REALTOR'S DEN Most Popular Posts

Friday, July 29, 2011

Homes of the pet-obsessed

Homes of the pet-obsessed

Pet-lovers these days aren't just tweaking their homes to accommodate their animals; some aren't happy until their entire home is a pet playground.
The good news is that being a barking mad bloke or a crazy cat lady is getting a lot more stylish.
Architects, interior designers and furniture makers are increasingly moving into the lucrative market of the pet-crazed.
If you'd like to build a dog-house with airconditioning, heating and hot-and-cold running water, American websites are a goldmine for pet-pampering tips.
Photos of the Walker's cats in their pussycat paradise. Photos from The Cats' House book by Bob Walker.
There are also some brilliant examples from Japan.
They may be zany, but these websites also offer some stylish solutions to common pet problems; and with a bit of ingenuity, they won't cost the earth.
Pet furniture, for example, no longer needs to be an afterthought or an eyesore, while pet-friendly features can be attractive and tastefully integrated into your home.
Taking things a little further, why not try some bespoke furniture - and don't forget to add pet requirements into the architect's design brief for your next reno or build.
Scratching posts and "cat house" hidey holes have moved from kitsch eyesores to the status of real furniture.
Visitors to your home won't immediately see the disturbing lengths you have gone to for your cats.
Indoor-cat owners will love the idea of furniture to hide litter trays.
Clever disguises include side tables, baskets and even large faux potted plants.
Discreet kitty litter boxes can even sit in the living room
If you can't find a purpose-built litter tray disguise or an attractive cat climber, try the time-honoured "Ikea hack".
The Ikea Hackers website is filled with brilliant ways to coax all manner of creature comforts out of Ikea products.
Modifications include ideas for wall-mounted perches and furniture for climbing, scratching and (of course) peeing.
Ikea hacker, Cave Lion's "Billy" Cat climbing shelf hack in action.
American designer Akemi Tanaka has created a stylish way of allowing your cat to display itself among your other artworks.
Tanaka's "Curve" is a wall-mounted, softly-padded display pedestal where your fab feline can pose in comfort, blending seamlessly with other wall-mounted artwork.
At $US200 ($185) for the Curve, you would hope so.
The Cats' House seen here under construction. The Walker's cats carefully supervised all building works. Photo from The Cats' House book by Bob Walker.
For those that want to take it further - a lot further - a book by Bob Walker details how he transformed his home into pussycat paradise.
Walker has built steps and ramps that wind up and around rooms.
There are holes in many walls for his fur family to duck between rooms; they even have access to the roof space above his ceilings.
The motto on Walker's website is: "Where 'good enough' is not enough for our feline family!" His home boasts "140 feet of elevated highway" that crisscross overhead.
And with his his dazzling colour scheme in that mix, The Cat's House must be seen to be believed.
At the most extreme end of cat-friendly accommodation are homes designed from scratch, with ramps, steps, perches, playrooms, secret spaces and ceiling-high catwalks all seamlessly woven into the design.
Two Japanese designers have delivered surprisingly inoffensive, even elegant results.
Architects Fauna +DeSIGN were commissioned to create a paradise for 16 cats and a home for their owners and five dogs.
Designer Asahi Kasei had fewer "clients" but also created kitty heaven on earth.
Both homes provide endless vantage points for the cats to survey their territory.
There are obstacles to negotiate, allowing the cats to exhibit great feats of agility, perches on which to display themselves and places for discreet supervision of their human companions.
Dog-lovers, your faithful friends haven't been forgotten. As dogs tend to be larger and somewhat less agile than cats, they don't get quite the same run of the house.
Much of the focus is on outdoor dog houses, but there are plenty of clever options for indoor dogs too.
Most interior modifications are limited to ground level; items such as benches, cupboards and the lower levels of bookcases have become new dog-friendly spaces in today's homes.
These aren't necessarily just indulgences either. There are some cunning ideas, such as low shelves to tuck food bowls away from foot traffic, or even using bottom drawers to hide bowls when not in use.
