LEASE OPTIONS: A WIN FOR BUYERS AND SELLERS

A rent-to-own luxury home may help potential homeowners buy some time before it’s buying time. For potential jumbo-mortgage borrowers, a lease option gives future buyers the opportunity to save for a higher down payment or get a credit history in order, while locking in on their future purchase, says Linda Rheinberger, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Las Vegas. On their end, sellers typically agree to a lease option as a way to cover their mortgage payments or make additional income until the sales market improves, Ms. Rheinberger adds. Click here to read more.                                 Continue reading

THIS WEEK'S PRICIEST HOMES FOR SALE: DOES CELEBRITY LEGACY ADD TO THE ASKING PRICE?

The high-end housing market hasn’t been this entertaining to watch since the last upturn. Luxury homes are being bought for eye-popping prices with large amounts of cash, and apparently imagination is the only limit to amenities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in L.A.’s ultra-expensive celebrity-studded neighborhoods. – Lauren Beale and Neal J. Leitereg Actress Sela Ward's mansion in Bel-Air is as personalized as they come. Rebuilt into a French country estate during her 12 years there, the eight-acre spread has a miniature golf course, a pond with a beach and a stone-walled amphitheater built into a hillside. Asking price: $39.995 million. Click here to read more.                                   Continue reading

ARE SHAKY MARKETS SHAKING CONFIDENCE IN LUXURY REAL ESTATE?

For a while, it seemed like the luxury housing market was downright untouchable. “More properties than ever before were both sold and listed for sale at US $100 million or higher in 2014,” Christie’s International Real Estate reported. In many cases, it’s been easier to get a jumbo loan than a conventional mortgage in the postcrash real estate world. But wait … are the recent nosedives in the Chinese stock market—and the resulting roller-coaster ride experienced by U.S. stocks—finally making a dent in housing’s vaunted upper-end sector? “Wild swings in the U.S. stock market over the past few weeks have prompted many high-end home buyers across the country to rethink selling off assets to finance down payments, leading to canceled purchases, delayed closings and requests for price reductions,” the Wall Street Journal reported. Click here to read more.                                 Continue reading

ON FIRE: WHICH ARE THE HOTTEST MARKETS FOR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES?

The U.S. has been named the hottest market for global residential property in a survey of 14 countries by real estate advisors Savills. The researchers analyzed economic and demographic trends to forecast how much prices in popular cities will rise over the next five years. And the essential ingredients for solid returns? A combination of population growth, rising wealth and limited housing supply. 1. United States The U.S. housing market has enjoyed three years of growth as the economic recovery gathers pace. Prices are up about 30% from their 2009 trough. San Francisco offers the most impressive growth potential. Nearby Silicon Valley has spurred interest in the city and secured its place as one of the country's best performing housing markets. Savills named it ahead of New York, Los Angeles and Miami.  Click here to read more.                               Continue reading

AUTUMN’S BOUNTY: OPPORTUNITIES CONTINUE FOR U.S. REAL ESTATE

While autumn is fast approaching, home prices are also starting to climb up. The US Real Estate market has also experienced different trends just like with stocks exchange, rising and falling prices of energy and as well as the possibility of Federal Reserve's interest rate increase this year. According to thestreet.com, the autumn residential real estate market seems to be in a good shape this year. Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Realtor.com said "Recent stock market volatility and seasonal trends may give buyers better financial options and more time to make purchase decisions entering the fall. August data remains positive with regard to overall housing health as both demand and supply continue to grow." He also added that investors and consumers are on the lookout of an opportunity where "supply and demand merge in a way where deals are fair to everyone." Smoke also added, "This year we [saw] inventory continue to grow in August, and while overall demand is strong, the trend in median days on market is suggesting that the market is finding more of a balance. This bodes well for would-be buyers who have been discouraged by the inability to find a home to buy this spring and summer." Click here to read more.                             Continue reading

BIG BUCKS: THE MOST EXPENSIVE REAL ESTATE SALES LAST WEEK

The storied home of a pioneering film family, the former residence of a pop star and newly built estates in Pacific Palisades and Arcadia were among the most expensive real estate transactions in the Greater Los Angeles area this week. $25 million -- Beverly Hills In the 1200 block of Laurel Lane, a home built for film pioneer Samuel Goldwyn Sr. -- and later owned by his son, film producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. -- sold after coming to market in April for $32 million. Set on two acres, the estate centers on a Georgian-inspired Traditional designed by architect Douglas Honnold and completed in 1934. Within the 11,000 square feet of living space is a formal dining room, a paneled 35-millimeter screening room, six bedrooms and five bathrooms. Click here to read more.                             Continue reading

HOW HIGH ARE PROPERTY TAXES IN YOUR STATE?

States tax real property in a variety of ways: some impose a rate or a millage—the amount of tax per thousand dollars of value—on the fair market value of the property, while others impose it on some percentage (the assessment ratio) of the market value, yielding an assessed value.  Some states have equalization requirements, ensuring uniformity across the state. Sometimes caps limit the degree to which one’s property taxes can rise in a given year, and sometimes rate adjustments are mandated after assessments to ensure uniformity or maintenance of revenues. Abatements are often available to certain taxpayers, like veterans or senior citizens. And of course, property tax rates are set by political subdivisions at a variety of levels: not only by cities and counties, but often also by school boards, fire departments, and utility commissions. Click here to read more.                           Continue reading

DOES CROWDFUNDING HAVE A FUTURE IN REAL ESTATE?

New York’s first real estate project financed significantly though crowdfunding is set to open, a step forward for a nascent investing model that has yet to prove itself in commercial property. AKA United Nations, an extended-stay hotel-condominium on East 46th Street near Second Avenue, will start taking guests Sept. 10. Sales of the suites have already begun. Of the $95 million it cost to buy and fix up the existing hotel, $12 million was raised from online pledges. It’s “the first ever crowdfunded building in New York coming to completion, from A to Z,” said Rodrigo Nino, chief executive officer of Prodigy Network, which is gut-renovating the building with partners. Until now, “everything has been about promises.” Click here to read more.                           Continue reading

BIG BUCKS: THE MOST EXPENSIVE SALES IN LOS ANGELES REAL ESTATE LAST WEEK

The homes of a fashion mogul, a film producer and an Emmy Award-winning actress were among the most expensive residential real estate sales in the greater Los Angeles area last week. $47,851,500 -- Beverly Hills Guess co-founder Maurice Marciano sold his home in the 1200 block of Benedict Canyon Drive to hotel and casino magnate Steve Wynn in a deal that closed outside the Multiple Listing Service. Though details are sparse, property records show that the contemporary-style home was built in 2004 and has eight bedrooms and 13 bathrooms in 19,299 square feet. Click here to read more.                           Continue reading

KITCHEN AID: DESIGNERS WEIGH IN ON WHERE TO SPEND ON KITCHEN REMODELS

Even grilled cheese tastes better when made in a stylish kitchen. For those who love to cook, a gourmet kitchen is the dream. However, unlike a living room or bedroom, this space is much harder to remodel. Kitchens can't be rearranged at whim, cabinets can't be easily changed, and counters -- well, there's very little you can do to hide 1980s laminate countertops. (Their existence is proof that not everything comes back in fashion.) But don't shelve your dream just yet. It's possible to get a luxurious look for under $50,000, which is close to the average price spent on a budget kitchen remodel. We asked designers where they'd splurge, where they'd save, and other projects to consider for a space worthy of your culinary creations. Click here to read more.                         Continue reading