2011 Readers Voice Awards: Services

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PARTNERS IN CRIME (AND REALTY) | Chad West, left, and Brian Bleeker, who are a couple, were both winners in their respective categories. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BEST CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Chad West

614 N. Bishop Ave., Suite 2
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
214-509-7555
ChadWestLaw.com

 

BEST REAL
ESTATE AGENT
Brian Bleeker

Hewitt and
Habgood Realty
2828 Routh St.,
Suite 100.
Call for appointment.
214-303-1133
DavePerryMiller.com

Imagine being in the West-Bleeker household today. There’s probably a ticker-tape parade happening right now on their street owing to the one-two punch that saw Chad West voted as the city’s top criminal attorney and his partner, Brian Bleeker, honored as the best Realtor. Forget Brangelina or Bennifer: Dallas Voice readers have gone and taken a power couple and made them even more powerful. (BleeWest? Or Chian? We’ll keep working on it.) That’s OK — these guys are both at the top of their games and they deserve the accolades. Plus, you never know when you may need one or both of them on your side. Picture this scenario for a second: You walk outside to get the morning paper, the front door closes on your robe and rips it off your body. There you are, standing half-naked on your porch as a school bus full of children passes by. When the lewd conduct charges start rolling in, you’re going to need a good criminal attorney (Chad, of course!), then when word spreads through the neighborhood that there’s a pervert on the block, it’s time to hire an real estate agent (Brian!) to sell your house so you can start over some place where nobody knows who you are. And he can probably even find you a house where the front doors don’t automatically lock behind you.

— Steven Lindsey


PILLOW TALK | Aaron Duke’s eye for sleek, contemporary style made him the favorite decorator in town. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BEST INTERIOR DESIGNER
Aaron Duke

1501 Dragon St., Suite 104
Call for appointment
469-231-4438

Aaron Duke, a young and buzzed-about designer, says in his design philosophy statement that “interior design should create an emotional response from all who enter the space.” But if that response is the wrong kind of gasp, with hands covering mouth, then chances are you’ve done something wrong. And you might want to consider a new designer, such as Duke. What we like about his portfolio is that he’s not afraid of bold choices, but they’re always clean and sleek, and more importantly, never cold. He’s known for sophisticated interiors, and excels at handsome but comfortable contemporary looks. And like any good designer, he gives the customer what is wanted, without compromising his own aesthetic. We know a few stuff-loving queens who need to call him, stat.

— Mark Lowry


BEST CIVIL ATTORNEY
Rebecca S. Covell

3710 Rawlins St., Suite 950
Open Monday–Friday at 9 a.m.
214-443-0300
CovellPC.com

Although Rebecca Covell won the award for best civil or family law attorney, she points out that she’s not a divorce lawyer but someone who does wills, estates — keeping families together, she explains, not pulling them apart. That’s the kind of low-key, problem-solving approach that Covell says gets her thank-you notes more than hate mail. One client recently told her, “This is the first time I’ve ever felt good writing a check to a lawyer.” There are civil-law attorneys, and there are attorneys who know how to be civil. Covell does both — but it’s the latter that has won her so many fans.

— Arnold Wayne Jones


AN INSURANCE AGENT WHO REALLY IS A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Steven Graves

2919 Welborn St., Suite 100
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
214-599-0808
StevenGravesInsurance.com

Since opening his agency in 1995, Steven Graves has not only specialized in getting the best coverage for his customers, but in giving back to them and the broader community. From helping Heath Services of North Texas get new computers, office furniture and personal care products donated to filling the last 30 requests from the Leather Knights Angel Tree at Dallas Eagle (buying everything from MP3 players to watches and gift cards) to sponsoring Youth First Texas and the Texas Bear Round-Up, he insures a better Dallas for everyone. “You have to give back to the community,” Graves says. “Support those who support you.”

— David Taffet

 

BEST FASHION DESIGNER
Nicolas Villalba

Call for appointment
214-655-6820
NicolasDesigns.com

 

BEST HOME SERVICES
The Make Ready Group

Call for appointment
214-599-8757
TheMakeReadyGroup.com

 

BEST MORTGAGE COMPANY • TIE
Prime Lending (Ron Watterson)

3500 Oak Lawn Ave.
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
214-987-0500
DallasCentralAdmin.PrimeLending.com

Shelter Mortgage (Alex Arce)

5950 Sherry Lane
214-365-0708
Shelter-Mortgage.com

 

BEST INSURANCE AGENCY
Melanie “Angel” Irvin

Farmers Insurance Agency
14651 Dallas Parkway, Suite 110
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
972-367-6200
Farmers.com

 

BEST REAL ESTATE AGENCY
Ebby Halliday Realtors

4455 Sigma Road
Call for appointment.
972-980-6600
Ebby.com

 

BEST FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
Chase Bank

4236 Wycliff Ave. (additional locations)
Open Monday–Saturday at 9 a.m.
214-443-0784
Chase.com


BEST MASSAGE
THERAPIST • TIE
David Gates, Spa Nordstrom

8687 N. Central Expressway
Call for appointment.
214-231-3900
Nordstrom.com/c/Spa-Nordstrom

Bill Richard

Available daily.
Call for appointment.
214-923-0786
DallasBill.com

 

