I’m back from an

amazing weekend in the beautiful wine country of Northern California at Calistoga Ranch, where you can own a luxury home, with five-star plus service at your beck and call, for under $500,000. It’s fractional home ownership and from the owners I talked to, they wouldn’t have it any other way. $500,000 for real estate in this part of the world might net you a whole grape. And as one recent buyer told me, she does not want to deal with maintenance on her second home, no way. So you buy yourself a few weeks of deeded ownership for a fraction of what a home would cost, along with stellar service, and what do you get? Rest and relaxation!

The whole story coming soon, here on SecondShelters.com.

My second home this weekend!

As I have told you, I launched CandysDirt.com on July 1, 2011, my very own version of the super duper popular DallasDirt blog I created for D Magazine and kept going, growing for almost four years. CandysDirt (no apostrophe) is ALSO growing by leaps and bounds — please check it out every day. Like us on FaceBook. From here, just move your mouse over to the right and click on the logo — voila the latest real local Dallas estate gossip! Second Shelters will have some of the same stories, but focus on luxury second home communities. Coming up soon: Calistoga, CA. Read both and I promise you will know more about real estate than everyone. Not only do I have my ear to the ground in almost all 50 states, I read all about real estate trends daily and bring you whatever is behind the pay walls. (My bad!) Plus I have my AOL and Haute Living connections. Lots to tell – check out both blogs often!

Really excited about an interview this week with a national real estate research firm who has a crystal ball on when the Dallas market will finally recover — not too far away, actually. I’d say we are 36 months from Miller Time in Big D.

And the House Candy continues, in all price points. I love to post cute, adorable, yummy $200,ooo homes, but also LOVE to see how the other side lives, and get you a really good peak inside. So stay tuned in to CandysDirt.com and SecondShelters.com.

Talk about the most perfect first, second or third home ever. Oh my, recall when I wrote about The Glass House? I called it Stairway to Heaven. That ultimate redefining structure within modernism? Not only does it have great bones, it has location squared. A 3.5 acre estate of oak groves in Montecito, California. The home has five bedrooms, five and a half baths for a grand total of 14,000 square feet. It includes a large kitchen with a wine room holding several thousand bottles, a grand hallway, and art gallery displaying a vintage car collection for 32 cars within its walnut lined walls. It is truly the pinnacle of architecture for this generation and will define the era in which it was built. The home should just be a damn museum!

What makes me sad is that it has not sold. What makes me glad is that it has been reduced slashed and dashed to sell at an unbelievable new price. ‘Twas $23,900,000 now an unreal $19,995,000.

ArnoldPebble Beach Concours D’Elegance is like a SuperBowl for car enthusiasts. Me, I love vintage and collectible cars: love the lines, love the (revving) engines, love the interiors. Concours is a show and tell of whose collecting what and strutting the best. The grounds of the venerable Pebble Beach Golf Resort– the 18th hole of the course, to be exact — is covered with hundreds of beautiful vintage autos shipped in on trucks, wrapped and pampered like a baby’s butt. (I swear some have their own butlers.) There are several glamour as events throughout the week and weekend that require coveted invitations, usually handed out to the uber rich, major wealth managers or consumers of expensive cars. Thursday (photo below) was the Jaguar party, which was held at the Pebble Beach and Tennis Club right on the water. The new Jaguar XJ75 was unveiled. Friday was the Bugatti event and the Bentley event,  Bentley such a top-secret affair no one was allowed to bring in phones or cameras as Bentley unveiled an amazing new car.

(Was I there? Can’t say!)

Sunday morning it’s a zoo of nicely-dressed car nuts as everyone crams onto 17 Mile Drive in Pebble to get to the Concours d’Elegance. You see cars from the 1800s, 1900s, cars from Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Jaguar, Ferrari, Bugatii and many more. (Last year I learned that prior to World War II, the Jaguar brand was SS — which was changed lickety split. Talk about a branding problem!) Mixed in these rows of gorgeous vintage autos are huge tents erected by the manufacturers –Spyker, Lotus, Lexus, Maserati, McLaren, Fisker, Ford, Lexus, Lamborghini.  That’s where I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger looking at the Fisker, the energy-efficient auto snapped up  Leo DiCaprio last week in LA. Unlike Jay Leno, I decided not to ask for a photo: I might end up preggers!

