07/25/16 5:08pm
The image that turns beachfront dreams into nightmares

The image that turns beachfront dreams into nightmares

With Darby in the rear-view mirror, it seemed an appropriate time to remind readers that second homes aren’t all worry-free fabulousness.  If you can’t bear the thought of seeing this picture aimed at your vacation paradise, renting may be the way to go.

Second home living is almost always wonderful, but you have to understand what Mother Nature can toss your way … be that hurricane, earthquake, forest fire, blizzard, flood, tornado, or even a volcano. I say this because many popular vacation home locales are in more precarious areas than our main homes … because often these precarious settings are also beautiful.

What’s “lucky” for Hawai’i is that Darby  dropped from hurricane to tropical storm and only drenched Hawai’i with flooding and minimal power outages. When Darby passed my home Sunday night, it produced a ton of rain, nearby minor power outages, and definitely a day of window-rattling, but being a solid concrete structure, it didn’t sustain significant damage.

Thankfully, it’s not 1992’s hurricane Iniki which was the most powerful hurricane to hit Hawai’i in recorded history. It’s also important to realize sometimes damage goes deep.  It’s only been in the last few months that the Coco Palms resort on Kaua’i, destroyed by Iniki, was demolished with a plan to rebuild … 24 years later.

Sun, surf and sand are enticing, but as Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting said …

Be Prepared.

Remember: When I’m not stirring up trouble in Dallas, Texas or Honolulu, Hawaii for Candysdirt.com and SecondShelters.com, I’m off scouting interesting locations for a second home.  In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. If you’re a Realtor with second home clients who’d like me to feature their journey, shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com

07/23/16 2:18am


Breckenridge, Colorado; Santa Fe, New Mexico, which I have always called a bedroom community of Dallas, South Padre; Galveston and the Gulf Coast of Florida: Alys Beach, Watercolor, Seaside and Rosemary Beach. Panama City Beach was 8.3% of all Dallas originated searches. This according to a report from the folks at Trulia, who checked into which vacation hot spots are becoming more popular for second homes, and “which are being ditched in favor of sandier beaches.”

Interesting that Texas is becoming a popular destination for people in colder climates seeking warm weather, while we are escaping to cooler climes including McCall, Idaho. One of the top ten most popular vaca home spots is Hallettsville, Texas, a rural stretch in Lavaca County between San Antonio and Houston.  (more…)

07/20/16 6:05pm

Saugatuck Beach 1

Growing up in Chicago, Saugatuck was one of many beach communities where folks who went to beach communities went.  My childhood summers were spent in the cement pond rather than a sandy lakeside beach.  In my 20s, I discovered Saugatuck and its sister city, Douglas, located on the Lake Michigan side of …. well … Michigan.

At that time it was a sleepy, arty town with tons of vacation home rentals and B&Bs, that earned the nickname the Provincetown of the Midwest.  Today, it’s become quite a bit more upscale and professional-level touristy.  But the beaches are still great (and shark-free!).  In 2010, Budget Travel named it one of the 10 coolest towns in America.


07/19/16 10:18am


Ahoy there! Dreaming of a place on Lake Texoma? Here ya’ go, literally!

Just listed: the first pre-owned residence in Harbor Village, a flotilla of homes on Lake Texoma which casts new meaning to the term “house on the lake.” Taking a cue from Oregon and Seattle, developers of Harbor Village at Flowing Wells Resort & Marina brought us Texas’ first floating housing community: low maintenance, decked out (sorry, the pun is irresistible) vacation homes with private boat slips a few feet from the door, amenities close at hand, and amazing sunsets right off the porches, all just an hour and a half or so from downtown Dallas.

Jump for the scoop …


07/18/16 12:48pm
AP Photo/courtesy Mel Evans)

AP Photo/courtesy Mel Evans

With the Republican convention going on this week, New Jersey governor Chris Christie is probably downing the Xanax. Maybe an extra dose.

First of all, he did not get anointed as Donald Trump’s running mate. Which may or may not be a bad thing.

But worse, his appointee to lead the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his former AG,  pleaded guilty to a bribery charge recently, admitting that he schemed with a lobbyist to delay approvals on a project just to pressure United Airlines to retain and re-launch a money-losing flight to South Carolina because of, are you ready? 

His vacation home. In Aiken, South Carolina.

1400-aiken-sc-oaks.imgcache.rev1390363997605.web.1400.720 (more…)

07/15/16 8:16am



Wyoming real estate may be hot, but the temperature is a whole lot cooler up there. And Texans just love it, including our Governor, who had an unfortunate mishap there involving hot water.

And if you saw Ebby’s latest Grande Vie magazine, you may have seen my latest vacation home story on the Snake River Sporting Club, just outside Jackson.

This summer marks the 125th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park, the great national treasure and home to half the world’s geysers, grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk. The lure of Yellowstone draws millions of visitors every year, and this year may be a bonanza.

Now you can own your own small (or large) piece of Wyoming at one of the finest residential and lifestyle club communities in the northwest: the Snake River Sporting Club at Jackson Hole.

In 2013, a group of Atlanta investors known as Cygnus, run by Christopher Swann, brought a strong infusion of capital to complete, rejuvenate and develop the club. 

They have spared no expense: 11.5 million plus 2 million for the golf course. 

Located just south of the confluence of the Snake and Hoback rivers, about 12 miles from the town of Jackson, the Snake River Sporting Club offers 800-acres of unbelievable lifestyle experience. Live and play here when it’s 110 degrees in Dallas, and just be kind enough to put all the fun on Facebook. Owner/investor Christopher Swann says it is the perfect marriage of rugged nature and authentic western lifestyle.  I have already mapped the mileage to Dallas: 1309 miles. A 20 hour drive or a direct 3 hour flight on America. Or there is always private.

SRSC Bridge

This is truly God’s country. (more…)

07/15/16 1:17am
SPI is a sliver of beauty surrounded by sand

SPI is a sliver of beauty surrounded by sand

South Padre Island (SPI) is as close as Texas gets to tropical Gulf breezes on sun-kissed shores where the water doesn’t look a mini-marshmallow away from Swiss Miss (Galveston).  SPI also isn’t an island. SPI is a city located on the southern tip of Padre Island which is the longest barrier island in the world. The whole caboodle is 200 square miles.

SPI has always served a colorful clientele operating as Texas’ laid-back Key West or a haunt for Spring Break Betty Ford wannabes.  But it’s also home to a mess of sea turtles, the SPI Music Festival, Splash SPI and … who knew … the Texas State Surfing Championships.  But all that’s so much icing on the cake.


07/13/16 12:14pm


It’s no surprise that Hawaii captures the imagination of people dreaming of a getaway. Tropical breezes, the deep blue Pacific, technicolor sunsets, and lush greenery set the stage for a dream vacation or the ultimate home away from home.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International have announced the winners of the HGTV Ultimate House Hunt, a month-long online contest held on HGTV.com each year.

The contest highlights exceptional homes from across the globe in eight exciting categories: Waterfront Homes, Master Retreats, International Homes, Living Large in Small Spaces, Bringing The Outside In, Kids’ Spaces, Classic Living and Making an Entrance. All featured homes are represented by members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International. Consumers vote for their favorite, and a winner is chosen at the end.

This year, Hawaii cleaned up, winning honors in three categories as well as the overall winner. Massachusetts homes won in two categories, as did Florida homes and the International award winner is located in Lugano, Switzerland.