While it has always been counterintuitive, when the economy is down, the best residential real estate projects get better and you start to see how people want to buy luxury homes. Homeowners and homebuyers turn from quick, speculative investments to properties with solid, long-term aesthetic and architectural value. Historically the finest architect-designed homes are often built or renovated when the real estate market is depressed. The finest architects, designers, builders, artisans, and materials are available. Bids are now coming in as much as 20 percent less than last year on architect designed homes. Also, as the demand from speculative builders evaporates, land becomes more available for architect designed homes, and architecturally significant period homes become attractive to renovate, not tear down.
We saw this in the mid 1990s. Nationally recognized residences were built including the Antoine Predock designed home in Highland Park on Willowood, the Steven Holl designed home in Preston Hollow on Rockbrook Drive, and the Richard Meier designed home on Preston Road. Architecturally Significant homes of national importance were also renovated during this period: the former Owsley estate, now the Marcus estate, on Turtle Creek Boulevard in Volk Estates, originally designed by architect John Scudder Adkins, with Bill Booziotis and Peter Marino as the renovation architects; and the former Crespi estate, now the Hicks estate, on Hollow Way in Mayflower Estates, designed by architect Maurice Fatio and with Peter Marino serving as the renovation architect.
Now, many architecturally significant homes are available at the price of the land. Currently, the best example of this is one of Dallas’ most important modern homes, on Gaywood Road in Mayflower Estates, designed by Scott Lyons on 2.63 acres. Exquisitely built, incorporating the finest materials and craftsmanship, it reflects a Texas modern style with many walls of glass and balconies overlooking the garden, small lake and the private park land of the 15 acre estate property seen across the creek. Reflecting the market, this 9,900 square foot home and 3,800 square foot guesthouse is being offered for sale at approximately the value of the land in this Preston Hollow neighborhood.
The best and last remaining original owner midcentury modern home on Colhurst in Preston Hollow is another example of a home that can easily be renovated and is being offered at the price of the lot. This house has an extraordinary pedigree, with Louise Kahn as the interior designer, Richard Benson as the architect and Richard Myrick as the landscape designer.
On Wentwood in University Park, we find the home that midcentury modern architect Max Sandfield designed for his own family and will be available at lot value.
The finest period homes have always been in the greatest jeopardy because of the demands from speculative homebuilders. Homeowners, in the past, often never had a chance to purchase these architecturally significant homes they loved because homebuilders only needed to know the lot size to quickly buy a home to tear down.
Housing prices have plummeted – as much as 40% in some U.S. cities – but low tax rates in Texas and strong employment rates are keeping Dallas’ property values surprising strong. While the Dallas real estate market was shut down for a few months this fall, much like it was for a few months after September 11, 2001, the real estate market started to come back in December with several good properties selling and many exceptional properties coming on the market.