BEST HAIR SALON
Supercuts

4113 Lemmon Ave.
Open daily.
214-522-1441
Supercuts.com

 

BEST MANI-PEDI • TIE
Hollywood Nails & Spa

3517 Oak Lawn Ave.
Open daily.
214-526-7133
HollywoodNailsandSpa.com

The Nail Spa

4020 Cedar Springs Road
Open daily.
214-526-6245
TheNailSpaDallas.net

 

BEST BODY ART
Obscurities Tattoos and Piercings

4008 Cedar Springs Road
Open Tuesday–Sunday.
214-559-3706
Obscurities.com

 

BEST TANNING SALON
B-Tan

4107 Lemmon Ave.
Open daily.
214-219-1833
BTanInc.com

 

BEST AESTHETIC
BEAUTY SERVICES
Advanced Skin Fitness

2928 Oak Lawn Ave.
Open Tuesdays­–Saturdays at 10 a.m.
214-521-5277
AdvancedSkinFitness.com

 

BEST COMPUTER SERVICES • TIE
Clint Thompson

3000 Carlisle St., Suite 103
214-550-2118
Apple Genius Bar
Apple Store, 4525 McKinney Ave. (additional locations)
Open Monday–Saturday at 8 a.m., Sundays at 11 a.m.
972-629-2277
Apple.com

1 Conx Internet Services

2525 Wycliff Ave., Suite 124
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m.
214-855-5561
1Conx.com

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

The Coffee Lab aims to fill void on Cedar Springs

With Buli converting to a piano bar, the strip was going to be minus a coffee shop where people could convene with their laptops and spend hours nursing a latte. But I snapped this quick pic today while driving that way to find The Coffee Lab slated for the old Obscurities place next to Hungdinger. According to co-owner Neil Delaney, we should be enjoying their fine coffee drinks pretty soon.

If all goes according to plan, Delaney said, the shop could open on its target date of May 1 for the new “third wave” coffee house. Third wave has something to do with the all the coffee in the shop is no more than two weeks out of being roasted. The coffee comes from Counter Culture out of North Carolina. Pretty much after that shelf life, the coffee is out of there. Otherwise, Delaney is intent on providing the freshest coffee (that is also fair trade and organically certified) possible to customers.

“Every time we make a drink, the coffee will be ground right before it’s made,” Delaney said.

Delaney wasn’t specifically looking in the area for his new upstart company, but as he discovered Buli’s metamorphosis, his real estate agent suggested the spot. Delaney saw the timing as pure luck and got a lock on the spot. The signs went up Tuesday.

Delaney and his business partner Darin Danford are aware also of their location (they’re straight) and hope the Lab will fit right in to the heart of the gayborhood.

“We’re so excited about being a part of the community and we want to support it as well,” he said. “We know down there, a business either stays open two years or 20 years.”

They are shooting for the latter.

The Coffee Lab is currently hiring. Visit their website for details.

—  Rich Lopez

Change of plans • Defining Homes

So you want to be a real estate agent. Just be sure you know what you’re in for

By Rich Lopez

Dan FlynnNo one needs to remind you that these are tough economic times. Sometimes that means calling for serious measures like a career change. Real estate is an attractive industry because the rewards can be great for the bank account and you get to be your own boss. But before you dive head first into the waters, there is some information to know and consider. Hey, it’s a new career — what did you think?.

“Those not in the industry have some great idea that you walk into a real estate office and clients walk through the door and you make giant commissions,” Realtor Dan Flynn of Dave Perry-Miller Intown says. “The reality is nothing drops into your lap.”

Flynn has been in the real estate industry for 16 years, switching over from the telecom industry. When getting into real estate, he followed all the right steps, but had to face the realities of going into what he calls a very expensive career option. According to him, that is the one piece of information, people need to know.

“You pay for everything yourself,” he says. “You pay the broker to allow your license to hang in their office and you pay a portion of your commission to the broker as well. There are some very large expenses and you must have income to offset those in addition to earning income as you go.”

Don’t let that scare you. Flynn wants only to guide those interested in joining the industry and provide the information and insight he could have used when he began. That insight actually comes in handy even before getting your agent’s license.

“When thinking about getting a license, you want to consider the ultimate goal.  People can become a broker after becoming an agent. Also, consider transferable college credits when applying for real estate classes. You will want those credits behind you when the time comes to sit for that exam.”

Before any exam, there is study time and coursework is necessary to get to the test.
However, classes are available either online or in classroom form for those who can benefit from peer review. Accelerated plans are an option for those eager, like Flynn, to begin selling homes.

“The required courses came easy to me because everything seemed logical and natural,” he says. “I do understand getting through the coursework and tests through school can be very arduous for many.”

