REALTOR'S DEN Most Popular Posts

Saturday, April 30, 2011

New York's Smallest Apartment

NYC's Smallest Apartment Just Got Smaller
By Alec Foege

Until now, the smallest apartment we were aware of was Felice Cohen's New York City pad, as AOL Real Estate documented in "Woman Lives in 90-Square-Foot New York Apartment." Well, real estateobservers, let's get even smaller.

A fellow named Luke posted photos of his 78-square-foot New York City abode on, as part of the site's annual Smallest Coolest Home Contest. Luke writes on the site that his apartment is "simple, efficient, convertible, and zen enough to be comfortably habitable." The custom built sofa converts into a bed, and all of the furnishings were designed by the resident. In the gallery below, note the small refrigerator integrated underneath the desk space.

No word on the rent (Cohen pays $700 for her 90 square feet) or whether the apartment includes a bathroom.

smallest apartment

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Ultra Modern Mansion is only $18M

Buy $18M Mansion, Get Royal Treatment for Free
By Stefanos Chen 

An $18 million Hollywood Hills mansion just sold in one week, thanks to some very clever marketing--buy the house, and live like royalty at no extra cost.

Known as the Oriole House, the property belonged to nightclub impresario and mega financier Sam Nazarian, CEO of the high-end hospitality company SBE. To help pique interest in the princely estate, Nazarian offered the buyer full access to his hospitality company's exclusive range of hotel-quality amenities. Among the services included: a cadre of personal assistants to fulfill your every request, fully catered house parties for the owner, guest-only privileges at all of Nazarian's ultra-posh hotels, even a star renovation consultant who can be brought in to redesign any room in the home, reports Forbes.

Suddenly, $18 million sounds like a steal.

You might recognize the posh estate as the home of Vincent Chase from HBO's stargazing hit series "Entourage." Watch carefully and you'll even notice Nazarian ushering the boys into his celebrity-packed L.A. nightclub, Hyde Lounge.

The Oriole Drive home was first listed back in 2009 for $18.95 million, according to theRealEstalker. The spread includes three bedrooms, 5.5 baths, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and a resort-style exterior with infinity pool and spa.

This time around, though, the listing was made available only to a select pool of privileged buyers. Each prescreened buyer was sent a personal access card with secret passcodes to the listing's details. According to Forbes, Stan Bharti, the owner of a Toronto, Ontario-based merchant bank, just closed on the property. He already has plans to make full use of the SBE hospitality package by hosting what will no doubt be a massive house-warming party.

To top it all off, the home has also reportedly broken a local sales record for price per square foot. While the total square footage was not immediately available, one accountplaces the property at 5,976 square feet. At $17.995 million, that's $3,011 per square foot. And while "most expensive" can be a tricky measure to quantify in the game of ultra-posh posturing (like this London complex selling at $225 million a pop, or the 641-square-foot California cottage selling for $5.3 million), an $18 million mansion is nothing to sneeze at. Especially when it doubles as your own private hotel and resort.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Taylor Swift Buys Home in Beverly Hills

Taylor Swift Buys Home in Beverly Hills

Taylor Swift was recently named "entertainer of the year" by the Academy of Country Music Awards. To celebrate, she bought a new house. Isn't that what you would do?
Pop country star Taylor Swift is on the move. The 22-year-old singer just plunked down $3.97 million for a 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom house in Beverly Hills, California. The home is unusual for the West Coast -- It's a classic New England-style colonial. 

No doubt that Swift was drawn to the home since it's set back an acre from the road behind private gates. Imagine rolling lawns, french doors that open up to a patio and overgrown arbor, and tennis courts. 

While there's plenty of living space for the singer to entertain and write music, the backyard is lacking one thing -- A pool! I guess Ms. Swift prefers the beach. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don King's Florida Mansions For Sale

Don King's Florida Mansions For Sale
by Nikki Pepper

Wake up this morning with a cup of coffee and a virtual tour of our celebrity home of the day. Today: Don King's waterfront Florida property.

Don King has his Florida mansions for sale. Oh yes, we said mansions, plural. This property is so large, it has two addresses. One lot was developed in 1985 and the other followed in 1994, creating the ultimate Floridian getaway. For $19.995 million, the whole property -- which includes 14 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms -- can be yours.

Thanks to our friends at, we have the aerial view and photos from inside the homes.

Here we can see the two houses on King's property in Florida. A water view from the front and back of the house? Not a bad set-up. Residents can gaze at the water or dock their boat. Neither of those sound appealing? You can always play tennis on the private court.

