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The latest news on Real Estate from Business Insider

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    15 central park west penthouse

    Manhattan’s once-fabled co-op addresses no longer command the biggest sales prices in the city, and have been upended by newer destination condominium addresses, real estate author Michael Gross writes in the Daily Beast.

    Co-ops, which often require the buyer to go through a rigorous board approval process, are losing ground to condo buildings that offer an unmatched range of amenities, such as concierges, in-house restaurants, room service and swimming pools.

    Beginning in 2003, with the Mexican financier David Martinez’s $54.7 million purchase of a penthouse at the Time Warner Center, condos have held the record for highest sale prices. And condos command a higher price per square foot than comparatively-sized co-ops.

    In the past, 740 Park Avenue, where the city’s financial elite rubbed shoulders with the crème-de-la-crème of international buyers, was the richest building in New York. But it was overtaken by 15 Central Park West, the Robert A.M. Stern-designed luxury condominium developed by the Zeckendorfs—the most profitable building in the city’s history.

    Gross, who penned a book on the owners of 740 Park, is in the process of writing a follow up that focuses on 15 Central Park West.

    Last week, a four-bedroom unit at the building closed at $32.5 million, representing a whopping 92 percent markup over its last sales price.  [DailyBeast]

    SEE ALSO: The Most Expensive Homes Sold In NYC In 2012

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    chris malissa tack tiny house

    Most couples who live together know that they can get on each others' nerves sometimes. Now imagine a situation where you and your partner are living together in just 140 square feet.

    It's not for everyone, but Chris and Malissa Tack have made it work. They gave up their high-tech lives in 2011 and condensed their world into a "tiny house" in the town of Snohomish, Wash.

    The Tacks say that living in such close quarters has actually made them more courteous to one another, they told the Huffington Post.

    Chris now works as a photographer and Malissa as a freelance 3D artist. The couple shared some photos of their tiny living space, which they designed themselves.

    The Tiny Tack House welcomes you with its rich, dark orange door.



    The sitting nook is nestled right in front, sandwiched between two of the house's many windows.



    Opposite the sitting nook is a large Mac screen. It can be used as a TV or, when you swing forward the table attached to a hinge on the wall underneath, a desktop computer.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Howard Marks

    Update: We just heard directly from a source involved with the transaction that Jannard was not the buyer of Marks' house. Looks like the new owner remains under wraps for now; we'll let you know if we learn more.

    Original post: Last week, we learned that legendary investment manager and Oaktree Capital chairman Howard Markshad sold his 9.5-acre estate in Malibu for $75 million, a record price for the beachfront city.

    At the time, it was reported that an unnamed Russian billionaire couple had picked up the estate, which had been quietly shopped around for $125 million.

    Now, celebrity real estate blogger The Real Estalker says that the buyer was actually James Jannard, founder of eyeglass and apparel maker Oakley Inc., citing sources familiar with the sale. Jannard sold his company in 2007 for more than $2 billion.

    He now runs RED, a manufacturer of digital movie cameras.

    Brokers told the WSJ it was the second most expensive residential real estate sale in Southern California, behind the $85 million sale of the Spelling Manor to Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone last year. The property has 300 feet of beach frontage, as well as two guest houses and a gym.

    Marks and his wife Nancy bought the estate in 2002 from the estate of late Herbalife founder Mark Hughes for $31 million.

    If you're itching to know what the estate looks like, you can see some interior photos on the website of architecture firm Ferguson & Shamamian (via Homes of the Rich).

    SEE ALSO: The 20 Most Expensive Homes Sold In 2012

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    $29 million alpine estate hotd

    A 34,000-square-foot mansion in Alpine, New Jersey, has sold for $20 million, according to Homes of the Rich.

    The home was initially listed for $34 million back in June 2011; even at a steep discount, it's one of the most expensive homes ever sold in the state.

    The house features some insane amenities: There are two salt water pools—one in and one outside, a library, a bowling alley, an indoor full-length basketball court, theater, elevator, and wine cellar and grotto.

    There are eight bedrooms, 11 full bathrooms, and two half baths.

    The estate sits on 3.18 acres. They don't call it the 'Garden State' for nothing!



    Every detail in the two-story living room is done with precision, from the crown moldings to the carvings on the fireplace.



    Note the poker table in the bay window.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    karl lagerfeld apartment gramercy park north

    It's hard to believe that Karl Lagerfeld would have a hard time selling his unused Gramercy Park pied-à-terre, but it took two years and a $2 million price chop for the famed Chanel designer to unload his 2,200-square-foot pad at 50 Gramercy Park North.

    He's finally sold it to Macquarie banker Sebastian Barrack for $4.5 million, far less than its initial $6.5 million asking price, The New York Post reports.

    Lagerfeld purchased the stark white, three-bedroom apartment in 2006 for $6.575 million. Rumor has it he never even actually moved in.

