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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Historic Newton (MA) 32nd Annual House Tour

            Settled in 1630, Newton, MA is among the oldest towns not only in the state, but also in the country.  Made up of 200-year-old roads, colonial-style churches and antique storefronts, Newton has a historical heritage proudly reflected in the town’s architecture.  And perhaps most reminiscent of this past is the towns historic housing stock, from 19th century Victorian houses, to early 20th century Tudor homes. 
            Living in these homes may not necessarily be feasible, but on June 3rd, Historic Newton is giving their 32nd annual house tour, on which you can walk around in and peruse a number of Newton’s most interesting, notable, and historic homes. 
            For an example of the kind of fascinating transformations a historic property can have, just look at this home.  Built in 1939 to store carriages, it was later converted into a single-family house, and eventually redesigned in a modern fashion, specifically laid out with an open floor plan and elevator for the homeowners’ daughter, who required a wheelchair.  And from a décor perspective, the owners keep it classy and simple, with stainless steel appliances and cherry cabinetry.    
                                     Photo Credit: Greg Premry

A 1914 Colonial, with additional kitchen and dining space.  Photo Credit: Greg Premry

Other homes on the tour will include a mid-19th century farmhouse, a 1929 Tudor, and an 1889 Victorian.  Admission tickets for the tour are $25 for members, and $35 for non-members. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Pristine Modernist Home on 3+ Acres in Atherton, California

With high ceilings, pristine chandeliers, and large windows throughout the home, this house is for lavish living, for those predisposed to natural light.

Designed by Joseph Esherick, this stately modern home sits atop a grassy knoll, overlooking a serene, expansive property. With wraparound balconies to take in the over 3 acres of land and cascading pool, this is a home not to miss.

Price: $25,000,000

For More Information Click Here

Million-Dollar Home Sales Thrive While Low End Stumbles

From Bloomberg, By Prashant Gopal - May 2, 2014                         For original link click here

Million-dollar homes in the U.S. are selling at double their historical average while middle-class property demand stumbles, showing that the housing recovery is mirroring America’s wealth divide.
Purchases costing $1 million or more rose 7.8 percent in March from a year earlier, according to data released last week by the National Association of Realtors. Transactions for $250,000 or less, which represent almost two-thirds of the market, plunged 12 percent in the period as house hunters found few available homes in that price range.
Luxury-home sales are climbing as an improving economy and stocks that have almost tripled from 2009 lows bolster confidence among affluent buyers. At the same time, slow wage growth, tight credit standards and escalating prices are putting homeownership out of reach for many Americans. While investors drain the market of lower-end properties, builders are constructing more expensive houses that generate bigger profits.
“The real estate market is the ultimate reflection of confidence, wealth and income,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at Irvine, California-based CoreLogic Inc. “The same factors driving the income stagnation in the middle are driving the income momentum at the top.”
Million-dollar-plus homes made up 2 percent of deals in February, about the same proportion as in 2008, before credit markets collapsed and drove down the share to the historical average of about 1 percent, according to Khater.

Greenwich Record

An analysis by DataQuick of 25 of the top U.S. metropolitan areas for multimillion-dollar sales showed purchases for $2 million or more jumped 33 percent in January and February from a year earlier. The 2,129 transactions were the most for the two-month period in the research firm’s data going back to 1988.
A U.S. price record for a single-family home was set last month with the $120 million sale of a waterfront mansion on 50 acres (20 hectares) in Greenwich, Connecticut, according to Christie’s International Real Estate. The New York-based brokerage marketed the property, known as Copper Beech Farm, to international buyers.
While demand from the super-rich began to rebound in 2012, with investors from countries such as China and Russia scooping up the most expensive U.S. homes, the lower end of the luxury market has surged in the past year, according to Bonnie Stone Sellers, chief executive officer of Christie’s International. Purchases have picked up as the economy improved and banks increased lending to higher-income borrowers, she said.