So you got your license — now what? Flynn emphasizes the money issue because there are fees and costs to be easily missed. Plus, if you are planning this as your day job, more financial planning is needed. National, state and local associations will have fees. MLS charges, for electronic key usage to get into homes will rack up, as will self-employment taxes, marketing materials (i.e. business cards). Brokers may require more education so they are up to speed and insurance is a must to cover any mistakes made. And even your clothing.

“You will be expected to dress and present yourself in a certain way,” he says. “Make certain you have one full year’s expenses tucked away in a bank account somewhere to pay the rent, car, whatever. It can be overwhelming. Just be prepared.”

Now you can head out into the field. If people aren’t going to drop in your lap, then you start hitting up the people around you. Flynn says this is the best way to start getting the word out about your new career and how you can help those who know you.

“You must go out and find all of the clients you work with,” he says. “You start with your personal sphere of influence and work outward.”

One thing Flynn brings up is somewhat of a surprise. Hanging your license isn’t like hanging up your diploma. A strong broker can shape a new career into a successful one and where you hang it is a crucial decision. Your new real estate license is indicative to potential clients of your reliability.

“Interview with many agencies,” he says. “Unlike looking for regular employment, you are not trying to get them to take you on so much as they are trying to convince you to come their way. My experience tells me there are extremely few options for new agents so when interviewing, look for those places that encourage you to come to the office to work and for free or low-cost education and have someone assigned to you for help.”

……………………………..

First, know this

Before heading into the real estate world, the least you need to know are the requirements set by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Meet all these and you are on your way.

• You must be a U.S. citizen who resides in-state and be 18 years old.

• Texas law requires 210 hours of coursework to be  completed.

• Before applying for the state exam, proof of course completion is required.

• Apply for the state examination for your inactive salesperson license. This is done online at the TREC website.

• Pass the state examination.

• Filing an application authorizes a background check.

• Obtain sponsorship from your broker to activate your license. You are unable to practice prior to active licensure.

This information is from eHow.com under How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Texas and at the TREC.state.tx.us.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Real(ity) estate • Defining Homes

A Dallas couple’s adventure in house selling becomes an episode of HGTV’s ‘My First Sale’

By Arnold Wayne Jones

Keith Yonick, left, turned Dallas couple Troy and Cindy Hughes on to the idea of being on TV. But their youngest child, opposite, might steal every scene.

Although they live cosmopolitan lives — she’s a lawyer; he works for FM 105.3 with Chris Jagger — and count many gay neighbors in their gate East Dallas community among their friends, Cindy and Troy Hughes both grew up in small towns and craved the pace and benefits of the suburbs: lower taxes, good schools, safe streets. With a 4-year-old and a new baby, they figured next year would be a good time to look for a new home.

But the house-hunting started earlier than they expected. And more dramatically.

The Hugheses got a call from their real estate agent, Keith Yonick, with a proposition: Would they be interested in trying to sell their house now and have their experience filmed for the HGTV series My First Sale?

“When Keith called us and told us about the show, we went for it,” Cindy says.

“I think it’s great they chose Dallas for the show,” Yonick says. “I asked them why and they said because the houses are so different — they could film a townhouse in the city and a farmhouse in Forney or a suburban house.”

Yonick submitted four applications, and the network jumped at following the Hugheses. Still, it wasn’t the couple’s first foray into a reality series.

When Troy worked with Kidd Kraddick, he was recruited to be the “bachelor” in a radio rip-off of The Bachelor TV series. He was just supposed to chronicle his dates with several dozen women and invite one to a gala event. The one he selected was Cindy; they married three years later.

Still, a radio date is one thing; having yourself photographed 24/7 during a stressful process — the first sale of your home — was more pressure. Cindy even knows that on one day of filming, she came across as bitchy. (She’s hoping they edit that out, but Troy has forgiven her in any event.)
“We never treated it like a reality show but as a way to document this part of our lives,” Cindy says. “It was like making a home video.”

Knowing that “most houses take a year or more to sell” — Yonick says 370 days on the market is not unusual — they expected the process to stretch on for months, just in time for the next school year. So they were astonished that their house sold so quickly. In less than two months, they had a buyer.

Even so, the sale caught them so by surprise that they hadn’t even decided for certain where they would move.

“Our friends have all moved on to their next chapters — they were moving to Frisco and Rockwall.  They were always saying to us, ‘You have to move to Frisco!’ But we started looking in Wylie.”

It isn’t as far as it may seem. Troy leaves for work at 3 a.m. for his radio show (“I share the road with cops, construction workers and drunks,” he says) and Cindy’s job in Arlington meant she had a hike anywhere east of I-35.

“We thought we would move to Rockwall, but Wylie reminds me of what McKinney looked like when I came here in 1999,” Troy says. “We get more for our money out there, and there’s still a mall within four miles.”

Rather than buying an old house or going with a foreclosed property, they decided to build. Since the house won’t actually be ready until after they close on their sale, they’ll have to rent back their current house for a month. But as far as hardships go in real estate, that’s one they can live with.
“We got really lucky,” Troy says.

The Hugheses close on their sale on Oct. 29; their episode of My First Sale will air in the spring.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens