Boot Ranch 17

I was sitting in Craig Martin’s office up at Windsong Ranch — if you haven’t seen or experienced the amazing Windsong Ranch in Prosper, then you don’t know  North Texas real estate greatness —  and he was telling me about this amazing ranch in the Hill Country just north of Fredericksburg.

Boot Ranch I asked? I love the place!

Yes, he said. We are buying it!

But I was sworn to secrecy until the deal was closed. Closed, signed and sealed it is: Terra Verder Group LLC, the devloper of Windsong Ranch, has indeed purchased the 2,000 acre Boot Ranch north of Fredericksburg. Terra Verde and financial partner Wheelock Street Capital bought the luxury vacation home golf course community from Lehman Brothers.

Boot Ranch, the brainchild of Texas golfing great Hal Sutton, opened in 2006 just in time for the Great Recession. Like so many of its brethren, Boot fell into foreclosure. But during the four years that Lehman Brothers operated it, the community slowly, steadily kept the momentum moving forward. In fact, Boot Ranch may well become a poster child success story for how a vacation home community survives a downturn.

“The previous developer opened the project at the wrong time in the market,” said Terra Verde founder Craig Martin. “Our plan is to complete the development.We like Boot Ranch because of its proximity to Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Midland-Odessa – within a 4-hour drive.”

Read more about this amazing acquisition on!

River Ranch (3)

We told you that Anteks, that fabulous rustic home furnishings store in the Dallas Design District, has spun a sibling. It’s called Anteks Curated, a home accessories, furniture, and gift shop in the Plaza at Preston Center. Oh the main store is still on Dragon Street in the Design District, but this location sure beats a 15 minute drive on the tollway!



We’re still celebrating Vacation Home Week over on, and yesterday we took a look at what you can get in Santa Fe: a gorgeous fractional interest at Fairmont Heritage Place El Corazon de Santa Fe.

The units are luxurious and have the absolute best location in town. Just blocks from the Plaza, and close to dining and culture, and my favorite Santa Fe destination, the Georgia O’Keefe museum. Dallasites love Santa Fe as a getaway, since it’s within driving distance and feels so wonderfully removed thanks to the mountains and deserts.

See how you can fall in love with a fractional in the heart of Santa Fe on!

Surely you’ve dreamed of second home ownership but like me, you are a perpetual tire kicker OR you worry that you won’t use the home enough, the maintenance will drive you batty. Second home owners sometimes corner me at parties and say, hey you with your damn fetish for multiple home ownership, it’s helluva lot of work. We just spent our entire weekend painting our second home — thanks a lot.

I get it. We do own a second home — well, lot —that’s part of what I call a condo ranch in Johnson City. It’s a shared ownership ranch because these fingernails don’t chop cedars and split fence. I want a second home with all the luxury, without all the work. I want horses to ride and groom when I fancy, but not every day. Let the ranch manager worry about the Longhorn.

Still: man does not live by the ranch alone.

The Fairmont Private Residences at Ghirardelli Square, which I have raved to you about before, is coming to town. We are having a sip n see party for select readers of and at a private home in Highland Park to learn the nitty gritty of Fairmont fractional ownership. Fred Karpik will be here from San Francisco answering the tough questions. For example, a friend asked me today something crucial: what are the maintenance charges and how much can they go up? We will be asking all this and more, and of course I’ll blog it all. Current owners will be on hand to tell us how much they like or dislike their property. (more…)

Fall in the Ozarks is spectacular, and if you’ve ever taken a trip to Arkansas before, you know that the views of the changing leaves can be breathtaking. So why not own a fractional vacation property in one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Arkansas — Eureka Springs.

We consulted with David Disick, the expert behind The Fractional Consultant, about Eureka Springs, Ark. He tells us that the market there is small, but the getting is good.

Second Shelters: When are the high and low seasons of Eureka Springs? Likewise, what are the major attractions for potential vacation home owners?

Disick: High season is June through November and low season is January through February. Major attractions for potential home owners include the historic downtown area, specifically Spring and Main Streets, Eureka Springs Historical Museum and Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway. Additionally, Eureka is known for festivals such as the May Fine Arts Festival and its colorful Artrageous Parade to Shakespeare in the Ozarks, Opera in the Ozarks, Diversity Weekends, Books in Bloom, auto shows, and an annual UFO conference. Warm-weather weekends can be spent listening to blues, jazz, folk and classical music performances, while monthly Gallery Strolls showcase the talents of the town’s many resident artists.

