Blog contributions are provided exclusively from Luxury Real Estate members throughout the world.
Courtesy of Greg Moesser of Rodeo Realty
The historic West Hollwood apartment building located at the corner of Norton Avenue & Havenhurst Drive has been fully renovated to its former glory and is now accepting new tenants for the first time in over decade. Now known as The Haventon Apartments, this “Pre-War” classic building includes six, 2BR & 3BR luxury apartment residences. Located in the historic area around Fountain Avenue, Harper Avenue and Havenhurst Drive, which is famous for its high concentration of landmark 1920s & 1930’s apartment buildings as well as high profile celebrity residents. Famous Havenhurst Drive residents have included Katy Perry, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Cole Porter and Katharine Hepburn, just to name a few.
The Haventon is a Monterey Colonial courtyard building that offers a beautiful historic style architecture and is also renovated to today's highest level of modern luxury standards. Every residence has a private formal entrance and its own unique individual street address as well as a garden patio, balcony, or courtyard. Interior features include 9’ high ceilings, crown moldings, hardwood floors, and custom built-ins. The modern kitchens offer Caesarstone or granite countertops, custom cabinetry and Fisher-Paykel & Bosch appliances. Additional features include luxury marble style baths, full size washer & dryers, central air conditioning, tankless water heaters and security camera "gated" entrances.
The Haventon Apartments is a rare jewel located in the highly fashionable city of West Hollywood. Minutes from Beverly Hills, Sunset Plaza, Beverly Center, Rodeo Drive and The Grove. Rental rates range from $3500 to $4500 for 2 BR residences and $5500 to $8000 for 3 BR residences. For more information, please contact Greg Moesser at Rodeo Realty, Beverly Hills at 310-770-9014.
Courtesy of TRI Coldwell Banker Previews International
TRI Coldwell Banker Previews International has listed the previous home of Tim Lincecum, starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. The 2,790 square foot listing in San Francisco is on the market for $1,795,000.
(January 19, 2012) SEATTLE — Construction on The Sanctuary—a 12-unit, residential conversion located within the former 1906 First Church of Christ, Scientist in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood—is now complete.
Originally built between 1906 and 1911 and designated an historic landmark by the City of Seattle in 1977, the completed project—now consisting of fee simple, concrete and steel town homes—offers a rare mix of intricate historic features, artisan craftsmanship and innovative modern design elements. The construction team was spearheaded by Belfor Property Restoration, Runberg and Associates, Robin Chell Design and The Justen Company.
A compelling example of adaptive reuse and historic preservation, redevelopment on the project initially began in 2007 but was stalled in 2010. An affiliate of San Diego-based Pathfinder Partners, LLC, acquired the construction note on July 7, 2011, and funded an additional $2 million to bring the project to its full potential. In readying the homes for sale, Resource Transition Consultants, LLC (RTC), the seller, responded to feedback from local real estate brokers, prospective homebuyers and other market experts.
“We made many improvements and are thrilled with how the individual homes and common areas turned out,” says Rob Nall, a principal of RTC. “The additional construction and restoration was worthwhile—we’ve optimized the final product and the pricing for positive market acceptance.”
In addition to changing the building use to residential with the City of Seattle, RTC worked through the Landmark Preservation Board to protect key architectural features while improving livability. For example, the century-old stained-glass windows now slide to the side, revealing new vision glass, which adds natural light, territorial views and fresh air to the unique residences.
“Our job is to complete construction, realign values and sell the homes at prevailing market rates,” adds Nall. “This is a unique scenario in which an inspiring product designed at the peak of the housing market may well sell at bottom-of-the-market prices.”
Despite its Classical Revival-style architecture, the former church now boasts modern interiors and technology, as well as high-rise construction quality within. Each home features soaring 30-foot-high ceilings, metalwork and cabinetry crafted by Seattle area artisans, polished concrete floors, re-purposed marble from the original building and top-of-the-line appliances and fixtures that include brands such as Wolf, Bertazzoni, Liebherr, Asko, and Kohler to name a few.
