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07 May 2017

5 Booming Markets to Watch

As jobs and culture progress in cities across the world, so do their housing markets. Each of these locations has an alluring combination of healthy job growth and high-end tastes, making them especially desirable to upscale buyers.

Booming Markets for Luxury Real Estate

  •  Toronto, Ontario – Named one of the best cities to live in by PricewaterhouseCoopers in the 2016 Cities of Opportunity report, Toronto boasts a thriving economy, cultural diversity and accessible health care and education — all huge draws for luxury clientele.
  •  Victoria, British Columbia – This thriving technology hub has attracted many new investors and high-end buyers to Canada’s westernmost province. The area boasts a temperate climate, balanced age demographics and a progressive public school  system.
  •  San Francisco, California – San Francisco’s technology boom continues to appeal to high-end residents. Modern cuisine, a  well-curated fine arts scene and the city’s historical significance make San Francisco a cultural epicenter for creative thinkers  in major industries.
  •  Austin, Texas – From budding startups to tech powerhouses like Facebook, Apple, Google and Dell (all of which maintain   offices in the Texas capital), a range of career opportunities abound for longtime residents and recent transplants alike. A  thriving real estate market complements Austin’s low unemployment and its extensive number of outdoor spaces to enjoy.

Market to Watch

  • Charleston, South Carolina – With its combination of complex history and sophisticated culture, it’s no surprise that this  luxury market is climbing the lists of cities to watch. Between its soaring job growth and unique architecture and landscapes, Charleston is a city that many luxury homebuyers are starting to consider when exploring their next move.
02 Apr 2017

4 Top Trends Among Luxury Buyers

Whether you’ve been living in the luxury home market for years or you’re looking to move up with your next home purchase, it’s worth knowing what home features are currently making an impact. Here are four trends that buyers are looking for in 2017.

Smart Home Systems
In today’s market, homebuyers spending top dollar expect all the bells and whistles, including the latest in smart home automation. This can include everything from voice activation to LED wall pads offering convenient control of lighting and thermostat settings to infrared cameras keeping an eye on every angle of the property.

Blended Living Spaces
Buyers are less interested in beautiful, unoccupied yards and well-furnished but untouched interiors. Instead, functionality reigns, particularly when it comes to indoor-outdoor living spaces. Features like collapsible window walls, outdoor kitchens and cabanas can add value to a home by extending the useable square footage.

Gyms, Pools and Sports Courts
Physical health and wellness rank high on the list of priorities for many in the luxury market, making amenities like private basketball courts, Pilates studios, fully equipped gyms and soundproof meditation rooms more and more common. Outside, buyers often expect a pool, whether it’s resort style with an infinity edge or Olympic sized and meant for laps.

Personalized Services
Buyers of high-end condominiums, particularly in top metro areas, are also looking for thoughtful design and modern technology, as well as options that simplify their on-the-go lifestyle. More personalized features, like personal drivers and limitless concierge services, rank high on their trend list.

16 Mar 2017

3 Options for Real Estate Investing

Are you looking to diversify your portfolio? Real estate investment has increased steadily, and some individuals are particularly drawn to the luxury market. Here are three choices investors may consider when looking to put some money into high-end real estate.

Rental Properties
Investing in a piece of high-end real estate and leasing it to trustworthy tenants long term is one option. Or you could take advantage of the popularity of vacation rental websites and offer it up as a short-term rental. If you’d rather not manage the property yourself, there are plenty of turnkey services that can handle the entire rental process on your behalf.

Real Estate Trading
This alternative, also known as “flipping,” comes with more risk. An investor buys a property, holds on to it for a short time, maybe makes a few quick renovations, and then puts it back on the market, betting on improved property values for a return. Though it may be an exciting way to make a profit, it can also go wrong if values fall or the house doesn’t sell.

Real Estate Investment Trust
Purchasing a luxury property can cost six figures or more, but a real estate investment trust (REIT) offers investors another way to earn a real estate return with a smaller outlay. These trusts finance or own income-producing properties, like shopping centers or office complexes.

They’re set up similarly to mutual funds and allow investors to buy in, some for as little as $500. Most REITs are traded on major exchanges, and they must return 90 percent of their annual returns to investors. Though they may offer slow, stable growth, keep in mind that shareholders must pay income tax on REIT dividends.

Before jumping into real estate investment, consider your options and talk to trusted professionals for first-hand industry perspective.

19 Feb 2017

Luxury Backyard Features

Dreaming of an island getaway or a break from the daily grind? Forget plane tickets and hotel rooms. In fact, you don’t have to go more than a few feet for a little R & R. All it takes is a few key additions, and you can turn your backyard into a relaxing retreat right at home.

