Blog contributions are provided exclusively from Luxury Real Estate members throughout the world.
Two Luxury Real Estate members have been included in Yahoo Real Estate’s Guides and Advice column for the 10 Most Spectacular Ski Homes for Sale.
Listed at $15.9 million by Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate, the 8,308 square foot, 6 bedroom and 6.5 bathroom Norwegian Lodge-style home sits at the base of Vail, the largest ski resort in the U.S. The property features imported Hawaiian Koa wood paneling and French lithograph wallpaper, an indoor swimming pool, cobblestone driveway, heated decks and patios surrounding home, caretaker's quarters, separate guest house and dining gazebo.
Listed by Chase International, Lake Tahoe's most prestigious property holds few rivals in the world. Owned by Joel Horowitz, the co-founder of Tommy Hilfiger, Tranquility provides unparalleled magical seclusion with a private lake and eight buildings. At $100 million, the buyer will enjoy world class amenities at the touch of their fingertips. Spread across 210 acres, the 20,000 square foot masterpiece includes a main residence, art studio, conservatory, and gymnasium with basketball court, two par-three golf holes, a 16-car garage, and gate house.
By Jim Walberg
From his blog: Some East Bay Real Estate Is On The Slippery Slide Of FEAR!
Once you get on the Slipper Slide of Fear, it is difficult to get off! Please stay off that slippery slide!
So, I picked up USA Today last Saturday on my flight to the Luxury Real Estate Fall Conference in Philadelphia where I was a presenter. The USA Today headline was, “FEAR is a slippery slide!” In some of my past comments I have used the sailor’s mantra, “Do not be fearful!” It still applies today, in spite of an almost 900-point recovery on the Dow Jones the past two days. Don’t forget… once you step on the “slippery slide” of fear, the momentum carries you away very quickly.
The voice of experience, the voice of the local authority, and the voice of credibility can still prevail. And we are the ones that need to be that voice. I just completed a walk from the Philadelphia Ritz Carlton to Constitution Hall, the Liberty Bell, and other reminders of the work our founding fathers did on our behalf 230+ years ago. What an inspiring day! (You may recall this is the organization that is the acknowledged authority of luxury real estate! It was founded by John Brian Losh with a vision of connecting the best luxury brokers and agents in the world – 1,900 members from 65 countries.)
Do you think they were afraid? Of course they were. But, the consequence of letting fear paralyze them from action was not acceptable. Instead of the “slippery slide” of fear taking them away from the liberty and freedom they so dearly wanted for our country, they discovered – step by step – the actions needed to create the most incredible democracy in our world’s history. It was very hard. Thousands of lives were lost as part of that payment for liberty. And, the founding fathers never lost site of end result that was required – FREEDOM!
There is a book I have enjoyed reading several times – “The Tipping Point.” They have a very insightful analysis of Paul Revere’s ride in Boston a few days before the Revolutionary War was officially declared. His ride was so effective that it mobilized the citizens along his route in a manner that called them to action in stopping the British from confiscating their arms stored in Concord. Did you know there was a second rider who was sent in a different direction to alert another section of Massachusetts to immediately prepare to defend Concord. Does anyone remember his name? In fact, I had never heard of him before I read “The Tipping Piont.” He was totally and utterly ineffective in his call to arms.
What was the difference between these two men with similar intentions? Paul Revere was one of the most respected local authorities on what was happening within the colonies which he believed required a liberation movement to break away from British rule – even if it meant war. I would like to be as effective as Paul Revere during these uncertain economic times. We are the local citizens calling our “citizens” to action in order to work through the financial crisis we are in. Will you join me as we serve our clients and communities, and help them off the “Slippery Slide of Fear?” (You get bonus points if you email me with the other freedom rider’s name whose ride was a waste of time.) Contact me with your thoughts. Until next time…
Jim Walberg is the co-Broker/Owner of The Bay Area Team, the most-successful team at Keller Williams Realty-Danville. He is also a member of the global Luxury Real Estate network. Jim is an exceptional blogger, as you can see by visiting his blogs, East Bay Real Estate and Caribbean Islands Realty, and reading his great blog entries like the one above. He is the master of fractionals and other luxury homes in the Bay Area and the Caribbean, and he always has a lot of great opportunities to share. Simply marvelous. This is the last blog entry from Jim that I will have the privilege of editing and posting to the Luxury Real Estate Blog. I am always impressed by his enthusiasm, cheerful disposition and unparalleled kindness. Thank you, Jim, for being such a good person and being a light to a world of shadows and fear. You are amazing.