Loan Demand

Loan applications rose in February for home purchases of $500,000 or more while declining for all other levels, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. In April, the average loan size for purchases climbed to $280,000, the highest in figures dating to 1990, the trade group said.
“The luxury markets are on fire,” Sellers said in a telephone interview. “The trends in luxury housing are similar to trends in other luxury goods. Whether you’re buying a third home in Manhattan as a pied-a-terre or another Picasso, these are acquisitions of passion, of lifestyle and of experience.”
Purchases of getaway homes are also climbing. Vacation properties made up 13 percent of transactions in 2013, the largest share in seven years, the National Association of Realtors said last month.
In New York’s Hamptons, the summer playground for financiers and celebrities, home sales in the first quarter jumped 52 percent from a year earlier, according to a report by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The median price rose 19 percent to $880,000, fueled in part by higher Wall Street bonuses.

Butler Service

Gary Wasserman, CEO of Troy, Michigan-based Allied Metals Corp., is considering selling two homes in Florida -- one in Naples and another in Miami Beach -- to take advantage of rising prices in the area. He’s also buying a 5,000-square-foot (465-square-meter) condominium in a project under construction in Miami’s Coconut Grove section.
Wasserman declined to say how much he’s paying for the apartment in Grove at Grand Bay. Prices for similar units range from $4.4 million to $7.2 million, according to Philip Freedman, sales manager for the dual-tower development. Plans call for 12-foot (3.7-meter) ceilings, rooftop pools, an onsite chef and butler service.
“The stock market is very strong and this is a way to monetize and concretize some gains,” said Wasserman, 64. “We had quite a shock to our collective confidence in 2008 and 2009. The resurgence of the economy has underscored for us that this country remains a very strong place and that the future remains strong.”

Economic Growth

The U.S. economy expanded 1.9 percent in 2013 and 2.8 percent the prior year. Employers boosted payrolls in April by the most in two years and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent, Labor Department figures showed today.
While the Commerce Department reported this week that gross domestic product grew at only a 0.1 percent annualized rate in the first three months of 2014, gains in retail sales, employment and manufacturing at the end of the quarter indicate the setback will be temporary.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index jumped 30 percent last year, the most since 1997. Since its 2009 low, the benchmark gauge has increased almost 180 percent to a record high.
While the real estate crash hit homeowners of all income levels, the affluent have more of their money in other investments, according toRichard Fry, senior economist at the Pew Research Center in Washington.

Unequal Pie

The average wealth for households with a net worth of $500,000 or more jumped 21 percent from 2009 to 2011, the first two years of the economic recovery, Fry said. It declined 5 percent for everybody else. The top 13 percent of households own all corporate and municipal bonds, 92 percent of the value of directly-held stocks and 69 percent of the wealth in 401(k) funds, according to Fry’s analysis of Census Bureau data.
“We see a rising wealth pie but the gains were unequal,” he said. “This makes sense because for the typical American household, most of their wealth is in their homes.”
Lenders courting business from affluent borrowers are charging less for bigger loans. The rate at Wells Fargo & Co. for jumbo mortgages of at least $729,000 -- those too big for backing by government programs -- was 4.13 percent yesterday, compared with 4.38 percent for a conventional 30-year fixed loan.
The Federal Housing Administration, the biggest source of financing for first-time buyers, has raised the cost of borrowing and tightened underwriting to cope with losses on mortgages it insured before the crash. The number of FHA borrowers purchasing their first homes declined 38 percent last year from the 2010 peak.

Miami Condos

In downtown Miami, many young professionals aren’t able to purchase in condo towers near their jobs because lenders require higher down payments in buildings where more than half of the units aren’t owner-occupied, said Bo Mastykaz, an agent at Redfin. Investors bought many of the condos that were built in the development boom of the last decade and are now renting them out to young people.
Even shoppers who look in the area’s suburbs mostly miss out on the best deals. Homeowners prefer to sell to cash buyers who then paint and upgrade carpets and resell at a significant markup, Mastykaz said.
“First-time homebuyers are paying retail price, investors are getting wholesale pricing,” he said. “The market has shrunk and the inventory that is left over are the ones where the price increased so far so fast that it’s less appealing.”