Dogs love being part of the action, but their knack of being underfoot can be annoying and even dangerous.
To counter this, beds are getting the same treatment as those for cats, becoming incorporated into more stylish items of furniture, such as side tables for small dogs or coffee tables for larger ones.
Builders and architects are unleashing themselves on homes all over the US.
Kitchens get bed areas under bench tops, laundries have purpose-built dog baths and showers and lounge rooms are being fitted with discreet dog flaps tucked into bookshelves set against exterior walls.
For a bit of doggy DIY, Barkitecture is a must. This book will supply endless ideas on ways to pamper your pooch.
There are lots of photos and "a witty, tongue-in-jowl commentary", according to the author, Fred Albert.
Elsewhere, a clever inventor has created what they call the Pet Peek.
It's a domed porthole that punches views through fences, connecting dogs to the world outside the backyard.
No more frustrated barking at indeterminate noises emanating from the unknown.
Dogs can now have a proper, focused bark at things they can actually see.
Beyond The Crate takes pooch pampering to a whole new level, with their watchword being "If your home just isn't good enough... build them their own".
Two seriously spoiled dish-lickers have a "Celebrity Hacienda Dog House" which set their owner back $US30,000.
Without the exact specs of this pooch pad, Beyond The Crate's website notes that the "extensive list of available amenities includes running water, lighting, air conditioning and heating".
As for celebrity extravagance, the $30,000 Rachel Hunter dropped on her dogs' "Hacienda" pales into insignificance after you see - yes, you guessed it - Paris Hilton's mind-boggling excesses.
Her little darlings have a 28-square-metre, $325,000 mansion modelled on her own Beverly Hills home.
Their two-story digs not only cost more than a lot of people's homes, Hilton designed it with the assistance of her interior decorator.
This monument to extreme wealth and the lack of even the slightest grip on reality is fitted out with chandeliers, airconditioning, a staircase, balcony, beds, a wardrobe full of outfits and what looks like a bizarre miniature nightclub area set up for pole dancing.
The renowned American architect and designer of Canberra, Walter Burley Griffin, was a man before his time in many ways, especially if one considers his design of the Fishwick House in Sydney's Castlecrag.
This 1929 house had two fishponds with glass bottoms, suspended from the ceiling of the dining room.
But the design must have turned out to be impractical - who would have guessed – and they were replaced by skylights in the 1930s.
For a less radical but only slightly less impressive fishy feature, try the sleek Hanging Space Aquarium from America.
This design goes way beyond any standard tank and could probably put most other modern designs to shame.
These slim-line tanks hang from the ceiling giving a full walk-around view of their scaly inhabitants.
According to one distributor, Opulent Items, the fluorescent light placed on top of the frame makes the whole set-up glow, "thereby embellishing the ambience" of your home.
The aquarium's filtration system is neatly concealed within the stainless steel tube frame or located many metres away in a more convenient location.
It's certainly expensive - the large model is $US8500 - but for stylish fish-lovers it's an attractive option. Singer Jay-Z's former New York City residence - a $US31 million penthouse - featured some.
There is no limit to the creativity of tank design, from the elegant wall mounted types to a rather unsettling bathroom vanity style.
The Aquarium Sink is just $US4,500 and the site says they can have one shipped over here in no time. You will need a plumber to install it and the lighting and pump need electricity too.
We wonder if the fish become distressed when water gurgles down the plughole at the centre of their domain.
For people who share their homes with other types of pets, from the standard to the startling, you have not been forgotten.
Those ingenious Ikea hackers have been beavering away to accommodate all kinds of creatures in a style worthy of their place in your heart.
For the less DIY minded, consult your local pet store, the internet, a builder or an architect.
Remember, they aren't just pets, they're people too.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Longaberger estate on market for $15M

