Actress Hilary Swank hosted the best ticket in town Saturday night, a Super Bowl XLV dinner party at 10660 Strait Lane, the home of Lillie and Phil Romano. The entire event, and let me tell you it was 700 people strong,  benefited The Giving Back Fund.

Why am I writing about this social event? Ah, so glad you asked. It happened to take place at one of Dallas’ most talked about homes on the market, the Phil and Lillie Romano estate that has been on the market now for, oh, four years. This is the home that caused a huge fight between me and Mama, ’till we kissed and made up. P.S. Mama told me Phil was none too happy with her little write up.

Now Phil Romano is totally my kind of man because he, too , believes in having many homes. Almost a year ago, he bought 4838 Shadywood, a lovely hilltop Bluffview home on one acre that was restored by Downing Thomas and George Lewis in 1993. The 4769 square foot home has three bedrooms — two masters, actually — three full baths and two half baths. There is an infinity edge pool, landscaping by Robert (not Ralph) Bellamy and a 1080 square foot guest house. Full disclosure: my daughter spent many a fun time playing in that house as a child. The former owner was none other than dynamic Briggs Freeman Realtor LeeLee Gioia.

The home was last listed at $2,595,000 and DCAD has it valued at $1.8, so my guess is it sold somewhere in the middle. Most beautiful property on a street that reminds one more of Greenwich, Ct. than Dallas. Kay Bailey Hutchison is just around the corner. Anyhow, not sure exactly why Phil and Lillie bought Shadywood while they already have Strait, except that I totally get it. What is my mantra? Repeat after me: One can never have too many homes! Phil did buy and redo 4645 Meadowood in 2007 — Erin Mathews and David Nichols got that moved lickety-split. The Romanos dig real estate. Strait is on the market for $12,500,00.¬† First listed with Doris Jacobs in 2007 for $17,500,000 — hey, it was that kind of market then, can we even remember those days? Now listed with Claire Dewar of Briggs Freeman/ Sothebys for $12,500,000, Strait is a 4.697 acre estate with gorgeous views of the grounds, private lake with fountains, waterfalls and a creek side setting. Really much more like a resort, Strait is 14,680 square feet with eight bedrooms, 8.4 baths (guess that means four half-baths, I cannot recall from when I was in the home, but it is a lot of Charmin) and get this: 9 living areas. Also wine room, media room, tennis court, and I would not be surprised if Phil had a putting green or three. Media tonight was banished to the garage — don’t get me wrong, gorgeous garage and they had a heater and Mojitos — so I am relying on “memory” here. But this is a house born to party, party built right into her DNA, so she was in her full prime. And how smart is Claire Dewar to bring in the glitterati of Hollywood while in town for XLV? You know one of those celebs might just snap up chez Romano Strait, pack it up and take that house back to LA on someone’s G 5. I know what they were saying: in LA, baby, this house would be well over $30 million.

Over on FrontBurner, My Sweet Charity‘s Jeanne Prejean has a great photo of Phil, Hilary and Lillie. Why is Hilary wearing a tee shirt and jeans? Jeanne reports the airlines must have lost Hilary’s luggage and party frock. Did what any gal does in such a situation — happened to me at The Greenbrier this summer, in fact — go shopping. But despite her need to do laundry, don’t think Hilary flopped in any one of those 8 bedrooms. No sir, she’s staying down at the Crescent Rosewood Hotel along with Jesse Metcalfe — remember that¬† hot young gardener on Desperate Housewives who got it on with Gabby, aka Eva Longoria? I’m told Jesse Williams (he plays Dr. Avery on Greys Anatomy)
Michael Clark Duncan, Brian Baumgartner, Tony Romo and Miles Austin are also staying at the Cresent. By the way, Rosewood just opened Rosewood San Miguel De Allende. And guess what’s next? Give up? Second homes by Rosewood in San Miguel De Allende.

Don’t touch that dial!

It is a tribute to the power of the real estate market that one of the major advertisers in this year’s game, again, is HomeAway.com. (Click here to see their unique, customizable spot — travelers can insert their faces as a main character in the commercial and vacation rental home owners can feature their listings. I’m even in this one!)¬† The Austin-based firm offers a comprehensive on-line smorgasbord of vacation homes for rent, what many of you may know as VRBO (vacation rentals by owner) dot com. The company is doing extremely well, and growing, because more Americans want to monetize their vacation home properties, and more families want to stay in private homes when they vacation.