Investor Buying

In states where prices have risen the most in the past two years -- including Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia -- institutional investors have helped worsen the inventory crunch by buying thousands of single-family homes and converting them into rentals.
U.S. homebuilders haven’t done much to ease the supply problem for lower-income families because they’re increasingly catering to buyers who can afford larger, more expensive properties and have an easier time getting mortgages.
KB Home, which traditionally targeted entry-level buyers, now builds about half of its houses for the move-up market.
“With the mortgage headwinds and the lack of job growth and everything else that we dealt with through this housing cycle and now into the recovery, the typical first-time buyer got kneecapped,” Jeff Mezger, CEO of the Los Angeles-based company, said on a conference call in March. “So there is no demand there, and we found a way to go flex up and change product and move as quickly as we could to where the demand was.”

Horton Homes

D.R. Horton Inc., which started its high-end Emerald Homes line last year, said houses priced at more than $500,000 accounted for 16 percent of revenue in the first quarter, up from 9 percent a year earlier.
The company also sees opportunity in the shortage of lower-cost properties. Last month the Fort Worth, Texas-based builder said it started a new brand, Express Homes, aimed at first-time buyers who are now shut out of the market. Prices start at $120,000.
“The next leg of this recovery will be driven by the true entry-level buyer, and we are prepared to capture that demand,” CEO Donald Tomnitzsaid on D.R. Horton’s April 24 earnings call. “There’s no question that with the price increases that we’ve experienced in our industry over the last couple, three years, with all the pricing power we’ve had, we’ve really depleted that pool of affordable buyers.”

Lower Affordability

U.S. home prices climbed 12.9 percent in the year through February, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of 20 cities. The average rate for a30-year fixed mortgage is up almost a full percentage point from a near-record low last May, data from Freddie Mac show.
From 2009 to 2013, wages rose only for the top U.S. earners and fell for the bottom 90 percent, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
“The American Dream is dead for everybody but the happy few who have enjoyed the tailwinds of the appreciating stock market,” said Robbert van Batenburg, director of market strategy at New York-based Newedge, a multi-asset broker-dealer that published a note to clients last month on the unequal housing recovery. “On the low end, home sales are still making fresh lows every single month.”

Contemporary California Home, Mountain and Valley Views

Apart from mountain and valley views, this home features a gallery, home theatre, game room, elevator, 7 car garage, and 5000 bottle wine cellar. A spacious open plan with balcony views from the second to first floor, this house warmly welcomes residents and visitors alike.

Beautiful views of both mountains and valleys, and designed in a contemporary southwestern style

Price: $15,995,000

For More Information Click Here

Bayfront views from Newport Beach Estate

Setting the stage for the sweeping vistas the gilded neighborhood is known for, is a handcrafted, artisan-made mansion. Complete with mosaics, iron, wood, plaster, paint, bronze and textiles, the home is a masterpiece of fine living. Sited on a large waterfront lot at the tip of prestigious guard-gated Linda Isle, this exclusive estate is exceptional.

One of the most recognizable luxury estates on the California Riviera, this home is a true Newport Beach landmark. Gracing what is undoubtedly one of the best swaths of Bayfront - with more than 133 feet of Newport Harbor frontage and a dock for a large, 130-foot yacht as well as smaller craft - the residence commands spectacular views of the Turning Basin and Main Channel.

Price: $18,500,000

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Cliffside Cabin Style Nevada Home

The inside features a log-cabin design, built with hardwood and stained a dark, rich brown. The design of the whole interior in fact, keeps with this log cabin motif, with rustic wood and iron furnishings in the kitchen and sitting rooms. The house is thoroughly contemporary however, with a kitchen full of modern amenities.