    Unfortunately for Barrack, the apartment gets poor natural light and has a high maintenance fee. But it does come with a coveted key to Gramercy Park.

    The apartment looks untouched.



    The great room has expansive views of Gramercy Park.



    The floors are all dark oak.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    cramped tiny apartment sofa

    In New York City real estate, space is more prized than a perfect parking spot (or at least AS prized as that).

    If you're looking for the most amount of space for the least amount of money--and are willing to tolerate some potential downsides in exchange for the ability to turn around without bruising your elbows--here are a few places to look: 

    1. A first-floor apartment

    On average, says appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, "the price difference between a second and first floor apartment is 15 percent. The difference between a second-floor apartment and a third-floor apartment is probably another 10 percent"--meaning that the difference in price between a first and third floor apartment can be as much as 25 percent.

    The reason? Market perceptions about security, privacy and street noise. “The exception, of course, would be a brownstone garden apartment,” says Miller, which will sell at a premium. The first floor in a walk-up is also a premium -- think an inverse relationship of price to stairs.

    When Jeff Appel, a loan specialist at Citibank, went apartment hunting recently, space was a top priority: He was relocating from the suburbs, has kids and a menagerie of pets, so he zeroed in on first-floor apartments.

    “Ground floor apartments are a double whammy -- not only are they a better value, but they also often can be configured to be larger apartments,” says Appel, who bought a ground-floor condo on Walker Street in Tribeca. “I have a floor-through plus basement space. My apartment is 3,600 square feet and the others in the building were 2,300-2,400 square feet.” 

    Appel pointed out one potential pitfall when it comes to having such a big space.  “I have the single largest burden in terms of property taxes and common charges... you need to look at the economics of all of those things” before buying, he said.

    Resale value, though something to think about, shouldn’t be too big an issue.

    “Buyers sometimes are worried from an investment standpoint that a low floor apartment might not being good value, but as long as you were able to get the apartment for a good price that won’t be a problem for resale,” adds Dominique Punnett, a broker with Stribling

    2. A post-war apartment

    While it may not have the romantic cache of a pre-war or the coolness of a new development, post-wars (meaning those built during the post-World War II housing shortage) can translate into more space for less money.

    “Often people who have come from larger homes and are downsizing find this the best choice to be able to achieve the highest square footage possible for their dollar,” says Neil Binder of The Bellmarc Group.

    As long as buyers are not bothered about the sterile, white brick exterior and the long winding hallways, says Stribling’s Punnett, "you will get a lot more bang for your buck in a post war. I always tell my buyers when you're inside the apartment you don't see the exterior anyway! I've seen gorgeous renovations of apartments where you would never know you were in a post war building.”

    All things being equal, says Miller, "which is a HUGE disclaimer," there tends to be a 10 to 15 percent price difference between pre-war and post-war, "but the differences tend to be that pre-wars have higher ceiling height, hardwood floors versus parquet, and better soundproofing."

    3. An apartment with a slightly higher maintenance

    Obviously you don’t want to burden yourself with a large, unrealistic maintenance each month, but sometimes a slightly higher maintenance can mean a lower purchase price (and down payment).

    It’s a trick that can helpful for those who want more space for a little less (assuming they have consistent money coming in each month).

    But, our experts say, there are several reasons to be slightly wary of high maintenances.

    “Any broker or appraiser will tell you that higher monthly chages impact  the value of the apartment,” says Adam Stone, a real estate lawyer with Regosin, Edwards, Stone and Feder. “You also need to be sure to look into why the maintenance is so high. It may be something innocuous, like it has twice as many staff members as others buildings. But maybe there was litigation against the building, and there was a judgment they had to pay out, or maybe there are construction issues. That’s why you need to dig deeper into the financials, and speak to a managing agent to get details."

    Also, keep in mind that most co-op boards won’t allow buyers to take on a monthly maintenance that is more than 25 percent of their income, and ”you probably don’t want maintenance and mortgage to be more than 35 percent,” says Stone.

    From the bank’s point of view, Appel says, they rely on appraisers to decide whether a high maintenance is “an impediment to the apartment-achieving market price.”

    As a consumer, Appel says, he’d be wary of taking on a higher maintenance in exchange for a lower price “because the discount is a one time thing and maintenance is ongoing. Also, if a property already has a high maintenance, will it become disproportionately higher?”

    4. An apartment with location issues

    Heading far away from public transportation (think First Avenue on the Upper East Side or Avenue B in the East Village), and on the fringe of other popular neighborhoods (like Morningside Heights vs. Upper West Side), can bring you a lot more for your money. But note that prices can vary from one street to the next.

    “On the Upper East Side, for example,” Miller says, “prices go down as you go further East of Lexington, but they go right back up again when you hit East End,” he says.

    5. Non-doorman building/walk-up

    Those willing to live in non-doorman buildings are likely to see significant savings -- 10 to 15 percent on average, according to Miller.

