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This two-story cottage-style house sits on a 90-acre ranch in Graham, Texas. (Photos courtesy Jilene Foust)

Wide-open spaces, or small-town charm? Two homes in Graham, Texas, that have hit the market mean you can satisfy either yen.

Both homes are for sale by the owners, Jilene and Todd Foust, who can’t stop raving about the little town of 8,931 that has become home (or second home) to more than 5,000 multi-millionaires.

“I would say being from Dallas, in the Highland Park area, born and raised, I found it fascinating if you move two hours away to Graham, which is nestled 26 miles from the famous Possum Kingdom Lake, you find this quaint little town that has no middle-class population,” Jilene Foust said. “Years ago Fortune magazine did an article about Graham, listing it as having more millionaires per capita by state!”

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Photos: Courtesy Briggs-Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

Boasting 360-degree views from the highest hilltop overlooking the southern shores of Lake Ray Roberts lies a 40-acre residential retreat that feels more resort than cattle ranch, although it has that too.

Known simply as Trio Texas Ranch, the sprawling equestrian and entertainment compound at 1180 McReynolds Road in Sanger, Texas – currently listed for $6.5 million – is the brainchild of three brothers who all lived and worked in Dallas and wanted a quick getaway for entertaining family and friends in a fun, safe, and scenic environment, but with one major stipulation — it had to be chock-full of luxurious indoor-outdoor amenities.

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The Reserve, Sulphur Springs

All images courtesy of Icon Global Properties.

You may remember an enticing members-only hunting and fishing resort featured in sporting magazines a few years back: The Hageman Reserve, an uber-posh private club with lodging in where members could hunt, fish, dine, and relax in baronial splendor in a scenic northeast Texas rural setting. Now known as The Reserve at Sulphur Bluff, the over-the-top property is on the market, offered separately or together with nearby 13,500ish-acre Sulphur Bluff Ranch.

The venue looks ideal for a single owner retreat and entertainment destination or a joint ownership venture interested in marketing the 30-plus room lodge as a fractional ownership property. Bernard Uechtritz of Icon Global Properties, the listing broker (who negotiated the record-breaking $725M 2016 Waggoner Ranch sale) estimates that together, The Reserve and Sulphur Bluff Ranch properties could fetch $80M-100M.

What kind of property could draw such a sum?

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Barefoot Ranch, Texas

Barefoot Ranch, Texas. Photos courtesy of Icon Global.

It’s about as luxe-y as it gets for a recreational property in Texas. Barefoot Ranch is not a “working” ranch per se, but an uber-luxe hunting, golf, and lake resort set just a little over an hour from Dallas at an undisclosed specific location. Amenities include a 35,000-square-foot lodge, a PGA-rated golf course, a boat house, tennis courts, an equestrian center, and more. Once held by the Murchison family, the property’s current owner is an investor group headed by hedge fund honcho Kyle Bass, founder of Hayman Capital Management LP. Bass has hosted an annual economic summit at the ranch every year, bringing together top-tier government and business leaders to pow-wow over economic issues in between golfing, trophy fishing, and sport shooting at the on-site gun range. Hidden away, protected with high fencing, and near a jet strip, the ranch is well-suited to hosting high-security executives, politicians, and music and film celebrities in sheltered, private splendor.

At this level, you don’t name a listing price – it will be a matter of negotiation. Austrailian-born broker Bernard Uechtritz of Icon Global, who led the marketing of the $725M Vernon, Texas-based W.T. Waggoner Ranch last year, expects the property will see a lot of interest from foreign investors and will go for $50 million to $100 million. Kick off your shoes and click here for a gander at this bodacious East Texas paradise:

 

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The Stephens family agreed to share their story and photos of their barn apartments at North Dallas Equestrian Center to raise awareness of the Camp Rusk Foundation, a horse retirement sanctuary described below.  Here’s the tale, as told to Valerie Jarvie, along with inspiring photos of what can be done in a barn:

Curt Stephens entered the horse world on the back of a mule as a teenager on his uncle’s dairy ranch near Stephenville, Texas. You all know what I mean.

There were few horses, and being the odd man out, he always got the mule while the cousins got the horses. As you know, a mule can act like a horse at times, but at other times, not so much. This particular mule gave Curt memories of bailing off just before the mule reached a tree limb hoping to scrape Curt off his back.

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Summers with cousins ended. Curt and Annabeth married. The kids grew up. A good life.

Fifty years pass. Curt retired to Florida and found a passion volunteering at Naples Equestrian Challenge, where he witnessed therapy horses connecting with humans some thought unreachable, restoring spirits and healing souls.

