The Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square offers sweeping views of San Francisco Bay. The waterfront project is in a historic part of the California city on the sea that has always captured my heart. I’m here checking out this amazing property that is available as a fractional ownership for a smidgen over $200,000 for a two bedroom, even less for a one-bedroom!

“We were looking at buying property for a second home in a few places, including Phoenix and Palm Springs,” says Canadian Ron Deyholos. “But my wife is not much of a golfer, so we started to look in San Francisco because we really like the city.”

The couple recently purchased a share in a fractional unit in Fairmont Heritage Place, and love it primarily because they have no headaches or upkeep. This came painfully to my mind as I landed at SFO this morning to news that not one but BOTH hot water heaters were dead upstairs and oh yes, it’s 107 in Dallas and one A/C is out. Great.

It’s about 70 degrees here in San Fran.

Located near Fisherman’s Wharf, the waterfront project is a collaboration between JMA Ventures, LLC, and the Fairmont Hotel chain and is part of the historic former Ghirardelli chocolate factory complex, which dates back to 1893. The red brick exterior walls are original to the chocolate factory, and later I’ll show you how cleanly and cleverly they preserved the original windows but made them more efficient. The development offers 53 one-, two- and three-bedroom homes right in the heart of the city. A courtesy car is about to whisk me off to Inman’s Real Estate Connect at the Hilton in Union Square.

The project is right on the water, offering beautiful views of the Bay across to Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus there’s a fire pit, boutique shops, restaurants and pubs on the street level, so you feel very much in the city.

Fractional ownership gives the buyer a one-tenth deeded ownership of the unit and entitles the buyer to 35 nights per year with benefits, like reciprocity at any Fairmont and Raffles Hotels and Resorts or other Fairmont Heritage communities worldwide. Want to spend more than 35 days per year on vacation? You must be French. Fairmont lets Heritage place owners stay at Ghirardelli for $100 U.S. bucks a night. There are heavy duty discounts available on all other Fairmont properties, too: little bird told me 20%.

What I’m liking and here to really check out: the private residents’ club gives you a five-star experience in your second home. Which is exactly what you want in a second home, not more headaches. Some of these units are in the toney Exclusive Resorts collection. Other benefits I’m checking on for you: the car shuttle, owners’ storage facilities for, say, wine if you hop up to Napa or Sonoma, exercise facility, daily housekeeping (will there be turn-down service? I love turn-down service), great dining, shopping and grocery provisioning. I’m told I’m six quick blocks from Safeway and Trader Joes!

We have a friend in Dallas who owns one of these fractionals –he has a child living in the area, as we do. Also a lot of Canadians are buying in San Francisco  — two lovely gents just popped by my two-bedroom unit for a look/see. Western Canadians love the Fairmont brand, they told me,  and have access to about 12 Fairmont hotels, including the famous Whistler. They were quite impressed with the kitchen. Me, I can hardly wait to draw a bubble bath… and forget about everything that’s breaking in Dallas.





I cannot think of a better place for your Easter egg hunt than this lush lush LUSH backyard oasis snuggled away over at 4612 Watagua in Bluffview.Well maybe not snuggled: the home is actually on a ridge, has great topography and I felt like I was back in the hills of Napa! I know they say the Hill Country begins in Oak Cliff, but sometimes, when I’m in Bluffview, I think it starts right there. Built in 2000, this 7863 square foot home has gone through three owners all of who have added more, more and more to make it perfect. Great example: The Casita, built by current owners/sellers in 2007, which rests along the eastern edge of the site. It has a living area, powder bath plus fully appointed bath with double lavatory, IT’S OWN LAUNDRY FACILITY! How cool is that, guestst can do their own laundry or snack up in the efficiency kitchen. Even better: a Juliette balcony overlooks the front grounds while the dining area looks over a terraced outdoor banquette and the croquet lawn. I am going to ask if I can buy The Casita and just live there!

We begin with the pool and flowers all around the deck because that is where we want to be right now, Mimosa in hand and someone serving more.

The home was built in 2000,  and boasts one of the most beautiful landscapes designed  by the owner and Harold Weidner. And who might that owner be? Finance baby, finance. You will spend as much time as possible outdoors here, which is the point. Inside, you’ve got five bedrooms,  four full and two half baths, and everything. EVERYTHING: a central foyer leads to the Great Room, which opens to the South Portico and the gardens, also a focal viewpoint from the dining room and family/media room. Check out the richly panelled library, with real bookcases (and books!) adjacent to the foyer. The kitchen is on high name brand appliance steroids: Thermador professional six top gas range with oven, Thermador electric and micowave ovens, SubZero full refrigerator & freezer, gleaming stainless sink, twin Bosch dishwashers, prep island with two Sub Zero refrigerator drawers and vegetable sink. There is a walk in pantry,  breakfast room and even the kitchen has it’s own half-bath.

