Monday, April 21, 2008


Thank you for your comments and all of you are "spot on", as the British - or whoever - say. Everything in life has to have a balance and blogs are not exempt from this rule. I will continue to share my thoughts on Dallas real estate because this blog has been an incredible source of release for me. I was telling someone the other day that I truly feel as though I can empty my head at the end of the day onto this blog and there is something very cathartic about that.

The notoriety and name recognition is great even though there is no measurable or tangible monetary return at this moment. Is that a reason to give it up? Absolutely not. I'm not that naive and I know this blog can pay off down the road. But time spent on this blog was not compensatory with what it was bringing in and that can become a problem after a while.

So I'm not going anywhere any time soon. While posts may be less frequent there is always something I can talk about. Plus, there are way too many uneducated real estate agents and real estate consumers out there that need my help.

Dallas Leaves Good Impression On First Time Visitor

I got an email last week from someone who happened upon my blog asking me what areas he should check out while he's in Dallas for the first time to view some serious real estate. I sent him to Strait Lane, Lennox, Ursula, Park Lane. I even gave him Mark Cuban's gated estate location. Then I advised him to check out Beverly, Armstrong and the picturesque Lakeside Drive (my fave). What did he think? Oh, he liked. He sent the following email after he returned home. We should take note of his Beverly Hills/Park Cities impression. Go Dallas!

Hey Jeff,

I am back from my trip to Texas. I had a great time and thought Dallas was very nice. As for the Park Cities and Preston Hollow, all I can say is wow. I have done a lot of traveling and always try to check out the prime real estate and I think your area is perhaps the best. The homes are so beautiful and they all blend in so nicely with each other. The flats of Beverly Hills, similar to the Park Cities, has been ruined with very large and ugly new construction. The new homes in your area fit in pretty well and the occasional modern houses are cool.

All the beautiful parks and the nice shopping areas also add nicely to the community. I was very impressed and will now spend the coming days obsessing about this area. Somebody on Wikimapia had placed on the site a lot of information on many of these homes. At the time I saw this I did not realize I would be coming to Dallas and the information has since been deleted. This also happened in Palm Beach. I guess the owners of these properties got upset. I can't blame them but it was great information and now that I have been there, I wish I could go back and review it.

Thanks for your best street list. I made it to all the streets you recommend and it was a big help since the area is so large. You definitely sent me in the right direction. I forgot to ask you where Volks Estates is? River Oaks in Houston is also very nice but was much more impressed with your area.

Thanks again for all your help


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Alternate First Post After Hiatus

Sorry. I've been REALLY busy.

Still Alive and Kicking

Thanks for your emails and comments over the past 12 days. I'm sure all 3 of you are on pins and needles as to when and what I will post next. Sorry to keep you waiting. But I have a little dilemma and I need your help and support. Since November of 2007 I have spent roughly a good 3 hours a day working on my blog whether posting or reconfiguring the layout, etc. And I probably spend another 1 to 2 hours reading other blogs which is where I get a lot of information and ideas. In my Blogger profile I prophectically wrote, "Jeff is new to world of blogging and only time will tell if his business will suffer because of it." Let me be clear, my business hasn't suffered since starting this blog but it sure takes a lot of effort and time to keep it full of information that is only slightly entertaining to a handful of you regular readers. And then I read this opinion article in the latest edition of Texas Realtor Magazine about how social networking and blogs can be a huge waste of time for business professionals.
" can pour endless hours into without any substantive monetary return. Stop it already, and implement what works because it works, not because it is neat or new." says Michael Parker, principal at Blackwater Consulting Group.
He goes on to say,
"What, then, is important? Hits, page rank, page views? No. Once you cover the Web-site basics in a professional manner, the only things that matter are results: the quality of leads you derive from your efforts; how many of those leads you convert to sales; and whether Internet buyers can find your site in one click."
I agree with his logic from a business standpoint. And this is the root of my dilemma. I truly enjoy reading blogs about real estate and sharing my thoughts on real estate issues. But is it a good use of my time if it's not bringing in revenue? When I talk with other people who read blogs on a daily basis I can't think of one person who hasn't said, "I'm addicted to reading blogs". I'm sure there are many of you out there who have said the same thing. I know of one person who has blocked blogs from his work computer because he wasted so much time reading them. I don't want to become that person. Like alcohol and crack, use in moderation. Just kidding about the crack. I'd love to hear what you think.

