A Luxury Home — On The High Seas!

For some, a dream home is a gorgeous mansion with acres of beautiful greenery. For others, it’s a elegant penthouse in an urban skyscraper. For Florida widow Lee Wachtstetter, it’s a 1,070-passenger luxury cruise ship — the Crystal Serenity.

During her 50-year marriage, “Mama Lee” (as she’s known aboard the ship) went on nearly 90 cruises with her husband. And during her eight-year stay aboard the Crystal Serenity, she’s done nearly a hundred more, plus 15 world cruises. After her husband passed away, Wachstetter decided to sell their five-bedroom, 10-acre home in Fort Lauderdale and make her new home in a “location” that she had grown to love — the ocean.

Although she admits that her single-occupancy, seventh-deck stateroom has “limited” space, Wachstetter enjoys all of the amenities of the Serenity, which set sail on its maiden voyage in 2003. Approximately $164,000 a year covers her cabin, regular and specialty restaurant meals (with beverages available at lunch and dinner), gratuities, nightly ballroom dancing with hosts, and Broadway-type entertainment. In addition, there are the captain’s frequent cocktail parties, movies, lectures and other scheduled daily activities.

And this isn’t Mama Lee’s first “home” aboard a cruise ship — she previously lived for three years on a Holland America ship. But when they discontinued their dance host program — she’s loved to dance her whole life — she decided to “move” to the Crystal Serenity. After all, the Crystal Cruise Line is always rated among the world’s best, and the Serenity is their newest ship.

And Wachtstetter enjoys the communal dining experience of a cruise ship, regularly sitting at a table for eight and making new friends. Of course, with all of the delicious culinary options on the menu, she confides that she’s working on losing a few extra pounds that she gained since coming on board.

Most days, Mama Lee can be found doing needlepoint in the Palm Court lounge — it’s “her second love.” Everything that she makes, she gives to staff members of the 655-person crew; in turn, they have become like family to her, providing a near-concierge-level of service. 

She’s able to keep in touch with her three sons and seven grandchildren via her laptop computer. And whenever the Serenity docks in Miami — as many as five times a year — she visits with the family members that live nearby.

Mama Lee isn’t the only full-time resident on a Crystal cruise ship — there are three others living a similar lifestyle. But Wachtstetter has been doing it the longest. She credits her late husband, who told her “Don’t stop cruising” before he passed away. Today, Mama Lee claims that she’s living a “stress-free, fairy-tale life.”

 

Sources: Wikipedia, USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2015/01/19/woman-pays-164k-per-year-to-live-on-luxury-cruise-ship/22030011/


7 "Uber"-Like Companies for the Jet Set

Thanks to technology, taxis and limousines no longer have a monopoly on on-demand automobile travel. Companies like Uber, Lyft and others have harnessed mobile app technology — and a ready workforce of freelance drivers — to change the way people get from Point A to Point B without even buying one car.

So it only makes sense that this concept is changing air travel for people who use private jets for business or pleasure. Here are seven of the most popular companies who are making private air travel more accessible and convenient for the jet-set:

Blade 

A crowd-sourced, short-distance air travel provider that focuses on flights between New York City, the Hamptons, Mohegan Sun Casino and major surrounding airports. Launched in 2014 by co-founders Rob Wiesenthal (a former music executive) and Steve Martocci (GroupMe co-founder), travelers use a mobile app to instantly book seats on helicopters and seaplanes.

Ticket prices range from $395 to $695, although for a higher price travelers can do a custom charter flight to a destination of their choice — or even fly on a faster aircraft.

Jet Smarter 

Founded in 2012, this company enables private jet charter around the world via a mobile marketplace. Travelers use the app to connect to chartered flights, including more than 3,000 aircraft of all makes and models.

To offer this convenience, JetSmarter takes advantage of the “empty legs” of the aviation industry — which means the vacant 1.5-million-plus hours of flight time spent en route to pick up other passengers. The company buys about 35,000 hours of reservations on those flights ahead of time, which are then available exclusively via the app.

Members pay a $3,000 initiation fee and $9,000 a year for unlimited access to private flights. On the flip side, carriers can use the app to manage their inventory in real-time to fill their flights instantly.

