Planning on selling your home this spring….start getting it ready NOW!!!

I owned “WhiteHouse Staging” for three years before becoming an agent.  I offer my staging advice as a service to my clients.

VICKI_WHITE_SOLDEvery real estate agent knows that a Comparative Market Analysis consists of three categories of active listings, and three categories of sold listings.  The categories are the Average; Maximum and Minimum price per square foot.  The difference in price could be many thousands of dollars.  Some houses will get the maximum because they have all the latest amenities that buyers want.  Other maximum houses will get their price because of the condition of the house.  If you are priced over the maximum, you will probably not get showings and no amount of work will help.  You must be priced at fair market value, but you might as well get the most for your house you can, right?

So, what does it take?  If it sounds like a lot of trouble, well maybe it is.  We are talking about a seller with the desire to get TOP DOLLAR.  If you are okay with the average than just make sure it is clean.

First, take a really hard look at the drive up appeal.  It should be picture perfect.  Manicure the shrubs to perfection; plant flowers (bring out the beds with a little shape).  Cover any dirt with mulch.  Mow and edge.  Plant grass where it is missing and trim the trees so the grass can get sunlight if necessary.   Keep the lawn watered.      Clean those windows where they sparkle!  Touch up any paint on the windows, sills, facia and soffit.   Also put a fresh coat of paint on the front door.

This might be a great time to replace out-dated or rusted light fixtures and mailbox.  Get a fresh door mat.  Maybe place an Adirondack chair in the front yard under a shade tree.  Now look again.  You want a buyer to think Wow when they drive up to your house.

When a buyer walks into your house it takes only FIFTEEN SECONDS to make a first impression.  Make sure the first room you see is really knocked out.  Edit furniture and accessories.  Touch up baseboards, update lighting, make sure all lights are on and the highest wattage bulbs the fixture can take.  Another key factor is the sense of smell.  If you have pets, do whatever it takes to eliminate pet odors.  Not just spray over them, but major cleaning.  Same goes for strong cooking odors.

This is also a great time to purchase packing boxes and start packing!   Get a storage warehouse space, or neatly stack boxes in the garage.  Clean out closets and pantry.  You want to at least have the allusion of lots of closet and pantry space.  Remove personal photos, children’s art from the refrigerator as well as political and religious items.  Think model home.  Maybe go check out some builder models and see how neutral the house is.  Remember, while it is on the market it more or less ceases to be home, but a “product” for sale.   If you can’t achieve a model look on your own, you may want to consider a professional stager.  It can make thousands of dollars of difference.

Paint is the least expensive way to make a home feel fresh and new.  If you have dingy walls or holes from art, previous touchups, etc, take an afternoon and paint that room.  Stay away from bright colors when you have your home for sale.

Remember when you have a showing it is always best to be away from the house.  Take both the two and the four legged kiddos with you.  Have the lights on and the temperature comfortable.

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This Masterpiece is without a doubt a one of a kind property, unlike anything you have seen!!

It has been featured in HGTV, Dallas Morning News, and D Magazine.

It is known to almost everyone in east Dallas/ White Rock area as “the underground house.”   It’s a completely ‘Green’ house, built just before green living was all the rage.   Yet that is exactly what the architect Frank Moreland and home owner were working to achieve.    With over 100 tons of reinforced concrete over the dwelling and 1000 tons of earth on top of the concrete, it is not only extremely energy efficient, it is also almost eerily quiet.  The summer that temperatures in Dallas soared over 100 degrees for more than 70 days, the total electric bill for June, July and August combined was just over $200.00.  Energy efficiency and security are what this home is all about.

2001 N Buckner BLVD, Dallas TX 75228

2001 N Buckner BLVD, Dallas TX 75228:
Beautiful grass,trees & rolling hill hide a
4,561 sq. ft. home underground!

When the owner purchased the property that parcel of land did not even have an address.   In keeping with the futuristic element of this incredibly special house, the owner went to the city and got the address ‘2001 North Buckner Blvd.  (As in A Space Odyssey).

Within the heart of the city, this creek lot on 1.84 acres overlooks thick, lush foliage along Ash Creek.  No other homes or buildings can be seen from the windows or the scenic back porch.  There is a 100’expance of windows going across the front (facing away from Buckner) that make you feel like you are living in a countryside or forest.   Above the house, actually 22’ up from the living room floor is a turret of glass blocks protruding above the hill facing east and west.  This allows sunlight to pour into the house below.  Since there are no right angles in the walls, but only rounded corners, the light filters throughout the living areas making it light and bright, so much so you don’t even need lights on during the daytime.   Some would expect it to be dark and dreary living underground, which is completely opposite of what it is!

