04/19/10 1:37pm

An amused reader points Swamplot to the HAR listing shown above for a newly discounted home in Bridgeland. Conveniently, HAR highlights MLS listing price drops — and the occasional price correction — of a certain weight. And which one is this? The price for this 4-year-old “hardly lived in” 4,061-sq.-ft. home was adjusted downward by a little more than $4 million on . . . April Fools Day.

04/16/10 10:14am

A reader notes that the little Piney Point Village add-on project that TV executive Douglas R. Johnson and his then-wife Melanie bought in 1996 as a 6,000-sq.-ft. starter home is back on the market with a new agent, a new set of photos, and a new price that’s 60 percent lower than the original. But is that an air of desperation wafting up from the listing?


C’mon everybody, that’s more than 23,000 sq. ft. now for only . . . $8 million! What will you do with all the money you save?!!

How about hiring the domestic staff that’s gonna be hard at work dusting and polishing this:


02/18/10 7:40am

It’s not looking good for the few remaining low-slung postwar Ranch homes on Banks St. in once-aptly named Ranch Estates, in the northeastern stretch of Boulevard Oaks. Last year architect Karen Lantz took apart the Ranch at 1514 Banks, piece by piece. Three more of them have been idling on MLS for months, two at what the sellers consider lot value. The third, at 1515 Banks (pictured above), isn’t priced a whole lot higher, but it’s been out there since September of last year, shedding $50K from its initial $599,950 price tag. Will the owners even get back what they paid for it 15 months before putting it on the market?


01/27/10 10:36am

Now that photos have been posted — and the asking price has been chopped a full 7 percent — the whole world gets to peek inside the full-floor condo in The Huntingdon that belonged to Enron founder and CEO Ken Lay and his wife Linda. The buildout on the 33rd floor of 2121 Kirby Dr. was designed in the late nineties by Houston architect Leslie Barry Davidson, who’s proven herself versatile in many historical styles that pre-date highrise construction. But the listing photos show what looks like a glum castle retreat for a king and queen who’ve lost their jester.

Oh, but those 360-degree skyline views of Houston! And really, with angry investors and Californians likely to approach from any direction, you’d maybe want a hideout with 4 good corner balconies, just so you can assess the risks:


01/18/10 3:24pm

A reader declares that this home “has got to be the largest original home in Lazybrook/Timbergrove.” And:

This is the highest quality of wood paneling I’ve seen in a home in Timbergrove/Lazybrook, and I’ve never seen the wood beams. Too bad the house is so disorganized inside, I’d love to see it fully furnished and cleaned up. An nice little step back into time.

How far back? This 5-bedroom home — on almost half an acre in the upper left armpit of the 610 Loop — was built in 1968.


01/04/10 9:33am

A reader brings our attention to a little adjustment that’s been made to the asking price of the property at 301 E. 10th St., a house in the Heights that was the focus of a Swamplot Price Adjuster feature a couple of months ago. With the apparent encouragement of many of our readers, the price was cut from $600K to $450K — just before the end of the year. Any takers now?

If we’re going to feature more properties on the Swamplot Price Adjuster in the coming year, we need your nominations! Find a property you think is poorly priced? Send an email to Swamplot! Be sure to include a link to the listing or photos. Tell us about the property, and explain why you think it deserves a price adjustment. Then tell us what you think a better price would be. Unless requested otherwise, all submissions to the Swamplot Price Adjuster will be kept anonymous.

09/09/09 12:07pm

A reader notes that a few of those new Villas at the Heights townhouses from Northgate Custom Homes, built “right on the railroad tracks on Heights Blvd, backing up to the recycling center” are now sporting new — and much lower — asking prices:

The most extreme price reduction on one went from $365k to $299k. There are now 5 units for sale with prices ranging from $289k to $309k. They are getting there, only another $40k to go before someone might actually look at them!

Front-row train-side Unit M — featured in Dave McC’s famous video below — seems to have taken a break from MLS, but it’s still listed on the Northgate website for just $299,900!


09/03/09 2:36pm

More than 6 reductions over the last 2 years mean you can now snap up this 20,000-plus-sq.-ft. Piney Point megamansion for less than half its original $19.9 million asking price. The spread belongs to Douglas R. Johnson and his wife Melanie, who divorced a year and a half ago, reports the Chronicle‘s Shelby Hodge:

The house began as a 6,000 square-foot teepee sitting in the middle of a lush wooded acre on Arrowwood. We are told that the couple pumped $16 million worth of expansion and improvements into the place. Eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, three half-baths and a paneled wine room and bar dating from the 1920s are part of the package. And did we mention the vast third-floor entertainment area that features a lavish theater center, game room and bar?

According to the divorce decree, Melanie and the boys get to live in the house until it sells. The judge gave Doug the right to control that sale. He priced the property at $19 million — unheard of in the Memorial/Piney Point neighborhoods. There was little interest. Melanie went back to court recently and secured rights to control the sale herself. And how things have changed.

According to MLS records, the home went on the market in April of 2007. Its most recent price cut — just a few days ago — was a mere $3.4 million.

Until his Johnson Broadcasting Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October, Johnson was listed as the sole owner of KNWS, local TV’s Channel 51. Johnson also filed for personal bankruptcy, but reportedly told the Chronicle at the time that it all had to do with the divorce.

How’s this home doing in the ratings? Well, the listing puts it at about 26,214 sq. ft., but the appraisal district only counts 21,240. But even that lower figure is enough to get the home onto Wikipedia’s list of the largest single family residences in the United States.

The home’s price may be down, but the commission is now up to 12 percent. And the photos sure make it look like the volume is still turned way up:


07/16/09 1:20pm

The reader who first brought that humongously discounted house in Timbergrove Manor to our attention earlier this spring writes in to report that the tall courtyard home’s asking price has been further reduced. The 6,000-sq.-ft. home at 6204 Queenswood Ln. was originally listed for $1.8 million, but was cut to $1 million in April.

As of last week, the home has been relisted with an even-further-reduced price: $749,999. Why the continuing freefall? Writing in May, a commenter on our earlier story offered some details:

. . . the listing agent indicated that the home had sustained water damage during Ike due to broken windows. She also let me know that the home would soon be going into a short sale, which is now listed on the Agent side of the MLS Listing. . . . Unfortunately, the home did suffer major damage, which in reality looked like the roof leaked throughout the house. The sheetrock has been removed from all ceilings and top ¾ of the walls on the entire second floor. All the molding has also been removed throughout the house. The floorplan is amazing with large rooms, wide hallways and high ceilings. It is really an amazing place!

The photos in the new listing are considerably different from those in the first, and reveal some of the extent of the damage. Here’s the latest view of the central courtyard, scene of that dramatic waterfall: