Thursday, May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024
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What $250,000 Will Buy You

A quarter of a million dollars may not stretch as far as it used to. But it certainly goes further when you’re buying a house in, say, Frisco, than if you’re planning to settle down in Preston Hollow. And, with all the rumors ci

Thinking about a new home? Upgrading to four bedrooms? Here’s an idea of what you can afford in 27 Dallas neighborhoods.

Mike Shurtleff was standing on a ladder, painting a ceiling, when he realized he just couldn’t do it anymore. For years, he’d been remodeling homes around Dallas, making cabinets, sanding wooden floors, grouting kitchen countertops. He was 39, and his back hurt. His neck was even worse. • So in the fall of 2000, he finally took the advice of his neighbor, who was a Realtor. Shurtleff switched careers. • “It was definitely a seller’s market,” says Shurtleff, now an agent with Re/Max Abrams. “There were people fighting over houses, bidding wars, houses selling for above the asking price. There weren’t enough houses to go around.” • Back then, Realtors searched listings daily—sometimes hourly—in hopes of finding a new house that just went on the market. Houses sold before the signs even went into their yards. A home without a contract on it was a rare find indeed. Shurtleff and his fiancée even got caught up in the frenzy, buying one of his Richardson listings as their starter home. • That was then. Shurtleff is now working in a radically different market. In the little more than two years since he became a Realtor, Shurtleff seen a swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. We are now in a buyer’s market the likes of which no Realtor has ever seen, with a historically unique set of economic forces that has changed the way Shurtleff does his job—and the way you will buy or sell your next house.

This really is a story of two hands. On one hand, we’re experiencing the highest unemployment rates we’ve seen in a decade. People looking for work usually don’t look to buy houses. On the other hand, though, interest rates are at a 40-year low. So apartment dwellers can hardly pass up the opportunity to borrow money to buy that first house.

On one hand, the stock market seems to have abandoned the “irrational exuberance” that many of us so enjoyed. As of press time, the crawl on MSNBC was an endless procession of red, downward-pointing triangles. This would suggest that potential buyers of expensive houses might hold their money tightly until their triangles turn green again. On the other hand, they might dump all their money into real estate, perhaps the safest investment at the moment.

The end result of these various pressures on the real estate market is that Realtors are busier than ever. Busy, but they are doing business differently.

“Now I send people a list of maybe 10 or 15 homes in Richardson,” Shurtleff says. “If they’re looking in Frisco or Plano, that list may be 30 homes, because there are tons for sale up there.”

Shurtleff faxes or e-mails photos and descriptions of the houses that fit his clients’ wish lists. There is no way he could make a living if he spent an entire day or two driving an interested buyer around and delivering her to the doorsteps of the 30 houses she might fancy. “When I started in real estate, there weren’t even 30 houses to look at,” he says.

Despite the change, though, Shurtleff and other Realtors say that 2003 has begun well for them. The real estate market isn’t bad—just different. Nationwide, home sales were up 5 percent in 2002 compared with 2001. In the Dallas area, however, sales were down 1 percent, although certain segments of the market were up.

“Nationally, I think real estate is holding up the economy,” says Michael Campbell, president of the Greater Dallas Association of Realtors and an agent with Ellen Terry Realtors. “I don’t watch every neighborhood, but I live and work in Lakewood. There, if the houses are priced correctly, and if they’re good, quality products, they’re selling very quickly. If sellers are trying to test the tops of the market, I think they’re being disappointed.”

Realtors agree that most of the action is in lower-end homes, where first-time buyers are moving. Although the multimillion-dollar homes are still selling, they are selling slower than wool long johns in a parking lot in August. Those who are buying are doing so for the investment.

“Real estate is real, especially when compared with stock certificates whose worth can be zero,” says Martha Morguloff, an agent with Ebby Halliday Realtors. “Dirt doesn’t just dissolve.”

So what’s hot in this choosy yet stable buyer’s market? Anything architecturally interesting, renovated, unique, Mediterranean, and modern (for the first time since most people can remember). David Bush, an agent with Coldwell Banker, advises his selling clients to make their home look perfect. Not just pretty good. Perfect. No one wants to buy a fixer-upper.

