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June 2013

Liberace Luxury?

Liberace’s once gold laced, not-so-humble abode is now being sold for what seems a bargain price, considering it is rumored that the previous owner paid $3.7 million for the property during the housing boom. Now bank owned, offers on the once lavish home must be cash only and according to the LA Times, owner JPMorgan Chase would prefer a quiet pre-sale.

The iconic entertainer purchased the lavish 14,939-square-foot Las Vegas property in 1974. The home features only two bedrooms and a staggering 10 bathrooms, plus several large entertaining areas.  A $1.6 million reproduction of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel was added by Liberace, who was once one of the world’s highest-paid entertainers with a career that spanned four decades. The former star was considered the epitome of extravagance, and his former home followed suit.

The property, which has had two owners since Liberace’s death in 1987, may not measure-up to its former glory, as reflected by its current $529,900 listing price.  The home may spark some interest in buyers who are looking for a project or who appreciate its history. To see the home represented as it once was, check out the HBO film, “Behind the Candelabra,” which was aired this past month. Sellers are most likely hoping the movie will spark new attention and interest for the home.

Here come the Luxury Property Shows!

If you’re looking to do some luxury networking on the high-seas this fall, try The International Luxury Property Show in Miami, February 20-23, 2014.  The event will take place on the SeaFair, the world’s first $40 million mobile megayacht, which will remain dockside during each of the show’s events.  The international location of the show, along with the exclusive venue, offers unique “Miami” hours; leaving free time for attendees to hold private meetings and client visits during the mornings.  Attendees can expect educational lectures and social events, along with international exhibitions, harbor view dining and American eastern seaboard soirees.  Check out all of the exclusive details and the show brochure here!

LPS Shanghai
Held on December 6-8, 2013, the 6th consecutive edition of China’s leading luxury property show, LPS Shanghai, is on its way to being sold out!  The event presents luxury properties from all over the globe to China’s elite, and is already at 50% capacity.  The 2013 show is sponsored by Lamborghini, Interior Design and Beneteau Yachts, and promises to show the world’s leading brokers and developers an amazing time. The 3-day event will be focused on international high-end properties, with VIP buyers, exclusive events, seminars, forums and galas. To ensure your seat in the luxury showcase, go to the event’s website for details.

New mobile app gives you location information instantly

Sitegeist App
Want to know more about the neighborhood surrounding your latest listing or the property you’re showing?  Sitegeist is a mobile application that can help you in seconds.  Using publicly available information, the app presents solid data in a simple format.  From demographics about people and housing to the latest popular restaurants or weather, Sitegeist presents localized information visually.  Use it to answer questions about the neighborhood, or suggest your buyer prospects tap into it for quick information.  The download is free.  Here’s just some of what Sitegist makes available at your fingertips.

  • Housing units over time
  • Median home price
  • Resident age distribution
  • Political party contributions
  • Recommended restaurants
  • How people commute
  • Record temperatures

You can look into downloading the app here!

Luxury sales in major Canadian cities - First Quarter 2013 (compared to previous years)

Canadian Residential Sales 2013
What’s happening in the Canadian upper-tier market?  RE/MAX has released their Upper-Tier market report for the first quarter of 2013.  It shows that high-end home sales are down in many major Canadian markets, as compared to first quarter of 2012.  The price points identified in the charts are the starting prices for what RE/MAX defines as luxury for each market.

As you can see, Alberta cites like Calgary and Edmonton are the hottest markets.  Energy industry growth is fueling high home demand in the province.  British Columbia’s markets, by contrast, are going through major downward adjustment after a boom which was driven by a big influx of international buyers and uncertainty created by pending provincial elections.

“Luxury sales were slow out of the gate in 2013, but momentum is clearly starting to build,” says Gurinder Sandhu, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada.  “A growing number of purchasers are moving off the sidelines and into the market—even in centres that reported a dip in first-quarter sales.  All the indicators are pointing to a traditional spring market poised for considerable growth.”

Sandu also indicated that the top-end represented a greater percentage of overall residential sales in many markets in Q1 2013 in comparison to Q1 2012.  In some cases, the upper-end is still outperforming the overall market in terms of residential real estate activity.  Affluent purchasers remain committed to homeownership, with many taking advantage of historically attractive interest rates, and in some instances, lower housing values, to make their moves.  Equity gains have also factored into the equation, given substantial increases in housing values over the past decade.

Read the complete report.

They’re back… Sunken living rooms are on the rise

Sunken Room
Those who remember the “conversation pit” living areas of decades ago may be surprised that sunken indoor and outdoor rooms are on U.S. and Canadian designers’ lists of hot new housing trends – along with tented rooms...

Tented Room
and chevron patterened floors.

Chevron Marble Floor
For a look at these trends and more, check out this website.  And may we add, some “trends” catch on, others may not. 

Canadian market slowing but prospects better for 2014

Recently released statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association show that April 2013 home sales activity in Canada slipped 3.1 per cent, compared to April of last year.  The number of Real Buyers (closed transactions) was down for the month in 60 per cent of local markets.  This compares to a sales decline of more than 15 per cent in March, with 90 per cent of local markets dropping year-over-year.

Residential sales activity

Changes in mortgage rules one factor in decline

Gregory Clump, CREA’s Chief Economist, said, “Since changes to mortgage rules made in 2012 took effect, national sales have been running nine to ten per cent below levels posted in the first half of 2012 but they’ve been remarkably steady. April activity was on par with where it stood last August, and month-to-month changes since then have held to within a range of plus or minus two per cent.”

Prices inch up nationally

Despite fewer sales in the high price markets of metro Vancouver and greater Toronto, the national average price still clicked up 1.3 per cent in April, compared to same time last year.

Residential average price

The number of newly listed homes is also edging down, resulting in a sales- to-new-listings ratio of 50.4 per cent in April.  Total inventory levels are at 6.6 months, close to a balanced market. 

Sales down this year, up next year

CREA forecasts for 2013 indicate national sales activity will reach 441,500 units in 2013.  This represents a 2.9 per cent decline from 454,573 sales in 2012, and is five per cent below the 10-year average.

Since there is no such thing as a national housing market, provincial differences are expected,  Alberta and Manitoba are the only provinces where sales are expected to rise in 2013, although modestly. The percentage decline in sales in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia is forecast to exceed the national result this year.  The percentage decline in sales in British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador is forecast to be less than the national result. The smaller annual decline being forecast for British Columbia and New Brunswick reflects a weakening trend in these provinces during the first half of 2012 that was not apparent elsewhere.

In 2014, CREA forecasts that national activity will rebound by 4.5 per cent to 461,200 units, a slow but steady improvement in activity. This would still leave national sales about one per cent below their 10-year-average, with activity not expected to return to levels recorded in the first half of 2012 at any point in the forecast horizon.