Sienna - Exterior Glamor 1

Often we feature homes and apartments intended as getaways, but what about a destination that challenges how we live our lives?  Sure, some fabulously wealthy person could purchase a property like this and simply add it to their portfolio, but the real tug for the rest of us comes from utilizing a property like this as a springboard to alter your life.  You’d still need some serious money or a willing bank, but this property offers a vastly different lifestyle.

Let me explain.  This 12th century fortress compound encompasses 154,139 square feet of interior living space that includes 110 bedrooms, 100 bathrooms, four swimming pools, a chapel, and two fishing lakes (feel free to re-read that). Along with the castle, there are 1,594 acres of rolling farmland of which only a speck is being used for wine grapes and olives.

See what I mean?  This property could change your life in many ways.

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A view you could sell tickets to see

A view you could sell tickets to

I hadn’t even got on the plane and this Florence villa captivated me.  Is it any wonder when this is the view from the home’s back deck?  Perfectly situated to frame the ancient city of Florence, this home could be a dump and still there’d be this.  Of course it’s no dump …

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Clotilde View 1

Often in Paris, discoveries are made by chance. Out for a walk one evening, up Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, I happened upon one of the Sotheby’s offices and peered into the window (as you do).  I was struck by this photograph, snapped a picture to remind me to follow-up when the office was open.

As if the picture didn’t tip it off, I have quite nice taste.  I mean, who reading this wouldn’t count their lucky stars to be standing here with a glass of champagne in their hand?

The Left Bank property on Rue Casimir Périer in the 7th Arrondissement, is on the upper floor of a vintage building across from the pictured Basilique Sainte-Clotilde, in all its Notre Dame-esque gothic-ness. The apartment’s nine rooms are listed with Véronique Prévost and includes six bedrooms with five bathrooms. The apartment is on two floors with the main public rooms and master suite on the sixth floor while the remainder of the bedrooms are on the fifth along with an office/bedroom.  The whole property covers 2,690 square feet (250 square meters) and is listed for a pinch more than $5.26 million or4.9 million … that’s $1,957 per square foot.

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Kelly Nyfeler

A second home on the coast of France? It may sound out of reach for most of us, but, believe it or not, it’s actually not that much of stretch in certain areas not as well known as say, Nice, Cannes, or Saint-Tropez. Kelly Nyfeler, the director of sales for the Uptown Dallas office of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty recently purchased a vacation home in the French coastal city of Narbonne for under $600,000. The stylishly decorated three-bedroom townhouse with a saltwater pool and modern kitchen and bathrooms is located in Narbonne, a bit of a foodie mecca near beautiful beaches, vineyards, and ancient historic structures.  You can experience it firsthand, too, as the house may be privately rented via Airbnb.  Here are details:

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Jitters over terrorist attacks, immigration strife, and economic instability due to Brexit seem to have put some European real estate investment property on shaky ground lately, but there are bright spots, too.

Kate Everett-Allen, head of international research at Knight Frank names Berlin and Munich on a short list of standout European performers with  price growth rates of 9 percent and 12 percent, respectively, in 2015. You can find those figures and a lot more in the real estate investment advisory firm’s 2016 Wealth Report.

Germany’s capital, Berlin, where real estate values have doubled since 2007, is a case in point:  The growing city is an important center for high-tech, creative, and media industries.  Rubina Real Estate experts note that Berlin is a gateway to Central and Eastern Europe, has a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure, and a well-educated population of 3.5 million that skews young. The city continues to draw new businesses eager to appeal to young professional talent attracted to its progressive vibe and amenities. The demographic between the age of 25 and 30 is growing at the fastest rate.

“Berlin was a very prosperous city with lots of cultural happenings and great architecture until the downfall of Hitler,” said German-born Bernadette Schaeffler, owner of the Bernadette Schaeffler Collection luxury home furnishings showroom in the Dallas Design District. “During the Cold War, it somehow slept like Sleeping Beauty. Since the reunification, people built on top of it. Parts of Berlin are historical, other parts extremely modern. Berlin is cosmopolitan, multicultural, and American friendly.  There’s a big expat population — they all feel at home. In general, the cost of living is lower, and rents affordable; that said, real estate prices are going up.”

Along with growth, reasons that analysts say Berlin and other major German cities stand out as  investment opportunities are undervalued property values relative to cities such as London and Paris, the strength of the German economy, a housing shortage, and the trajectory of rising prices tipping a purchasing trend, especially in light of low interest returns as an alternative investment.

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Chicken Little

We live in a world of Chicken Littles, whereby the reactions to the slightest events become magnified to outlandish and irrational proportions.

Mass shooting? Buy a gun.

On June 23, the UK voted to leave the European Union and the world has barely taken a breath from all the crazy it unleashed. Me? I take breaths. Reflexive panic is when mistakes happen.

Of course, there were different strategies needed for buying and selling real estate during the global recession. Regardless, panic served none well.

Sure there is opportunity outfoxing an ill-informed, reactionary mob, but within the topic of UK real estate, it’s doubtful any of us had a suitcase full of dollars ready to chuck at a property on June 24.

For the purposes of real estate, I’ll not comment on Brex-regret, hollow promises, and the current realities “Leave-ers” downplayed as inflated propaganda. Nor will I comment on “Leave” leaders now running for the door, including campaign ringmaster Nigel Farage.  They’ve chosen to “leave” their mess to others, being termed “rats off a sinking ship.”

As a second home buyer, there are only three indicators to be concerned with: property values, currency exchange rates, and mortgage interest rates. While currency and interest rates fluctuate by the second, property values are a slower, and in this case, more important target.

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HomeAway Eiffel Tower

HomeAway’s Eiffel Tower apartment. All photos: HomeAway

If Paris is the city of love, then the Eiffel Tower is one of the most romantic landmarks in the world. Lots of people get engaged there, but what if you could do that, or renew your vows, in an Eiffel Tower apartment?

Vacation rental website HomeAway has partnered with architect Benoit Leleu to design a temporary and totally fabulous apartment inside the Eiffel Tower. They’re running a contest, called the HomeAway LoveAway sweepstakes, which ends tonight at midnight.

The winning couple will receive an all-expense paid trip to Paris, including four nights, June 30 through July 4, in a romantic HomeAway apartment in the heart of the city. On July 2, they’ll join other romantics at a party in HomeAway’s Eiffel Tower Apartment, which was built inside the tower as a temporary space for only one month. Kaitlyn Bristowe and fiancé Shawn Booth from ABC’s The Bachelorette are co-hosts with HomeAway and will celebrate their engagement at the LoveAway event.

This is the first time in history the tower has had an apartment built inside and it’s marvelous!

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9,000 square foot whole floor at One Park Lane is yours for £62 million

9,000 square foot whole floor at One Park Lane is yours for £62 million

Previously, I wrote about a dip occurring in the London property market.  Now let’s explore how an American goes about buying property in the U.K.  The rules are the same for London, and your interests may lie in other (cheaper) parts of the kingdom.

Unlike property in Bermuda, foreigners are able to buy any property in the U.K. However, buyers seeking a mortgage from a local bank may be in for a shock as expats are sometimes asked for a 40 percent down payment.

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