Either way, fret not ye faithful readers. I will continue to post my opinions on this blog but I think the days of spending 3 hours doing so are long gone. So long to the nights - or early mornings - of the 2am and 3am blog posts. I'm hoping to post 3 or 4 times per week and I hope they will knock your socks off. More importantly, I'm sure I'll continue getting a rise out of my fellow Realtors and homeowners.

Thanks for reading and thanks for the support. You'll be hearing from me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm Busy and Much More Important Than You

One of my biggest pet peeves is when other Realtors - and even clients - tell me they didn't fulfill a commitment or duty because "they were busy". I am currently co-chairing a committee for a Leadership program and one of my committee members told one of the slackers that we expect more involvement from them. The slacker's excuse was that she has "had a busy year and her schedule has just been hectic". What she didn't realize is that she was speaking to a lady whose father-in-law had passed away 2 days prior and still made it a point to fulfill her duties and then some.

When you tell someone you didn't return their email or phone call because you have "been busy", you are basically telling them your time is more valuable than theirs. Realtors are notorious for spitting out this poor excuse like it's second nature and I simply can't stand it. I have even caught myself saying it at times but my friends and colleagues have been nice enough to call me to the carpet when this happens.

Next time you hear this excuse from anyone, make sure to tell them no one person's time is more valuable than another's. So that excuse doesn't sit well with me, nor should it with you.

Apartment Building I've Never Heard Of To Open April 21st

Just saw this in my RECON email.


DALLAS (Dallas Morning News) – Spectrum Properties Ltd.'s downtown 17-story luxury residential tower — called 1407 Main — is set to open officially April 21.The tower includes ground-floor retail, a parking garage, a rooftop pool deck, a bowling alley, a theatre and more than 80 residential units. Rents range from about $1,495 for a 751-sf unit, to more than $4,000 for a 1,700-sf penthouse.Good, Fulton & Farrell Architects designed the project.

Bowling alley? Really? With 80 units I'm sure there will be no arguments over who can use it and at what times. Oh yeah, how come have I NEVER heard about this building until this very day?

In the immortal words of Pink, who knew?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Are Hedge Funds Affecting Real Estate Values?

What I know about hedge funds wouldn't fill a Post-It Note. But the little I do know about them seems a bit sketchy. Not all of them, mind you. Just the ones that are banking on the demise of the US economy. For example, T. Boone Pickens, a legend in oil and gas across the globe, has his own hedge fund, BP Capital. They bet that oil prices would rise beginning in 2005 and it ended up making him over $1.5 billion dollars that year. Yes, billion. So basically it's like gambling in Vegas but for mega-rich businessfolk. And the "big game" they're betting on is real life. Are rising oil prices good for the average Joe? Of course not. And isn't it a bit odd that one of the world's richest men, who hangs with the most powerful and influential businessmen and women across the globe, is hoping for gas prices to reach $4.00 a gallon? I'm not saying Mr. Pickens assisted in the rise of oil prices but if anyone had the power to make this happen, it would probably be him. There is an inherent conflict of interest here and his gain is the average Joe's loss.

Blanche Evans discusses this phenomenon using Robert Shiller, a finance professor at Yale University. Apparently he's a pretty important guy and makes up one half of the S & P Case-Shiller real estate pricing index. According to Evans, the Case-Shiller Index wields quite a bit of influence on how newspaper headlines read across the country and are notoriously pessimistic. We all know how doom and gloom headlines can -and have - affected the psyche of today's home buyers. And it's interesting to note the Case-Shiller index tells a different and much more disheartening story than 3 other well known real estate indices. But here is the kicker from the Evans article.
"The Case/Shiller Index is licensed by Macromarkets LLC. In partnership with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Macromarkets created the "Housing and Futures Options" for trading. The CME Group, a Chicago Board of Trade Company, describes trading housing futures as having multiple benefits to investors:
  • A new means of risk transfer to a broad range of investors
  • Low cost exposure to real estate values without direct ownership of properties
  • Access to a unique asset class
  • Opportunity to profit from a movement in housing prices
  • A way to make trading in real estate a short-term and liquid investment

This is a hedge product, folks, and guess who one of the owners of Macromarkets LLC is? None other than Shiller.

