REALTOR'S DEN Most Popular Posts

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Federal court reaffirms verdict in favor of Ventas

Federal court reaffirms verdict in favor of Ventas

Health care real estate investment trust Ventas Inc. said Monday a federal appeals court denied a request by HCP Inc. to reconsider the affirmation of a $102 million jury verdict in favor of Ventas.

On May 17, a federal appeals court upheld the award to Ventas in its case against HCP, which was accused of driving up the price Ventas paid to buy the Sunrise Senior Living real estate investment trust.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ordered a trial in federal court in Louisville on the issue of whether HCP should have to pay punitive damages. HCP is requesting a dismissal of the case or a new trial.

Ventas, a Chicago-based real estate investment trust, made a bid in January 2007 to buy Sunrise, a Canadian company. HCP submitted a competing bid with multiple conditions on the purchase. Ventas then sued Long Beach, Calif.-based HCP, accusing the company of driving up its acquisition price.

Shares of Ventas climbed 13 cents to $52.88 in afternoon trading, while HCP stock fell 5 cents to $36.50.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Home that melted an ice queen's heart...

Screen star: Laura is a popular face on the children's Nickelodeon channel
Home that melted an ice queen's heart...


When Laura Hamilton joined ITV1’s Dancing On Ice this year, the show’s fans were asking, ‘Laura who?’. Seemingly the least well-known celebrity on the show, she nonetheless proved to be a popular contender, finishing runner-up. 

The perseverance the TV presenter demonstrated is a quality she has also shown when it comes to property. Ten years ago Laura, 29, began to climb the property renovation ladder.

When she started, there were a host of DIY TV shows encouraging viewers to buy homes that needed updating on a budget and then selling them for a profit.

Property project: Laura Hamilton's latest acquisition is a four-bedroom new-build house in Purley, Surrey, which she is buying with boyfriend Alex Goward, 30
Property project: Laura Hamilton's latest acquisition is a four-bedroom new-build house in Purley, Surrey, which she is buying with boyfriend Alex Goward, 30

‘My idea was to make a small amount from my first property, use it as a deposit to buy my next one and increase my equity as I went along,’ says Laura. ‘I have enjoyed buying, improving and selling homes, but the financial results have been disappointing. 

‘If I’d simply held on to my first flat and sold it today I’d have the same in terms of profit. I didn’t take into account stamp duty and estate agent fees.’

Full of new-found caution, Laura has moved on from doing up dilapidated
homes. Her latest acquisition is a new-build house in Purley, Surrey, which she is buying with boyfriend Alex Goward, 30, an insurance broker. The couple paid £625,000 for a four-bedroom house in a quiet residential street. Laura knocked £50,000 off the asking price because the property was unfinished – there is no drive and they must landscape the garden. 

‘Just as he was almost finished the developer ran out of money,’ says Laura. ‘But I took one look at the quality of the interior – granite work surfaces, heated oak and tiled floors and beautiful bathrooms – and I knew this was something special,’ says Laura, a popular face on the children’s Nickelodeon channel. 

She bought her first property in 2001, paying £100,000 for the one-bedroom flat in Meopham near where she was living with her parents. After updating the kitchen and bathroom, she found a tenant within six weeks and sold it only two years ago to her younger brother Luke, a police officer, for £155,000. 

In 2002 she moved into a Seventies three-bedroom terrace house in Cheam, Surrey, belonging to her boyfriend at the time, helping to renovate it. They sold it two years later and bought a detached three-bedroom house in nearby Reigate for £340,000, but having installed a new kitchen and bathroom the pair broke up and Laura moved out six months after the purchase.

In early 2005 Laura moved back in with her parents and a year later bought a three-bedroom Victorian end-of-terrace house in Forest Hill, South-East London, for £277,000, which she gutted, re-plumbed, rewired and re-plastered for another £25,000. In mid-2008 she had it valued at £485,000, but after the property crash managed to sell it for only £350,000 in 2009. 

