Millionaires Living in Barns?

It’s more common that you might think! High-net-worth individuals have long sought spacious hideaways in the countryside. Rather than going for red-brick estates or whitewashed ranch houses, however, more and more wealthy homeowners have been spending their summers and long weekends in barns. Not dirty, smelly, hay-filled barns, of course: spacious, historic, modern, converted barns.



The Luxury Converted Barn Phenomenon


For wealthy individuals seeking primary or secondary residences with plenty of character and space, converted barns can provide a perfect solution. Here are some of the main selling points for converted barns:


  • History – For centuries before they became mansions, these barns were used on working American farms and ranches.
  • Space – Because barns are meant to fit as much hay or as many horses as possible, they are spacious and perfect for open floor plans.
  • Uniqueness – Not many people can say they live in a converted Dutch barn from the 1800s.
  • Character – The planks of wood have been worn by weather and use over decades, so your home feels authentic and broken-in from the beginning.
  • Exposed beams – Sigh. Who doesn’t love exposed beams?
  • Luxury – Life in a converted barn is a far cry from “roughing it.” These barns may be rustic on the outside, but they are modern, bright, clean, and airy on the inside. Ladders, lofts, lap pools. The possibilities are endless.
  • Eco-friendly – By moving into a salvaged and restored barn, homeowners are using recycled wood and saving trees.  Salvaged wood floors and doors are also growing in popularity.


How It’s Done


Restoring and renovating a barn is a process that varies widely in expense and complexity. Some buyers will purchase a barn on a large swath of land and do a top-to-bottom renovation. Increasingly, however, people are buying their ideal piece of property and then purchasing a disassembled historic barn separately, to be delivered to their land. While some people find and buy the barns themselves, there are a growing number of businesses that buy the country’s most beautiful barns and allow customers to pick their favorite from a large catalog.


One such specialty company is Heritage Restorations, based in Waco, Texas, which manages every aspect of the transformation from horse barn to one-of-a-kind country estate. Their restoration projects can cost anywhere from $200,000 to $5 million depending on the size of the barn and the scale of the renovation. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Heritage Restorations founder Kevin Durkin noted that his business has steadily increased over the last 15 years—even during the housing crash. "People looking for a barn home, they're not looking to save money,” the founder said. “It's character. You're living in a piece of history." (Feast your eyes on the Heritage Restorations showroom.)


A Haven for Peace & Quiet


On the one hand, a converted barn makes for a truly unique and peaceful retreat, whether its standing in a vast green field or nestled in the mountains. On the other hand, luxury converted barns aren't for everyone. They are usually found in remote areas or on large plots of land, which means plenty of peace and solitude, but also a property that might be more difficult to access. Because of the unique layout of most barns, converted homes often require unconventional floor plans and room arrangements.  Their high ceilings and enormous volume can make these barns costly to heat and cool, too. However, for the very successful homebuyer who is looking for something apart from the ordinary, the converted barn may have terrific appeal.


Check a prospect’s financial credibility or create targeted prospect lists with up-dated WealthEngine benefit

If you’re an Institute member, here’s good news. The Institute’s updated strategic partnership with WealthEngine (WE) continues to offer you unique “wealth Intelligence” benefits. 


“Members can do immediate financial credibility checks on over 210 million US adults with the click of a mouse. In addition, WealthEngine’s extensive database allows members to create targeted marketing lists using wealth scores and lifestyle attributes,” said Institute Director Amanda Hammer.  “These two free member benefits are powerful differentiators.”


Institute member Michael Morrison of South Puget Sound Market, Sotheby's International Realty agrees.  “The insight we gain from WealthEngine has allowed us to segment and engage with high-potential buyers with less effort and much more precision.  By understanding our client’s needs better than anyone else, we stand out from the competition.”


Tune in to a special webinar to learn more

WealthEngine and The Institute will host a special webinar for Institute members

“How to find the perfect client using WealthEngine”

Thursday, October 29th at 3pm EST

Watch your email for details


“We are excited to move our partnership with The Institute to new heights,” said Mark Logan, CEO of WealthEngine. “We have already seen many Institute members achieving great success with our tools. Through the exclusive free access, deeper discounts on our portfolio of solutions, and access to our educational content, we expect even more success within this community.” 


Institute members; keep your WealthEngine success stories coming.  Send us your story

The Institute is growing, so we can serve members better than ever!

NEW website with a “luxury look”

Hopefully you’ve seen the new website.  We are pleased with our new look and now that the new site is up and running we are making a few tweaks to ensure that it functions smoothly and you can find what you are looking for. Let us know what you think!  Be sure to check out Member Benefits & Resources when you log in next time.  Don’t leave money on the table by not using the resources available to you.


