Blog contributions are provided exclusively from Luxury Real Estate members throughout the world.
Courtesy of: Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty Partnership
This afternoon, while listening to the beautiful Tchaikovsky E-flat minor quartet in a converted barn in Falls Village, CT, my mind wandered to the question of why I want to run a residential real estate company. There are of course a number of reasons: the money isn’t bad (especially when we are on top of our market), the satisfaction is considerable. But considering that I work much of every day all week all year (and yes, I am writing this blog post on Sunday night, now listening to Schubert piano sonatas on CD) there has to be something more to it than that. And what I came up with, in addition to the pleasure I have written about before in this column, advising people regarding such an important life decision, is my acute desire to rehabilitate our reputation. The best agents combine the many skills of a trained therapist, a top notch investment banker, and a financial planner/accountant. So why aren’t we perceived that way?
The media rarely portray us respectfully. At the nadir, there is Sylvia Miles in “Wall Street,” clothed in leopard, salivating over her commission, just another facet of the Gordon Gekko universe of greed and cynicism. The same face, although better disguised, is presented by the broker Sally Rawthroat in Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.” These agents, indifferent to the plight of their clients as long as their “high commission” got paid, exemplify what much of the public believes we are about.
Part of the problem we have in New York State is that the barrier for entry into the real estate business is too low. The state test is extremely easy. The continuing education courses tend to be unchallenging. A more difficult test, a more rigorous course of study, would certainly be appropriate for a job in which what is at stake is often a client’s largest asset. My colleagues at The Real Estate Board of New York and I have devoted years to trying to make certain that all members of the Board, at least, get solid ethics and skills training. And while the bar for entry is low, the success bar is very, very high. Very few residential agents make it to the top.
So let’s look at this in another way. Of course we are interested in getting paid. Who isn’t? And unlike most professionals, we can work for months or even a year and end up with nothing, depending on the property, the seller, and the economic environment. Agents at the top of their game have a complex and nuanced skill set: they are marriage counselors, mind readers, negotiators, persuaders, crafters of letters, furniture arrangers, balancers, winnowers, and organizers of financial information. We have to walk a thin line in every transaction – on the one hand, providing emotional support during a complex and often anxious moment in the lives of those we serve, while at the same time remaining objective about value and realistic outcomes. And when things go wrong, the board says no, a higher offer comes in and knocks us out of the box. the property doesn’t sell – we are the ones on the firing line.
So the reason I write a blog every Sunday night, the reason I speak at meetings to my own agents and in public to consumers is that I want to make sure we are taken seriously. I know how smart and creative most agents are, how committed to doing the right thing, how tireless in fitting all the pieces of the residential puzzle together. I know they are up at 6 AM looking for listings, and they are up at midnight responding to e-mails. And I want everyone reading this to know that, too.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
Last week I wrote about the advantages of living in a co-op. This week I want to say more about the process of becoming a co-op owner. Buyers at every financial level feel trepidation about assembling a strong, coherent Board package which they must submit to the building’s Board of Directors for approval, and in my opinion many agents do not give enough guidance. So below I have put together a number of tips for making sure your Board package, whatever the specifics, is clear, concise, and doesn’t leave you tearing your hair out:
· Figure out up front if you really want to live in a co-op. Co-ops require FULL financial disclosure, a number of reference letters, and a willingness to adhere to the Board’s rules about renovation, carpeting etc. If this isn’t for you, buy a condo or a townhouse!
· Once you find the co-op of your dreams, make sure your attorney alters your purchase contract to give you at least 15 business days, not 10 as in the standard printed form, to prepare your Board submission. Two weeks is not an adequate amount of time to prepare a good package.
· Remember that the package is your calling card; it is introducing you and your family (if you have one) to a group of strangers. Try to make it as informative as possible.
· Most buildings are looking for at least four social letters of reference. Use those letters to let your friends really give some information about who you are and what you care about. What leisure activities do you enjoy? What sort of family background do you have? What are your philanthropic pursuits? If you have kids, what are they like? The more diverse information the social letters provide, the better. And the best letters come from other co-op dwellers, ideally members of their own Boards of Directors, ideally in the neighborhood of the property you are buying. Always get more letters than you need. At least one of them is bound to be only two sentences long and therefore not of much use.