‘I made a big mistake with that one,’ she says. ‘Youngsters used to throw stones at the windows. That experience taught me there are roads you should avoid even in good areas. After I sold it I bought a house in Meopham because I knew the area.’ 

Laura bought a three-bedroom Thirties semi-detached house opposite her parents last year for £250,000. It hadn’t been touched since the Seventies so she renovated it for £60,000 and sold it at the end of the year for £355,000. ‘Now I’m hoping my career will take a step up and I won’t have time for another renovation,’ she says. 

Ben Gershon, of Frost Estate agents in Purley, says prices in the area are seven per cent lower than peak values, but the number of sales has risen in the past year. ‘There are few new-build properties on the market,’ he says. ‘These sell quickly and can command a premium if they are on a quiet road.’

I took one look at the quality of the interior - granite work surfaces, heated oak and tiled floors and beautiful bathrooms - and I knew this was something special

Friday, June 24, 2011

South Florida real estate paradox: High volume cuts inventory but prices

New data released on home sales looks at trends that shouldn't co-exist: rising sales/falling inventory and plunging prices. Fort Lauderdale Realtor Michael Elliott puts a SOLD sign on the shingle outside a home in Wilton Manors that sold recently after a short time on the market, June 21, 2011. 
South Florida real estate paradox: High volume cuts inventory but prices stay low
The volume of South Florida home sales rose again in May, continuing a record-setting pace. Prices, on the other hand, are still on the decline, although there are signs of stabilization

South Florida’s logic-defying housing market continued to embrace peculiar trend lines in May —sales soared, slashing down the inventory even further, but overall prices fell once again.
Market trends in Miami-Dade and Broward counties diverge from the national housing story, for better and for worse. Local sales are increasing while the national market slumps, but local prices are falling faster than the national average.
The region’s real estate narrative is also at odds with traditional market economics. The coexistence of shrinking supply, rising demand,and falling prices has left analysts with a number of questions: How long can this frenzied sales pace —fueled by Latin American and cash investors’ appetite for discounted real estate — continue? With inventory shrinking rapidly, when will the strong sales activity translate into price stability and appreciation, as market economics dictate? How large is the “shadow inventory,” and how will those unlisted bank-owned homes affect the recovery?
“It’s an odd time,” said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realty. “ We’re able to say we’re selling more homes and condos than we’ve ever sold in history, but at the same time 61 percent of our sales are short sales and foreclosures.”
In May, home sales continued to rise, keeping South Florida on track to have its best year on record, according to data released Tuesday by the Miami Association of Realtors.
In Miami-Dade, there were 875 sales of existing single-family homes and 1,420 condo sales, increases of 20 percent and 46 percent from last May, respectively. Compared to April, home sales were up 5.4 percent and condo sales were up 1.1 percent.
In Broward County, 1,142 single-family sales and 1,537 condo sales represented increases of 6 percent and 14 percent over last May, respectively.
In the first five months of the year, more than 23,000 homes and condos have traded hands in South Florida, one of the strongest five-month runs on record. Nationally, 2011 has been a poor year for sales, with double-digit declines nearly each month.
South Florida’s rapid sales pace has helped reduce the region’s housing inventory, which has gone from severely bloated to suddenly lean over the last couple of years.
There are now 31,659 homes and condos for sale in South Florida, down from 61,755 in May 2009.
The crucial “months-of-inventory” figure has slimmed to 7.2 months in Miami-Dade and 5.5 months in Broward, both down to a fraction of their peaks. Economists say that six months of housing inventory is indicative of a healthy market.
So why hasn’t the shrinking supply of homes led to price stabilization?
“We have a whole bunch of pent up supply,” said William Hardin, professor of real estate and finance at Florida International University . “There’s a squeeze play going on because no one is going to sell a house in today’s market unless they have to.”
The majority of homes that are selling are under distressed circumstances —e ither a foreclosure sale, or a short sale that doesn’t cover the cost of the mortgage. Those properties — popular among cash investors and foreign buyers — sell at deep discounts, dragging down overall prices in the market.