"Every time a CME hedge is made, revenue flows to Macromarkets," says Lawrence Yun, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors. "People would hedge only if they believe prices will fall big time."

Is this not a glaring conflict of interest? Isn't there a huge opportunity for abuse here? Is this a good thing for the powerful and ultra-rich to bet on economic downturns?

What We Can Learn From Japan

I've only recently become aware of the real estate "bubble" that took place in Japan from 1986 to 1990, where real estate prices became so outrageous it is said land in Tokyo's Ginza district was going for $139,000 per square foot! But then things went South, way South. People were losing 80% of the equity in their homes. A $500,000 home would now be worth $100,000 but you're still paying a $500,000 mortgage. Talk about throwing your keys at the lender and walking away. And this lasted for 17 years only to experience an upturn in 2003. Ouch.

Is this where some parts of the United States are headed? Absolutely not. But according to Wikipedia (I'm not sure how accurate this is but it's the point that matters), the US lost $20 trillion in investments in the Japanese stock market due to their real estate collapse. So shouldn't we know better? Shouldn't the CEO's, CFO's and COO's of the largest global financial institutions - who I assume were around then - know that too much development, building and loose lending will eventually end up hurting the economy in the long run?

And shouldn't cities like Dallas know better? Didn't we learn anything from overbuilding skyscrapers in the 80's that now sit vacant and unused? Sure it's great when money is pouring in and condos and homes are being snatched up at a healthy clip. But aren't there any regulations or restrictions to make sure we don't overdo it? Most builders in Lakewood were building - and selling - their inventory between 1998 and 2004 and then started branching out into other areas because investors were swarming and invading their territory and ignorantly buying any tear down they could get their hands on at ridiculous prices assuming someone would pay them top dollar no matter what type of structure they built on the lot. Other areas guilty of the same mentality are downtown and all of their condo conversions and new builds, Oaklawn/Uptown, Preston Hollow and certain parts of the Park Cities. And lets not leave out Frisco, McKinney, Rowlett, Murphy, Wylie, Sachse, Cedar Hill, Mansfield...I could go on and on. Lavon, TX was recently featured in the New York Times because they are a prime example of how overbuilding has virtually brought the city to a complete stand still. From the article,
"These were not towns built on the speculation that soaring home prices would continue forever, like many developments in Florida and on the West Coast. These bedroom communities of bedroom communities were built because land was cheap, jobs were plentiful and mortgage rates were low."
I find this statement interesting because nowhere does the person say anything about the communities being built due to consumer demand. This is the golden rule for any retail product. Look at the Nintendo Wii. You still can't find the damn thing anywhere because the company releases the gaming system in small numbers. They get bought within hours. Rinse and repeat. That's the idea. Unfortunately people have been treating real estate like a commodity and not a product. They want to treat it like stock instead of selling a home for what it truly is, a product. Homeowners are also guilty of this mentality.

Financial Week ran a story back in 2007 reiterating what we already know. That builders are hurting because they can't sell their existing inventory.
"Dallas-based Centex...walked away from $38 million in deposits on land it planned to acquire for development. “They don’t need more land, they need more customers,” said Standard & Poor’s housing analyst Kenneth Leon."
To which I say, ya think so doctor? This is the root of our problem and I think Dallas needs to step in and prevent this from happening again. Why can't we use the Wii mentality and limit the number of speculative homes or condos being built within Dallas? This will create a sort of pseudo-demand. Builders won't be able to build willy-nilly and the consumer will still have a healthy number of homes/condos to choose from. As long as we stay under our historic healthy inventory levels then builders are free to build and receive permits. Once we breach that level then the city can halt all new speculative construction for 30 or 45 days or until inventory levels return to normal. I'm sure the big companies would never agree to this idea but I'd choose this scenario and know that my real estate values are being protected over what happened to Japan over the last 17 years, or what's happening to Lavon, TX right this very minute, any day of the week.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dallas Is, Like, So Popular!