Like the interior, the outside of the home is also modeled after a wood log cabin, situated on a small cliff overlooking scenic Crystal Bay. In addition, mountains surround the water, giving views of all kinds from homes roundabout balconies.

Price: $19,500,000

For More Information Click Here

Floridian Private Island Estate

With a beautiful twin staircase entrance, you know what you're getting as soon as you step into the house.  With 6 beds and 6 baths, (as well as 2 half-baths), this home is perfect for those who love enjoying nature in privacy.  And with vaulted, 26-foot high ceilings, and marble fireplaces, you don't have to enjoy the outdoors without returning to a sense of opulence.

This remarkable piece of Neo-Classical French Architecture is located in the private island of Indian Creek which includes 1.25 acres, including shorefront property and an accompanying dock. The grand estate estate also features manicured gardens and a looking glass pool, adding a sense of majesty to timeless waterfront property.

Price: $19,800,000

For More Information Click Here

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Breathtaking Los Lagos Estate

Amenities down to the finest details heighten the sense of luxury, from the Vantage lighting system, handmade artisan wall finishes, in-floor heating and elevator to extraordinary custom furnishings. Twin curved stairways lead from the magnificent great room with floor to ceiling windows and rotunda ceiling. formal dining room, great room, sitting room with fireplace, gourmet kitchen, butler's pantry. Individually themed customized children's' bedrooms, large gym private office, 12-seat theater, arcade, billiard room, elevator, expansive master suite. Being sold furnished including a rare Schimmel Pegasus Piano.

This Granite Bay mountaintop estate once owned by Eddie Murphy. A private gate opens to reveal the splendor of the 2.5-acre compound on two lots, consisting of a 12,000 plus sq. ft. main residence and a 5,200 sq. ft. guest home. Lushly landscaped grounds are enhanced by vistas of the Sierra Nevada foothills, Folsom Lake and the Sacramento skyline.

Price: $12,000,000

For More Information Click Here

Tropical Bora Bora Estate

A beautiful plantation style residence with 6 bedrooms and 3 baths on total area of over 7 acres (Three hectares). This luxury Polynesian estate is situated on the most beautiful island in the world, and also offers a separate 2 bedroom 1 bath guest house. Well equipped with an alternative power generator and natural water supply, this estate in paradise is totally self sufficient.

Maeva Luxury Estate is located on a beautiful motu, facing the turquoise lagoon and stunning peaks of Bora Bora's famous Otemanu cliffs on one side, and the pristine white sand beaches facing the ocean on the other. Enjoy deep sea fishing and whale watching right off the reef!

Price: $2,500,000

For more information click here

Georgian Style Mansion in Greenwich

A stately iron-gated entry introduces this remarkable lakeside estate encompassing over four-and-one-half breathtaking acres off Round Hill Road. Exquisitely renovated and enhanced, the majestic French-style brick manor fronted by an elegant courtyard is a showcase of sophisticated 21st century interior design affording the ultimate in state-of-the-art luxury with water views from most rooms. Finely detailed architectural elements, gorgeous flooring, chic designer appointments, finishes and wall covering highlight sublime living spaces. There is also a sound-proof home theater with tiered leather seating, a playroom, cushioned exercise room, beautiful main floor powder room and a full bath with access from poolside terrace.

French doors in main floor rooms open to a magnificent lakefront terraces embraced by a gunite heated pool and children's play area. Stone paths lead to open lawns and a lakefront dock from the expansive terrace featuring multiple dining and entertaining areas and a stone fireplace.

Price: $10,750,000

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Contemporary Ski House in Aspen, Colorado

Both somehow lavish and understated, this custom six-bedroom home is inviting and intimate, both with its scale and well thought-out floor plan. The main level allows for entertaining and family gatherings in the living, dining, den, kitchen, and family rooms.

The family room opens into the large "outdoor room," which features gardens, stone terraces, a reflecting pool and hot tub, as well as an outdoor grill and outdoor movie theater, with views and accessible skiing at Aspen Mountain.

Price: $ 13,950,000    

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