In the single-family market, May median prices fell 8 percent to $180,200 in Miami-Dade. Broward suffered a particularly large decrease, with single-family prices falling 17 percent to $188,500.
There are some signs that prices may be beginning to stabilize, specifically in the condo market, where sales have been the most rapid.
In Miami-Dade, median condo prices slipped just 1 percent, to $124,300. In Broward County’s condo market, there was a 9 percent year-over-year increase, with median prices reaching $80,400.
Year-to-date, median prices are up across the market: Miami-Dade condos (36.2 percent), Miami-Dade single-family homes (19.4 percent), Broward condos (16.5 percent) and Broward single-family homes (14.2 percent). While prices are up since January, the year-over-year figures provide a more reliable barometer of values, since they compare the same time periods in the region’s seasonally-driven market. It’s too soon to say if sustained appreciation is here to stay, although industry insiders are pitching that message.
“Price drives [sales] traffic until traffic drives price,” said Mike Pappas, CEO of Keyes Realty. “Traffic is beginning to drive prices.”
But even as South Florida’s market looks to rebound from its worst bust in history, a number of troubling issues threaten to drag out the recovery.
The region’s shadow inventory, homes that banks have repossessed but have not yet put on the market, is estimated to be one of the largest in the nation. In addition to the 31,000 homes currently listed for sale, thousands more are expected to join them, once banks complete foreclosures and put the properties on the market.
“That’s keeping the pressure on prices,” Shuffield said of the shadow inventory. “We have seven months of inventory in single-family and six months of condo. Any other time in my 30 years of doing this, when we get into levels of six or seven months, prices would be increasing more than they are today. The fear of the unknown is keeping a lid on prices.”
With few non-distressed sellers listing their homes for sale because of the depressed market, and more and more bank-owned homes coming onto the market, prices could continue to see downward pressure for many months to come.
Additionally, two of the factors that normally support a healthy housing industry—a strong job market and significant home equity—are painfully absent in South Florida. In Miami-Dade County, unemployment sits at record high 13.4 percent. Nearly half of all South Florida homeowners with mortgages owe more on their homes than the current value, one of the highest underwater rates in the country.
Stricter lending standards have made it difficult for many potential buyers to obtain a mortgage. In May, 60 percent of home sales were completed without a mortgage, as all-cash investors made a disproportionate impact on the market.
With the housing market at the mercy of investors, who thrive on bargain basement prices, the path to sustained appreciation remains unclear.
“I think the investor activity is putting a floor on some of the pricing,” said Hardin. “But it doesn’t show that the market is stabilizing until you have end users. Right now, the investors are the ones that have capital and are willing to put it in the market.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

'Ugly Betty' Actress Lists House for $1.4M

'Ugly Betty' Actress Lists House: Right Place, Wrong Price

By Ann Brenoff

America Ferrera, the actress who starred in "Ugly Betty," has listed her Beachwood Canyon home at $1,395,000, which is about what she paid for it in 2008 -- $1,415,000. We are fans of her comedy, but respectfully suggest that she look at her calendar. In the world of real estate, it is anything but 2008 out there.

It's a lesson that Ferrera should have learned, having listed it at $1,685,000 in March 2010 and then dropped it to $1,599,000. But alas, some homesellers just have to learn the hard way that houses that linger, linger long. The trick is to bite the bullet and get out in front of the market that is still spiraling down in many places. 

Ferrera's is a nice enough house with 3,427 square feet that includes three bedrooms. The house has city views, a pool, and she's clearly done some staging work on it, compared to the old listing photos from when she bought it.

