12/15/14 12:15pm



Over in West University, one of the updated brick bungalows in the Rice Court neighborhood makes a few good points — in its windows, archways, and a section of living room ceiling vaulted into the sharply pitched roofline. The 2008-renovated 1934 property has been on the market since an August listing aimed at $799K; it dropped its price a month ago to $765K. Two-and-a-bit years ago, the current owner picked it up for $551K.  CONTINUE READING THIS STORY

10/30/14 2:15pm



If portions of this open-plan Woodshire mod look a bit like a stage set (top), that was likely the idea. The 1957 custom designed pad, by architects Dunaway & Jones, was for Joseph T. Finkelstein, the co-founder and former president of the Alley Theatre (and a former actor in New York). Although the double lot’s landscaped scenery has gone a bit shaggy between acts, the overall swank factor still appears intact. Earlier this week, a re-re-relisting dropped the period property’s asking price down to $549,500.


Scene Stealer
09/12/14 1:45pm



The frontrunner on a split lot with a shared driveway, this 2002 contemporary in the Westhaven Estates area captures space for a splash zone courtyard. Sculpted landscaping and decorative panels soften the curbside appearance of the sturdy wall erected near the sidewalk on Inwood Dr., south of San Felipe Rd. between Nantucket and Potomac drives. The front property’s relisting by a new agent this week set a $1.139 million asking price. Back in February, a previous market appearance had begun with a $1.195 million price tag. A reduction in April, to $1.145 million, briefly snagged a contract in June before the property took off for the summer.


Front and Center
09/03/14 2:45pm



Overhangs, cutouts, and eyebrow arches shade the balconies and patios of a 2005 stucco contemporary in Lancaster Place. The townhome’s price in its relisting today by the same agent, $749,990, is $100K less than in its initial appearance back in April. Price reductions in the interim sought $799,900 in May and $775,000 in July before the previous listing terminated Tuesday. The corner unit differentiates its footprint from a not-so-identical twin next door with sprout-and-chrome accents — and more:


Minty Fresh
08/18/14 4:15pm



Note: The pricing history noted previously in this story was inaccurate. We’ve corrected it below.

From a pint-sized perch above a set of arched windows, saintly statuary appears to be keeping an eye o’er a updated 1925 Spanish Revival cottage near the Menil Collection. The heavenly presence might also guard against any sleepwalking encounters with the steep steps at the bottom of a flight of stairs . . .


04/25/14 5:00pm



A wee corner lot in the Houston Heights East Historic District carries a 1920 home’s addition on its back instead of in its back yard, which is occupied instead by the “tandem” one-car-wide garage. Renovations to the property since last summer, when it sold for $342K, moved around some of the interior walls and overhauled the kitchen and bathrooms. The current listing’s asking price of $574,900 is the ninth price point sought by a series of listings that ticked down nearly $75K in price reductions since the home’s January 2014 market debut at $650,000. 


Spacing Out
02/07/14 1:30pm

Interior, 2121 Kirby Dr. Unit 33, Upper Kirby, Houston

The Huntingdon, 2121 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonA slideshow featured on the website of the Houston Business Journal (and noted in our Headlines post this morning) features the 7 most expensive homes sold in Houston last year. Coming in at No. 3 is the full-floor Huntingdon condo unit where former Enron CEO Ken Lay used to live. 2121 Kirby Dr. Unit 33 and its mopey-castle-in-the-sky interior (shown below after the furniture was removed) was listed for sale by his widow, Linda Lay, back in 2010 and featured on Swamplot occasionally over the following years as it hopped on and off the market a few times and descended in fits and starts from an initial (off-market) asking price of $12.8 million to the mid-single-digit millions. MLS and county tax records show the 9-bathroom, 6-elevator, 12,827-sq.-ft. pièd-a-terre with the $10K+ monthly maintenance fee finally sold last February to an entity controlled by another local CEO, for a (still-record-making, but more than half-off) $5.5 million, though the list price had by that time fallen $100K lower.


Much Lower, but Still Sky High
09/04/13 3:30pm

A megasized 1920 “cottage” in the gated community of Shadyside has knocked a couple mil off its asking price; it’s now at $8.9 million, compared with the $11.5 million in its March 2013 debut. All the home’s chimneys atop the steep-and-shingled faux-thatched roof signal a plethora of stately fireplaces inside. Most of the blaze is outside, however, when the extensive gardens surrounding the property are in bloom (at right).


