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At the end of 2008, Marquette Turner launched an international competition with 99designs to find a design to commemorate our company’s winning of the title of The World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old by the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate.

An exceptional number of quality of designs were entered from designers on all corners of the Earth, from Madagascar to New York.

The winning design, as shown below, was designed by Janet Boschen in Melbourne, Australia.

Thanks to everyone whom entered – we certainly look forward to holding more future competitions.

Simon Turner

The first skyscraper to be erected in Paris in 30 years has been unveiled by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe. Designed by Swiss architecture agency Herzog & De Meuron, the 50-storey pyramid-like tower rising 180 meters will be built at the Porte de Versailles in Paris.

The building is expected to include offices, a luxury hotel, luxury boutiques, a panoramic restaurant, a swimming pool, hanging gardens and a Babel-like “museum of languages of the world”.  Completion date is scheduled for 2012.

Simon Turner Social Bookmarking

The battle to take control of Wizard Home Loans, as reported a few weeks ago by Marquette Turner, is over. Despite expectations that National Australia Bank would take control of the brand and franchise network, the race has been won by Aussie Home Loans.


GE Money has offloaded its Australia and New Zealand mortgage offshoot for an undisclosed amount, but it is likely to be considerably less than the $400 million AUD it paid for it, given the drastic changes in the economic climate.

As part of the deal, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) will sell its 33% ownership of Wizard to Aussie Home Loans, whilst at the same time acquiring up to $4 billion AUD of mortgages originated by Wizard, dealing another blow to NAB’s expansion efforts.

The deal suggests that the non-bank sector still has some life in it yet.

The sale of Wizard to Aussie Home Loans is expected to be completed by the end of February 2009, around the same time that CBA will take hold of the first $2 billion AUD of loans by the end of February 2009. CBA remains in discussions with GE Money over acquiring the additional $2 billion of loans.

Simon Turner

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You can soon own a notorious piece of history from Chicago, Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune.

No, this story isn’t related to Governor Blagojevich, as timely as this might be.

The modest, red-brick home once owned by prohibition gangster, Al Capone, will go on the market in early 2009  for approximately $450,000 USD.

The South Side, two-flat property, which has had just  two owners since the death of Capone’s mother in 1952, is now over a century old.  It stands near the corner of 72nd Street and South Prairie Avenue in the working-class Park Manor neighborhood.

Cook County records show the Capones bought the home for $5,500 USD in August 1923,  the Prohibition era, with his mother, Teresa, and wife, Mae, signing their names to the original deed.

Al Capone was in his early 20s when his family moved from Brooklyn to Chicago, but he was already building his legend. His bootlegging, gambling and prostitution enterprises were famously headquartered in Cicero and later moved to a suite in the old Lexington Hotel at Cermak Road and Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Capone died in 1947, but his mother remained in the home until her death five years later, at which point the property was taken over by a local bank.

The current owner purchased the home for $29,500 USD in 1963, with little interest in the property’s notoriety.

The exterior of the six-bedroom, split-level property remains pretty much unchanged to Capone’s time, and indeed much of the interior is also original, with detailed green and white tiles in the front entrance, dark hardwood floors and narrow hallways. The home also features a large basement with a crumbling wine cellar

At an estimated $450,000, the Capone home would be on the upper end of homes for sale in the neighborhood. Typical listings for large, split-levels of that vintage are $250,000 to $400,000.

Considering its history, the home is a marvel of inconspicuous understatement.

Simon Turner

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The number of Australians living on the streets will be halved in the next 12 years, Prime Minister has asserted recently.

Launching the Government’s White Paper on Homelessness, “The Road Home”, Mr Rudd outlined the Federal Government’s plans for reducing homelessness in Australia by 2020, with specific goals to cut homelessness by half and provide accommodation to all rough sleepers who require it.

There are currently 105,000 homeless people in Australia, of whom approximately 16,000 are sleeping rough.

The White Paper allows for a significant injection of federal money, providing an additional $1.2 billion over four years, or a 55% increase in investment in homelessness.

It includes a commitment of $800 million over the next four years for new support services for homeless people and $400 million over the next two financial years for social housing, to house the homelessness.

The reforms aim to:

  • Help up to 9,000 more young people to remain connected with their families;
  • Help up to 2,250 more families at risk of homelessness to stay housed;
  • Provide day to day support to an extra 1,000 adults with mental illness;
  • Build up to 2,700 additional public and community houses for low income households who are at risk of homelessness;
  • Build up to 4,200 new houses and upgrade up to 4,800 existing houses in remote Indigenous communities;
  • Allocate aged care places and capital funds for at least 1 new specialist facility for older homeless people every year for the next four years.

Simon Turner

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Here are the auction clearance rates for Australia’s capital cities for the week ending December 14, 2008.

Source: RP Data

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Auctions; Clearance Rates; Buying property

THIS WEEK’S ARTICLES: Rainforest Living in Queensland; Raffles Residences Manila; Swarovski Bathroom Faucets; Chinese Property Taxes; US interest rates; Australian Banks on the Assault; The Malibu Home of Sting; The Rotating Bath Tub; The W New York…

We bring you the last installment for 2008 of our look at luxury property, design and concepts from Australia and around the world.  Your support throughout the year has made the MTLH blog the most viewed of its kind in Australia and contributed to Marquette Turner Luxury Homes being named as The World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old.  Not bad in just a year, and 2009 promises to be even bigger and better.  Thank you!

Please enjoy this week’s articles, or as always you can stay here and read the MTLH blog.

We wish you a fantastic & safe festive period.

Michael Marquette & Simon Turner

Subscribe to the MTLH e-magazine.


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FINAL THOUGHT

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey

There’s the Palm Shaped Island and there’s the Map of the World. And just when we thought planners in Dubai could possibly have run out of new concepts, they’re planning the Universe!

Suddenly buying a tree branch or a country doesn’t look quite the same, when Saturn or Mercury are on offer!

Whilst a couple of decades will probably be required to create the islands (when perhaps real estate throughout the world will have been through a few more cycles), Dubai certainly shows no interest in slowing down their creativity.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Dubai; or Palm Island; or real estate

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

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

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

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.

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.

It is World AIDS Week, and we were struck by the story of Ethan Zohn – the $1 million winner of Survivor in the US that pledged his winnings to the prevention of AIDS.  Utilising his soccer skills from his time in Zimbabwe, he started Grassroots Soccer,  a charity that seeks to educate African children in an effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.  Good on him.  We have made donations to our local organisations, and even if you are finding things tough, every little helps so please give what you can.

Please enjoy this week’s stories, or simply stay here and enjoy the MTLH blog.  We thank you!

Regards

Michael Marquette & Simon Turner

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.  Elie Wiesel

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