The Queen Anne Mansion is the only fractional property available in Eureka Springs, Ark.

SS: As far as fractional ownership in Eureka Springs, what developments are hot? Which ones are a great deal?

Disick: The Queen Anne Mansion is the only Private Residence Club in Eureka that is currently offering ownership positions.

SS: How does the Queen Anne Mansion compare to the national fractional ownership picture?

Disick: Compared to the national picture, the Mansion is a unique offering — an exclusive opportunity that you can buy positions in. It is my experience that the first fractional in a market generally does very well because of the benefits to buyers and the lack of competition. We anticipate the Mansion sales to have strong momentum.

SS: Anything interesting you’d like to add?

The 2011 opening of the $1 billion Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in nearby Bentonville is a world-class attraction that is bringing global attention to Northwest Arkansas.


The Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square offers sweeping views of San Francisco Bay. The waterfront project is in a historic part of the California city on the sea that has always captured my heart. I’m here checking out this amazing property that is available as a fractional ownership for a smidgen over $200,000 for a two bedroom, even less for a one-bedroom!

“We were looking at buying property for a second home in a few places, including Phoenix and Palm Springs,” says Canadian Ron Deyholos. “But my wife is not much of a golfer, so we started to look in San Francisco because we really like the city.”

The couple recently purchased a share in a fractional unit in Fairmont Heritage Place, and love it primarily because they have no headaches or upkeep. This came painfully to my mind as I landed at SFO this morning to news that not one but BOTH hot water heaters were dead upstairs and oh yes, it’s 107 in Dallas and one A/C is out. Great.

It’s about 70 degrees here in San Fran.

Located near Fisherman’s Wharf, the waterfront project is a collaboration between JMA Ventures, LLC, and the Fairmont Hotel chain and is part of the historic former Ghirardelli chocolate factory complex, which dates back to 1893. The red brick exterior walls are original to the chocolate factory, and later I’ll show you how cleanly and cleverly they preserved the original windows but made them more efficient. The development offers 53 one-, two- and three-bedroom homes right in the heart of the city. A courtesy car is about to whisk me off to Inman’s Real Estate Connect at the Hilton in Union Square.

The project is right on the water, offering beautiful views of the Bay across to Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus there’s a fire pit, boutique shops, restaurants and pubs on the street level, so you feel very much in the city.

Fractional ownership gives the buyer a one-tenth deeded ownership of the unit and entitles the buyer to 35 nights per year with benefits, like reciprocity at any Fairmont and Raffles Hotels and Resorts or other Fairmont Heritage communities worldwide. Want to spend more than 35 days per year on vacation? You must be French. Fairmont lets Heritage place owners stay at Ghirardelli for $100 U.S. bucks a night. There are heavy duty discounts available on all other Fairmont properties, too: little bird told me 20%.

What I’m liking and here to really check out: the private residents’ club gives you a five-star experience in your second home. Which is exactly what you want in a second home, not more headaches. Some of these units are in the toney Exclusive Resorts collection. Other benefits I’m checking on for you: the car shuttle, owners’ storage facilities for, say, wine if you hop up to Napa or Sonoma, exercise facility, daily housekeeping (will there be turn-down service? I love turn-down service), great dining, shopping and grocery provisioning. I’m told I’m six quick blocks from Safeway and Trader Joes!

We have a friend in Dallas who owns one of these fractionals –he has a child living in the area, as we do. Also a lot of Canadians are buying in San Francisco  — two lovely gents just popped by my two-bedroom unit for a look/see. Western Canadians love the Fairmont brand, they told me,  and have access to about 12 Fairmont hotels, including the famous Whistler. They were quite impressed with the kitchen. Me, I can hardly wait to draw a bubble bath… and forget about everything that’s breaking in Dallas.





There has never been a better time to buy a second home. I am even watching my spending these days, eyeing fractional ownership if it has all the right locations. We are having a guest post soon from a fractional ownership expert to explain the do’s and don’ts. The problem is not buying, as we know, it’s getting financing. We recently re-financed our lot in the Hill Country at Walnut Springs, no thanks to Wells Fargo  and were told to basically forget it. No one wants to finance land without a house on it because there is nothing to sell should you default. And when it comes to raw, open land in the country, things are a lot trickier.

