his radio and TV studio facilities. Would have been a lot closer. So Las Colinas will be the home of GBTV, with a soundstage that will hold 500 people.

Wowzers. Where will they all park?

So just who all lives in Westlake — or rather Vaquero, the toniest of the luxury developments out there off Dove Road? Glenn Beck. Mark Charles Teixeira. Chuck Greenberg. Jonas Brothers fam — Kevin and Danielle moved to LA last October. Ben Crane, K.J. Choi, Todd Hamilton (was leasing but closed on his house one month ago), plus Tiger Wood’s ex- golf instructor Hank Haney. Lots of baseball celebs: Vernon Wells, who plays for the Toronto Blue Jays, is building a 15,000 -plus square foot home, as is the ex-CEO of Exxon-Mobile. Vanessa Swarovski, heir to the famous crystal family, is the owner of the home Glenn Beck is leasing. Matthew Rose, CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe lives there. Who have I forgotten? Justin Leonard, whose home was Realtor Eleanor Mowery Sheets’ first listing in Vaquero.

Justin Leonard lived here

Kevin & Danielle Jonas

Mark Teixiera's place

Glenn Beck aka Swarovski's

I hope not, because I just calculated that we have had a 32% increase in the physician population of our state since 2000. And that’s good news for Texas real estate.

Now a commenter offered a different look at Texas Real Estate. Can’t say I totally disagree with him, he’s spot on about property taxes:

Candy, keep on spreading propaganda about Texas’ economy. Keep believing that you will be able to pay the bills as a real estate agent. Texas has the nation’s highest property taxes (not to mention the nation’s highest homeowner’s insurance and highest closing costs), making Texas one of the worst states to buy real estate.

Stop cherry-picking inaccurate cheerleading pieces on the economy and real estate and start getting patched into reality. It’s a depression; a depression in real estate and a depression in the economy. And it isn’t going to end anytime soon.

So no cherry-picking. There is a real possibility that our government won’t be able to meet payroll in August. Social Security checks, military veterans, Medicaid payments to physicians and hospitals — the president has warned that without a budget deal by the August 2 deadline,  “there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it,” Obama told CBS TV. I have a tenant who depends on her social security check to pay rent. if she cannot pay it, then how will I pay my mortgage payments on the property? If this happens, truly the dominoes will line up.

Experts say such a default could cause a spike in interest rates, which we do not need right now, of course. That’s a gloomy national outlook, of course, and the current upward blip in home sales could very well be wiped out. That’s also national. If all of this happens, all states will suffer.

But do you agree with this comment? Glenn Beck may be loving Texas because we have created 4 out of every ten jobs in America and pay no state income tax, but our corporations pay taxes and our property taxes are among the highest in the nation. And many analysts say those jobs we are creating are not exactly for rocket scientists — many are low level clerical. Or the hamburger flippers at In N’ Out. Over at The Business Insider, Beverly Mann picks on that recent cheerleading story in the LA Times on Texas job growth written by Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University. Other states cannot duplicate our oil and commodities industries, but they can learn from our limits on taxes, regulations and lawsuits:

“At the same time — and this, of course, is the tough part for those on the left to swallow — it is clear that the state’s limits on taxes, regulations and lawsuits are contributing to the job machine. “The most important thing I think that’s happened to us is tort reform,” Fisher, the Dallas Fed president, has said. He added that when John Deere and other companies have decided to hire in Texas, they’ve been largely driven by steps the state has taken to cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits and to make it harder to bring product liability and class-action cases.”

She goes onto say that Texas is a “lowest-common-denominator state”  for pro-business laws, which is why it is attracting businesses from other states, grabbing the hiring  that would have gone elsewhere. Yet she says the numbers don’t prove that tort reform helped, because companies can get sued from other states, and doctors are not flooding in to work in Texas.

Wrong. Doctors are actually coming here in droves because of tort reform. Checking with the Texas Board of Medical Examiners, there were 33,622 licensed physicians in Texas in 2000, prior to tort reform. By 2005, there were 41,316 physicians, by January of this year there were 50,595 and 51,058 by May, 2011. That’s a 32% increase, some of which comes with our general population growth.