· The business letters, of which two are usually requested, should be similar: as much career history as possible, combined with the traits which make you a successful and outstanding exemplar of the work you do.
· The most complex part of the Board package is always the financial statement. Most buyers do not keep a running tally of all their assets and liabilities, so assembling them all can be daunting. Here’s how to go about it:
1. Pick an “as of” date. All of your financial information will be compiled as of that date – it should usually be the end of the most recent month (so you can get back up bank and brokerage statements).
2. Begin to compile ALL your liquid assets and liabilities as of your chosen date. Make sure that EVERY number you enter onto the financial statement has a bank or brokerage statement to back it up. The numbers on the bank or brokerage statement must match EXACTLY the numbers you place on the financial statement.
3. Stock options or Restricted Stock Units MUST be vested to be counted.
4. All real estate assets should include either a broker’s letter or an appraisal confirming value.
5. Personal property, such as art, jewelry, or furniture, should be confirmed by insurance binders declaring the insured value.
These pointers, and a knowledgeable real estate agent, should have you well on your way to creating a seamless Board presentation. Every buyer is different, and creating your Board package is an opportunity to tell your story in the most flattering possible light!
Single-Family House Sales
September, 2010 was the first month of the year when closed single-family sales over $1 million did NOT exceed the year before. Of concern is the fact that similar declines also occurred in October and December. Last month 127 single-family homes conveyed in Eastern Massachusetts (excluding the Cape and Islands and towns west of Worcester County) priced over $1 million and this was 8 fewer than the same month last year -- a 6% decline. The good news, however, is that December 2010 was well ahead of the same month in 2008 (74 sales) and 2007 (76 sales). The market for million dollar houses is still in recovery, but we remain very far off the peak levels of a few years ago.
On a year-to-date basis for the year 2010, 212 more single-family houses have sold over $1 million than the same twelve months of 2009, for an increase of 20.3%. Last year, the market absorbed 1,042 million dollar houses between January and December; the comparable number in 2010 is 1,254.
As sellers contemplate putting their luxury homes on the market this year in anticipation of the spring market, they need to be aware of the imbalance between supply and demand (much more supply than demand) and the skittishness of potential buyers at the high end of the market.
The $2,000,000 to $2,999,999 price segment is also recovering, but it is a much more thinly-traded market than many homeowners realize. Sales in this price band account for only 167 of 1,254 million dollar plus properties conveyed. This is under 14% of the entire million dollar market!
On a year-to-date basis, 44 more single-family houses have sold between $2,000,000 and $2,999,999 than the same twelve months of 2009, for an increase of almost 36%.
For all of MLS PIN (including Cape Cod and the Islands and Western Massachusetts), 1,331 single-family houses sold in 2010. While 104 towns are represented in the 1,331 closed sales, the data are skewed towards the more popular communities. The top 5 towns (Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, Lexington, and Boston) account for 38% of the closed million dollar sales. As has been true all year, there is a heavy concentration of sales in this price range in the towns with the closest proximity to the City of Boston. It is interesting to note that Needham is the only one of the top 11 towns for million dollar sales in which Hammond does not have an office.
Some other statistics for this market segment:
-- The average price for a single-family sold over $1 million in 2010 was $1,586,357
-- The average house in this price range had 11 rooms and approximately 5 bedrooms
-- On average, these houses sold at 93.23% of their original listing price -- underscoring yet again the importance of accurate pricing in today's market. Listings priced too far over market value are not selling.
For all of MLS PIN (including Cape Cod and the Islands and Western Massachusetts), 449 condominium units sold in 2010.
16 cities and towns are represented in the 449 closed sales, but Boston alone accounts for 78.17% of the closed million dollar condo sales.
Some other statistics for this market segment:
-- The average price for a condo sold over $1 million in calendar 2010 was $1,774,903. (Interestingly, this is higher than the average sales price for a single-family home in the same time period: $1,586,357.)
-- The average condo in this price range had 6 rooms and approximately 3 bedrooms
-- On average, these condos sold at 95.04% of their original listing price. Price it correctly and it will sell; overprice a unit and it will languish on the market.