The only evidence that this 4561 square foot home exists on this property is the concrete three car garage that is imbedded in the hillside.  It looks like a beautiful treed lot with greenery and a soft hill.  Even the driveway, which will hold over a dozen cars, was built from Turfstone pavers, a grid type base that allows grass to grow between the grids.  This makes the driveway somewhat visually go away.

Architect Frank Moreland broke ground on 2001 N. Buckner in 1989 and was competed in 1991.   Mr. Moreland stated this home would last well over 1000 years as it is protected from the elements and is considered almost fireproof.  Mostly land disguises that a dwelling exists in addition to the 1000 tons of earth, and 100 tons of reinforced concrete, is also has 60 tons of steel.  Each piece of rebar was individually tagged and put together like a puzzle.  It took 72 truckloads of concrete to pour the foundation, some of it as much as 6’ deep.   The contractor in charge of the concrete pour had just retired after pouring several if the pads for Cape Kennedy. When you enter the house from the creek side, you are just as blown away as you are from the drive up, still incredibly unique in every way.  Just as cozy as can be, but large enough to seat 60 people in the large great room!!    There is bench seating built into the 1500 square foot living room that can seat 45.

2001 Buckner-blog photos-large

 The architect of the property was the late Frank L. Moreland, a Fort Worth Native.  Mr. Moreland was highly recognized in his field as an esteemed architect, college professor and author of four books on architecture and design; specifically about earth sheltered houses which were his passion. He received numerous degrees from UT Austin and TCU, meeting all the requirements for his doctorate.  He earned his master’s degree at UC Berkley.  He was highly influenced by  Frank Lloyd Wright.  Later he became a professor at Penn State and University of Texas where he taught architecture.  In 1975 he coordinated a National Science Foundation conference on earth-covered buildings and edited the published proceedings; he did the same for the Department of Energy in 1979.  In 1981 he prepared a report for FEMA.  That was the year he left academia to follow his passion and become a contractor and start his own firm to build sustainable buildings as well as “earth sheltered” homes.  (The proper term for the underground house).  His inspiration was a professor from the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Texas. “He was an inspiration, and deeply influenced my interest in structures, particularly concrete.  I vividly recall his presentation of the performance of reinforced concrete structures in the massive 1950s earthquake in Mexico City.”

He had built 9 other earth sheltered houses before 2001 North Buckner, but this was his first built in an urban setting.

The current owner had an interest in earth sheltered homes for many years. His curiosity caused him to start researching the concept and seeking an architect and designer.  Then he began his search for the perfect lot.  Meanwhile, Architect Frank Moreland had begun having private meetings in his home in Fort Worth attended by 6 or 8 couples.  Moreland would show interested parties videos of his renderings and designs for earth sheltered homes and tell their benefits.   Current owner Bill Coleman began attending those meetings and was smitten!

2001 N Buckner-21Coleman found the 1.8 acre plat on Buckner that backed to the Ash Creek.  Knowing that the earth sheltered part would be along Bucker to buffer noise; the front door would essentially face the Creek.  It is VERY quiet in his home.  Coleman stated “Solitude in the middle of the city is one thing I’ve particularly grown to appreciate”  “It’s like a park.”

Originally this land had been under contract with a developer that wanted to erect 5 homes in that 1.8 acres rather than one.

After construction was complete the owner commissioned renowned artist Carmen Valarde from Taos New Mexico to come work on the finish out the interior.  Carmen came to Dallas from Taos New Mexico along with 3 men and her grandson.  During those three weeks, with her own hands Carmen applied the adobe surface to the three Kiva fireplaces, a large banco (which were the benches surrounding the great room).  She also built privacy walls, display walls and built in cabinets.    They all have the flavor of a Taos style building.

Carmen is a household name in Taos.  She received from the Smithsonian Institute and National Park Service a Certificate of Appreciation for her contribution to the Festival of American Folk life;  From the Taos County Historical Society presented an Award of Merit in appreciation for her work as folklore ambassador representing the culture of Northern New Mexico and her preservation of its traditions through her work and life; She also received  A Proclamation from the office of the Mayor in Taos as the Woman of the Year, “Carmen Velarde Day”  .  She was invited twice to represent New Mexico by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington D.C.

Mr. Bill Coleman and his wife Mirella purchased the land in 1985.  When they broke ground they had a $500,000 budget.    After a year of building, and ANOTHER $500,000 to the price tag, they took a 9 month sabbatical to evaluate and discuss.  All together it took 2 years from start to finish and was finished in 1990.

Mr. Coleman’s earth sheltered home has very low insurance risk thus low rates, since there is no chance of hail damage on the property as well as the fact it is said to be semi-fire resistant rated by the State of Texas due to the fact that it is a concrete structure and floor, likened to a commercial building.  Architect Frank Moreland stated that this homes rock solid construction gives the structure a life expectancy of
1,000 years and beyond.