If we had NATIONAL tort reform, that would solve her other beef. We did some very good things in Texas which is why we created 43% of the new jobs in America from 2009 to 2011, a brutal period.  Things may be bad out there, and they may get worse, but I’d still rather be buckling my seat belt in Texas

Glenn CloseI found this piece in the LA Times over the holiday weekend — it takes a brutally honest look at the Texas economy. One of every four jobs in the U.S. has been created in Texas post-recession — something I know you’ve heard here before, but the sound is now resonating loud and clear across the nation all the way to L.A. Which is why, of course, Rick Perry is exploring a presidential run. Never mind that he has not had all that much to do with those jobs (not all CEO’s that’s for sure) as well as keeping our economy afloat and one of the high spots in the U.S.A. But as the writer, Rick Wartzman, points out, Texas has some quirks that can not be replicated elsewhere. For one, when the price at the pumps go up, so do we:

“Aspects of the Texas economy are unusual, if not unique, and it will be difficult or impossible for other states to replicate them. For example, the energy industry is booming right now, as are agricultural commodities destined for export — a boon for a huge cotton and beef producer like Texas.

What’s more, thorny trade-offs surely exist. Texas is attracting businesses, in part, because it has low taxes. But that, in turn, makes for a smaller safety net, which is one reason Texas has a high incidence of poverty and, compared with every other state, the biggest proportion of its population without health insurance. There are also serious questions about the quality of jobs in Texas. A “right to work” state, it is tied with Mississippi for having the biggest percentage of workers paid at or below the minimum wage.

But even with these significant caveats, Texas has long been the most robust jobs engine in the country, and its policies and practices deserve deeper reflection. Some say, for example, that an increase in education funding 25 years ago lifted the quality of the workforce. “That set the table for job expansion,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Mitchell Schnurman has asserted. (Budget pressures in Texas are now forcing education spending to go in the other direction.)”

Also worth a second look: the way we limit HELOC lines on homes to 80% loan to value ratio, which saved our butts big time this last go ’round. And we passed tort reform, which has helped medicine somewhat and is one reason why businesses are relocating here. Our real estate market did not bubble in most areas, our high end market is doing quite well. 

And that may be one reason why Glenn Beck decided to relocate here to North Texas. His move means that, more than ever, Texas is going to be in the limelight as a place where we have done many things right these last few years. Looking at the other side of the political spectrum, last fall, Glenn Close came to Dallas looking for underwriting for a film she desperately wants to make, a project she and her producer, Dallas native Bonnie Curtis, affectionately call “Nobbs.” Albert Nobbs is a feature film adaptation of George Moore’s  Irish short story of the same name, and  Glenn says when she played the role of Albert off Broadway twenty years ago, she felt a connection that never left her. Here’s a Dallas connection that will never leave her: Glenn picked up major bucks to get “Nobbs” into production.

Those of us who know exactly what goes into the sausage may be snickering, but like an 80 year old woman with a great facelift, we are looking pretty darn good to everyone else. Countless CEOs want to snag a second or third home here to take advantage of our lack of a state income tax. I say, come on in and drop some major bucks in our economy along the way.

All this, my dear readers, is good news for Texas property values.

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

Remember when, right after Lehman Brothers tanked and the market crashed in fall of 2008, how plain brown shopping bags were the rage? Conspicuous consumption was out, and the wealthy did not want anyone to know that they were blowing $90,000 a month on revolving credit at luxury stores when so many people were out of work. (My friends who work at Neimans tell me there was a marked increase in deliveries right about this time.) Anyhoo, the brown-shopping bag trend has now spilled over to Real Estate. It is very in, now, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal, to build a home that looks, well, normal, maybe even smallish from the front, but sufficiently gigantic from the back or rear view:

“Architects are seeing more houses with unassuming façades that explode in size when viewed from the back, or homes split into multiple buildings so they’ll look less massive, or even homes that New York architect Lee Skolnick calls “McRanchions”—1950s ranch houses given luxury makeovers. “There’s a trend we’re seeing—it’s called ‘perceived thrift,'” said Chris Rose, an architect based in Charleston, S.C. “It’s kind of like the ladies going to Bergdorf’s and still buying stuff, but putting it in a brown bag.”

I’m trying to think of any Dallas homes that look unassuming from the front but wow out to massive square footage once you get in — nothing comes to mind, yet, except for a a fabulous home I know in East Dallas on West Circle Drive that looks like a modest ranch but has a full basement wine cellar below it almost bigger than the house. I can think of plenty of homes that strut their stuff like a woman showing off cleavage after a boob job — bigger is better, right? I wonder if and when this trend will hit Dallas. We are certainly seeing a rise in gated and private communities, like the Creeks of Preston Hollow and Vaquero, where folks like Glenn Beck can live as luxuriously as they like and no one can see to dissapprove or bring out the pitchforks.