“Why would they want to get a home-improvement loan when they could just wrap it in an interest-rate payment of 4.5 to 6 percent?” Bush asks. “It’s almost free money.”

What’s sitting on the MLS like a bad hangover? Fixer-uppers, copycat homes, homes that people can find a reason to walk away from, be it an awful paint job or badly landscaped lot. As for specific locations, these are the hot spots in local real estate:

EAST DALLAS: Lakewood, Munger Place, Swiss Avenue, M Streets, Hollywood Heights—all these little niches of Dallas as it used to be are still big sellers. The older, historic market is limited here, and anything in short supply is hot. The area around White Rock Lake—which is pricey but still hasn’t seen appreciation levels like those in Devonshire or the M Streets—will be the next hot spot. Forest Hills and Little Forest Hills are tremendous buys, but they probably won’t be for long.

TURTLE CREEK CORRIDOR: Prices are still going up along Turtle Creek Boulevard and the Katy Trail. Again, the houses here are in limited supply, they’re architecturally interesting, and it’s a great location.

PRESTON HOLLOW AND PARK CITIES: Homes here are holding their values. Homes in the $4 million range are sitting on the market for a while but selling eventually to a cautious yet still large pool of high-end buyers.

FRISCO AND PROSPER: People keep moving north, where they can find newer homes, better prices, and commute times just a few minutes longer. Just like in Plano a decade ago, people here have the choice of an older home or new construction.

MIDLOTHIAN AND CEDAR HILL: Not all the space is north. More than a few homeowners are headed south in quest of new construction and more land.

KELLER, NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, WESTLAKE: They’re also headed west in search of wide-open spaces. Hidden Hills in Keller is a big seller these days. You might not have heard of Westlake, but you will. Glenwick Farms is a growing area in this town of cattle pastures, native trees, and rolling hills. Homes here start at about $900,000.

The local low spots? Depends on whom you ask. “We’re seeing real heartache in the Telecom Corridor, Richardson, Plano, Allen, and McKinney,” Campbell says. “These areas seem to be overbuilt and have lots of people who were ripped out of their jobs. The foreclosure rate shot up, and I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon. The $1.2 million to $1.5 million spec market is saturated. Preston Hollow, Park Cities, all of that. We’ve got a year or maybe two years of inventory on the ground.”

Southlake and Colleyville, while still doing well, have taken a hit because as many as 70 percent of new home buys there are from relocations, Realtors estimate. And companies strapped for money aren’t relocating executives these days.

Overall, though, local real estate is one of the better industries to be a part of in these economic times. “It’s not easy money anymore,” Shurtleff says. “But even with the changing market, I’ve never wanted to get out of it. The best thing is getting somebody in their first home or seeing somebody get into a home they’re just pumped about. Not only do you make somebody happy, but you also get a check.”


413 Deer Brooke Dr., Allen, 75002: 3,404 square feet, 4/3, built in 2002, Reid Farm subdivision, game and media rooms.

1937 Pembrook Ln., McKinney, 75070: 3,891 square feet, 4/3, built in 2000, Kensington Creek at Eldorado, two fireplaces, multiple staircases.

$1.2 million
5 Wooded Ln., Allen, 75013: 5,903 square feet, 5/5, built in 1996, Rowlett Estates, heated pool/spa, fireplace in master bedroom, built-in wine cooler.

Money No Object ($2.5 million)
1805 Provine Ct., McKinney, 75070: 7,830 square feet, 5/4, built in 2002, Provine Farms Estates, pool, library, stone floors, on 5 acres, creek runs through property.


2017 Rock Creek Dr., Grand Prairie, 75050: 3,062 square feet, 4/2, built in 2002 in Wildwood Oaks, fireplace, vaulted ceilings.

520 Estate Dr., Grand Prairie, 75052: 4,527 square feet, 5/4, built in 1994 in Country Creek Estates, heated pool, two fireplaces (one in the master bedroom), heavily treed lot with pond and creek.

$1.2 million
5109 Landover Hills Ln., Arlington, 76017: 8,100 square feet, 3/3, built in 1999 in the Georgetown subdivision, modern style, 12-car garage, heated pool/spa, state-of-the-art electronic and security systems, music and media rooms.

