Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Texas Housing Market Recovery; Bigger, Better, Strong

The people of Texas are used to everyone saying that things are bigger and better here. And it seems that the notion is also being applied to it is housing market recovery.

According to the Dallas Association of Realtors, there were more than 8000 single-family home units sold within the Dallas Fort Worth area during August, which marks an 18% rise over the previous month – not to mention the 14th consecutive month that real estate purchases have increased.

What’s more, last month sales figure represents the highest number of homes sold in a single month since the beginning of the recession, back in 2007. Moreover, the median sales price of Dallas Fort Worth homes is now 8% ahead of last year’s level.

One of the most encouraging things is that the Dallas Fort Worth market hasn’t seen the typical slowdown in sales that is usually associated with September, when the kids go back to school. What with interest rates still being so low, it seems that buyers are desperately keen to take advantage of it.

This is great news for the Texas real estate market as a whole, but it doesn’t come entirely unexpected either. For one thing, Texas didn’t suffer nearly as bad a recession as other parts of the country, which means that its recovery was always going to come about faster.

Texas may have seen its share of sub-prime lending, but its employment situation has always been far better than that in other states, and this has helped dampen the carnage wrought by the economic crash.

Dallas has also benefited enormously from the energy boom. With its oil refining and natural gas industry, thousands of new jobs have been created in the area – and where there are new jobs, there will always be a big demand for housing. Due to this, Dallas has managed to post some impressive sales figures, and even while prices are only rising very slowly, real estate experts are not too concerned.

Indeed, the fact that property values in Texas are lower than average could well be another reason for the local market strong performance. Homebuyers are keen to get the most bang for their buck, and at the same time they want to live in a big urban centre – making Dallas the ideal choice for thousands of homebuyers.

Top 6 Things To Do To Your North Dallas Lawns This Fall

Although summer in Dallas still feels like it has its claws deeply embedded deeply into our sweaty skin, it’s time to get your North Dallas lawns ready for fall and winter. Here are 6 essential things to do right now to prepare your lawns for their winter layoff.

  1. Step one, Aerate your lawn! Lawn aeration fights lawn compression that happens during summer. It allows better oxygen absorption in the soil, as well as better nutrient absorption which stimulates root growth. It also helps with the annual elimination of thatch in your lawns.
  2. Fertilise! Your lawn is not dormant in winter. This is a common misconception. Your lawn may look brown, but its roots still continue to grow during fall and winter, and it relies on the stored nutrients you provide it to ensure maximum health and strength of the root systems. And for the record, you should never ever ever use weed and feed products on your lawn! I don’t care what brand you think is best, they are not good for your lawn, period.
  3. The best thing you can do for weed control in your North Dallas lawn, is to grow a thick and luxurious, vigorously growing grass. Aeration and fertilizing are important first steps, now you need to keep your lawn a little higher than usual as you lead into fall and winter to help with insulation of the lawn. You can also reseed your lawn, and the holes from the aeration process, and the oxygen and nutrient rich soils will help the seeds flourish, thus ensuring you have a great start to spring and summer next year.
  4. Get after and control weeds right now. Apply a reputable pre-emergent. Pretty self-eplanatory, but make sure you use a pre-emergent, not a weed and feed!
  5. Rake your lawns vigorously to remove as much thatch as possible. Thatch in your lawn does not rot down and provide nutriens to the soil as some might believe. It opens the soil up to sunlight, and helps prevent the onset of disease and mildew in your lawns.
  6. Apply grub control products now. Those pesky June Bugs are okay if you have one or two of their larva under your lawns, but if they’re there in any number, disaster can strike. Use a quality grub control product now, don’t wait until Spring – it will be too late.

We sure hope you got a lot out of these excellent tips on taking care of your North Dallas lawns this fall. Our lawn in Frisco has been the envy of our friends and neighbors this season as my wife, a Master Gardener, took to natural lawn care with a passion. Follow these tips, and you too will have that glossy deep green carpet that the souls of your feet and your toes will love!

Colliers International Adds to Its Dallas Commercial Property Portfolio

As part of its plans to take advantage of the excellent real estate situation in Dallas for buyers, Colliers International has increased its leasing portfolio by 885,000 ft.² over the last month. The company’s portfolio has been expanded to include a medical office building and several class B office buildings, joining its 1,400,000 ft.² Galleria Office Towers investment.

David Quisenberry, executive vice president of Colliers International, said that his company wanted to provide a viable alternative to the existing network of service providers in Dallas:

“When I joined Colliers International late last year, I stated then that my goal is to launch and build an agency leasing platform. Thanks to our recent additions, we’re now handling leasing activity for around two point 4,000,000 ft.² of office space.”