To view Hammond Residential's Million Dollar Condo Sales History, click here.
To view Hammond Residential's Million Dollar Single Family Home Sales History by town, click here.
To view Hammond Residential's Million Dollar Single Family Home Sales History by month, click here:
CORONADO, CA – In a real estate market flooded with homes competing for buyers’ attentions, sellers can no longer afford to overlook the exterior appeal of their homes. In fact, according to a Gallop survey, quality landscaping can add anywhere from 7 to fifteen percent to a home’s value. Additionally, 82 percent of practitioners polled in a Real Estate Agent Community Trends survey said that buyers who were unimpressed with a house’s curb appeal often wouldn’t even consider looking inside.
“I’ve had showings scheduled where clients have literally changed their minds on the spot after seeing an unkempt front yard,” said Ruth Ann Fisher, broker for Del Realty at the Hotel del Coronado. “The importance of a home’s exterior appeal really can’t be emphasized enough.”
To help ensure that your property doesn’t get overlooked, Del Realty offers the following tips to boost the outward appearance of your home.
1. Make sure your lawn is mowed and well kempt.
2. Create sharp, clean, crisp lines by trimming along all edges to ensure that there are no stray pieces of grass or weeds.
3. Remove debris and clutter from your yard. Buyers may not be able to look past a messy exterior to see a home’s true potential.
4. Make the best use of color: If your yard is on the smaller size, make it seem larger by planting blue, purple or light pink flowers. These colors have been shown to recede giving the impression of a larger area.
5. Repaint peeling decks and fences. You don’t want buyers to think that they’ll have to repaint the minute they move in.
6. Roll up hoses and place them in a spot where they won’t be in the way.
7. Wash and clean your windows so that they sparkle.
8. Pressure wash dirty siding and dingy decks.
9. Check outdoor lighting to make sure everything works. There’s nothing more uninviting than a dark house.
10. Lastly, if you have an irrigation system, program it so that it won’t go off during showing hours. An unexpected shower could negatively affect your client’s opinion of the property.
Del Realty is a full-service real estate company specializing in Coronado, Beach Village at The Hotel Del and surrounding San Diego communities. For more information call 619-437-1888 or visit HotelDelRealty.com.
The multi-award-winning Eichardt’s Private Hotel in Queenstown has been bought by a privately-held investment group based in Melbourne, Australia. The Imperium Capital Group has a range of businesses within its portfolio including a number in the hospitality and leisure sector. The sale, which was brokered by Terry Spice of Luxury Real Estate New Zealand was a result of an international marketing campaign which drew strong interest both domestically and from offshore. Christchurch-born Managing Director of Imperium Capital Group, Andrew Cox, said they were passionate business operators looking forward to continuing to build the Eichardt’s brand and existing luxury services, and working with other luxury partners in Queenstown. “This purchase was a strategic investment in an iconic brand in tourism in New Zealand,” he said. “We’re open to looking at other acquisition opportunities in the country now we’ve made this first step.” Mr. Cox said management at Eichardt’s Private Hotel would remain the same and stressed that the company was dedicated to the staff, the community, and retaining and building upon Eichardt’s standing as an iconic destination on the Queenstown waterfront.
It was neither the best year ever, nor the worst. Still, 2010 was one of the most satisfying in the company's history.
That's because we knew going in that 2010, with all its carry-over economic woes from 2009, would test our mettle. Each agent would have to redouble the efforts that helped them achieve nearly $1.2 billion in sales in 2009. An amazing feat, considering it was accomplished in the worst financial climate since the Great Depression.
With the economy still deep in the doldrums at the dawn of 2010, we knew 2009 would be a tough act to follow. We calculated it would take at least one more closed transaction per each of our 557 agents to make 2010 a more successful year for their clients and customers. Thus our mantra became "The Power of One More."
Needless-to-say, I was bursting with pride last week as we announced the official sales results for 2010. Instead of one more transaction, each agent (on average) delivered two more. With average agent productivity up by an amazing 20%-to $2.57 million per agent-we finished the year with $1.432 billion in combined sales; a 21% improvement over 2009. Unit sales were also up, by 29%. Read more about how our agents vastly out-performed the market in this month's issue of Saunders@Home.