I would strongly suggest that even before you begin looking in the country or lakes or wherever — but really, now, go look — heed this advice from Marcus McCue, Senior Vice President at Guardian Mortgage. By the way, from my own personal experience, I also strongly recommend local mortgage companies FIRST and staying clear of the large banks to avoid headaches, or in the case of Wells Fargo, migraines.

What surprises await new country homeowners?

There are several surprises that can slow down the loan approval process for country homes. For example, most people are not aware that there are special requirements for wells, sewage systems, oil/gas wells or pipelines, power lines, storage tanks, wood-burning stoves and even how close the property is to a landfill. (A landfill!) These factors take on even greater importance if you are considering an FHA or VA loan, both of which have more stringent rules.

You’ll need water tests and possible soil tests and most likely a new survey to make sure that electric lines or gas pipelines aren’t within your easement or will be a certain distance away from the house.

If you are pre-approved for the loan, will you still run into these problems?

It’s possible. Pre-approval is not enough in the case of a rural property because of these property and improvement requirements. The underwriter might decline the loan if the property doesn’t fit its requirements. It is important that the contract state that the deal is contingent on the underwriter accepting the property.

The bottom line is that rural properties will take more time – water and soil tests can take weeks to come in, for example.

Another snag may be in the appraisal process. Since country appraiser cover hundreds of miles of properties, you want to make sure you get someone who is at least familiar with your home the area it is in.

For more specific details, check out this article from Mortgage, which gives a chart of specific FHA and VA requirements for rural properties – the guidelines followed by most underwriters.

If you have additional questions about your particular situation, feel free to contact Marcus McCue at 972-200-3380, or on facebook.


Faithful readers may recall when I wrote about a beautiful fractional ownership property in the heart, and I do mean the heart, of Santa Fe called El Corazon de Santa Fe. It was fabulous then, and it is even more fabulous now!

The property has been renamed “Fairmont Heritage Place, El Corazon de Santa Fe”. El Corazon is now in the same “family” of projects as Fairmont’s Ghirardelli Square, which you may see mentioned on this blog soon as I am kicking the tires there in August!  Last year, Fairmont took over the management of El Corazon de Santa Fe and it became a member of Fairmont’s huge family of exchangeable residences across the globe. So buying a fractional ownership — remember fractional is NOT time share, as we have told you — in this Santa Fe property now opens up the world — Acapulco, San Francisco, Telluride, Whistler, British Columbia even Zimbali, South Africa!

I stayed at El Corazon de Santa Fe two or three years ago and LOVED it: there are 16 two-story, two bedroom and I believe 2.5 bath units were beautifully furnished, as I recall, it was extremely comfortable and secure. The master closet was larger than what I’ve seen in some Dallas condos.

Now Rob Harper with Unity Hunt tells me they have actually upgraded El Corazon — didn’t think it needed it. But since I was there they upgraded all of the furnishings and fixtures  in all the residence club units to meet Fairmont specifications.

They expanded the clubhouse to add a fitness room, a second floor outdoor deck and an expanded reception / owners’ lounge area, and then they added an owner’s park on what used to be owners’ parking. I’m assured there still is plenty of that.

“The feedback we have received to date to has been really outstanding,” says Rob, “and with the affiliation with Fairmont we can offer our owners tremendous benefits for travel to Fairmont hotels and resorts worldwide that were not available before.”

It’s really one of the smartest moves ever, because Fairmont offers fabulous options, a growing network, from Ghirardelli to 1oo-plus beautiful hotels world-wide. I’ll have more for you on this come August and the total scoop on Ghirardelli, a chocolate factory turned into beautiful residences.

Then, too, there are those four daily America Eagle non-stops from D/FW International Airport to Santa Fe Municipal Airport. I mean, no more fly to Albuquerque and keep a car — you can fly right to Santa Fe, the Concierge at El Corazon will pick you up, and with the center of town location you may never need a car. When I visited, El Corazon had a luxury courtesy car that chauffeured us around to wherever our hearts desired.

How much? Prices start in the $100,000’s for a six weeks fractional ownership. Yes, I know, it sounds too good to be true so I am totally interested. This is a great time to buy a second home, and I think fractionals make so much sense. Six weeks is about all the vacation I can handle in a year. I’ll be investigating Fairmont’s product with a fine tooth comb as if I were buying myself because who knows, I just might!