Colliers International bank may not find it so easy to work with some of these office assets, however – three of their office buildings are situated close to the Interstate 635/Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, an road that is currently undergoing extensive construction work.

However, Quisenberry doesn’t think it will be a problem.

“If you look at the construction that is currently going on, you’d perceive that it might be cumbersome to what we’re trying to achieve,” he explained.

But in the case of these buildings – Toll Hill office Park, LBJ financial centre, and One Hillcrest Green – reality and perception are two completely different things.

“There are secondary artery systems that allow employees to come and go from these buildings,” notes Quisenberry.

“What’s more, even though there’s a lot of construction going on, there is still solid interest in the properties. Sure, the construction is a bit of a pain, but it will be finished sooner than most people think.”

As well as the above three assets, Colliers International’s portfolio also includes at 67,000 ft.², class B office building at 16980 N. Dallas, a 121,000 ft.² medical office building at 7515 Greenville Avenue, and its 118,000 ft.² International Technology Center at 4240 International Pkwy., in Carrollton, Texas.

Quisenberry believes that this varied portfolio means that Colliers International will be able to operate with various different building types in different submarkets within Dallas, and he hopes that plan will continue with further acquisitions in the near future.

L’Oreal Mulls Over Move To South Dallas

L’Oreal, the largest cosmetics beauty and hair care company in the world, is heading to Dallas.

According to sources, the French company is planning to construct a 500,000+ square foot regional distribution hub in the south of the city. The news comes from sources that are familiar with the deal, although they stress that no plans have been finalized yet. Even so, it’s an exciting rumor for the city, as L’Oreal’s presence in Dallas would be a major boost for the region’s economy – the French company is a major international name, and development in the south Dallas area has been earmarked as a priority by Mayor Michael Rawlins.

The mayor himself has declined to comment on any potential L’Oreal move to the city, as no concrete plans have been finalized yet. However, Rawlings previously outlined his GrowSouth plan earlier this year, which he said is all about maximizing the many advantages that south Dallas has to offer, the biggest of those being its inland port.

“Because of the available land and its location, any company that is interested in setting up a first rate logistical headquarters in Texas will take a long hard look at what the inland port can offer them,” Rawlings said earlier this year.

L’Oreal has yet to comment on the rumored move to Dallas either, although the French company did announce plans for the construction of a regional distribution centre for its haircare and beauty products at a Dallas development fund meeting earlier this year. During that meeting, no site for the new distribution centre was announced.

At that meeting, Oriel said that if it did move to south Dallas, its regional distribution hub would create something in the region of 90 new jobs to begin with, with anything from 100 to 150 new positions being made available over time. Regarding the salaries for those newly created jobs, the company said it expects these to average around $35,000 a year.

The estimated cost of the project is believed to be around 22.5 million, with L’Oreal expected to invest an additional 6.5 million in equipment for the facility. In addition, the company would also spend around $5 million in order to develop public infrastructure in the area.

TopGolf To Relocate To Dallas

TopGolf is set to move to a new headquarters in Dallas this coming November. The company, which features a golf game using microchip technology inside their golf balls, is relocating from its Chicago location. It has selected and leased  a 14,350 square feet building on the 8th floor of 17Seventeen McKinney, which is  Uptown in Dallas and will now serve as its new headquarters.

TopGolf stands for Target Oriented Practice Golf and it’s micropchip technology is used to easily track the players’ shot based on distance and accuracy. Currently, it has eight hubs around the globe, four of which are located in the United States while the remaining three can be found in the UK. Two sites located in Austin and Houston, TX is also under construction.

According to TopGolf’s real estate director Zach Shor, “17Seventeen was a natural fit for our high-end entertainment concept. The building, management, and surrounding Uptown area are exactly what we think TopGolf is – best in class.” The new location is part of Park Seventeen, a 2.2-acre development of Woodall Rodgers Freeway situated near the edge of Uptown. Granite Properties developed the facility itself into a nineteen-story, 361×524 square feet entertainment complex in May 2010.

Together with a 25,000 sq. ft. lease of Ackerman McQueen, TopGolf increases the occupancy rate of 17Seventeen McKinney to 65%. Other nearby facilites in the area include Gables Park 17, which is a multifamily tower owned by Gables Residential, and Stampede 66, a new restaurant to be opened next month by well-known chef Stephan Pyles.

During the negotiations, TopGolf was represented by Chris Herrmann and Harlan Davis of CRBE and Steve Zimmerman of The Retail Connection. On the other hand, Granite was represented by Jim Kirchhoff and Robert Jimenez.

Henderson Avenue In East Dallas Eyed By California Investor

The Los Angeles urban real estate and infrastructure investment firm CIM Group has been reported to be looking at blocks of commercial and retail properties along Henderson Avenue in the eastern side of Dallas. There are currently numerous properties along these streets including several bars, restaurants and retailers. The land is currently owned by Andres Properties.