    For those who are able to live above the second floor of a walk-up, you’ll see even more significant discounts. “The discount is almost geometric as you go up,” Miller says. "Below the fourth floor, you’re looking at a price about 5 percent less on each higher floor. Above that,  it’s even more.”

    Keep in mind that some lenders are reluctant to offer mortgages above the fourth floor of walk-ups. Yet the very fact that a mortgage might be a little tough to get means that you’re likely to snag a deal... especially if you’re able/ willing to pay in cash (more on that below).

    6. Apartments on which banks are reluctant to lend

    Sellers often offer small discounts for apartments which they know are not popular with the banks.

    Examples, according to one mortgage broker who wished to remain anonymous, include brownstones, walk-ups above the fourth floor, HDFC (income-restricted) co-ops, condos where a single entity owns more than 10 percent, recent conversions where many tenants are still rent-stabilized, and anything with more than 20 percent commercial space.

    “Also in buildings with a hotel component, you’re not going to get financed unless you have A LOT of money and a private banker.”

    “Of course, a cash buyer is always going to get a slightly better deal,” he added.

    But before you jump on one of these deals (and/or try and muster up enough money to buy one in cash), think about why the lenders are wary.

    “A purchaser may have the same concerns that the lenders are wary about,” says Stone. But sometimes the issue — like a fifth-floor walk-up for a totally fit person — can be overcome despite bank trepidations,” he says.

    “If you can handle that, it’s an issue that’s easily overcome. But if it’s an issue like a sponsor still owns 50 percent of units --  you really need to check with a lawyer about the risks. In that case, if the sponsor/investor falls on tough times, it could negatively affect everyone in the building,” Stone says.

    7. A fixer-upper

    “For a period of time we were in a market where you could put a wreck on the market, and it was no drag on its value — in some cases it traded on a premium — but that has changed a lot,” says Appel. “If you’re willing to do work, that’s another way to drive value. I think people are loathe to buy what isn’t livable today.”

    Also, Appel says, look for potential combination opportunities, especially when thinking about resale, since the sum of two parts is worth more than the two parts independently. “I think buyers willing to do a combination can often seen an upside in that property if they’re the ones willing to do the work (again).”  

    Beware of high common charges/maintenance charges though, as combinations usually result in higher charges than for a same-sized apartment that did not result from a combination.

    8. Challenging layouts

    Open plans are most popular with buyers these days. People want more entertaining space (meaning larger kitchens/living rooms and dining rooms) and fewer bedrooms, Appel says.

    So, those who don’t mind — or even prefer — more traditional floor plans, with closed off kitchen, dining rooms and living rooms — may get a lot more space for their buck, he says.

    Related posts:

    SEE ALSO: This Couple Condensed Their Lives Into A 140-Square-Foot 'Tiny House'

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    bar

    New Yorkers got a look at the future of city living this morning when Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the winning design for 300-square-foot "micro apartments" being built as an affordable housing option for singles.

    The units, which will be constructed in Kips Bay, will range from 250- to 370 square feet. According to the plans, some will have Murphy beds and sofa beds to optimize the space.

    Fortunately, there are some great space-saving techniques and items that can make living in a tiny space somewhat more bearable.

    Meredith Galante contributed to this post.

    No room for a bar? The $399 Loll Wallbanger is a mini-bar with a fold-down door that doubles as a countertop when in use. It has room for bottles, glasses, and even a martini shaker.

    Buy the Loll Wallbanger here for $399



    In a kitchen where counter space is limited, this $78 Black & Decker coffee pot attaches to the cabinet. It makes eight cups!

    You can buy the coffee pot here



    Another neat space saver for the kitchen, this $39 skinny toaster simultaneously toasts both sides of the bread.

    You can buy the toaster here for $39



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    alicia keys apartment

    Alicia Keys and husband Swizz Beatz are having a tough time unloading the 16-room SoHo penthouse they bought from Lenny Kravitz in 2010.

    The apartment, which hit the market in March for $17.95 million, has now been reduced to $15 million, The Real Deal reports.

    The penthouse apartment is in a pre-war building on quiet Crosby Street, ideal for a celebrity looking to go under the radar. And the decor is immaculate.

    The couple seems ready for bigger digs they bought a 30-room New Jersey mansion from Eddie Murphy last year for $12 million.

    A private elevator will whisk you up to the penthouse.



    The 16-room apartment sits on Crosby Street, off the beaten path in bustling SoHo.



    Sadly, the Ducati doesn't come with the property.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    15 Central Park West

    In recent years, a new niche industry has exploded within the real estate industry: listing photography. With the advent of digital photography and growing international interest in New York City real estate, more and more brokers have turned to professionals to shoot their listings rather than taking the photos themselves.

    Photographer Michael Weinstein, who has shot real estate listings for 16 years, recalled being worried that digital photos would ruin his business. Instead, he said, they’ve benefitted him in ways he never could have foreseen: Now that digital images can easily be viewed on the web, buyers come from Russia and China to purchase homes in New York based solely on his photographs.

