5656 SOuth Shore Blvd Wellington Florida

With the news that Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs purchased an estate in Wellington, Florida for $15.3 million in cash across the street from Bill Gates’ equestrian estate, the town of Wellington, Fla., made national headlines. Wellington, a town of approximately 60,000 around 15 miles east of tony West Palm Beach has become a nexus of wealth and power due to one factor: horses and the people who ride them for show. Jobs and Gates, it just so happens, each sired a daughter with a love of and talent for show riding.

The news of the Jobs’ purchase came fast on the heels of June reports that Bill Gates had purchased what nearly amounted to a whole street in Wellington, simply to provide privacy. Gossip Extra detailed how Gates spent approximately $37 million in Wellington.

But why is this place so attractive to the moneyed elite?

(more…)

mineola-small-23

SecondShelters.com welcomes its newest expert contributor, Dallas Addison, who really IS from Dallas, Texas!

My name is Dallas Addison, and my passion is real estate.  I’m trained as a lawyer and have helped many clients throughout the country buy, sell, develop and manage all types of  real estate over the years, with a  particular focus on recreational and hospitality-based real estate,  such as golf courses, resorts, ranches, second homes, etc.  I’m also a founding principal of Preservation Land Company, which has created several incredible (if I may say so) conservation-based recreational ranches near Dallas and worked on projects in Montana,  Hawaii and New Mexico.  On the educational side, I’m a long-time member of the Recreation Development Council  of the Urban Land Institute, a  global organization of leaders in the  real estate industry whose mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.

I will be sharing with you interesting, exciting things that are going on in recreational real estate (which we’ll broadly define) across the country. We think it’s important to know that your source is not only reliable but actually 100% involved in the recreational real estate industry.

I also have a strong personal interest in how sustainability concepts are applied in recreational real estate.   While completely overused, the concept of sustainability still has merit.   Locally, it’s darn hot here and by the looks of our rapidly dropping lakes, we’re using lots of water.  Plus, our area is quickly growing, one way or the other, putting even more stress on our resources.  We should be looking to make choices that create better and more livable communities.  So, where I see interesting and innovative sustainability practices being applied, I want to share those as well. Hopefully those ideas will take root and help us manage the growth without depleting our resources.

Finally, how  did I connect with Candy?  Well, interestingly, her husband unexpectedly delivered our first daughter, but that’s not actually how we met.  We bumped into each other years ago as we share a passion for real estate. She came out to visit one of our projects, Cross Pines Ranch, near Mineola.  We’ve had many interesting conversations about what’s going on in this space and we thought others might want to listen in on the conversation.

Stick around,  and I think you’ll  enjoy the ride. We will be having the Aspen report, just in time for ski season, new news out of Hawaii’s Big Island, and one of my favorites: Cross Pines Ranch near Mineola, pictured here. Come back, come often, and join the discussion!

 

Heritage Auctions home 1Fasten your seatbelts, get your reserve ready! I have told you all about real estate auctions, and I predicted we would be seeing a whole lot more. Real estate auctions are a great way, in fact, maybe the only way, to unload big, kinda albatross-y homes, as well as your standard multi-million dollar fare. Best example, of course, is Champ D’Or which sold at auction last March 31 in Hickory Creek.; whose contents were just sold off last week.  Often the owners are high net worth individuals who dabbled, or rather, over-dabbled in building, went a little too high end, or built in a location that turned out to be just plain WRONG!

Then there are vacation homes often owned by high net worth individuals who just want to be done with them. Well, guess who has jumped in to help? Our friends over at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas. Heritage also has galleries in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Did you know that Heritage has slipped right up on Sotheby’s and Christie’s (and, some say, moving up on) to become the world’s third largest auction house? Now the venerable art and collectibles auctioneer has announced the addition of Luxury Real Estate auctions to its growing portfolio of 30+ Auction categories.

The Heritage folks are so smart: not only will this net them more fine art and collectibles to sell, it will net them the very dirt and walls that surround all that stuff like, for example, the contents of Champ. Brilliant stroke!

