Imagine a home that’s a brief drive to everything Manhattan has to offer, but also gorgeous water views that stretch from Larchmont Harbor to the Long Island Sound. (more…)

Nestled on a picturesque, tree-lined street in Boerum Hill – a relaxed village in the northwestern portion of Brooklyn, New York – rests an incredibly chic, Greek Revival brownstone that is a book lover’s dream, and it could be yours to the tune of $8.995 million.

“This is one of the single largest homes that exist in Boerum Hill, with nearly 8,000 square feet of interior space,” says listing agent Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers International. “The light-filled house spreads 6,473 square feet across five floors, with an additional 1,040 square feet in the full-height cellar.”

Can you guess which New York Times bestselling author is selling this home? Hop over to SecondShelters.com now to find out!

A home that has its foundation — literally — with one of the first settlers in what would become the United States is now up for grabs in New York.

Known as the Teunis Slingerland house, the original homestead was built after Teunis Slingerland purchased almost 10,000 acres of land near the Hudson River from a Mohawk tribe in what is now New Scotland, New York. (more…)

Whether you think it looks like mushrooms, alien spaceships, or Queen Anne’s Lace, the Mushroom House is either cool or weird. Or both.

This week’s Wednesday WTF has me conflicted. I mean, the house is definitely unusual and shaped like several mushrooms, but it’s also really kind of cool.

Meet the Mushroom House. Located in Pittsford, New York, it is 4,100 square feet of IDK and 68 square feet of WTF, and was built between 1970 and 1972, mostly by architect James Johnson for Robert and Marguerite Antell. (more…)

The former childhood home of Al Capone in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, now offers plenty of income potential in the form of two one-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom home.

This week’s historical shelter has been on the market for a little more than 100 days.

While someone’s finally put an offer in on the home at 21 Garfield Place, which listed for $2.449 million, the sale isn’t final yet — which affords us the opportunity to see the neighborhood Capone spent some of his formative years.

Check it out at SecondShelters.com.

Remove I-345

Bye bye Miss American Pie, see the potential life under the old highway?

There has been talk, a lot of talk, about removing a section of highway in downtown Dallas. Tear it out, get rid of the concrete somehow (landfill?), and then fill in the space formerly occupied by said highway with development. The proponent of this idea, an urban planner and blogger named Patrick Kennedy and Brandon Hancock, believe this would create greater cohesion between Deep Ellum and downtown Dallas, and make the city a whole lot better. It would create an entire new neighborhood and fill city coffers with new tax dollars.

While it may sound crazy to tear out, and not replace, a major highway, there is actually some proof that when this has been done in other cities, it works: people drive less, or drive elsewhere. I do not think living next to the continuous zoom of highway noise is particularly pleasant, but then some of the most expensive real estate in Preston Hollow is within earshot of the Dallas North Tollway. My husband is currently reading Robert Caro’s extremely long biography of New York City urban planner Robert Moses,  the “master builder” of mid-20th century New York and environs, an urban planner who favored highways over public transportation and helped create New York’s huge parkway network. (I read it back in grad school.) As I recall, Moses critics claimed he loved automobiles more than people, and they blamed him for destroying scores of neighborhoods by building 13 expressways across New York City. Of course, almost all  cities were building highways and inner city housing projects in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s such as Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. America was as in love with the automobile as we are our i-phones. In Chicago, the expressways run right into the city (under the U.S. Postal Service) and have to stop because of Lake Michigan.

Following suit, Dallas built this particular section of connective highway about 1971.

Truthfully, the more I read, the more I think this is NOT such a bad idea. Whenever I drive on this highway, I 345, the 1.7 miles seem like a whole lot more. It is also very confusing, kind of a mess. Anyhow, I think Patrick has some great points.

Unfortunately, the Texas Department of Transportation has made up it’s mind. Over the weekend, Robert Wilonsky reported that TxDOT  will rehab I-345, with 2020 as the target date for completion. It will take 20 to 25 years to complete and cost $100 million to rehab.

Great, just what we need: another LBJ mess, this time downtown, for a longer period of driving hell. Replacing I 345 with a tunnel or something else would have cost $100 billion, though I am not sure what that “something else” was — unlike Boston, we have no water channels to bore through. TxDOT was also concerned about what would happen to the cars that travel this road.

“We talked about two options,” Jordan says. “When they say it’s too expensive, what they mentioned to us was rebuilding it either at grade or like Central. Then there’s the other option, which some have promoted, of taking it out and not putting back a freeway. And the problem with that is putting back the cars. Where do those 170,000 to 200,000 cars per day go? They mentioned that as well.”

animal_house_2But the funniest part of this story, at least to me, was to learn how many people in Dallas have never watched Animal House, one of my favorite movies.