Magellan Jets 

One of the earliest of these innovators in the air travel space — becoming the first private jet company to have an app on iTunes, as well as the first to guarantee in-flight WiFi. The company was launched in 2008, and is renowned for its personalization options — even down to the snacks and magazines — providing customers with all the benefits of owning a plane without actually owning it.

Travelers can book flights based on origin, destination and type of aircraft they prefer, and it will arrive anywhere in the U.S. in eight hours. 

NetJets 

In 1986, the NetJets program was created as the first fractional aircraft ownership program. After enjoying the NetJets service for three years, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman & CEO Warren Buffett acquired NetJets Inc. for $725 million in 1998. While other companies allow users to buy seats on existing flight routes, NetJets actually has its own fleet of planes — selling fractional ownership to corporations or wealthy individuals in exchange for flying time on the largest private jet fleet in the world (more than 650 aircraft worldwide).

NetJets offers several different programs, but the basic offering is guaranteed access to an aircraft with as little as four hours notice. Users pay a monthly maintenance fee and an “occupied” hourly operating fee — which is only charged when an owner or guest is on board, not when the aircraft is going to pick up a passenger or flying to another destination after completing a flight.

SurfAir 

Created for business executives who needed to travel between Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, SurfAir offers “all-you-can-fly” unlimited flights for a fixed monthly fee of $1,950 a month (plus a $1,000 signup fee).

Since 2013, the airline has provided West Coast flights that now include Burbank, Carlsbad, Hawthorne, Monterey, Oakland, Napa, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, among others. Travelers can book a seat “on demand,” but need to choose from already-scheduled flights. They can make reservations up to a month in advance or as close as 15 minutes before a flight leaves, if seats are still available.

Wheels Up 

This company offers membership programs that greatly reduce the cost of flying privately, enabling travelers to use their app to book flights, arrange a ride-share, and even plan a luxury experience at their destination.

The company, founded in 2013, is unique in that joining the “club” requires no up-front financial or long-term commitment. Members pay an initiation fee and low annual dues to have access to flights at a reduced rate with guaranteed availability; pricing is set on a “pay-as-you-fly” basis, so travelers pay only for hours flown.

In addition, membership includes enrollment in the exclusive “Wheels Down” program, which is billed as “the ultimate lifestyle, events, concierge and partner benefits program.”

XOJET 

Established in 2006, the company provides fixed-price, one-way private charters between major U.S. cities. Customers can buy a set number of flight hours to use per year.

With 40+ super mid-size business jets, XOJET’s private jet charters and flight programs enable travelers to choose their arrival and departure locations, then book if the flight is available — or use a fixed-price charter on predetermined routes when available. Depending on their preferences, members can pay a deposit of $100,000 or $200,000 for the ability to charter a jet whenever they want. The company also offers specially designed VIP experiences, such as rainforest excursions to Costa Rica, wine-tasting vacations to Napa, and deluxe skiing trips to Whistler.

All in all, travelers who can afford the extra cost — and prefer flying without airport hassles and more-cramped-than-ever cabins inside commercial airplanes — have plenty of new options for private air travel. With the advent of innovative, easy-to-use technology, it’s more convenient and personalized than ever!

 


LUXURY AND SAFETY — DEEP UNDERGROUND?

So if you’re one of the few people left on Earth, can you still live in luxury? What if you’re stuck in an underground bunker? Survivalists are already answering these questions — with incredible survival bunkers built with the luxury lifestyle in mind.

There’s one luxury bunker in Tifton, GA, built more than 40 feet underground. It features seven apartments, a 15-seat movie theater for residents, and even has working internet access. For practical purposes, it includes decontamination showers and an outdoor firing range. And of course, it can withstand a nuclear blast. But none of this comes cheap — the price tag is about $17.5 million.

Underground Bunker

About 687 miles northwest of Tifton, there’s an underground bunker (at an undisclosed location) called Vivos Indiana. Originally a government communications facility, it’s now been repurposed as a luxurious hangout for survivors of any type of catastrophe.