By Christine Watson
From her blog: Hide Your Personals! Protecting your privacy when selling your home!
Putting your luxury home on the market poses two very personal concerns:
1. Invasion of privacy: that your personal life will be on show;
2. Theft: your personal effects are prey to any “prospective” buyers
De-clutter your property before placing it on the market: this is my first piece of advice for those vendors concerned with their privacy being publicised to the world.
To some it means removing everything from bench tops, cupboards and shelves and to others it means keeping the home clean, neat and tidy. But how do you protect your privacy and hide your personal items?
Your home generally depicts your personal life, showing your taste in furnishings, colours, art, antiques and family photographs. Is opening your home to the public an invasion of your privacy? Absolutely!
The experience of Marquette Turner Luxury Homes shows that people buy the home that “ticks most of the boxes”. When selling your home, you should take the distractions away so the buyer can concentrate solely on looking at your home.
Furthermore, we are not great advocates of open inspections in a troubled market and it is important to appreciate that household-contents insurance does not cover the loss of personal effects during a viewing of a property. Remove the opportunity for theft and protect yourself as if you were a celebrity like Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise or Hugh Jackman.
Selling your home can be stressful enough without the concern that someone is taking an interest in your personal life and possessions.
Marquette Turner Luxury Homes we will not allow anyone to view your home without showing their photo identification. If someone objects they are not respecting your home and are not serious about buying the property. Only a luxury agency can truly protect your privacy.
Christine Watson is a Director of Marquette Turner Luxury Homes, a member of Luxury Real Estate in East Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Founded on Australia Day 2007 by Michael Marquette and Simon Turner, Marquette Turner is a property consultancy company covering the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria. Along with Marquette and Turner, now we have a new blogger providing excellent content for the Luxury Real Estate Blog. Wonderful! Thank you very much for the excellent advice, Christine. Don’t forget that both sellers and real-estate agents are at risk at open houses, so it’s best to be as safe as possible. The photo above is from www.flickr.com/photos/jef/1526987585 and it is the copyright of Jef Poskanzer.
By Robert Lockard
In the winter 2009 issue of LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine (this link will start working in December 2008 when the magazine is published) I wrote an article entitled “Seeing Green: Living eco-friendly without sacrificing luxury.” In that article I mentioned a number of links and resources awaiting readers online. As promised, here they are! Check out the following Web sites for valuable information on what you can do today to start enjoying the benefits of “green” homes. In addition, I included links to the personal blogs/sites of the five Luxury Real Estate members and Eco-Brokers who I interviewed for this article. They were very helpful in the writing process and I’m sure you’ll find them to be extremely helpful in the home buying and selling process:
“Green” Organizations and Resources
www.buildinggreen.com: An independent publishing company focused on “green” building materials and methods.
www.builditgreen.org: A nonprofit dedicated to promoting “green” building in California by providing education, professional directories and more.
www.builtgreen.net: The Built Green™ logo signifies a property meets rigorous “green” standards. Based in Western Washington.
www.earthcrafthouse.com: Founded in 1999, EarthCraft House™ certifies new homes in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia as “green” based upon high standards.
www.greenhomeguide.org: Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, this site offers a variety of resources for “greening” your home.
www.lowimpactliving.com: A tool for setting realistic goals based on your budget, location and other factors.
www.nahb.org: Formed in 1942, the National Association of Home Builders provides in-depth data on housing trends, including “green” homes.
www.southeastgreen.com: A user-friendly directory of businesses offering “green” products and services in the Southeast United States.
www.usgbc.org: Official site of the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit composed of leaders from every sector of the building industry, which provides LEED™ standards for homes, businesses and more.
