102 Skyline A

Gone with the Wind was a childhood favorite of mine, with its winding storyline, genteel fashion, and dramatic romances. In one memorable scene, Scarlett’s father, Gerald O’Hara, an Irish peasant immigrant, proclaims in his rough brogue, “The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.”

That sort of mentality about the importance of land to heritage, identity, and wealth still exists, and there’s something visceral and deeply gratifying about owning actual land, as opposed to, say, stocks, which seem to exist in the ether.

If you’re an urban homeowner, the amount of land you’re likely to own is quite small, as plantations like Tara don’t exist within city limits. But there are properties in DFW with actual land, and for today’s Tuesday Two Hundred, I found one sitting on almost an acre in Collin County.

The house at 102 Skyline Dr. in Murphy is listed by William Duke of Carrington Real Estate Service for $259,000 and sits on 0.98 acres. It is located near the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 544 and S. Murphy Road.

Murphy is a fast-growing bedroom community of about 18,000 residents, bordered by Plano, Richardson, Wylie, Sachse, and Parker. It’s about 20 miles from Downtown Dallas, 35 miles from DFW Airport, and 25 miles from Love Field Airport.

This house is a 2,496 square foot fixer-upper with three bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and a pool. At $104 per square foot with all that land, I think it’s got huge potential. Jump to read all about it!

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Reno sign

We think we’ll stay in Reno. We’d never have dreamed as much — not if we could dial back to early 2012, anyway — but that’s the same story everyone has.

One of my fiancé’s colleagues has family members who promised, despairingly, that they’d “pray for” him when he relocated here. Naturally, he’s fine now.

“People come for an internship or something,” a local woman told me at a dinner party last week, as wine began to swirl up the part of my brain that’d prompt me to get her contact information, “and they wind up staying forever.”

We also know a couple in their 60s, a well-traveled pair with roots overseas, who quickly rented a place in Reno so they could stall long enough to find permanent property in California. That was decades ago. They never left.

Others, like my mother, hope to move here because her (sainted) future son-in-law and I arrived first, and because my stepdad would like all the classic cars and semi-rural properties. Mom is also 60, so she gets hot a lot — which makes her pretty livid during Texas summers. I get it. And I’m thrilled.

At any rate, we all hope to capitalize on Reno’s real estate market as it continues to recover.

Our neighborhood isn’t one for starter homes, though, and we haven’t mustered the guts to ask our landlady if she’ll sell.

Off Mayberry Drive, for instance — a nearby area with fewer historic buildings but better views and supposedly lower prices — I picked up an info sheet for a tiny, bare-bones 2/1, just for reference.

The house was nothing special, with boxy lines and no real landscaping or tree growth. Its asking price? $240,000.

Gulp.

That’s no real estate fortune, especially by Dallas standards, but the place was boring, and visually very similar to a mobile home. Ours is brick, nearly three times as big, full of mahogany trim and stained glass, and walking distance from trendy little bars and the Nevada Museum of Art.

This isn’t boasting. It suggests we may be renting well beyond our means, and that we should save for a down payment rather than get used to luxury we don’t own.  Even if it’s not a stunner, our future abode will be ours — ours to paint, ours to landscape, ours to mess with until it feels like a self-portrait.

Buying art and furniture to match our rental isn’t exactly a genius move, either, but I’ve been doing it. I’m too smitten to stop. And the fact that our neighbor’s ivy-covered house makes our living-room window into a postcard is no help.

TahoeMatt

 

Georgia Fisher’s fiancee, Matt, on the shores of Lake Tahoe, which is a matter of minutes from Reno.

“No offense,” my old friend Eric told me when he and his DFW-born wife, April, visited earlier this month, “but we didn’t think Reno’d be anywhere near this nice.” (“You see a lot of bare trees this time of year,” I’d warned them, “which’ll give you a clear view of all the titty bars. It’s general nekkidness.”)

Actually, it’s nothing like that. Not really.

We took our friends to nearby Lake Tahoe, of course, winding through heavy pines and early snow as our car made the roughly 2,000-foot climb.

April Thedford and Eric Reynolds

 

Georgia Fisher’s friends, April and Eric, were amazed by Reno and plan to move there, too.

“It’s like this is supposed to be home,” April murmured, her gaze fixed on an endless stretch of turquoise-clear water. “I just feel it.”

Another day, we zipped out to Virginia City — a touristy but convincing homage to the gold and silver rush that first brought prospectors to the area. The olde-tyme, hokey stores are one thing, but the mine carved into a mountain is real, as are the winding switchbacks that’ll lead you into town, and the striking old cemetery that seems to hang suspended over valleys as vast and quiet as the ocean.

Our guests liked Reno itself, though; the Middle Eastern food and hip secondhand joints on Virginia Street, for one, and the sweet people who’ll come out of the woodwork if you let them.

“That dude’s walking his cat on a leash,” Eric chortled as we made the very short drive from home to downtown.