The master suite occupies the entire upper level and has a large balcony with views, an adjacent office, master bath and fireplace. There is a dining room with a sliding glass door, leading out to the patio.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vanilla Ice Opens Real Estate Advice Website

Vanilla Ice Opens Real Estate Advice Website

Vanilla Ice Offers Real Estate Advice

Vanilla Ice has created a new website calledVanilla Ice Real Estate to provide real estate guidance to his fans. The rapper has extensive experience in real estate investment over the past 16 years and has starred in a reality-tv series on the DIY Network called The Vanilla Ice Project in which he renovated homes in Southern Florida.

Spelling mansion finally sold to: Formula One heiress

Spelling mansion finally sold to: Formula One heiress
The late TV producer Aaron Spelling’s mansion and 5-acre estate, ranked as America’s most expensive home when it went on the market in 2009, is near the final stages of a sale, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The 57,000-square-foot French chateau-style house originally was listed at an asking price of $150 million, though the amount being paid for it has yet to be reported, the Journal said.

The buyer, according to the newspaper, is Petra Ecclestone, a 22-year-old heiress to her billionaire father Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One racing empire.

She plans on splitting her time between London and Los Angeles in advance of her August wedding to businessman James Stunt, the Journal said.

The home, dubbed “The Manor,” was built by Spelling and his wife, Candy, in 1991 in Los Angeles’ exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood.

The property sprawls over 5 acres and features more than 100 rooms, a staircase inspired by the sweeping stairway in the film “Gone with the Wind,” and multiple flower-cutting and gift-wrapping rooms.

Jeff Highland of the real estate firm Hilton and Highland, which has had the listing of the home since it went on the market, had no comment in response to inquiries.

A publicist for Candy Spelling also declined comment.

Aaron Spelling, who died in 2006 at age 83, was one of Hollywood’s most prolific television producers. His credits included such prime-time series as “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Melrose Place,” “Dynasty” and “The Love Boat.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Real-Estate Disclosure: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Real-Estate Disclosure: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

By Ann Brenoff

When a bulldozer began to to clear away dirt for an in-ground pool in Brian Dyer's back yard, the Lakeland, Fla., homeowner got the surprise of his life: mountains of trashemerged from the hole. "It's just a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach to see what they're bringing up with each scoop," he told Tampa Bay's 10News.

Dyer said that contractors tried to dig into three different areas in the backyard and each time, came up with more trash. "We found several tires, what appears to be washing machine tubs, trash, debris, metal parts, we found a lawnmower in the deep hole over there," he said, pointing to an 11-foot-deep hole. "You name it, it seems to be coming up out of the hole."

Dyer has no idea how much more trash is under his property, how far it goes--or, even worse, if it's under his house.

"We're very fearful at this point," he told 10News.

It's anybody's guess whether anyone but person who dumped the stuff illegally knew it was there. Builders dug down the required 12 inches for the foundation when the house was built in 2006. The debris was hidden three feet deep.

Nobody knows who's responsible for cleaning up the mess, either. While Dyer is trying to figure out his recourse, he's abandoned his plans for an in-ground pool and is opting for an above-ground instead.

Dyer's plight reminds us a little of the snake house in rural Idaho, also in the news this week. In that case, homeowners bought their dream house, only to discover it was infested with thousands of garter snakes. Former owner Ben Sessions recalls killing 42 of them in a single day and resorted to making "snake sweeps" before his wife and young sons got out of bed in the morning. After battling the reptiles unsuccessfully for months, the family finally fled. They later filed for bankruptcy, and the bank foreclosed on the property.

If "location, location, location" is the most important thing about real estate, "disclosure, disclosure, disclosure" runs a close second. Sellers are required to disclose "material facts" about their home that might influence your decision to buy -- the roof that leaks, problems with the septic system in heavy rains, the fact that the guy next door keeps bees who sometimes mistake your porch for his. (The only exception to this is if you're buying a bank-owned property; in foreclosure sales, the bank isn't required to tell you anything.)

Of course, disclosure couldn't help Dyer, since his wife bought the house when it was new construction, and the builder denied any knowledge of the trash dump. But Sessions learned his lesson the hard way. According to reports, when he bought the house, the snake infestation had been documented. But Sessions -- believing it was just a story concocted by the previous owner to walk away from the mortgage -- signed the disclosure document anyway. So when the story turned out to be true, he had no legal recourse.