Three months ago, it was reported that the Andres family had been in negotiations to sell some of their properties in Henderson Avenue. Tenants in these buildings have been told that it was CIM Group that had been eyeing the properties. Established in 1994, CIM Group has $9.5 billion in assets and focuses on urban real estate. Though most of its properties are located in California, it is also becoming one of the major players in Dallas. Some of their holdings in Dallas include the 75-unit 3839 McKinney and the 103-unit 3636 McKinney apartments in the Uptown area, as well as the 334-unit Knoxbridge apartments just across Henderson Avenue. In addition, the group also owns some properties in Houston and Austin.

However, both the Andres Properties and CIM Group have refused to disclose any information concerning the status of the negotiations. According to an email sent by a spokeswoman for the CIM Group, “CIM does not comment on transactions that it may or may not be considering.”

The Andres family has owned the properties in Henderson Avenue since the 1950′s. In 2006, it started re-developing some of the blocks of buildings it owns in Henderson and Capitol Avenue. If the sale goes through, it would mean improvements to existing buildings and more upscale developments in the area. In fact, developers in the nearby streets have already been building new units. Along Lower Greenville, major investments have poured in, in the form of new tenants like Wal-Mart and Trader Joes.

Get Ready For Trader Joe’s Grand Opening in Plano

At exactly 8 AM this Friday, the Southern Californian grocery store Trader Joe’s is set to open its doors for the first time in Plano. Already stacked on the shelves are the famous Joe-Joe’s cookies and Two-Buck Chuck. This is the second Trader Joe’s outlet in the northern Texas, which will open just a few months after it opened its first branch over here in Forth Worth.

Residents are now filled with excitement and a long line of shoppers is expected to form outside as soon as the sun rises on Friday. According to a Plano resident named Jon Battle, “It has a bit of a cult following. You either get it or you don’t. I get it.” He says he’ll be getting the popular Mac ‘N Cheese that sells for $2.99.

Commended for not carrying any artificial preservatives, 80% of the 14,00 square feet store will be composed of Trader Joe’s brands. This includes a frozen section, wine, cooking demo, and special produce area. What’s unique about Trader Joe’s is that it has a list of brands that cannot be found anywhere such as the Two-Buck Chuck, the famous Cookie Butter that can be used on ice cream and pancakes, the Trader Giotto featuring Italian goods, and Trader Ming’s is full of a variety of Chinese delectables.

And just how avid are the Trader Joe’s fans? In Louisville, Ky., a fan slept in a hammock tied between a tree and his car just to wait for the outlet’s opening last October. As early as 5AM in the Fort Worth outlet’s opening, people have lined up even if though the store does not open for another three hours.

Along with Plano, three other Trader Joe’s outlets are set to open this Friday. The other stores are located in Foxborough, Mass., Sarasota, Fla., and Portsmouth/Newington in New Hampshire. Currently, Trader Joe’s has a total of 370 stores located in 34 states. They are set to open at the 35th state in Utah before the year ends.

Dallas Commercial Real Estate Market Showing Signs of Recovery

Several developments in the Dallas office market have occurred in the past few months. The highlight of which is that some investors and banks are finally coming to terms in transferring their ownership of foreclosed office buildings. For instance, Cousins Properties Inc. has just purchased the 78,000-sqm Ross Tower last month. At $70 per square foot, Cousins paid a total of $59.2 million to acquire the property. This is 19% lower than the purchase price of Ross Tower SMA Equities back in 2007, which bought the building out of a $61 million loan from Wachovia and a $10 million mezzanine loan from Parkway.

According to Real Capital Analytics managing director Dan Fasulo, “This is the point of the cycle when some existing owners capitulate. For investors, this is the time to pounce.”  Ross Tower is just among the list of big foreclosed properties that recently had an exchange of hands. Other properties include the KPMG Center, which was bought by LNR Property Corp. for $42 million at $50 per square foot, and an office space at the High Point Centre, which was purchased by Riversource Life Insurance Co. for $8.6 million.

When combined, these three properties represent almost 2 million square foot of office space already. It may pose some danger to the Dallas office rental market as new owners are forced to offer cheap rent to fill their empty office buildings.

But the good news is that the Dallas office market has been getting stronger this year. According to Marcus & Millichap, the office vacancy rate is expected to end at only 22.2% this year. This is 70 points lower than that of the previous year. Also, class-A offices will likely end at a better 20% vacancy rate this year. The Dallas commercial real estate market may not yet be completely out of the woods but with properties such as Ross Tower slowly showing signs of recovery, the entire office market is bound to benefit.

