Norman Brinker’s Dallas Mansion

All we hear is how print is dying, but the Wall Street Journal plows ahead. The smarty pants at the Wall Street Journal announce a significant beefing up of global (and all) real estate coverage beginning this Friday. Oh and guess what: it’s going to be on mobile and the ipad, too.  Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of Dow Jones & Company and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, says what I have believed for years: “We all like to think of our home as a mansion, even if it is a humble abode, and we all have the license to aspire, so we have created Mansion to be the home of both aspiration and real estate realization.”

Agents have told me the Journal is one place they get a lot of mileage from with print advertising but oh boy is it ever pricey!

Serious House Pron coming up — herewith is the press release about “Mansion” — the Journal’s new :



Friday Journal Section to be Renamed; Showcase Expanded Arts & Culture, Sports

NEW YORK (Oct. 2, 2012) – The Wall Street Journal will debut a new weekly section covering the global luxury real estate market on Friday, Oct. 5. To serve a global audience, “Mansion” will appear as a stand-alone section in the Journal every Friday in the U.S., with select content appearing each week in the Journal’s Europe and Asia editions. Relevant content will also be presented across’s Chinese, Japanese and German-language editions.

Along with additional features and coverage on, all Mansion content will be available via the Journal’s universal app for iPhone and iPad.

“The mantra for real estate has always been location, location, location – the location for the most intelligent, original, trustworthy and insightful journalism on prestige property is now The Wall Street Journal,” said Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of Dow Jones & Company and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal. “We all like to think of our home as a mansion, even if it is a humble abode, and we all have the license to aspire, so we have created Mansion to be the home of both aspiration and real estate realization.”


Mansion will offer in-depth stories from a global team of journalists, including property-focused coverage with industry statistics and a focus on high-end financing; luxury real estate topics from iconic buildings and renovations to investments associated with those projects; distinctive neighborhoods and properties around the world; unique views from select residences and more.

Buoyed by the Journal’s existing staff of real estate reporters as well as a newly formed dedicated team for Mansion, led by editor Emily Gitter, recurring features include:


  • The Market: A data-driven look at a sector of the luxury market;
  • House Call: A notable person recounts a real estate adventure;
  • Private Properties: High-profile transactions and property news;
  • The Balance Sheet: A profile of a renovation project;
  • Who Lives Here: An in-depth profile of a building or iconic block, the notable people who live there, the history and recent noteworthy sales;
  • Inside Story: A profile of a prominent individual home;
  • Portfolio: A look inside the real estate portfolio of a well-known person;
  • Jumbo Jungle: How to finance a luxury home now;
  • The Trade: The business of buying and selling; real estate brokers on the rise; trends in marketing homes and more;
  • Foreign Correspondent: A guide to buying homes overseas, with a look at the quirks of the particular local real estate market. will also unveil an enhanced experience on Friday at, the Journal’s portal for property coverage. A dedicated page for Mansion will have all slideshows, including House of the Day, as well as videos and articles exploring the world of high-end homes. WSJ Live will also offer a daily segment focused on real estate as part of its Lunch Break show. In conjunction with launch, Wall Street Journal real estate reporter Lauren Schuker Blum will host a chat Friday at 1:30 p.m. EST on to discuss how the luxury-home market is being redefined.

Complementing Mansion, The Journal will continue to cover real estate news and features in its national news pages, the Greater New York section as well as Personal Journal and WSJ. Magazine.

In addition to the launch of Mansion, the current Friday Journal section in the Journal’s U.S. edition, which previously featured real estate coverage in addition to arts, will now focus on arts, culture and entertainment, showcasing the Journal’s expanded coverage of these areas.Renamed “Arena,” it will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic Joe Morgenstern, a leading team of television and theater critics, and the Journal’s growing arts staff’s reporting on movies, music, television, books, art, and new media. The Journal’s sports coverage, currently part of Friday Journal, will also appear as part of Arena.

Mansion will be included with Arena as a single section in some U.S. markets.


A number of advertisers across multiple categories have recognized the opportunity Mansion presents to target the Journal’s affluent and influential audience. Launch advertisers include Coldwell Banker; Extell Development Company; LandVest; Luxury Portfolio International; NetJets; New York Design Center; Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate; Related Companies; Sheldon Good & Company; Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, LLC; Stribling Marketing Associates; and Sub-Zero and Wolf.

“We know our audience is already well-versed and interested in the high-end real estate market, and Mansion provides advertisers the opportunity to speak directly to that audience with a proven affinity for real estate and the subjects and trends surrounding it – from investment to renovation to design,” said Michael Rooney, chief revenue officer, The Wall Street Journal.