All of which underscores the importance, as a buyer, of doing your due diligence and investigating every disclosure your seller is required to make. And as a seller, it's equally important to be up front about your home's flaws -- even the ones you have paid to correct.

Most states require disclosure of deaths, as well, and not just the ones from unnatural causes. If a natural death occurred in the house within the past three years, it needs to be disclosed -- right up there with whether unleaded paint is on the walls if the home was built before 1978.

And it goes without saying, best to disclose whether your house is built on a trash heap or is infested with garter snakes.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Private Island Getaway, in New York State

Private Island Getaway, in New York StateCan't hack your nosy neighbors anymore? Consider this 10-bedroom Victorian mansion located on Watch Island, a private island in the Thousand Islands region near Clayton, N.Y., Listing price: $1,950,000.

The 6,500-square-foot house was built in 1903 by Walter Jerome Green Jr., a banker and yachtsman. It sits on 1.3 acres and has all the modern amenities, including a large boathouse and extensive docking facilities -- which one would obviously need. The island is located near the Thousand Islands Bridge.

The home retains its lavish use of wood and many period features, including a claw-footed tub.

Green was the director of the Savage Arms Corp. and president of Utica Investment Co., the Utica City National Bank, and a director of the First National Bank and Trust Company. He was also rear commodore of the Frontenac Yacht Club and had a 75-foot yacht named Verdi, according to the June 6, 1909, New York Times.

Mike Franklin of Select Sotheby's International Realty has the listing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea Lists Malibu Home for $4.7M

Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea Lists Malibu Home
By Ann Brenoff

Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass guitarist Flea -- whose real name is Michael Balzary -- has listed a Malibu architectural home for $4,795,000. The two-story home has ocean and canyon views and beach access.

Flea recently ran in the L.A. Marathon to raise money for the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a nonprofit organization he co-founded in 2001 to teach music education. He was one of the founders of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and composed much of their material.

The house he is selling has three bedrooms and three bathrooms, high dramatic ceilings and cement floors. There is a free-form pool and outdoor fireplace.

Irene Dazzan-Palmer and Sandro Dazzan share the listing. Both are with Coldwell Banker, Malibu Colony.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Inside Courteney Cox's House

Inside Courteney Cox's House

We're not going to lie: Seeing Courteney Cox on the cover of ELLE DECOR is about 100 times more interesting to us than seeing her face in the tabloids. Why? Because the actress has often spoken out about her love for design (she even studied it in college!) but we've never seen her place.
courteney cox house

Courteney worked with her friend, designer Trip Haenisch, on her Malibu home's redesign, and was involved in every step of the way. She even came up with the overarching "modern barn" theme for the house. She describes it as "very simple, with bronzed-steel trim, white walls, and wood floors. Nothing too cluttered and not a lot of fancy details...[it's] exactly how I want to live."
courteney cox houseThose windows! That fireplace! Plus, we love the mix of old and new: That lamp is vintage, from France, and the sectional and cocktail table is custom-made by Haenisch.
courteney cox houseSimon Upton for ELLE DECOR
The black and white theme is seriously warmed up by a wood sculpture and the amazing view.

Love the home? Check out our interview with her terrific designer, Trip Haenisch. Or scroll down to see more...
Simon Upton for ELLE DECOR
Simon Upton for ELLE DECOR
Simon Upton for ELLE DECOR

Monday, June 13, 2011

The #1 Myth About Selling Your Home

The #1 Myth About Selling Your Home

By Gary Lucido

I've run into this home selling myth enough times that I finally decided to write an entire blog post on it - not to mention that I think I've finally heard enough variations on this myth that I can write a substantial post on the topic. And here it is: Home sellers often believe - in fact they are often told by unscrupulous realtors who are trying to get a listing - that they should select a listing agent who has their own buyers who would be interested in the home which is being sold.