Blogs/Personal “Green” Sites:
www.cottenalston.com (Cotten Alston’s personal site)
www.roseannblacher.com (Roseann Blacher’s personal site)
http://maringreenrealestate.blogspot.com (Jonathan Marks’ blog, the only “green” blog in Marin County)
www.thebuckheadblog.com (Carson Matthews’ blog)
http://welcomehomegreen.typepad.com (Hannah Tai’s blog)
By Robert Lockard
I am sorry to keep talking about sad things in my luxury real estate blog entries, but I just read an article in CNN entitled “Ex-bankers on pushing customers to rack up debt” and it once again brought up many familiar concerns to my mind on the topic of consumer debt. I wish that I could talk about happy topics. I would much prefer to discuss luxury properties or any other topic, including how getting adequate sleep can lead to more success, but, alas, I feel it much more pressing to focus on the problems upon us.
I am absolutely disgusted by the state of our financial markets. It seems to me that dishonesty is rampant and the very people who are responsible for this mess are asking for a great deal of money to supposedly solve the problem. But I care about people much more than institutions. And, based upon the testimony of the two honest women in the CNN article, who both have good consciences, I see little difference between the practices of certain banks and lenders and the practices of drug pushers. Many lenders trick people into taking more money than they need, they strive to get young people addicted and they keep people in a state of dependency for extended periods of time. All of that adds up to trouble.
Debt is a plague that, when handled unwisely, can lead to all sorts of problems that I think are even worse than the horrible effects of drug abuse. People can at least stop taking drugs and eventually go through a process of withdrawal and recovery. But with debt, even if a person stops going into more debt, they still have interest building up on the money they owe and they face all sorts of roadblocks on the way to recovery.
The very institutions that have pushed so many people to get addicted to debt are now suffering from a major withdrawal (pardon the banking pun) and seem on the verge of collapse… wait a minute – collapse? How is this possible? It starts with how good people are treated. We have not been treated fairly and now those who have been engaging in dishonest practices are reaping the bitter fruit. We have become a nation of debtors, instead of a nation of wealth.
Perhaps our financial market, as it currently stands, should not be saved. Perhaps we must soon create an entirely new and honest way of working with our money. Whatever we choose, we cannot keep doing what we have been doing.
I feel like I’ve been ending every blog entry with an apology for being so negative. I just don’t want to leave my readers with a sense of anger or hopelessness. I think that there is much to hope about. There are plenty of good people in this world and in our wonderful nation, the United States. I am confident we will make it through this sad time. I just want to make sure this never happens again.
Robert Lockard is the Public Relations & Media Specialist with LuxuryRealEstate.com. I am Robert. I create all of Luxury Real Estate's newsletters, write the editorials in LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine and much more. The photo of the parrot biting a credit card is from www.flickr.com/photos/djkbird214/2695122732 and it is the copyright of dj-squared.
By Robert Lockard
As promised in my last luxury real estate blog entry, here is my discussion of some meaty topics I’ve wanted to talk about for a little while. The past few weeks have been pretty thrilling, wouldn’t you say? Wall Street dropped an incredible 504 points on Monday and 449 points on Wednesday. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, organizations designed to create stability, have failed. Other financial institutions, once seemingly healthy and sound, are facing bankruptcy and other troubles. Think that’s bad enough? Russia’s stock market is doing considerably worse.
Okay, that’s the bad news. Now let’s take a step back and switch gears a little. I am an optimist. I believe that good wins in the end. I think that right now many bad companies and practices are facing the fact that they have built upon a sandy foundation and they are in danger of falling. All of the companies that are failing are doing so because of their own greed and recklessness. Home loans were turned into investment packages and many other bad ideas were allowed to come about because of greed.