Their outstanding accomplishments and market dominance notwithstanding, our agents' over-the-top success is also tied to a region whose inherent desirability continues to defy every major economic obstacle that has ever been thrown in its way. It's nice to sell in a market that sells itself.
Our market's challenges will no doubt continue through 2011, with the supply of available properties still out of balance with demand. But the demand is definitely ramping-up as the onset of season finds each of our agents busy with multiple customers-both foreign and domestic-who have stopped looking and started buying.
Why not join them soon for the best buyer's market in history. Home prices have bottomed in many of the most popular price ranges and interest rates are at historic lows. As if that isn't enough, a taste of our legendary lifestyle-suffused as it is with abundant sunshine, recreation and culture-will convince you there are far better ways to spend each winter.
The 9th edition of the Millionaire Fair (Miljonair Fair), held in Amsterdam between the 9th and the 13th of this month, has proved to be a total success, with a record number of visitors and sales. Over 53.000 people attended the exhibition of luxury items and the media turnout was also high: more that 400 Dutch and international television and radio stations, magazines, newspapers and internet sites broadcast news of the event as it took place.
Over 5 days, the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam became the home of luxury goods from exclusive international brands. The latest models of Mercedes, Jaguar, Mini, Land Rover and Jeep were on show for the visitors to experience first hand, along with many works of art, including paintings and sculptures with a limited production which are collector’s items. Boats and yachts, the latest hi-fi equipment by Bang and Olufsen, furniture and accessories, …, the list and choice of luxury products was endless.
Gassan Diamonds had the biggest stand: 850 square meters worth of very expensive jewellery and watches, by prestigious brands like Chopard, Cartier, Chanel, Omega, Tag Heuer, Rolex, Jaeger LeCoultre, Breitling and many many more.
In addition to the stands, the fair also provided top quality catering services with a Laurent Perrier champagne bar, an oyster bar and a wine bar amongst others. Fashion shows and live music followed one another throughout the day, providing entertainment for everyone.
Luxury Homes by VAPF, the Spanish real estate developer and builder affiliated to the Luxury Real Estate Network, was present at the event, within the Exclusive Properties section of the fair. The stand attracted the attention of many clients due to the image on the back wall of the stand showing one of the modern villa projects that Luxury Homes by VAPF has designed. The Hi-Tech villa designs are extremely popular with the Dutch market, as we had the chance to ascertain.
Next year will be the 10th anniversary for the Millionaire Fair in Amsterdam and the organization is already booking stands for the event, which will take place between the 8th and the 12th of December, 2011.
Submitted by Tradewinds Realty, Inc.
Denise's approach to real estate is one of integrity and honesty first, with a full dose of enthusiasm and passion. Working with investors of multi-residential properties or finding the discerning investors the perfect dream home has been the main focus of Denise's career!
Whether you are looking to buy or sell your own personal castle, a character home now utilized as a multi-residential property, or a 100 unit apartment building, Denise is your resource. Professionalism, along with true personal service. Having a natural love for children, caring for the elderly, and advocating for those in need, all assists in making Denise a real people person.
First licensed in real estate in the 1980's, Denise has enjoyed a long and successful career! Through experience, she believes she can bring a lot of knowledge to the table. Relocating to the Maritimes several years ago meant returning to where her heart has always belonged.
Denise looks forward to assisting you in finding your greatest investment, or in selling a current one. Please drop by our Tradewinds office at 53 St. Margaret's Bay Road, Halifax, to review our extensive property display gallery and discuss your real estate inquiries with Denise, or call Denise at 902-403-4767.
This report encompasses real estate sales activity and statistics for the upper Roaring Fork Valley comprised of two distinct areas: 1) Aspen, Woody Creek and Old Snowmass; 2) Snowmass Village. Property types included are single family homes, condos, townhomes, duplexes and vacant land, all sold prices over $250,000. Fractionals are not included. The report compares this quarter's activity to the prior quarter, to the prior year's quarter and year-to-date 3Q10 to last year-to-date 3Q09. The source data is the Aspen/Glenwwood MLS.
