Happy Valentine’s Day!

T. Boone Pickens may be a legendary Texas oil and gas executive, and a huge force behind wind energy, but there are no windmills on his Preston Hollow estate in Dallas, Texas.  There are gardens, sculpted and manicured French gardens that will make you think you are in Versailles so much that “mais oui” will roll right off your tongue! He is now selling his Dallas estate in the heart of Preston Hollow for $7 million. And it is not listed in MLS. The home was built in 1996, but then when T. Boone and his wife, Madeleine bought it in July, 2005 for about five million, it was redone to the max. And I do mean the max. From a four bedroom home with a master on the first floor, it was taken to a three bedroom home with an expanded second floor master. In fact, the new master bathroom is so large it features a writing desk — what a splendid idea! The new master closet is larger than most starter homes.

9434 Alva CT foyer
9434 Alva Ct Foyer 2
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The 8215 square foot house home has terrific bones, designed by Dallas starchitect Wilson Fuqua and built by Jim Shaw.  In fact, I remember when this home was under construction as we lived nearby — it took almost two years. The gated Mediterranean estate features magnificent French gardens and dramatic outdoor entertaining areas, all designed by Paul Fields of Lambert’s, with crepe myrtle, rose gardens, fountains, statues, the experience almost musical, crescendo’ed by a huge sparkling pool and full 500 square foot cabana that looks inviting even on the dreariest of Dallas days. The grounds are just shy of one acre, smack in the heart of Alva Court. Somewhere on the property are also quarters for the housekeeping staff. Everywhere you turn, there is impeccable attention to detail and quality and the soft French interiors are so my cup of tea. To start, the custom designed iron and glass entry doors lead you to handsome antique French Quarter limestone flooring in the gallery and living room, forged iron grand stair railing with gold leaf detail, Waterworks and Sherle Wagner fixtures EVERYWHERE. The country type kitchen has vertical grain wood plank floors, and this home may well have been one of Ann Sacks’ best customers with the antique terra cotta tile backsplash throughout the kitchen. Get a load, too, of that La Corneu Chateau 150 60 inch custom range. There is architectural lighting to highlight great art everywhere. Three bedrooms, four full and several half baths, the original master is still down, making this a perfect home for empty-nesters.

Well, empty-nesters with a platinum retirement fund.

9434 Alva Ct DR
9434 Alva Ct library
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9434 Alva Ct kitchen
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9434 Alva Ct master
9434 Alva Ct master sitting
9434 Alva Ct master bath
9434 Alva Court Master tub
9434 Alva Court master closet
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9434 Alva Court pool
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Just in case you feel like cheating on your second home this weekend, I wanted to point you in the right direction: 3809 Southwestern. Have you ever seen a cuter listing? This angel looks all neat and traditional on the outside, but oh boy she is a sexy vamp on the inside! We love that the home was first built in 1939, hence it overflows with charm and character despite significant interior remodeling. In fact, once inside, you will see no evidence of 1939. It’s 2012, baby. Here’s another plus: this home belongs to a Realtor.

The other day, I was at a conference where the speaker told us to always try and buy a builder’s OWN home for the best possible deals. Why? Because builders usually put way more into their home than the average Joe. One, they are showcasing their wares, strutting their stuff and very best work. Their homes are marketing laboratories, much like 9996 Hollow Way was for Shariff-Munir. To a certain extent, you can say the same about Realtor’s homes. Realtors see so many homes and are chock-loaded with great ideas, the latest trends, design styles, and upkeep. They also know how important upkeep is to a home, and they know how to make it look like it’s ready for a magazine shoot 24/7.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever known a Realtor with an unattractive home, have you?

