I saw this ranch (listed with Brian Smith of Dave Perry-Miller, used to be Ellen Terry) Thursday while on a photo shoot and almost whipped out my checkbook. Truth be told, the photos on line simply do not do it justice. This is ranch country, baby, Celina. (The town of Celina is adorable, by the way.)

Go way up 289 past Deion Sanders place, which is looking spiffy now after all his remodeling, and you come to Celina, where the roads are like Costa Rica. Yes, we got a little detour when we found the FM (that’s Farm to Market Road) was out. Here’s how I knew we were in the country: the road repairman told me to grab a horse to get to the other side!

This home is 6500 square feet and loaded with the details of love. The ranch is almost 58 acres on a hilltop with a terrific view of the pastures and 20 miles north of Celina — hello, Oklahoma! You get five bedrooms, four and a half baths, five fireplaces including one splat in front of the master tub, thick antique pine floors everywhere (stone in wet areas) that are heated, great gourmet kitchen with all the stuff, master with sitting area and something that it going on my Greatest Home Wish List: a secret but serious walk-in closet off HER Master bedroom closet — that is, a closet off a closet! Oh, and this home owner also put TWO commodes in the master, which I also think is a must-have. Share your toothbrush, not your potty. As if the downstairs with those formals and that master is not enough, upstairs is a study and a game room that would make a UT fan drool: it’s orange! There’s a fireplace, stocked bar, saferoom, and a shuffleboard game that runs the length of the room which stays with the house. More bedrooms and baths up here and a media room. Outside is a 4-acre stocked lake with a Gazebo entertainment center and fishing pier. There is a five stall equestrian barn with a two bedroom, two bath apartment. And all over the property are magnificent Longhorn. If this isn’t enough dirt for you, 63 additional acres are available. The home is constructied of Austin stone and built like a fortress with a gated entry and long, Crape Myrtle-lined driveway that makes the theme song from “Dallas” play in my mind. Not too far from Dallas, actually, maybe 30 minutes depending on traffic and road conditions. Definitely more on horseback. Me, I’d live up here and get a condo in town because it’s quiet, peaceful, and just a great place to kick back and enjoy the land.


As This may be of interest to my Dallas readers. Much more, including a forthcoming statement from Dave Perry-Miller, on CandysDirt, where you will find all the local real estate news in North Texas on the ONLY real estate blog in town! I told you Saturday/Sunday, Ellen Terry has made the move from Ebby Halliday – her high end boutique firm was purchased by Ebby in 1995 — to Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International. This comes just a month after Ebby folded her firm into the Dave Perry-Miller brand — told you about that one first, too! Well, today was Ellen’s first day at Briggs Freeman, she said, since I broke the news of her departure over the weekend!

I got an exclusive interview with Ellen and Robbie Briggs just moments ago. First of all, she will office out of the Lovers Lane office, with Robbie. Not sure of all who will be coming along with her, Todd, her son, will come for sure. Hopefully, Caroline Summers. Ellen said she had several brokers pursuing her after the E/DPM merger, but she has admired Robbie for years and watched the incredible marketing being churned out of his office with the Sotheby’s merger. And she likes how Briggs is expanding like wildfire, too — new offices in Uptown, Southlake and soon, Fort Worth. Her new title at Briggs: Executive Vice President of Mentoring and Coaching.

“One of my passions in life has always been to mentor others to help them reach their potential,” says Ellen.

But never fear, Ellen will be selling. Her first sale was in 1976, a $400,000 home — believe it? — on Lakeside Drive to Jan Cox.

“I sold her a great investment,” says Ellen. The last time that home sold, Robbie Briggs says they handled it. It was $2.5 million.

Thirty days after she joined Coldwell Banker, her first broker, in 1976, the single mother had closed over a million in real estate sales, enabling her to pay off an IRS bill in full. In 2002 she sold, at that time, the most expensive home in Dallas, 4707 Park Lane, the $22 million Dick and Jinger Heath mansion designed by Cole Smith on Park Lane, now owned by Scott Ginsburg and listed with another high power broker at Briggs, Claire Dewar. Stay tuned: that listing is practically a blue light special!