But HomeAway.com is not the only one doing well: Dallas Forth Worth home rentals are up a whopping 3271% increase, year over year, all thanks to the Super Bowl. Says HomeAway:

When we examined the number of renters who say they want to rent for Super Bowl weekend specifically, we found that for the Miami area, Super Bowl weekend in 2010 received a 232 percent YoY growth in demand from travelers. Again, keep in mind that Miami Beach, South Beach and Miami consistently ranks as one of the most popular vacation destination among all destinations on our site, so to grow an addition 232% is very good. In looking at Super Bowl weekend for this year in Dallas ‚Äì we examined the number of inquiries from travelers to the DFW area — the results are a 3271% YoY increase.

Dallas/Fort Worth is doing much better on a percentage basis than Miami- but given the smaller sample size (less than 100 homes in D/FW on HomeAway.com and VRBO.com site vs. more than 1,500+ homes in Miami). this isn’t an apples to apples comparison. Still, more evidence that Super Bowl XLV has been great for Dallas/Fort Worth real estate.

HomeAway also tells me there are a number of D/FW owners who have entered the vacation rental market in the past month or year, chiefly to gain from Super Bowl weekend. The number of properties on HomeAway.com has grown by 240 percent,  year over year.

Think of all the blow-outs it must have taken to get this palace. From my blogging co-hort John Burgdoff, I have unearthed the ultimate place to stay for Super Bowl in Dallas: 5540 North 40 Place in North Dallas. As if this 20,000 square foot, nine bedroom home crammed full of everything wonderful¬†— media room, exercise room, spa, sauna, game room, pool, outside kitchen with pizza oven, formals, all on four fab acres, is not wonderful on its own. No, the owner has thrown in some teasers, all¬†for your Super Bowl viewing pleasure: private chef, Ferrari 360 Modelo, limousine service to the stadium, fetch and drop-off in a private Lear jet, oh and18 Super Bowl tickets.

This is the North Dallas palace of the late Guy Mascolo, one-half founder of the Tony & Guy hair salon chain. Guy died in 2009, but his wife, Flora, lives in the palace it took her six years to build. (We can see why!)

Staying in this place five nights would cost you a tab of $280,000 for five days. That’s kind of pricey, even if 18 people share the joint at $15,000 a pop, but if you can talk them into taking that Lear for a joy ride¬†anywhere your heart desires, what a bargain!


Example of a Bluffview property for sale

Word from Rogers Healy that he scored a $90,000 lease for two very happy Bluffview homeowners. One of the biggest names in rap and entourage booked the homes for Super Bowl weekend — four days. The homes were not for sale nor on any rental sites. Happy homeowners turning over the keys and heading straight to the bank…

This is a house for sale in the area. It’s $7,499,900. (Don’t choke.) Little Friday morning House Porn live from Dallas, Texas!

Update: the home pictured here is NOT the home leased out to the Super Bowl crowd, but a beautiful home for sale and an great example of what you get in Bluffview. For $7,499,900, of course…

Now that hotel rooms are getting as scarce as a prostitute in church for the big weekend, means more D/FW folks might be renting out their homes for Super Bowl XLV. I KNOW many homeowners would like to get a nice, big, fat deposit, turn over their keys, and then get out of town while everyone else comes in, clogs the highways, hogs our restaurants. A cool new site called iStopOver.com is offering to help link Green Bay fans who cannot find hotel rooms with homes. Check it out if you want to lease your home.

But stranger, danger to your home? If you are serious about this rental deal, you should call your insurance company first and obtain an extra policy for the term of the rental. No kidding: we had a graduation party chez Evans for 300 plus kids, and so paranoid were my husband and I that we bought a policy to cover the night of the event. Like, what if someone falls and trips in your home — will your umbrella policy cover it if they are a tenant? Will your scheduled prized possessions be covered? Do you have at least one closet where you can lock away the silver and that $40,000 painting — wouldn’t want champagne spray or red wine on it now, would you? Hosts in Augusta, GA, home of the Masters, tell me they keep special linens for the rental guests — towels, sheets, blankets and pillows.

And then, there’s this: Clorox cleans only so much. Some experts say the reason people want to rent homes is that they want to turn your home into a dang brothel. 15,000 women are estimated to be heading our way to turn Dallas into a hotbed for hookers. Not sure a wad of cash is worth having all that “activity” in my house and hot tub!