02/01/18 8:24am

Does living on the top floor of most high-rises still feel like living in the basement?  Chicago’s 100-story John Hancock Center will change all that.  Whereas the tallest residential home in Dallas is a 42nd floor penthouse, the Hancock’s condos don’t start until the 44th floor and continue all the way to the 92nd floor.  Completed in 1969, the Hancock Tower is one of the most recognized buildings in Chicago and offers up some surprisingly inexpensive homes with incomparable city and Lake Michigan views.

Sure, Chicago winters are unkind, but the summers, when second home ownership has its privileges, offer a plethora of activities to shake off the cold and grey. The Hancock is in the thick of everything Chicago has to offer.  It’s right on Michigan Avenue in the thick of the city’s tony shopping. It’s a two-block walk to the beach and is a 10-minute taxi to Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sizes range from 550-square-foot studios to ~1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom units. Of course, with over 700 units, many have been combined for larger spaces. Prices are surprisingly affordable with studios starting just below $200,000 while three-bedroom units trade in the $500,000 to $800,000 range depending on renovation. Let’s look at both ends of the market and with 703 units, there’s always something great for sale.


01/24/18 8:30am

Coastline and mountain views from the pool

On a drive up to Turtle Bay for a disappointing lunch at Roy’s Beach Shack, I drove right past 55-249A Kamehameha Highway in Laie on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  I drove past, because from the road, the home is nearly invisible, tucked into its own oceanfront pocket tropical forest on about two-thirds of an acre.

The home just popped on the market with Erik Hinshaw of Hawai’i Life Real Estate. Readers will recall it was Hinshaw who showed me around the $71 million in penthouse “porn” you read about earlier in January.  During that visit we got to talking about this property.  But enough dish, here are the specs: it’s a 2004-built home with three bedrooms and three bathrooms totaling 2,464 square feet of living space and is being offered for $2.4 million.


01/17/18 8:39am

Honolulu’s Gold Coast at the foot of Diamond Head crater

Last month I wrote an Oahu market update detailing the prior year’s slight price appreciation.  I also pointed out that it takes hard work to lose money in Hawaii if you have time. In other words, don’t buy high and sell low as the Dallas Police and Fire pension funds did.  But all those number-y things get confusing, so here’s a concrete example of how two units in the same building have performed over time (spoiler: GREAT).


01/11/18 8:33am

Rippling side of Waiea facing the Pacific Ocean

For the second year in a row, the minute I leave town, Candy decides to throw parties in Dallas’ most expensive and storied digs.  Last month it was Deion Sanders’ Collin County mega-mansion and Walnut Place’s walk down the auction catwalk and into Mehrdad Moayedi’s hands for $36 mil.  Well I’ve had enough. This year, I fought back!  First was Sammy Hagar’s Maui retreat, then Fleetwood Mac alum John McVie’s Diamond Head estate, and now …

Welcome to Waiea where two penthouses kiss the Pacific Ocean for a combined $71 million.  It was here that we met Erik Hinshaw of Hawai’i Life Realtors to view these two staggering properties (the same Hawai’ian Life featured on HGTV).  We?  Yes, coincidentally, Dallas high-rise Queen Sharon Quist with Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate was in town poking around with a client and joined me on the tour.


12/26/17 7:30am

[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2018! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com and SecondShelters.com!]

I grew up around Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, so when I saw one of his homes on the market near my old stomping grounds, I had to share it with you.  It’s a type of architecture not often found in Dallas (one house and the Kalita Humphreys theater are all I know of) where prairie style means something completely different.

Often when I write about second homes, I’m writing about areas to consider. This time I’m dictating exactly which second home you must purchase.  I’m doing this because it’s one thing to impress your friends by owning a second home, but it’s a complete mic drop to add that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright prairie-style home.


12/20/17 9:45am

All photos courtesy of Mark Singer Photography

It’s been a rock and roll December here on SecondShelters.com starting with Sammy Hagar’s Maui retreat showcased at the beginning of the month.  Now it’s time to have a look at Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie’s (the “Mc” in Fleetwood Mac) Honolulu estate.  So sit back and listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise … and set … at 3124 Noela Drive on the slopes of Diamond Head (map).

First, let’s talk Noela Drive.  It’s a semi-secret, dead-end road of just 16 super-private homes. Half the homes literally have a volcano as their backyard. Looky-Lous don’t go up there because they don’t know about it and besides, almost all you can see are gates. A $5 million budget might elicit a polite titter. When I spoke with McVie’s listing agent Patricia Choi, she summed up Noela Drive as where you buy and die. Sales are rare.  When buyers ask what’s available she often says “nothing”, with McVie’s home, she can say “one” … but only for a little while.


12/13/17 10:57am


There’s an old investment adage: Buy when people are selling and sell when people are buying.

On July 14, 2017, there was a fire at the Marco Polo high-rise in Honolulu that damaged some 200 units and will cost approximately $100 million to repair.  It wasn’t the first. There was also a fire just four years prior in 2013 causing $1.1 million in damage.  There are no sprinklers in the 1971 building.  After the first fire, the HOA got an estimate to retrofit the building with sprinklers. The average cost was $8,000 per unit or roughly $4.5 million.  After this fire, I think it’s highly unlikely a sprinkler retrofit wouldn’t happen. I suspect insurance companies would demand it.

Doesn’t exactly smell like a dream Hawaiian getaway, does it?  What it should smell like is opportunity.


12/06/17 12:15pm

Nine years before Sammy Hagar purchased nearly 10 acres on Maui, he helped pen Why Can’t This Be Love for Van Halen’s “5150” album, perhaps presaging the purchase. It was the band’s first album featuring Hagar, who had replaced David Lee Roth.  Oddly enough, it was about this time that I’d run into Hagar at the Versace store in Chicago.

A friend and I were upstairs in the men’s department trying on fabulous, though gawd-awful-expensive clothes we had no hope of buying. All the while, our salesman/friend plied us with (free) champagne from the store’s bar. A fun Saturday.  Hagar and entourage came in and set up shop at the other end of the room.  We were laughing and carrying on while another salesman helped them.  A very staid group, they kept looking over, we assumed wondering who the heck we were. Being more Eurythmics than Van Halen, we didn’t really pay them any mind.  Such was life at 24.