Boot-Ranch-12-560x400.jpg firepit

What three words all but guarantee a crowd and a good time, even during the craziness of the holidays? The Texas Hill Country and Golf!

BootRanch 12.4 Candy Sean Jason


Me, Sean Gioffre and Jason Lenox

Ralph Randall Amy W DPM

Amy Weinreb, Ralph Randall

Keith Cross

Keith and Melinda Cross


Andrew Ball, Vicki White, Sean Gioffre

Joyce, Jan, wfe and Glen

Joyce Kelly, Jan and Walter Evans, Glen Boudreaux


The divine Karen Luter, Anteks and Boot Ranch threw a fun little event on December 4 down in the Dallas Design District, talking about all three. More than 67 people came by to check out the luxurious second home destination originally developed by golf great Hal Sutton: Boot Ranch.Sean Gioffre and Andrew Ball (up from Boot) had their boots on and ready to stomp out some Dallas fun. Some of those included current Boot Ranch homeowners who wanted to spread the word about what a great place Fredericksburg is for a second or permanent home only four hours southwest of Dallas.

Candy and Hal Sutton

Hal Sutton in Dallas last spring

Sutton’s development dream team planned for 387 home sites of various sizes, shapes, and prices, all with a definite Texas Hill Country look and flavor. He chose a beautiful spread of 2050 acres with the Palo Alto Creek winding through about five miles north of Fredericksburg, on the road to Llano. In case you don’t know, this is where most big time Texas billionaires play rancher — Kelcy Warren, Tav Lupton, David Bamberger of Church’s Fried Chicken fame, to name a few. Here Hal created one of the best golf courses in Texas, a place he hoped would and believes will rival Augusta National. With its rugged hills dotted with cedars, curves and creatures, Boot Ranch offers golfers some of the most beautiful golfing terrain in the state. There are twin 40-foot waterfalls in front of the 10th green. The Dallas Morning News has ranked Boot Ranch no less than five times as one of the Top Ten Courses in Texas, and the course has been rated by Golf Digest as one of the Top 10 courses in the COUNTRY. The course measures 7,250 yards from the championship tees for a par of 71. Even veteran golfers find it a challenge each time they play. There is also a 34-acre practice park, which includes a short game range and an executive Par-3 course. The Director of golf is Emil Hale, hand-picked by Sutton himself.

Anteks, of course, is the best place in town to find rustic home furnishings perfect for a second home in the Hill Country, or anywhere.


Edo Popken, Candy Evans, Adam Endick
Kim Macleod, Randy Pruett, Candy Evans

Current Boot Ranch residents mingled with designers, entrepreneurs and of course, Realtors!Bernadette SchaefflerEdo PopkenMargaret Chambers, Glen Boudreaux, Keith Cross, John Bolt, Joyce Kelley of Nathan Grace Realtors, Karen Luter of Allie Beth Allman,  Amy Weintraub and Ralph Randall of Dave Perry Miller, Marvin Jolley, Vicki White, Jane Idzi, and Susan Mooney, all from the Keller Williams Elite office at Preston Center, and more. All nibbled Wendy Krispin and tossed in names for prizes, from a bottle of Museum Tower’s private reserve wine to a collection of goodies from British Emporium to the big cahuna — a golf weekend outing weekend at Boot Ranch and luxurious accomodations.

Of course, we all explored Anteks, including Jason Lenox’ copper accessories line recognized as one of  Oprah’s Favorite Things 2013. Outside, a Range Rover Evoque sat in front of Antek’s, reminding everyone that this is the perfect SUV for a little off roading in your new home on the range. Fabulous photography at the party by genius Bob Manzano.

Boot-Ranch-01-560x400.jpg lodge



Empire Pass Front

Word comes from Ben Fisher of Summit Sotheby’s International Realty that Jim Furyk, one of the best golfers in the world and the one with the most distinctive swing, is selling his Deer Valley ski condo for a tidy $2.399 million.

Jim Furyk

The 2,100-square-foot condo is inside the exclusive Flagstaff at Empire Pass, the newest building inside the Villages at Empire Pass. So just what do you get with this amazing three-bedroom, four-bath unit?

An easy walk to the Talisker Club for breakfast or hors d’oeuvres in the evening. Spa rooms, jet tubs and a pool are all there, Flagstaff onsite amenities include a kids room, workout facility, a pub for meeting your friend for apres ski. Hot tub and fire pit draw you outside even in the winter months. The property is sold furnished and the seller will pay the $100,000 deposit to Talisker for a full club membership.

Sounds like a pretty amazing deal, don’t you think?

