Photos: Shoot2Sell

When I saw this charming 1938 Hollywood Santa Monica Tudor, I didn’t even recognize it as the same adorable cottage, at 6804 Vivian Avenue, that I’d written about three years ago. I couldn’t put my finger on why I failed to remember it, as the prominent leaded window with stained glass accents is such a standout it’s hard to forget. Then there’s the unique domed living room ceiling with a diamond center — equally memorable — and it was on the Hollywood Heights Home Tour in 2007.

What was the subtle, yet major change that had been made to make this home completely different?


Richardson Reno Today’s Tuesday Two Hundred takes us to a North Richardson reno with over 2,000 square feet and interior updates that look stellar.

The house at 3307 N. Spring Dr. near Renner and Jupiter roads is a total reimagining of the space: it was built in 1984, but looks modern and enticing. This 3-2 has 2,154 square feet covered in rich-looking hardwoods and new carpeting, with fantastic kitchen and bathroom updates.

It’s located in Plano ISD, a highly ranked district which takes students from Plano, northern portions of Dallas and Richardson, and portions of Allen, Carrollton, Garland, Lucas, Murphy, Parker, and Wylie.Richardson Reno Inside this unassuming brick house, you’ll find a kitchen that looks like this! Who would guess?

There’s also a bonus second living area with wet bar with granite counters, and throughout the house, the angled ceilings and fresh paint in a palette of grays give this place an unusual, memorable look.

This house is newly listed for $276,000 by Brian Shuey with Ebby Halliday Realtors. Let’s take a look at what makes this house shine.


1505 Elm

There’s a new downtown property on the market that’s got the kind of luxury amenities you usually see on Turtle Creek, but for under $300K: a sixth-floor corner unit on Elm Street at North Akard with a stellar view, modern interior, and prime location.

The condo at 1505 Elm St. #604 is pretty much everything I imagine people desire in a downtown Dallas address: big, open floorplans; high-end appliances; awesome amenities; and easy access a DART light rail station across the street.

This 1-1.5 with a study is 1,482 square feet, listed by Gregory Iker at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate for $235,000.

1505 Elm Y

Dallas architect George Dahl designed 1505 Elm, which was constructed in 1957 and served as Dallas Federal Savings bank for years before being abandoned. In 2002, it was part of the first wave of residential redevelopment in downtown Dallas, bringing 68 units to the market.

They didn’t cut corners in this building: it has an incredible level of amenities, which helps explain the whopping HOA fees of $1,001 per month. But those fees earn access to a 24-hour concierge, valet parking for residents and guests, a pool, sauna, private dog run, fitness center, Moroccan-style party room with billiard table and caterer’s kitchen, three high-speed elevators, and a super cool former bank vault that is now a wine cellar with a large dining table and individual wine lockers for residents. There’s even access to downtown tunnel system through lobby.


There is one phrase we are hearing a lot less of these days: “We’ll get it back when we sell the house.”

Used to be, you could sink money into your home almost endlessly and rest assured it would come back to you, maybe even at a profit, when you sold. Buyers often have little vision to see how great a home can look, how it can change with new paint or minor renovation. So many agents advise sellers to have homes looking perfect, as if they were ready for a shelter magazine photo shoot. Perfect walls, floors, everything. Many sellers think they can create the rooms of their dreams and recoup the cost upon selling.

But there is increasing evidence that, these days, unless you keep those projects practical, you might be throwing good money down the toilet. According to Remodeling Magazine a solid front door is good while a tricked out master suite is bad: you won’t get 100% of your money out.

Is this true?

Each year, Remodeling magazine looks at the hottest home upgrades and renovations and then calculates just how much owners get back with they sell.

Not surprising that upkeep is more popular than upgrades these days, according to Remodeling’s Sal Alfano, editorial director. But prices and returns do vary regionally, he says, so what brings in more buyers in say Phoenix (um, weed?) may not be a must-have for the Dallas buyer.

Fr example, I think we are all about outdoor kitchens. I thought that would be a given in northern California, but it is not. Maybe that’s the “southern” touch in Dallas. But Cali buyers are much more into Feng Sui.

So what brings the lowest return when you sell? High-dollar, high-end and highly personalized add-ons that make you drool except — would you put your money there? A super luxe master suite addition — we’re not talking just bathroom and marble, we are talking sitting room with Yoga floor, coffee and wet bar: $232,062 to put it, you get out 52.7%. A sunroom averages about $75,224 to put in but do not count on getting more than 48% of that back. (I would think you’d do better with a sunroom in the north, not the south.)  An extra bathroom costs about $40,000 to put it — I always figure $50,000 when I look at homes because I like nice plumbing, but the experts say you only get 53 cents on the dollar back.

I disagree: give me a home in Midway Hollow with two bathrooms and you are pulling a higher sales price than a one-bedroom bungalow. 

Back up generators are great to play up the “safe from doomsday” scenario, but they cost about $15,000 to install and you’ll only net 48.5%.

Home office: I find this surprising, too. It costs about $28,000 for the average home office addition or finish out, and experts say they net only 45% of that. Of course, does anyone count in the deduction for the home office?

Then there’s the garage. I’m sorry, but I love a showplace garage. I have artwork in mine. Why oh why should you come into the same spot day after day to see ugly chaos? Super Dallas builder Cy Barcus got me thinking this way when I wrote about his personal home — his garage is pristine and beautiful, loaded with so much art it looks like a gallery. Oh and the doors are glass.

But the fancy-pants garage costs $90,053 and you get back 53.6%. That’s even better than a bathroom!

To summarize, the six improvements that rank dead last nationally when it comes to getting the dollars back at resale: home office remodel, back-up power generator (“doomsday is coming”), tricked out master bedroom suite, sunroom, a bathroom addition (I totally disagree) and fancy-pants garage with rubberized floors, car wash stalls, and antique gas tanks.

You know what other room I think we cannot live without in Dallas? The laundry room.

What do you think?