Ranging from four to six levels (including roof top terraces); the town homes are sized from 1,600 to more than 3,000-square-feet and will list from the low $500,000s to $1.1 million – about 45% below original asking prices, according to the listing brokers.
“Waiting paid off for patient homebuyers trying to time the market at The Sanctuary,” said Dean Jones, principal of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “We’re offering a greatly enhanced yet highly affordable product by virtue of dramatically lowered purchase prices and historically low interest rates. And the landmark designation means significantly reduced property taxes for the next ten years.”
Two model homes will be opened this weekend for public previews from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The official sales debut is scheduled for January 28, 2012 when the sales office opens. More information can be found on the recently launched website at www.liveatsanctuary.com.
About Resource Transition Consultants, LLC.
RTC, headquartered in Edmonds, WA, was founded in 2008 by Robert Nall, Douglas Barnes and Kevin Hanchett to provide receivership services to lenders on financially distressed real estate transactions. The firm has been active in the successful disposition of numerous communities, in addition to distressed commercial and business assets. For more information, visit www.rtcreceivers.com.
About Realogics Sotheby's International Realty
Seattle-based Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty is a nationally-recognized, full-service real estate brokerage that specializes in new construction sales and marketing services for its developer and lender clientele. Representing high-profile multifamily communities in the Seattle area, the firm is a top selling residential brokerage in Seattle by dollar volume for multifamily, according to Trendgraphix. For more information, visit www.realogicssothebysrealty.com.
For high-resolution photography of the Sanctuary and additional property information, please contact Michelle Poitevin at 206.448.5752 or email Michelle@Realogics.com.
Yesterday evening I was engaged in a conversation with the composer Joan LaBarbara about the ways, good and bad, in which the Internet has opened the world of music to the general public. The Internet has also opened the world of listings to the general public. And this too is good and bad. Access to information has certainly created better informed consumers. But knowing the listings does not create expertise. The training, focus, and market knowledge possessed by the better real estate agents simply cannot be duplicated by the lay person. Nowhere is this more evident than in the preparation of the Board package. In her wonderfully funny new book about moving to New York, “The Last Blind Date”, Linda Yellin includes a full chapter on her co-op purchase experience. The Board process made NO sense to a Chicagoan like Linda, and frankly I think many New Yorkers, even those who think they know, really don’t understand just how time consuming and critical this piece of the puzzle can be. To make matters worse for squeamish prospective purchasers, established condos seem to be taking a page from the co-op playbook and requiring extensive Board packages themselves. So probably, if you as a buyer aren’t buying a townhouse or a condo offered by the sponsor, a Board package is in your future. So let’s open 2012 with a few tips for navigating the process:
· The Board package, when well executed should present a concise and comprehensive view of your life-familial, social, and financial. It should give the Board information about where you come from, what your interests are, what philanthropic endeavors occupy your time, what your kids are like-everything necessary to create a full picture.
· You will need to create a complete financial statement, along with back-up schedules and independent verification of all your assets. You will also need at least a couple of years of (probably complete) tax returns.
· The Blumberg form of co-op contract, which is used by most attorneys, only allows two weeks for Board package preparation. Take my word for it, this isn’t enough, especially when you include broker review. Make sure to get yourself three weeks rather than the two in the printed form.
· Really give some thought to who will write your social and business reference letters. These should be planned to include people who have known you a long time, people who know your kids, people who know your philanthropies; the letters should contain a full range of different perspectives. And please don’t you write them all or send the authors the same sample letter! It wastes a lot of everyone’s time if we have to go back to Square One with the letters because they are all written in the same font with the same salutation (a sure sign that the buyer wrote them all) or if they all contain the same middle paragraph ( a sure sign that the writers all received the same sample letter).