The timing may also be more than perfect: two of the country’s top real estate auction houses are embroiled in nasty finger-pointing lawsuits. North Carolina-based Grand Estates Auction has charged New York based (and Sotheby’s sort of affiliated) Concierge Auctions of using sham bidders and other fraudulent tactics to inflate its transaction volume, and is seeking $23 million per claim. Concierge sold Champ D’Or here last March and more recently, an estate in Plano. Grand Estates, based in Charlotte, and two couples/home sellers alleged that Concierge published auction results for sales that never went through or involved “shill” buyers. The buyers, in collusion with the company, allegedly failed to register for the auction or pay a $100,000 registration deposit. The suit says deposits were returned in many of the sales. Further, Grand Estate says Concierge allegedly misrepresented its sales numbers and used web crawlers to inflate its Internet traffic. (Say what?) Of course, Concierge had already sued Grand Estates, alleging the firm set up fake email accounts to publish “false and defamatory” stories (what we call troll comments) about its competitor and steer business to Grand Estates. While these two duke it out, Heritage ought to sail right down the runway.

Unlike traditional real estate listings, sellers with Heritage Luxury Real Estate Auctions work with the team to maintain control over the entire sale, setting the date, marketing strategy, and terms of the auction. Relax agents, that team includes YOU. Selling at auction, of course,  creates a competitive bidding environment, where fully-qualified and motivated buyers participate in a transparent, non-contingent sale — all within 60 to 90 days’ time frame from beginning to closing.

Do not, repeat, do not confuse auctions with foreclosures. The Luxury Real Estate auction format accelerates the selling process, creates a sense of urgency with buyers and eliminates carrying costs while the vetting process brings in something every Realtor would kill for:  fully qualified buyers.

Experts tell me that homes that sell at auctions are homes that are simply not going to sell the traditional way: list, sign, MLS, wait for buyer. They may be too specialized, or overbuilt, or in the wrong location, or the sellers have grown tired of waiting. (Sound like Champ?) But never mind all the negatives: if a home is highly desirable and you can get a lot of people excited about it in a short, defined period of time, and you market the bejesus out of it, you can sell it.

More and more sellers, in fact, are coming to auction houses first so they don’t have to hassle with the time and inconveniences associated with listing a property the traditional way.

The Directors of the new Luxury Real Estate category are Nate Schar, who will be working from San Diego, Scott Foerst in Atlanta, and Amelia Barber, holding down the fort in Dallas, where Scott and Nate spend half their time anyhow. Scott  and Nate have a 13 year history of selling multi-million dollar properties by auction throughout North America totaling more than $250 million in sales. Previously, Nate was an asset manager at one of the Midwest’s top wealth management firms, and Scott served as architect and senior project coordinator with both commercial and residential construction firms in the Southeast. Both came to Heritage from — surprise! — Grand Estates Auctions. Amelia comes to Dallas by way of The Hill as in Washington, D.C. where she was a lobbyist. Amelia also managed operations for a national financial trade association.

“Heritage is the first fine art and high-end collectibles auctioneer to offer Luxury Real Estate auctions in this specific format, a perfect fit with our portfolio of services catered to high net worth individuals,” said Paul Minshull, Chief Operating Officer of Heritage Auctions. “These auctions will put the seller in control and provide liquidity in a timely manner.”

The properties presented by Heritage Luxury Real Estate Auctions will be marketed with customized advertising plans regionally, nationally and internationally, including Heritage’s 750,000+ bidder members from more than 186 countries. (How do you spell high net worth? HERITAGE.) The auctions will be marketed out the wahzoo to qualified buyers.

“Our sellers are finding this process a tactful and savvy means of resolving their traditional selling dilemma,” said Scott. “Auctions help maximize the full market potential of Luxury properties.”

So I asked Nate, Scott and Amelia: will this be vacation or primary homes?

“Vacation properties about 80% of the time,” said Nate, “There’s a lot of vacation homes out there and available, thus more inventory to sell.”

Many of those homes are free and clear with zero mortgage debt. Heritage will not be selling private planes and yachts, at least not at this time.

But there will be some primary residences in the pool. The trio plan 18 to 24 auctions per year, with the first one set to rock and roll this fall. I’m off to Maine next week — I’ll take this one!

 

 

Heritage Auctions home 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We know that foreigners are buying up U.S. real estate from New York City to Hawaii. Once our values went downhill, sharp foreigners popped in to pick up bucketloads of bargain U.S. dirt. We know that the Chinese, now, are even investing in Dallas real estate. Many of us thought the last few years might have been a great time to buy a second home property. Well, it was.

WAS. Hot vacation home spots on the water and beach and other desirable areas are getting picked up by foreigners faster than sand dollars. Now, Latin America is precipitating a building boom in southern Florida that has almost brought on the halcyon says of 2007 in, of all places, Miami.