NEW staff to expand our member services

If you think you have heard new voices on the phone, you are right.  We’ve added some great new people with a variety of skills and plugged into some new outside resources through our investment partner -- McKissock -- who came on board last year.  Amanda Hammer is still with us, but has new, expanded responsibilities. In short, we are growing a team, just like many of you are.  Here’s a quick look at our staff and a short list of their responsibilities. 


Amanda Hammer has a NEW title –Director of Products & Member Services

After seven + years with The Institute, is an expert on our business and is wholly committed to our mission, which is helping you maximize your success.  Her responsibilities include acting account executive for our brand partners, making sure we have a toolbox full of member benefits, and overall Institute strategy.  How she juggles complete dedication to the Institute and a husband and active two-year old, we are not sure.  But she does!


Debbie Linzenmeyer is our NEW Training & Operations Manager

Debbie is an experienced operations and project manager with key strengths in areas such as integrated marketing, brand management, writing/editing, and events management. Debbie came to The Institute after four years at Fossil Group, where she served in a Global PR and Events Marketing role. Her responsibilities include the management of the Member Services and Fulfillment teams as well as LIVE course management and host relationships. Debbie is usually a marathon runner, but has traded running for pregnancy and her little girl is due in December.  Appropriately, the baby will be named Lil just like our LIL – Leaders in Luxury!


We have two NEW Member Service Coordinators


Regena Bradley came to The Institute with many years of experience in New Home Construction and Real Estate as well as having owned her own business. Having herself been involved in all phases of Real Estate, she understands the importance of competency, communication, and outstanding customer service and has an unparalleled empathy to meet the personal needs of our members.

Jill Duncan came to the Institute with experience in the hotel and hospitality industry as well as having run her own massage business on the side. Jill is tirelessly diligent in all areas of her life and work and brings enthusiasm and spunk to every interaction with our Members. She is a serious cyclist, a massage therapist in her free time and has exciting wedding plans for next year. 

We have a NEW team in our Fulfillment Department, too. 


John Logan Oakley is an accomplished artistand has been with us for over a year.  John Housewright is a musicianwho began with us earlier this year.  Both Johns are responsible for assembling and shipping training course materials, fulfilling product orders, and coordinating and mailing member communications – including the popular “quote cards”.


We also have NEW trainers


Tami Simms will remain lead trainer and has trained for us for more than eight years.  Many of you have attended Tami’s classes and know she is knowledgeable, dynamic and fun!  Her course evaluations are always terrific and hosts want her again and again. We are so fortunate to have her. 


Watch for an upcoming blog post introducing Bill Hensley and Kofi Nartey the new trainers who are coming onboard and joining Tami, so we can meet the growing demand for classes. 


We also have some NEW people and departmental resources, thanks to our new investors at McKissock.


Mike Duran, CEO of McKissock brings a new level of strategy and vision to the business.


Charlene Barnard, CMO of McKissock and brainchild behind our lovely new rebranding and relaunch of our website brings not only her extensive marketing expertise but also a marketing department to support Institute initiatives.


Julie Nelson, a content and training expert with McKissock has been integral in bringing our fabulous new trainers on board.


You also may have noticed by now that we are missing a familiar face – Waco Moore, our Vice President


Waco’s daughter turned 10 this summer and Waco and his wife decided that is the right age to make the world their daughter’s classroom. They have taken off for a year of travel and home schooling, starting with cycling and camping along the Rhine River from Switzerland to Holland.  They are not sure what will come next, but plan to squeeze as much economical travel into the time as possible.  We all wish we could fold up our tents, pack our bike paniers, and go with them.  Check out their travel blog at 


And the biggest news of all, founder, Laurie Moore-Moore is retiring this month


However, she still has a stake in the Institute’s success and is excited about what is ahead and hopes you…our members…are too.  Laurie plans to take the rest of the year and travel with her family. If you haven’t already viewed it, please take a moment to watch this short video message from Laurie.



A real estate script from Warren Buffet?



Billionaire business man, Warren Buffet, was quoted recently as saying, “It is better to buy a great company for a fair price than a fair company at a great price.”  It strikes us that this is true about many purchase decisions, including the choice of a real estate professional. 

For example (with apologies to Mr. Buffet), when negotiating your professional fee with a seller who says, “Your competitor will do it for less,” one answer might be, “Well, it seems to me that perhaps it would be better to choose a great Realtor at a fair price than a fair Realtor at a great price.” If your seller counters with, “I want a great Realtor at a great price,” you could respond with, “Given the value I can bring to your transaction, that’s exactly what I am offering you – a great Realtor at a great price – a price that offers real value.”  This assumes of course that in your presentation, you have established the value of working with you. 