Derek, the oldest, calls Dad. Unknown to Curt, his oldest son had used his IBM community service time to volunteer with the Ronald McDonald summer camp for special need kids in their horse therapy program.  He later moved to North Texas, where a horse property in McKinney caught his eye.

Neither knew the other had an interest in horses. Derek simply thought it would be good for his dad to get involved.  The conversation continued.

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The Ranch stone gated entry.

The Ranch at Possum Kingdom

For better or worse, current boarding barn arrangements are often front-and-center on the list of concerns brought to me by virgin horse property buyers. Moving to horse property represents freedom — freedom to feed your horses whatever you’d like, turn them out whenever you’d like, provide as many shavings in their stalls as you want, feed any supplement you want … The list goes on.

Owning horse property is the ultimate freedom to care for your horse(s) at the level of care that you feel is correct. However, for many, the undesirable trade-off is the loss of the boarding barn luxuries they’ve become accustomed to: Being able to leave for vacation on a whim (or, let’s be real, go on vacation at all), not having to clean stalls, feed twice a day, or maintain the fences. Not to mention perks like access to indoor arenas and riding instructors.

Although many clients cite “barn drama” as one of the top reasons they want to buy their own property, I often hear “But I’m afraid I’ll be lonely,” and “I’d miss having people to ride with.” All of which is very valid.

This leaves a lot of potential buyers torn. They have the dream of the horse in the backyard, but it seems so out of reach. Buying horse property would be an enormous life change for them, but with rising boarding costs, often boarding multiple horses becomes impossible to continue. Solution? Equestrian Subdivisions.

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Open-space valued property for sale in Aubrey, TX — Arvin Hill Road

I’ve been feeling a little uninspired lately, so I took a minute to ask myself: “What question do I hear all the dang time, but never have an easy answer to?” Almost immediately, my little real estate shoulder angel whispered “Ag Exemption, dummy” in her little squeaky, know-it-all voice that I find oh-so-annoying. Admittedly, however, TinkerAgent had a point. I do get asked about ag exemptions a lot. At least once a week.

Disclaimer: I do not fancy myself an attorney or a CPA. I’m going to tell y’all exactly what I tell my clients: Call your attorney, county tax assessor, or your grandmother — whomever you trust for advice on your actual situation. I am going to give the elementary-level Cliff’s Notes version here, considering this is probably the No. 1 most common question I get asked. Also, if you’re one of those people who particularly enjoys small print and self-education, let me recommend this snoozefest, er, fascinating summary from the State Property Tax Board: Click here if you are having trouble sleeping.

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The sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia this weekend in West Texas throws yet another Texas ranch property into the spotlight: Cibolo Creek Ranch, owned by Houston billionaire and Washington D.C. insider John Poindexter.

Poindexter says he invited Scalia, age 79, to his ranch this weekend as a guest along with about three dozen others. One of Scalia’s sons was to come but cancelled at the last minute. Poindexter says Justice Scalia was animated and engaged during dinner Friday night, but did retire early at 9 p.m. saying it had been a long week, and he was tired.

Poindexter tried to awaken Scalia about 8:30 the next morning, but the Justices’ door was locked and he did not answer.

Three hours later, Poindexter returned to the ranch after an outing. He and a Scalia friend from Washington got into the room, and discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled, indicating that perhaps he had died shortly after retiring the night before.

“He was lying very restfully. It looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap,” he said.

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Established in 1857 by Milton Faver, known as the first Texas cattle baron west of the Pecos, Cibolo Creek Ranch is now a five-star resort, a rugged oasis of a retreat, once a grouping of real life forts where Indian attacks were fended off. One of the more artistic forts remaining is  “El Fortin de Cibolo.” Many millionaires and celebrities have visited the 30,000 acres near the Chinati Mountains including Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts and Tommy Lee Jones. One of the Dixie Chicks, Emily Erwin, was married there. Rooms run $350 to $700 per night. Cibolo Creek Ranch was bought by Poindexter in 1988 when it was not in the best of shape. He meticulously renovated three of the forts into a luxury, 33-room resort with a pool, dining room, horseback riding facilities, hunting and private airstrip. The atmosphere is comfortable luxury — lots of sinkable leather chairs and sofas, luxurious rooms with a ranch theme. Located about 30 miles south of Marfa, most guests fly in by private plane to the airstrip or fly to Midland and drive 3.5 hours to the remote ranch near Shafter and Marfa.

Poindexter was profiled in this 2006 Texas Monthly story by John Spong, when he was trying to buy 46,000 acres of Big Bend Ranch State Park. He was described by Spong as a rather “stiff dude” who has never married (“It wasn’t that I didn’t like the ladies enough; it’s that I liked them too much.”) – ha!: (more…)