Empire Pass Living Empire Pass Kitchen Empire Pass nook Empire Pass Bath

Lance Armstrong Lake Austin

Lance Armstrong changes his address like we change our underwear, right? Three Austin-area houses in the last three months, ranging from 7,500 to 12,000 square feet, means the disgraced cyclist is probably trying to irritate his former friends at the U.S. Postal Service.

Get a breakdown of Lance Armstrong’s real estate lineage right here on

dogs on porch 7.2013Years ago, when I was hauling my babies up here to the southern coast of Maine, I would sit at night in this very living room of our family’s second home after everyone had gone to sleep. I’d be reading, or writing — blogging didn’t exist. I would wonder what would happen to this home that has been in the Evans family for three generations, what will happen when the FOURTH generation comes of age and comes here, toting their toddlers on that vast beach, carrying them home for naps just as I did? Just as my mother in law did?

This year it happened. My son lived in Manhattan for 18 months. Though he was only a few hours away, he never had a chance to come up here and relax one time during those 18 months. Now he lives on the west coast. This year, he came back with his bride in tow. And so it was finally our turn to fill the house not with my husband’s parents, siblings and cousins, but with OUR entire family.

Even our dog was here!

We fly up from Dallas to the house at Drakes Island at least once a year, as we have every year since 1980. But every time previously, we have been here with my husband’s parents or one of the sisters, or his brother. My daughter got married in Kennebunkport five years ago, and we stayed here after the wedding. Friends came from everywhere, even the U.K., to wish them well and be feted at a morning brunch send-off.

This year, I had four children instead of two, since each one brought a spouse. We filled the bedrooms! For Erika, it was the first time she had experienced “The Beach House.” Of course she had heard story after story, and I’m sure my son loved showing her each nook and cranny, every piece of the beach, the jetty, Parson’s Beach, every photo, the oldest homes on the island, Big Daddy’s, Scoop Deck, the wonders of rainy-day shopping at LL Bean in Freeport.

Often, when I visit second homes properties, I hear developer after developer tell me that they are not selling land or condos or square footage. They are selling dreams, time, memories and to sum it all up, legacy.

I look at them and say, honey, you are preaching to the choir.

The Beach House, called Laurel Hill, was bought by my husband’s grandfather in 1947. He had that very legacy in mind. He bought on a small, secluded island with no commercial anything (we have to drive a few miles for the nearest grocery, and we love it) but homes, a community center, tennis courts, and one of the best kept secrets in the world: Drake’s Island Beach. He bought it so his children could bring their spouses and children here — legacy.

Now his grandchildren have taken over ownership, and the great-grandchildren are coming in as adults. They are scheduling their precious vacation time to be with us, with family. There is no better way to spend a week with your children. What do you do? Go to the beach, golf, shop, hike, jog, read. There are bikes and kayaks under the house. I saw people paddle-boarding today. The TV at The Beach House never works; if it were up to me, I’d donate it. Who needs a TV? The Beach House is where you come to sit on the porch and catch up with your family members. You chat over doing dishes. Maybe you trim the hedges or work on the community “to-do list”.  We are scattered across the world now the way we live, and time spent together becomes ever more fleeting. Already I am fretting and kind of sad that this week ends next Sunday, when my kids fly back to their homes, work, lives.

At least I have this time with them, thanks to a second home, thanks to The Beach House.Drakes house 7.2013








Heritage Auctions home 1Fasten your seatbelts, get your reserve ready! I have told you all about real estate auctions, and I predicted we would be seeing a whole lot more. Real estate auctions are a great way, in fact, maybe the only way, to unload big, kinda albatross-y homes, as well as your standard multi-million dollar fare. Best example, of course, is Champ D’Or which sold at auction last March 31 in Hickory Creek.; whose contents were just sold off last week.  Often the owners are high net worth individuals who dabbled, or rather, over-dabbled in building, went a little too high end, or built in a location that turned out to be just plain WRONG!

Then there are vacation homes often owned by high net worth individuals who just want to be done with them. Well, guess who has jumped in to help? Our friends over at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas. Heritage also has galleries in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Did you know that Heritage has slipped right up on Sotheby’s and Christie’s (and, some say, moving up on) to become the world’s third largest auction house? Now the venerable art and collectibles auctioneer has announced the addition of Luxury Real Estate auctions to its growing portfolio of 30+ Auction categories.

The Heritage folks are so smart: not only will this net them more fine art and collectibles to sell, it will net them the very dirt and walls that surround all that stuff like, for example, the contents of Champ. Brilliant stroke!