    “Photography has become more important in terms of the international market,” Weinstein said. “I feel my work now has become more valuable than ever.”

    Whether it’s a Park Avenue penthouse or a Downtown studio, brokers said, listing photographs can make — or break — a deal.

    Most brokers “are visual people,” said Emily Beare, managing director and associate broker at the brokerage Core. “We’ll look at the pictures, then look at the floor plan and then look at the description. So the photography has to be enticing.”

    Beare said she usually tries to get photographers Richard Caplan or Nico Arellano to shoot her higher-end listings, believing that their work helps generate sales.

    Agents said they will pay a premium — often out of their own pockets — for the right photographer. Most city real estate brokerages maintain a list of approved photographers, and a marketing budget that agents can tap into when hiring from that list. But many brokers said they will often seek out their favorites, even if they’re not on the list or cost extra money.

    Here’s a look at some of the most sought-after real estate photographers in New York.

     

    Evan Joseph

    Many top brokers said when they have a seven- or eight-figure listing, they seek out Evan Joseph.

    Joseph, who is one of around 10 approved photographers at Douglas Elliman,  did the photography for the CitySpire penthouse currently listed by Elliman’s Raphael De Niro for $100 million; in fact, Joseph said he does all of De Niro’s listings priced above $10 million. He also shot the photos for Elliman broker Dolly Lenz’s $95 million listing at the Sherry-Netherland, a $75 million duplex at Trump Place at 240 Riverside Boulevard and a $65 million mansion in Alpine, N.J., listed by Elliman’s Oren Alexander.

    Joseph said he also frequently works with Carrie Chiang of the Corcoran Group, and recently shot her listing for Derek Jeter’s penthouse, which sold for $15.5 million in October.

    “Evan is the best. He’s amazing,” said Camilla Papale, Elliman’s chief marketing officer. “The quality is so high.”

    That’s important, she noted, because “the better the image, the better the space is represented.”

    Joseph began shooting real estate listings during the Dot-com era of the 1990s, when he began taking photos for some early real estate websites. He quickly mastered the craft of interior photography for marketing purposes, he said.

    When shooting a listing, he said, “I want people to feel like, ‘Wow, I have got to live there,’ not just, ‘Oh, that’s a nice space.’”

    In recent years, though, Joseph has expanded into lifestyle photography for artsy magazines. He has also co-authored the photography books “New York City at Night” and “New York Then and Now.”

    Listings now comprise about a quarter of Joseph’s overall business, and he has a business partner, Travis Dubreuil, who helps him maintain his crowded schedule.

    He declined to discuss his pricing, but said he’s proud that so many leaders in the industry keep coming back to him.

    “I work hard to cultivate these relationships,” he said.

     

    Nico Arellano 

    Photographer Nico Arellano has earned a reputation among brokers for his unique photo-processing style: He shoots an interior space with a variety of exposures and then blends the different shades of light into the final image, giving it a warm and inviting feel. Most photographers merge images with a computer program, but Arellano said he prefers to do it manually, even though it takes much longer.

    “The difference is enormous,” said Arellano, who is originally from Miami and has also worked in fashion photography. “The photos are so much more beautiful. You want to walk into the room and sit down.”

    Arellano’s photos “can direct your eye to a certain point in the room,” Beare said. “He hits it every time.”

    Arellano typically charges about $150 for the first photo, and then reduced amounts for each subsequent image. He charges less for bulk deals with firms like Halstead Property, Elliman and Core, he said, because he benefits from the consistent work a large brokerage can provide.

    Once he’s on a firm’s list of approved photographers, it acts “like my agent, in a way,” he said. “If a company has 1,000 brokers and 25 photographers on the list, they’ll call regularly.”

     

    John Porcheddu

    Unlike the many independent real estate photographers in the city, John Porcheddu doesn’t have to worry about finding work.

    As one of the go-to guys on staff at Gotham Photo Company, a leading New York City real estate photography provider, Porcheddu is guaranteed a steady flow of clients.

    Gotham — which specializes in doing listing photos, headshots, video and floor plans for real estate brokers — was founded in 2005. Porcheddu is one of its most-requested photographers, according to Gotham president Vince Collura.

    “Clients request their favorite photographers, and John gets a lot of calls,” Collura said. “Many of our guys have specialties that could make them a good fit for a particular [listing], but John does it all.”

    Porcheddu, who started taking photos as a hobby in high school, said working for Gotham allows him to focus on shooting rather than logistics.

    “Instead of spending half of my time on advertising and stuff, I can just go and take pictures,” he said.

    Through Gotham, Porcheddu charges $175 for a six-photo standard shoot, while larger, time-consuming packages can run over $300.

     

    Michael Weinstein

    When Town Residential broker Ginger Brokaw has an important listing, she said, she’s willing to wait for veteran photographer Michael Weinstein, one of several photographers on Town’s list of approved vendors.