· About five days before the package is finally submitted, you will become so fed up with the process that it will actually seem sensible to you to a) assassinate your broker, b) move to a yurt in Outer Mongolia, or both. Don’t despair; this is the darkest hour before the dawn. And please don’t take it out on your agent either. Boards really ARE looking for all the details, clearly and sequentially presented. Remember, everyone you know who lives in a co-op has been through the same thing.
· Finally, when you are in the mood described in the bullet point above, do not say, or believe, that it is OK to hand in an incomplete package because “if they want more information they can come back and ask me for it.” Yes, they can, but often they won’t. They will just turn you down. It is far easier to provide all the detail the requirements, and your agent, ask for up front.
A Board package is time consuming, frustrating, and invasive. But it is the only way to end up with the co-op you want to live in. So take a deep breath, accept it, and work with your agent to make the process as painless as possible. No offense, but we really DO know more about this process than you do.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
In New York, a slowing real estate market characterized the fourth quarter of 2011. Fewer purchasers at every level signed contracts than in the preceding three months, and the market retained the highly stratified characteristics which had marked it throughout the year. Co-ops at the lowest end of the market remained an extremely tough sell, while condos at the upper end continued in popularity, especially with foreign buyers.
The marquee sale of Sanford Weill's penthouse at 15 CPW for $88 million was a particular highlight of the fourth quarter. While unique at $13,000 per foot, the sale was emblematic of the willingness on the part of foreigners, particularly those from the former Soviet Union, to spend extraordinary amounts of money the world over for trophy properties. All over Manhattan, foreign buyers, especially from Russia, Asia and South America, have driven new condo prices up as they use our real estate as a safe haven for their capital. The lower priced properties, frequently in multiples, are the preferred purchase of Asian investors. The high profile, high price units are more often purchased by South American or Russian nationals, likely as pied-a-terre apartments for use a few times per year.
In addition to serving as investment vehicles for investors from around the world, sales continued briskly in the one to three bedroom new condo markets all over town. The fourth quarter saw continued healthy absorption in Harlem and Williamsburg, in Chelsea and the Madison Park area, with a mix of users, investors, and parents purchasing for kids writing the checks. While the pace slowed from earlier in the year, it continued strongly enough to further whittle down the inventory overhang from what appeared to be overbuilding a few years back. Now that these units are getting absorbed, however, an inventory shortage seems more likely to afflict us than an overhang. And for the first time in several years, eager buyers are buying new condos from plans; the Toll Brothers building on 65th and Lexington is almost sold out although the infrastructure has only reached about the eighth floor.
The co-op market, meanwhile, was subject to a highly different set of forces. Without the boost of foreign capital, the mood remained cautious. Among properties costing $5 million and up, scarcity dictated the terms of the market; with so little available, well priced properties in excellent condition were still attracting multiple offers. But with an uncertain economy, the prospect of shrunken Wall Street bonuses, and a country paralyzed by political bickering, the fourth quarter was a time for caution. No one wanted to go too far out on a limb. So even larger co-ops had to be priced exactly right if they were to sell. Buyers were not stretching. They once again liked real estate as an alternative to the zero-sum roller coaster of the stock market, but only at the right price. As for the older condos, they are increasingly indistinguishable from co-ops; their Boards are demanding more and more information, both financial and personal, in the Board packages, and just waiting out the buyers who won’t supply it. Sooner or later, most of those buyers just throw up their hands and walk away.
In the $2 million to $5 million market, the same realities applied. There was less multiple bidding during the last few months of the year than there had been earlier, but even in the multiple bid situations which DID arise, the properties had to be well priced and in great condition. And then the bids rarely went much, if at all, above the asking price. And as the co-ops got smaller, the inventory got larger. The studio and one bedroom markets, especially in the postwar buildings which line the eastern avenues of the East Side from 96th Street down to 14th Street, are still available in quantity and absorption continues to be slow. One of the events to watch for in 2012 will be the tipping point between the undersupplied rental market and the saturated sales market: at what point do those one and two bedroom renters get their increase notices and say, “For this money it would make more sense for me to own”?