The timing may also be more than perfect: two of the country’s top real estate auction houses are embroiled in nasty finger-pointing lawsuits. North Carolina-based Grand Estates Auction has charged New York based (and Sotheby’s sort of affiliated) Concierge Auctions of using sham bidders and other fraudulent tactics to inflate its transaction volume, and is seeking $23 million per claim. Concierge sold Champ D’Or here last March and more recently, an estate in Plano. Grand Estates, based in Charlotte, and two couples/home sellers alleged that Concierge published auction results for sales that never went through or involved “shill” buyers. The buyers, in collusion with the company, allegedly failed to register for the auction or pay a $100,000 registration deposit. The suit says deposits were returned in many of the sales. Further, Grand Estate says Concierge allegedly misrepresented its sales numbers and used web crawlers to inflate its Internet traffic. (Say what?) Of course, Concierge had already sued Grand Estates, alleging the firm set up fake email accounts to publish “false and defamatory” stories (what we call troll comments) about its competitor and steer business to Grand Estates. While these two duke it out, Heritage ought to sail right down the runway.

Unlike traditional real estate listings, sellers with Heritage Luxury Real Estate Auctions work with the team to maintain control over the entire sale, setting the date, marketing strategy, and terms of the auction. Relax agents, that team includes YOU. Selling at auction, of course,  creates a competitive bidding environment, where fully-qualified and motivated buyers participate in a transparent, non-contingent sale — all within 60 to 90 days’ time frame from beginning to closing.

Do not, repeat, do not confuse auctions with foreclosures. The Luxury Real Estate auction format accelerates the selling process, creates a sense of urgency with buyers and eliminates carrying costs while the vetting process brings in something every Realtor would kill for:  fully qualified buyers.

Experts tell me that homes that sell at auctions are homes that are simply not going to sell the traditional way: list, sign, MLS, wait for buyer. They may be too specialized, or overbuilt, or in the wrong location, or the sellers have grown tired of waiting. (Sound like Champ?) But never mind all the negatives: if a home is highly desirable and you can get a lot of people excited about it in a short, defined period of time, and you market the bejesus out of it, you can sell it.

More and more sellers, in fact, are coming to auction houses first so they don’t have to hassle with the time and inconveniences associated with listing a property the traditional way.

The Directors of the new Luxury Real Estate category are Nate Schar, who will be working from San Diego, Scott Foerst in Atlanta, and Amelia Barber, holding down the fort in Dallas, where Scott and Nate spend half their time anyhow. Scott  and Nate have a 13 year history of selling multi-million dollar properties by auction throughout North America totaling more than $250 million in sales. Previously, Nate was an asset manager at one of the Midwest’s top wealth management firms, and Scott served as architect and senior project coordinator with both commercial and residential construction firms in the Southeast. Both came to Heritage from — surprise! — Grand Estates Auctions. Amelia comes to Dallas by way of The Hill as in Washington, D.C. where she was a lobbyist. Amelia also managed operations for a national financial trade association.

“Heritage is the first fine art and high-end collectibles auctioneer to offer Luxury Real Estate auctions in this specific format, a perfect fit with our portfolio of services catered to high net worth individuals,” said Paul Minshull, Chief Operating Officer of Heritage Auctions. “These auctions will put the seller in control and provide liquidity in a timely manner.”

The properties presented by Heritage Luxury Real Estate Auctions will be marketed with customized advertising plans regionally, nationally and internationally, including Heritage’s 750,000+ bidder members from more than 186 countries. (How do you spell high net worth? HERITAGE.) The auctions will be marketed out the wahzoo to qualified buyers.

“Our sellers are finding this process a tactful and savvy means of resolving their traditional selling dilemma,” said Scott. “Auctions help maximize the full market potential of Luxury properties.”

So I asked Nate, Scott and Amelia: will this be vacation or primary homes?

“Vacation properties about 80% of the time,” said Nate, “There’s a lot of vacation homes out there and available, thus more inventory to sell.”

Many of those homes are free and clear with zero mortgage debt. Heritage will not be selling private planes and yachts, at least not at this time.

But there will be some primary residences in the pool. The trio plan 18 to 24 auctions per year, with the first one set to rock and roll this fall. I’m off to Maine next week — I’ll take this one!



Heritage Auctions home 2








Kirby Pond

Upstate New York is an escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC, and contains some of the most stately mansions imaginable. Want to move to where the movers and shakers retreat? This waterfront mansion owned by Kaplan CEO Jonathan Grayer is on the market for just $16 million — a paltry sum considering what you get for the money.

