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Last week I wrote about the values which we at Warburg have tried to embody in our culture and in the way we do business. Of course, principals are all very well in theory; it is only in action where you can judge how much sticking power principals really have. And there is no topic on which the rubber of principal more jarringly meets the road than the topic of money.
As agents, one of the most complex issues we face, again and again, is whether a handshake has a price. Once a buyer and a seller agree on a price and terms, should that be sacrosanct? In many other states, agents are empowered to draw contracts; in some of them, each offer is written up as a simple contract and the seller signifies his acceptance of the offer with a signature. Game over. No lengthy delays, no fights between lawyers about which clauses in each of their riders are objectionable to the other. The negotiation of the deal and its finalization are concurrent. That would be a beautiful world for most of us agents to live in (although, I get it, not so great for the lawyers!)
Not so in New York. While it is rare that attorneys, given time, will not resolve whatever contractual issues there are, the week or two (or these days, even three) during which the contract is being negotiated leave the property in limbo; with no signed deal, is it available or isn’t it? There are two schools of thought, both arguably valid. One is, if the buyer can change his mind with no penalty and walk away, why not the seller? The other of course is that an accepted offer is the negotiated equivalent of a handshake, and that it should bind both parties regardless of what other temptations might appear. While I understand the first perspective, I am more in sympathy with the second, although it is not much in fashion today.
For most sellers, temptation is relative. Once they have an accepted offer, they will stick with it if someone offers them $50,000 more. $250,000, however, is another story. It is really hard to leave that sort of money on the table, even if there is already an agreement with someone else.
Over the years we brokers have learned that there are a variety of dangers in switching horses. In a disproportionately high number of cases, as much as 25 or 30%, the second buyer flakes out and the first buyer is so angry that the seller is left with nothing. As brokers, we often find ourselves in the middle of the storm, blamed by the angry buyer if he loses the deal and by the angry seller if both buyers disappear. All we can do is advise that sellers stick with the deal they have, which is often not advice they want to hear with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads when some enormous offer makes an appearance the day before they were to sign with Buyer Number One.
What rarely gets discussed is the moral question. Now I have to start by saying, in none of these cases is it MY money which is at stake. I would like to think that I would stick to my word, but a quarter million is a quarter million. Still, doing what you have promised to do IS the right thing. We increasingly live in a world in which values are relative, but in my opinion the notion that a man’s (or woman’s) word is his/her bond shouldn’t be a relative concept. It is not morality if you will stick for 50k but not 250k. That is just another sort of price negotiation.
Einstein famously said, “Not everything that counts can be counted; not everything that can be counted counts.” I’m with him.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
Last weekend, the 67th annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show was held at the historic Earl Warren Showgrounds. In fact, these facilities were originally developed with the specific intent to host horse and flower shows. The Orchid Show is an exquisite event featuring local, regional, and even international growers and artists. Santa Barbara is proud to host this prestigious event, which is the longest running orchid show in the US!
Orchids first became popular in the mid 19th century. Wealthy flower enthusiasts looking for the most exotic plants to add to their gardens funded orchid hunting expeditions to all corners of the globe to find the rarest orchids. These delicate plants were then carefully brought back through perilous conditions, making orchids a poignant symbol of wealth, elegance, and luxury.
These beautiful flowers are tied into the history and development of Santa Barbara’s luxury lifestyle. When wealthy industrialists came to Santa Barbara at the turn of the 20th century to escape harsh Eastern winters, they began to build luxury homes in esteemed areas such as Montecito and Hope Ranch. To compliment their grand estates, many luxury homeowners commissioned elegant gardens and landscaping. Exotic orchids, of course, were a perfect choice to include in such fine gardens, and thus became wildly popular in Santa Barbara’s most prestigious neighborhoods.