That is one reason this home is filled to the brim: I swear every magnificent tall tree in the yard has been professionally lighted, you could put your make-up on out there at midnight. There are three living areas, two fireplaces, a six burner double Viking grill in the gourmet kitchen  with heat lamps, plus Dacor, Sub-Zero, stainless and granite. Families will love the master down and surround-sound, while empty nesters will love having the huge third bedroom upstairs for visitors’ privacy. You get just over 3000 square feet, three bedrooms, three baths plus an office two blocks from Hyer Elementary on a 70 by 160 foot lot that we all know will hold value like gold. Asking $1,115,000, just went on the market a couple weeks ago.


SecondShelters was created as a blog for the second home house addict — for those who, like me and Martha Stewart, could just be happy house-hopping for the rest of our lives. Yes, we fret over the vines and get mad when the gardners are sloppy, but we love love love homes so much that one is never enough!

As this blog was growing, I decided to also launch my very own version of theDallasDirt blog I created for D Magazine. On July 1, we launched www.CandysDirt.comfor local Dallas real estate news. (CandysDirt is a mere click away from SecondShelters, if you just look up and to the right!) You can count on CandysDirt to bring you all the local real estate scuttlebutt — OK, dirt — great homes, great listings, great neighborhoods, great builders, Dallas housing lore, housing news, trends and more.

Tune in to both blogs — CandysDirt.com for all the local real estate dirt in North Texas, and SecondShelters.com to quench your vacation home lust. Tell us — what kinds of vacation homes do you want to hear more about? We just love them all!

It’s been quiet here on SecondShelters.com, but I’ve not been slacking. I’m proud to announce that CandysDirt.com is now up and running! It will be everything DallasDirt was and more, and will be hosted on many sites around town from the Dallas Morning News NeighborsGo to You+Media, and more in the works! I’ll be weaning my readers to http://www.candysdirt.com/ for all the LOCAL Dallas, North Dallas, Frisco and Collin County Real Estate news and dirt, and slowly shaping SecondShelters.com into what it was always meant to be — a blog about vacation home ownership. Each blog is but a tab click away from each other, because I know that not only can you never get enough Real Estate dirt in Dallas, you also need the dirt on second… and third homes. So go check it out… bookmark and subscribe. CandysDirt.com is your new go-to for everything you’ve always wanted to know about Dallas real estate, and much, much more! And even more, we have a live twitter feed to watch for the latest on open houses, price reductions, and more. All you have to do is follow me on Twitter at DallasDirtCandy… and your tweets will be on CandysDirt!

Realtor.com released the top metro areas for real estate search — that is, the places where more people are looking to buy homes, and guess who made it big on the list? Dallas. Metro areas in the South and West dominated the list of the 10 most-searched real estate markets for the month of April, a busy month for real estate, according to the Realtor organization.

And Realtor.com knows — it’s the top searched real estate site in the world!

Based on the number of visitors that viewed properties in 164 metro areas, Chicago was the most-searched market among the metro areas, followed by — here’s a shocker — Detroit. Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles-Long Beach were the top searches in the west. There was Philly — and then the south just ruled: Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.; Atlanta; Dallas; and Orlando, Fla. These top ten metro areas were also the same in March.

Here’s the best part, at least for us: each of the 10 most-searched markets saw median list prices fall from April 2010. No surprise, Detroit saw the biggest drop, down a whopping 18.2 percent to $89,900, followed by Atlanta, with a 13.6 percent drop to $159,900.

Dallas, ding ding ding,  saw the smallest drop in median list price, down 1.1 percent to $189,900, followed by Philadelphia with a 4 percent drop to $240,000.

The U.S. median list price of a home as a whole fell 4 percent to $191,900, according to Realtor.com.

Troy Aikman’s Dallas real estate just got a whole lot more affordable! Thanks to Alan Peppard, who called Troy over the weekend and spoke with him, and who insisted the price of his Highland Drive home had been entered wrong both in MLS and on Allie Beth Allman’s website as $27.5, The REAL price is $24 million, and I see this morning that MLS has been updated. It now says original listing price of $27.5 million, but that was only for a weekend. Allie Beth’s website will be updated soon, I am sure.