Going To The Dogs, Land Grab, And Three Great Dallas Properties

Your pet’s dream digs, plus three great Dallas properties, and the highs and lows of the real estate market.

Volk Estates

PRICE: $6,999,999
ADDRESS: 6920 Vassar Dr.
ZIP: 75205
LISTING AGENT: Eleanor Mowery Sheets for Coldwell Banker,
214-522-6703

12,800 square feet/6 bedrooms/8 full baths, 2 halfs/2 living areas/2 dining rooms/library. An estate sure to be snapped up by a venture capitalist who loves to entertain, this home features two entrance halls, game room, cabana with ice cream bar, pool, gourmet kitchen, spacious two-room wine cellar, basement, home gym, butler’s pantry, caterer’s prep center, and an elevator to all four levels. There’s an enormous master suite on the second level, third-floor recreation room, four-car garage, and a circular three-story staircase leading to it all beneath a stained glass dome that will remind you of Paris with every step you take. Finest quality details inside-hardwood flooring, dentil and extensive moldings, limestone and marble flooring, topped off with lush landscaping on the 1-acre lot by Erika Vogel.

Park Cities Area

PRICE: $1,395,000
ADDRESS: 3736 N. Versailles Ave.
ZIP: 75209
LISTING AGENT: David Nichols, The Mathews Nichols Group
Briggs Freeman, 214-351-7141

4,800 square feet/3 bedrooms/3 full baths, 2 halfs/pool/exercise room or office. Built in 1998, expanded one year later, this corner lot Mediterranean mansion boasts 4,800 square feet located just west of Highland Park near Mockingbird Lane. Beautiful finish-out with rich granite, stone, high-end appliances, and an impeccably landscaped yard loaded with mature trees, mercury vapor lighting, speakers everywhere, and a total mosquito control system. A first in so many ways, including the first home for Erin Mathews and David Nichols to list as a team since Nichols made his move to Briggs Freeman from David Griffin & Associates last January.

Preston Hollow

PRICE: $3,595,000 (reduced from $3,900,000)
ADDRESS: 5912 Averill Way
ZIP: 75225
LISTING AGENT: Rigg, Martinez & Yoder for Virginia Cook, 972-381-6705

10,395 square feet/6 bedrooms/9 full baths, 1 half/library/great room. Named “Whispering Waters” for its Zen-like appeal, this home was given the feng shui seal of approval after a total renovation for its tranquility, among other things, even though it’s just steps from Preston Road and Northwest Highway. The 24 rooms include six well-proportioned bedroom suites, morning room, hearth room, and a two-level library. There are also four wet bars and six fireplaces. Built in 1937, the exterior bears fruit to the heart of Old Preston Hollow with pool, trees, and a private creek flowing into a koi pond traversed by bridges.

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Going to the Dogs

No bones about it, pet amenities are the latest must-have in the home. That backyard dog run no longer quickens a buyer’s pulse: “Sellers are offering and buyers are asking for…pet rooms, indoor and outdoor grooming and wash areas, even the new pet-friendly wash tubs,” says one prominent Dallas real estate agent. Americans spend $8.5 billion annually on pets (compared to $6.2 billion on human babies) according to Packaged Facts, MarketResearch.com, so whatever Fido wants, Fido gets.

Pets must absolutely be taken into the budget when building. In her Neal Stewart-designed home on Potomac Avenue, one Highland Park woman had a special kitty litter box compartment built into a wall, with a cutout cat silhouette for the opening. Color is key: Greta, a schnauzer belonging to real estate agent Grant Vancleve, has her very own bedroom on Turtle Creek, done up in her favorite color-orange. Designer Bryan Long of Bryan Long Designs has created a Jack-and-Jill bathroom in between two pet bedrooms. The bathroom will feature a grooming area, while the bedrooms will have linoleum hardwood floors and custom-designed beds done in sturdy, pet-proof Kravet fabric, William Wegman by Crypton.

What’s next? Maybe pet caviar, doggy day-trips, or personal trainers?

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The Ticker
The Ups & Downs of the Real Estate Market

UP
MOVERS AND SHAKERS:
There are now more than 2.6 million real estate licensees in the United States (Association of Real Estate License Law Officials).

DOWN
DOWN PAYMENTS:
Buyers put down an average of 2 percent of the home’s purchase price in 2005 (National Association of Realtors).

UP
CEILING HEIGHTS:
Nine feet is the new average ceiling height (National Association of Realtors).

DOWN
DOWN PAYMENTS (AGAIN):

Almost half (43 percent) of first-time homebuyers used no down payment at all to help purchase their homes in 2005 (National Association of Realtors).

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Land Grab
Are you ready for the next big real estate deal in Dallas? (Hint: Try prices starting at $1.75 million per acre.)

We know the market is inflated on both coasts. But Dallas Realtors keep telling us local housing prices are cheap. That’s good and bad. Dallas houses are not appreciating as much as housing in other parts of the country, which only makes us happy when we pay our property taxes.

What is appreciating locally is land.

“You wake up in the morning in Highland Park,” says Ebby Halliday’s Joe Kobell, “and your home has gone up in value $100,000.”

Land prices in these areas are escalating at an amazing rate, with appreciation in the last two years at 2 percent per month, according to appraiser D.W. Skelton. That’s 24 percent a year, and that beats the stock market.

Hillwood Residential has delighted these land-hungry Realtors (and buyers) with more top-shelf inventory: The Creeks of Preston Hollow.

In January, word was that Hillwood had put together an amazing gated community of nearly 22 acres at the southwest corner of Inwood Road and Royal Lane, rumored to be valued at $28 million. The development was first dubbed The Creeks on Inwood. However, a sharp mind on the development team later changed the name to The Creeks of Preston Hollow in order to capture the Preston Hollow cache, even though Preston Hollow is bounded by Northwest Highway to the south, Dallas North Tollway on the west, Walnut Hill Lane on the north, and Preston Road on the east. But this is not the first time that the reach of the Preston Hollow name has expanded. And who can blame them?

While Allie Beth Allman was waiting for the contract ink to dry, Hillwood brought Fusch-Serold & Partners on board for the architectural review of all home plans in the new development. (Question: What happens if you pay $2 million for a piece of land, plus plan fees, and use an architect whose work Fusch-Serold & Partners doesn’t like?)

By late January, marketing materials described 17 estate lots, the cheapest acre to be sold for $1.75 million. By Valentine’s Day, word on the street was that earnest money funds had already been exchanged on six of the lots, even though Hillwood hadn’t officially closed. And Realtors were mumbling something about $2 million an acre becoming the new standard.

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