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Friday, October 30, 2015

Inside Tyra Banks' Incredible Beverly Hills Mansion

Recently, Tyra Banks listed her Beverly Hills home for $7.75 million. After $2 million in renovations the 1926 Spanish Colonial is stunning - both in its architecture and its interior design.

Banks bought the four-bedroom, seven-bathroom home in 2004. The 6,000 square foot property includes a charming sunroom, an immense walk-in closet (only fitting for a supermodel) a safe room, a swimming pool and four outdoor fountains.

During the renovation, Banks made sure to maintain the property's original exposed wooden beams and terra cotta tiled roof. She added a new kitchen, an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor living room. This home is cozy yet elegant - a true work of art.

As is the case with many properties in Beverly Hills, the home comes with its own piece of Hollywood history. It was previously occupied by actress Marion Davies - the companion to media tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

According to Banks she loved living in the house. "The stunning Spanish architecture spoke to me the minute I walked in the door. And then, when I discovered that... Marion Davies was a previous owner I was ecstatic" Banks reported.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

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What Is Luxury Real Estate?

Luxury is clearly defined by the Miriam-Webster dictionary as "a condition of great comfort, ease and wealth" and "something that is not usually or always available.  However, when applying this term to real estate this definition does not always apply. While New York City is inarguably experiencing a huge surge in "luxury" real estate, the qualifications required to rank in this elite market are somewhat of an anomaly.

The New York Observer took a look at the increase of "luxury" listings and their break from exclusivity. The article notes that real estate in New York City today is anything but unavailable. So, if luxury is no longer qualified by exclusivity then what does qualify it?

There are two ways to define the luxury real estate market. One is based on the building, unit features and amenities. The other is based solely on price. A big focus in the sale of new developments is the building's branding. This is often constructed around the idea of "luxury"- advertising as many "luxury" features as possible. However, since high-end finishes, state-of-the-art appliances, and necessary services have become commonplace, the line between luxury and standard has become blurred.

While price is an obvious signifier, there are many different ideas about what number connotes luxury. Hence, the term is thrown around without a clear meaning. One definition of luxury, from real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, is an apartment costing $10 million or more. Other definitions include multiple tiers of luxury including "affordable", "mid-level", and "ultra" luxury.
New York's standard of living demands "comfort, ease and wealth," in all of its real estate. This is merely a product of the the criteria demanded from the city's clientele.

A similar phenomenon is occurring in new development as well. While the traditional definition of a penthouse is a single unit on the top floor of an apartment building, many new developments boast multiple penthouses spread out over several floors. The rare component of the penthouse is still present (top floor) but the original definition is no longer applicable.

The expansion of the luxury market is a a symbol of the direction in which real estate is moving  - both in quantity and value. With its growth, luxury real estate will push the boundaries of traditional luxury.

10 Ways to Stay Sane While Moving

Going through the stressful escrow process is a necessity when buying a home. Once you're past it, you finally get to live in the home you've worked so hard for. But first, you have to move...
Not only is moving seriously inconvenient and time-consuming but it can be a major stressor on you and, if you're moving with someone else, your relationship. "Almost two in three placed [moving] at the top of their stress list in a poll of 2,000 adults (via Express)." That's 61 percent! The most stressful parts, according to the poll, were misplaced possessions (killer) and procrastinating packing.
So the question is, how do you make moving a bearable process? Here are 10 lifesaving tips to help.
1. BreatheYes, albeit cliche, this one can sometimes be forgotten. When things starts to go wrong - ie running out of boxes when you still have a mountain of knickknacks or your movers dropped the box with the nice china - remembering to take a breath can be a lifesaver. Inhale through your nose and count to ten then slowly let your breathe out through your mouth. It won't fix the problem but it will give you the headspace and re-focusing you need to tackle it head on. 
2. RelaxAnother cliche but also another necessity. Powering through the moving process may seem like the best course of action but it means you're missing out on activities that make you happy. Whether it's making time for morning yoga, playing your favorite music or taking a bubble bath let yourself unwind every day throughout the process. It might feel counterintuitive if you have a lot to do but you'll find that you will be more productive once you've re-centered.
3. DrinkWater. 8 cups a day will keep the moving blues away. Packing may not seem like hard work but all that lifting, stretching, twisting, and kneeling can be a serious workout. Make sure you also set aside a bottle of wine (or two) for when you're finished. It's something to look forward to and a good thank you for friends who've helped you pack.
4. Label EverythingThis one might be the most important tip yet. Even though it can seem like a hassle it will pay off in the long run. Picture yourself down the line searching through endless amounts of nameless boxes for the TV remote when all you want to do is put your feet up and watch a movie. Now picture yourself easily locating the remote because you took two seconds to write "TV stuff" on a box. The latter is obviously more appealing. Whether you label the boxes by room, type or your own hybrid you'll definitely be happy you made the effort.
5. Make a planEven if you're not the type of person to plan your day on a regular basis, when your moving it helps to stick to a schedule. It will help keep you on track as well as manage your moving goals. Anxiety and stress will start creeping in when the moving day arrives and a clear cut plan will help you avoid any oversights. Work backwards from your moving day, boxing up items that you don't use and compiling things for goodwill. 
6. Ask for helpHaving friends and family around can seriously help the moving process. Not only are there extra hands and eyes to box and sort but when you're feeling stressed or anxious having someone there to cheer you up is invaluable. Make it fun with music, snacks and beverages and it won't even feel like you're moving.
7. Get some sleepWhen we're overtired we're grumpy, more anxious and shorter tempered -  its science. Make the process more pleasant for everyone by getting at least 8 hours the night before your move. 
8. Turn on your utilities before you move into your new homeAfter the move you'll be wiped. All you'll want to do is make some tea and put your feet up while watching some Jimmy Fallon. If you don't have access to the home before you move to do so, at least make sure  you have some kind of internet connection (mobile hotspot etc) before you move so you can easily pop on Hulu or Netflix.
9. Move the most important stuff yourselfAs we go through life we collect things that, while maybe insignificant to other, mean a lot to us. These things are too important to go in a truck. Gather your important things - papers, jewelry, passport, heirlooms - and move them on your own. It will save you the worry if something happens to the truck or you can't find them post-move.
10. Find a good mover
You don't want to end up on a Friday night special because you hired some whack-job mover who held your things hostage. The key to finding a good mover is research, research, research! This is actually a good thing to do any time you're hiring help. Ask for referrals, check reviews and speak to several moving companies before you decide. Protect Your Move is great site that tells you if the company is licensed and if they've ever had a formal complaint. Moving Scam is also a good resource, offering detailed information on each company as well as a blacklist of companies to stay away from.
So there you have it, some tips to help you stay sane during the crazy process that is moving. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Port Ferdinand: A Stunning Oasis in Barbados