Longaberger estate on market for $15M

NASHPORT, Ohio (WANE) - The Longaberger Companyannounced Tuesday that its CEO has placed her 200-acre country estate Eschman Meadows on the market for $15 million.

According to Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, Tami Longaberger, CEO of The Longaberger Company, has placed Eschman Meadows on the market with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

Howard Hanna said it is the 4th largest real estate company in America and the #1 real estate company in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The family-owned Howard Hanna Real Estate Services has 134 offices across the four state area of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia with approximately 4,000 real estate sales associates.

“The Longaberger Company is one of America’s great family companies and we are proud Tami Longaberger chose our family company to market her fabulous estate, Eschman Meadows,” said Howard W. “Hoby” Hanna, IV, president of Howard Hanna. This is a wonderful opportunity for the individual buyer or corporate enterprise buyer to own one of the Great American Estates in the tradition of the Biltmore Estate or the famous mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.”

Located in the countryside of Central Ohio, Eschman Meadows is within two hours from Columbus, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Lexington, Cincinnati, Detroit, Charleston, WV and Cleveland.

“It is an absolutely amazing place. As I viewed the estate, I envisioned Monet’s Giverny with ivy covered exterior, reminiscent of a vintage home, and yet it is only 10 years young,” said Hanna.

Built over the course of four years, 1998-2001, Hanna said the 57,000 square foot custom designed brick home is set very privately on 200 acres of rolling countryside. The home features Georgian architecture and is designed to be ideal for family and company entertaining. Ms. Longaberger gathered the very best skilled craftsmen, architects and experts throughout Ohio and internationally to create her vision of an amazing country estate.

Among those experts is Acock Associates Architects - George Acock and Phil White are well-known for embracing their client’s deeply personal set of challenge.

Interior design work is by Bierly-Drake Design – Christopher Drake and the firm’s design work have received numerous national and local awards and are often featured in the high-end home and garden venue publications.

The landscaping architect was Bassett Associates – James Bassett has established a widespread reputation for award winning excellence and used all plantings native to Ohio.

Built with the old world trades of real Venetian plaster and great paneled woods (European yew, wormy chestnut, pickled oak and cherry), door and windows are mahogany, the magnificent home consists of three wings: the main residence, the guest wing and the ballroom wing which graciously accepts 300 guests in elegant style. The three wings are connected via an orangery and a family room with each wing secured for privacy from the estate’s main living area.

In total, there are seven bedrooms, ten full-baths, three half-baths, seven indoor and two outdoor fireplaces, one on the terrace with a breathtaking view of the surroundings and one by the pool’s conversation area.

Eschman Meadows has three ponds, a waterfall and glistening stream that create a serene experience.

The main residence features a marble entry with domed ceiling and arched doorways that lead to a secondary two-story foyer with handcrafted stained glass ceiling.

Every room has 8’ French doors and ceilings are 17’ throughout the first floor, 15’ on the second floor creating the feeling of space and grandeur.

There are two offices, one used as a den; a formal solarium living room surrounded in glass doors leading to a private, covered terrace with fireplace; a formal dining room large enough to accommodate a table for 18, of French Country design with a bayed window that frames the table and surrounds it with nature and a view of the back grounds; a chef-designed gourmet kitchen featuring a breakfast room with French doors to the family terrace, two islands with built-in refrigerator drawers, a double refrigerator and freezer, a gas stove, double ovens, warmer drawers, a wine cooler, two dishwashers, two trash compactors, granite counters, a double sink with bay window allowing for amazing views of the backyard oasis, stunning custom cabinetry handmade from imported European Yew wood, an oversized panty, elevator access, doors to the terrace and a back stairway to the upper level; and a generous sized family gathering room.

There are four bedrooms on the second floor of the family residence each with a private bath and walk-in closet. Three of the four bedrooms surround a circular hallway, where an exquisitely designed wrought iron railing provides magnificent views of the marble foyer below and the 1,400 square-foot custom stained glass garden design of artwork by Franklin Art Glass in the ceiling above.private balcony, two private luxury baths – one with a deep jetted tub, one with a massive shower. Adjoining both baths is an oversized, perfectly designed closet with built-ins and dressing room.

The master suite is a true retreat featuring a hand carved stone fireplace with sitting area, a

Accessible via two separate stairways, the entire lower level is an entertainment area featuring a wine cellar reminiscent of a German rathskeller, fireplace, billiards room, theater room, all purpose room and outdoor access to a wrought iron staircase leading to the family patio and pool area.