Middle Eastern Royalty Negotiating for Lavish 68-room Sardinian Estate, Will $541 Million be the Final Price?

Saudi king blog post
Rumors are rife that former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is selling Villa Certosa, his lavish estate on Sardinia’s exclusive Costa Esmeralda, to Saudi Arabian royalty for $541 million. The estate sprawls over 296 acres and features 68 rooms, six swimming pools, an underground grotto where small boats can dock, an amphitheater, and a man-made volcano that erupts on command.

Arabian Business reports that Saudi Arabian Prime Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, is buying the property on behalf of his uncle King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera previously reported that Berlusconi was seeking $552 million for the secluded Mediterranean estate, which became a symbol of his flamboyant lifestyle during his years in power.  

The Luxury Shed: So Much More Than A “Man-Cave”

She Shed
I know what you’re thinking: luxury shed? Sheds have historically been used as a place to store farm equipment, garden supplies, firewood, and seasonal sports equipment. Not so long ago, you would’ve been more likely to find a possum in a backyard shed than someone reading a novel on a rainy day! But you can forget the corrugated metal and plastic siding. Luxury homeowners today are recasting backyard sheds as a vessel for their dreams, built and decorated with the same attention to detail and quality of materials as the main household.


You Call That A Shed?

A “man cave” is a room in the house dedicated to a male head of the household—essentially a no-girls-allowed clubhouse for adult men. The trend of tricked-out sheds really took flight when homeowners began moving these so-called “man caves” out of the house and into the outdoors. The women’s equivalent, which some refer to as the “she-shed,” is becoming increasingly popular.


In general, luxury sheds are designed to provide a private hideaway for working or relaxing. (Because sometimes being behind a locked door in the same house just isn’t enough space!) Sheds also offer an opportunity for homeowners to attain the home of their dreams. If the existing floor plan doesn’t have a room with adequate space or privacy for one of the homeowner’s needs, a luxury shed can offer the perfect solution.


Some of the most popular uses for luxury sheds:

  • Cozy, private reading room complete with coffee maker
  • Gardening shed and greenhouse for growing things year-round
  • Master bathroom expansion (if you want the bath to be really relaxing, put it in a different building)
  • Woodshop, workshop, or hobby space
  • Artist’s studio for painters or sculptors
  • Recording studio
  • Backyard home office
  • Adult tree house (for the young at heart)
  • Backyard bar or cocktail lounge


Endless Possibilities

For luxury real estate professionals, sheds are a way to expand the client’s possible uses of a given space or piece of property. If you are showing a home and the client says they are looking for something closer to the forest, why not suggest a luxury shed in a secluded wooded corner of the property? If an existing luxury home doesn’t have the right space for a bar and lounge, a private office, a craft space, or a recording studio—why not inform your client about the endless possibilities afforded by luxury sheds?


The best part? They are affordable, comfortable, and customizable. Because of their small footprint, sheds can be built virtually anywhere and erected in a matter of days.

China’s NWBs: Coming to a Luxury Home Near You

According to NAR’s 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, China is the second largest source of international buyers in the United States. Chinese buyers rank first in terms of dollar value of sales because they most often buy high-end luxury homes. The recent drop in Chinese stock markets, however, wiped out an estimated US$3.35 trillion of wealth. Where U.S. luxury real estate professionals are concerned, these turning economic tides might bring a change in clientele.


What’s an NWB?


Have you heard of NWBs? If not, you should make yourself familiar. The world’s fastest growing wealth segment is that of the NWBs—or “new wealth builders”—who hold financial assets between US$100,000 and US$2 million. While high-net-worth individuals (those with more than US$2 million in assets) accounted for US$43 trillion in global wealth last year, the NWB segment accounted for more than US$88 trillion. Translation: NWBs have a total of double the wealth of high-net-worth individuals! China’s NWBs, in particular, are amongst the world’s wealthiest and fastest growing economic group. It is estimated that China’s NWBs will hold double the wealth of American NWBs by the year 2020.

Most importantly, China’s NWBs seem to be fairing the economic storm better than most, and they are consequently in search of investments that protect their wealth, appreciate over time, or provide stable revenue streams. This makes them prime prospects for luxury real estate professionals in the United States.