Ellen sold townhomes for Al Hill, Jr., and most Highland Park notables.

“Since 1976, I have sold over a billion in residential real estate,” says Ellen. “Half of that was from 1996 to 2011, when I joined Ebby Halliday.”

Ellen has sold more than 173 multi million dollar homes in her career.

“Her strength is sales, listing and selling, and she will continue to do that,” says Robbie. “But I would even say that Ellen mentored me in a little way. I watched her from day one as she created two strong companies to become the leading luxury real estate brand in the market, focusing on giving the best service. That’s my goal, too.”

My goal was never to be the biggest, said Ellen, just the best of the boutiques.

“I couldn’t let him outdo me,” she said. “I had to join him!”

Oh and Robbie and his wife spent all day Sunday getting Ellen’s office ready for her, furniture and flowers.

“It’s beautiful,” she told me. “I came over here because they are having a Christmas luncheon, and I didn’t want to miss it.”

She added:  I wish my former company the very best.

But tall Robbie has already been forewarned by his petite, 151st agent.

“I told Robbie to get on his knees, or I need a stool,” said Ellen.

Ellen was not at her old firm’s regular Monday morning meeting on Luther Lane today — Dave Perry Miller and Bud Bush held the podium. DPM is keeping the Luther Lane office as well as Ellen’s Lakewood offices and will soon hoist new signs on both. I’ve spoken with a few agents who tell me they were not surprised at all by the move. Word on the street last week was that Ellen had whittled her choices down to two brokerages: Virginia Cook and Briggs.

“There was never a choice,” she told me today. “It was Briggs all along.”

Update: this  release was set to post at 9:15 am this morning, but due to a computer timing error, posted earlier.  My deepest regerts to the Ebby Halliday companies and agents.


(Dallas, TX – October 24, 2011)  Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc. today announced that Ellen Terry, Realtors, one of this area’s most respected residential luxury boutiques, is joining with Dave Perry-Miller & Associates, the area’s fastest growing luxury boutique. The office will conduct business as Dave Perry-Miller & Associates, an Ebby Halliday Company, and Lee G. Thomas will continue as office manager. The Ellen Terry, REALTORS operation joins three Dave Perry-Miller & Associates offices located in Preston Center, Highland Park and Uptown.  Both firms are owned by Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc.

“Timing is everything, and the timing of this move meets current market needs and positions our company to better serve our clients and associates,” says Ebby Halliday Real Estate president and CEO, Mary Frances Burleson.  “This natural progression of success creates a new level of synergy for these two luxury boutiques. The goal remains to be a market leader and offer clients and associates the very best tools in which to buy and sell luxury residential real estate.”

“The future is before us as it never has been before,” Ellen Terry said. “This is truly an exciting time, not only for our new alliance, but our associates and the clients we serve.”

Ellen Terry has never been one to sit still, not only focusing on her personal success, but also the success of those around her. This move brings two dynamic groups of professionals together who have a long history and already share a connection through their parent company, Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc.

“This partnership of similar cultures just makes sense,” said Dave Perry-Miller. “I began my real estate career with Ellen Terry and the philosophies of our companies will blend seamlessly.” 

          Many of the associates in both offices are the product of Ellen Terry’s training and expertise. Combining the two companies will bring together years of experience and a team of like-minded professionals known for their real estate prowess. 

“We built our company on several strategic moves in our almost 70 years in business and we believe this decision to merge these two fine companies will help ensure our market position for many years to come,” says company founder and chairman of the board, Ebby Halliday.

Ron Burgert, company CFO, adds, “From a business standpoint, we are able to combine budgets, marketing and advertising in a more strategic and cost-effective manner. Real estate is cyclical, and as in past mergers of this type, the local real estate market has contracted to create new alliances to great success.”

 Ebby Halliday, REALTORS acquired Ellen Terry, Relators in 1995 and Dave Perry-Miller & Associates in 2007.  The firm will continue its mission of focusing on luxury homes in this area’s most desirable neighborhoods.  The Ebby Halliday Companies, which also includes Ebby Halliday, Realtors, is already the luxury real estate market leader in North Texas, selling more homes priced at $1 million and greater than any other broker, according to NTREIS MLS sales data.

