Strait“I still have my home in San Antone
When I greet my neighbor with a ‘hi y’all’
I’m wealthy as a king upon a throne
You can have your mansion or your cottage small
I’ll just take my home in San Antone”

Or, you know, not. Seems George Strait is putting his San Antonio Santa Fe-style abode on the market — and if you’re looking for plenty of room to roam and some pretty plush living, this estate in The Dominion might just be the luxury property you’re looking for.

How do we know? Well, there’s the 12.2 secluded acres that come with the property at 10 Davenport, the one-of-a-kind design by the late Bill Tull, 14 hand-sculpted fireplaces, stained glass windows, Saguaro cactus rib shutters, custom long leaf yellow pine hardwood floors, and a custom-designed copper bar top, for starters.


Historical shelterThe bones of the Baer Barn B&B in Fredericksburg are steeped in history — the original structure was built in 1860. But this historical shelter has seen a little bit of new construction and a great deal of upgrading, making it a seamless combination of old and new.

The home sits on 4.81 acres of Hill Country land, just outside of the main part of Fredericksburg proper. Built of log, timber, and rock, the home and guest house would be a great income generator and also a great place to plan a day of wine tours and fine dining. (more…)

LBJJust a week after becoming president, Lyndon Baines Johnson picked up a ranch in Blanco County — Johnson City, to be exact — as a hideaway where he could relax a bit.

And when he announced he wouldn’t be running for re-election in 1968, it was his 800-acre spread that he retreated to, giving staffers strict instructions to keep the press at bay for a while. (more…)

It’s no secret that we at Second Shelters have a soft spot for the Texas Hill Country — with its wide open spaces, the beautiful scenery, and the plethora of wineries that dot the landscape, it’s hard to find something you don’t like about Fredericksburg.

This week’s historical shelter is a perfect second home for someone who wants to be able to walk to the shops and dining in downtown Fredericksburg, but also wants to be close enough to drive to wine tastings or lunch at Hye Market, for instance. (more…)

Don't Miss these Hill Country Destinations Near Boot Ranch |

Buying and building in Boot Ranch is a no-brainer if you’re looking for luxury Hill Country living with resort-like amenities and an award-winning Hal Sutton-designed golf course.

Boot Ranch provides fabulous service amid the rustic beauty of ranch life and there’s something for everyone, from the 55,000-square-foot members-only clubhouse and village complex and 4.5-acre pool and sports campus, to a 34-acre golf practice park for pre-course warmup.

They recently hosted the staff for a three-day retreat and part of the appeal of this incredible destination is its Hill Country location. Boot Ranch is close to so many recreation options, from fine dining and wineries, to state parks and historic sites and museums. Here’s a roundup of some nearby options for Boot Ranch residents looking to take a drive and have some fun.


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



Gulf Shores. Destin (Watercolor, Seaside, Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach). Port Aransas — Cinnamon Shore. Galveston. Fredericksburg and The Texas Hill Country. South Padre. Lakes such as Cedar Creek, Cypress Springs and my newest passion, Lake Richland Chambers. Those are the favorite vacation spots for Dallas/Fort Worth, at least according to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal that tells us buyers are once again snapping up second homes.

But they just want them closer to the primary home.

Sea change from the past decade when people bought vacation homes on either coast, near tourist destinations such as Orlando, Florida’s Walt Disney World (this I never understood, $8 million homes in Orlando?), Las Vegas, Coeur D’Alene Idaho and Spanish Peaks near Big Sky, Montana, both of which have entered into the chapters of bankruptcy. Today’s vacation home buyer is older, though affluent families are still buying, wanting a wholesome getaway for the kids). They want to be closer to home and spend less, get less glitz. They also want to buy a home that could convert to a retirement home. That is, a year-round home in perhaps a quieter area with a state-of-the-art medical center nearby. More from the NAR: the typical vacation-home buyer was 50 years old, had a median household income of $88,600 and purchased a property that was a median distance of 305 miles from the primary residence; 35 percent of vacation homes were within 100 miles and 37 percent were more than 500 miles. Buyers plan to own their recreational property for a median of 10 years

Here’s how Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia Inc., puts it:”people choose second homes that are a shorter drive rather than a plane flight away.”

Whether it’s because of rising gas prices or they are fed up with the TSA or escalating cost of flying (airfares are up 14% this year),  a survey by the National Association of Realtors found that the median distance between a buyer’s primary residence and his vacation home actually declined 19% to 305 miles in 2011 from 2010. And that’s the first time the mileage has declined since the group began keeping data in 2006.

People want to stay within driving distance, says Jon Gray, vice president of, because they’re more able to maintain the homes, they have better networks in place and friends and family nearby to use and sustain the homes.  A March survey by HomeAway Inc. found that the most popular markets among vacationers are now those that can be reached in a drive of four hours or less from home. That then allows those folks to rent the homes, making them decent investments.

