As Seen in Grand Vie Fall/Winter 2012: There s Still Time to be Home on the Range for the Holidays

The following editorial written by Dallas real estate blogger Candy Evans (pictured above with husband Dr. Walter Evans) appears in the Fall/Winter 2012 issue of Grand Vie magazine.

A second home need not be far. In fact, more and more North Texans are finding their second home-escapes right here in the Lone Star State. And, not surprisingly, many of those are ranch and lake properties. Whether you’re looking for a true home on the range or something a little smaller and closer to home, the latest issue of Grand Vie magazine offers an array of Texas second-home options that will suit every want and need.

Nothing says Second Home in Texas quite like a ranch or lake property. In fact, owning one of these second homes is at the top of my rather lengthy list of dream properties. There really is nothing else like a Texas escape where you can kick back, ride bareback or enjoy the open water, and shed the hoity-toity.

Lake and ranch life are REAL Texas living. No fuss: everyone pulls their own weight, no matter how many cooks are in the kitchen. It s a throwback to the way things used to be in Texas, like in Giant when Bick Benedict says to his bride, Leslie … don’t behave like that … making a fuss o’er those people. You’re a Texan now.

These properties are where one goes to escape the daily grind and spend quality time with close friends and family. Some even become legacy properties where generations of families come together for holiday gatherings or family reunions, or just to unwind.

Maybe it s a subliminal link to our heritage, or maybe it s our sense of adventure that makes us crave ranch and lake properties. Some folks do want them as an investment: When purchased carefully, these properties offer tangible tax advantages, as well as estate planning options and lifestyle enhancements.

How do you buy a ranch or lake property? Years ago I began investigating land west of Dallas near Hico. This was pre-Barnett Shale. At that time, a few of the smaller spreads 57 to 100 acres were selling with mineral rights. Well, that Longhorn has been left out of the barn: no more mineral rights and prices are definitely higher.

Do you want to hold property for a profitable resale, or are you seeking years of enjoyment, perhaps retirement, with grandchildren learning how to rope on your personal Ponderosa, or jet ski and water ski like the pros at Cypress Gardens? My advice: Figure that out; then do your homework.

Visit the area over and over, and at different times of the year. Read the local blogs, the newspaper if one still exists, visit with folks at the town cafe, check census figures and study soil and water issues. You are looking for trends landfills, prisons and other negative issues anything that could potentially send the value of your investment into a downward spiral.

More than any other real estate purchase you might make, you will need a Realtor with experience to help navigate buying one of these properties. He or she will know how much it will cost to clear the cedars choking off your water or how much you ll drop on that new boat dock.

Finally, don t ever think that life in the Texas countryside means you have to rough it. You know my mantra: Camping is when there is no marble around my bathtub. Texas is loaded with plenty of ranch and lake properties offering high luxury living.

In the current issue of Grand Vie you ll find an assortment of gorgeous Texas lake and ranch properties to fit every lifestyle. Whether you just want to dip your toe in the water with a lakeside family escape, are interested in a few acres just outside the big city, or if you want to jump right into a ride em cowboy ranch with hundreds of acres in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, you re sure to find a great property you re going to love.

And speaking of how well Texas loves luxury, one of our plumb listings even features a private baseball field. Check back here at the Ebby Blog over the next several days to see fantastic second home options in Texas that were recently featured in Grand Vie magazine.

Dallas real estate insider Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters, bloggers and consultants. She is the founder of a platform of aggregated real estate sites with daily dish on the local Dallas real estate market and second and vacation homes. She is also the real estate editor for CultureMap Dallas, AOL Real Estate, and Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, among others. Candy has her finger firmly on the pulse of Texas real estate. She broke the news on where former president George W. Bush bought his Dallas home, and regularly scoops celebrity real estate deals. Keep up with her (it’s hard) at, and @DallasDirtCandy.