Category Archives: Ask Candy
How About a Pool Lined With 24-Carat Gold? For $125 Million, Miami’s Most famous Residence, the Versace Mansion, Can Be Yours!
Our Miami correspondent, Andrea Kavanagh, is back and house-hunting for us! Calling all billionaire art aficionados and free-spending, globe-trotting investors! Miami is all a buzz over Ocean Drive’s most infamous residence to hit the sizzling hot real estate market at a whopping $125 million. Casa Casuarina, also known as the Versace mansion, is an iconic oasis – a piece of art and a piece of history sitting in the middle of South Beach. Located at 1116 Ocean Drive, the mansion is also notorious as the former home of Italian designer Gianni Versace who was shot to death at the front gate in 1997. Grisly as that was, it remains one of the most popular tourist sites in Miami.
In this muckety-muck lending environment, does it make sense to re-finance your SECOND home? Can you even save money? I asked my good friend Marcus McCue, Vice President of sales for Guardian Mortgage Company:
Panel discussion this afternoon on how many reporters are leaving traditional print media and going into PR and marketing. Salaries for PR execs nice, real nice. But here on the panel was our very own Kyle Crews of Allie Beth Allman Urban.I mean, how much dedication is that to fly down to a national real estate editors convention, then fly back juggling closings in between. That’s what I call dedication and being one of the very best Realtors in Dallas!
Dear Tax Doctor:
What are the typical arguments that the city makes for raising the value of the improvement when there have been no upgrades to the property since the previous evaluation? Also, what are the best counters to the city arguments other than comps. Thank you.
Building or Buying A House? Watch That Square Footage Because Really, Honestly, The Too-Big House is (Finally) Dead
I was with some local Dallas real estate experts yesterday who told me something shocking: in some parts of town, square footage over 6500 square feet IS BEING DISCOUNTED for appraisal purposes. Shocking, shocking news. Let’s say you have an 8500 square foot house: anything over 6500 square feet — 2000 square feet — is now being appraised at one-third the full value, equivalent to storage space. Why? Because increasingly, big houses are being seen as a burden for taxes, utilities, maintenance and repair. Now I’m sure this does not apply to Beverly Drive or Meadowbrook, where the Barretts are building that 26,000 square foot mansion. But it applies to homes in suburban areas and north of LBJ. Any wonder why it is so hard to unload some of those gorgeous but enormous mansions in Preston Trails? Or Flower Mound?
Tiffany, DCCD reduced land values and increased improvements in the Park Cities last year because the builders are out of the market here so land values actually did go down. They lowered land but increased improvements so there was little if any net effect. Most people did not pay attention to DCAD playing with the numbers because their value did not change or went down. When the residential market comes back, DCAD will increase the land values back and there will be a big overall increase.
The Tax Doctor Responds:
A reader with a home on the market is very frustrated with the proliferation of squirrels this spring in his far North Dallas neighborhood:
Dear Candy: How do you handle squirrels when your home is on the market and they are everywhere? One almost jumped on a couple as they were leaving our home yesterday. (They are extra frisky because of the weekend storms, we guess.) We are marketing our home and drawing attention to the large, lush trees, but this spring they seem to be filled with more critters than leaves. Is it ever legal to shoot squirrels in your yard? I hate to be extreme, but they are driving us crazy, destroying patio cushions, and jumping all over the house. Thanks!
It is NOT legal to shoot squirrels within the city limits of Dallas, and by “shoot” I hope your definition was that of a Super Soaker! (Though I confess, I’ve been tempted… squirrels broke my home’s virginity!) You can keep squirrels off your roof somewhat by trimming back trees that touch the roof. One Preston Hollow homeowner has wiring that is supposed to electrocute the squirrels, but I always fear a malfunction — or what if you send a workman up there! You might try calling the Critter Catcher. They will humanely trap and then remove the alpha squirrel so his reproducing days will be far fewer. Or, watch this funny video — irreverent, yes, but my son turned me into a huge Will Ferrell fan:
Update to the mortgage story. As I said earlier, mortgage broker Ron Schulz told me over the weekend that the biggest hurdle in mortgage financing now is finding mortgage loans for the self-employed. Those deals are near impossible because most self-employed work off K-1 income to control/limit taxes so when they go to get a loan underwriters get all red in the face and say, uh uh no way, this guy has no income.
My wife and I are not getting along, but we do not want to get a divorce for financial and religious reasons. I have enough cash for a down payment and was approved for a mortgage to buy a small house from foreclosure here in Dallas. But get this: the bank is now asking me to send them a letter explaining why I am moving there. Do I tell them the truth or that I am interested in fixing and selling the house as an investment? Honestly, I think it is none of their business!
This does sound kind of nosy, and I am no fan of the bank’s Gestapo-like lending policies when they were out there buying/selling Credit Defaults etc. before the bust. But I think it has to do with how they will classify and subsequently sell your loan on the secondary market, which is what banks do to keep the money flowing. Say you’re buying to fix and flip, it will be classified as an investment property which will have a different rate (higher), down payment requirement and guidelines for approval. If classified as a second home, your rate and other qualification guidelines will be closer to primary residence guidelines BUT! the vaca home property is usually located in a resort area or development at least 50 miles from your home. If you are buying a vacation home two miles from your primary home, yes, that may look a but strange. I would think legally the bank cannot consider your marital difficulties in their decision and deny you credit, but I am eager for and welcome the experts in the audience to weigh in on this.