Miami? Isn’t this where they were giving away condos, jokes were made about see-through buildings, and prices were lower than low because no one was buying anything condo after 2008. The cash buyers came on board in 2010, which signaled the end of the downward home value spiral.

According to Yahoo News, wealthy Latin Americans have long invested in south Florida property. But this time the Miami resurgence is getting a huge boost from South American developers building for their fellow Argentineans, Brazilians, Venezuelans and Mexicans. They are looking for a stable place to park their money and to make extra income through rentals. Peter Zalewski, a fellow NAREE member and probably the most informed condo expert in the whole state of Florida, says he’s never seen them with the kind of clout they are carrying right now in construction and development.

“It really is a coming of age period.” said Peter, principal of real estate consultancy Condo Vultures.

Southern Florida property prices are rising, and there are 80 announced plans for new residential projects. Latin American developers are involved in nearly one-third of them, according to Zalewski.

Wonder when they’ll come to Texas?

Falling apart house

I WISH I could call it “re-construction”, as I almost did, and I wish I could report that it was just me getting my boob job to start out 2013 on a higher level.

No, it’s better! We are in the process of expanding our site, making it bigger, better, easier to read, click, and. Already we have Facebook comments, and we will be posting a clone of this fun site on CandysDirt.com, making it a one-click stop to read about second and vacation homes. We are going to have more home design and upkeep info, and generally more resources for our beloved, rapidly-growing network of readers and subscribers.

Among the new features making their debut in the January re-launch of CandysDirt.com will be a sleek new homepage providing readers with access to all the real estate scoop and “House Porn” their heart desires, right at their fingertips. We will also have:

– A re-vamped listing of CandysDirt.com-approved builders, since we are so selective about who we approve. Each builder is vetted and personally approved by us before their name crosses our homepage. Note: we hope to do this eventually with second homew builders.

-A comprehensive listing of top-notch neighborhoods and what makes them go tick/tock.

-Access to news and posts covering relocation (Move Me), home décor and staging (Stage Me), as well as outdoor entertaining and landscaping trends (Green Me),

-Easier access to SecondShelters.com where readers can indulge themselves in fabulous second home fantasies and vacation properties. Course, you can always come here as you always have.

– Hip Pockets: in the tight world of Dallas real estate inventory, we are working to bring you listings before they even hit the market or MLS.

So please bear with us. I’ll try to vacuum up the dust as Amy and Kristen hammer and saw, and Jo is in the other room with a dust mop. Meantime, please let us know what you think, like or don’t like about the new site. Tell us what else you’d like to see (or have missed) in case we are missing something. Cheers!

Our Miami correspondent, Andrea Kavanagh, is back and house-hunting for us! Calling all billionaire art aficionados and free-spending, globe-trotting investors! Miami is all a buzz over Ocean Drive’s most infamous residence to hit the sizzling hot real estate market at a whopping $125 million. Casa Casuarina, also known as the Versace mansion, is an iconic oasis – a piece of art and a piece of history sitting in the middle of South Beach. Located at 1116 Ocean Drive, the mansion is also notorious as the former home of Italian designer Gianni Versace who was shot to death at the front gate in 1997. Grisly as that was, it remains one of the most popular tourist sites in Miami.

The listing, one of the most expensive homes on the market in the United States, has made national news and prompted a CNBC feature on Miami’s booming real estate market. High-end real estate prices in Miami are breaking records as foreign investors and wealthy families from Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Russia are looking for a safe place to store their cash.

So what will this $125M “investment” buy you in South Florida?

Casa Casuarina is a 23,462 square-foot gated home with 10 opulent bedroom and 11 bathrooms. It is highlighted by a 54-foot long mosaic pool lined in 24-karat gold, numerous frescos and ornate statues, arched doorways and an open air courtyard. It features an extravagant mosaic garden, European-inspired architecture and a tropical poolside paradise. Originally built in 1930, the property was designed to pay homage to the oldest existing house in the western hemisphere, the “Alcazar de Colon” in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Versace purchased the home in 1992 and invested approximately $33M in expansions including the south wing and the pool and garden area, along with his artistic vision. The home’s current owner bought the property in 2000 and has preserved and maintained all of Versace’s design elements.