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” he says. “We’re told a tear-down of IH 345 and re-construction of the vibrant, multi-cultural area it destroyed into a complete neighborhood of homes, restaurants, theaters and businesses once there is too expensive. TxDOT’s solution is $100 million to last 20 years. There is no benefit but preventing a collapsing viaduct catastrophe. The tear-down as proposed by A New Dallas would have a similar cost — not a burial — and extraordinary economic, social, and environmental benefit.”

Kennedy has been chided for saying the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, not the Japanese.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, for God’s sake go see Animal House.

Jenna Bush baby familyI’ll bet Jenna Bush Hager and her cute hubby, Henry, sure wish they had bought a place in Dallas. They would get a bigger home to bring home baby Mila, and mom and dad would be nearby. Instead, because of work, they bought a cute townhome in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore back in 2008, shortly after they married. They tried to sell the 3 bedroom, 3 bath historic home that dates back to the 1880’s in late 2010, to no avail  They lowered the price to $449,000, only $9,000 more than they paid, according to Curbed. Still no action. So they did what any smart young couple does who wants to move to New York but owns real estate: they leased it. Jenna Baltimore townhome 2 Jenna Baltimore townhome

Lo and behold, intrepid reporters at The Baltimore Sun decided to go all out “Woodward and Bernstein”-style: they discovered that Jenna and Henry were still getting a homestead exemption on their property taxes for owning the house, even though they had moved away. Get this:

That month, The Sun reported that the couple had moved out of their end-unit home in the 1300 block of S. Charles St. after 21/2 years and put it on the market. Days later, The Washington Post reported that the Hagers had decamped for New York so Jenna could be close to her twin sister, Barbara, and the “Today” show, where she’s a correspondent. Tax-credit activist Matt Gonter quickly alerted state assessors to the development. A month later, though, Henry Hager notified the state assessments agency in writing that the house was still the couple’s residence, Charles said. In an interview, Hager said that until July of last year he was living in the house during the week working at Constellation Energy and traveling to New York on weekends to be with his wife.

But then, oops: when the new tax year began, the Hagers got their tax break of a whopping $296, a break they should not have “enjoyed” because the house was now a rental.

“That is an honest mistake on my part,” said Hager, adding that he called the state assessments agency Monday trying to set things right. “I wasn’t familiar enough, quite frankly, with the tax credit and its existence. I’ll repay whatever I owe.”

That $296 is really going to plump up the Maryland economy. All this complication with property taxes is enough to drive a young person to rent!

They may be talking Fiscal Cliff in D.C., but you can only say good things about our housing market unless, that is, you live in Chicago. Or New York. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Index shows home prices continued to rise in October, with prices up 4.3% annually within the 20-city composite index that S&P scrutinizes for us.

Why October? Because right now, in December, that is the latest month that has all the documentation in and complete from the recording offices across the nation.

S&P says it’s a “sustained recovery” in home prices, and S&P does not fool around. I heard Robert Shiller speak in 2009 and he was Debbie Downer when it came to housing then. S&P is not the only research firm calling for the bubbly. Lender Processing Services says that pre-owned housing prices are now up 4.3% year-over-year in October. In September the index was up 2.1%; it showed a 3.4% annual gain in October.

Poor Chicago and New York were the only cities with negative home price returns for October. September was a better story:

“The five MSA’s where home prices fell in October but not in September were Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis and Seattle”

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, says housing is gaining strength. The strongest performances are in the southwest and California, like Phoenix where homes were selling for a quarter on the dollar just a few years ago.

Over the holidays, I met a delightful Phoenix transplant to our region who told me they had no problem selling their home to move here.

And again, we hear what I have preaching to you since Day One: real estate is a LOCAL story. You have to look at individual markets which show us how high we’ve come from the bottom pits of 2008/2009. And right now, even old, icky stuff is moving in Dallas,

See this treasure? It was vacant for more than 22 years in Oak Lawn Heights, Rob Elmore of the crack Garrey & Elmore team at Keller Williams got six offers in two days and closed in under thirty days… for 98% of list.

Dallas home prices were up 4.6% over October 2011, with a few gyrations there in September and October that I don’t really care about because I know how busy everyone is selling.

Blitzer almost seemed to say that our market is “normal”, like it was pre-steroidal market:

“San Francisco and Phoenix have also rebounded from recent lows by 22.5% and 22.1% with prices comfortably higher than 12 years ago,” said Blitzer. “The smallest recoveries are seen in Boston and New York, two cities in the northeast which suffered smaller losses in the housing bust than the Sunbelt or California.”