Perhaps one of the greatest contributions to Santa Barbara’s booming orchid industry was the Dos Pueblos Orchid Company, founded by oil magnate Samuel B. Mosher just after World War II. This company helped to reinforce Santa Barbara’s status as a leading producer of orchids in both quality and quantity. Today, the Santa Barbara area is home to the nation’s largest concentration of orchid growers, boasting world-class growers such as Gallup & Stribling, who have won more grand championship awards than any other individual or company participating in the Orchid Show. Other world-renowned growers include Cal Orchid and the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate.
The Santa Barbara Orchid Show is a treasured local event, drawing a variety of visitors at the regional, national, and international levels. This prestigious event is definitely worth visiting, whether you’re attending to add to your own collection or simply to take in the refined elegance of these stunning flowers among Santa Barbara’s own natural beauty!
The Steamboat Group has just released another video, http://vimeo.com/38182525 showcasing the lifestyle opportunities available in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This video focuses on the fantastic fly fishing in Steamboat, but also describes Steamboat as a town where skiing, mountain biking, hiking & more make it a place your whole family wants to be.
"People come to Steamboat first for our world class skiing, but it's the lifestyle that captures their imagination. The recreational opportunities out our back door that we enjoy all year long is what people are looking for. We like to share with people why Steamboat is a special community, then give insights into the real estate market to help them make the best decisions for their family," states Jon Wade, Broker Owner of The Steamboat Group. "Steamboat attracts great people who genuinely love the outdoors and spending time with their family."
Give Jon a call if you would like to know more about life in Steamboat. Steamboat is home to a diverse selection of public and private fishing waters with great fishing 9 months of the year.
The Steamboat Group is proud to be a part of Colorado Group Realty based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a ski, resort & ranching community of 12,000 full-time residents. For more information on real estate in Steamboat, visit TheSteamboatGroup.com or call us at 970-879-0879 .
Courtesy of Leibowitz Realty Group
Why has the exclusive Bear’s Club community in Jupiter, FL become such a hot address for golfers—particularly pro-golfers? It used to be that Orlando was where the pro golfers flocked to, but now our own Jupiter, FL area is quickly gaining ground. According to Brian Wacker at PGATOUR.COM, "…Woods, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Camilo Villegas and Steve Marino [are] among the dozens of current PGA TOUR players now calling the area home (not to mention several more part-time residents such as Luke Donald or those from the Nationwide and Champions Tours and LPGA)."
Noted in Wacker's article at PGATOUR.COM, "The opportunity to practice 52 weeks a year appealed to Greg Norman. Orlando meanwhile, can get frosty in the winter months. Other states such as Arizona and Nevada -- two smaller player hotbeds that, like Florida, don't have a state income tax -- can be chilly and even get occasional snow or ice."
Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, Florida have been known for their luxury country club communities such as Frenchman's Creek Beach & Country Club, Mirasol Country Club, Old Palm Golf Club, BallenIsles Country Club, Frenchman's Reserve Country Club, Admirals Cove, and many more. Now, more than ever, Bear’s Club in Jupiter has lately been attracting pro golfers as the perfect enclave for the true golf enthusiast and for its exclusivity and secluded atmosphere (even though it's only minutes from beaches, restaurants, shopping & culture). Designed by Jack Nicklaus, and noted on the Nicklaus Design website, "Jack spent years searching for the perfect site to bring his dream to reality. The Bear's Club is the realization of Jack's decades-old vision of creating a golf club in his own South Florida backyard that reflects his passion for the game. The Bear's Club is not intended to be a tournament golf course, but is instead a premier private club. And perhaps Jack's legacy."