With more than an acre on Kirby Pond in Rye, New York, this custom-designed manor boasts 11,531 square feet of living space, custom millwork, vaulted ceilings, vintage-style finishes, and an indoor lap pool for swimming when the pond is still a bit chilly.

This house is a dream!

Lap Pool Master Bath Great Room

LongCove DavidLiles 4723Long Cove is a new, private residential community located just over an hour from Dallas on Cedar Creek Lake. The area is getting a ton of buzz.

Some good news is coming out of East Texas: Long Cove is getting it on. This coincides nicely with some positive news about the second home market: it is no longer dead! Second home sales are up by more than ten percent, while 11% of all real estate purchased nationwide goes for a second homes.

All of which may finally be great timing for Long Cove. The brand-spanking new private residential community on Cedar Creek Lake, honestly, the good part of Cedar Creek Lake, has appointed a director of resident services, David Liles. Liles will oversee the community’s Owners Association and Boat Club, and be the primary point of contact for Long Cove’s concierge-style services such as event programming, golf practice facility, boat rental management, resident boat maintenance, water activities and more.

Cottage 19-7 Lomg Cove Community - Across WaterNaturally, the guy knows the area like the back of his hand. Liles, a long-time resident of Cedar Creek Lake, is bullish on lake-style living. He knows the water and lives literally across the lake from Long Cove. In fact, he gets to work by “commuting” on his paddle board along with his dog, King.

“Becoming a part of a community like Long Cove is an incredible opportunity for me to share my passion for lakefront living, and I look forward to working with the Long Cove team to make this a premier family retreat,” said Liles.

Liles also will work to plan development initiatives, including a marina and additional fun services.

“We are thrilled to have David join Long Cove’s team, and we are confident that his skills as well as his knowledge of Cedar Creek Lake will be well received by our residents,” said Long Cove President Christopher Kelsey, “as he will make their ownership experience even more convenient and family-oriented,”

Long Cove’s mission is to give North Texas families the opportunity to escape from their crazy busy lives, build lasting memories and create family traditions that can be passed on to future generations. It is the vision of Dallas developer extraordinaire Don McNamara, who bought the 130-acre Cityplace property north of downtown Dallas in 1990 when the local economy was in deep recession. But McNamara knew something we are learning today: primo real estate survives any downturn if the ownership is strong enough. More than 20 years after his success with Cityplace, McNamara has a more pastoral dream: develop 1200 acres on Cedar Creek Lake into a luxury home community.

In 2008, when work was just beginning on the golf course, financial history took place: Lehman Brothers went down, and everyone panicked.

“The day Lehman Brothers failed, they shut the work down,” said Christopher Kelsey. “What we were going to do wasn’t going to work anymore.” Switching gears rapidly, the developers decided a 400-home neighborhood at lower price points would be more affordable to construct, maintain and sell. Instead of Jack Nicholaus, there are Seaside-style  waterside cottages, larger home sites and a few big family compounds.

Long Cove is also doing it’s best to maximize shoreline. The firm just broke ground on a six-acre expansion of Cedar Creek Lake, adding more than half a mile of shoreline and space for 26 additional lakefront homesites. Long Cove launched the project ahead of schedule due to the quick sell-out of its first phase of lakefront homesites. The lake expansion is scheduled for completion in summer 2013, and the community expects to complete additional milestones leading up to Memorial Day.

Long Cove is a new, private residential community located just over an hour from Dallas on Cedar Creek Lake. The area is getting a ton of buzz . It was built to give North Texas families a second home experience close-to-home, getaways that promote an unplugged, relaxing and family-oriented experience. What’s the prescription for relaxation? A true lock and leave experience — having your boat ready and gassed up the minute your car reaches Long Cove. Pre-planned catered events, having your kitchen and fridge stocked with the groceries your family prefers upon arrival, housekeeping and maid service, and home maintenance. No one wants to spend their precious vacation hours changing lightbulbs, cleaning baseboards or in line at Wal Mart!

Situated on more than six miles of pristine shoreline in Cedar Creek’s deep waters and spanning more than 1,000 acres, the Long Cove property has been untouched for nearly 80 years. Long Cove offers special homesites for waterside cottages, lakefront homes and family compounds, which can all be built-to-suit, accommodating the unique needs of each resident. Amenities at Long Cove include boat valet and concierge, lakefront swim club, a fishing and canoeing pond, hiking and biking trails, outdoor gathering spaces and fire pits, tennis courts, full fitness center, amphitheater and more.

And oh yes: paddleboarding. David, you are not the only one who can steer a vessel! Candy on paddleboard







jpg580_calistoga-ranch.jpg extIn California, they have even sold out of the most famous outdoor showers in the world!  The  award-winning Calistoga Ranch in the Napa Valley has sold out of its private residence club offering.

