alaskaAlaska folk, I’ve always imagined, are pretty hardy folk made of some pretty stern stuff, although I admit that my knowledge of Alaska’s residents is mostly gleaned from Sarah Palin, Northern Exposure, and whatever I remember from U.S. History classes.

So when I heard about a town in Alaska whose residents mostly all live in one apartment building, I realized that they’re way stronger than I even imagined — because most of the 200 residents that call Whittier, Alaska, home live in the 14-story building called Begich Towers.


Staff Meeting Hostess Minnette Murray shares a surprised look with husband John

Staff Meeting hostess Minnette Murray shares a surprised look with husband John – a patriotic red dress, white shirt and blue jeans.

Last night, 30 real estate geeks met to celebrate Minnette Murray’s listing at the W Residences. Despite being postponed because of rain (that ultimately never came) and competing with D Magazine’s “Best Realtor” event at the Dallas Arboretum, we had a pretty full house.


Candy’s Dirt executive editor Joanna England and Candy Evans herself

Candy stayed all night even though she’d yet to pack for her 6 a.m. flight to Miami for the National Association of Real Estate Editor’s annual convention. I’m sure she’d have continued the party right on to the jet bridge if not for those pesky liquids rules.

The rest of Candy’s crew was out in force with Amanda Popken, Karen Eubank and ‘lil ol’ me.  We soldiered on without Bethany Erickson and Leah Shafer – more wine for us!


Museum Tower New Neighbor

Insert New High-Rise Here

Well, that didn’t take long. We know downtown dirt is getting pricier by the minute. So the news last week that the Dallas Symphony Foundation is selling a side-lot on Pearl and Woodall Rodgers to Lincoln Property for $7.2 million wasn’t too surprising. The smidge-over-half-acre lot had been a grassy area for about 20 years, at times punctuated by sculpture.

Lincoln Property plans to erect a 23-story tower on the site with 250,000 square feet of office space and ground floor restaurants.


View Main

One of the main drivers for purchasing in a high-rise is the view. A buyer walks in “Oooo-ing and cooo-ing” as they’re transfixed by panoramic views. Other minor problems sometimes fall away, subsumed by the cliché “million-dollar” view.

Buyers must remember that while they’re sold on the view, their purchase actually stopped at the glass. The view, like that tiny free bottle of water from the sales office, doesn’t last forever. Even back in 535 BCE, Heraclitus knew, “No man ever steps in the same river twice.”

Dallas’ building boom is only speeding up the process of high-rises springing up to block (and themselves only borrow) those million-dollar views. If a permanent view is important to you, careful evaluation and broken rose-colored glasses are required.



See that little green landing pad (behind the post)? It’s a doggie pee and poop pad for high rise dwellers. No kidding! Located on a ninth floor balcony at The Ritz Residences, Lamberts installed green turf over a drainage system. They rinse it thoroughly once a week and poof, you never have to put on your make-up (or clothes) again to take Spot down to do his or her duty.

Brilliant. Can’t wait to show you this place!

With high occupancy rates and increasing rents, it's a good time to be a landlord.

Looks like developers are working hard to keep up with demand as new apartment high- and mid-rises are going up across the region.

StreetLights Residential, a boutique development company, is building its first high-rise dubbed The Taylor, set to open in 2014. The uptown apartment building, which has rents in the $1,000-and-up range, is just one of the many rental properties planned, in construction, or opening soon.

And according to a study from Axiometrics, average rents are on the rise, too. For Dallas, occupancy is tight at a little more than 94 percent, and average rents are at $879, which is a 12.7 percent increase over 2009. To get a taste of the upscale rental market, check out the Oak Lawn area: rents have increased 19 percent since 2009, with average rents at more than $1,500.

So, are we becoming a nation of renters? And, is that a bad thing?

As Candy mentioned, restrictive lending practices and tight-fisted banks despite historically low interest rates. So, more mortgage restrictions means fewer homeowners means more renters, right?

This story from MarketWatch says increased rental occupancy and prices can really be traced to the slow recovery from the recession and high unemployment:

The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 8.2%, and incomes have stagnated. Fewer Americans can afford to buy a home or qualify for a mortgage, especially given tighter lending standards. As a result, home ownership declined again. It fell to 65.4% from 66% in the fourth quarter, putting it at the lowest level since 1996.

Well, what do you think? Is it a renter’s market? And is that a bad thing in our economy?