An excess or refined luxury? The X-Sense limited edition faucets from Newform have been produced with Swarovski crystals embedded.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on bathrooms; or interior design; or luxury furniture

Purchased from Larry Hagman (of JR Ewing of Dallas fame), Sting and his wife Trudie Styler’s home in Malibu, California is 5,549 sq ft and has five bedrooms and bathrooms.

Simon Turner

FYI: See related articles on Homes of the Rich & Famous; or Celebrity Homes; or America

China has unveiled a stimulus package intended to boost its slumping real estate market.

It has slashed taxes for second-hand apartment sales to help owners selling their homes. This means that anyone who has owned a home for at least two years can now sell it without having to pay a tax on the total sales price, just on any profit made (which remains at five percent). The waiting period previously for a tax-free sale was at least five years.

The policy changes are an interim measure valid for one year, and are the latest in a series of moves made since the government announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package in November intended to create jobs and spur economic growth through higher spending on construction and other projects.

Analysts expect the Chinese economy to expand by approximately nine percent this year, down from nearly 12 percent in 2007.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on China; or Asia; or Tax

A company in North Texas has come up with a simple, innovative method to maintain houses for sale whilst on the market.

As the real estate market continues to struggle along and properties take longer to sell, Mansion Minders  keeps up the homes whilst at the same time providing plush living quarters at a cut rate.

For example, a resident has to clean the pool like it’s their own, even though it’s not.

“Mansion Minder’s”  are basically live-in house sitters for homes on sale, paying less than they would normally pay for their home, whilst living in a better property.

The rules are that the property must be kept spotless, disappear when required should the property needs to be shown by the broker, and move out in less than one month if it sells.

Mansion Minders are not renters but effectively sub-contractors (and thus without tenant’s rights). Instead, they pay the company what’s called a participation fee, which is about 25 percent of a monthly mortgage. The participation fee is based on the home price.

Simon Turner

FYI:  Read related articles on the real estate market; or tenants or credit crunch

 

The US Federal Reserve has set key interest rates to a record low zero to 0.25% in a desperate bid to stimulate the US economy which is looking increaingly sick

Rates are likely to remain this low for quite some time, the Fed stated.

The cut brings the federal funds rate to the lowest level since July 1954.

Wall Street rallied after the announcement, whilst oil dropped 2% to $US44 a barrel

The Fed has also stated that it will expand purchases of debt issued by mortgage agencies to support the housing market in it’s efforts to promote the resumption of sustainable economic growth and to preserve price stability

Simon Turner

More information: The Federal Reserves statement.

After losing their market share to mortgage brokers during the real estate boom years in the earlier years of this decade, Australia’s banks are on the offensive.

First off the market his year was Westpac which acquired the RAMS Home Loans brand, followed by the Commonwealth Bank which acquired a stake in Aussie Home Loans in August 2008.

Now National Australia Bank has revealed that is planning to purchase the Wizard Home Loan’s brand and Australian distribution network, no doubt for considerably less than the $500 million AUD now embattled GE Money purchased the company for in 2004.

NAB has also stated that it is also negotiating to acquire up to $4 billion of prime mortgages from Wizard. The bank says the portfolio is made up of mortgages with a maximum loan to valuation ratio of 90% and is 100% mortgage insured.

Does this mean that ANZ will be the next to make a purchase?

Simon Turner

FYI:  Read related articles on the Credit Crunch, or Banks, or Mortgages

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Auctions; or Luxury Homes; or Buying Real Estate

The US Dollar is gaining strength, however, international real estate buyers are still important, even though their purchasing activity has decreased by 30-50 per cent since June 2008.

So where does the strength still reside? New developments. The W New York is a great example.

The W NY Downtown Hotel & Residence, the has seen 74 percent of buyers, thus far, come from overseas, 41% coming from Korea, 10% from the United Arab Emirates, and eight percent from Italy. This may come as a surprise if you’ve formed the opinion that the market is dominated by British and Russian buyers.

The 56-story building has 223 residential condominium residences, with prices ranging from $1.2 and $2.4 million. It’s hip, it’s dark, it’s cool, and there’s only a few remaining.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on New York; or Luxury Homes; or Investors

It’s big it’s hard…and this is serious work! “The Lancaster”, a luxury residential project besides Hyde Park in London is being gutted by the developer – all of the interior of a 125-meter long Grade II listed building – whilst seeking to preserve the building’s ornate façade.