Under $120,000!

Guess what’s coming to Dallas this fall besides, hopefully, a nippier real estate market? The McLaren, over at Park Place. Park Place McLaren Dallas will be located along side the Park Place Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Maserati and Jaguar dealerships at 5300 Lemmon Ave. This new group of ultra-ultra- premium automotive brands, all of which were on display at Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, will be known as the Park Place Premier Collection.

The British supercar maker counts Kanye West as a fan. McLarens are designed and built with no compromises, are lighter and a more streamlined structure than most modern rivals, and car enthusiasts consider them the ultimate road car. The company is getting ready to deliver the MP4-12C to customers; McLaren used the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to introduce ’McLaren Exclusive,’ the British supercar maker’s very own vehicle customization program.

High end luxury auto brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini already have their own vehicle customization programs, so it was only a matter of time before McLaren followed suit. They did not wait long. McLaren’s vehicle customization program will touch on the MP4-12C, as well as two other soon-to-be-announced supercars. Here’s what is so cool: they will provide customers a variety of new features that can be outfitted and customized to their own supercar, totally derived from their tastes and preferences. See this custom Satin Orange paint finish? Among the modifications previewed at Pebble Beach – that custom Satin Orange paint finish, a slew of aerodynamic parts that have been lifted from the brand’s resident race car – the MP4-12C GT3- and a host of carbon fiber details that can be used on various parts of the supercar.

The price tag — if you must ask: in the $230,000 price range. About the price of a second home!

Park Place, as you may know, recently acquired the Jaguar dealership in Dallas from Overseas Motors.  Park Place Jaguar Dallas has been open since the beginning of July. Heath Strayhan is the General Manager overseeing the entire operation.

This could really get me in water that is hotter than my swimming pool right about now, but a friend in California is selling their home and these are the photos the agent shot.Naturally, I have some strong opinions, which I am going to withold. It’s a lovely contemporary northern Cali home circa 1983 but remodeled, located in Saratoga, on the Peninsula, ’bout an hour from San Francisco. Totally orgasmic yard.

Four bedrooms (one is a study), play area, four full baths and the master bath is decked-out to-die for: heated floors, towel warmer, sexy infinity overflow soaking tub with jets, steam shower,  private zen master garden where you can sunbathe or raise marijuana or medidate bare-ass naked if you want to like any normal California nut and the neighbors will never see. Maybe.

The pool is kind of wrapped around the house, and the home is set very far back, shares a driveway with the neighbor. Backs to a running stream and the huge redwood trees are glorious, glorious. Plus you can see them from every window. In fact, I think they ought to include a case of Windex with the sale because this house has so many windows and glass, all drawing the eye out to the fabulous gardens. In case you’d like to buy it, please note temp is about 70 there now as I write this.

The home has not been professionally staged, should it be? What do you think of those plants? Do they need some art? Do the photos do the home justice? Please do not hold back — critique away, as hard as you want. After all, this house is not located in hell like we are — KIDDING!

Asking $3,895,000. What’s funny about selling a home in California: buyers want to know even if PETS have died in a home, and they are very Feng Sui conscious, I’m told: colors have to be right, and they don’t like it when water runs away from the house, or something.

And fortunately, I’m a very cheap date. The home I’m in love with is a Blue Light Special marked down by a whopping $101,000. I am not kidding. As you know, many Dallasites are summering up in Pebble right now, cool as cucumbers. I’m talking about designer extraordinaire Trisha Wilson, Realtor extraordinaire Joe Kobell, Ellen Terry, and others. So when I saw this, I thought, why not put my home on the market, pack it up, just move and join the crowd? I could grab a little pied a terre on Turtle Creek to keep my Dallas residency (and zero Texas state income tax) and disappear come June 1. (Bree says she’d really prefer the cooler temps with her Doodle fur.) You’d only want to spend three to four months there a year, since, as my friend Debbie Hug (who has a home in Santa Barbara) tells me, more than six months and you are a California resident and must help Arnold pad up the state budget.  Three in Pebble, nine in Dallas, and life is perfect!