Stucco and clay tiles create a very Florida-tropical style. The grand driveway and front door overhang look more like a luxury resort than a house.

An ornate foyer welcomes visitors -- and possible buyers -- with extravagantly detailed columns and tables. Agrand chandelier glimmers in the center of the room and reflects off the marble flooring. 

One of the mansion's huge assets? The huge kitchen. Light finishes give an airy feel which is helped by the ocean view.

Take a seat and relax while gazing out the wall of windows to the blue Florida waters. We love the open layout of this room and the amount of natural light that flows in.

And if the ocean isn't your favorite, there's a pool to cool off on those humid Florida days. An expansive patio and outdoor cabana area create a perfect party setting. Drinks by the pool, anyone? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Despite low prices, many shun homeownership

Despite low prices, many shun homeownership

Victoria Pauli signed a one-year lease last week to stay in her rental home in Fair Oaks, Calif. She had considered buying in the area, where property prices have slumped 57 percent since a 2005 peak.

In the end, she decided it was not worth it.

“I know people who have watched their home values get cut in half, and I know people who are losing their homes,’’ said Pauli, 31, a property manager for a real estate company. “It’s part of the American dream to want to own your own home, and I used to feel that way, but now I tell myself: Be careful what you wish for.’’

The most affordable real estate in a generation is failing to lure buyers as Americans like Pauli sour on the idea of home ownership. At the end of 2010, the fourth year of the housing collapse, the share of people who said a home was a safe investment dropped to 64 percent, from 70 percent in the first quarter. The December figure was the lowest in a survey that goes back to 2003, when it was 83 percent.

“The magnitude of the housing crash caused permanent changes in the way some people view home ownership,’’ said Michael Lea, a finance professor at San Diego State University. “Even as the economy improves, there are some who will never buy a home because their confidence in real estate is gone.’’

Historically, homes have been a safer investment than equities. During 2008, the worst year of the housing crisis, the median US home price declined 15 percent, compared with a more than 38 percent plunge in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

Americans stay in their homes for a median of eight years, according to the National Association of Realtors. Someone who bought in 2002 and sold in 2010 saw a 4.8 percent increase in value, based on the annualized median price measured by the group. The average annual gain in the past 20 years was 4.2 percent.
Falling prices have made real estate the best buy in at least four decades. Housing affordability reached a record in December, according to a realtors association data that go back to 1970. The group bases its gauge on property prices, mortgage rates, and the median US income.

The median US home price tumbled 32 percent from a 2006 peak to a nine-year low in February. The retreat surpassed the 27 percent drop seen in the first five years of the Great Depression, said Stan Humphries, chief economist of Zillow Inc., a Seattle real estate information company.
“If we’ve learned anything from this mess, it’s that housing is not a risk-free investment,’’ said Michelle Meyer, a senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research. “Everyone knows someone underwater in their mortgage or struggling to sell a home.’’

About 11 million US homes were worth less than their mortgages at the end of 2010, according to CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif., real estate information company. An additional 2.4 million borrowers had less than 5 percent equity, meaning they will be underwater with even slight price declines, according to the March 8 report. The two categories add up to 28 percent of residences with mortgages.
The share of Americans who said they plan to purchase a home in the next six months tumbled 23 percent in March, according to the Conference Board research firm in New York.
The drop in homebuyer confidence may be temporary. Home sales probably will rise 4.1 percent to 5.1 million in 2011, with the biggest increases in the second half of the year, the Mortgage Bankers Association said April 14. In 2012, sales may climb 5.9 percent to 5.4 million, the highest pace since 2007.
A rebound depends on the availability of jobs, the mortgage association said.

“We expect that purchase activity will pick up slowly as the improvement in the job market eventually leads to greater willingness to buy,’’ the mortgage bankers group said.

Borrowing costs are at historic lows. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.69 percent last year, the lowest in data going back to 1972, according to the mortgage financier Freddie Mac. The rate in March was 4.84 percent.

By 2012’s fourth quarter, the average fixed rate may rise to 6 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“If you can jump through the hoops to get a mortgage, and there will be hoops, then this is an amazing time to purchase real estate,’’ said Robert Stein, former head of the Treasury Department’s Office of Economic Policy. “There are going to be a lot of people kicking themselves a few years from now because they didn’t take advantage of the low prices and the low mortgage rates.’’