Dating back to the mid-19th Century, the façade is now propped up by 500 tons of steel, hiding the masses of rubble now left behind.

Façade retention is unsurprisingly a somewhat delicate engineering operation. The external walls needed to be carefully secured prior to the interior demolition and sensors are continually monitoring the structures stability.

It’s the sheer scale of the project that makes this so daunting. Indeed, to allow for underground parking, crews dug beneath the existing structure to excavate 700 pillars to support a new concrete floor.

The Lancasters, scheduled for completion in 2010, will include 77 apartments, all of which will also offer views of Hyde Park, thanks to the 315 windows preserved from the original building. In addition to the apartments, there will also be two 10,000-square foot homes with private pools and wine cellars.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Architects; or Luxury Homes; or London

THIS WEEKS STORIES: Luxury is…Elizabeth Taylor’s Homes; the Great Australian Tax Grab; Phone Box Furniture; The Blind Leading The Blind; London Luxury Home Prices Falling; Loofah Homes; and more…


The 2008 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to former Finnish President and international peace envoy, Martti Ahtisaari.  He has been instrumental in bringing peace, or at least calmer days, to historically troubled parts of the world such as Aceh and Kosovo.  He has recently brought together parties from all sides in Iraq, giving them “first-hand” contact to individuals they could both relate to and whom appreciate the hurdles, such as former opponents in Northern Island – perhaps proof that anything is possible with hope, hard work and tenacity.  Fortune can always be on your side.

Please enjoy this week’s e-magazine (and SUBSCRIBE if you haven’t already), or as always stay here and read the MTLH blog.

Regards

Michael Marquette & Simon Turner

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Gandhi

One of the Laureates of the 2008 Rolex Awards, which rewards pioneering and enterprising individuals, is Elsa Zaldivar from Paraguay, a poor, landlocked country in the heart of South America, who has found a new use for an old vegetable.

Elsa has been a long-time advocate and helper to the poor whilst being environmentally conscious. She has uncovered a method to mix loofah – a cucumber-like vegetable that is dried to yield a scratchy sponge frequently used as an abrasive skin scrubber – with other vegetable matter such as husks from corn and Caranday palm trees. Mixing them with recycled plastic, strong, lightweight panels can be created. These panels can then be used to create furniture and construct houses, insulating them from temperature and noise.

As the design of the panels has been refined, improvements have meant lowering costs. The panels initially cost about US$6 per square metre to produce, however, the cost has already dropped to less than half that figure, making it competitive with existing construction materials, such as wood.

About 300,000 Paraguayan families do not have adequate housing.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read more articles on the Environment; or Awards; or Kiva (loans that change lives)

The English born star, winner of two Academy awards and known for her style, extravagance and husbands, is the owner and resident of these stunning American mansions:

Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA

The 7,172 sq ft home has six bedrooms and bathrooms, multi-car garaging, stunning gardens and swimming pool.

Miami Beach, FLORIDA

Situated right on the waterfront on the suitably named Star Island Drive, the residence, complete with lush gardens, tennis court, pool and private jetty, is 9,364 sq ft and has seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. Fit for a Queen of the Silver Screen.

(images courtesy of Microsoft Earth)

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Homes of the Rich & Famous; or Luxury Homes; or Overseas Investment

Once you list your home for sale you may find it difficult to step aside and let your agent take over.  You may be wrestling with the temptation to linger around while prospective buyers view your home, hoping to get the chance to point out all of the “bells and whistles” you know make your house more “sellable”.

If you really want to help, however, you will leave the house whenever it is being shown.

We have found that the sales process does not really begin until buyers have begun to voice their personal objections about a property, which makes their motives, plans and position much clearer to the agent.

Unsurprisingly, most buyers are unlikely to feel comfortable voicing their opinions in front of the home owner.  Many buyers are walking through with family members or friends and want to be able to openly discuss the pros and cons of the home.  Sometimes their objections are serious enough to remove your house from consideration.  This may not be the case though, as oftentimes homebuyers have specific criteria they are “judging” the home on and just want to make sure it measures up the their wants and needs.  If they really like the house they are going to want to talk freely and openly about the pros and cons of the home.

It is often difficult for the home owner to listen to buyer objections without taking them personally, and this is often the case sometimes even when the agent is conveying these objections to the owner.  Regardless, it is important to remember that these objections often do not reflect actual criticism of your property, simply the “inner monologue” of a buyers thought and later negotiating process.