Money No Object ($8.75 million)
2607 N. Cooper St., Arlington, 76006:
8,199 square feet, 4/5, Italian-style villa, on 11 wooded acres, designed by Dallas architect Ralph Duesing, climate-controlled wine cellar, limestone fireplace in dining room, elevator, pool/spa, tennis courts, lily pad pond (original price was $11.2 million).


2711 Devonshire Dr., 75007:
3,417 square feet, 6/4, built in 1988 in Cambridge Estates, fireplace, pool, bay windows.

2633 Elmbrook Dr., 75007:
3,985 square feet, 5/4, built in 2001 in Creekside Estates, pool, wet/dry bar, media room, three-car garage.

Money No Object ($750,000)
804 King Ban Dr., 75056: 4,256 square feet, 4/4, built in 1999 in Castle Hills, Mediterranean style, Jack-and-Jill bath, three fireplaces (one in master), pool/spa, library, cast-stone columns, gourmet kitchen.


711 Willow Ridge Ct., Coppell, 75019:
2,951 square feet, 4/2, built in 1999, Vistas of Coppell, vaulted ceilings, wooden deck.

4108 Equestrian Ct., Flower Mound, 75028: 4,210 square feet, 4/4, built in 2000, Bridlewood Farms, sprinkler system, plantation shutters, walk-in closets.

$1.239 million
3012 Lake Creek Dr., Highland Village, 75077:
6,151 square feet, 5/4, built in 1999, Highland Shores subdivision, pool/spa, three fireplaces (one in master), media room, wet bar, four-car garage.

Money No Object ($2.2 million):
4505 Tour 18 Dr., Flower Mound, 75022:
8,377 square feet, 5/2, built in 1997 in the Estates at Tour 18, French style, marble floors, four fireplaces, on 2 acres, four-car garage. Owned by actor Harvey Earles.


509 Elm St., 75202: 2,522 square feet, 3/3, built in 1930, two-level loft, garden tub, one garage space, no yard.

Money No Object ($670,950)
1300 Jackson St., 75202: 1,917 square feet, 1/1, building built in the 1930s, two fireplaces, private rooftop deck, one parking space.


1306 N. Cedar Ridge Dr., Duncanville, 75116: 3,429 square feet, 5/2, built in 1979, two fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, on more than 1 acre.

2420 Sweeping Meadows, Cedar Hill, 75104: 4,456 square feet, 4/3, built in 2002, Lake Ridge, fireplace, bay windows, double shower.

$1.25 million
1220 Regents Park Ct., DeSoto, 75115: 6,822 square feet, 5/6, built in 1994, Regents Park, pool, exercise room, balcony, three-car garage.

Money No Object ($3.2 million)
2034 W. Belt Line Rd., Cedar Hill, 75104: 9,533 square feet, 5/7, built in 1998, heated pool, cabana, game room, library, three fireplaces (one in master), multiple staircases.


Forest Hills generally does have homes in the $500,000 to $1.2 million range. Not one, however, was available at the time we researched this story.

8180 San Cristobal Dr., 75218: 2,668 square feet, 4/2, built in 1969, stained brick floors in entryway, see-through brick fireplace separates den
and living room.

Money No Object ($1.485 million)
8335 Forest Hills Blvd., 75218: 4,800 square feet, 4/4, Mediterranean style, upgraded in 2001, curved staircase, two-story entry with guilded dome, granite island in kitchen, game room.


3835 Guadalupe Ln., 75034: 3,114 square feet, 4/3, built in 2001 in the Stewart Creek subdivision, on a quarter acre, jetted tub, walk-in closets.

5352 Northshore Dr., 75034: 3,456 square feet, 4/3, built in 1999, Lakes on Legacy, ranch style, covered patio, fireplace, jetted tub, three-car garage.

$1.299 million
5481 Lago Vista Ln., 75034:
5,984 square feet, 5/5, built in 1992, Starwood subdivision, heated pool/spa, exercise room, media room, tile roof,
intercom system.

Money No Object ($4.9 million)
27 Stonebriar Way, 75034: 16,000 square feet, 5/7, built in 1987 in Stonebriar Creek, modern style, on 5.5 acres, spa room, wine cellar, heavily treed lot, pool, creek, space for horses.