Federal regulators are proposing rules that may make lending even more stringent, including a requirement that banks and bond issuers keep a stake in home loans they securitize if the mortgage borrowers have imperfect credit and down payments of less than 20 percent. Borrowers who don’t meet the criteria would pay higher rates to compensate lenders for risk.

As mortgage requirements rise, rates could follow as Congress and the Obama administration consider phasing out government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The companies’ federal charters mandate they increase the availability of mortgages through securitization. In Fannie’s case, that order dates to the Great Depression.

“There are a lot of unsettled policy issues on the table right now that, if they’re not handled right, could further set back the housing market,’’ said Richard DeKaser, an economist at Parthenon Group in Boston. “Fannie and Freddie have historically lowered interest rates, and eliminating them will increase the cost of home ownership.’’

The U.S. home ownership rate dropped to 66.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the lowest in more than a decade, according to the Census Department. The rate probably will retreat another percentage point by 2013, according to Meyer and Lea. That would put it back to a 1997 level.
“People will still aspire to own their own homes,’’ Lea said. “They’ll just be a lot more practical about it.’’

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Real Estate Tips From A Local Realtor

Real Estate Tips From A Local Realtor

Sherborn realtor Kyle Mann gives you tips on what to do before putting your home on the market, offers five steps to take before making an offer on a home, discusses how technology has transformed the world of real estate.

Home Seller Tips: Top Five Things to do Before Putting your Home on the Market
Create intimate outdoor spaces. Take advantage of the spring weather to create an inviting outdoor “room”. It’s a great way to show off your yard as a terrific place to unwind.
Catch buyers at the curb. A few well chosen plantings can help highlight the architectural details of your home and make buyers want to see more.
Emphasize relaxation. Home buyers want to envision their home as a place to escape the hustle and bustle. Even little touches like comfy throw pillows and plush bedding set a soothing tone. 
Check your interior and exterior lighting.The right lighting can make a home feel warm and inviting.
Think about the finishing touches. In recent years some home builders eschewed the finer details in favor of building larger spaces. Adding a few details such as crown molding or classic window shutters can make the home more appealing.

Home Buyer Tip: Top Five Steps to Take Before Making an Offer
You’ve been searching for a new home for months and you’ve finally found a place that’s right for you. That’s great! But before you make an offer, here are five things you’ll want to check out.
 Get a copy of the plot plan. This way you’ll know where the lot lines are and if there are any easements on the property.
 Ask for a copy of the seller’s disclosure. Many home sellers will complete a disclosure form documenting the age of major items in the home, such as the roof and furnace, as well as any known issues, such as pest or water damage.
 What’s the seller’s preferred closing date? This is helpful to know before you present an offer. For example, if the homeowner prefers to not close until their children finish the school year, they may be more receptive to your offer if you can accommodate this timing.
 What are comparable homes selling for? Have your buyer’s agent provide you with data on recently sold homes that are comparable in size, style, age, and amenities.
 Find out about homeowner’s association. If there’s a homeowner’s association, what are their fees, what do the fees cover, and are there any rules you’ll need to abide by if you live there?

Transforming real estate marketing
Long the realm of “old school” marketing, the real estate industry is finally breaking free of outmoded marketing techniques. Increased globalization, along with demands from tech savvy home buyers, are sparking many in the industry to shift the way they market homes. If you’re considering selling your home, here are five intriguing marketing trends to keep an eye on.
Targeted marketing campaigns. Marketers have a wealth of demographic data to develop more targeted, and much more effective, marketing campaigns. And to attract home buyers from around the world.
Mobile marketing. 72 million U.S. consumers access the web from their mobile devices, according to the Nielsen Company. Affluent consumers are using their mobile devices to form relationships with people, companies, and brands. To appeal to home buyers across the generations, realtors need to create integrated campaigns that encompass mobile marketing.
Event marketing. Hosting a special event at a home for sale provides a way to show off the entertaining space, and give potential buyers a way to view the home in a more relaxed setting. For example, a Holiday Shopping Soiree & Fashion Show Fundraiser recently held at an Italianate Victorian home for sale drew more than 200 guests—and a qualified buyer.
Lifestyle marketing. Based on the premise that people buy lifestyles, not products, this technique is designed to project an irresistible lifestyle. Instead of merely photographing a high-end kitchen, for example, lifestyle marketers might produce real estate videos with captivating models or witty dialog. The goal is to make the home more memorable.
Online video. Video has become a great medium for capturing a home buyer’s imagination. Forrester Research reports that video is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google search results, meaning that homes marketed with video are more likely to be found by potential buyers.
You’ve already cleared away clutter and given your home a fresh coat of paint. So what else needs to be done before you put your home on the market? Here are five quick tips for making your home stand out from the crowd.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