Here’s how to turn your backyard into the oasis you’re yearning for:

1. Add a lazy river. What’s more relaxing than a leisurely float down the river? Grab a spacious pool float, pour yourself a refreshing drink and get ready to wind down.

2. Install an infinity pool. Get your daily workout without the crowds and smells of a public gym. An infinity pool offers you a space-saving, all-over workout that gets the job done and relaxes you in the process.

3. Stock the bar and kitchen. Install an outdoor bar and kitchen area, complete with a pizza oven, grill and built-in wine fridge. Add some comfortable outdoor seating and invite friends over for bites and bottles.

4. Build a pool house. Pool houses aren’t just for pool supplies anymore. Use yours as a guest house, an entertaining space or a game room. You’ll get bonus points with the kiddos, too, because who wouldn’t love a sleepover away from the parents?

5. Consider a luxury shed. Need a little alone time once in a while? Upscale sheds are great backyard alternatives to the traditional tool or potting shed and can serve as a four-seasons room without the hassle of local permitting.

Your backyard is prime real estate — so use it to its fullest. With the right features and amenities in place, you’ll never need to leave home again.

13 Jan 2017

The World’s Most Inspiring Architects

A home’s look, feel and personality owe much to the vision and sensibility of its original designer. Several notable architects have pioneered seismic shifts in design over the years, achieving widespread recognition and accolades along the way. Here are three visionaries who have influenced building design worldwide.

Frank Lloyd Wright
This household name may be America’s most famous architect. Wright’s work established organic architecture, an aesthetic that takes into account the environment as much as the structure’s use. His masterpiece known as Fallingwater, built over a waterfall in western Pennsylvania and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966, exemplifies this marriage.

Frank Gehry
With a distinctively playful and bold style, Frank Gehry has put his unique architectural signature on many structures around the globe. From the EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington, to his own quirky residence in Santa Monica, California, Gehry’s breathtaking work exudes a sense of fluidity and motion. He’s achieved this in part by using newer technologies like 3-D modeling and modern fabrications.

Zaha Hadid
The first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the late Zaha Hadid gained notoriety for her ultra-futuristic aesthetic and sleek geometry. From the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, to the controversial Al Wakrah Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Hadid’s work has been celebrated by many, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, who commissioned the architect to create her Moscow home in 2012.

These are just a few of the architects who have inspired generations of homeowners. Who will make an impact in the years to come? Some experts suggest that the future of modern design can be seen in larger developments, like residential towers.

18 Dec 2016

High-Dollar Homes Around the World

The extravagance and variety of the most expensive homes in the world are testaments to the unique wants and whims of the planet’s wealthiest homebuyers. Here are a few of the most exclusive listings making headlines this year.

Historic Tuscan Estate With the Best in Italian Design
Renovated in 2003 and large enough to serve as a five-star hotel, this Italian villa was once home to Leopold II, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. For a cool $70 million, it’s ready for private ownership again. Featuring a private golf course and vineyard, the estate has the potential to revert into a self-sustaining homestead if the lucky buyer replaces guest accommodations in the farmhouse and barn.

Traditional Chinese Aesthetics Fit for an Emperor
China continues to feature some of the most opulent homes, including “Unique Taohuayuan,” which boasts a design fit for royalty — and a sale price to match. Named “Peach Blossom Land” or “Utopia,” this 32-bedroom estate is the most expensive home ever sold in China, commanding an impressive $154 million. Focusing on culturally authentic designs crafted by the country’s best architects and artisans is increasingly becoming one way China’s elite set themselves apart.

Contemporary Living in Southern California
This year, the most expensive property in the U.S. is an ultramodern estate in Bel Air listed at $250 million. The home includes upscale trimmings such as a private helicopter pad, an underground bowling alley and a champagne cellar, and the price covers two years’ salary for essential staff, including a personal chef and a masseuse.

21 Nov 2016

Are Your Retirement Savings On Track?

Whether you’re in the early stages of your career or your golden years are just around the corner, planning for retirement is a significant long-term commitment to balance alongside finding and owning the home of your dreams. Unfortunately, many Americans are underprepared or overconfident about their retirement. It’s important to check in regularly with your nest egg. How is yours shaping up?

How Much Should You Have Saved?
Of course, the cost of your current lifestyle is unique, which makes gauging progress a decidedly subjective exercise. That being said, there are general rules of thumb based on your age and income to check whether you’re in the ballpark for retiring on time or even early.

You Can Get Back on Track
Making sure you have a solid grasp on your spending habits, investment portfolio dynamics and flexible lifestyle choices are just a few feasible tactics to better position you for retirement, especially if it’s in the near future. So, don’t fret. Making adjustments to your retirement plan is well within your control.