2011 was a year in which the complex realities of the newly global economy were felt in every corner of the world. It was a year of market unpredictability during which, on the whole, our New York real estate market was in balance. Buyers and sellers remained largely within their comfort zones, and deals were negotiated aggressively but fairly on both sides. There were some unexpected peaks, like the spring mini-boom, and some unexpected valleys, like the winter doldrums which began the year. But overall well priced properties sold at fair prices to satisfied buyers. We like to think of this as a broker’s market, in which our contribution as brokers in educating both sides and bringing them together seems particularly concrete. We look forward to more of the same in the year ahead.
For up to the minute information, please visit the Warburg Blog.
In the residential real estate business there is a saying which goes back as least as long as I do: buyers are liars. I never liked that saying much. But there is an underlying grain of truth. Every broker who has been around the block has had at least a couple of experiences with a buyer who works with them for months, then buys something completely different from what they had been looking at, often with another broker whom they discovered online or just met at a party. So what I would say is that buyers are evolving. Priorities change during the search. Looking at property can bring the REAL wish list into sharper focus. Are space and layout ACTUALLY more important than address and location? Does prewar trump light and air? We, as agents, don’t know the answers to these questions at the beginning of the process, and often you, as the buyer, don’t fully know the answers either.
So both sides need to be vigilant. On our side, we need to pay attention to the many reactive cues our buyers give us when looking at property and in the all important chatting which takes place as we travel between appointments. If we don’t try to dominate the conversation, our buyers will tell us what they want in many small ways. A casual question asked several times about whether or not this property is in a “good building” lets us know that this is a concern. A buyer who walks immediately to the windows in every apartment clearly cares a lot about what is outside them. A note taker who opens every closet door and needs to walk through three times will negotiate very differently from a quick looker who knows within moments if he/she is interested and never stays anywhere more than four or five minutes. And for one the devil is in the details, while the other will probably choose based on big picture criteria.
And here’s what we ask of you, the buyer. First, listen to us. I know the Internet, StreeatEasy, Zillow, and Trulia give access to a lot of listing information (although a lot of it is wrong or out of date.) But access to information is not the same thing as deeply understanding the nuances of the marketplace. Second, confide in us. We have a fiduciary responsibility to you as your broker to keep the information you give us confidential. But we cannot operate without understanding your real goals, your real timetable, etc. And we cannot help you devise a strategy without having some sense of what you are willing to pay for the property you want to buy.
When it works (and if it isn’t working, you should change brokers), the broker/buyer relationship is both efficient and effective. We enjoy the satisfaction of seeing you settled in the right place at the right price. You feel secure that you have been heard, that your evolving priorities have been attended to, and that you have benefited from our expertise in both finding the property which gives you what you REALLY wanted (as opposed perhaps to what you originally THOUGHT you wanted) and paying the right price for it.
New York’s top agents share a number of traits, including extensive knowledge of the marketplace, negotiating expertise, and a primary focus on serving YOU. That’s what you should expect from us. What we hope for from you, and we know we have to earn it, are loyalty and trust. These gateways open into the successful relationship described in the paragraphs above. Then we won’t have to think that buyers aren’t liars, and more important you won’t be thinking that of us.
“Located in a 110-year-old building on Chicago's Gold Coast, this nearly 7,900-square-foot condominium was once part of the Playboy Mansion.”
The summer rentals are ending, the vacations are winding down, and all over New York City real estate agents are preparing for the fall season. After the economic uncertainty of the summer, it seems likely that both buyers and sellers will be second guessing their own decisions as the season progresses. So let’s try to answer some of the most basic questions here and now:
Although most New Yorkers rent, the answer to the question “why buy?” is a fundamental one which weaves it way through American life. In no other country is the concept of home ownership so enshrined. We give tax breaks for mortgages, tax breaks for real estate taxes, all because we as a nation believe so profoundly in the concept of home ownership. Kids grow up believing that owning a home is an indication of success, proof that you have made it. Home ownership has burrowed deep into the American mind set; it embodies both security and success. Renting is easy, it can be cheaper, but it doesn’t provide the same level of satisfaction or sense of arrival.