We have a place in the Texas Hill Country that is a good four hour trip. Personally, I think it’s too long, and others agree. Two hours is the preferred sweet spot. Better yet, forty-five minutes, which is why so many resorts are proliferating at Cedar Creek Lake 45 minutes east of Dallas. You’ve heard me talk about Beacon Hill. Soon you’ll be hearing more about another knock them dead community out there called Long Cove. The developer is Don McNamara, who helped develope CityPlace and West Village, and it boasts 1500 acres of untouched green beauty with a six mile waterfront on Cedar Creek, the fourth largest lake in Texas. Everything marketing director Josh Ellis told me about Long Cove fits right into this latest research: a lock and leave for home owners, luxury living with costs tamped down, no more golf communities, nature reserves, cottage style products for as little as $500,000.

When I hear $500,000 for a vacation home property, my ears perk up. It’s just do-able. Down in the Hill Country, one of my best bud agents and builder, Paul Summrall, tells me $700,000 to $800,000 is the sweet spot for the homes he’s building in The Preserve at Walnut Springs, though former Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett went for the gold with his home.

Best of all, Beacon Hill and Long Cove are a 45 minute drive.

“You can go to the lake and still get back for a soccer game,” says Josh, “and that’s what buyers want.”

According to the Journal, today’s vacation-home buyers also are less affluent than in past years and way more cost-conscious. More ordinary vacation buyers coming into the marketplace, more people tabulating the whole package, including the expense of getting there,  says Stan Humphries, chief economist over at Zillow.

Another reason why buyers are opening up: values of vacation homes continue to fall nationally, with median sales price declining 19%, to $121,300 between 2010 and 2011, so says the NAR. Even in Texas, prices may be holding steady but are not shooting stars. In fact, most experts say don’t buy a vacation home for appreciation; buy for sheer, pure enjoyment or as a future primary home. While buyers are benefitting from the downward spiral in vacation communities near cities, including beach towns in the Northeast, from Massachusetts to the Carolinas, as well as lakefront enclaves in the Midwest and desert locales in California such as the Coachella Valley, developers are hanging on for dear life. If they are well-financed, not leveraged, with a generous marketing budget,  they’ll be around.

I spoke to a local real estate marketing exec last week who told me what we all know: the second home market is just plain ailing. The only way to move the properties, he thinks, will be to offer something very special to buyers — a green or nature aesthetic, perhaps like our shared ownership ranch concept or the nature reserve planned at Long Cove, the waterfalls going in at Beacon Hill. Golfing is nice, but it may be over and courses are expensive to maintain: the number of people who play golf in the US has declined by 13% and some courses are even shuttering. Golf club membership is down by a million! Even Paulson & Co., the hedge fund guru who made billions off the housing market crash, filed for chapter 11 reorganization on five high-profile golf resorts, including Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Hawaii, the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami and PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. last February.

Some developers are going fractional, which sounds like a time share, but you get a deeded warranty that can be sold, passed on to your kids, basically treated like a club membership. As one homeowner said: “I work, so all I HAVE is four weeks a year to knock off at a place I just love. Any longer than that gets boring.”

Most buyers want water and mountains, so Florida coastal remains popular with vacation-home buyers around the world, Canadians (who are still buying in Mexico) and snowbirds who have to see sunshine sometime. More Florida buyers now are coming from neighboring states where they can drive in, including Texas, certainly more than a four hour drive. But Texas haunts continue to be all over Colorado, Park City, Utah, the Gulf coast of Florida, Gulf Shores, the Texas Coast, Hill Country, and increasingly, Palm Springs and San Diego.

I consider Santa Fe, New Mexico, a bedroom community of Dallas.

Toscana is a golf resort in Palm Springs I plan to visit soon. About the only place where anyone is playing golf is Palm Springs. And the developers tell me the place is loaded with Texans.



So it’s January, the holiday decorations are FINALLY put up, and I am determined to spend next Christmas in our second home. Look at what I just found at Possum Kingdom Lake: the owners are relocating to Chicago— they need to sell this place to buy furs! I am liking this location, a perfect combination of the RLR –ranch~lake~resort living in the Hill Country, but two hours west of Dallas/Fort Worth.

The Hill Country begins in Palo Pinto County!

The home was built in early 2008, the first single family home at The Harbor, which has exploded like crazy. It’s one of the few places on earth where there are five custom homes under construction (and selling) now, plus condos and Villas too. Amenities include a gated/guard entrance, so vital in a second home community, security, fitness center, two pools, a spa, hotel, restaurant, equestrian center, fishing holes, and marina.

Now look at this home: 3028 square feet, three bedrooms, three and a half baths, two living areas, hand-scraped hardwoods, custom window treatments, 10 foot ceilings, gourmet kitchen, bar, custom stone work, mudroom and utility. Outside, there’s a  700 square foot covered patio with outdoor kitchen, TV, and fireplace. Enjoy relaxing sunsets on a private constant-level stocked pond and adjacent creek. 

Listed at only $899,000 ON A $1.1 APPRAISAL, and HOA dues of only $1500. Perfect place to roast a turkey next Thanksgiving!