2814 Placid Dr., Grapevine, 76051: 2,588 square feet, 4/2, built in 1999 in the Placid-Peninsula development, pool, fireplace.

3204 Wildoak, Grapevine, 76051:
4,103 square feet, 5/4, built in 2002 in Walker Farms, game room, butler’s pantry, garden tub, on half an acre.

$1.29 million
5200 Normandy Dr., Colleyville, 76034: 7,500 square feet, 5/5, built in 2000 in Montclair Park, Mediterranean style, heated pool/spa, sauna, wine cellar, four fireplaces (one in master), initially listed for $2 million.

Money No Object ($5.8 million)
5212 Reims Ct., Colleyville, 76034:
14,065 square feet, 5/5, built in 1999 in Montclair Parc, 17th-century French chateau, wine room, limestone floors, Tucker mural, courtyard, Arkansas quarried stone exterior, slate roof, on 1.2 acres. Owned by Sheila and Paul B. Johnson.


4620 Abbott Ave., 75205: 2,010 square feet, 3/2, built in 1974, condo, fireplace, vaulted ceilings.

3508 Potomac Ave., 75205: 1,758 square feet, 3/2, built in 1936, tile/wood floors, wooden deck.

$1.28 million
4409 Belclaire Ave., 75205: 3,979 square feet, 5/3, built in 1935, two fireplaces, wet bar, sitting area in master bedroom, French doors, 80-by-163-foot lot.

Money No Object ($8.5 million)
3640 Beverly Dr., 75205: 9,874 square feet, 7/8, Tom and Cinda Hicks’ old homestead, built in 1985, features live-in staff quarters, six fireplaces, two-story pool cabana (which includes a billiard room and marble steam room), double lot.


623 Valencia St., 75223: 1,764 square feet, 2/2, built in 1935, antique stained-glass window, hardwoods, original mosaic floor in kitchen.

Money No Object ($365,000)
911 Cordova St., 75223: 2,088 square feet, 3/3, built in 1930, original art deco bathrooms, coved ceilings, quarters above garage.


4609 O’Connor Ct., Irving, 75062:
2,360 square feet, 2/2, built in 1983, condo, two fireplaces (one in master), bay windows, Murphy bed.

1600 Driskill Dr., 75038: 3,452 square feet, 4/3, built in 1989, Mediterranean style, heated pool/spa, three fireplaces (one in master), game room, tile roof.

Money No Object ($995,000)
501 Byron Ct., 75308:
4,500 square feet, 4/4, built in 1998, Enclave subdivision, heated pool/spa, game room, two fireplaces.


1100 Wishing Well Ct., Cedar Hill, 75104
: 2,738 square feet, 4/3, built in 1997, Lake Ridge subdivision, Colonial style, marble flooring, on half an acre.

2731 S. Lakeview Dr., Cedar Hill, 75104:
5,040 square feet, 4/4, built in 2000, Lake Ridge subdivision, exercise room, quartz floors in entryway, three living areas, on 1.3 acres.

Money No Object ($749,900)
9108 Cliffside Dr., Grand Prairie, 75104:
5,621 square feet, 4/4, built in 1999, Lake Ridge subdivision, media room, garden tub, pond, boat parking, on 2.5 acres.


2410 Auburn Ave.,
75214: 1,435 square feet, 3/2, built in 1923, arched wood windows, cherrywood kitchen cabinets, slate floors.

7223 Lakewood Blvd., 75214: 2,598 square feet, 3/2, built in 1939, hardwoods, crown moldings, French doors to wooden deck.

$1.2 million
2426 Pickens St., 75214:
5,704 square feet, 4/4, built in 2002, hand-scraped wooden floors, limestone walkway, stone fireplace.

Money No Object ($1.395 million)
6932 Lakeshore Dr., 75214:
5,128 square feet, 5/4 (master bedroom is 1,450 square feet), built in 1931, four living areas, media room, Rookwood tile, cast stone wood-burning fireplace (one in master), study with marble floors.


2796 Club Ridge Dr., 75067:
3,041 square feet, 4/2, built in 1997, Vista Ridge Estates, wood-burning fireplace, bay windows.