With 12-and-a-half-foot ceilings in the living area, plush carpets and rows of reclining chairs, the living area is a great place to spend some quality time. 60 varieties of freeze-dried and canned foods fill the cupboards, complemented by the fresh bounty of a hydroponic garden. Units designed for four to six residents feature double-queen bunks with gorgeous bedding — the kind you’d find at a Ritz-Carlton!

Pet kennels. A gun safe. Exercise and medical facilities. Powerful generators and high-grade filters built to keep the residents warm and safe. And just a $35,000 entry fee.

Built by a former real estate entrepreneur — who sold shares of villas in luxury destinations such as Aspen and the south of France — these kinds of facilities are attracting the interest of many affluent Americans. (In the last several years, the U.S. has added more than 1.5 million new millionaires.)

And this isn’t a uniquely American phenomenon. The Vivos franchise extends to europe, where a similar-but-larger facility was built in a former munitions storage facility in Germany. This billion-dollar property can house 34 families for a full year, with swimming pools, a wine cellar and more — priced in the $3 to $5 million range.

Clearly, if you have a few million dollars to spend — and you’re a bit worried about war or meteors or nuclear plant meltdowns — you have options.

The folks at SurvivalCondo.com can help you build your own luxury bunker, with half-floor, one-level units at about 920 sq. ft. starting at $1.5 million. Full-floor units are about twice that size and price, while “penthouse” units of about 3,200 sq. ft. on two levels start at $4.5 million.

As is always the case with luxury real estate, the bigger the budget, the more options you have. Luxury survival bunkers are a growth market — and while there is a natural limit to how big it will get, there’s definitely a need.

So if you have a client who’s a bit paranoid about world-changing events — but also a predilection for the finer things — now you know what kinds of showings to schedule!


6 Things to Know from the 2016 Wealth Report

There are a variety of challenges facing today’s ultra-high-net-worth-individuals (UHNWIs), according to the 10th edition of “The Wealth Report” — published by global real estate consulting company Knight Frank.

The 2016 Attitudes Survey is based on responses from approximately 400 of the world’s leading private bankers and wealth advisors who were surveyed in the 4th quarter of 2015. Their answers — concerning the UHNWIs in their client base — tell a story of growth slowdown, changes in family and succession dynamics, increased scrutiny and economic pressures.

Here are six of the most interesting findings from the report (in our opinion):

  1. Two-thirds of respondents believe that their clients’ wealth will increase at a slower rate over the next 10 years than it did over the previous decade.
    While a positive trend has lasted nearly a decade, the forecast for the next decade is slightly bearish, with growth expected to slow down. The main issues creating a challenge for wealth creation then — and now — include succession and inheritance considerations, increasing taxes, and the worldwide economy. Other important concerns include the fact that more families have members spreading out around the world, personal security and safety, and personal and family health.
  1. Threat to future growth #1: Succession and inheritance issues.
    More than 85% of respondents agree that their clients are more active in managing their wealth — so 92% believe that they need to work harder to earn their clients’ trust. These advisors also have to take a look at how they engage with clients, since nearly 80% of them see women taking a more prominent role in managing their family’s wealth — and UHNWIs are getting their children more involved in the family business at an earlier age.

    Also, UHNWIs traditionally have been concerned that future generations would not be successful in maintaining the family’s wealth — almost expecting the third generation to waste much of it. Recently, however, the attitude has been that the second generation is more likely to fail at growing the family’s fortunes. When asked, 62% worried that their children would be encouraged to earn their own wealth, and nearly 50% felt that they wouldn’t know how to handle the family’s investments.
  1. Threat to future growth #2: Wealth taxes.
    Nearly 70% of respondents agreed that their clients feel that they are under increased scrutiny by the public and authorities, so they are more aware of displaying their wealth publicly. One example of this increased attention is in the U.S., where “the 1%” are being criticized for currently favorable tax rates, as well as corporate tax benefits.
  1. Threat to future growth #3: The global economy.
    Many respondents felt that UHNWIs are being scapegoated by governments who are failing to address wealth-inequality issues.
  1. The majority of respondents said that their clients will be increasing their philanthropic activities.
    As always, philanthropy is an important part of the UHNWI agenda — perhaps more so than ever before. According to the survey respondents, most of them noted indicated that their clients would be expanding their philanthropic activities, which continues the trend over the past decade.