          Ebby Halliday, the grand dame of residential real estate is credited with setting the standards in which today’s real estate practices are conducted. Ebby Halliday, REALTORS, Ellen Terry and Dave Perry-Miller & Associates continue to practice the points of service in which Ebby built her namesake firm: service to the industry, community and clients.  The Ebby Halliday Companies will also maintain its standing as the exclusive Dallas member of Luxury Portfolio International (luxuryportfolio.com), the luxury division of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a 48-year-old global network responsible for more transactions than any other real estate network.  Through the award-winning website luxuryportfolio.com, which features more $1 million-plus residences than any other luxury property network, The Ebby Halliday Companies will continue to market luxury homes on a global basis, as it has for almost 50 years. 


Dallas-based Ebby Halliday, Realtors (ebby.com), founded in 1945, is the largest independently owned residential real estate company in Texas and ranked among the top 10 in the nation. With approximately 1,500 sales associates and staff in 30 area offices, the company participates in nearly 13,000 property transactions annually, exceeding a sales volume of nearly $3.5 billion in 2010. Ebby Halliday is one of the oldest and most respected full-service residential real estate firms in the country, offering brokerage, property management, leasing, mortgage, insurance and title services. Ebby Halliday opened Home Team Mortgage Company (hometeammortgage.com) in 1996, Home Team Insurance (hometeamins.com) in 2003 and Texas Premier Title (txprem.com) in 2011.









At 9:00 am Monday morning, October 24, Ellen Terry agents will gather at their Luther Lane/Preston Center offices with a whole lot of company: the 175 agents of Dave Perry-Miller and Associates. Your’s truly will be there, too, live blogging for you. We will learn that the Ellen Terry Realtors, Inc. luxury boutique division of Ebby Halliday, has been merged/folded into Dave Perry-Miller and Associates. That means all Ellen Terry Realtor signs will now be replaced with Dave Perry-Miller signs. Ellen and her closest staff will continue as a boutique group within the Dave Perry-Miller name. And the agents merged/folded into Dave Perry-Miller will office at the same location, those Ellen Terry offices becoming, I guess, Dave Perry-Miller offices.

The move, which had been under wraps for several weeks, goes official Monday. What’s very interesting and almost full-circle about this is that Dave actually got his start in Real Estate with Ellen Terry, his very first job as a starving young agent back in the 1980’s.

“I once had to leave my watch at the gas station to pay for my gas,” Dave has told me.

The Ebby Halliday Family of Companies , which consists of Ebby Halliday REALTORS ® and Dave Perry-Miller & Associates — is the largest independently owned residential real estate company in Texas and ranks 10th in the nation. It was founded by company figurehead Ebby Halliday, who is 100 years old, still active in company activities, and one of the most respected figures in residential real estate in the nation.

The 66-year-old company has more than 1,500 sales associates and staff in 30 offices, and sales volune exceeded $3.5 billion in 2010. As Ebby herself will tell you, the company sells more million dollar homes than any other. Ebby Halliday acquired Dave Perry-Miller & Associates in 2007, and he runs the division bearing his name as well as sells real estate. I will never forget hearing stories of how Ebby courted Dave back then, and how one time they had to wrap up an entire lunch picnic-style in a tablecloth, toss it in the back of Dave’s four year old Jaguar, and leave a listing because agents were on their way to show a home where they were trying to do “bidness”. Ebby opened Home Team Insurance in 2003, Home Team Mortgage Company in 1996 and acquired Ellen Terry, REALTORS in 1995. You just cannot keep her still!

OK, now we’ve got the press release-y official stuff down and out of the way. So, WTF?

Basically from what I’m hearing, this is a strategic move to help Ebby zero in on luxury market share not just south of LBJ, but everywhere. Here’s what Dave told me: “By putting the two brands together, it gives us number one market share across the board in the luxury market of Dallas.”