9 Creepy Abandoned Mansions

Nine Creepy Abandoned Mansions

By Morgan Brennan and Michelle Cerone

By the time Thomas Brennan and Mary Alice Shallow bought their 5,000-square-foot farmhouse from Union State Bank, it had sat abandoned for nine months. At a paltry going price of $275,000, the Putnam County, N.Y. abode was nearly 60% cheaper than the other neighborhood homes, thanks to a foreclosure discount and years of neglect.
The property needed repairs, with some the worst damage having been inflicted by squatters, looters and vandals in the nine months leading up to Brennan and Shallow's purchase.
"The copper plumbing had been stolen out of the house, the windows were busted, the front door broken down," says Brennan. "Kids were inside vandalizing the house, and other people were stealing the antique furniture."
Homes across the U.S. sit abandoned, empty and vulnerable to vandalism, due in large part to the ongoing housing crisis. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the national homeowner vacancy rate for the fourth quarter of 2010 was 2.7%. That represents more than 2 million empty homes--including some mansions.
A quick search on real estate listing sites like shows thousands of palatial estates deserted and patiently awaiting sale, as pools turn green and dust settles on granite countertops. Some of these abodes belong to owners who have listed the properties and relocated. Many more face foreclosure or are already bank-owned.
"What's different about this foreclosure cycle is it has taken houses out of every aspect of the housing market," explains Rick Sharga, senior vice president at RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif., foreclosure listing site. "You rarely saw mansions in foreclosure [until recently], and now you are seeing much more expensive types of properties in foreclosure."
RealtyTrac has seen an unprecedented level of default activity in some of America's ritziest neighborhoods. For example, Beverly Hills, the sixth-most-expensive ZIP code in the country, had a 700% increase in foreclosures of homes $2 million and up over the last three years.
We compiled a list of creepy abandoned mansions. They've all been empty for years. In a few cases, the homes have recently been sold to buyers willing restore them. Some are foreclosures; some the targets of longstanding legal battles; some are still actively owned from afar.
What do we mean by creepy? We confined our search to homes decaying into the ground, boasting spooky legends or tragic murders, or serving as sites for sordid illegal activities. Many of them are for sale: Boxer Mike Tyson's deserted former Southington, Ohio, manor is listed for $1.3 million, and the allegedly haunted New Hampshire castle once inhabited by railroad tycoon Benjamin Ames Kimball can be had for a steeply discounted $880,000.
The bullet holes, gaping fissure in the wall and cracked windows have been patched up by new owners in the Florida estate vacated by Khalil bin Laden, Osama's brother, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The asking price: $2 million.
For anyone tempted to take ownership of an empty estate, a plethora of challenges await. Creditors often hesitate to repossess them due to the high taxes and steep maintenance expenses they would assume. They can take ages to sell as well, partly because of a lack of available credit. Nearly 96% of mortgages currently being written boast backing from government affiliates like Fannie Mae ( FNM - news people ),Freddie Mac ( FRE - news people ) and the Federal Housing Administration. Their loan limits are typically well below what would be needed to purchase a posh pad.
Since many mansions sit behind gates or in seclusion, looters can slip in unnoticed. Fixtures and construction supplies get stolen, as they were in Brennan's and Shallow's new home.
Sometimes "mansion squatters" move in. Last fall actor Randy Quaid and wife Evi were arrested for squatting in the guest house of a California home the actor once owned. In 2009 a former Wells Fargo ( WFC - news people ) executive got canned after crashing a $14.9 million Malibu manse repossessed by a bank.
Abandoned homes have also become a political hot potato across the country. Unfortunately there is no easy answer for what to do with empty structures, whether they're mansions, more typical single-family residences or unfinished developments. One modest source of support is a federal abandoned property program set up under President George W. Bush and supported by President Barack Obama; it, however, may also fall into disrepair. The cost-conscious U.S. House of Representatives is looking to abandon the program--like a creepy home that costs too much to keep up.

17920 W Colonial Drive, Oakland, Fla.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Khalil bin Laden, Osama's brother, fled this lakefront estate. During six years of vacancy, damage to the property included bullet holes in the walls. More recently acquired, it is currently up for grabs for $2 million.

3737 State Route 534, Southington, Ohio
The vacant manse was home to boxer Mike Tyson in the 1990s. The current asking price is $1.3 million, despite overgrown lawns and a moss-colored pool.