    Approximately 67% of UHNWIs had already been growing their philanthropic efforts over the past 10 years, while nearly 80% noted that they would continue that growth over the next 10. The main reason cited was “a sense of personal fulfillment,” although religious beliefs were also mentioned as an important reason (specifically in the Middle East).
  1. 30% of UHNWIs are considering a residential purchase in 2016.
    Another important part of the Wealth Report is the coverage of the current attitudes of wealthy individuals with regard to property — whether as a place to live and/or as an investment.

    Over the past decade, more than half of respondents noted that their clients were allocating more of their investable wealth to residential property, while more than 40% expected that to increase over the next decade — with 30% of them being likely to think about a residential purchase this year.

    According to the report, UHNWIs have designated about a quarter of their investable wealth for residential properties, and another 11% on commercial real estate. The major motivators for this expected growth in residential real estate purchases? The most popular reason (55%) was as a re-sellable investment, while other key factors include as a safe haven for funds (47%) and investment diversification (46%).

    In addition, commercial real estate interest is growing. Nearly half of wealth advisors foresee increases in their clients’ portfolio allocations in the next 10 years. Their most likely targets include offices and hotels (the standard investments of choice), although warehousing and logistics are increasingly popular.

While new challenges are out there, 2016 should be a year of opportunity. Even with a variety of issues facing UHNWIs and the professionals who work with them — from slowing growth and changes in family/succession planning to increased public and media scrutiny and economic pressures — these challenges should be viewed as opportunities for advisors to develop creative solutions and prove their value.

 Source: The Wealth Report 2016 Attitudes Survey


Luxury Garages Become A Swanky Social Space

Along with clothes, watches, and wine, high-end and vintage cars are a favorite collector’s item for high-net-worth individuals. And—just as many luxury homes have custom wine cellars and walk-in closets—luxury homeowners with treasured car collections are likely to want a special space for their high-end vehicles.

Luxury Garage

Top end luxury garages have little in common with the dusty cement rooms that immediately come to mind and they’re about much more than car storage. For individuals with prized vehicles—whether 1 or 100—the ideal luxury garage might be used for:

  • Entertaining. A high-end car enthusiast wants to be able to spend time socializing amidst their car collection, so luxury garages can boast an entertainment system, seating area, wet bar, and card table or billiard table to widen the space’s utility.
  • Showcasing. For car collectors, each vehicle is a work of art, and so a luxury garage acts as the gallery. Custom lighting and rotating turntable displays can enhance the presentation of a homeowner’s favorite vehicles.
  • Maintenance. Many car collectors like to get under the hood of their cars and a well-equipped maintenance bay is the perfect space to tinker.
  • Preservation. Finally, a collector will want their high-end vehicles to be cared for and protected from the elements, so climate control is a must in humid climates where weather can speed deterioration and encourage rusting.

If the luxury home is in an area without space restrictions, then an added garage can span thousands of square feet and accommodate dozens of vehicles without issue. For city dwellers, however, a car storage space can prove more elusive. One popular solution for wealthy collectors is a car elevator such as the PhantomPark, which starts at about $40,000, is custom built to fit the homeowner’s needs, and stores cars below ground. It is important to note, however, that while a lack of garage may diminish a home’s value and desirability, luxury garage renovations see a mere 52% return on investment in resale.


Global Wealth Forecast: New Money, Same Tastes

The next decade and beyond will see many changes in who holds the world’s wealth, how they acquire it, and what they do with it.

Old Money

Individuals who have inherited their wealth favor investing their money in luxury residential real estate. According to the recent Decades of Wealth report by Wealth-X, ultra-high-net-worth individuals with inherited wealth hold 17% of their wealth in high-end residential real estate. This figure is only 9% for self-made UHNWIs. This trend is likely to continue as Baby Boomers age and pass their wealth on to younger generations. In the next decade alone, global UHNW individuals will bequeath $4.1 trillion in wealth to the next generation. An estimated 30% of this projected wealth transfer will be in liquid assets.