Dallas is a mighty competitive luxury real estate market, loaded with great agents, all vying for that sweet piece of pie known as Park Cities/Preston Hollow (and increasingly, Uptown, East Dallas) where sales are still happening and multi-million ideals are nowhere near dead. A handful of companies vie for the attention of those juicy multi-million dollar homeowners eager to sell — or buy. I suspect that Ebby wants to focus marketing dollars on ONE luxury brand, not two, in order to better compete with Allie Beth, Mathews-Nichols,  Briggs Freeman Sothebys, Keller Williams Elite and Virginia Cook who recently acquired David Griffin. At Forecast 12 last week, MetroTex speakers told us where the top ten foreclosure zip codes are in North Texas. NOT ONE is south of LBJ.  

Ellen Terry has been selling real estate for a long time in Dallas, and at one point single handedly had a strong hold on the luxury home market. She even once taught PE at The Hockaday School. Legend has it she bootstrapped her way to her incredible success when her family fortunes took a turn for the worse. She has closed in excess of $530 million in sales volume representing 158 multimillion-dollar properties ranging from $1 million to $22 million, that number being when she sold the Richard and Jinger Heath (BeautiControl) mansion on Park Lane which is now owned by Scott Gindberg, on the market for lot value after a fire. Here she is with friend Ann Lardner who visited her in Carmel this summer, both attending Concours D’Elegance in Pebble Beach, where they stopped by my SecondShelters.com booth. 

I know this is a happy occasion, but I feel really sorry for Tucker, Dave’s dog. He’s a dog with a job and now his job is going to be harder than ever as he fetches contracts for even more offices and agents! Well, I guess that’s what happens when a dog has to earn his kibble!

Do you find it impossible to get anything done in Dallas in August? Let’s face it: everyone in town has taken a hike. And do you blame them? I’d much rather be at the seashore in Maine, on the Gulf Coast at Alys Beach, even down at Cinnamon Shore (which opens a new coffee house next week) in Port Aransas, in Colorado, in Pebble, in Montana, God even in Santa Fe.

I’d much rather be there than stay here just to earn a tee shirt that says “I survived the Heat Wave of 2011.”

But the very best place to be in August is really Pebble Beach, and I’m heading there this week. Ellen Terry is already there, Joe Kobell’s home is there while he sells Dallas real estate to pay for it.

Which is rare, because there’s usually not much real estate action in Dallas in August. Historically, since 1950, August and September have ranked among the worst market months both in terms of volume and average. Residential real estate sales also fall off sharply in August because school starts earlier than ever, and parents with kids make up a large percentage of buyers. In fact, everything is “off” in August. Commercial real estate sales are down because lenders and lawyers alike have flown the hot coop — what better excuse to postpone a loan than 110 degrees? Lawyers hate to set trials in August, witnesses are hard to find, and who really wants to try a case before a judge who is steaming about his A/C being on the fritz? Who would really want a jury of even their friendliest peers in August? Who’d want surgery in August? If I’m going to have to wear a girdle on my hips or boobs, I will darn well wait ’till October when it cools off.

Dallasites have been escaping the heat of August since before air conditioning, just as New Yorkers and New England escaped to the Cape, the Hamptons and Maine. Remember The Seven Year Itch? (One of the strongest drivers of the second home market is sending mom and the kids away so daddy can “play”.) Do you know that Little Forest Hills and many of the bungalows that surround White Rock Lake were second homes for Dallas residents? Following World War II, and the advent of air travel, affluent Dallas families began travelling to either coast to escape the heat and return invigorated and far cooler just as the triple digits began to drop. There was the late Clint Murchison Sr. and Sid Richardson who bought the Del Mar race track in California near La Jolla. At the time, Murchison was married to Ginny Long (Ginny Linthicum) and he named his private jet (a DC-3) The Flying Ginny. In fact, until about a year ago there was a La Jolla Bank over on Northwest Highway. La Jolla knew the money in Dallas was so good it came to us! Regen ( Horchow) and Jeff Fearon ultimately bought Virginia Linthicum’s house

So who goes where, then and now?

La Jolla: The horsy Dallas set can still be found near the Del Mar track. The Strausses (Ted, Bob, Helen and occasionally Rick and Diana), the late Lupe Murchison, late Ginny Linthicum and her sister Jodie Biddell, Bob and Margaret Folsom, banker Gerald Ford, investor Clay Querbes and his wife Molly, Alfred and Nancy Ann Chandler (formerly married to the late Dr. Buck J. Wynne Jr.).