This little delight happens to be a short sale — the bank has agreed to take less than what is owed on the note. I truly hope you are sitting down, maybe pour a wee dram even: custom built home with white water ocean views from nearly every room. Located one block from fabulous 17-mile drive and Spanish Bay, very close to where Concours D’Elegance will be next month — and SecondShelters will be there! See and hear the surf crashing to shore from your master bedroom suite and deck. Professionally landscaped grounds. Four bedrooms, three baths, two stories, over 3000 square feet built in 2005. Pinch me, 2876 Oak Knoll is a dream. Asking $1,748,000.

LOVE the views!


Not sure I get that fireplace action...

More proof that the high end market is getting stronger, particulary in and around LA. And millionaires are getting more earth friendly every single day! Sam Wyly and his daughter, Christiana, are selling a four-bedroom, four-bath home at 1300 Greenleaf Canyon Road in Malibu for $2.995 million. The eco-estate, so called because of the extensive renovation done embracing not only the earth but the latest in green finishes and technology, as well as strategies for healthier and more efficient living (?). The 20 acre estate is minutes from beautiful Topanga Canyon, and features a huge great room with rock fireplace, kitchen with everything you or your gourmet chef could ever need, three bedrooms, numerous decks, glass French doors, guest house fully equipped with a kitchen and bath that opens to an organic garden — may  be a nice way of saying quarters for the organic house manager or gardener — lap pool, and views views views of a huge California oak forest, crisp spring-fed stream, and mountains.

According to property records, the Wylys paid $2,275,000 for the property in Feb. 2006. I am sure they added at least half a million given the thoughtful, green scope of the renovations. The 2,400-square-foot house was built in 1977 in the Monte Nido area of Malibu Coastal Zone. Drew Snyder and Sarah Sutton of Snyder Sutton Real Estate are listing the home — do check out this place!

Sam Wyly is, of course, a Dallas entrepreneur and businessman, and the billionaire co founder of Sterling Software who was born during the Great Depression. He has also dabbled with ownership in Bonanza Steakhouse, Michaels Stores (arts and crafts, I believe they went bankrupt or closed) and Maverick Capital, a hedge fund, among others. The Louisiana Tech grad was a salesman with IBM’s Service Bureau Corp. and became the area sales manager for Honeywell. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan’s School of Business. In 2010, the SEC charged brothers Samuel E. Wyly and Charles J. Wyly, Jr. with violating federal securities laws governing ownership and trading of securities by corporate insiders. The Wyly brothers, the SEC said, reaped more than $550 million in undisclosed gains while sitting on corporate boards by trading stock in those public companies through hidden entities located in foreign jurisdictions  — i.e. offshore tax havens — to conceal their ownership and avoid Mr. Tax Man. All this sounds really awful, but is just doing “bidness” when you’re a billionaire I guess, or get bad advice. The Wylys have also been major league donors to Republican and conservative causes over the years. According to The New York Times,

“The Center for Responsive Politics found that the brothers and their families donated nearly $2.5 million to roughly 200 federal-level candidates and committees in the last 20 years. But after it was reported in 2006 that the Wylys were the subject of federal tax investigations, some Republicans distanced themselves from the pair. That year, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who was planning a presidential bid, and Senator Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, then the Senate majority leader, returned $20,000 and $5,000 in donations, respectively, from the Wyly brothers and their relatives.”

Not sure how the SEC investigation panned out for the Wyly brothers. But it appears Sam has been very involved in environmental businesses the last few years, including buying the landmark Explore bookstore in Aspen in 2007, on the market for $5.2 million and founded by a left leaning liberal named Katherine Thalberg. But Explore staff members reported seeing Sam Wyly sitting on the floor at the store often, reading books, and cherished having an independent bookstore in the community. Wyly is also reported to be a vegetarian and founder of Green Mountain Energy. The Wylys also developed nine homes on  245-acre Woody Creek ranch near Aspen in 2001. 

Wyly’s daughter, Christiana, is an environmental advocate and operating partner at Satori Capital, an investment firm. She is an adviser for Climatecom Strategies, which provides communication strategy and research for climate change advocates. Christiana was previously a founding partner of Zaadz.com, a social networking service, whch she sold in 2007 to Gaiam. Sam has a home in Dallas at 3905 Beverly Drive, 7579 square feet built in 1925 but remodelled in 1990 that he pays about $105,000 in taxes on and is appraised by Dallas county at $6,759,000.