The master is upstairs with a balcony overlooking the magnificent almost 1.3 acre manicured grounds, and the spa bath is outrageous.  Baths are beautifully appointed and closets are generously scaled. Up here are also four more bedrooms, two with en suite baths, two share a bath (shh, don’t tell!). Now here is a really great addition: not only is the oversized laundry room upstairs here, so is The Wrapping Room! You would think that hauling said wrapped gifts downstairs and out to the five-car garage might be your exercise for the day, particularly if the gift you haul is say, a stratolounger? But fear not: whoever lives in this house can just meander down to an exercise room and television nook down a secondary staircase.

Outdoors is of course the overachiever’s gardens, the Portico with outdoor fireplace, a Grotto with yet another outdoor fireplace and flowers, flowers everywhere! Touring this house is worth it for the sweet scents alone. I had been at the Far Niente Winery in Oakville, CA just a week ago and marvelled at the gardens created by the owner of Far Niente, Gil Nickel, who hailed from Oklahoma and whose family was in the nursery business. When I got to 4612 Watauga, I really thought I had returned and was expecting a glass of Dolce. Asking $5,750,000. The home sold for $3,550,000 in 2005 prior to many additions and upgrades. It was listed for $6,395,000 last year, so this is actually an amazing price because not one petal or vineyard could be replicated for $700 a square foot.

Far Niente Winery Oakville, CA

There I go again: this home is just the wine country of Napa in Dallas!



(Above) John Raymond’s Cheese at Calistoga Ranch

There has been a lot of chatter out that the Baby Boomers might be the last generation to embrace home ownership. Well, a new study now says what I have long suspected: with Baby Boomers, one is never enough. The Millenials and offspring of the Baby Boomers tend to want smaller homes and fewer of them. This generation is also more likely to rent. But a new survey of Realtors acros the nation by Coldwell Banker tells me exactly what I am seeing happening among Baby Boomer peers: those in the 47 to 64 age bracket are delaying the sale of their large family homes, due to the sputtering market, and investing in second homes that may ultimately become retirement pads or family vacation spots.

Of course, I think many have ulterior motives. I know some couples who find buying a second home a far better investment than a divorce, which financial experts say can wipe out the average or above average couple’s retirement savings.

Rather than divorce, the better option at this age, says Lisa Marie Vari, a divorce attorney with offices in Pittsburgh and Miami, is to live in separate houses and come up with a separation agreement. It’s not as catastrophic on the finances, she says.

Far smarter to lead separate lives in two separate homes and save on costly attorneys fees, not to mention forced sales of properties and dividing assets.

There is, however, a well-known couple in Dallas who sold their Colorado vacation home lickety split (and at a loss) when the wife found out that while she was in Colorado with the children, her husband was doing some “extra-curricular work” at home with a neighbor. God bless the sophisticated housekeeper who had a i-phone!

Coldwell Banker found 87 percent of Realtor respondents said they have Baby Boomer clients who already own or are looking to own an investment property. Twenty-two ( 22) percent of agents report that at least half (50 percent) of their boomer clients either already own or are looking to own such properties.

In Calistoga, CA this weekend I met a delightful gourmet cheesemaker (John Raymond Cheese Company — the man actually looks into the eyes of the cows that produce his cheese) who tells me second homes are the bane of his existence: it is very difficult to ship perishables to clients who constantly move from one home to another. John Raymond told me that 90% of his clients have second homes.

Here’s what Baby Boomers say they want in second homes:

-More than one-third of Boomers aged 47 to 55 to want to purchase second homes.

-22 percent say older baby boomers (ages 56-64) are interested in purchasing a second home

– Homes getting smaller? That will be the day I quit bleaching my hair and waxing. 31 percent of respondents say that younger baby boomer clients are selling their current home and looking for a larger one.

-80 percent of agents say that older baby boomers are more likely to want to downsize than younger baby boomers (52 percent).  Although the economy has impacted boomers, the reason for downsizing is not only about the desire to save money. According to the survey, 49 percent of agents say the primary reason boomers want to downsize is because they desire a simpler lifestyle (AMEN!), while only 28 percent said the leading reason boomers are downsizing is to save money.

-Younger baby boomers are much more likely to prefer a single family home than older baby boomers (82 vs. 47 percent of agents agree). I know from my research they want these homes to enjoy family experiences, whereas older Boomers may want a retirement pad.

-For the older baby boomers, agents say about half are (47 percent) are looking for a townhome or condo.   27 percent of agents say their older boomer clients prefer an active adult community. And when I say active, I mean active: my husband’s aunt told her children the only way she’d go to a retirement home is if she could have overnight guests — male overnight guests — and a do not disturb sign.

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

My second home this weekend!

As I have told you, I launched 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 and

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.