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Friday, February 26, 2021

Million-dollar homes: High-end home market is hot – and getting hotter

Looking for a home that offers the ultimate in luxury living, a place so packed with breathtaking design details and resort-style amenities that you have no reason to leave home?

All this along with the cachet of owning the Fort Worth home of celebrity singer-actress Selena Gomez is available for just under $3 million – $2,999,000.

Or perhaps you’re looking for a historic treasure built by a wealthy cattleman and rancher more than 100 years ago. This architectural gem in one of Fort Worth’s most gilded neighborhoods underwent a $4.5 million overhaul by a wealthy oilman and his wife. It is still available for $7.9 million.

Or maybe a 9,000-square foot home sitting on 230 acres just 20 minutes from Fort Worth? It’s up for auction next month.

Unlike the cut-throat competition to snag an affordable home in Dallas-Fort Worth’s white hot residential market, buying a luxury home is typically a more subdued experience. Still, the market in Fort Worth and throughout Tarrant County for homes above $1 million is robust and is predicted to grow, according to local Realtors.

Even in this market, the buying experience isn’t always frenzy-free.

“It seems like every house in Southlake that has five bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and a three-car garage is under contract within 48 hours,” said Clay Brants, a Realtor with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty in Fort Worth. “We’ve seen multiple offers on some of these homes.”

Exclusive communities like Southlake, Westlake and Colleyville stand out in the luxury home market due to the large collection of spacious homes, highly-rated public school and proximity to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and the Alliance Corridor, where many transplanted companies are locating new corporate or regional headquarters.

“It’s always location, location, location,” Brants said.

But the family-friendly amenities that are the draw of upscale suburbs is the not the location of choice for many wealthy homebuyers.

“More and more people want to be near great shopping, dining and entertainment,” said Rick Wegman, a broker with Giordano, Wegman, Walsh & Associates, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. “Twenty years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much to do, but now they are gravitating to the city center.”

Those kinds of amenities continue to keep demand high for homes in neighborhoods such as Arlington Heights, River Crest, Monticello, Colonial, Park Hill and Westover Hills.

Besides the proximity to the urban amenities, the appeal of those neighborhoods is the stately grandeur of authentic historic architecture that is often missing from sprawling suburban mansions, Realtors said.

Farther out Fort Worth neighborhoods like Montserrat and La Cantera blend the benefits of large homes and resort-style living with convenient urban proximity.

“The Chisholm Trail Parkway has been a big change for Mira Vista because residents can get downtown quickly,” said Joseph Berkes, a Realtor specializing in luxury home sales for Williams Trew, an Ebby Halliday Real Estate Company.

There are currently 246 homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) priced at $1 million or above and 25 houses priced between $3 and $5 million, according to information provided by Williams Trew.

Not all homes in the $1 million-plus price range are listed on the MLS, which is accessible by Realtors. Some sellers, like former Major League Baseball slugger Mark Texeira, try to hit a home run via auction. Ex-Ranger Texeira is trying to sell his home in the Vaquero neighborhood in Westlake using Elite Auctions.

“Auctions have become an increasingly popular way to sell homes at the top end of the market,” Wegman said. “Some are offered with a reserve and some are not.”

For some sellers, luxury real estate auction houses offer wider marketing and an opportunity to move a house quicker.

Some million-dollar homes come with plenty of open space attached.

Oakland Ranch, a 230-acre North Texas ranch, will hit the auction block in May. It was previously offered for sale for $8 million. Located in Grandview, just 20 minutes from Fort Worth, the ranch offers picturesque views, one-of-a-kind features, and plenty of what Texas prides itself on, wide open spaces. The traditional Georgian-style home is 9,232 square feet.

Unlike other price points in the residential real estate market, high-end home sales tend to favor buyers over sellers, according to local Realtors.

“It’s a very specialized market and there’s a lot smaller pool of potential buyers for luxury homes,” said Wegman, who is marketing pop singer Gomez’ home.

Homes at $3 million and above typically take the longest to sell. A $4 million-plus home in Vaquero was the most expensive home sold in 2017, according to the MLS data provided by Williams Trew. It had been on the market since 2012.

Gomez put her home on the market in February 2017, took it off the market several months later and put it back on the market this last February.

The historic Baldridge House in Arlington Heights that was built around 1910 for a cattleman and rancher who became a prominent Fort Worth banker.

The home that comes with a Texas Historic Marker and a slew of amenities and exquisite architectural details has an asking price of $7.95 million. It has been on the market for more than a year.

But that is not the case for many high-end homes.

“Homes that are priced well usually sell in under 90 days,” Berkes said. “North Texas is a very strong luxury home market and we’re having a better year than we did in the past five years.”

In the first quarter of this year, 10 homes priced above $1 million sold in the first quarter compared to eight in 2017, according to MLS data from Williams Trew.

Helping the market along has been a spate of potential buyers from the East and West coasts who are looking to relocate to Texas to avoid paying higher state and local income taxes under the new tax law, Berkes said.

“Oil prices are rebounding so people are feeling good about our market and are willing to invest in luxury homes,” Wegman said. “We’ve had great success – our established areas have great absorption – so we’re killing it now and expect to continue to do so.”

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