The number and nationality of individuals with inherited wealth is shifting. In North America and Western Europe, for example, the past decade has seen a decline in the number of wealthy individuals with “old money.” The opposite trend can be observed in developing nations where most of the wealth is brand new: the first big wave of new wealth is being passed down to the next generation.

New Money

According to the World Wealth Report, the global HNWI population grew by 6.7% in 2014 and the group’s total wealth grew by 7.2%, resulting in an estimated HNWI population of 14.6 million.

  • The HNWI population in China grew by 17% in 2014. China continues to experience economic prosperity and a growing upper economic class, the older generation of which is now passing its wealth on to the next generation and investing in foreign economies.
  • Over the past year, the number of millionaires in India grew by 27% and their HNWI population grew by 26% in 2014. According to Wealth-X, “Aligned to this wealth growth is an equally substantial increase in luxury consumption.”
  • African nations. As entrepreneurial and tech-centric countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda continue to experience increased economic prosperity and innovation, they are catching the attention of foreign investors—particularly wealthy Chinese nationals. Wealth-X projects that Africa’s UHNW population will quadruple by 2040.

AprilBlog

Globalized Taste

In their Decades of Wealth report, Wealth-X wrote, “China is often cited as a market that has surprised observers with the speed of its move from conspicuous consumption to careful, tasteful purchasing.” With the globalization of media and entertainment—and, as a result, trends and lifestyles—the world’s new wealthy are expected to follow in China’s footsteps by becoming discerning consumers with refined tastes—including a taste for luxury residential real estate. Roughly 80% of the world’s UHNW population own 2 or more residences, and it is becoming increasingly popular for UHNW individuals to invest in unique and exotic luxury homes outside of their home country. The United States remains the most popular destination for wealthy individuals seeking a place to invest in real estate


Luxury Bathroom Trends: TOTO Washlet

Even in the most extravagant homes, in which no expense is spared to make the homeowner and their guests feel pampered, Americans have historically deprived themselves of the ultimate in household luxury: heated, remote-controlled toilet seats with a built-in bidet feature. While the concept may seem too bizarre (or too indelicate) to those with American sensibilities, it is estimated that roughly 76% of households in Japan have such a technologically advanced toilet seat. In fact, the Japanese government tracks the popularity of electronic bidet seats as an indicator of economic prosperity. This luxury bathroom accessory is also used widely throughout Asia and the Middle East, and is even disrupting the market for traditional bidets in Western Europe. Although their use in the United States has mostly been limited to luxury hotels and a small cult following, the electronic bidet seat seems to be taking root.

TOTO, the largest plumbing manufacturer in the world, has sold more than 40 million Washlets, its brand of electronic bidet seat, since launching the product in Japan in 1980. Although only a few thousand Washlets are sold each month in the United States, TOTO’s U.S. sales figures have increased by 20% in each of the last five years.

TOTO

Why A Washlet?

In a recent press release announcing their huge sales success, TOTO described the revolutionary accessory: “Washlets use pure, clean water – and myriad technological innovations – to make their users cleaner, happier, more refreshed than they have ever felt after a bathroom break by reinventing the humble toilet seat as a warm water personal cleansing system.” And Toto seems to have succeeded in making its users happier. People who have had the pleasure of sitting atop a Washlet typically respond with rave reviews. In “The Cult of the Toto Toilet,” for example, The Times interviewed the owner of a Manhattan plumbing showroom who said that going back to a regular toilet seat would be like “going back to the Stone Age. It feels very uncivilized.”

Depending on how advanced an individual wants their electronic bidet seat to be, a TOTO Washlet can cost anywhere from $1,000 to almost $10,000. In addition to the standard features—heated seat, bidet wand, remote control—more high-end models might include UV light technology that kills bacteria and other cleansing functions to keep the luxury bathroom clean and fresh.