The insurance rates are low on the property because of the semi-fire proof rating, plus you obviously would not have hail damage on the grass roof!

This is the ultimate ‘GREEN’ building.  Now the top of the house is covered in solar panels that decrease the energy by 1/3rd.  While the property is very low upkeep, you still have to mow and water the roof!!

It is also often referred to as a bunker, a perfect solution for those that are looking for the highest level of security. In addition, cameras mounted front and back give you 24/7 access to activity from any computer in the world. / Property Details / Full Details List

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What’s Real in Real Estate?

By Vicki White:

ImageI am sure it is no surprise that the market values in Forest Hills and Dallas as a whole has been in a downward trend for several years now. Even with many homes on the market in Forest Hills, only 8 properties have sold in the last 6 months. I have been monitoring this area for many years, and have been involved with 3 of the sales in the last six months as well as one of the buyers. I hear it every day, sellers want to recoup their investment in their property at the very least, or even better would like to make a profit. It has been difficult to be the messenger that the market is what it is.

The stats below go back for a six month period, (from August 9, 2011 to February 9, 2012) since six months is what an appraiser will use to evaluate or appraise a property. The good news is that property values seem to have flat lined. The monthly decline in value seems to have come to a stop. This is really GREAT news! I am optimistic that we will begin our slow climb back to higher values in the months and years ahead! With that said, I believe it is extremely important to be totally aware of the market conditions that we are living with right now. There is nothing to be gained from burying our heads in the sand and choosing to ignore the reality. Knowledge is power!


This report includes all homes in Forest Hills, all streets from Garland Road to Eustis. It also includes everything from distressed properties to new construction, so the actual value will be somewhat skewed using these MLS (Multiple Listing Service) comps.

Active Listings: (Per MLS as of February 9, 2012)

Number of Properties listed 21

Average price per square foot $199.63

Average price of listed homes $616,021*Notice the substantial difference between the LISTED prices and the SOLD

prices. Average number of days on the market 135* (see actual days on market below)

*The average days on the market shows to be 135 ACCORDING TO MLS. This is NOT real. Most good real estate agents will dig deeper to see what is real with regard to days on the market. Those figures get manipulated by putting a property on, then taking off, and putting back on in order to zero out the days on market. Currently, the true average days on the market for the active listings in Forest Hills is 250 days! That is 115 days on the market more than the comps show.

Sold Listings:

Number of sold properties in the last 6 months totals 8 properties sold (Including Belle Nora)

*However for the sake of the comps, I have removed Belle Nora to get a more accurate picture

Average price per square foot of sold properties $161.90

Average price of homes sold $390,400

Average number of days on the market: 231* (see actual days on the market below)

*The average days on the market shows to be 231 ACCORDING TO MLS. To find the real ACTUAL days on the market we have to go into the archive list which shows all the times a property has come off and gone back on. The ACTUAL days on the market for the sold listings was 346 days, far different from the stats that show 231. In addition to taking an average of 346 days to sell, in almost every case there were significant reductions in price during the listing periods.



Note: This is the major reason that a home should be priced right from the very beginning of the listing. It is stressful to have a property on the market for long periods, stressful to have to go though price reductions, and damaging to your chances of selling at a desirable price if it has logged many days on the market. Houses that show well and are priced at or below the average price per square foot will almost always sell!! Plus, you should remember that IF you get a buyer that is willing to pay more than the comps support, it is very likely you are not going to get a satisfactory appraisal from the Buyers lender. Many deals have fallen through this year because of homes not appraising for the negotiated price.

During the last 6 months there have also been 11 cancelled listings, 10 expired listings, 1 withdrawn and 1 temporarily off the market for a total of 23 failed attempts. I can already see this trend begin to change to the positive!

There are currently 3 pending properties with the average price per square foot being $91.89.

Indications are that some of the higher end and more expensive homes will start to sell over the next few months which will bring our averages up. I look forward to promoting Forest Hills for the fabulous neighborhood it is. Where else in the Metroplex can you live near a beautiful lake that people travel across town just to walk the trails and enjoy the many facilities? Where else in Dallas can you walk from your home to one of the most beautiful Arboretums in the country? The rich history, incredible architecture of both old and new homes and the home town friendly atmosphere will sustain this neighborhood. If you are planning on selling your home in the near future, be sure you choose an agent that has the knowledge and passion for this wonderful neighborhood forest!!

If you would like information as to how your specific property fits in to these stats, I would love the opportunity to go over it with you, just give me a call. Vicki White 214.534.1305

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