“Today’s consumers are demanding a single source for all the latest intelligence on the world’s luxury real estate markets. The new section delivers this in a timely, consistent and trusted way, providing critical insights into the globe’s most far-reaching markets,” said Wendy Purvey, chief marketing officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “With the Sotheby’s International Realty® network’s expertise and global presence, The Wall Street Journal is an ideal outlet for educating buyers and sellers on the latest industry trends and showcasing the most extraordinary property available today.”

“We are thrilled to support The Wall Street Journal’s newest section and see it as an exciting way to share our brands’ stories about food preservation and great cooking results with new readers,” said Michele Bedard, vice president of marketing for Sub-Zero and Wolf. “Our work with The Wall Street Journal has been integral to the engagement of readers and consumers that are as passionate about design and cooking as we are at Sub-Zero and Wolf and look forward to the same with the addition of Mansion.”




To a real estate junkie like me, this was almost as exciting as getting a new Porsche: People are starting to get wise about Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller report. Did you notice that numbers came out this week, Monday in fact, the news was pretty bleak IN SOME LOCALES, but no one (here, at least) freaked out? Then the Wall Street Journal produced what I think is one of the most significant real estate articles in eons. If you don’t subscribe and cannot read it, here is what it says in a nutshell: REAL ESTATE IS A LOCAL STORY.

Finally, some wisdom, what I have been preaching long as I’ve been blogging. Not only is real estate a local story, it is a HYPER LOCAL story, which is why Park Cities and now Preston Hollow home prices are inching upwards. Which is why North Dallas and Bent Tree is still soft and the caboose on the train.

A smattering of home-price indexes is painting a confusing picture of where housing markets are headed. One reason for the confusion is that there’s no such thing as a national housing market. That may have been true in 2004, when all housing markets rose together, or in 2008, when they all fell together. But one difficulty in writing about “the housing market” is that there isn’t “one” market—and increasingly, the nation’s many housing markets are moving in different directions.

What we are seeing are serious price declines in some parts of the country — what did someone who recently visited Detroit tell me? A home a guy bought there for $525,000 on the riverfront, once appraised at $625,000, can now be bought for $35,000. Pennies on the dollar. Atlanta, God help those poor people. (The plight of the Atlanta market will hurt second home sales in the Redneck Riviera.) Chicago is a wreck probably waiting for Obama’s re-election to pull them out. What perplexes me is that the likes of California and the Northeast are not jumping out more, with agents in the Silicon Valley area saying don’t count on the FaceBook IPO to generate any upward pressure on prices as the boom once did. New York City? Rents are going up faster than hemlines. From Bloomberg, who says investors are swooping up apartment buildings as fast as they can:

In UDR’s four other Manhattan properties, leases are being renewed at average rents that are 9 percent to 14 percent higher than a year earlier, Alcock said. New agreements are commanding rates that are 9 percent to 13 percent more. The buildings are 97 percent occupied.

New York is an international city, an economy protected, in a sense. The costlier it gets to live there, the greater the class disparity — only peeps who can afford to live there are those earning in excess of $500K a year, or their post-grad children. In Texas, we have oil and don’t punish developers — or jobs — as much as California does. Listen to Joel Kotkin:

Well, Texas has created 200,000 oil and gas jobs over the past decade; California has barely added 20,000. The state’s remaining energy producers have been slowing down as the regulatory environment becomes ever more hostile even as producers elsewhere, including in rustbelt states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, ramp up. The oil and gas jobs the Golden State political class shuns pay around $100,000 a year on average.

Want more proof? Recall my Tuesday $200 of last week? Under contract four days after the post went up. I’ve got more big sales news for you next week and Tuesday, Champ D’Or closes…




I laugh whenever I read that American homes are getting smaller. Maybe SOME homes. But custom homes for the uber wealthy here and elsewhere are bigger than ever. True, there is my generation of Baby Boomers who are contemplating downsizing. Had lunch with Mickey Munir last week of Sharif-Munir Custom Homes, who told me about a fabulous new zero lot line development for people like me he is developing on Forst Lane called ‘Iris Hollow”. (Details coming soon here on CandysDirt.)

“The Baby Boomers want to downsize, but they still want it all,” says Mickey. “They may want smaller homes, but they want them loaded with more — built in coffee makers, great finishes, specialty rooms, and a pool in the backyard.”

When the 10,000 plus square foot home owners want to downsize, it’s to 6,000 square feet. As for the super wealthy, Mickey says he is still building ginormous 10,000 square foot plus homes despite all the blather about American homes getting smaller.

So I was not at all surprised by the recent story in the Wall Street Journal called “Living Very Large.” In fact, Dallas is sprinkled liberally throughout the article. “You don’t need that much space,” says a Dallas businessman who recently completed building a 28,000-square-foot home for himself and his family. (Who is this?) He says he and his wife planned to build a roughly 13,000-square-foot home, but their plans just kept on growing. The architect was a really good salesman, [and] we just kept dreaming, I guess.”