Communities Share Hyper-local Content & Recommendations via Nextdoor

Neighborhood social app begins testing advertising

Perhaps as a result of our lives moving further into the digital realm, the tight-knit American neighborhoods of old have been replaced by communities of relatively disconnected individuals. According to a 2015 City Observatory report, one third of Americans today have never interacted with their neighbors, and a 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center showed that nearly a third of Americans don’t know a single neighbor by name. Social platforms like Nextdoor are attempting to change all that by using the Internet to create hyper-local communities and reopen the lines of communication between neighbors. Similar hyper-local social platforms are available outside of North America, such as Singapore’s NearCircles and the UK’s Streetlife.

CellPhone

How Nextdoor Works

Perhaps the most significant advantage to using Nextdoor—as opposed to other popular means of group communication such as Yahoo Message Boards and Facebook groups—is that the platform makes it very difficult to join and limits membership to individuals who live within the physical boundaries of the relevant neighborhood.

  • To start a new Nextdoor community, a member of the neighborhood must fill out a lengthy application and convince 10 or more neighbors to sign up within the first 21 days.
  • If the community leader fails to meet the quota, then Nextdoor will not approve their group.
  • To verify that an individual truly lives within the relevant community, Nextdoor either checks credit card information, calls a home phone number, or sends a postcard and special registration code to the listed address.

The high threshold for membership secures neighbors’ privacy and ensures the relevance of the content they will find on the platform. Nextdoor is aiming to facilitate active, robust groups that are always brimming with relevant content—not groups that peter out after a few weeks. And they’re finding great success.

A Trusted Information & Recommendation Exchange

Now present in over 89,000 neighborhoods across the United States, Nextdoor acts as a kind of message board wherein neighbors can share information that is most relevant to members of their hyper-local community: the time and location of a garage sale, road and school closures, recommended dog walking services, crime reports, lost pet sightings, or referrals to a plumber. All conversations are archived and searchable, so members can look up a handyman’s contact information months after the recommendation was made.

The platform also presents an alternative means of discovering local events, restaurants, and news. Rather than trusting the restaurant recommendations of complete strangers on Yelp or Google, individuals can now get the trusted opinions of their peers. The same principle of trust applies to service providers and businesses. According to Nextdoor, 20% of the daily 5 million messages exchanged daily are service recommendations, and 80% of those posts are discussing local service providers and businesses.

How Real Estate Professionals Can Use Nextdoor

The most obvious way for high-end agents and brokers to get involved is to launch or join your own neighborhood’s Nextdoor group. People are much more likely to trust recommendations from others within their own community, and your participation could easily yield referrals. Opportunities for referrals and networking will multiply for agents and brokers who live within the markets that they serve professionally.

As Nextdoor begins to test different avenues of monetizing their hyper-local social platform, networking and marketing opportunities will become more direct. In a blog post published on January 20th of this year, Nextdoor co-founder and CEO Nirav Tolia wrote, “Starting this week, we will begin testing sponsored posts from a select group of businesses who have relevant content to share . . . Sponsored posts will initially appear in the neighborhood news-feed and daily email digest, but we will continue to experiment and take the time to get this right.”


Enormous Basements Add Space & Value To Urban Luxury Homes

Londoners with limited space are digging deep

Over the past decade, many of London’s most famed and wealthy residents have been expanding their homes’ square footage by adding enormous basements below their gardens. The controversial trend came about when wealthy Brits wanted more space, but were bound by plot constraints and property laws that prevented them from expanding up or outward. The result: so-called “iceberg” mansions all over London, where what you see from the street is only a sliver of the home’s actual space. These basements can go many floors deep and often house the homeowners’ wildest dreams, from pools to ballrooms to 15 additional bedrooms.

Blockbuster British Basements

In the cramped and centuries-old streets of London, hundreds of mega-basements have been dug for the UK’s most rich and famous residents, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Foxtons founder Jon Hunt, and Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal. The basements belonging to these ultra-high-net-worth individuals are home to ballrooms, lap pools, vintage car garages with lifts and turntables, gun rooms, wine cellars, saunas, industrial-sized kitchens, movie theaters, dozens of spare bedrooms and bathrooms, and—in the case of British recording artist Damien Hirst—an art gallery.