Listed by Coldwell Banker, interest in this property has been high, as buyers and investors are pouring money into the ultra-luxury market in South Florida. Within the first week on the market, the listing agents received 15 calls from serious potential buyers and investors. Casa Casuarina is available for purchase as either a single-family home or hotel. For those with the means, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own an unparalleled trophy property. For the rest of us, it is an opportunity to sit back and enjoy a sneak peek into this majestic master-piece, and dream.

Sigh. Somehow, they never show the kitchens in these palaces.

 

Happy Fourth of July, 2012. We live the American Dream of real estate here in Texas more than anywhere. Maybe it’s because we learned our lesson back in the 1980’s — R.I.P. Danny Faulkner. Not only did we learn, we RETAINED. When I was in Denver at the National Association of Real Estate Editors Conference last month, Mark Fleming, the dashing economist for CoreLogic, told me over drinks that what saved our butts this time around was our state set limits on HELOCs, or home improvement loans. In Texas, we are limited on what we can borrow against our homesteads. That is what kept many of us from over-borrowing, so when the market fell we were not left with underwater loans*. I walked into our bank yesterday, Comerica, which I LOVE — who else sends you a thank-you note when you pay off a loan? But more than three people asked if they could offer me a home-improvement loan in the course of one hour. You know me, I’d buy a second home in a heartbeat! Our laws in Texas saved us, said Mark, in spite of ourselves. 

And this doll at 9038 San Fernando Way is just what we need to serve up on Independence Day along with barbecue, Mom’s potato salad and peach pie with homemade ice cream. Don’t forget the chilled watermelon! A Little Forest Hills cottage on a 55 by 150 lot with perennial gardens, a double peaked roof, exposed rafter tails, and the most welcoming front porch ever! At one point in Dallas history, this area was full of second vacation homes for Dallas elite.  Built in 1940 on pier & beam and slab, the 1500ish square foot home has wood floors, a fireplace with built-ins, and a nice big farm house sink in the updated kitchen just like the one found in Sean Payton’s Vaquero house! Shaded patio outside the kitchen, two bedrooms, two baths plus study, a second living area with a closet offers an optional third bedroom for a bambino. French doors lead to the master bedroom and private bath. The second bath showcases a footed tub, pedestal sink, and bead board wainscoting. There is even a laundry room with storage, a large work table and lots of natural light. And I don’t have to tell you how close you are to the Arboretum and White Rock Lake, not to mention to downtown Dallas. Price? Thought you’d never ask: $214,000.

No better way to celebrate America’s birthday than buying a house!

P.S. Underwater means a loan where you owe more than the home is worth. I used this term with someone from Florida recently and they thought I meant a home that was flooded — no wonder they are having real estate problems there!

Those of us in real estate know that when the housing market plummets,  vacation places plummet the most. Second homes are most often discretionary purchases you wait on until you feel flush with cash.

Well, get ready. Realtors say second-home buyers are returning to the store,  shopping from Cape Cod to Lake Tahoe. As I told you, nationwide vacation home sales rose 7% in 2011 to 502,000 homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. They made up 11% of total sales in 2011, more than they did in 2010.  And NAR’s spokesman Walter Molony, who I hope to see in Denver next week at NAREE, expects continued momentum.

“We’ve heard positive reports from Las Vegas, Telluride, Col., Lake Tahoe, Naples, Fla., and some areas of California,” he told Investor’s Daily. “We’ve been seeing a little bit of unleashing of pent-up demand.”

Well yes, that plus bargain prices.

But while the number of transactions is increasing, vacation home prices are still not generally appreciating. The healthiest segment of the market is, surprise surprise, upper-end properties: the luxury market.

Neal Hanks, an Asheville, N.C. agent says he is seeing significant increases in sales of homes in excess of $500,000 in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I hear the Florida market is even tightening up. No Girls Gone Wild, but firming. The recent death of my brother-in-law has me poking into the Naples market, where they own two homes. In nearby Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties, inventory is just 4.7 months, the lowest since 2005.

In Southwest Florida,  broker associate Jennifer Calenda of Michael Saunders & Co., a luxury regional real estate firm affiliated with Ebby Halliday through Luxury Portfolio, says dollar volume sales are up. Prices are not going up, but people are buying about $100,000 over where they were — so folks looking at a $300,000 condo might spring for $400,000. Are people really feeling more flush, more confident, or just sick of depriving themselves?

Some feel people are getting back on their feet, paying off debt, and I think I read that American’s debt levels were decreasing. David Southworth, founder and CEO of Southworth Development, which specializes in upscale vacation-resort communities, says demand is coming back as people get on their feet.