    “I would wait a week for Michael … especially if it was something unique or challenging,” Brokaw said. “I return to him time and time again.”

    Weinstein was working in fashion about 16 years ago when he approached one of the marketing executives at Halstead about taking headshots of the firm’s brokers. The executive responded by asking if he’d ever shot properties.

    “I said, ‘I never got paid for it, but I’ll certainly try,’” Weinstein recalled.

    He discovered he had a knack for it, and his business took off. “I got busy really quickly,” he said.

    Weinstein said he usually charges a flat rate, but sometimes negotiates prices with individual brokers, depending on the number of photos needed for a listing.  He recently did the photos for a co-op at 828 Fifth Avenue listed for $72 million.

    Dennis Cusack, director of sales at Town, said Weinstein’s photographs helped draw a huge buyer turnout for a listing at 225 West 95th Street.

    “The first open house I think there were 45 people, and the second one was in the high 30s,” Cusack said. “Probably one of the most important things about the listing is the photography, and that’s why we go to Michael.”

     

    Richard Caplan

    Former Wall Street trader Richard Caplan became a professional photographer only five years ago, but has already shot over $2 billion worth of real estate, including a penthouse asking $48 million at 145 Hudson Street.

    Caplan said he decided to move into photography so he could spend more time with his family. The career change made sense, he said, since “I’ve had a camera in my hands since I was seven years old.”

    High-profile Elliman agent Fredrik Eklund said he’s worked with Caplan for years, and has even paid to fly Caplan to Sweden (where Eklund runs a brokerage) for real estate shoots.

    “I’ve grown to trust him,” Eklund said. “I don’t even go to the shoots anymore.”

    Eklund said Caplan instinctively shoots details within an apartment that convey a desirable way of life.

    “We not only sell property, we sell a lifestyle,” Eklund said. “The photos need to be perfect.”

    “Whether it’s a beautiful flight of stairs or an open floor plan, I’m looking for that sweet spot in the room,” said Caplan, who has an assistant and an editing team.

    But he noted that there isn’t a lot of room for ego in real estate photography.

    “As much as I like to see myself as an artist, I am here to help a salesperson,” he said. “The job is going to be what they want it to be.”

    This story originally appeared at The Real Deal.

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    White House HamptonsBill and Hillary Clinton are reportedly house hunting in the Hamptons, the New York Post is reporting.

    This would not be the first Hamptons house for the duo, who previously rented a $19 million mansion on Lily Pond Lane.

    And while the Hamptons offers a wealth of incredible properties, Curbed believes it may have found the political power couple their very own Hamptons White House: a large estate in Water Mill South.

    The estate, which is listed with Douglas Elliman, has a tennis court, Jacuzzi, infinity pool, eight fireplaces, a wine cellar, and a private pier right on Mecox Bay, not to mention 20,000-square-feet of space and four acres of land.

    The property also comes installed with Crestron security cameras that can be controlled and monitored from anywhere in the world — an important security measure for the high-profile couple.

    The asking price has not been publicly disclosed.

    An aerial view of the huge 315 Rose Hill Road property shows its proximity to Mecox Bay.

    Source: Douglas Elliman Real Estate



    Welcome home, Bill and Hillary.

    Source: Douglas Elliman Real Estate



    Do you see the resemblance to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

    Source: Douglas Elliman Real Estate



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Estately, 7602 Maple Street, Marengo, IL

    It's said that a man's home is his castle, but in some cases his castle is his home.

    Our friends at property search site Estately.com dove into their listings to find castle-like houses around the country that seem to be straight out of a fairy tale.

    With pools, horse stables, bocce courts and multi-floor libraries, these 19 castle homes are available for purchase right now.

    This castle features museum-worthy artifacts.

    This secluded six bed, 12 bath home is ripe with lush gardens and greenery. There are indoor and outdoor pools, a racquetball court, tennis court, and multiple gardens with a koi pond, roses, and a Japanese zen motif. If that wasn't enough, the adjacent 2.5 acres are also available for purchase.

    Address: 835 Chiltern Rd., Hillsborough, Calif.

    Price: $38,500,000



    This beautiful, modern castle features an art collection museums will envy.

    Enjoy some peace and quiet in this modern castle located in an enclosed cul-de-sac. You'll live like the Fresh Prince in this Bel Air neighborhood home with three bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a library, media center, gym, pool, and an apartment for live-in staff.

    Address: 10807 Bellagio Rd., Los Angeles, Calif.

    Price: $19,950,000



    Enjoy views of the sprawling countryside from this Bavarian-style castle.

    This California home sits on 42 vast acres and was fashioned after a 17th-century Bavarian hunting lodge. The owners scouted out European antiques from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and designed the beautiful castle around these centerpieces. The home has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and nine fireplaces.

    Address: 2969 White Sulphur Springs Rd., St. Helena, Calif.

