A few years ago some savvy brokers figured out that, rather than pay astronomical prices for luxury print advertising in local glossy magazines, they could take their dollars and create their own magazines. This way they could offer ads to every one of their agents at affordable, wholesale prices, create a beautiful product they had 100% control of, and mail it to the wealthiest households in Dallas. The venture was so successful all the top brokers in Dallas — Ebby, Dave Perry-Miller, Allie Beth Allman, and Briggs Freeman — now have their own coffee-table worthy publications.
I contribute to some of them. The fall/winter 2016 issue of Ebby’s Grand Vie: Luxury in Living, is out and being read in more than 60,000 homes across Dallas-Fort Worth. That’s about the equivalent of the total net circulation of our local city magazines. Of course, magazines are touched more than once and I see Grand Vie in homes and offices everywhere, both east and west. East is Dallas and northern properties, west is Fort Worth and the delectable offerings of Williams Trew Real Estate.
My specialty, of course, is vacation home properties and I am currently be smitten with Lake Tahoe. I get crushes on vacation home communities all the time, from Calistoga Ranch in California’s wine country to the Bahamas and Costa Rica.
But Tahoe! Jump for the full version of my Tahoe report that runs in this month’s Grand Vie. The issue also has fabulous fall decorating tips from our very own Shay Geyer of IBB Fine Furnishings. Then jump over to SecondShelters.com to see some of the stunning homes of Martis Camp, the vacation home playground of Silicon Valley. Oh oh the places we will go!
I ran into a friend over the holidays right about the time I was mailing off my water bill, frantically. Seems I had switched from paper to electronic billing, but then the emails never arrived, I got busy, and yes, I faced the holidays with a termination letter from Dallas Water. One of our refrigerators broke down and defrosted because power surges during the ice storm blew the computer panel. Just got the dryer repaired, then the pool heater broke. Our friend has a couple homes he has to maintain, and commiserated: how do you manage to keep up all your homes, I asked?
“It’s almost a full-time job,” he said. “You have these systems — heat, A/C, the pool — and at any given time one or another can go out. That’s why you have multiples.”
This friend keeps an Excel spread sheet of when every bill is due at each home, and lists all the systems — heat, A/C, hot water heaters, pool equipment, appliances, by date and when last repaired. And he never leaves home without it.
There must be an iphone ap for this?
Dallas resident Lisa Harvell has three homes, one in Lake Tahoe, one at Lake Whitney, and one in Dallas.
How does she keep them organized?
I am naturally an organized person, says Lisa. The properties outside of Dallas are very low maintenance. At Lake Whitney, it’s more natural, there’s no grass to mow, and Lake Tahoe is totally rustic.
“All we have used out at the lake is a weed eater,” says Lisa, who works at Timious Real Estate Title & Development.
No Excel tricks for Lisa — “I’m old school,” she says, “I just pay the bills when they come in the mail.”
Do you really use your homes, I asked?
Yes! Lisa and her husband of 44 years go to Lake Whitney, to their two bedroom, two bath log cabin with an awesome porch, almost every weekend in spring and summer. It’s a one and a half hour drive. They hit Lake Tahoe 3 to 4 times a year, flying in to Reno and then driving. That home is also a two bedroom, two bath single family with a great room and huge deck located in Tahoe Vista, population 200, on the north side of the lake.
“As you can tell, I spend half my life on that deck,” she says.
Right now, one son lives in the Tahoe house, which makes upkeep a lot easier.
Does Lisa have any second thoughts about multiple home ownership?
You have to be invested emotionally, she says. She loves being in and around nature, and has no plans to lease her casas.
“I bought them for the love of the area,” she says. “I have a high stress job and need a lot of short trips to decompress.”
Tell us how you manage all your real estate properties, keeping up first, second and third homes… it’s pretty amazing!
Editor’s Note: Meet Georgia Fisher. She’s a talented writer, and we are just pleased as punch to have her on the CandysDirt.com team. A seasoned journalist and feature writer, Georgia is pulling up stakes and moving from Dallas to Reno, Nevada, with her surgeon fiancée, Matt. Here’s the very first installment of “Renting in Reno.” Enjoy!
By Georgia Fisher
Coming from Dallas, I had little interest in Reno real estate. Not at first, anyway.
It started with a glum sigh on the flight to Nevada from Love Field last December, when my fiancée brought me along for his big job interview. Sometimes the desert looks gorgeous from the air, like a moonscape or a giant, sediment-dragged fossil that’s been splashed here and there with gemlike water. Other times, it just makes you feel thirsty and alone. Or so says a native Texan who’s never lived more than a few hours from her mama.
Take this from the same genius who thought Las Vegas was a couple hours away — try seven and change — and that trees can’t grow in the desert. Actually, the Biggest Little City in the World has an artistic, outdoorsy soul all its own, with mild summers, countless festivals, and quick access to coveted hiking trails and ski slopes in luxurious Lake Tahoe.
Even so, if the property ads I’d found online were any indication, our home would probably be a beige-painted, beige-carpeted dwelling on a treeless lot with convenient beige gravel in place of grass.
I was wrong about that, too.
“There’s no shortage of beautiful homes,” said Reno real estate agent Paul Studebaker. “There’s a shortage of beautiful homes that are for sale.”
And rentals — one of which we’d be needing — comprise more than half the houses on Reno’s market, which bottomed out famously a few years ago. In May, the city’s median sale price was up 32 percent from that of a year before, however, to $218,000.
It was through an indirect correspondence on CraigsList that we finally found our dream house — a three-bedroom, two-bath Chicago Bungalow with two studies and around 2,200 square feet that we’d kill to buy someday — in the city’s Old Southwest neighborhood.
Architecturally, Old Southwest is a bit like the love child of Dallas’ Kings Highway Conservation District and the M Streets, perhaps with a Park Cities auntie in the mix, thanks to its insular feel and top-flight public schools.
It’s a walkable area near trendy businesses, the Truckee River, and a natural food co-op — a place where kids zip around on scooters in a bubble of Rockwellian safety, and where at least one street sign is overgrown with ornamental vines that turn all shades of fire in autumn. The houses are often small, built with brick and full of exquisite details from a bygone era.
Ours, as luck would have it, belongs to Nancy Gilbert, a construction attorney who’s made an art of bringing distressed properties back to life. She and her husband, Tim, recently pulled off an impeccable Spanish revival, among others. And right next door to it on Joaquin Miller Drive — one of various Old Southwest streets named for writers — is their picture-perfect English Cotswold cottage.
Decor is my obsession, but something about our new landlady rocks the little perfectionist in me to sleep. She’s combed the country and the world in search of the right vintage light and window fixtures, for one, and can rattle off the home’s historical stats in a long breath.
Had Nancy not approved us as tenants, we would’ve debated taking a place in Reno’s Mayberry neighborhood with a dated, borderline-heinous 1970s interior that stands in contrast to its stunning mountain views (at a cost of around $2,200 a month, though we saw plenty of prettier, smaller Nevada homes listed for $1,200 or less), or a high-rise, two-bedroom apartment in a so-so, seedy-after-dark part of downtown for around $1,900 a month. That one was chic inside, but it wasn’t right.
Reno, however, is just fine. Or it will be if our Dallas friends come visit.
Y’all had better.
Georgia Fisher is a freelance writer currently vacationing in Europe before taking leave of her senses and settling in Reno, Nevada. Leave a nice note or freelance writing lead for her at firstname.lastname@example.org.