“The second-home market is always a trickle-up type,” he told Investor’s Business Daily. “As the economy gets better that means small business owners start making money again and executives start getting bigger bonuses. And that’s when our customers come back.”

“During the past year, investors have been swooping into the market to take advantage of bargain home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun . “Rising rental income easily beat cash sitting in banks as an added inducement.”

The median vacation-home price was $121,300, down 19.1 percent from $150,000 in 2010.

The typical vacation-home buyer was 50 years old, had a median household income of $88,600 and purchased a property that was a median distance of 305 miles from the primary residence; 35 percent of vacation homes were within 100 miles and 37 percent were more than 500 miles. Buyers plan to own their recreational property for a median of 10 years.

Eighty-two percent of vacation-home buyers said the primary reason for buying was to use the property themselves for vacations, or as a family retreat. Thirty percent plan to use the property as a primary residence in the future, while only 22 percent plan to rent to others.

Forty-two percent of vacation homes purchased last year were in the South, 30 percent in the West, 15 percent in the Northeast and 12 percent in the Midwest; Only 1 percent were located outside of the U.S.

They’re not all back. Southworth recently bought some communities on the cheap after the real estate bubble burst: Creighton Farms in Virginia horse country and most recently Willowbend in Cape Cod. Willowbend is doing the best, because of 8 million in metro Boston who can drive there. Most second home owners prefer to drive to their vacation homes, on average about 4 hours, but most often one or two.

Next week, I’ll hear more about Longcove at Cedar Creek Lake east of Dallas: 45 minutes east of Dallas.

The segment doing the best is the high end of the vacation market, this according to Brent Herrington, senior vice president of luxury developer DMB Associates.

“Inventory is much scarcer in the most desirable locations,” he said. “Prices are firming … we’re getting back to a world of multiple offers.”

Those amazing deals in the tops spots of the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Aspen and Vail peaked in hit in 2010-11. If you didn’t do it then, or are not quite in that league, look for the secondary markets — beachfront but not the name-drop locations.

After a few decades of recession, Palm Springs is becoming a hot second home market, beating out Santa Fe, say some realtors. And the developers are there to give buyers what they want: sun and out here, golf.

“We find our buyers appreciate all the things that Palm Springs and Indian Wells has to offer – the relaxed, resort atmosphere, no traffic concerns, friendly service, warm winters, incredible views and an abundance of outdoor activities, “ says Bill Bone, CEO and Founder of Sunrise Company, developer of Toscana, a golf community development in Indian Wells.

There is golf of course but also hiking, biking, farmer’s markets, as well as great shopping, dining, entertainment, the arts and medical facilities.

“Members have so much fun here, they call it “Camp Toscana”, says Bone. “We are very pleased with our sales results this year: have been 34 homes sold at Toscana, more than $59,000,000 in total sales.”

 

Palm Springs is within close proximity to sooo many Cali locales – less than 2 hours from LA, Laguna, San Diego, Palm Springs is brimming with mid century architecture, history and development.

“It appeals to people who really value properties of that era, and the new boutique hotels and restaurants keep things fun and interesting,” say Palm Springs agents Mark Godson and James Dalton Utsey. “The evolution of our downtown strip continues with the Fashion Plaza being rebuilt as a pedestrian friendly shopping and gathering place.”

 

Like many areas in California, Palm Springs was not spared during the housing bust, but values are beginning to inch up. Don’t have to worry about hurricanes here. Look carefully there are deals to be found.

 

Many consumers buy thinking they can rent out the home for cash flow and potential income, and they can. Vacation home rental listings are up at the website HomeAway. It had 433,000 listings in 2009, but 700,0000 listings now, says its vice president, Jon Gray.

Buyers are stirring, multiple offers are being reported, but there are no indications of appreciation. In some areas, prices are still falling. Do not be afraid to make an offer below asking: U.S. vacation home asking prices dropped 1.7% year over year in the 12 months ending in April, as overall listing prices fell 0.2%.

I do not advise buying a vacation home for pure appreciation. Just look for family enjoyment and maybe a place to rent out.

Still, some areas are seeing a tweak upwards when the distressed properties are all sold out. And demographics may be favorable for long term growth in vacation homes, with the average buyer age 50. There are 42 million people 50 to 59, right behind them are 43.5 million 40 to 49. Then there are 40.2 million people 30 to 39. These people grew up with vacation homes as common as swingsets and may follow their parents’ footsteps in buying.