    Price: $18,950,000

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Crespi Hicks EstateBusinessman and former owner of the Texas Rangers Tom Hicks is selling his huge 25-acre Texas estate for $135 million, according to celebrity real estate blog The Real Estalker.

    The Dallas estate, which boasts a 29,000-square-foot mansion, pool house, and guest house, was originally designed in 1939 for the Italian count Pio Crespi and his American wife Florence by architect Maurice Fatio.

    Tom and Cinda Hicks moved in 16 years ago, and have been renovating, restoring, and expanding ever since. The Real Estalker reported that Hicks spent $100 million of his estimated $1 billion fortune renovating this stately property.

    The house has 14-foot ceilings, a country club-sized pool, gardens, a movie theater, tennis court, and an undisclosed amount of bedrooms and bathrooms (though at 28,996-square-feet, we're guessing it can comfortably fit multiple sets of families if necessary).

    The Crespi/Hicks Estate is currently listed for sale with Douglas Newby & Associates.

    The entire property spans 25 acres in the Dallas neighborhood, Mayflower Estates.



    Welcome to the Crespi/Hicks Estate.



    The property is well manicured. Lots of shrubbery and fountains surround the main mansion.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    360 Woodside Mountain Road

    A Woodside, California home quietly traded hands last November for the staggering price of $117.5 million dollars, according to SF Luxe. That makes it the most expensive residence ever sold in the California, and possibly the second-most expensive private real estate deal in the United States ever.

    The mansion is roughly 9,000 square feet, and was designed by Virginia-based architect Allan Greenberg. It has a pool, nine-acres of property, and is surrounded by 360-degree views of the Woodside Mountains, according to SF Luxe.

    The record-breaking transaction reportedly took place on November 27, 2012 to an undisclosed buyer. The residence was never publicly listed for sale, and SF Luxe reports it was previously owned by Tully Friedman of Friedman Fleischer and Lowe LLC, a San Francisco investment firm.

    Billionaire Stanley Kroenke holds the number one spot for most-expensive US home after purchasing a 123,000-acre Montana mega-ranch last year. The property was originally listed for $132.5 million, though the sale price has never been disclosed.

    DON'T MISS: Sports Team Titan Tom Hicks Lists His Gigantic Dallas Estate For $135 Million

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    hong kongFor the second year in a row, Hong Kong is the most expensive city in the world in which to rent a luxury three-bedroom apartment.

    According to the latest data from ECA International, a global consulting firm that releases the figures for companies sending employees to work abroad, Hong Kong's rental prices have dropped slightly from last year's high of $11,813, to $11,549.

    But despite the decrease, Hong Kong still out-ranked the runners up — Caracas, New York, and Moscow — by a minimum of $2,000 a month.

    So what makes for the sky-high rental prices?

    "Strong demand and a limited supply of suitable rental properties are pushing up rents for high-end property – in some cases quite dramatically," said Lee Quane, regional director of ECA International in Asia, in a press release. "In other locations such as Hong Kong, demand has been considerable for some time, due to limited land or a burgeoning middle class."

    Globally, rental prices for a three-bedroom have slipped from last year's average of $3,080 to $3,030 per month. Tokyo luxury rentals in particular are down 5 percent, and those in Mumbai have dropped an average of 12 percent in cost within the last year.

    In Buenos Aires, the average rent for a 3-bedroom apartment is $4,170 per month.

    Data refers to unfurnished, 3-bedroom apartments. Source: ECA International

    The rental prices ECA used to make this list were collected in September 2012 and have been converted into US dollars for comparative purposes using the September 2012 exchange rate.




    In Beijing, the average rent for a 3-bedroom is $4,203.

    Data refers to unfurnished, 3-bedroom apartments. Source: ECA International

    The rental prices ECA used to make this list were collected in September 2012 and have been converted into US dollars for comparative purposes using the September 2012 exchange rate.



    In Paris, the average rent for a 3-bedroom apartment is $4,329 a month.

    Data refers to unfurnished, 3-bedroom apartments. Source: ECA International

    The rental prices ECA used to make this list were collected in September 2012 and have been converted into US dollars for comparative purposes using the September 2012 exchange rate.



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    Two Brooklyn neighborhoods have made it onto a list of the 10 most expensive neighborhoods in New York City released by real estate listing website PropertyShark.com.

    Dumbo, which ranked fourth in median home sale prices last year, had the ninth-highest median sale price in 2012, at $869,259. And Boerum Hill, where prices have risen significantly in the past several years, ranked sixth on this year's list, with a median sale price of $950,000.

    Manhattan neighborhoods remained firmly at the top of the list: the median sale price in two neighborhoods, SoHo and TriBeCa, topped $2 million.

    Check out the top 10 from PropertyShark:

    most expensive neighborhoods chart

     

    housing

    SEE ALSO: Take A Tour Of The Most Expensive Zip Code In America

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    time warner center

    A Russian lawmaker and billionaire mogul is suing the Manhattan contractor he alleges overbilled him for work done to his Time Warner Center apartment.