Why buy now?
This is a question agents can never answer. I have learned over the years that the smartest and most successful agents are facilitators, not convincers. The customer always has to answer this question for him or herself. I never try to talk anyone into anything. That said, there are always good reasons to buy now. It means you can begin the process of ordering your life around your new home. But…If you find what you want, then the time to act is now. Many buyers I have dealt with over the years have let go of a property they really liked because they were sure the market was too high, or a better one would come along, or that they could somehow second guess the trajectory of the marketplace. No one ever knows what will happen next, and more often than not they end up sorry. When you and your life are ready, be ready to act. The rest is all, ultimately, irrelevant.
What should I buy?
It always makes sense to reach just a little bit. Not to seriously overextend yourself; that is NEVER a good idea. But to try to buy the best space in the best location you possibly can. When my wife and I did that, we lived for a year with a 50 year old kitchen and over 20 years with original bathrooms. It took us a while to afford the renovations, but every day we enjoyed the wonderful location and spacious rooms of our apartment. Maybe it takes a few years to get new furniture. Maybe it takes a few years to tear down those walls or re-imagine that dining room as a family room. But as long as you got yourself good bones in a good spot, everything else will fall into place.
SEATTLE, WA. (July 25, 2011) – Executives at Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty unveiled a property showcase of the Seattle area’s most exclusive condominium and town home offerings on the market. A progressive open house for brokers is being hosted tomorrow on Tuesday, July 26 from 3pm to 6pm. Each property listing and relevant market data is arrayed online at www.RealogicsSothebysRealty.com/Penthouses.
“Its peak season to present luxury homes in downtown Seattle as many locals and visitors are experiencing the allure of our world-class city,” says Dean Jones, Principal of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “We’ve noted a steady increase of property inquiries from buyers around the corner and around the globe. We hope to add these fine properties to our growing list of sold listings so far this year.”
According to the American Society of Travel Agents, Seattle remains in the top 10 most visited US destinations during the summer months. Meanwhile, the US Department of Commerce says Washington (primarily Seattle) tied with Nevada for the greatest annual increase of overseas visitors in the country in 2010 – up 32 percent. The Port of Seattle reports cruise ship passengers will bring more than 800,000 visitors to Seattle with nearly 200 cruise liner port calls. More than 10 million people a year tour The Pike Place Market and The Space Needle with the greatest visitor traffic during July and August. Many of the featured listings are within walking distance of these attractions (tours by appointment only).
The seven featured properties include the following penthouses and town homes:
• Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue I #3800 I 2 Bed / 2.5 Bath I 2,999 Sq. Ft. I $4,995,000
• Olive 8 I #PH2 I 2 Bed / 2.5 Bath I 2,224 Sq. Ft. I $2,495,000
• Mosler Lofts I #PH2 I Two Bed / Two Bath I 2,000 Sq. Ft. I $1,990,000
• The Enclave at Lake Union I 2,500 – 5,200 Sq. Ft. I Pre-selling from $1,365,000 - $3,450,000
• Market Place North I #E18 I 2 Bed / 2 Bath I 1,919 Sq. Ft. I $1,195,000
• Waterfront Landings I #524 I 2 Bed / 2 Bath I 1,888 Sq. Ft. I $1,175,000
• The Sanctuary I 2 Bed / 2+ Bath I 1,278 – 2,428 Sq. Ft. I Accepting Reservations from $600,000
Jones estimates about half of the most recent $1 million+ sales have come from buyers out of state; be it for employment relocation, retirement, as a second home or even investment. Demand is also picking up locally but the majority of homebuyers in Seattle need to sell a home before they will buy a new home, which limits the number of transactions, he said.
