Eleven-bedroom $1.75 million Louis XIII chateau outside Paris, your second home?

One thing many one-home homeowners have in common is a desire to have another one. I think it’s like the “how hard could one more be” ethos of parents. I don’t have kids, but I have owned a second home for nearly 20 years and there are things to consider and stories to tell.

Picking the right property is the first stop. If you think location, location, location matters in a primary home, it goes double for a second home. Why?  Because most of us will need to put that home to work generating income when we’re not enjoying its charms. A few bucks profit at sale time wouldn’t go amiss either. Because of this, finding a location that works both for your personal desires but also your financial goals of revenue generation and asset appreciation.


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 CandysDirt.com!


Sometimes we want to get away, but the thought of travel is just too much. Packing up everything, getting the kids ready, and climbing in the car or in a plane for hours is enough to keep us at home, ensconced in air conditioning and watching the latest releases on Netflix.

But what if you could enjoy a lake house that was just 15 minutes from downtown Fort Worth? What if there was a property big enough to host you and your extended family without feeling cramped and uncomfortable? What if you could enjoy all the best things about lake living without the drive?



We’ve found just the thing! Go check out this hip pocket listing from Williams Trew over on CandysDirt.com, as it is the absolute perfect spot for a low-key family Fourth of July getaway that feels private.


I almost did not post this foreclosure, and while I have some issues with the kitchen — what in bejesus were they thinking with those wood cabinets, all beach house kitchens need to be white! — and the master bath looks like it might get you a good bash on the head if you get in after a few too many Mojitos, I will fix said issues for that Bay view right from the porch. (Not giving up the Top Shelf.) Mix me up a pitcher of anything with booze in it, rustle up some cheese and Carr’s wafers, and let’s enjoy the sunset. One acre, across from beach, 2420 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths, garage and bonus room with bath. Bank-owned at $252,000.

OK, painting party on Saturday — that green gives me indigestion! But man oh man, let the bank throw in some Sherwin Williams and camel hair brushes, I am so signing on the dotted for this number.

All I want for Christmas is a beach home in Florida. Seems I’m not alone. Elin Nordegren Woods is also on the lookout, but she has a slightly higher budget than I do — about $4,000,000. And she is looking, I hear, on Jupiter Island, a sleepy little quiet island with 516 condos and only 18 buildings. And guess who lives there, too? (Like 20 minutes away.) Prices on Jupiter, I’m told, are not as soft as they are in Miami, Naples and God’s Got-Too-Much-Sun-Waiting Room, Fort Meyers. Elin is looking at one of the newer buildings on the island, built in 1998, with just 24 homeowners and a staff that pampers like the Ritz. It’s called the Carlyle.

The Carlyle is really the cream-of-the-crop on the island, sits on the land’s highest point, and sports 270 degree views from each unit. You want terrific sunrises and sunsets? You will have them every day, in every room. To the east are spectacular sunrise views of the Atlantic, to the west are unforgettable sunsets of the Intracoastal, and the north offers views the length of Jupiter Island as far as the eye can see.

Maybe Elin will be able to see as far as Tiger’s new compound?

Elin has seriously toured The Penthouse at The Carlyle, according to sources. The penthouse offers the ultimate in scenic views plus a 3,000 square foot rooftop sky patio, which is just unbelievably fabulous for entertaining.

Besides 4000 living square feet of stunning upgrades such as floating limestone floors and David Aultz (Palm Springs contractor) spherical and triangular ceilings, views, and even includes a 3-car garage and has its own boat dock and cabana bath available. All included in an asking price of only $3,990,000. (If not, I’d make them throw it in.) Really, not bad for being right on the water. I may want to check out Jupiter Island!

This post in Brick Underground got me thinking and of course, I’ve emailed it to my Manhattan-dwelling son who is coming home this weekend without, I sincerely hope, any critters in his luggage. He is upset that I bought him one of those canvas-cooker deals to kill off any bedbugs that might stick to his shoes or a backpack/briefcase. (Upset because he has no room in his studio apartment for it.) I’ve been freaking about bedbugs ever since he and I attended a movie near Times Square July 31 and the theater closed shortly thereafter due to bed bug infestation.  People in New York are being told to not use their beds to store guest coats or purses during holiday parties, even the minks!

You know how it is living in those old, cramped flats. What we call a Sam’s closet is basically the entire apartment in Manhattan. Come to think of it, I have a large home, and we don’t have room to hang up every guest’s coat in our hall closet. People usually stash them in our library on a leather chair, which I can vacuum and wash. But I am thinking of buying a coat rack that can be assembled just for parties.

Which is what they are encouraging in the bed bug-ridden cities. You are also to keep people off your sofas and encourage everyone to stand up. How inhospitable, but of course, I cannot blame any host who does this in the name of keeping a sofa critter-free. I love the idea of handing folks a large zip-lock baggie to store purses — I’d need a SpaceBag. But that got me thinking.