If these companies had built upon solid foundations and principles that were put into place to safeguard the country after the Great Depression, we would probably be all right. It comes back to greed and pride. There is safety in old wisdom.
I cannot say a hundredth part of what I desire to say right now because this might not be the most appropriate forum to share the most treasured things in my heart. However, I can say that we need not fear what people can do or what problems may arise if we can see how temporary they are. We should be patient, long-suffering, forgiving and kind, especially when times are tough. Anyone who knows me knows that I definitely try to practice what I preach, so I hope you won’t think that I’m giving this advice lightly.
Let these organizations tremble because of their fear of falling. We will not fall if we are firmly planted on truth and honesty.
Robert Lockard is the Public Relations & Media Specialist with Luxury Real Estate. I am Robert. I create all of Luxury Real Estate's newsletters, write the editorials in LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine and much more. Stribling & Associates is a member of the Board of Regents, an exclusive group of brokers that leads the Luxury Real Estate network. The photo of the Grand Canyon is from www.flickr.com/photos/raindog/2838872767 and it is the copyright of raindog.
By Michael Marquette
From his blog: Should I Buy a Franchise or Go It Alone?
How much is a brand worth when deciding whether to join a franchise? Throughout Australia there are plenty of agencies willing to sell their letterhead and designs to almost anyone willing to pay the money to get it. Real estate names like LJ Hooker, Ray White, Richardson & Wrench, Laing+Simmons, First National, Hocking Stuart and now McGrath are all competing with many others to get the agent-come-entrepreneur’s buck.
To secure the franchise there are a number of requirements – an office in a prominent position is usually one of them. This, in itself, is cause for alarm in a world where the Internet is a part of life and online searches are an everyday thing. Most of us use Google some or most of the time as an Internet search engine, yet how many of us have been to the Google office? Where is their office?
The answer is probably not one person reading this blog has visited a Google office, yet the Google brand is massive worldwide and is a shining light indicating how business will be run, won and lost in years to come.
As you might be able to tell by now, I am not a fan of outdated business models with high fixed costs that hinder innovation. Real estate is becoming more and more an online industry where agents and brokers visit clients or meet at properties – not the real estate office of old. It’s estimated that spending on newspaper property advertising will decrease by around 18 percent this year and the trend is expected to continue.
Our world is changing quickly and it is essential to look forward to how the world might look in five years time before committing to a franchise that might not allow you to best keep pace with the changes necessary to be successful – one of them is to keep fixed costs low!
Michael Marquette is the co-Founder and Director of Marquette Turner Luxury Homes, a member of Luxury Real Estate in East Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Founded on Australia Day 2007 by Marquette and Simon Turner, Marquette Turner is a property consultancy company covering the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria. Marquette has a background in medicine and a large retail and wholesale business. Michael makes some excellent points about the current market. We definitely need to be flexible as luxury markets change. The photo above is from www.flickr.com/photos/danielbroche/2258988806 and it is the copyright of danielbroche.
By Simon Turner
From his blog: How Google Maps can be used to make solar power decisions for your home
As energy prices continue to climb, the idea of utilizing solar energy is common sense. The process of getting solar panels installed, however, is quite the opposite.
RoofRay, a new Californian business, aims to give homeowners better information to enable them to make more-informed environmental decisions for their luxury home. Using the site’s modeling tools, consumers can estimate how much solar energy a home could capture and how that would affect their monthly bills.
The data provided is based upon historical weather conditions, current power usage charges, the gradient of the property, and the maximum amount of solar paneling the roof can hold. One tool uses Google Maps to let users calculate the size of their roof and build virtual panels. RoofRay then estimates the output potential of the solar panels as well as financial considerations like costs of installation, upkeep and return on investment.
Whilst not yet available in Australia, such a tool would be a welcome addition to our growing eco-conscience and our excessive reliance on fossil fuels. Furthermore, it would be useful for would-be real-estate buyers in making purchase decisions, something that the Marquette Turner team is increasingly finding is a factor in how and where buyers buy.