The guest residence wing has a separate entrance so as to not disturb the main residence. In the foyer area there is an office for work or meeting clients, a third laundry room, workout room with mirrored wall and ballet bar. A circular stairway leads to a private second floor area designed for at-home spa services from massages and manicures to hair styling. There is also a private bath with massive shower area and sauna. Three separate guest suites, each decorated with a unique theme, create an unparalleled experience for the guests that are fortunate to visit. The suites all have sitting areas, kitchens and private baths.

Everything in the ballroom wing, as grand as any country club, is tastefully of massive proportion. The garden room will accommodate hundreds for dinner, a wood-burning fireplace and the Franklin Art Glass stained glass ceiling soars overhead and reflects light in the multi-colored glass. Surrounding the ballroom are great outdoor terraces. The full catering kitchen including walk-in freezers, multiple bathrooms for large groups, staff locker rooms, a dumb waiter and massive storage with a lift floor system designed for easy access to this area makes entertaining easy and elegant for the master chef and staff.

The property also has a diesel run generator house, a six-car garage and radiant heat with all heated floors including the outdoor terraces. Tremendous formal gardens, fountains and a control flow waterfall transform the back outdoor area into an oasis.

Each floor of the home is poured concrete for ultimate soundproofing and a computerized system controls all mechanicals and communication.

Featuring a six-stall horse barn, three pastures and three stocked ponds, Eschman Meadows is a wildlife sanctuary. The grand entrance frames a pastoral landscape of natural prairies and wetlands, transected by a stately driveway that builds your anticipation for the grand home at its terminus.

And as to not disturb this natural look, the property’s helicopter pad and additional parking lot are both covered in sod.

Ms. Longaberger owns much of the land surrounding the 200-acres of Eschman Meadows and has first right of refusal if neighbors ever wish to sell, possibly giving access to an additional 100 to 150 acres.

The Longaberger Company and their famous seven-story home office, a replica of the company’s ‘Medium Market Basket’, are the dream of company founder and Tami’s late father, Dave Longaberger. The company is located in Newark, Ohio, approximately thirteen miles from the Longaberger Estate. Their well-known golf course, the Longaberger Golf Club, is just six miles from the residence and named one of the ‘Top 100 Best Golf Courses in America’ by Golf Digest in 2011.

The Longaberger estate, Eschman Meadows, is offered for sale for $15,000,000 by Howard W. “Hoby” Hanna, IV of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Designing a Dream Home for a Celebrity Kid

Designing a Dream Home for a Celebrity Kid

Several A-list celebrities -- Gwyneth Paltrow, Sandra Bullock, Jessica Alba and, of course, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie — either have adopted young children or have one on the way.

With these lifestyle changes in mind, what do celebrities want in a home? While they may have wanted a swim-up bar and sauna 10 years ago, many celebs now are looking for family-friendly homes with swing sets, playhouses, and giant kids rooms.

Unless you've been to the Jolie-Pitt compound in France, no one can say for certain, but here are some ideas for dream spaces for Suri, Apple and other celebrity kids.

Designer Bedrooms
First and foremost, parents are concerned where their kids lay their head at night. Not only does the room need to be safe and comfortable, but if you're a celebrity, it needs to be stylish as well.

Most little boys like boats so we can picture someone with a bunch of boys — we're looking at you Mrs. Beckham— to opt for bedroom with an ever-so-proper nautical theme, like the home pictured below on the Mercer Island real estatemarket. All you need is a boat bed, some paddles and buoys and you have a room that any sailor would be proud of.

9020 SE 47th St, Mercer Island WA(above)

For Sale: $1,299,000

We can't forget about the little princess in the family which is why this home listed on theOldsmar real estate market in Florida is a must.

One of the six bedrooms has been outfitted for a little princess, complete with a castle tower built into the room. And of course, pinks and purples rule the color scheme.

1734 E Lake Woodlands, Oldsmar FL (above)

For Sale: $1,395,000


A celebrity kid can't be expected to play in their room all day, which is why the next requirement for a celebrity kid's home is a giant playroom perfect for Matchbox cars, dress-up and hide-n-seek.