04/04/13 4:16pm

Behind the curbside growth gone wild, a far tidier contemporary home has been hiding (above) in plain view since 1998. The Upper Kirby property dropped its price April Fool’s Day to $745,000, down from an initial $770K when listed in mid-March. Facing west — and located across from older apartments and the back of a more recent mid-rise complex — this home on an end-cap lot not too far from Whole Foods Market saves its outdoor impact for the back side of the fenced lot (above) and uses the scene as its view from rooms within.


08/14/12 9:32am

There’s a stuccoed Dutch-Colonial-Swiss Colony on the not-so-mountainous streets behind Weslayan Plaza’s west side in the College Court section (aka the “chimney”) of West University Place. The lookalike cottage and quarters are steps away from the new Buffalo Grille and a U.S. Post Office. West U’s Judson Park to the south and a proposed rail station for Metro’s supposed University Line are also blocks away. Railroad tracks, meanwhile, are just up the street.

During construction of the 1983 main house, a former 1940s “barn” on the site became a 2-story guest house in lieu of a garage. HCAD cites some remodeling in 1991 to the home. Last Friday, the property re-listed at $462,500 after a previous listing by the same agent initially sought $575,000 in April 2012, with adjustments to $565,000, $550,000, and then a summer of $524,990. The home’s side entry and hipped roof make for an atypical floor plan:


08/08/12 1:01pm

From the for-sale listings, at least. A reader tips us off that the former Enron CEO’s 12,827-sq.-ft. condo on the 33rd floor of The Huntingdon highrise at 2121 Kirby — which with a break or 2 has been a fixture on Houston’s MLS since early 2010 — is no longer listed for sale. Is the property’s owner — Lay’s widow Linda — just taking a summer break, is another re-listing planned, or is something else going on?


07/02/12 11:40am

This property in Briargrove Park has had more MLS lives than Henry VIII had wives. The current listing is the fourth round for the same agent and seventh for the address since November 2010. In the interim, the price has bounced around, landing at an even $500,000 10 days ago after runs at $529,000, $499,000, $495,000, $499,000 (again), $575,000 in April, and reductions to $549,000 and $525,000.

Stylized photos of the 1998 brick-and-stucco home in Briar Court show its little-of-this, little-of-that exterior, decked out with builder-deco keystones, quoins, gas lamps, and an entry arch. A Medici-worthy Italianate balustrade suggests a balcony, but it’s not to be: A window sits close behind it helping light the atrium entry hall within. Beyond the double-wide leaded-glass front door, a stripped-down entry unfolds, complete with curving, pincher-like double staircases and a marble floor:


06/06/12 12:28pm

A Briargrove listing has dropped its price a third time in as many months. The updated fifties ranch-style home currently seeks $639,000, down from $650,000 in April, $669,000 at the end of March, and $679,000 when it hit the market earlier that month. On the street, near Briargrove Elementary, there’s a mix of original single-story homes and newer ones built with larger proportions. This home is one lot in from the corner of Briargrove Dr. on a nearly quarter-acre lot. (Beyond a drainage ditch across Briargrove is the St. Luke’s Hospital Emergency Center.)

The ranch dressing on the home’s exterior is “traditional.” The interior?


05/23/12 10:07am

If this West U mansion on Buffalo Speedway brings to mind a game of Clue, chalk it up to its interior layout — and its inadvertent role in a jewelry pilfering attempt by a house-hunting poseur earlier this year.

As with the classic board game, the listing identifies each room by its function. There’s a Music Room. A Loggia. Even a Billiards Room. It was in a Bedroom back in January, however, that an unassuming early guest at an open house allegedly rummaged through a jewelry drawer. He left quickly and empty-handed, but first  “body-slammed” the sales agent who had interrupted him. An account of the incident that appeared in the Village News at the time (no longer online, unfortunately) said the perp, believed to have been working high-end open houses in 2 cities, was quickly ID’d, due in part to a fast-and-furious word-of-mouth campaign among Houston-area Realtors to name him and flush-out his whereabouts — and to remind fellow agents to be careful when showing properties.

The upshot? Don’t be surprised one of these days if you’re asked to show an ID and pose for a cell phone photo at a slightly less open open house. No ID required for this tour, though:


01/27/12 10:21pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: UP OR DOWN “On the agent side of HAR, you can see the different listing amounts. So while you might avoid the big red arrow showing a decrease, any agent can still see the pricing history. What a lot of agents do is lower their places by a few bucks a day, that way people with searches setup for a given location will keep being notified of their listing (since a price change will kick in a notice to be sent out). I know it works as I just RAISED the price of a rental on HAR and got a ton of calls. Likely because anyone that has an alert setup for my rental type just got ‘re-alerted’ about the apartment.” [Cody, commenting on Back, Slashed: Ken and Linda Lay’s Huntingdon Penthouse]