A variation of this story, often told during the listing sales pitch, is that the listing agent either recently has sold or currently has for sale similar properties and therefore "has buyers". This is actually a favorite ploy used by the top producer (see Celebrity Realtor) in my neighborhood.

Regardless of the particular flavor of myth being flung around or clung to the implication is the same: the only way to reach these buyers and get a quick sale is by using this particular realtor to list the home.
What? It's not true?

Well, let's start with the facts. Last month 93.1% of all the non-distressed closings (distressed closings is another blog post) involved a buyer represented by an agent other than the listing agent. So the listing agent only produced their own buyer 6.9% of the time and some large but unknown percentage of these buyers were produced after the home went on the market - as a result of the marketing that any half-way decent agent could do.

You know that top producer in my neighborhood? He hasn't closed a single deal in the last 12 months with his own buyer. When he says he "has buyers" what he really means is that he knows buyers' agents that saw his recent listings and he can give them a call. Of course, they and their clients would eventually find out about your home anyway regardless of who lists it and let's not forget that they were not interested in the other home that is supposedly similar to yours.

I've had listing agents occasionally try to convince my buyers to look at another listing of theirs during a showing and frankly I find it extremely annoying. Do they really think that we missed their other listing during our search? If we were interested in that other home we would have requested a showing. Invariably it's missing some key attribute. And what would the seller of the place we are touring think of their realtor plugging the competition?

Here is another statistic for you. A typical home that goes on the market will match the search criteria of about 150 buyers that are in the market, maybe 4 or 5 of which will want to see the property right away. So what are the odds that a particular listing agent is working with one of these 4 or 5 buyers out of 150 out of the thousands looking?

The bottom line is that it's extremely rare for the listing agent to have a buyer in their pocket ready to buy a home.

So Then What Do You Hire A Listing Agent For?

If a listing agent doesn't produce the buyer what good are they? Simple. The listing agent's role is to a) market the property to buyers and their agents and b) represent you in the transaction which results from a successful marketing effort. And the primary tool for marketing the listing is the Multiple Listing Service, which will directly reach those buyers and their agents. Increasingly, even buyers with agents, also use third party search sites like Zillow, Trulia, or but those are fed by the MLS.

Buyers' agents are motivated to show their buyers all listed homes that meet their buyers' criteria, regardless of the listing agent, because they will be paid anywhere from 2% - 3% of the purchase price (typically in Chicago) when the deal closes. And there is no longer a way for them to bury a listing, even if they wanted to, because their buyers are going to find it on one of the third party sites I mentioned above and then they would have egg on their face.

But Suppose An Agent Really Does Have A Buyer?

Rarely a realtor really will have a buyer in their pocket and you can't ever tell for sure if they are telling the truth. So call their bluff! Respond to their claim by saying "Wonderful! If you already have a buyer I don't need a listing agent. Bring your buyer by and show them the place and if we close a deal I'll pay you a 2.5% co-op commission." That should stop them in their tracks and forces them to put up or shut up. And if they really do produce a buyer you will have saved yourself the listing side of the commission - up to 3.5%.

As I mentioned above, if you end up listing with another agent and one of the agents you rejected comes up with a viable buyer you have nothing to fear. They will absolutely show your home because of the considerable incentive provided by the co-op commission.

The Dual Agency Problem

A listing agent that has or produces their own buyer is actually a problem for sellers. It creates what is called a dual agency problem. How can the listing agent simultaneously represent both the buyer and the seller? It's legal to attempt to do this but it creates such an onerous conflict of interest that Illinois requires a special disclosure that all parties must sign that puts everyone on notice of the conflict of interest and sets forth specific rules of conduct for the realtor in such circumstances.

My only advice to you is to be really careful if you find yourself in this situation.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line on this one is really simple. When picking a listing agent claims of "having buyers" should be ignored. Like I've said before, all that really matters in this decision is what the listing agent will do for you and how smart and responsive they are.