07/27/15 3:56pm

Riad Pic 1

Morocco can be quite reasonably-priced for Western residents, and the city of Marrakech is as good a place as any to have a second home. I just returned from my first international mission for CandysDirt.com, scoping out the real estate scene in Marrakech. (OK, so I embellish. I’d already planned a vacation and did some investigating on the local real estate)

Marrakech is an interesting place, and Morocco is a bit of a mix with everyone who was anyone having invaded over the past 1,000 years. There were the native Berbers, then came the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Turks and most recently the Spanish and French who only left in the 1950s (the French left their language).

There is a certain faded Moorish charm peering out between the third-world chic of everyday Marrakech. I admit being fearful of Marrakech being like “tip-y” Egypt, where everyone, including airport security, wanted a tip (because my bag miraculously appeared on the other end of the X-Ray machine – true story). It’s not. Aside from the souk merchants and their hard sell haggling, it was pretty stress-free for a first-world resident visiting a third-world country.

But nor is it the Marrakech of the over-romanticized 1940s Casablanca film (Sam played it again in a different city for a start), nor the swinging 1960’s “Marrakech Express” of Yves Saint Laurent’s jet set hippy crowd.

Minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, built 1190AD

Minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, built 1190AD

No, the Marrakech of today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also seeing a building boom resulting from King Mohammed IV’s goal of doubling tourism by 2020. Building boom? Yes, Marrakech has more cranes than Dallas these days, albeit shorter ones (the city is not tall). I would hazard a guess that the old city is all two and three stories with no building taller than four stories (unless it’s a mosque minaret).

Much of the building consists of new hotels, golf courses and second homes for foreigners. Morocco, it seems, is turning into a North African Scottsdale or Boca Raton for aging Europeans. But it’s not all new…

If you’re looking for a second or third shelter, there are two types of homes available in Marrakech for differing buyers.

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07/22/15 1:41pm
There's nothing quite like a Texas lake house. This one, at 1901 Park St. in Azle, is located close to Fort Worth. All photos: Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty

There’s nothing quite like a Texas lake house. This one, at 1901 Park St. in Azle, is located close to Fort Worth. All photos: Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

Lakeshore living is at its finest in the Lone Star State, where these five lake house will surprise you with their views, amenities, and luxury. Take a look at a couple of our favorites places for relaxing this summer, thanks to Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty.

Elegant Exclusive on Eagle Mountain Lake

Texas Lake House

Texas Lake House

1901 Park St., Azle

Listed by John Zimmerman for $2.099 million

Just northwest of Fort Worth is Eagle Mountain Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in North Texas, spanning 8,694 acres. This house has gorgeous views, and the 2.77-acre property is heavily treed with an engineered sea wall and extensive drainage system. The drive-up to the house features street lights from famed Avenue Foch in Paris. The exterior of the home is limestone, cut, polished, and imported from Syria, and solid, double-hung wood Anderson windows create unmasked views of the property while offering the highest energy efficiency. There’s even a boat dock with a lift for two boats. Designed by William Beck and custom built by prize-winning builder Landon Banks, this 5,918-square-foot house has a gourmet kitchen with commercial-grade appliances and a cozy sitting area with a fireplace. All four bedrooms are ensuite, and there are marble, limestone, and designer details throughout.

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07/03/15 2:35pm

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Sometimes we want to get away, but the thought of travel is just too much. Packing up everything, getting the kids ready, and climbing in the car or in a plane for hours is enough to keep us at home, ensconced in air conditioning and watching the latest releases on Netflix.

But what if you could enjoy a lake house that was just 15 minutes from downtown Fort Worth? What if there was a property big enough to host you and your extended family without feeling cramped and uncomfortable? What if you could enjoy all the best things about lake living without the drive?

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We’ve found just the thing! Go check out this hip pocket listing from Williams Trew over on CandysDirt.com, as it is the absolute perfect spot for a low-key family Fourth of July getaway that feels private.

 

06/29/15 4:03pm
All photos: Leah Shafer

Cedar shake shingles for siding is a classic look for cottages all over Cape Cod. They are left unpainted and turn from light tan to a weathered gray over time. Clapboard siding is also commonly seen on Cape Cod cottages. All photos: Leah Shafer

Cape Cod has historic roots in American history, one of the earliest places the Pilgrims settled, later becoming a thriving fishing, whaling, and trading area.