If a seller is standing at the agent’s elbow, the buyer won’t be comfortable enough to allow the process of raising objections take place. If the buyer feels intimidated or suppressed, the sale could be lost.

Also, if the home owner is pestering the buyer about how great their home is then they might feel like there is something that they are trying to cover up.  The best way to help is to give your real estate agent room to make the sale.  They will be viewed as far more impartial and this is ultimately what you have engaged their services for.

A quality agent, will have excellent credentials and come highly recommended.  Ask them prior what training they have had, if they are trained in negotiation, and what associations/awards they have to their name

Michael Marquette

FYI: Read related articles on Real Estate Agents; or Luxury Homes; or Selling Your Home

More information: Marquette Turner Luxury Homes, 2008’s Winner of the World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old, are tertiary trained in negotiation and are one of Australia’s just two Board of Regents for the prestigious Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate.  Contact us to find out how we can represent you on +61 433 170 170 or email michael@marquetteturner.com.au


Further to our recent report of the NSW tax hikes to hit the property industry, now it’s been revealed that Queensland Premier Anna Bligh plans to impose a special tax on landholdings worth more than $5 million.

Under the property tax surcharge, part of a series of measures introduced as the QLD Government attempts to plug a $4.3 billon hole in the state’s budget over the next four years, landholders who own parcels of land will pay a 0.5% surcharge from 2009-10.

Sure to hit property developers hard at a time when the industry can least afford it, the decision will also likely cost 3500 jobs. It is important to recognize that the property sector employs one in seven workers in Queensland.

On top of the property tax surcharge, the Bligh Government has also raised vehicle registration costs by an average of 6.5% and delayed the abolition of transfer duty on core business assets by 18 months.

Whilst we are in no way suggesting that the Queensland Government shares similar brain cell(s) or genes than the hapless NSW government, what is concerning is the tendency of Australia’s fiscal “experts”, it would appear, to resort to anything but measures that stimulate and encourage innovation businesses and in turn the economy. Surely reducing land tax – a policy long championed by Australia’s real estate industry – would be a better option to stimulate the sector and economy.

Michael Marquette, Co-President of Marquette Turner Luxury Homes, states “Are the states tightening their belts, penalizing businesses and therefore consumers with the hope that the Federal Government will deal with the aftermath? Whatever it is, the economic credentials of those that run our States and Territories should be seriously scrutinized.”

Isn’t the relative basket case that is NSW – Australia’s most populous State – a good enough example of what not to do?

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on the Economy; or the NSW State Government; or the real estate industry

How’s this for short-sightedness: The New South Wales Government’s infinite wisdom to increase taxes by $3.6 billion AUD to compensate for their years of inept mismanagement of states coffers will have a huge impact on the property sector at a time when it can least afford it.

NSW Labor Premier Nathan Rees and Treasurer Eric Roozendaal plans to raise $680 million by increasing the land tax rate from 1.6% to 2% for properties over $2.25 million in land value, essentially a 25% increase, which will increase holding costs for land owners, discourage developments and lead to an increase in rental charges.

The flow on from this will lead to further job losses in the property industry, which is already shedding staff at more than one hundred per week.

We argue that this is not the time for tax hikes, but for the government to show some innovative thought, boost confidence and stimulate the economy. Or at least start spending NSW tax payers money wisely. But then again, given the churn of Premiers in the state and thus their lack of accountability, what do they care?

Simon Turner

FYI: Read more articles on the Credit Crunch; or the NSW Government; or Interest Rates

The world’s most expensive location for prime real estate behind Monaco, Central London has seen luxury home values fall for an eighth month. Such locales include Mayfair, St John’s Wood, Regent’s Park, Kensington, Notting Hill, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Belgravia and the South Bank neighborhoods of London.

As recently reported by Bloomberg, in November the approximate average value of a house or apartment in the city’s nine most expensive neighborhoods fell 3.6 percent from October, according to an index compiled by Knight Frank. This represents the second largest drop since the index started in 1976. Furthermore, the figures show that property values declined 14 percent since the previous year.

Why is this? Quite simply, vendors are not holding out for emotional prices and are accepting that price reductions have to occur for a sale to be achieved.

Prime Central London real estate has taken longer to register declines seen elsewhere in London because of a standoff between sellers and buyers over price. That ended in September, when the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. caused demand to collapse from those employed in financial services, traditionally the mainstay of demand for expensive homes.