Places and Things to Do: The Best Entertainment Spots in Dallas

There will never be any dull moment in Dallas. The city abounds with establishments that will keep visitors entertained. Killing time will never be an ordeal in the area. It just seems that the city never runs out of fun and exciting places where people can do different activities.

Things to do (for free)

Every first Thursday of each month, galleries and shops along the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff remain open until 10 p.m. This is to give way to visitors who want to interact with the locals amid special arts exhibits, free wine tastings, and many other worthwhile activities. At the same time, the art and household shops along the Bishop Street Market also welcome guests.

Dallas Museum Art is also livelier on Thursday nights. Live entertainment is staged, particularly Jazz in the Atrium. The performance is held outside during spring. It showcases local performers. At the same time, there are sketching sessions held at the gallery. Discussions with the artists are also mounted after. Meanwhile, the Nasher Sculpture Center along Flora Street holds free guided tours of its garden and galleries every first Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fun time with the kids

The Dallas Museum of Nature and Science in Grand and 2nd Avenues facilitate fun experiences with children. There are hands-on and interactive exhibits about fossil excavation and the human body. Planetarium and IMAX shows provide a creative approach to learning. Summer camp and spring break programs should be checked out. Ticket prices may vary depending on season.

Dallas World Aquarium in N. Griffin Street facilitates a different kind of adventure that kids and their parents will certainly enjoy. Get through the Orinoco rain forest via an exhibit or walk the 40-foot tunnel where you can see mantra rays and sharks close up and personal. Experience a giant aquarium like no other. Tickets are sold for $18.95 and $10.95 for adults and kids, respectively.

The Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is a museum and a wildlife sanctuary in one. There is a 6.5-mile trail that facilitates closer view of natural prairie land, bubbling over with insects and local birds. Challenge yourself through a ropes-style obstacle course for groups. The location is at 1 Nature Place, McKinney. Tickets sell for $8 and $5 for adults and kids, respectively.

Places to meet people and have dates with loved ones

It is never lonely in Dallas. If you come alone, you may meet and make new acquaintances and friends. Grand Tastings at McKinney Ave takes strangers together when tasting wines. Menus, which are modified weekly, start at $15 for up to five various wines. Meanwhile, Crush Wine Shop becomes a great hangout on Saturdays. It is partly a wine shop, a wine bar, and a happy hour joint rolled into one.

Dates for young couples? Late Nite at the Dallas Museum of Art in Harwood Street is ideal every third Friday of each month. Young couples can enjoy listening to live music, checking out galleries, and watching special films until midnight. Saturday Night in the City within Nasher Sculpture Center is livelier for sweethearts every first Saturday from April to October. Guests can bring blankets so they can sit down in the garden and take away cocktails and food from an onsite café.

Moving in to Your Dallas Home: Essential Tips to Prevent Calamities On the Big Day

So you finally bought your dream Dallas home? That’s great! You have just traversed the most expensive and life-changing financial transaction of your life…no small thing. But now comes the really tricky part, moving in to your new abode! The transition can actually be a very arduous task and the joy of a new home might be spoiled by the problems that come with what is often a logistical nightmare.

Here are some tips that minimize the strain when it comes to moving your stuff into your new Dallas home:

  1. Decide whether you want to move everything by yourself, or if you think you need professional help. Getting the professionals in can make an enormous difference to the level of stress you and your family feel on the big day and for days or even weeks afterwards.
  2. Make a checklist of everything inside your home that you plan on taking with you to your new property. By preparing a list, this will give you an idea of just how much stuff you actually have, and what size than you will need to transport it will. If there are things that you don’t want to take with you, you may be able to get rid of these, either by donating them to charity or holding a garage sale.
  3. Buying a home in Dallas is no picnic, and neither is the moving. Each person in your household must plan which things they intend to bring with them and what they want to leave behind. Make sure the little ones are out away the day you actually move – either let friends take care of them for the day, or put them in a daycare center. Invite other family members or friends to help with your packing. By providing lunch, the activity will seem more like a good-bye party. Be sure to have special provisions for things that are breakable, too.
  4. Pay careful attention to small gadgets and appliances, as these are more likely to be broken and/or forgotten. The same goes for jewellery and other valuables – keep these things together, and make sure they are not left behind. If you need to disassemble anything before you can move it, such as oak wardrobe or your home entertainment system, take a photo of it before you do so, as this will help you to re-assemble it when you get to the new home.
  5. Dispose of detergents, pesticides and paint that are heavy and unwieldy to pack. These items are available in appliance depots and carpentry shops, so you don’t need to be worried about buying them again when you get to your new home.

Full value insurance protection will keep things safe and secure. Finally, just remember that when it comes to moving to Dallas, things will always be much more convenient if you use the services of a professional mover.