Overall, for 3rd Quarter 2010 year to date, we are significantly ahead of last year, 3Q2009. ('YTD' is from Jan 1-Sept. 30th and includes Qtrs 1,2 & 3)
Total Market: Aspen and Snowmass Combined
o Total dollar volume: + 24% to $547M versus $442MM last year to date.
o Total units sold: + 30% units sold to 162 versus 125 last year.
o Total single family home sales increased +45% in units sold, from 53 in 2009 YTD to 77 in 2010 YTD and +29% in dollar sales from $314.5M in 2009 to $406.2M in 2010 YTD.
o Total condo sales increased +19% in unit sales from 52 in 2009 YTD to 62 in 2010 YTD, and +35% in dollar sales from $58.9M to $79.6M respectively.
Aspen Single Family Homes
o In Aspen, the West End and Aspen Core areas account for 58% unit sales and 60% dollar volume of all Aspen single family home sales.
o Aspen single family home unit sales increased from 36 solds in 3Q2009 to 51 in 3Q2010, +42%; in dollar sales, Aspen single family home spending increased from $254.5M in 3Q2009 to $301M in 3Q2010, +18%
o The average single family Aspen home sold for $5.9M/$1,066 sq ft in 2010 YTD, down -17% from $7.1M/$1,095 sq ft in 2009 YTD. A lot of developer spec homes were cleared out of the system in 2009/2010 and these larger homes have been selling at significant discounts.There are, however, notable exceptions to these dicsounts.
o Days on market to sell an Aspen home increased by 29%, or 79 days longer to an average 351 days on market in 2010 YTD versus 272 days 2009 YTD.
Snowmass Single Family Homes
o Snowmass (SMV) single family home unit sales increased from 13 solds in 3Q2009 to 19 in 3Q2010, +46%; in dollar sales, SMV single family home spending increased from $57.6M in 3Q2009 to $89 in 3Q2010, +54%.
On 2010 YTD Pricing Info
o Sales activity has increased throughout all price points in 2010 YTD versus greater extremes on either end of the price spectrum selling in 2009 YTD.
o Comparing prices 2010 YTD to 2009 YTD, in the total market of Aspen/Snowmass Village/Woody Creek and Old Snowmass combined, average single family home sold prices are off -5% and up +13% in condominium prices. Since the "crisis" began in Oct 2008, prices are down generally 20-50% depending on seller circumstances, motivation, inventory, property uniqueness and other factors.
o Aspen properties - single family homes, condos,/townhomes, duplexes - are selling an average 88% to ask price this year versus 90% last year; for sold price as % of original list price, they are selling at an average 77% of original price in 2010 YTD and 79% in 3Q2009.
o Snowmass properties - single family homes, condos,/townhomes, duplexes - are selling an average 88% to ask price this year versus 79% last year; for sold price as % of original list price, they are selling at an average 81% of original price in 2010 YTD and 73% in 3Q2009.
o Notable increase in sales for 'Mid-point' $4-8MM Aspen single family homes: In 3Q10, the biggest price point increase in sales occurred in 'mid-price' properties at $4M-$8M with a +44% increase in homes sold in this range from (16) in 2009 YTD to (23) in 2010 YTD, +44%. In above $10MM price, there were (7) sales in 2010 YTD and (6) in 2009 YTD.
o Snowmass single family home sales have picked up especially in $2M-6M range: there were (3) in 2009 YTD and (14) so far 2010 YTD, an increase of +367% in homes sold and an increase from $5.3M dollar volume in 2009 YTD to $53.1M in 2010 YTD, +1,000% in this price range.
o Aspen condo unit sales increased from 37 solds in 3Q2009 to 42 in 3Q2010, +14%; in dollar sales, Aspen condo spending increased from $49.7M in 3Q2009 to $62.7M in 3Q2010, +26%
o The average single family Aspen home sold for $1.49M/$1,099 sq ft in 2010 YTD, up 11% from $1.34M/$1,174 sq ft in 2009 YTD. Price per sq ft fell -6% respectively.
o Days on market to sell an Aspen condo increased by 73%, or 148 days longer to an average 349 days on market in 2010 YTD versus 201 days 2009 YTD.
o For 3Q10 quarter to 2Q10 quarter comparison, Aspen condo sales have been significantly up: +69% in dollar volume and +64% in unit sales over last quarter from 16 units in 2Q2010 to 27 units sold in 3Q10.
o 50% of the Aspen condos sold in 3Q10 were 3-4 bedroom units
o 4 Bedroom Aspen condos command the highest average price per sq. ft. of all condo types at $1,397 sf.