2605 Queen Margaret Dr., 75056: 4,415 square feet, 4/3, Castle Hills, Martinique plan, extended game room, two-story master, study.

Money No Object ($799,000)
815 Lady of the Lake Blvd., 75056:
4,619 square feet, 5/4, English style, built in 2000, Castle Hills, gazebo, heated pool/spa, sitting area in master, game room.


5915 Monticello Ave., 75206:
1,589 square feet, 3/1, built in 1926, breakfast area with butler’s pantry, stainless-steel gas range.

5931 Mercedes Ave., 75206:
3,026 square feet, 4/3, built in 2003, slate floors, three-landing staircase, antique pine floors, gourmet kitchen.

Money No Object ($545,000)
5831 Mercedes Ave., Dallas, 75206:
3,250 square feet, 3/2, crown molding, stained-glass beveled windows, fully landscaped yard.


821 Parkhaven Dr., 75149:
2,866 square feet, 4/3, built in 2000, Paschall Park Estates, fireplace and sitting area in master, breakfast bar.

Money No Object ($385,000)
611 Creekbend Ct., 75149:
4,192 square feet, 4/3, built in 1987, Paschall Park Estates, wet bar, fireplace in master, jetted tub.


Most homes within Munger Place are listed between $250,000 and $500,000, and most homes on Swiss Avenue are listed between $500,000 and $1.2 million.

4721 Reiger Ave., 75214:
1,570 square feet, 3/2, built in 1919, floors imported from old Highland Park High School, two blocks from Munger Historic District.

Money No Object ($995,000)
5647 Swiss Ave., 75214:
5,246 square feet, 5/4, Historic district, backed up by Bryan Parkway, 50-foot front porch, double-glass diamond windows.


922 Salmon Dr., 75208:
1,548 square feet, 2/1, built in 1928, updated Tudor, stained-glass windows, vaulted ceiling in kitchen.

404 W. Greenbriar Ln., 75208: 3,603 square feet, 4/3, built in 1955, heated pool, wet bar, sitting area in master, oversized lot.

Money No Object ($1.45 million)
1707 Rio Vista Dr., 75208:
6,100 square feet, 5/3, built in 1926, villa style, view of downtown, three-story, hand-scratched hardwoods, gourmet kitchen, wine cellar, balcony.


4511 Gilbert Ave., 75219:
1,459 square feet, 2/2, built in 1987, condo, roof terrace, white oak hardwoods, wet bar, wood-burning fireplace.

4332 Gilbert Ave., 75219:
2,991 square feet, 2/3, built in 2003, balcony, two fireplaces, game room, vaulted ceilings, 20-foot ceilings, third-floor loft.

$1.25 million
3505 Turtle Creek Blvd., 75219:
2,691 square feet, 2/4, built in 2002, condo in Vendôme building (the most expensive high-rise in Dallas), fireplace, wet bar, jetted tub, two garage spaces.

Money No Object ($3.5 million)
3901 Turtle Creek Blvd., 75219
: 8,000 square feet, 4/5, built in 2000, Place Des Vosges, exercise room, two fireplaces, marble and wood floors, three-car garage, 24-hour security.


2916 Winding Creek Dr., 75023:
2,943 square feet, 4/3, built in 1992, Oakcreek Estates, pool, fireplace, bay windows, jetted tub.

2124 Sutton Pl., 75093:
3,755 square feet, 3/2, built in 1997, Willow Bend Polo Estates, French style, wood-burning fireplace, plantation shutters, granite countertops.

$1.299 million
3700 Shantara Ln., 75093:
5,850 square feet, 4/4, built in 1994, White Rock Creek Estates, heated pool/spa, library, exercise room, butler’s pantry,
double shower, on half an acre.

Money No Object ($5.4 million)
5600 Champions Dr., 75093:
12,044 square feet, 6/7, built in 1998, Willow Bend, French style, heated pool/spa, sunroom, wainscoting, fireplace in master, sport court, on 1.26 acres.


We had every intention of including Strait Lane in this category, but there was nothing in any of our price ranges when we looked.

5819 Orchid Ln., 75230 (Preston Hollow):
2,055 square feet, 3/2, built in 1981, vaulted ceilings, wood-burning
fireplace, two-car garage.