Napa Valley: Investor Craig Hall and Kathryn. Former Dallasites Keith and Cheryl Hughes started with a second home here, now a thriving vineyard, and then moved in permanently.

Carmel: Ellen Terry, Susan Key, The Hoaks, the Gene Phillips who have a magnificent home or two on Seventeen Mile Drive. Designer extraordinaire Trisha Wilson has an amazing home in Pebble Beach.

Santa Barbara: Harold and Annette Simmons. The Pearcys. Also Oprah. Also Bill Gates who has a home near Rancho Santa Fe.

Santa Fe: Everyone. Ralph Randall, investor and arts patron Vince Carrozza, Rosewood Corp. executive Steve Sands, Mark Shepherd (retired chairman of Texas Instruments), Plato Karayanis (once general director of the Dallas Opera), Bruce Calder, businesswoman Mary Lide Kehoe, DMN society columnist Alan Peppard and his wife Jennifer, furniture executive Jay Smith and wife Elizabeth (an oil heiress).

Texas Hill Country: Steve Bartlett, me, and just wait ’till I get down to Horseshoe Bay!

Aspen: Everyone. Real estate developer Daryl Snadon, Jim and Betty Vandeveer, Jacque Wynne, Richard Rogers (son of Mary Kay Ash), Dr. Leonard Riggs and his wife Peggy, Frank Crossen, Darlene and Baron Cass, Steve and Terry Casey, Bob Utley (chairman and CEO of First Southwest Holdings) and his wife Ann. This is also, of course, where the Wylys ranched and where we tragically lost Charles Wyly last week.

Bootjack Ranch

Crested Butte: Lewis and Janet Shaw to their new fly-fishing nirvana, Wilder on the Taylor. I also hear developer Herb Weitzman has an 8,000 square foot home there that I yearn to be invited to. Oh, last time I was at the Crested FBO I saw Kelcy Warren’s jet — Bootjack Ranch.

Colorado Springs: A stream of regular Dallasites like Alinda and Jim Wikert join Margaret Hunt Hill and the Hunt family at the Garden of the Gods or just book several weeks at the Broadmoor. Several new developments going on in this area, too, some by Al Hill III.

Chautauqua, New York: Karen and Kevin Crowder

Montana: Flathead Lake, near Kalispell: Dallas Addison and partners are developing an amazing property on the shores of Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the western U.S. overlooking the peaks of Glacier National Park, limited to 12 Founder participants at $750,000 with future sites to be priced between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 for the land alone.

Idaho: Coeur D’Alene: The Club at Blackrock has been taken over by the owners, but local folks are still heading up here like Rick Gray and Susie Swanson of Dave Perry-Miller.

Maine: Kennebunkport. Blowing Rock. The Bush clan. We go to Drake’s Island.

North Carolina: I hear a lot of Dallas folks are building beach homes here. Like to know who?

The Hamptons:Dr. Joanne Stroud, John Marion and Anne Windfohr Marion, an oil and ranching heiress. (The Marions stay at their big house in the Hamptons in July and their big house in Santa Fe in August).

Nantucket:Jeff and Nancy Marcus, investor Doug Wheat and wife Laura. The Horchow clan, including Roger, wife Carolyn, daughter Regen and her sister and brother-in law Lizzie and Dan Routman, Rand and Karen (formerly Rainwater) Watkins, Plack and Cissy Carr, George and Christine Spencer and a gaggle of the Fort Worth Schutts (Pat and Jack} family that includes (off-Schutts) Jim and Martha Williams and former Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Dunleavy (via a marriage to Emily Schutts). They’re joined by Tom and Linda Taylor (Tom handles the billionaire Bass family’s money. He used to move his entire outfit to Nantucket- as in a lucky handful of Taylor traders and analysts working every day in front of their terminals just like in Fort Worth, only in Nantacky.

Dave Perry-Miller has had a home in Nantucket for years. He also has homes in Palm Springs, Bissbee and Tuscon, Arizona, and a farm in Pennsylvania.