Who says you can't have kids in the city? Still within the Chicago city limits in the upscale Roscoe Village neighborhood, this townhouse has a basement area perfect for kids to romp, as well as enough space to hang all of their art work. Median Roscoe Village home values are presently $350,000.

1833 W Roscoe St, Chicago IL (above)

For Sale: $1,200,000


A celebrity kid's backyard just wouldn't be complete without a proper fort.

For the more adventurous kind, the best fort would be a treehouse — especially like the one seen in the backyard of this Scarsdale home for sale. The wooden structure sleeps 12 and is outfitted with comfy bean bags, a sleeping loft and paper lanterns for light.

9 Sundale Pl, Scarsdale, NY (above)

For Sale: $3,450,000

We can't forget the playhouse though—especially one with Craftsman details like shutters and Gingerbread trim in the backyard of a home for sale in Mamaroneck, NY.

14 Carriage House Ln, Mamaroneck NY (above)

For Sale: $1,695,888


The last element for the perfect celebrity kid's home is a pool —but not just any pool. The pool not only needs to be big enough for some major Marco Polo action, but it most likely will need at least a slide.

But if we're like any doting celeb parent, we'll need to do a little better on the slide and get one that wraps around the side of a rock wall, as is seen in this North Carolina home for sale, not to mention a pool basketball hoop and fountain to round things out.

7800 Clover Vale Dr, Waxhaw NC (above)

For Sale: $1,999,000

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Walt Disney's Mansion For Sale

Walt Disney's Whimsical Los Feliz House for Sale

By Ann Brenoff

Could this be your happiest place on Earth? It was the house that the man himself builtfor himself in 1932 for $50,000. It's now on the market for $3.65 million.

The 12-room mansion has a feature rare for its era: A projection and screening room. But what else would you expect from the man who brought the world Mickey and the gang? The studios would send over daily takes for Walt Disney to review. It was an early work-at-home office! 

The four-bedroom gated home is in the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Mediterranean-style entry has a circular rotunda and painted ceilings. Who knew that Walt had a thing for old world styling? There is a double-story living room with vaulted beamed ceilings and wrought-iron spandrels. The home, which sits on an acre, has the original leaded stained glass.

Disney lived in this home for about 18 years, although he had several other Los Angeles homes, including his better-known one on North Carolwood Drive. Even in real estate, it's sometimes about building a better mousetrap.

walt disney house

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vacation like a celebrity in a real star's home for a week

Vacation like a celebrity and actually sleep in the same bed that they do by taking your next vacation in the homes owned by these stars, as some of the biggest names have offered their vacation homes up for rent.

If you think living like a celebrity in a sprawling seaside or country home with a view only afforded to the very rich, sounds grand but impossible, think again. You can actuallyvacation in a home owned by some of the biggest stars and enjoy all the amenities that the celebrities enjoy in their vacation digs. Some of these celebrity rentals even come complete with a full staff to wait on you.

How about living like a rock star in Keith Richards vacation home or a movie star at the seaside vacation home of Bruce Willis? What about relaxing in the beautiful airy home of Christie Brinkley or enjoying the never ending ocean view at the home of fashion designer Donna Karan, which are locations that scream elite and luxury? These celebrity homes are all for rent at Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos.

The four celebrity vacation homes are available for the public to rent, when their owners are not taking up occupancy on a vacation of course. All of these homes offer a 360 degree ocean view, private infinity pools and Balinese furniture to die for. This doesn’t come cheap, it costs $24,000 a night, but for a group of friends all chipping in, this could be and extravagant, but affordable vacation for a long weekend.

Frank Sinatra designed his own home in Palm Springs and everything about it says “old blue eyes” was here, including the recording studio that he had built and used to record many of his great hits. It is now available for vacationers to rent. This desert oasis has four bedrooms and seven baths in this very modern home that was way ahead of its time when it was built in the middle of the last century. Everything from a gourmet kitchen to the modern amenities is offered at this vacation spot.

If the country and open space is more your idea of a vacation, Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch in Carmel, California is the place you want to go. Eastwood purchased the land years back to save it from developers and he has turned it into a ranch resort. This spot offers cabins and even reverted barns for their guests to stay in. The different accommodations offered range from cottages to lofts and barns to cabins.