4400 Ponoma Rd., 75209 (Bluffview):
3,100 square feet, 3/3, built in 1946, pool with diving board, sitting area in master, garden tub, wood-burning fireplace.

$1.265 million
5510 Nakoma Dr., 75209 (Bluffview):
3,727 square feet, 3/4, built in 1925, designed by architect James Cheek (who designed Highland Village), updated in 1998, handmade tiles, granite countertops, first home built in Greenway Park.

Money No Object ($14.5 million)

8602 Jourdan Way, 75225 (Preston Hollow): 15,155 square feet, 5/5, built in 2001, Mediterranean style, pool/spa, guest quarters, seven fireplaces (one in master), sunroom, exercise room, antique Italian marble, limestone, Ludowici tile roof, on 3 acres. Owned by Cayla and William K. Woodruff III.


924 Abrams Rd., 75081:
1,654 square feet, 3/2, built in 1953, circle drive, on 1 acre, main value is in land, needs renovation.

Money No Object ($499,990)
3305 Carriage Ct., 75082:
4,232 square feet, 4/4, built in 2001 in the Reserve, bay windows, jetted tub, wood-burning fireplace, game room.


2802 Cascade Ct., Rowlett, 75088:
3,568 square feet, 4/3, built in 1997 in Westwood Shores, vaulted ceilings, fireplace, oversized lot.

7502 Ramblewood Dr., Garland, 75044: 4,071 square feet, 4/4, built in 2002 in Retreat at Firewheel, dry bar, sound system wiring, granite kitchen countertops, fireplace, covered patio, landscaped yard.

$1.299 million
791 Kentwood Dr., Rockwall, 75032:
Two full houses; main home is 5,766 square feet, 4/4, sunroom, two cedar
closets; second home is 1,951 square feet, 3/2, Italian ceramic stove, marble tub, stained glass. On 24 acres that adjoin a lake with pool, barn.

Money No Object ($1.75 million)
5832 S. State Hwy. 205, Rockwall, 75032:
2,300 square feet, 3/3, on 96 acres, vaulted ceilings, wood-burning fireplace, comfortable home (not a showplace). This estate is all about the land.


1340 Shady Oaks Dr., 76092
: 1,919 square feet, 3/2, built in 1961, pool/spa, wooden deck, barn, on 1.4 acres.

1008 Merlot Dr., 76092:
3,954 square feet, 4/4, built in 2000 in Versailles Addition, pool, library, multiple staircases.

$1.29 million
1011 Turnberry Ln., 76092:
7,179 square feet, 5/6, built in 1998 in Conventry Manor, French style, pool/spa, outdoor grill, sports court, four fireplaces, butler’s pantry, four-car garage.

Money No Object ($2.99 million)
400 W. Chapel Downs Dr., 75092:
8,488 square feet, 6/6, built in 1994 in Sandlin Estates, Mediterranean style, on 15 acres, pool/spa, cabana, double shower, intercom, loft, indoor grill, sauna, wine cellar, guest quarters, barn.


345 Chatham, 75182:
3,120 square feet, 4/3, built in 2001 in Glenwick, vaulted ceilings, garden tub, covered porch.

208 Sunray Ln., 75182:
4,185 square feet, 5/4, built in 1988 in Town East Park, skylights, garden tub, three-car garage, on 1.2 acres.

Money No Object ($995,000)
526 Long Creek, 75182:
3,903 square feet, 4/3, built in 1995 on almost 25 acres, pool, barn, fireplace/sitting area in master, three fireplaces.


4412 Potomac Ave., 75205:
2,812 square feet, 4/3, built in 1929, tile/wood floors, wood-burning fireplace, walk-in pantry, needs renovating.

$1.09 million
4114 San Carlos St., 75205:
6,003 square feet, 4/5, built in 1985, multiple staircases, jetted tub, sitting area in master, local upscale builder Cy Barcus built for himself.

Money No Object ($4.795 million)
6916 Hunters Glen Rd., 75025
: 8,355 square feet, 5/5, in Volk Estates, Tuscan style, 300-year-old imported tile roof from Italy, six fireplaces.


Dawn McMullen

Dawn McMullen