Possibly the most significant development in Barbados in over a decade, this brand new luxury marina property has literally been carved into the land and rock. This architectural design has created a stunning oasis in the heart of St Peter. Its only ten minutes up the road  to feted West Coast properties like Sandy Lane. The grand oceanfront terrace looks out over electric-blue Caribbean sea. Other views include chattel houses and far off sugarcane fields peacefully swaying in the wind. THe intertwining of luxury and rural-life is one aspect that makes this new development appealing. You can get away without forgetting where you are.

Hitting the market in January, 32 units represent phase one of Port Ferdinand. All but two have three bedrooms. Phase two features 14 three and four bedroom units. These stunning slices of luxury boast a villa-style experience. They include all the amenities of a resort: concierge, restaurant, spa, kids club, pool, gym, personal training and more. The concept is simple and elegant: a full-service home-away-from-home for yacht owners and lovers.

The units feature four design schemes. The spacious units include a wet bar, tiled hot tub and balcony offering a breathtaking view of the marina

For more information click here

Inside Donald Trump's $21 Million NYC Penthouse

According to the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump sold his $21 million dollar penthouse in Manhattan's Trump Park Avenue last week. The listing agent, Michelle Griffith of Trump International Realty, reported the sale closed Friday. Trump has been the sole owner of the 6,192 square foot Upper East Side abode that became available in September 2013 for about $25 million.

The exquisite prewar penthouse includes five bedrooms, seven and a half baths, white marble floors and marble baths, a private elevator, 24-hour doorman, concierge and daily maid service. However the best feature, according to Griffith, is the stunning views of on Park Avenue.

Despite your feelings about The Donald, his agent is something of a saint. With every real estate transaction, Griffith puts a child from a developing country through school for one  year through Room to Read.

Check out some photos of Trump's incredible ex-penthouse:

Click here for more information.

Extreme Open Houses

Typically, during a seller’s market, buyers are very competitive with each other, touring every home they can and therefore open houses are very crowded – but not during summer. With the lack of attention on real estate, agents have to get creative and come up with even more incentive to get people to their open houses.

In June, one realtor hosted a Frozen themed open house to attract families. On a similar note, a kid’s carnival open house was hosted for a $23.5 million penthouse on Madison Square park last May. Not only does the theme draw in families and brokers with children but it gives the elite listing a competitive market edge.

Brokers of luxury listings lean toward marketing to a smaller group or throwing events instead of open houses. Only 3.7% of homes priced $5 million or higher hosted open houses. Rather than traditional open houses agents throw events aimed around a theme or activity such as wine tasting or a carnival to attract more buyers. These “extreme open houses” may become more frequent. What kind of “open house” even would you want to attend? 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Manhattan Penthouse With Incredible Roof Deck for $35 Million

This penthouse at 20 East End Avenue is listing for $35 million. The 6,050 square foot apartment will be on the 18th floor and will include a roof deck, five bedrooms, five bathrooms and a powder room.

Plans dictate that the roof deck will surround the cupola topping the building. With sweeping views of the East River and Central Park, the roof deck will include a wood-burning fireplace and a wet bar intended to create an outdoor dining room. This Upper East Side palace will also have terraces off the gallery, master bathroom and library.

Designed by Robert AM Stern Architects, the brick-and-limestone building was inspired by the city’s classic prewar buildings. The 43 unit building will have a motor court, wine cellar, gym and billiards room with both a bar and “cordial lockers” for residents to store their beverages of choice. 