But the romantic mythos of the Cape took off during John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, much of which was based out of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port. JFK gave his acceptance speech there after winning the 1960 election, and returned frequently during his presidency. The Kennedy’s Camelot and Cape Cod are inextricably linked in the American imagination.

Today, the year-round population of 220,000 swells during summer months, when many thousands flock to Cape Cod for relaxation and resorts. It stretches from Provincetown in the northeast to Woods Hole in the southwest, and each of the 15 towns has its own individual character and hallmarks.

The sunset at low tide from our vacation house near Oster in Cape Cod.

The sunset at low tide from our vacation house near Orleans in Cape Cod. Stunning.

Cape Cod still maintains a charming, maritime feel, with almost 560 miles of wide, sandy coastline (including the gorgeous Cape Cod National Seashore), and house after house with weathered cedar shake shingle siding and colorful flowers that thrive in the temperate summer climate.

I just returned from a week’s vacation in Cape Cod, where we stayed in a classic shingle-style Cape beach house near Orleans on the inner bay. My fiancé’s family has vacationed there since the 1970s, and I joined them last year for the first time. As someone who spent her childhood summers in Galveston, Cape Cod was an enchanting experience, from windy afternoons walking by the seagrass along the shoreline to driving along winding roads with lush vegetation. The whole week we were there, the temperature never rose above 71 degrees.

Candy just wrote about the Cape for Grand Vie Magazine (read it here), and we both are delighted with the region and intrigued by the real estate market there. As Realtor Paul Grover of Robert Paul Properties in Osterville told her, 68 percent of his buyers were from Boston and its suburbs in 2013, and lots are empty-nesters.

But contrary to popular belief, Cape Cod is not just a haven for the rich and famous. As I discovered, there’s a range of housing available, with many beauties available for under $400,000 (I photographed 14 houses I’d consider classic Cape Cod cottage style that you can see throughout this post).

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06/26/15 8:53am

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In the middle of this Texas Summer heat, who wouldn’t want to be out on a lake? At the 505 Ranch on Cedar Creek Lake, the water levels are up and it’s time for activities out on the water!

If you love lake living that’s close to Dallas, perhaps it’s time to consider a home at 505 Ranch? Jump to find out why it’s a great location for a quick getaway.

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06/22/15 4:15pm
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Promontory Nicklaus Hillside Village’s Klee Model features floor-to-ceiling windows to capitalize on the unobstructed views.

Need a new getaway with exceptional views and access to one of the best golf courses in the nation? Promontory — the exclusive Park City, Utah club — has debuted a collection of 26 luxury homesites with the highest elevations and panoramic views of the community. Dubbed “The Top of The Summit,” this area is sure to draw buyers who want distinctive homes and all the amenities of an established club, as well as unparalleled vistas.

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06/11/15 6:28pm

504 Spiller Front

If we were to stare into Maleficent’s mirror and ask it to tell us “What home in Austin is the coolest of all?” it would make up some weird rhyme to tell us all about this absolutely rad structure in Westlake Hills. Designed by architect John Watson, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, the “Grotto Dome” house might be the coolest house in all of Central Texas. And you can quote me on that.

504 Spiller Pond

504 Spiller Deck

It’s an escape in the city, a home tucked into a ravine with a narrow little creek that runs beneath it. Jump to see more photos of what could be either an amazing second home, a vacation home, or a primary residence that’s cool enough to feel like a vacation. We don’t care what you call it, really, as long as you invite us over to sip cocktails and play pool by the pool in the grotto.

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05/28/15 3:24pm
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Figure 1: Recently Approved Phase 2 of Hughes’ Kaka’ako Plans

The market for Honolulu condos makes Dallas look like Sleepy Hollow.  Even the ultra-tony Bleu Ciel with its recent price hikes is only pricing its smallest unit at a meager $640 a square foot.  Compare that with still-being-built Honolulu high-rises Anaha and Waiea where a 435-square-foot studio on a no-view floor will run ya nearly double that.

And while sales in Dallas for these costly homes chugs along, Bleu Ciel, Museum Tower and its kin must dream of Hawai’ian voraciousness with 2016’s Anaha already 80 percent-plus sold.  After a recession hiatus, Honolulu is again seeing buyers (likely their staff) camping out on sidewalks when new blocks of units are released for sale.

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