To find out the latest information available in Australia, a good start is the federal government’s portal www.climatechange.gov.au and Marquette Turner’s Clear the Air site
Simon Turner is the co-Founder and Director of Marquette Turner Luxury Homes, a member of Luxury Real Estate in East Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Founded on Australia Day 2007 by Turner and Michael Marquette, Marquette Turner is a property consultancy company covering the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria. Born in England, Turner traveled much as a child, finally settling in Australia. He joined the Australian Defence Force Academy and graduated with a degree in Politics and History as an Intelligence Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. This is a very fascinating topic. Jean-Yves Piton actually wrote a blog entry on “green” luxury real estate a little while ago, too. I just finished writing an article on “green” luxury properties for the winter 2009 issue of LuxuryRealEstate.com Magazine.
By Andrew Harper
Our country is blessed with some of the finest dining establishments in the world, but for this list, I thought it would be more intriguing to look at quintessentially American restaurants.
Some of these places are legendary. Most are local institutions. All serve tremendous food.
These suggestions are based on my professional wanderings over the last 30 years as a luxury hotel reviewer and committed food lover. The selections are completely subjective and wholeheartedly recommended.
You can almost always count on finding a good steakhouse in every American city. And then there’s Peter Luger in Brooklyn. In business since 1887, it is renowned for its rigorously selected, succulent, buttery porterhouse prepared to exacting standards. This is not a fancy place; it’s cash only, and the service is gruffly efficient. No carnivore should miss it.
Restaurant With a View
My choice is Nepenthe in Big Sur, Calif. A casual place perched right by the Pacific, with tiered outdoor tables so that all can enjoy the glorious panorama, this is one of the most singular settings I’ve ever found in which to enjoy a meal. I was relieved to hear it survived the terrible fires that ravaged Big Sur earlier this summer. The food is simple but very good, and the thing to try is the aptly named “Ambrosiaburger.”
The Crab House
Maryland crab is one of the glories of America’s bounty, a food so inherently delicious that the less done to it the better. Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn, just outside Annapolis overlooking Mill Creek, is the place to enjoy incomparable blue crab. Get them steamed and learn the indelicate art (wooden mallet required) of opening them. Or go for the nearly binder-free crab cakes, plump and irresistible.
If you really want to get folks riled up, don’t talk politics or religion — name the place you think has the best barbecue. Here it is: Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City, Mo. Yes, I know the venerable Mr. Bryant has gone on to his reward. Yes, I know they’ve branched out. So go to the original on Brooklyn Avenue, where, in a setting that can be called simple, you’ll feast on the most sublime, tender ribs you can imagine. I’ve tried barbecue all over the country, and this remains my favorite.
This being perhaps the most American of all food, choosing one was difficult, but my ultimate favorite is that at Zuni Café in San Francisco. I am a great fan of this personable, stylish restaurant, which I visit every time I go to San Francisco. Chef Judy Rodgers’ burger is made from fresh ground beef, salted, chilled overnight and served on a wonderful focaccia bun. Add the excellent Caesar salad and a robust glass of red, and you have one of my favorite meals.
Some say that this is the one true cuisine that evolved in America. After having visited New Orleans regularly for almost 30 years, I must say that the one place that consistently delivers the best is Commander’s Palace. Beautifully rebuilt after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Commander’s is better than ever, and Chef Tory McPhail is turning out classic and contemporary New Orleans food that is as good as any you’ll find.
During my last visits to Napa and Sonoma, the best meals I had were at the lovely restaurant Cyrus in the appealing town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, Calif. The service is flawless; the food utterly sublime; the wine selections always on the mark. An added benefit: It is in the charming Les Mars Hotel, so no need to concern yourself with driving.
The Italians will rightfully tell you that pizza was born in Italy — Naples, to be exact — and that we’ve taken a thing of beauty and transformed it beyond recognition. So? I’ve had the pizza in Naples, and it’s great, but the homegrown version is every bit as good. After tasting extensively all over the country, my choice is Frank Pepe in New Haven, Conn. Everything here is of the first order. But the standout is the fresh clam pizza with white sauce. This is a pie of sublime pleasure, the one against which I judge all others.