Click here for more information.

Here's How Much It Costs to Live in Nirvana

In Buddhism, nirvana is defined as a transcendent state in which there is no suffering, desire nor sense of self. In real estate, it’s the 16,087 square foot oceanfront haven nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Lake Worth Inlet in Manalapan Florida.

The mansion sits on more than an acre of oceanfront land. It boasts six bedrooms, thirteen bathrooms, a Zen garden, a full spa with steam room and sauna, an outdoor meditation area and a Buddhist prayer room.

This Palm Beach home is listed at $25 million. Other amenities include a tiki hut, a dance club and a private dock for a 130 foot yacht.

Check out some photos of “Nirvana” below. 

Why Buy a Vacation Home When You Can Buy The Whole Island?

Little Bokeelia Island aka paradise. 

This property is currently listed as an immediate sale through April 30 which means that an interest buyer could basically name their own price. The owners are serious about considering all offers and don’t even have a minimum figure requested. The property was previously on the market in 2012 for a mere $29.5 million but is now assessed at $24.5 million.

The main property on the 100+ acre island is a luxurious Spanish-style villa from the 1920s. It was built by Charles Burgess, a pioneer in electrochemical  engineering who manufactured dry cell batteries.

According to a spokesperson for Michael  Saunders & Company, the company listing the island, Thomas Edison was a close personal friend of Burgess. He visited Little Bokeelia often, even planting two trees on the property that still provide shade today. The spokesperson also said that Ponce de Leon visited the island many years ago, in addition to a few stops from pirates.

Getting to the island is a task in itself. Visitors can fly into Fort Myers, Sarasota and Punta Gorda airports, drive about 45 minutes to the marina and then ride to the island via a 10-15 minute boat ride.

With a view like this it’s well worth it.

Click here for more information.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

4 Terrifying Haunted Houses For Sale

Ann Starrett Mansion
Townsend, Washington
Overlooking Puget Sound, the Queen Anne-style Anna Starrett Mansion is allegedly haunted by a red-headed female ghost. One of the former inn-keepers was walking toward the house and saw a red-headed woman in the tower but she knew she had locked the house. According to the story she only saw the bust and head of the woman which is strange because the tower window is full length. There have also been reports of a male entity and a "nanny"-like specter roaming the halls.
Built in 1899 by contractor George E Starett for his wife the home features an octahedral dome atop the tower which doubles as a solar calendar. In recent years the property was a bed and breakfast as well as a boutique hotel.
As the listing states "frecos of angelic maidens painted in Ann's image will enchant you..." or haunt you.

Kenworthy Hall

Marion, Alabama
Now home to a horse farm, Kenworthy Hall is an Italian-style villa supposedly haunted by a female spectre in the tower room on the fourth floor. Edward Kenworthy Carlisle, a wealthy cotton broker and planter, commissioned the architect Richard Upjohn to design the home in 1858.
The Kenworthy hall has changed hands many times and was vacant for much of the 1950's. During the various times it was empty, locals began to believe that it was haunted. The story goes that during the Civil War, Edward Carlisle's daughter, Anne, was in love with a Confederate soldier. When she heard of his death she lept from the tower winded. Now, several passers-by have seen her in that same tower room on the fourth floor mourning her dead love.
Many people have purchased the home with the intention of restoring it. A family moved into the home in 1967 but they died shorty afterwards. Now, Kenworthy Hall is considered a National Historic Landmark as of 2004.

John Sowden House
Los Angeles, California
Built in 1926, this Mayan-Temple-esque was designed by architect Lloyd Wright for John Sowden. The home, located in Los Feliz, was later purchased by Dr. George Hodel.The John Sowden House was the site of the murder of Black Dahlia, aka Elizabeth Short, found surgically cut in half and dumped on a lot. Prime suspect Dr. George Hill Hodel fled the country. Hodel's son maintains that the slaying occurred inside the home. Past residents of the home have heard voices, footsteps, and the sound of heavy chains dragging. There have been sightings of apparitions that appear to be Hodel. The TV show Ghost Hunters featured the house on an episode, and they caught the apparition on video as well as an EVP that said “It’s George.” 

Schweppe Estate

Lake Forest, Illinois
The Schweppe Estate, also known as the Mayflower Palace, is a beautiful English Tudor built in 1915 as a wedding gift to Marshall Field’s heiress Laura Shedd and her husband Charles Schweppe (Schweppes carbonated drinks).In 1941, following the death of his wife, servants entered Charle's Schweppe's bedroom and found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The only clue left by Charles as to the reason for his suicide was a note that read "I've been awake all night. It's terrible." Some theories on his suicide include his wife only leaving him $200,000 of her $10 million fortune or severe mental health issues manifested through insomnia. The spirit of Charles Schweppe will forever hold the secret.The property sat empty for more than 45 years following Schweppe’s suicide and several accounts claim both Charles and Laura haunt the estate’s bedrooms, and one master bedroom window has remained eerily free of dust, despite the age of the home.

Click here for more information.