Category: Real Estate Quarterly

Cellars Worth Celebrating

10777 Strait Lane. (Courtesy Dave Perry Miller)

Serious entertaining may involve serious amounts of wine. Hosts know the importance of maintaining an adequate supply. For more than 3,000 years, wine-drinking cultures have designated special places for their grape-gifted vice.

But a wine cellar is more than just storage space. It is a place to showcase a prized collection and celebrate the elixir of the gods. Some bottles may evoke treasured memories of past travels or sublime meals. Others represent promise of special days deemed worthy of a ceremonious decanting.

Those who don’t partake in wine may find such talk the height of absurdity. But for those who love their vino, these houses offer some of the most spectacular settings to admire and imbibe.

Trending in the Kitchen

The Housewares Show in Chicago features the latest in cookware, appliances, and other products. (Photos: Christy Rost)

I’m detouring from my usual cooking column and recipe this month to focus on what’s new for homes and kitchens. Each spring, the International Home + Housewares Show draws more than 2,200 exhibitors and 62,000 attendees to Chicago’s McCormick’s Place. During the four-day event, the latest innovations and trends in household small appliances, tableware, décor, gadgets, and everyday living solutions are presented to buyers and members of the media.

As a chef and passionate home entertainer, I always feel like a kid walking into a gigantic candy store when I attend the Housewares Show. My eyes are bombarded by vivid colors, textures, familiar and unfamiliar logos, cookware of every size and shape, the latest innovations in small electric appliances, and booths carefully designed to draw attendees inside. It doesn’t take long before I envision a springtime table setting with exquisite new glassware, patterned dinnerware, and colorful linens, a springtime dinner party using a, innovative tabletop grill, or the fun of serving summer cocktails in double-walled champagne glasses.

During three solid days of visiting as many brands as possible, and armed with an overflowing appointment show calendar, I identified seven top home trends for 2017 designed to make our lives easier and our homes more comfortable, organized, stylish, and safe.

Grandmother Creates Fairyland in the City

A round door welcomes visitors to the guest house. (Courtesy The Mamones Photography)

In a home on an acre-and-a-third of Dallas ground there lives a hobbit-loving lady.

Not an old historic home steeped in Big D lore, nor yet a typical modern mansion like those going up in the Park Cities: It is a feather-wearing eccentric collector’s home, and that means bottles mortared in between uneven stones and real Montana trees in the great room.

The Shire of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings lies along the Great East Road in Middle Earth, far from the threats of Mordor.

From Black Box to Information Onslaught


For every generation before us that dreamed of one day purchasing a home, the process was opaque and incredibly complicated. Buyers sought out real estate agents not just for their charm and hand-holding through the process, but because those agents were the only ones who knew which homes were actually on the market. Short of slowly driving block-by-block through your dream neighborhood and writing down addresses with For Sale signs in the front yard, choosing a real estate agent was the only way to ensure that you could even find a home to buy.

I don’t have to tell you that this is clearly no longer the case. With the advent of companies like Zillow and other online real estate databases, today’s consumers have access to nearly as much information as those very same agents. Just 10 years after its founding, Zillow says that nearly nine out of 10 homebuyers now use the Internet when searching for a home. And we’re not just talking about Millennials here. 71 percent of those over the age of 65 search for their next home online. And that figure skyrockets up to 90 percent for those between 18 and 35.

Gateway Up for Grabs

The vacant land near the convergence of Armstrong Avenue, Lakeside Drive, and Oak Lawn Avenue where it becomes Preston Road is on the market. (Photo courtesy Allie Beth Allman)

One of the last undeveloped tracts of land in the Park Cities is drawing intense interest, according to representatives from Allie Beth Allman and Associates.

The 1.17-acre triangular plot bordered by Lakeside Drive, Armstrong Avenue, and Oak Lawn Avenue is being marketed as the “Gates of Highland Park.” While the land has been for sale since mid-fall, tall wooden signs erected just before New Year’s have generated increased attention.

“I can’t think of another location that would be more desirable,” former Highland Park mayor William D. White Jr. said.

In 1906, real estate developer John Armstrong purchased a large amount of land just north of Dallas for $276 an acre. The city’s population had more than doubled following the turn of the century, and was fast approaching 100,000. Armstrong saw enormous potential in the area he dubbed “Highland Park,” so named because it sat on high terrain overlooking downtown.

Balanced Market Brings Opportunities for Buyers, Sellers


While active home listings in Preston Hollow and the Park Cities dipped in the fourth quarter, 2016 brought greater housing inventory overall, creating opportunities for buyers as well as sellers.

New listings may not be likely to go under contract instantly in a wave of multiple offers like they would a few years ago, but home prices remain strong and sellers who have done quality renovations are still rewarded, according to Shell Stegall, senior vice president and broker with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, who has spent 25 years in real estate.

“It’s not quite so chaotic now,” she said. “It’s becoming a little more balanced between the power of buyers and sellers.”

Active listings in 2016 averaged 22 percent higher than in 2015, according to data from North Texas Real Estate Information Systems Inc.

The Art of an Estate Sale

Photos courtesy of Help Me Ronda

Drive through Preston Hollow or the Park Cities any weekend and you are likely to stumble upon an estate sale, but you may not know what goes into the process behind the scenes.

A garage sale might be run by a homeowner looking to get rid of some things and make a few dollars, but an estate sales involve liquidating the entire contents of a house. This can require a specialist’s help.

Many owners brings in property liquidators to oversee the entire process, from organizing the event to staging the contents and pricing them based on their research and expertise. These professionals earn commission on the sales.