Clint’s Mission Ranch awards you with a taste of the old west, but offers most every modern amenity available today. The Restaurant at Mission Ranch is second to none when it comes to its American flare cuisine, with a piano bar and jazz brunch offered to the patrons.

Eric Clapton’s vacation home in Stanfast Point, Antigua is available to rent, which is nestled on 45 acres on the ocean. This rental property comes with four buildings that will sleep 14 people in luxuries only available to rock icons until now. With this property, you get a full staff including a chef to prepare all your dinners.

Clapton’s place is reasonable when taken in the scope of other celebrity homes, as it costs $50,000 for the week. This split between 14 people is a vacation possibility for many hard working baby boomers and their friends.

If an entire private island is your idea of a vacation spot, you could live like Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island, British Virgin Islands. This globe trotting billionaire rents his Island home when he is away, it is a great place to plan a wedding. At $56,000 a night, it is a get away like no other.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Justin Timberlake Experiences Real Estate Loss

Justin Timberlake Experiences Real Estate Loss
By John E. Miller

Even celebrities don’t always make it big in real estate. Just ask Justin Timberlake.
Justin Timberlake has drastically expanded his singing and acting career since parting from the 1990’s and early 2000’s boy band *NSYNC. Timberlake, like many other boy band sensations from the 90’s, decided to hit the solo career route and released his first single in 2002.
Since then, Timberlake has experience incredible career success. Along with his flourishing musical career, Timberlake has more than dabbled in Hollywood. First appearing in Edison Force, Timberlake has moved his acting career forward at lightning speed, having a major role in several films including the 2010 The Social Network and this year’s Friends With Benefits.
However, Timberlake’s life outside of his career has include several loses ranging from relationships to the most recent—real estate.
Timberlake’s first album Justified included numerous songs that were inspired by the ending of his chemistry-driven relationship with pop star Britney Spears. Upon the relationship ending, Timberlake expressed his hurt and loss in song.
Now, Timberlake is experiencing another loss—this time involving the recent sale of his apartment in New York. In October, 2010, he listed the TriBeCa property for $5.25 million, which would represent a nice gain since he purchased the home in 2008 for $4.77 million. However, the final sale had Timberlake taking a loss of $700,000 for his approximately 3,000 square-foot pad that only sold for $4.7 million.
This represents a 10% drop from his original asking price, which can’t be pleasing to Timberlake – especially since he recently signed a contract for $6.6 million for a penthouse in SoHo.
Hopefully Timberlake will prove to be more successful in his future real estate initiatives, success that may rub off from his hot singing and acting career that continues to grow.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Slump? Blackstone Raises $3 Billion for Real Estate Fund

What Slump? Blackstone Raises $3 Billion for Real Estate FundBy Craig Karmin

Blackstone Group has raised about $3 billion for a new real-estate fund, another sign that the private-equity industry’s dominant players are attracting new capital while many of the smaller funds struggle to attract new money.
Blackstone, which reports second-quarter earnings Thursday morning, expects a first closing for its seventh real-estate fund in the third quarter, according to people familiar with the matter. Overall, the firm has indicated, it is targeting about $10 billion for the fund.
The private-equity titan has brought in that amount even though it only began its money-raising for the fund in the early spring. But it is not the only big firm on the real-estate fund-raising trail.
Carlyle Group, the Washington, D.C.-based private-equity firm, has raised about $2 billion so far for what will be its sixth U.S. real-estate fund. Lone Star Funds in Dallas, meanwhile, raised $5.5 billion for a second real-estate fund that closed in May, exceeding its initial target of $4 billion to $5 billion, say people familiar with the matter.
While the market downturn hasn’t prevented several of the most sizeable and established real-estate funds from raising fresh capital, consultants say that newer funds are facing challenges in persuading pension-fund investors to take a chance with less-proven managers with fewer resources.
Blackstone is expected to raise the most of its peer group and often deploys that money in particularly large, sometimes complex transactions.
This year, for instance, Blackstone paid $9.4 billion in a deal for the U.S. malls of Centro Properties Group, an Australian real-estate investor. Blackstone also purchased Chicago developer Sam Zell’s Equity Office Properties Trust in 2007 for $39 billion, then sold about 60% of the portfolio to other investors.
This post first appeared on the WSJ’s Deal Journal blog, which has more about Blackstone and private equity.