“We’re exercising our (international) brand to attract a broader pool of buyers for our clients,” adds Jones. “It helps too that we have such amazing inventory to present – these properties are clearly in a league of their own.”
In addition to property detail information, the web page at www.RealogicsSothebysRealty.com/Penthouses offers helpful tools for prospective homebuyers trying to better understand the market dynamics. A “heat map” demonstrates where the $1 million sales have occurred over the past decade, there’s links to recent articles on the downtown housing market, a development pipeline illustrates the supply and demand and other statistics are provided from indices like The Northwest Multiple Listing Service and the popular S&P / Case-Shiller Home Price Index.
“I believe we’re at real turning point with downtown housing - so statistical information has become as important as the architectural design, location or views,” says Jones. “That said buyers and brokers tend to look at these unique penthouse properties a little differently than more typical condominiums. They’re similar to waterfront listing because like land, they’re not making any more towers. Penthouse living is an inherently finite commodity.”
EDITORS NOTE: For high-resolution images or statistical information please contact Michelle Poitevin at 206.448.5752 or Michelle.Poitevin@SothebysRealty.com.
About Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty
Launched in February 2010, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty has quickly emerged as the top-selling brokerage of luxury multifamily properties (by dollar volume) in King County, according to Trendgraphix, Inc. The Seattle-based firm is comprised of more than thirty brokers and offers full real estate services for new construction, resale and mixed-use developments of single-family, townhome and condominium properties. For more information visit www.RealogicsSothebysRealty.com.
Every buyer is at some point a seller. But the personality of a buyer changes completely when that transition occurs. The same person who, as a buyer, offers low and doesn’t want to raise the offer to meet the seller’s “unrealistic expectations” becomes a seller and behaves in an identical fashion to the seller he so recently reviled-and usually without an ounce of self-consciousness. The question is how to make those seller expectations as realistic as possible? What do you need to do to maximize the value of your property? The economy is uncertain, the Eurozone is struggling-the last thing most buyers want is an additional headache. So how do you, as a seller, make your property the SOLUTION to a buyer’s problems rather than an extension of them? Let’s look at some ideas:
· Make sure you have all the proper documentation. Do you have all the sign offs from the contractors who did your renovation? Do you have a record of the Board’s approval of the renovation? Any buyer’s lawyer will want to see them. Did you combine apartments? If so, do you have a record of the Board’s approval of THAT? Have you removed the second kitchen and taken the other steps to make sure the combined space is completely legal? Do it before you take the property to market. How about the building’s recent financial statements? You will need them.
· As soon as you decide you are going to sell, start throwing things away. You can put a lot of your possessions in storage, but make triply sure you REALLY want them first. When we moved our second home recently, we threw a lot of our stuff away and then put the rest in storage for 18 months while we renovated. Then we moved into the house, unpacked everything, and threw away half of the things we had stored. So be ruthless the first time.
· Once you have gotten rid of a lot of debris, walk through the house with your broker and a critical eye to see what needs to be done. Chipping paint on the ceiling? Fix it. Bulging tile in the bathroom? Fix it. Those dark purple walls you thought were so cool? Paint them white. Replace the 40 watt bulbs with 60 watt bulbs. Or 75 watt bulbs. Buy a couple of halogen torcheres and but them in the dark corners to cast uplight. The goal is a space which looks under-furnished, airy, and bright.
· Try to think of the convenience of the buyer and not your own convenience. Make the showing hours as liberal as possible. Work overtime to keep mess to a minimum. Keep buying flowers. Make the beds. Kids (even teenagers) can be made to understand that selling the property is financially significant, and having their rooms look like Satan’s lair is NOT conducive to a successful sale!
· Price to sell. Remind yourself of what it felt like to be a buyer and let that inform your decisions as a seller. You want to choose a number which will draw the buyers in, not shut them out.
There are no guarantees in real estate sales; even the most experienced agents cannot say for certain how long the sale of your home may take. But if you follow these steps you are significantly improving the odds in your favor.
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