    Vitaly Malkin is also contending that the firm, Katselnik & Katselnik Group, tried to extort a multimillion-dollar contract to build out the space after the Russian senator decided to go with another contractor for subsequent work.

    The $600,000 suit, filed Jan. 25 in New York State Supreme Court, states that Malkin hired the contractor to serve as his pre-construction manager — overseeing the initial demolition at the 3,200-square-foot duplex on the building’s 74th and 75th floors.

    K&K, a boutique firm specializing in interior construction, has done work at venues such as Harry Cipriani restaurant, Barclays Bank and Aspen Fitness Center.

    The complaint alleges that the firm put a $170,000 lien on Malkin’s apartment after performing unauthorized work and overbilling at the site, but offered a deal to make the lien ‘go away’ if Malkin granted K&K the lucrative renovation contract.

    “They were acting as our New York rep in connection with this project,” said Joshua Bernstein, a partner at Pryor Cashman and attorney for Malkin. “What we allege in that K&K, seeking an opportunity to make money off a wealthy foreign investor, took advantage of the confidence that had been reposed of him.”

    Jeffrey Rea, attorney for K&K said he does not comment on civil litigation. K&K officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Malkin originally acquired the property in August 2010, with records filed with the city Department of Finance showing the purchase price at more than $15.6 million. Malkin hired K&K in March 2011 to   handle demolition work and by May 2011, and retained the firm as its pre-construction manager.

    In October 2011, K&K hired CCS Architecture to design the new interior; however by March 2012, K&K offered to become the general contractor on the renovation. Malkin and K&K were unable to come to an agreement on the terms of the contract, according to court filings. “Their prices were out of whack and they had demands that we were not willing to meet,” Bernstein told The Real Deal.

    The complaint states that among its demands, K&K asked Malkin to deposit the entire construction amount into a domestic escrow account. A new invoice was sent on May 30 for $170,000 for a range of construction services, including electrical, carpentry, HVAC, dry-walling and other services that the complaint says were never authorized. The complaint said Malkin contacted one contractor, New York Cooling Towers, and was told an invoice for $27,500 was actually for $10,500 worth of work and that K&K was overbilling. K&K then filed the $170,000 lien in August 2012, which is being litigated in a separate case.

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    Airbnb House of Collection

    According to the Times-Picayune, 8.75 million tourists visited New Orleans during the Mardi Gras season in 2011.

    Living a mere three miles from the parties, concerts, and parades gives me a few great opportunities. One, I can have a lot of fun, and two, there are nearly nine million people looking for a place to crash in my city.

    This year with New Orleans also hosting the Super Bowl during the Carnival season, a few friends and I are planning on renting our apartments for a few nights to make some extra cash. They’ve done it before and made enough to pay their rent for the month.

    But you don’t have to live in a major city or near a huge event to pull this off. If you’ve got the space, you can make some money. Check out the following news story we did on vacation rentals, then meet me on the other side for more:

    Now, here’s how to go about it.

    1. Price your rental

    Since you’re acting as landlord/inn keeper, you get to set your own prices, but they should be in line with what others are charging for similar-sized vacation rentals in your area. I figured out my prices with a little research.

    First, I checked the “Vacation rentals” section on my local Craigslist. I found five spots in my area that were roughly the same size and wrote down their nightly prices:

    • $39
    • $100
    • $210
    • $65
    • $95

    Then I checked the website of three-star hotels in my area for their nightly prices:

    • $139
    • $129
    • $149

    I added up the prices for each spot to find an average rate: $115 per night. This is my base price for a one-night stay. Since I’d like to rent my apartment for a week, I added an incentive: Stay for three or more nights, and I’ll knock 30 percent off the price, making it $80 a night.

    2. Advertise

    To find guests, you’ll need to advertise your rental, including making an ad, taking photos, and posting the information online.

    When I wrote my ad, I started with a list of features my apartment has, including a queen-sized bed and pull-out sleeper sofa, a fully equipped kitchen, alarm system, and Wi-Fi access. Then I threw in some perks to seal the deal, like making my apartment pet-friendly and mentioning that the kitchen comes with coffee, tea, and a few snacks that I always have on hand anyway.

    Depending on where you advertise, you might be limited to a few photos. Keeping this in mind, I took photos of the inside of my apartment showing the bedroom and kitchen. Then I walked around my neighborhood and took pictures of the highlights like the local park, a nearby diner, and a coffee shop.

    Once your ad is ready, you have a few advertising options online:

    • Craigslist – It is free to post an ad on Craigslist, but the site is unmonitored and anyone can reply to an ad.
    • Airbnb – Airbnb lets you post free listings. They offer a messaging service, guest and owner reviews, and guest profiles to help you choose a guest, but they do charge a fee. You’ll pay 3 percent for every reservation you take.
    • RentalSpot – You can post a free basic listing, but you’ll be limited to short descriptions and few photos.