Intergenerational Wealth Makes a Difference
Americans who have received loans or gifts from older relatives are more likely to receive future inheritances and are, in turn, more prepared financially for retirement. So if you have children or other dependents, your retirement plan might do well to account for leaving a legacy.

What’s the bottom line? If your idea of retirement closely resembles your current lifestyle, make sure you’re planning for the future as thoroughly as you plan for finding and acquiring your dream home. The two tasks might be more similar than you think.

21 Oct 2016

Unique Room Ideas to Suit Your Lifestyle

It’s important to make space in your life for the things you love. By dedicating extra rooms or areas of your home to your favorite pastimes, it’s easier to incorporate your interests into your lifestyle and turn a house into a sanctuary.

Highlight Health and Fitness
If the hardest part about working out is going to the gym, invite a personal trainer over for some one-on-one sessions at your home fitness studio. Rock climbing buffs might consider installing a rock wall to keep skills sharp between visits to natural landmarks. Another option: Pamper yourself post-workout with an indoor luxury spa room to soothe your body and mind.

Celebrate Your Interests
For the craft enthusiast, a fully stocked craft room could be the perfect place to unwind and let your creativity run wild. Fashion lovers will feel even more at home with spacious walk-in closets featuring luxurious elements like chandeliers and islands. Or for those who care to protect and display their wine collection, consider adding a wine cellar with a tasting area to showcase and sample your finest vintages.

Entertain With Style
Whether you prefer high-brow cinema or the latest blockbuster, an immersive home theater is sure to please every member of the family (and their closest friends), especially if you include soundproofing. If you enjoy spending time outside, lavish indoor-outdoor spaces can enhance the entertaining experience. Want to add a little mystery (and practicality) to your home? Install a secret room or passageway to create a hidden space or connect existing rooms.

What does your one-of-a-kind room look like?

04 Sep 2016

Upscale Property Rental Services

You probably consider your home an investment for your long-term goals. But it can generate short-term investment income as well. Of course, you don’t want to open your home to just anyone with an internet connection and a credit card. As short-term rental sites have gone mainstream, so have specific services to help high-end property owners create additional income streams through strategic, short-term rental options.

Consider Upscale Amenities
For those with the means and inclination to book deluxe accommodations, lush amenities and services are often expected as part of the package. From a concierge to handle all the scheduling to a daily housekeeper and private chef, luxury short-term rental companies offer additional perks that take the guesswork and hassle out of arranging a comfortable vacation or business visit.

Take Note of Taxes
Like any investment, unique tax structures apply and must be considered with any potential income or gain. When it comes to renting out your property, it’s important to understand that the number of days you reside in the home or rent it out can affect how the IRS characterizes the home and applies taxes.

Think Outside the Box
If you’re less interested in making your property available to vacationers or corporate types, there may be an interesting opportunity in show business. Film production companies could pay top dollar to use your home as a movie set if it has the desired aesthetic for a particular production. All types of properties are used, so this may be worth looking into. Imagine seeing your home on the big screen, captured in all of its glory forever.

15 Aug 2016

Designing The Perfect Vacation Home

Vacation homes aren’t just about location. Whether you’ve bought a property to rent out or you’re investing in a vacation spot for your family, there are plenty of other factors to consider.

Want a vacation-worthy property? Here are some ideas to enhance the vacation experience:

Create a communal space. Make sure there’s somewhere the entire group can get together for talking, games or a nice meal. Be sure to include plenty of comfortable seating for everyone.

Match the decor to the locale. Is your home on the beach? Bring in linens with coastal hues and accent the windows with light, airy curtains that blow in the breeze. Have a property in a mountainous area? Create a warm, welcoming respite with a fireplace, cozy blankets and dark wood tones.

Have a kid-friendly area. You don’t need to design a full playscape, but do have some safe, child-friendly areas where kids can hang out. Maybe add a sandbox in the backyard, or designate a “kid” room with a few toys, bunk beds and other fun touches.

Smarten it up. Install smart technology that can enhance everyone’s stay. Keypad locks allow easy access for all guests and offer peace of mind when going out. Smart TVs ensure access to Netflix, Hulu and other providers.

Add the finishing touches. If you plan to rent your property, consider including extra linens, complimentary toiletries or even plush robes for lounging. A great experience will bring better reviews and attract rentals in the future.

There’s no cut-and-dry way to design the perfect vacation home. Customize it to your family’s needs, and research the local tourism market to see what travelers are looking for. The thought and effort you put into your vacation home will help create fond memories for years to come.