In addition to the onsite real estate office at Bear’s Club, a select few outside luxury real estate firms have procured sales in this exclusive neighborhood including the 20 year old, family owned and operated luxury real estate firm Leibowitz Realty Group. Owners /Brokers Michael and Andrew Leibowitz of Leibowitz Realty Group attribute their success in Bear’s Club & surrounding country club communities in Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, FL due in part to their high level worldwide marketing, but mostly because of their close knit influential network of country club buyers and sellers with whom they have formed relationships (both business & personal) over the years. Because of their niche in the country club market, they have been leading sales cumulatively in the above communities for years. Last year Leibowitz Realty Group was responsible for marketing and ultimately selling one of their exclusive listings in Bear’s Club to a professional golfer's family for $3.85 million on June 17 and more recently, on March 14, 2012, Leibowitz Realty Group closed on a property in Bear’s Club for $3.1 million.
Michael and Andrew Leibowitz of Leibowitz Realty Group are most excited about their newest spectacular home in Bear’s Club at 144 Bears Club Drive available for sale at $12,900,000. It can be seen on Leibowitz Realty Group's premier website at www.leibowitzrealty.com. This breathtaking estate presents 11,741 square feet of exquisite Balinesian inspired living space and overlooks the 13th hole of Bear’s Club's spectacular course with additional breathtaking lake views. This estate is truly one of a kind and coupled with the outstanding golf club in which it resides, it is the perfect home for any pro or amateur golfer who desires the ultimate golf and residential existence. To preview or discuss more details regarding this incredible home or Bear’s Club itself and its membership, please contact Michael or Andrew Leibowitz of Leibowitz Realty Group directly at 561-262-0721 or 561-262-0722.
One of the greatest ways to relax and enjoy the luxury lifestyle of Santa Barbara is to visit our array of golf courses and clubs. Ranging from public to invitation only, each of these exceptional courses provides an experience unlike anywhere other due to our beautiful Riviera landscape, incredible vistas and ideal climate allowing for year-round play.
The Sandpiper Golf Course is located about 15 minutes west of downtown Santa Barbara. This golf course offers serene views of both the ocean to the south and the mountains to the north. The property was developed in 1972, and in 2003 local entrepreneur and philanthropist Ty Warner purchased the property. The Sandpiper golf course rests on seaside bluffs directly next to Santa Barbara Shores State Park and the Coronado Butterfly Preserve. An incredible number of Monarch butterflies return to this same grove at the beginning of each year during their migration south, and golfing at the Sandpiper during this time of year makes for a truly majestic experience unique to Santa Barbara. After a day out on the course, be sure to stop by the Sandpiper Grill overlooking the 18th hole and the ocean for a fresh gourmet meal.
The Glen Annie Golf Club is situated amongst the rolling foothills of Santa Barbara. The challenging course is enhanced by breathtaking views of the mountains, ocean, and the Channel Islands. Enjoy fresh local seafood at the Frog Bar & Grill for a gourmet meal on any of the three spacious patios or the elegant indoor dining room.
Rancho San Marcos
The elegant Rancho San Marcos Golf Course was designed by master course designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. The design of this incredible course honors the course’s rich history, incorporating centuries-old oak trees and a number of historic ranch buildings. The course is tucked away about 15 minutes west of downtown Santa Barbara and 15 minutes east of the peaceful Santa Ynez Valley , nestled along the edge of scenic Lake Cachuma. Enjoy serene lake and mountain views from this highly praised course, named one of the “Top 10 Golf Courses You Can Play” by Golf Magazine. At Davy’s Stable Café, you can enjoy a hearty breakfast before your game or choose from a delicious selection of lunch items.
The Santa Barbara Golf Club
The Santa Barbara Golf Club offers sweeping views of the Santa Ynez mountains from their well-manicured course at very reasonable rates. This Audubon certified course has also completed projects to protect the natural environment, including restored creek channels, storm water retention basins, and smaller pools that filter out urban runoff as well as the landscaping incorporating over 10,000 kinds of native plants. Their commendable efforts protect nearby Arroyo Burro Beach and the Pacific Ocean while also beautifying this lovely course. The course’s own Mulligan’s Café is a family-run business and features a great menu with plenty of options, including an all-day breakfast menu!