Dave said he got to share his Tuscon back yard with a tribe of skunks who took up residence earlier… they are now happily trapped and released.  Neighbors include Linda Rhonstadt and a house two doors down where Elizabeth Taylor lived in the 50s after Mike Todd’s tragic plane crash. Cocktails in the ‘hood back then must have been a blast!

In fact, Dave usually spends part of the summer in Nantucket but had to cancel two trips this summer to stay in hot Dallas… His payoff: more than $30 million sold and an $8 million contract pending I am so dying to tell you about…  guess you have to pay the bills sometime!

DPM's Tucson villa

And fortunately, I’m a very cheap date. The home I’m in love with is a Blue Light Special marked down by a whopping $101,000. I am not kidding. As you know, many Dallasites are summering up in Pebble right now, cool as cucumbers. I’m talking about designer extraordinaire Trisha Wilson, Realtor extraordinaire Joe Kobell, Ellen Terry, and others. So when I saw this, I thought, why not put my home on the market, pack it up, just move and join the crowd? I could grab a little pied a terre on Turtle Creek to keep my Dallas residency (and zero Texas state income tax) and disappear come June 1. (Bree says she’d really prefer the cooler temps with her Doodle fur.) You’d only want to spend three to four months there a year, since, as my friend Debbie Hug (who has a home in Santa Barbara) tells me, more than six months and you are a California resident and must help Arnold pad up the state budget.  Three in Pebble, nine in Dallas, and life is perfect!

This little delight happens to be a short sale — the bank has agreed to take less than what is owed on the note. I truly hope you are sitting down, maybe pour a wee dram even: custom built home with white water ocean views from nearly every room. Located one block from fabulous 17-mile drive and Spanish Bay, very close to where Concours D’Elegance will be next month — and SecondShelters will be there! See and hear the surf crashing to shore from your master bedroom suite and deck. Professionally landscaped grounds. Four bedrooms, three baths, two stories, over 3000 square feet built in 2005. Pinch me, 2876 Oak Knoll is a dream. Asking $1,748,000.

LOVE the views!


Not sure I get that fireplace action...

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.

Well, guess what the most hurtin’ home price range is out there? $750,000 to $1.8 million, right where a lot of successful self-employed want to be.

And look at this email I received from a reader today:

“I recently contacted a lender about purchasing a home for my parents. I told them that I would be able to put 50% down and wanted to finance the remainder. They told me that I didn’t qualify because this lenders policy is to average your income over the last 5 years. Needless to say, averaging income isn’t good for the starting business. They do not take into account the growth rate of a business. Not to mention that I too am a tax planner, so I do my best to make sure that my taxable income is as low as possible.

Ratio of loan to market value apparently has no relevance any more. Lesson learned: By the time I “qualify” for a loan, I will be able to pay cash for this home.”

Now here’s what really gets me hot. We have the Feds trying to keep us from a Double Dip, right, and yet, where’s the financing to allow people, self-employed people, to BUY homes? Not everyone gets a W-2, thought the Feds sure love those because they get their money first. Instead of encouraging responsible lending to this segment, they go and pass legislation that pinches mortgage brokers even harder and passes on more costs to the consumer!

By the way, on his show this week, Ron has special guests Curtis and Paige Elliot of Ellen Terry Realtors.

Ashley Okland

The real estate agent, a beautiful 27-year old woman, was gunned down at 2 pm in the afternoon in a development of about 70 town home units, only about a year old, on the Dallas County side of West Des Moines. The area is about 1½ miles from Jordan Creek Town Center, if you know Des Moines. If I were an agent — if I were an agent who actually sells real estate — I would not hold open houses without security. Years ago, a top producer now at Ellen Terry, and one of the dearest people I know in this town, saw her life flash before her eyes when she was robbed at an open house off Midway.

Open houses are scary: do we still need them?

Update: My nephew’s girlfriend lives in Des Moines and has mutual friends. She tells me the neighborhood where Ashley was killed was upscale and a beautiful newer area that gets lots of attention from national chain stores — in fact, it has Iowa’s only Apple store.