2475 Glendower Place, Los Feliz, Calif.2475 Glendower Place, Los Feliz, Calif.
The owner of the Los Feliz murder mansion pays the taxes every year. Yet the notorious site--where a doctor bludgeoned his wife to death before drinking acid--has remained empty since the 1960s. 

Mudhouse Mansion, Lancaster, Ohio
This 19th-century red brick building, rumored to be haunted, has not housed a regular occupant since the 1930s, despite a financially fastidious owner.

Kimball Castle, Gilford, N.H.
For $880,000 you can investigate whether this eerie hillside castle "in need of total rehab" indeed deserved a cameo on reality TV series Ghost Hunters.

1915 Moonlight Road, Surry, Va.
Vacant since NFL quarterback Michael Vick operated an illegal dog-fighting ring on its 15 acres. "Bad Newz Kennel" is set to become "Dogz Deserve Better," a nonprofit dedicated to rehabilitating canines.

Land's End Estate, Sands Point, Long Island, N.Y.
One of two estates rumored to be F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby inspiration, this crumbling North Shore manor once hosted Winston Churchill. It now awaits demolition.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why Investors need Realtors and Vice Versa

Why Investors need Realtors and Vice Versa

It often appears that real estate investors and Realtors are at odds with each other when it comes to the value and quality of services that are provided in real estate transactions.  Can each of these groups conduct their businesses without the other?  Sure, but can they be more successful working together?  We think they can!
BiggerPockets is as diverse a group as we have ever seen that is tied together by a single element, Real Estate.  We have been members for over a year now and have seen a lot of very strong opinions out there when it comes to what type of real estate investment is the best, how to structure deals, how to finance your investment and the list goes on and on!  We think the biggest issues and the “liveliest” discussions are about the investor / real estate agent relationship.  There seems to be a lot of mistrust, lack of respect and lack of understanding that is expressed in the forum discussions involving Realtors and investors.  Investors often think that Realtors (I will use this term since it is easier to use and a large share of real estate agents are also Realtors) are not worth the expense, do not have the skills and work ethic to be of much benefit and do not understandreal estate investing. Many Realtors do not like investors making (what the Realtor considers) low ball offers, feel that that investors take undo advantage of buyers / sellers / lenders, etc. and that as experts in real estate sales, it is in the investors best interest to be buying and selling through them.
As real estate investors as well as a real estate broker and business owners for about 30 years now, we can see and relate to BP members on both sides of the fence.  We would like to share a few of our thoughts on the subject.

How Investors Should Best Utilize Realtors

Investors: communicate not only your needs, but also (briefly) why you have the requirements, or why your offer is $ XX.  Check out several Realtors or get recommendations from other investors. There are great Realtors out there that will make you money. We work with Realtors nationwide in listing short sale properties. Many are good, a few will not be working with us again and some of them are exceptional and save us lots of time and really improve our bottom line. When we market to Realtors, we talk about letting them do what they do best — list, market and sell real estate, and let us work with the lenders and negotiate our short sale deals.
Well guess what?
That same logic works the other way!  Investors, spend your time and resources doing what you do best…….finding, analyzing, rehabbing, etc. your deals and let a good Realtor market and sell them.

A Little Insight about Investors for the Realtors

Realtors, not all investors are the devil! Sure, there are lots of “investors” that take an on-line course from some guru or read a couple of books and give the true investor a bad name. Investors are repeat buyers and sellers. They look at real estate as an investment and leave out the emotion that causes many retail buyers and sellers to drive you nuts. When talking to a new Realtor about negotiating short sales, we often hear the lecture about fiduciary responsibility and the Realtor’s Code of Ethics, implying that as investors we are not ethical and do not care about what is good for the seller. From our point of view, even as Realtors, we don’t need a code of ethics to conduct our business in an ethical way! And sure, we are investing to make a profit, but still, avoiding a foreclosure for the seller comes before profit. Yep….…we’ve done them for nothing if all other exit strategies fail! Too many Realtors hide behind the Code of Ethics. Just like a church…………..NAR has its share of sinners!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. In any group of people — Realtors, investors, attorneys, etc., you will find competent, ethical, hard working (these three equate to “successful”) professionals that are well worth their fees. There are also the ones that everyone complains about. They don’t know what they are doing, a bit on the “shady” side and spend more time telling others how good they are or what they claim to have done rather than actually producing results. Keep an open mind and work with the good ones. It will save you time and money and as an added benefit, you may learn something new!