Montecito Country Club
The Montecito Country Club is an exquisite luxury course and also has tennis, swimming and fitness facilities. Enjoy the gently sloping, lush green with views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. The Bistro at the Montecito Country Club offers a fine selection of gourmet foods and exceptional service. For members, the club hosts a number of exclusive fundraisers, athletic events, social and dining events, and musical performances.
The Valley Club of Montecito
A Montecito treasure, the world-class Valley Club was created by expert course designers Alister MacKenzie and Robert Hunter in 1929. The private, serene course features smaller, high quality greens and a traditional, sophisticated and subtle layout. In addition, the Valley Club only allows half a dozen groups on the course at the same time, which enhances the peaceful atmosphere of the course.
Designed by the renowned Robert Trent Jones Sr., who praised it as “a thinking man’s course”, Birnam Wood is as challenging and resplendent as it is exclusive, with membership by invitation only. The fairways are planted with grass that was specially designed in Georgia to thrive in the local climate. Previously a lemon packing house built in 1892, the Clubhouse is a glimpse into the past, and all repairs and upgrades have carefully preserved the design and master stonework as much as possible. The course is situated among a prestigious and private community of luxury homes.
La Cumbre Country Club
Another premiere Santa Barbara course, the La Cumbre Country Club boasts a spectacular setting with indigenous plantings and a carefully preserved layout that was designed before mechanical aids such as the bulldozer were developed. Enjoy social events such as card games, tournaments, seasonal parties and galas, live piano music in the lobby, casual or formal dinner, and dancing in the evening at the historic clubhouse. The La Cumbre Country Club also offers fitness, tennis, and swimming facilities.
Courtesy of Realty Trust Group
Portland’s Real Estate Market has been slowly showing improvement in the housing market. Now is the time to buy in one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Rated in the top five by Moody’s Economy.com and MNSBC.com for being one of the first major metropolitan cities to see recovery.*
*Information from MNSBC.com
Average sale price for February 2012 rose 4.3% compared to February 2011. Median sale price fell 1.3%.
Month to month, comparing January 2012 to February 2012, average sale price went up from $249,100 to $255,100 (2.4%) and the median sale price rose from $207,500 to $211,000 (1.7%).
There are four main types of financing purchasers are using. See the graph for a breakdown in financing types for homes and condos sold in February 2012.*
*Statistics taken from RMLS Home Sales Report, February 2012.
While there were fewer active and new listings on the market, sales activity in Metro Portland showed an improvement in both pending and closed sales in February 2012. Also notable in February was a decrease in inventory, down from 7.0 last month and the lowest February inventory since 2007.
Closed Sales were up 17.5% in February 2012 compared to February 2011. Pending sales grew 32.5%, and new listings dropped 13.6%.
*Inventory in months is calculated by dividing the active listings at the end of the month in question by the number of closed sales for that month.
Realty Trust Group is a locally-owned real estate company that has achieved the highest sales volume per agent in the Portland Metro Area and has provided more than a decade of service to its clients and community.
For more information about the Portland housing market visit our site www.realtytrust.com or call us at 503.294.1101
To read the full report, click here.
Some of the most sought after residences for sale on Bainbridge Island will be open for viewing this Sunday, March 25th. The second annual Bainbridge Island Luxury Home Tour includes over a dozen listings for sale from Luxury Real Estate members Buckley & Buckley Real Estate, Coldwell Banker McKenzie Associates, and Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, as well as with Windermere Real Estate, and John L Scott.