Unsurprisingly, the worst banking crisis seen since the First World War has translated into job cuts and reduced bonuses, and in London it’s likely to get worse before it gets better, with as many as 62,000 finance-related jobs forecast to be lost in London by the end of next year.

Interestingly, the properties least affected by the fall in values are those worth more than five million pounds. With the pound sliding it becomes more attractive to wealthy overseas buyers (yes, they still exist) and given the uniqueness of many of the properties in this category, and how infrequently they come onto the market, they still are highly sought after.

Appreciating that for a buyer with US Dollars, a 15 percent property valuation drop equates to a 35 percent slide when exchange rates are taken into consideration, property in excess of five million pounds is great buying.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read more articles on Luxury Homes; or London; or Credit Crunch

Artist Finn Stone (notice the subtle name on the top of the box) has used former English telephone boxes as the basis of his latest collection.

The Lamp is eight feet tall and costs a cool $6,498 USD.

Here’s the chair:

Also to come is the sofa and the bath tub!

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Lighting; or Designer Furniture; or Interior Design.

Three stunning homes, three vacant blocks of land, and a water front parcel of land have just been listed by Marquette Turner Luxury Homes on Hope Island at Queensland’s Sanctuary Cove.

Sanctuary Cove is Australia’s leading lifestyle community offering wonderful facilities and 24 hour active land and water security. Sanctuary Cove has Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval for all foreign investors. It is set over 474 hectares and offers fantastic lifestyle options that are complimented by two championship golf courses, four harbours, 15 restaurants, harbor-side cafes and fashion boutiques. Sanctuary Cove also features an extensive recreational club, a Country Club and the five-star Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove Hotel.

HOUSES:

3008 Hillside Walk – 711sq m – $1.125 million AUD

3009 Hillside Walk – 711sq m – $1.175 million AUD

3010 Hillside Walk – 711 sq m – $1.125 million AUD

VACANT LAND:

8081 Riverside Drive – 994 sq m – $1.125 million AUD

3012 Hillside Walk ; 3011 Hillside Walk; & 3006 Hillside Walk; – All 711 sq m – All $465,000 AUD

To view more information and see more images of each property, simply click on any of the images above. Alternatively, select this HOPE ISLAND link to go straight to all the properties and blocks of land available.

CONTACT: Michael Marquette on +61 433 170 170 or via email michael@marquetteturner.com.au OR Christine Watson on +61 414 352 680 or via email christine@marquetteturner.com.au

FYI: See related articles on Luxury Homes; or Investment Opportunity; or Queensland.

Encrusted with 220 carats of diamonds, the Gold & Diamond Chandelier has been created by London-based jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge. It is made from delicate links suspended in arcs to form a pear shape that ends in a sharp point, reminiscent of the central medallions of ancient Persian rugs. The Chandelier is 18 caret white gold that has been blackened to create a smoky effect.

Whilst Solange Azagury-Partridge has had no formal training, this exquisite design be the self-confessed “diamond lover” will be the centerpiece of Sebastian + Barquet‘s exhibit at Design Miami.

Simon Turner

FYI: See related articles on Interior Design; Luxury furniture; and Lights

More information: Check out the featured sites: Solange Azagury-Partridge; Sebastian + Barquet; Design Miami.

“The Red House Manor”, Quebec, QC, CANADA:Dating from 1608, the stunning and iconic “Old Red Manor” is unequivocally the oldest habitable building on the North American continent.

When Bertrand Chesnay de la Garenne received the Royal Concession in 1652, he found there “a solid ruin with three walls and a large stone fireplace of 5 feet long.” This is the left side of the Manor which contains the master fireplace. In 1764, the French Captain Cazeau added the second level, and the manor remained the property of the Cazeau family until 1940.

Restored in 2005-2006, to the most exacting standards of luxury and caring touch. It is 30 metres in length (96 ft) and 9 metres (30 ft) wide and has two levels, with multiple living, dining and entertaining areas, six generous bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. This property is for sale in two lots.

To view more information, images and the video click HERE.

Contact: Michael Marquette on +61 433 170 170 or via email Michael@marquetteturner.com.au or Christine Watson on +61 414 352 680 or via email Christine@marquetteturner.com.au

FYI: Read related articles on Worldwide Luxury Homes such as Bora Bora, TAHITI; Villas in Tuscany, ITALY; or Raffles in Manila, PHILIPPINES; or AUSTRALIA

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