Dallas seems to be on quite a few real estate "Best Of" lists lately. Just last week Forbes ranked Dallas as one of the Top 10 towns in America for emtpy nesters. Only a few days later Homevestors (We Buy Ugly Houses) ranked Dallas as the #1 city for real estate investing in the country!

Someone should tell our fair city that we're in great shape compared to the rest of the country. At the same time, those of you who are smart enough to take advantage of our large supply of homes and unusually low interest rates are probably happy everyone is sitting on the fence waiting for "better days".

Note to waiting buyers: "Better days" = higher interest rates and less inventory to choose from.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Real Estate Agent Photo Contest

Over at Overheard (what?), Merritt Patterson asked readers to submit their most favorite "super-glam" Realtor. I'm glad to see the post got some great responses and I agree with all of the names I recognize. But of course someone couldn't resist poking fun. Someone calling herself "Glenda - The Benign Narcissist of the North" said,
"Dear Jeff Duffy - Is this comment referring to me?: “It’s the dead-behind-the-eyes agents that continuously list multi-million dollar estates while barely knowing how to park their Lexus at HP Village that will always baffle me.” And you people thought I couldn’t use a computer - Look at me now, I’m signing a Blob! Gotta run, I’m having a photo taken of my hair at the Lakeside listing. Toodles."
I know who they are referring to but have a feeling it might get me into even more hot water. But poking fun at Dallas' reputation for having big hair did give me an idea for a contest. Send me the most bizarre or outlandish real estate agent photos you can find and I will post them for all to see. I know there are some good ones out there.

This is Why You Need to Listen to Your Mama

For those of you that think Phil Romano got the raw end of the deal when Miss Real Estalker opined about the Romano's decorating habits, read what she has to say about Rush Hour star and Jackie Chan co-star, Chris Tucker's California abode. I'll give you a taste.
"Upstairs in the "sumptuous" master suite we have more beige things and some disco lighting which is so perplexing and upsetting to Your Mama that we have already started in on the gin and it's not even noon yet. In the master bathroom we find more eye popping disco lighting and a spa tub large enough to host any number of Hollywood hussies with large plastic boobs."
There is so much more but I recommend you read it for yourself. You have to admit the cast stone corners on this house are very upsetting.

DREB March Record Setting Reader Stats

February readership surpassed January's record setting month which was exciting. But March has blown both of those months completely out of the water. I broke out my abacus in order to give you the numbers.


Pageviews - 2,485
Unique Visitors - 1,722
Returning Visitors - 358


Pageviews - 5,351 (+54%)
Unique Visitors - 3,195 (+46%)
Returning Visitors - 698 (+49%)

Most popular posts

1. Park Cities Real Estate Stats
2. Genius Marketing or Just Juvenile
3. Breaking News: Phil Romano Not Selling Home Because of Me

(*Huge shout out to Frontburner, Overheard, Dallas Dirt and Unfair Park for linking to my blog)

Most popular search terms

1. Tony Romo (note: include more posts with "Tony Romo" in the headline)
2. Richest towns in america
3. John Allegro realtor dallas

Cities where most people view DREB

1. Dallas (good)
2. Plano
3. Houston
4. New York, NY
5. Ft. Worth
6. Irvine, CA

Other locations worth noting because I like their names
(City, Region, Country)

48. Nokia, Lansi-suomen Laani, Finland
72. Gurgaon, Haryana, India

A big thanks for coming back. I'm always looking for feedback on how I can improve this blog. Want more stats? neighborhood news? gossip and rumor? Let me know!

Be Glad You Don't Live In These Cities

Forbes lists America's riskiest real estate markets. Read the full story here or just look at the pretty pictures.