How a High Roller Really Lives

House of the Day: Vegas Penthouse a High-Stakes Winner

By Ann Brenoff 

If you spin the roulette wheel in real estate today, Las Vegas might wind up being an investor's lucky number. Take this 6,779-square foot, two-story penthouse in the prestigious high-rise at 1 Hughes Center Drive that's on the market now at $10 million. In 2009, it had a price tag of $15 million. That's a lot of poker chips.

Finished with rich woods and exotic stone work, the four-bedroom unit has a home theater, gourmet kitchen with dumbwaiter and lavish master suite that includes a large office. There are floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the neon lights of Vegas below.

Shapiro & Sher Group of Prudential Americana, Las Vegas, have the listing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

When Celebrity Real Estate Goes Wrong

When Celebrity Real Estate Goes Wrong: Why Star Residences Fail To Sell
John E. Miller

The real estate market hasn’t been kind to most people in the country (with the obvious exception of investors and homebuyers). Celebrities and the rich and famous, though, seemed to have largely dodged the bullet because their properties usually sell, sometimes even for a profit.
The celebrity effect has long been an acknowledged factor in real estate. In most markets, even during the typical down cycles, real estate associated with celebrities usually benefits from being associated with genuine star power. Buyers notice these hot properties before other homes because news gets out and tends to raise the profile of these star-crossed homes. Plus, the homes themselves are often luxurious, with state-of-the-art amenities and dynamite locations.
Of course, these days, in this market, even celebrities aren’t immune to real estate problems.
Remember Home Alone? It turns out the stately colonial home that was featured in that movie – located in an upscale village just to the north of Chicago – has been on the market for quite a while and recently saw its listing price cut by 10%, to $2.175 million.
Another celebrity home – this one owned by America Ferrera, the star of the hit TV series “Ugly Betty” – is also on the market but hasn’t gotten any takers. The Beachwood Canyon home is listed for $1.395 million, less than the $1.415 million it cost in 2008, and hasn’t had any bites. The price is almost $250,000 less than the original asking price in 2010.
There’s also the case of celebrities who are facing foreclosure on their homes and are trying to avoid that unseemly fate through short sales and other deals. Just over the past year, celebrities like Mel Gibson, Timbaland, Sergei Federov, JaMarcus Russell, Allen Iverson, Wayne Newton, and R. Kelly have faced foreclosure or have had their properties foreclosed by the bank.
What gives?
Well, in terms of celebrity homes that are on the market and can’t find buyers, a lack of privacy may be the culprit. The Home Alone property and the house owned by Ferrera both do not afford the level of privacy that affluent homebuyers want. If you have millions to plunk down on a hot property, you probably want your privacy intact – not violated by star-gazers or tourists. If you are in a top location, like secluded portions of Los Angeles that are star friendly, you probably don’t mind – which is why homes in those specific areas still sell well.
In terms of the other cases – situations like the list of celebrities above in which homes just don’t sell at all and face foreclosure – the reason is probably because the home was overpriced to begin with. Even celebrities can be victims of paying too much for a property. In fact, because they have so much discretionary income, they are more likely to overpay – which results in higher-than-desired asking prices that scare buyers away.
What can buyers and investors learn or gain from this situation? For starters, the market is full of prime real estate – real estate that can be purchased for significant bargains and resold at a later date, when the market recovers, for a nice profit. If you can find celebrity real estate, so much the better, but even if you can’t, “normal” real estate is still a prime opportunity.
Another lesson to be learned is that buying in the right timeframe is crucial to the success of any real estate venture. These celebrities obviously made the wrong call, but that doesn’t mean you have to repeat their mistake. Waiting too long will have you buying on the upswing of a recovery, in which the balance of the market begins to tilt toward sellers. With low interest rates and an abundance of available property, you can find an attractive bargain in virtually every market.
And might pick up a celebrity home or two while you’re at it.