Floorplan-basement

Hirst recently won a planning battle to add an enormous 150-foot-long backyard basement to his £39.5 million, 19-bedroom home in Westminster. The property, bought by Hirst in 2014, is considered unique for its half-acre yard and large garden, although his renovation proposal was contested based on the number of trees that would have to be cut down to carry out the plans. Despite protests, Hirst and his legal team prevailed in November 2015. Beyond simply adding more square footage to his home, the enormous bunker is destined to hold Hirst’s storied multi-million-dollar art collection, which includes works by masters like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The subterranean art gallery renovation boasts double-height ceilings and an elevator that can lift art weighing up to ten tons.

Buried in Controversy

Although politicians, actors, and athletes seem thrilled to have the mega-basements of their dreams, the blowback has been widespread and multi-faceted. Neighbors resent finding themselves living beside noisy construction sites, and often fear what the fast-and-deep digging might do to their own homes. And their fears are not unfounded: Goldman Sachs’ Christoph Stanger undertook a basement renovation that caused his neighbors’ homes to slide toward the excavation site, causing their door frames to shift and trapping them in their own homes. Billionaires’ basements have proven dangerous for construction crews, too, as the UK’s Health and Safety Executive has reported 17 deaths and 27 injuries in the last decade. In a rush to respond to the wave of problematic and over-the-top mega-basrments, London boroughs are now tightening their regulations on subterranean renovation. In Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, for example, homeowners can now dig basements no more than one story deep and these additions cannot take up more than 50% of their garden.

Your Client’s Mega-Basement

 There are several important design elements to bear in mind for the luxury homeowner who is considering a major basement renovation or addition.

  • Open floor plans help to prevent the space from feeling too dark and cramped.
  • Natural light is vital for a luxury basement, so designers should opt for light wells rather than light switches. See-through glass stairs also provide an opportunity for light to filter down from above.
  • Light colors will help the space feel airy. Think white or beige walls, light-wood flooring, and neutral fabrics.
  • Egress to green space. Consider installing a door with a stairway up into the backyard garden, or even digging a lowered private garden at the basement level.
  • Great space for kids, storage, and quiet entertaining. When considering what to do with a big basement renovation, think first of playrooms, cinemas, laundry rooms, wine cellars, and gyms. Let more social spaces remain upstairs in the light of day.
  • Think twice about pools. While storage space, gyms, and playrooms often add resale value, this is not always true with pools.
  • Permits and insurance. Be aware of the laws and regulations that govern basement renovations and additions in your area, as well as the insurance options for during and after construction.

Denver Realtor and Institute Member Gives Back to Community in a BIG way

In 2006, Denver Realtor and Institute Member, Joan Rogliano, started a support group for her transitioning clients of divorce and widowhood. The Wildflower Group that was once a support group quickly became an opportunity to educate clients about options regarding their martial home. Subsequently, Joan began to offer educational workshops titled, Divorce and Your Home. Soon after delivering a few of these workshops, she realized there was a greater need for an expanded social community that provided support and trusted professional resources. After implementing, the workshops expanded and the schedule of events increased.

Recognizing there was also urgency for financial aid for this transitioning demographic, Joan created the Wildflower Women's Organization in 2010. WWO is a 501c3 nonprofit which provides educational, financial, and legal advocacy. Supporters include the Anschutz Family Foundation, Coors Foundation, and Jackson National Life Insurance.

Word spread quickly about Wildflower Group throughout the Denver metro area and it also garnered national attention. Recently, Joan was featured on the TODAY Show, her segment was focused on how Wildflower Group supports divorced and widowed women across the United States.

TODAY-Wildflower

Click the image above to view the TODAY Show segment

Wildflower Group is now operating in ten states as a national network of trusted divorce professionals providing education and community support. Current statistics show that women make 85% of consumer purchases in the United States and influence 85% of consumer decisions. Wildflower Group’s Marketing System offers potential Garnders a turnkey system that shows real estate professionals how to begin marketing to this niche market of consumers.

You can learn more about becoming a Gardner for the Wildflower Group by visiting their website.

 Website www.wildflowergroup.net