It seems Americans love their vacation homes again. Vacation home sales in the United States increased 10.1 percent in 2012. 553,000 units were sold as compared to 502,000 in 2011, according to fresh data released recently by the National Association of Realtors.

“We had a strong stock market recovery, which helps more people in the prime ages for buying vacation homes,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said. “Attractively priced recreational property is also a big draw.”

Attractively priced with creative options. According to the NAR which tracks these things, 11 percent of all home transactions in 2012 were vacation homes.

No one knows this better than Joshua Dempsey, Director of Real Estate at Calistoga Ranch, a unique private residence club in an enchanting wine country setting. Though it took 8 years (thanks to the recession), all 140 interests of this unique private residence club have recently sold out.Calistoga Ranch shower

jpg580_outdoorlivingroom2-1Calistoga Ranch is a most unique and magnificent private resort. The award-winning property is managed by Auberge Resorts and is tucked into a private canyon in the upper Napa Valley on a 157- acre site with abundant streams and a serene lake. Among the many amenities at owners’ disposal are numerous hiking trails that wind through the surrounding hills for miles.

Located just north of St. Helena in the Napa Valley, Calistoga Ranch encompasses 50 guest lodges and 15 owner lodges. The spa is rated among the best in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and other renowned travel publications. The acclaimed restaurant sits beside a bucolic lake providing a perfect perch to soak in the beauty of nature. The property also features an on-site Cabernet vineyard and a mountain wine cave. One of the many features that distinguish Calistoga Ranch is the Vintner Program which provides privileged access to a select group of local winemakers through a series of educational and culinary events designed exclusively for the benefit of owners.
About the homes: The residences are about 2400 square feet with beautiful kitchens, living rooms, and two bedrooms. The master has an enticing outdoor shower garden. Each room has walls of windows to take in the magnificent natural surroundings. The lodges are connected by a series of decks and are centered around a covered outdoor living area with a comfortable seating and dining area and a large fireplace…..sort of like a campsite, but a very elegant campsite.

Great care was taken to design the residences around existing rock outcroppings and trees. In some instances, ancient oaks and redwoods actually ‘sprout’ through the decks and shower gardens of the lodges. The architect, Scott Lee of S.B. Architects, designed these eco-sensitive residences.

The entire Napa Valley is hot in terms of real estate sales. Josh tells me $4 to $5 million properties are now moving quickly thanks to limited supply and increasing demand, much like what we are seeing in Dallas. But in Napa, of course, price points are much higher. Due to tough restrictions on land use and on subdivision, you cannot purchase and subdivide fewer than forty acres in Napa Valley. If you seek an elevated view property, there is a 160-acre lot minimum on the mountains which cradle the valley floor. Basically, it was decided years ago that Napa would not become a sprawling San Francisco suburb, and zoning was put in place to preserve the agricultural interests (which would be the wine) of Napa.

Hence, the creation of a private residence club which offers lower upfront costs with all the services and amenities of a 5-star resort managed by Auberge.

“Fractional ownership is poised to grow,” says Josh, “with developments that offer all the right ingredients: an unsurpassed location, thoughtful development, attractive amenities, limited supply and fine management.”

It has to be a location and concept so special it is almost unattainable, like most of Napa now. So who are these buyers? Josh says they are diverse, ranging from baby boomers to young families with children. They come from all over the world, enjoying the ease of partial ownership but getting their wine country fix. About half of the owners are from northern California. Others come from Chicago, New York, Texas, and Southern California. There are three Canadian owners and a smattering of Europeans. Many have or have had multiple homes.

” Instead of spending several million dollars on a single destination home, one owner has chosen to purchase fractional homes in Tuscany, the Colorado mountains, and here at Calistoga Ranch, allowing him to maximize his vacation experience without having to tend to the typical chores often related to second home ownership,” says Josh. “That’s called zero maintenance vacation living.”

Calistoga Ranch participates in a reciprocity program with Auberge Resorts that includes four properties: Esperanza in Cabo, Element 52 in Telluride, Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina, and Pronghorn in Bend, Oregon. As far as availability of your shared home when you want it, here again Calistoga has a uniqueness that makes it the perfect product for fractional ownership.

“Our clientele is more diverse,” says Josh. “We are not a beach or ski town with everyone crowding into a spring break schedule.”

Owners have more diverse preferences, which means some may desire spring in the wine country, others a fall harvest, while the Texans may just want to escape the summer heat.

Disappointed you missed the offering? Josh has a resale available now for $399,000. After all, August in Dallas is just around the corner…