This approach to cooking prizes the finest ingredients and preparing them so that their best qualities shine. The concept started at a small, charming restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., called Chez Panisse. The inspiration of Alice Waters, Chez Panisse has been thrilling diners since 1971. The menu changes daily, and there are no choices. Don’t let that deter you. You will encounter some entirely new tastes here. It’s not fancy — just profoundly delicious.
I have a personal favorite spot for enjoying this American classic. Tucked off of 53rd Street in New York, just east of Fifth Avenue, is a little jewel of place called Paley Park. Donated to the city by William Paley, the late chairman of CBS, it is an oasis of sophisticated tranquility in the heart of this busy town, with graceful honey locust trees, ivy-clad walls, and a beautiful waterfall at the far end whose cascade blocks out the din of the city. A small concession stand sells sandwiches and drinks, but I suggest ordering the excellent hot dog and reveling in this marvelous urban sanctuary. Who needs a power lunch when you can have this?
For more information on this company, contact Margaret Temple, the Business Development Manager at Andrew Harper in Austin, Texas. Andrew Harper is an exclusive partner with Luxury Real Estate. This is some great advice for travelers seeking great deals. For more than a quarter century, Andrew Harper has explored the world as an incognito traveler. Always paying his own way, his unbiased reviews of the finest hotels, villas, yachts, restaurants and culturally authentic travel experiences are legendary. Through a variety of media, complemented by highly personalized travel planning services, members of Andrew Harper’s luxury travel club enjoy the resources to dream, plan and realize an unparalleled level of globetrotting. After reading this blog entry, I feel like I just enjoyed a sumptuous meal! How about you? Be sure to check out the links to these amazing eateries in case you’re staying at a luxury property nearby and would like to enjoy exquisite cuisine. Andrew Harper’s blog entries are always informative whether he’s talking about top American cities, hotel tips or gourmet food. Be sure to keep checking the Luxury Real Estate Blog for scoops like this!
By Michael Marquette
From his blog: Where to Buy in Newcastle (Australia)?
Are you considering a sea change or thinking about which suburbs are in most demand in Newcastle? If you are, this information is essential reading. Earlier this month, I wrote about the massive 85 percent drop in sales in July this year compared to the same month last year for properties in the City of Newcastle.
If the trend continues many real estate agencies will close their doors and many agents will be forced to flee the industry. This staggering decrease in demand has put enormous pressure on pricing in the area and is causing many vendors considerable grief. So the question of where to buy to best protect your investment is more important than ever.
In Sydney, we have seen suburbs close to beaches and the Harbour hold their price the best. The outer suburbs, especially in the West have struggled and have significantly dropped in value. It really shows that as demand drops in an area price follows in the same direction.
In Newcastle, the Blue Ribbon suburbs of Merewether, Bar Beach, Cooks Hill and The Hill have all suffered from interest-rate increases and decreased buyer demand but nowhere near to the extent of rest of the City. Year-to-date sales in those suburbs are down 32 percent on the same period last year – not the massive reduction seen in the City as a whole.
These suburbs enjoy close proximity to beaches, Newcastle Harbour, cafes, restaurants and many enjoy spectacular coastal views. Purchasing a luxury home is all about location and the choice of suburb is crucial in protecting your valuable asset. This formula is true for all coastal cities and will help put you in the safest position.
Michael Marquette is the co-Founder and Director of Marquette Turner Luxury Homes, a member of Luxury Real Estate in East Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Founded on Australia Day 2007 by Marquette and Simon Turner, Marquette Turner is a property consultancy company covering the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria. Marquette has a background in medicine and a large retail and wholesale business. Very good information! Buyers definitely need an expert to help guide them through the pitfalls scattered across the current luxury market. The photo above is from www.flickr.com/photos/linksmanjd/2723754204 and it is the copyright of LinksmanJD.
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