And it quotes Dallas builder John Sebastian, who is apparently also now building in LA:

In the fall of 2008, clients were saying, “It’s not the right time to do the big house on the hill,” says contractor John Sebastian, president of Dallas-based Sebastian Construction Group, whose current roster of projects in Dallas and Los Angeles spans 13,000 to 24,000 square feet. As those sentiments dried up, business has picked up, he says.

That big house on the hill John is referring to might be his project for the Robert Dedmans, who tore down an Austin stone home at 4930 Park Lane they’d owned since 1992 (I loved this house) and built a gorgeous Preston Hollow estate of almost 24,000 square feet on the 4.14 acres in Sunnybrook Estates. The house is most definitely on a grassy hill, the kind you can just roll down. Mark Molthan, who said he was also interviewed for the WSJ article, is the king builder of enormous castles in Dallas. The economy may have dipped, but Molthan remains busier than ever building manmmoth homes on huge lots and didn’t even stop when the bubble burst to check numbers: his price point was as safe as a pacifier. Mark catapulted into the limelight when he built the Luxe Showcase home in The Creeks of Preston Hollow a few years ago. He also built Veruscha and Thomas Dundon’s 13,000 plus playground on Southbrook that includes a swim park, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a virtual batting cage and baseball diamond, putting green, go-cart track, a slide from the first floor to the second in the family room Traildust (Steakhouse) style, and an outdoor slide. The pond is also said to be filled with fish, occasionally. They could have also included what many wealthy homeowners have on their list: a shooting ranges (good ventilation is key to avoid inhaling contaminants), underground tunnels to other buildings on the property, underground garages and panic rooms.

Not on the market now, but banker Gerald Ford’s Hunter’s Glen HP home is 25,791 square feet. Tom Hicks home really isn’t all that large — 29,000 square feet — but it has the servants quarters (1400 square feet total) and 25 gorgeous Preston Hollow acres.

In fact, 25,000 is about the average square footage for the Hedge fund kings, investment bankers and succcessful financial titans. They must talk home building at corporate shareholder retreats, exchanging notes over what all you can get for $1000 a square foot. According to the Census Bureau, the average size of a newly completed single-family home peaked in 2007 at 2,521 square feet, falling to 2,392 square feet in 2010. But that’s for us worker bees. The mega rich are building big, like the 49,300-square-foot building designed by an Parisian architecture firm for Hyatt hotel heir Anthony Pritzker. The Wall Street Journal says it, like most of these homes,  involves a “small army of specialized consultants and boasts amenities like a bowling alley, hairdressing area and gym.”

Where’s the closet patterned after the Chanel boutique in Paris? A beauty salon and ballroom? Sounds just like our very own Champs D’Or up there in Hickory Creek, 36,000 plus square feet and on the market forever, asking $35,000,000 now for less land, but I hear the owner will entertain offers coming in at half that.

The Joural piece focuses on how building these monster homes creates jobs and employs networks of artisians, almost becoming a commercial project.

The scope of these projects makes them extremely complex to construct. Finding or assembling the property can take several years, and the design and construction of a super-size project can take up to five years or more, builders say. (These days, lower labor costs in some areas can mean quicker turnaround times or better value.) Just finding parking for the 100 to 200 tradespeople that can be on-site for a big job, compared with the eight to 20 people typically working on a 4,000-square-foot home, can require planning; commandeering church parking lots is one standby. In addition to a general contractor, a 40,000-square-foot home construction might involve a design architect from out of town who comes up with the conceptual design; a local executive architect who deals with the builder; an owner’s representative; a structural engineer; a landscape architect; a landscape attorney; an interior designer and acoustical, lighting and waterproofing consultants.”

Jobs. At every 5,000-square-foot mark, says a New Canaan, Conn. builder, a house becomes something different. 20,000 square feet and above a house is more akin to a commercial than a residential project, requiring industrial components that are tucked away so the home still feels inviting. After completion, you’ll need golf carts for traversing estates (my son used to play on these at the Lacerte, now Kelcy Warren nine plus acre estate on Park Lane), plus elaborate security systems, etc. etc. not to mention domestic labor.

Jobs. And now, in California, it seems publicists are also getting their fingers in on the mega home building budget. One homeowner has hired a publicist to promote opposition to a “70,000-square-foot compound (downsized from 85,000 square feet) for Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud, son of the king of Saudi Arabia.” The homeowner, wife of Oaktree Capital Management founder and billionaire Bruce Karsh, is probably not living in 2400 square feet herself.  She sems to be directing her anger at Peter McCoy, whose Los Angeles-based construction firm, Peter McCoy Construction, is building Mr. Pritzker’s 49,300 square foot home as well as Al Saud’s. She’s stirred up more than 1,500 residents of Benedict Canyon who signed a petition expressing their opposition to the project.

John Sebastian, still sure you want to build in LA?.