Chinese NWBs: What They’re Looking For

A recent McKinsey Quarterly report shows that 69 million Chinese citizens possess the wealth to invest in U.S. properties. This figure is expected to reach 220 million by 2022. These numbers will likely yield an uptick in the number of Chinese buyers who invest in luxury homes abroad. In general, Chinese buyers are likely to be looking for these key features in U.S. real estate:

  • Great educational institutions. As far as Chinese buyers are concerned, education is king.
  • An expanding market with room for new businesses. Chinese buyers are looking to set down roots, and many want to open a business in the U.S. city where they buy a home.
  • Long-term ownership. Property laws in China effectively dictate that individuals hold long-term leases on properties, but can never fully own them. Chinese buyers want to own their homes outright so that they can pass them from one generation to the next.


Amongst Chinese buyers in general, NWBs are unique. Here are some things that luxury real estate professionals need to know about them:


  • Compared to individuals in the higher income bracket, NWBs are younger, more internet savvy, and more likely to rely on online resources when making investment decisions.
  • Chinese buyers take six months to research properties before they begin visiting and making purchasing decisions.
  • NWBs are more likely to look for investment opportunities in secondary cities.
  • NWBs are likely to only visit properties or work with real estate professionals that were visible online (and behind the Great Firewall of China).
  • Chinese prospects prefer to do their research in Chinese, on websites hosted in China.


China’s NWBs seem to be fairing well amidst economic upheaval and will likely be looking to make stable, long-term investments in foreign markets. For luxury real estate professionals, marketing your services and listings on Chinese sites will be paramount for reaching this growing group of international prospects.

Leaders in Luxury Advisory Board selected for 2015 event in Puerto Rico

Ten luxury professionals have been selected to serve on the Advisory Board for Leaders in Luxury (LIL), The Institute’s exclusive, invitation-only educational and networking event for real estate professionals who work in the million and multi-million dollar home and estate market.  This year’s Leaders in Luxury event is scheduled for October 4-6, in San Juan, Puerto Rico at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and will cater to professionals who are true experts in the luxury residential market – those who work from the $1,000,000 to $100,000,000 price point.


The 2015 Leaders in Luxury Advisory Board includes

  • Val Arbona, RE/MAX Vintage, Houston (TX)
  • Christine Battista, Keller Williams, Denver Tech Center, Denver (CO)
  • Ann Chiasson, RE/MAX  Sea to Sky, Whistler (BC)
  • Christopher Fling, Fling Santy, Keller Williams, Phoenix (AZ)
  • Colleen Hensley, Keller Williams, Carlsbad (CA) 
  • Maggie Miggins, Keller Williams, Short Hills (NJ)
  • Margaret Parma, Kuper Sotheby’s International, Austin (TX)
  • Loretta Phinney, Royal LePage, Toronto (ON)
  • Raziel Ungar, Pacific Union, Christies International, Burlingame (CA)
  • Jim Walberg, Pacific Union, Christies International, Danville (CA)   


Our LIL Advisory Board is made up of a diverse group of luxury professionals from across North America who are leaders in their luxury residential markets.  What they have in common is strong expertise in the luxury home niche and a commitment to providing outstanding service to affluent buyers and sellers.  The Advisory Board provides input on topics and speakers for the event and helps promote the meeting to their peers across North America and abroad.


For information: Leaders in Luxury


Follow the money!

The very wealthy are on the move.  According to New York-based international  law, firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, which specializes in immigration services, the last ten years have seen the largest inflows and outflows of high net worth individuals (HNWI) relocating in history. In the last decade 11,000 HNWI left Switzerland, 14,000 left Russia, 32,000 left France, 43,000 left India and a huge 76,000 exited China. Many will keep assets and property in their home countries, yet most will buy real estate and set up bank accounts in their new locations, according to Fragomen.

Where did these HNWI move?  Over the same period, 212,000 relocating households and their destinations were identified by Fragomen. About 14,000 HNWI relocated to Canada, 20,000 to Hong Kong, 22,000 to Australia, 42,000 to the USA and an impressive 114,000 to the UK. The remaining 36,000 went elsewhere in the world. 


Film producer/developer building $500 million spec residence in Bel Air

Film producer and speculative residential developer, Nile Niami, is pouring the concrete for a spec residential compound including a 74,000-square-foot trophy home and three smaller companion homes which he says will hit the market at $500 million.  The project will exceed 100,000 square feet, including a 5,000-square-foot master bedroom, four pools, a 30-car garage and a “Monaco-style casino.”

If the property sells for anything close to this amount, it might set a new world record as the world’s most expensive residence sold.  The priciest home sale to date was a $221 million London penthouse which changed hands in 2011.  Competitive properties include a $425 million estate in France’s Cote d’Azur, a $400 million penthouse in Monaco and a $365 million London residence.

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