04/29/16 5:06pm
Mayfair two bedroom condo, 2,215 square foot unit listed at £5,600,000

Mayfair two-bedroom condo, 2,215-square-foot unit listed at £5,600,000

Being in London last week, I decided to sniff around for you.

The London housing market has been a story of ever-increasing growth for quite some time.  There are several reasons for this.  The sustained growth and enormous bonuses of the financial sector.  The growth of London as a technology hub. The ever-growing ex-pat community, especially from oil exporting countries, and more recently Asia.  And the overall “wealthing” of the local population.

However a few factors have been conspiring to give buyers a slight break.  In the first quarter of 2016 prices in tony areas of London have fallen. In luxurious Knightsbridge, home of Harrods, prices have fallen nearly 7 percent. South Kensington shed nearly 5 percent while other tony areas of the city including Hyde Park, Chelsea, Notting Hill and Belgravia (Upstairs Downstairs location) have all recorded varying drops.

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04/25/16 3:11pm
Michael Gooden

Rendering of the MC13 House by M Gooden Design

The craze for shipping container homes shows no signs of slowing down, as consumers seek out the eco-friendly, unusual abodes.

One Texas design firm is following up their acclaimed shipping container home in East Dallas with another industrial chic home near Waco, Texas.

M Gooden Design, a residential design studio based in Dallas, is in the design and documentation phase of the MC13 house near Waco. The home will be constructed from 13 locally sourced shipping containers, with around 3,500 square feet on two stories, says founder Michael Gooden.

“It will sit on the top of a hill in the middle of 300 acres, and the aesthetic is a blend of industrial feel with some Midcentury modern undertones in there,” he said. “The clients currently live in a 1950s Midcentury Modern house and we wanted as a design team to remember to that era.”

Gooden and associate Kevan Russell are creating an open concept house. This is possible when using shipping containers because of a secondary steel superstructure within the house that carries the weight and the distributed loads of the containers as they are stacked on top of each other.

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04/14/16 7:34am
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Decorating a second home can present some unique challenges, says Jason Lenox of Anteks.

Now that you have your sought-after weekend retreat on Cedar Creek Lake, what are you going to put in it? Bought a home away from home in Boot Ranch? What do you hang on the walls? Acquired a ski home in Aspen? What is your design inspiration?

Decorating a second home is a huge challenge, especially for those who want a place that feels comfortable and easy without all the fuss of shopping for just the right arm chair, carpet, dining set, linens …  Eeeeeesh. Seems overwhelming, right?

If that sounds familiar, you’ll want to read on to get some sage advice from veteran vacation home interior designer Jason Lenox. Not only does he own two successful home decor stores — Anteks Home in the Dallas Design District and Anteks Curated in the Plaza at Preston Center — but he designs warm, sophisticated, rustic interiors for vacation homes near and far.

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03/29/16 9:00am
Farmhouse 2

Open-space valued property for sale in Aubrey, TX — Arvin Hill Road

I’ve been feeling a little uninspired lately, so I took a minute to ask myself: “What question do I hear all the dang time, but never have an easy answer to?” Almost immediately, my little real estate shoulder angel whispered “Ag Exemption, dummy” in her little squeaky, know-it-all voice that I find oh-so-annoying. Admittedly, however, TinkerAgent had a point. I do get asked about ag exemptions a lot. At least once a week.

Disclaimer: I do not fancy myself an attorney or a CPA. I’m going to tell y’all exactly what I tell my clients: Call your attorney, county tax assessor, or your grandmother — whomever you trust for advice on your actual situation. I am going to give the elementary-level Cliff’s Notes version here, considering this is probably the No. 1 most common question I get asked. Also, if you’re one of those people who particularly enjoys small print and self-education, let me recommend this snoozefest, er, fascinating summary from the State Property Tax Board: Click here if you are having trouble sleeping.

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02/19/16 10:43am
Bermuda: Endless Views of Pastel Houses and Endless Water

Bermuda: Endless views of pastel houses and endless water.

Bermuda is a cluster of 130 picturesque islands you think is located in the Caribbean, but it’s actually in the North Atlantic Ocean about 650 miles east of North Carolina and 950 miles north of the Bahamas. Bermuda is known as much for its beauty as it is as a tax haven for multinational businesses.

Driving around Hamilton, you’d think the world consisted of bars, restaurants, insurance companies, and banks surrounded by ocean. That’s because while 400,000 tourists visit the island annually, 60 percent of the island’s GDP is derived from financial services.