When I was growing up in suburban Chicago, I would go play at a neighbor’s house that I used to call the plastic house. Everything was always covered in plastic: the sofas, the chairs, the lampshades, even the tables. I found this a bit strange and asked my friend, Margaret-Ann, why her mother covered everything in plastic in their house.

She doesn’t want it to get dirty, my friend explained.

Oh. Does she cover you in plastic, too? I asked.

Sometimes, said Margaret-Ann, matter of factly.

I thought about Margaret-Ann many times after I started living on my own. Yes, my family make fun of her plastic-covered home, but sometimes, as I was scrubbing gross stuff off a sofa or a chair into the wee hours of the night, I would think of Margaret-Ann’s mother and admire her for covering everything in plastic.

Maybe it made her life easier; I’d wonder where she found those plastic covers for her sofas. They must have been custom made.

Maybe those would protect sofas from bedbugs. You could encase your entire sofa in a plastic slip-cover that was then sealed on the bottom, and zip it up. People could sit at your house, no bedbug worries. Hell, I may want some in my family room to keep the dog hair off my sofas.

I think we need them at the beach house, too. Our beach house is like a family time share and the sofas are so old, and so used by everyone, I sometimes spread out a towel to sit on because I am slightly OCD. You really are supposed to cover furniture at a second home — recall the movies where everyone walks into the summer home and everything is draped in sheets to protect from the dust?

In fact, I think we’ll be seeing a comeback in plastic slip covers thanks to this bedbug epidemic.

Which will just remind me more and more of Margaret-Ann. This is kind of a sad ending, though: she’s no longer with us. Her mother died of cancer, and then Margaret Ann died of cancer.

Please don’t tell me it was the plastic.

In Roatan and in La Paz, Mojitos. I am a huge Mojito girl, and love them best made with fresh mint and lime. I thought Victor’s muddled Mojitos were the best I’d ever tasted, created at Bite on the Beach in West Bay, Roatan –great restaurant — and he sent me home with the recipe and a bag of Honduran pure cane sugar. (Carrying a bag of white powder home from Central America did make me a little nervous, have to admit, but never come between a girl and her Mojitos.) But at Costa Baja in La Paz, I had another delicious Mojito and learned they pureed fresh pineapple in with the mint, lime and sugar.  What do you like to drink when you relax at home? Anyone making homemade eggnog this year?

For more ideas, check out You+Media’s new Mixology 101.

Have you ever in your real estate life had clients zero in on an item in a home that sold the home faster than you could think? I am always looking for a unique real estate story, especially anything about selling a home faster for the most in this market. (This vacation home advertises the Duxiana to pull in renters.) I met Serena Cole, owner of Duxiana Dallas, over in my favorite neighborhood haunt of Preston Center, and she told me that a Duxiana bed actually, truthfully, recently sold a house in 75230.

You have got to be kidding me, I said.

These are not what I’d call cheap beds.

Readers consistently give these mattresses high quality, high price and high service votes. A Swedish design, the Dux Bed claims its fame from the huge multiple of springs in each mattress: 4000 springs compared to the up to 900 springs found in conventional queen-size mattresses.This allows you incredible firmness and softness so that your spine is straight and not bent. And each bed is custom-fitted to the buyer’s sleep preferences by inserting cartridges into the main mattress: firm, extra firm, soft. The cartridges are interchangeable and couples can create their own, so just because your husband wants ultra firm doesn’t mean your side has to be that way.  A queen size will run you from $6,500, but should last you 50-plus years. The top cushion pads can be replaced every 7 to 10 years for about $1,000. So you can drop $5000 on a high end bed every 7 to 10 years, which is how often you should change your mattress, or get a Duxiana. 

Serena told me that when the buyer, who was also a Duxiana Fan herself – I guess there’s rather a fan club – saw the bed, they immediately zoned in on the the quality of the bed and deduced that the homeowner must have had similar standards for everything they put into the house. Something to the effect of “if they put their money into this kind of quality, we feel secure they built a solid house.” So they bought it. And this was not all that long ago; in fact, it was within the year 2010 just about the time the first time homebuyers credit was getting hearted up.

If these guys had a Duxiana, something tells me they may not have been first time homebuyers.

Now I am not telling you to run out and buy a Duxiana bed just to impress your buyers… but think about it. Real estate and beds are a natural fit, especially in this town. They are made for each other. So much of what happens in real estate happens under the covers…  or between the sheets!

Just like a great piece of blue chip real estate, a Duxiana lasts forever: at least one realtor has told me that her back pain disappeared after the first night she spent in her Duxiana. Another person told me his grandmother has a 75 year-old Duxiana –he’s hoping to get it in her will!