    3. How to prepare

    A friend of mine has been renting his pad two weekends a month for the last year. He gave me a quick rundown on how to prepare my apartment for vacationers.

    1. Clean – My friend pays a cleaning service before and after every guest at $50 a pop (roughly $200 a month), but I plan on giving my place a quick once-over myself.
    2. Protect valuables – I’m fortunate in a way; I don’t own much worth stealing, but if you do, consider either taking it with you or locking it up out of sight.
    3. Put out linens – If you have guest towels or sheets, use them. If not, make sure you put yours in plain sight. Not everyone is comfortable digging around in closets.
    4. Make a welcome kit – My apartment has a few quirks so I’ve made a brochure of sorts explaining them with notes such as: “kitchen sink water doesn’t heat up immediately,” and “stove has to be lit with matches.” I plan to pop the brochure in a basket with coffee, tea, and cookies.

    4. Words of caution

    Screen all potential tenants carefully. Take into consideration why they want to rent your place. Is it a few college kids looking to take a vacation for a local festival? If so, they might be there for some partying – possibly heavy partying. You don’t want to risk your place getting trashed, so remember that you can and should say no to any person or persons who make you uneasy.

    It’s also not uncalled for to ask for a security deposit. Any deposit you charge should be smaller than or equal to one night’s stay. If you do decide to charge a deposit, consider writing a small contract stating when and how you’ll return the deposit after their stay.

    If you rent, check with your landlord to make sure he’s cool with you subletting your place for a few nights.

    Finally, give your tenants a number to reach you at in case they have any questions or concerns and let your neighbors know what’s going on. Then they can call you, not your landlord, if they have any problems. It’s better to get the phone call from an aggravated neighbor than an angry landlord.

    SEE ALSO: 15 Gorgeous Vacation Homes For $500,000 Or Less >

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    elvis beverly hills home

    In an ironic twist, the founder of the Hard Rock Cafe the restaurants dedicated to preserving musician memorabilia  is rumored to be tearing down Elvis Presley's old Beverly Hills mansion to construct a brand new house, according to Curbed LA.

    The home, which has four bedrooms, five bathrooms, and spans 5,367 square feet, was previously on the market this past October for $12.995 million and sold to Hard Rock's Peter Morton in December for $9.8 million.

    The gated property sits on 1.18 acres of land, with stunning views of Los Angeles from the backyard. Morton is a bit of a real estate buff, with another home in Holmby Hills and a mini-compound on Carbon Beach in Malibu, according to Curbed.

    Welcome to Hillcrest Road.



    The house was built in 1958.



    About $1.836 million worth of improvements went into the home in 2010, according to the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor website.



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    christopher flowers apartment

    Having recently forked out $20 million for a second floor-unit at 640 Park Avenue, billionaire private equity mogul J. Christopher Flowers may be trying to balance his books.

    Flowers, who founded J.C. Flowers & Co., has listed his six-bedroom, seven-bathroom spread at 66 East 79th Street for $18 million, according to Streeteasy.com.

    The price is $1 million less than what Flowers paid for the property in 2006. The unit is listed by Sami Hassoumi of Brown Harris Stevens, who was not immediately available for comment.

    This is the first time that the duplex apartment, located on the 14th and 15th floors of the building, has been publicly offered for sale. The home, which was originally designed as the largest in the building, has traded only through privately marketed transactions in the past, according to the listing. It has a 30-foot drawing room, a formal dining room and a wood-paneled library.

    Flowers bought the unit in 2006 from old school ad man Martin Puris, who penned BMW’s signature tag line “the ultimate driving machine.” That was the same year he made records for paying out $53 million for the Harkness Mansion at 4 East 75th Street. The Harkness property later sold to art world powerhouse Larry Gagosian for a loss in 2011. Gagosian paid just $36.5 million for the property, which he may turn into an art gallery.

    Flowers’ new digs on Park Avenue reportedly have six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms as well as a gym and staff facilities.

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    Arlington, Tex. Man Cave, Estately

    The best place to watch the Super Bowl is probably from the stadium itself, but the second-best place is a cozy, bear-like man cave.

    Think about it: plush armchairs, all your friends around, and your favorite game day snacks without ever having to leave home. Sounds pretty good.

    Our friends at Estately.com tipped us off to some homes on the market that feature some awesome man cave basements and lounges.

    Here are 15 you'll wish you were relaxing in on Superbowl Sunday.

    The country-style man cave in this Graford, Tex. home features a relaxed setting where you can kick back with a beer and admire the cool guitars on the wall in between plays.

    Click here to see the listing on Estately >



    Take the elevator down to the media room in this Arlington, Tex. home and make use of built-in electronic screens and remote control drapes.

    Click here to see the listing on Estately >



    This man cave is like a real cave at this home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Head outdoors to the covered hot tub and soak while you watch the game on a wide-screen TV.

    Click here to see the listing on Estately >



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