As much as I detest corporate tax avoidance, I understand that without it, this island would be a lot poorer than it is. Certainly Bermuda has fallen into a sleepiness since its heyday in the 1960s as a jet set destination. While meticulously maintained, large hotels tend to be of that era. Tourists tend to be visiting executives eager for sun, sand, and high finance as well as east coasters wanting something more tranquil than some of the other more touristy islands of the Caribbean.

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory so driving is on the left, but oddly the Bermudian Dollar is pegged to the US dollar (1-to-1) which makes currency conversion as easy as it gets. The local population of about 67,000 consists of those who trace their lineage to the UK and Africa (a legacy of the slave trade). Like many conquests, the original populace were wiped out by smallpox and STDs brought over by the original Europeans (how cheerful).

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02/15/16 12:50am

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The sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia this weekend in West Texas throws yet another Texas ranch property into the spotlight: Cibolo Creek Ranch, owned by Houston billionaire and Washington D.C. insider John Poindexter.

Poindexter says he invited Scalia, age 79, to his ranch this weekend as a guest along with about three dozen others. One of Scalia’s sons was to come but cancelled at the last minute. Poindexter says Justice Scalia was animated and engaged during dinner Friday night, but did retire early at 9 p.m. saying it had been a long week, and he was tired.

Poindexter tried to awaken Scalia about 8:30 the next morning, but the Justices’ door was locked and he did not answer.

Three hours later, Poindexter returned to the ranch after an outing. He and a Scalia friend from Washington got into the room, and discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled, indicating that perhaps he had died shortly after retiring the night before.

“He was lying very restfully. It looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap,” he said.

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Established in 1857 by Milton Faver, known as the first Texas cattle baron west of the Pecos, Cibolo Creek Ranch is now a five-star resort, a rugged oasis of a retreat, once a grouping of real life forts where Indian attacks were fended off. One of the more artistic forts remaining is  “El Fortin de Cibolo.” Many millionaires and celebrities have visited the 30,000 acres near the Chinati Mountains including Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts and Tommy Lee Jones. One of the Dixie Chicks, Emily Erwin, was married there. Rooms run $350 to $700 per night. Cibolo Creek Ranch was bought by Poindexter in 1988 when it was not in the best of shape. He meticulously renovated three of the forts into a luxury, 33-room resort with a pool, dining room, horseback riding facilities, hunting and private airstrip. The atmosphere is comfortable luxury — lots of sinkable leather chairs and sofas, luxurious rooms with a ranch theme. Located about 30 miles south of Marfa, most guests fly in by private plane to the airstrip or fly to Midland and drive 3.5 hours to the remote ranch near Shafter and Marfa.

Poindexter was profiled in this 2006 Texas Monthly story by John Spong, when he was trying to buy 46,000 acres of Big Bend Ranch State Park. He was described by Spong as a rather “stiff dude” who has never married (“It wasn’t that I didn’t like the ladies enough; it’s that I liked them too much.”) – ha!: (more…)

02/09/16 5:29pm
Home to Canadian geese

You know you’ve got a great pond on your property when neighbors and Canada geese show up to fish.

I found myself staring at the computer screen. The blinking cursor on the Farm and Ranch Contract drummed a little beat to the tune of “What exactly am I doing here?” There were so many things wrong with this property, it was hard to know where to even begin. In fact, the problems began off the property: The road is, to put it mildly, a mine field. It is paved…. in places. However, in the 80 percent of places that it is not paved, it is mud. The potholes could swallow a Smart Car and no one would even notice.

Unfortunately, this is a fairly common issue with rural property. Lightly populated agricultural areas just do not produce a lot of tax dollars. I surmised that the road would hopefully be re-paved sometime this decade, and proceeded forward. The next and oh-so-important question: What to offer?

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01/29/16 5:43pm

austin street center

If you’ve dreamed of vacationing in Taos, New Mexico, Crested Butte, Colo., or Destin, Flor., mark your calendars for a fabulous silent auction offering stays at three luxury vacation homes in those locations.

The No Place Like Home vacation home silent auction event will benefit Austin Street Center, a nonprofit that has provided emergency shelter, food, and clothing to the most vulnerable homeless men and women in Dallas for 30 years.

“By leveraging vacation properties owned by Austin Street Center supporters and friends, we will be able to provide a unique opportunity to both our donors and auction winners,” said Becca Leonard, development director at Austin Street Center. “Donors will generate much-needed funds for Austin Street at little to no cost to themselves, and attendees will have the chance to win a stay at one of many fabulous spots around the country—only their vacation will benefit the homeless here in Dallas.”

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