When: Sunday March 25th, 2012
Time: Noon to 4:30pm
Where: 15 homes throughout Bainbridge Island
Little did I imagine, as a graduate student anticipating an academic career during the late 1970s, only a decade later I would be running the residential sales division of a major real estate company, or that a few years after that I would actually BUY it. Coming as I did to the business of business by the seat of my pants, it took me a while to learn the ropes and figure out my personal philosophy. But over the years I have arrived at some conclusions about what is right for Warburg:
· If you don’t have your word, you don’t have anything. Often, my agents will come to me, lay out a situation, and ask me what I think is the right thing to do. My answer usually is “You already know the right thing to do. If you are struggling enough to want my opinion, it’s because something is getting in the way of your doing the right thing.” More often than not, that “something” is money. Don’t get me wrong, I like making money as much as (and maybe more than) the next guy. But it never takes precedence over doing what’s right. It has been my experience, over and over, that doing the right rather than the expedient thing repays you 100 fold, both in how you feel and what you earn over the long haul. Always acting with integrity is the best possible business plan.
· The customer must always be respected. As the President of a real estate brokerage firm, I have two layers of customers to whom I am answerable: internal customers (my agents) and external customers (our buyers and sellers.) These constituencies have different needs, but each always deserves the fundamental respect of being listened to and taken seriously. There is no room at Warburg for denigrating attitudes or comments about either our agents or our clients. My customers may not always be right (who is?), but they are always heard and their concerns are always paramount.
· A service business requires that you perform the service. How is it that so many agents, when you e-mail them for an appointment, decline by saying, “I will be there next Tuesday at 10, can you come then?” The answer is no! Similarly, how is it that the exclusive agent unlocks the door for you, takes a cell phone call, then chatters away for the next ten minutes while you are left to show the customer around the apartment, which neither of you has ever seen before? The owner hires an agent to perform a service, and two big pieces of that service are availability and courtesy. Accommodation, of buyers, of other agents, of appraisers, of managing agents, is (along with providing expert analysis and advice) what we do. An agent who thinks accommodation and/or politeness are an inconvenience is an agent who should find a different career.
· In business, you change or you die. I am not by nature an agent of transformative change, but I have had to learn! The pace of change in our business (and in every business) has accelerated since technology first swept through our sedate lives in the mid-80s. Computers, the fax machine, the Internet, handheld devices, cloud computing, social media - one after another they have resculpted our landscape such that many aspects of it are unrecognizable today. Failing to embrace the opportunities of the digital age in their ever-evolving glory leaves established companies prey to younger, hipper models as we all compete for the next generation of agents. I am proud of Warburg’s cutting edge digital and Web 2.0 focus, in which I feel we have been leaders. But this race is never over.
· In the end, it’s all about relationships. The service Warburg provides to its agents, and they provide to our clients and customers, revolves around one of the most personal, financially significant, and life-defining choices in people’s lives: the creation or change of a home. Most people need to feel a relationship with the person who will assist them in this process. Everything I have described in the four points above comes together here: great agents are trustworthy, they are attentive, they are responsive, and they are fast on their feet – all in the service of creating a genuine agent/client bond. It is my aim to create that same bond between the company and the agents who carry our card. No matter how much the world changes, a sense of personal connection remains the key to successful relationships: between me and my agents, between them and their clients, and between our brand and the world.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
Sunny Malibu, California was recently featured on the Language of Luxury blog. Luxury Real Estate members interviewed in this article are Irene Dazzan-Palmer, Sandro Dazzan, Chris Cortazzo, and Ellen Francisco of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, and Jeff Chertow, Jim Rapf, and Mike Cunningham of Pritchett-Rapf Realtors,
“From the outside looking in Malibu has a very high profile due, in part, to the paparazzi and the media shining a spotlight on its glamorous surface. Certainly, it is known as getaway for many Hollywood celebrities and titans of business. The sitcom, Two and a Half Men takes place here. Even some Malibu real estate agents became local celebrities when they were featured on the reality TV show, Million Dollar Listing. But, beneath the surface Malibu has the intrinsic values of a small, rural California coastal beach town with a Mediterranean climate and a close-knit community. This, plus its close proximity to the diverse amenities of Los Angeles and easy access to the entire globe, makes Malibu one of the top 50 luxury real estate markets in the world.”
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