“Yer cat’s beautiful,” I hollered from the car window, wondering if the longhaired old guy would take it as harassment. But his face broke into an ear-to-ear grin, and he waved hard as we took off.

By the time they left for Texas, our friends had decided in earnest to look for jobs here. April’s parents will be joining them, wherever they settle. This makes us so happy that we could scream loud enough to endanger the friendship itself, so we’re playing it cool.

They say Reno is how Austin used to be: friendly and funky and sort of small. We’ll take it.

photo (16)

 

After cleaning out their Uptown apartment, Georgia and her fiancee, Matt, were left with the essentials — an umbrella, a sombrero, an iron dinosaur, and a tub of Crisco.

Two out of two Realtors I’ve met randomly here in Reno have second jobs: one at a rental-car agency, and the other at a nursery.

Coincidence? I haven’t pried, but I doubt it. The city’s famously bruised housing market is still on the mend, however, and even made Realtor.com’s quarterly “top 10 turnaround towns” list in August, thanks to a median list-price that’s spiked 26 percent since the same time last year.

Let’s hope my social life does some spiking here, too, because cross-country moves equal cabin fever, which in turn equals over-eagerness to talk deeply with every cashier who’s ringing up my unmentionables at Walgreens. Or everyone in general, really.

The good news is that the more I scout out our neighborhood on foot, the more it feels like an open-arms, hippie Highland Park — from the gorgeous Tudor and Spanish manses that make our place look like servant quarters to the waving joggers and the Airstream trailer I recently saw parked on our street. The owner, a tanned guy in his late 50s, was packing it full of travel gear.

I wish he’d hang out with us.

“How’m I doin’?” Wyn repeated back to me with a mellow sort of West Coast drawl. “I’m doin’ just fine, seeing as I’m about to go surfin’ for a whole week.”
I told him my fiancé and I would be visiting the Netherlands in a few days, which was true.
“Wull hey,” he quipped, 10 seconds after meeting me. “Pick me up some hash while you’re there.”
“We sure will!” I blathered. False.

Many people around here are our age, actually — early 30s — with dogs and strollers and such, and we’ve wondered how pathetic it’d be to stick fliers in their mailboxes and ask them over for a barbecue/open-house. They’ve been stopping to look at our place from the sidewalk, at least, as it was recently overhauled.

It’s probably just regular-sized by many DFW folks’ standards (2,200 square feet), but this house feels massive compared the one-bedroom apartment we’d packed to the gills back in Uptown. We even have convincing-looking gas fireplaces that light up in a whoosh, as if Austin Powers himself has arrived.

Georgia Boxes

Granted, we also have doors that open on their own, beams that creak for no reason, a paranoid smoke detector, and a bathroom light that once flipped on in the wee hours of the morning.

I’d used it just a few minutes before, but whatever.

“Matt,” I hissed, shaking my fiancé awake, “I swear, this place is haunted or something. Which sucks, because it’s so cute.”
Matt’s got a scientific background. He’s also generally sleep-deprived.
“It’s 3 a.m., Georgia, and this is what, a 90-year-old building? Things creak and settle. Goodnight.”
“Matt.”
“WE’RE CALLING THE GHOST CARLOS,” he finally sputtered. “GOODNIGHT.”

That helped, but not much.

Then I recalled a talk I’d had a few years earlier with a well-known Preston Hollow real estate agent [Lydia Player]. I’d been working on a silly Halloween article, and was prompting this kind, professional woman to tell me something — anything — creepy about the business. Occasionally a house just gives you a weird, uneasy feeling, she’d finally told me. And those’re the properties that come back on the market every year or two.

A minute later, with Matt sighing loudly into his pillow, I pulled up our home’s tax history.

“See, this is what being a reporter’ll teach you,” I told him gamely.
“Go to sleep,” he muttered (“then find more work,” he probably added in his head).

My findings: Other than our landlady, who recently bought the house, it’s had just two owners in the last three decades. One passed away in her early 60s, and the other was her daughter, who assumed the property a few years ago. I didn’t tell Matt that I went so far as to pull up the older woman’s obituary.

I gulped. She looked like one of my relatives, and her eloquent bio described a sensitive soul who’d cherished her animals and her neighborhood.

“It’s not haunted,” I declared the next morning, feeling like a superstitious, shut-in loon.
“Of course it’s not,” my housemate replied, eyes a-rolling. “You’re just bored.”

There’s no Carlos here — no one but us, the cat, and the turquoise guestroom my Texan friend Anna will inhabit tonight on her way back from Burning Man.

A desert party sounds wild and everything, but I’d still rather have a roof — this one, character and all — over my head.

Georgia and Matt2(This is the second dispatch from Georgia Fisher — a lifelong Texan who has followed her fiancee to Reno, Nev., only to feel like a fish out of water in the desert. Find out more about Georgia in her first post here.)