Snowmass Activity Increases
o In Snowmass, while the base sales data from 3Q2009 is very low, there has been a gradual improvement in the market since then.
o Snowmass condo sales are up 19% and townhome sales are up an eye-popping +300%, although it's only from 1 unit sale in 3Q2009 YTD to 4 sales in 3Q2010 YTD.
o The uncertainty in Snowmass will prevail at least until the upcoming mid-Nov. foreclosure sale of Snowmass Base Village , the stalled re-development project whose uncertain future has created a cloud over the entire resort. The foreclosure sale - if it happens and is not delayed - should in theory end this sad chapter of the 1/3 to 1/2 completed build-out of the new Base Village and begin a new one. A new owner or new ownership plan would seem to create a net positive for the resort in that it should add a measure of certainty to the future or at least a sense of a way forward. Given the slowly improving real estate sales figures for 2010 YTD, it appears the Snowmass market generally bottomed at some point in 2009.
o There have been some notable higher priced Snowmass sales of ski-in-out homes in The Pines and Two Creek areas specifically, 8 sales since 01/01/2009 at an average sold price $1,504 per sq ft..these areas offer relatively larger Snowmass homes with unmatched ski access ideal for family gathering properties.
Vacant Land Sales
o Vacant land/lots are finally selling albeit generally at price points 30-50% off the market peak although there are exceptions for unique and singularly located properties.
o Lot sales, while still not much to speak of, are up 50% in transactions from 8 in 2009 YTD to 12 in 2010 YTD.
o The word on the street is that when land starts to sell, it's a good indicator of a market bottom.
Disclaimer: The statements made in The Estin Report and on Tim Estin's blog represent the opinions of the author and should not be relied upon exclusively to make real estate decisions. A potential buyer and/or seller is advised to make an independent investigation of the market and of each property before deciding to purchase or to sell. To the extent the statements made herein report facts or conclusions taken from other sources, the information is believed by the author to be reliable, however, the author makes no guarantee concerning the accuracy of the facts and conclusions reported herein. Information concerning particular real estate opportunities can be requested from Tim Estin at 970.920.7387 or by email.. The Estin Report is copyrighted 2010 and all rights reserved.. Use is permitted subject to the following attribution: "The Estin Report: State of the Aspen Market, By Tim Estin, mba, gri, www.EstinAspen.com"
Courtesy of Kirsty Bryson of Luxury Homes by VAPF
The President of the Valencia Region of Spain, Mr. Francisco Camps, said that the launch of the new high speed railway this December, linking the Spanish capital Madrid to the coastal city of Valencia, and the construction of the Mediterranean Corridor will multiply wealth expectations and competitiveness in the tourism sector. Mr. Camps expressed these words during the presentation of the Global Strategic Plan of Tourism of Valencia for the next ten years, which will reach 27 million tourists.
Thanks to this new fast connection with the capital, Spain is soon to overtake France and have the longest high-speed rail network across Europe and rank third in the world, something likely to create jobs and boost the country’s profile as a place with great transport links and accessibility. The new service will mean that Spain will then have over 2,000 kilometres of rail track compared to France which has 1,900 kilometres of rail track. The new link to Valencia will make the journey from Madrid only 90 minutes long, down from the current time of four hours. President Camps also made reference to the diversification of tourism that has taken place in the Valencia Region, noting that "the sector has been able to look into other fields and different ways to continue growing strongly into the future."
Specifically, the President Camps stressed that, in addition to maintaining traditional European markets, the tourism industry has opened up new markets like Eastern Europe or North America.
Referring again to the high speed train, known as the AVE, Camps pointed out that this infrastructure also must eventually reach the cities of Castellón and Alicante creating the “Mediterranean Corridor ", because only this way will the high speed railway effectively reach the Valencia region, made up of 3 provinces, Castellón, Valencia and Alicante. The AVE is a further boost to the tourism situation in Valencia.
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