From the category archives:

National Luxury News

From Harrison Ford’s Big Apple penthouse to the late Elizabeth Taylor’s  Bel Air estate, you can own a piece of A-list real estate as long as you’re able to pay the price.

Celebrity homes are on the market all the time, with plenty to choose from, and compared to the recent rash of billionaire homes, they can be surprisingly affordable. Of course, some are still plenty expensive. Here is a look at some of the homes of the ultra-famous currently on the market, as listed by, which posts famous and unique homes weekly.

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Money Doesn't Grow On Trees, You Have to Earn ItForbes recently released an article highlighting the spending habits of the ultra-rich, showing how many are holding back in the current market and minding their pennies, so to speak. Here are the Top 10 trends of the wealthy:

  1. Rich are Spending Less and Shopping Smarter
  2. Not Optimistic about the Economy, but They are Happy
  3. Family is Top Priority
  4. Cutting Costs is Important
  5. Less Worried About Jobs
  6. Shop Online More
  7. They are Better Communicators
  8. They Don’t Feel Guilty about being Rich
  9. Brand Loyal
  10. They Like Print Advertising


Selling Unfinished Luxury Mansions I was reading today about a Luxury Mansion in Florida being listed for sale at a staggering price of $75 Million. Problem is, the house is not entirely finished. In fact, it doesn’t go much past the studded walls. The unfinished 90,000 square foot home includes a roller rink in the basement, home theater, bolling alley…oh, the list goes on. Needless to say, but selling an “as-is” home is pretty difficult. Buyers have a hard time envisioning the final product, and many will discount the home even more.

The article got me wondering if there were any new construction homes listed in the Twin Cities MLS database that were priced above a million dollars and being sold “as-is”. I was able to find one on Long Lake with 5200 square feet of unfinished space that is for sale for $1.1 Million. It originally started out at $2.2 Million, but with the market crash, and the simple fact that it is not finished, I am not surprised it hasn’t sold yet. Once a potential buyer also looks at the $18,000 yearly property taxes, they might think twice about buying the home. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the home is now lender owned?

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Guiness Book of Records Largest Gold coinOn June 25, 2010, the world’s largest gold coin will be auctioned off to a really wealthy bidder. Minted in 2007, the Canadian Maple Leaf weighs 220 pounds and 20 inches wide, and is heavy enough that two men cannot pick it up. Yikes!

The coolest tidbit about the coin is the fact is is made of the purest gold on earth, roughly 99.99% pure. Currently face valued at $1 Million, experts believe it will fetch the current gold rate. So that means since gold is currently priced at $1256/ounce, the coin could go for as much as $4.42 Million.

Any takers out there in Minnesota?


It appears that the luxury market in Minneapolis and Saint Paul is seeing alot more action the last two months, compared to the national market which has been in a steady decline for the last year. And while affluent Americans may not think of the Twin Cities as a final destination (the cold issue in the winter always seems to get in the way), it is a well known fact that real estate is cheaper here, than in other parts of the country, where a home would cost about double of a mansion here in Minnesota.

The average cost of a high end home in the Twin Cities hovers between $800,000-850,000, while at the same time, the national average comes in a little above $1.15 Million. About the only downside to selling a home here in Minnesota is the fact it takes longer to sell here than in other parts of the country.

While we wonder how anyone could pass up the chance to buy on Lake Minnetonka, others in the country are drawn to highlights in their neck of the woods, and neglect to see the natural beauty of Minnesota. Having lived in San Diego, I quickly grew to love the constant temp of 70 degrees and all the sunshine. But after a few years, the constance of the weather began to bore me. Call it the Midwest born in me, but I longed for Spring and Fall. Florida was great for a while, too, but the horrible humidity and lack of Peonies, made me a little home sick. Of course, I didn’t realize how much I missed the Midwest until I moved back a few years ago and rediscovered the joy of snow.

We know what we have here in the Twin Cities, and I love telling people about the area through my blogs. So if you are sitting on that bubble of indecision about Minnesota, give me a call and I’ll convince you. 🙂


…at least that is what the Obama Administration would have you believe when you look at their proposals for increasing taxes on the “wealthy”, all in the name of reducing the national deficit. After all, the rich can afford it, right?

  1. The “New Era of Responsibility” will increase the tax rates for those earning over $250,000 a year as a married couple, to 36% and 39.6%. Rates are currently at 33% and 35%.
  2. Tax payers making over $250,000 per year will be limited on the itemized deductions they will be allowed to take on their returns. In essence, anyone that falls in a tax bracket higher than 28% won’t be able to take advantage of programs, such as mortgage interest deduction. By the way, the estimated $318 Billion that this provision will bring in, will go to funding the nationalization of health care. Thank you “super rich” for giving health care to everyone. (heavy sarcasm intended)
  3. The tax rate for capital gains and dividends for those earning over $250,000 per year will increase to 20%, currently taxed at 15%. I guess the White House believes that the wealthy can afford another 5%, on top of all the other tax increases they will be slapped with.

Now many people ask me why I defend the wealthy. Let me just tell you that I am not wealthy, falling into the middle class as I have always lived. But this is America, and I dream of becoming wealthy some day, and some day, all of this could effect me. It is also a well known fact that the wealthy in America provide the jobs and the financial backbone which keeps this country going. Raising taxes on them causes them to cut back on investing, take business overseas, or cut jobs, etc. Not something we really need right now in a failing economy.

But the silver lining on all of this is the fact some Democrats in Congress do not like parts of Obama’s plan, and could force the President to rethink his taxing of the wealthy. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that some Senators question the limitation of deductions as it could further depress the housing market. After all, if you can’t deduct your mortgage interest, maybe a wealthy buyer won’t consider buying at all.

Others question using the extra money towards health care, something that has nothing to do with tax rates, etc. Robbing from Peter to give to Paul, so to speak. I guess the main issue here is that in the rush to fix the economy, the White House is throwing not only the kitchen sink into the mess, but the plumbing as well. Hey, if the wealthy can “afford” to give more of their hard earned money, as long as it contributes to the “greater good”, it is OK, right?


I dove into the Stimulus Plan on the House Appropriations website to try and find out what kind of agreement the Senate and House of Representatives came to regarding the First Time Home buyers Tax Credit. Not the most fun reading, but extremely important to know about for any serious real estate professional.

Currently, a taxpayer who is a first time home buyer (someone who has not owned a home within the previous three years) was allowed a refundable tax credit of the lessor values of $7500 or 10% of the purchase price of the home. The credit was allowed for homes purchased between April 9, 2008 to July 1, 2009. However it would have to be repaid, interest free, over a period of 15 years, or recaptured at the time of sale.

The stimulus package modifies the current rules, but also keeps the following in place:
  • the tax credit phases out for individual tax payers you have a modified gross income of $75,000 to $95,000 ($150,000-$170,000 for joint filers). So you could buy a luxury home with a combined income and potentially still qualify for a tax credit!
  • tax payers can claim the purchase of a home on their 2008 tax return (thus the reason for the credit beginning on December 31, 2008), even if they buy their home, for example in January of 2009
The new agreed to provisions that go into effect December 31, 2008 and are:
  • extends the current home buyer tax credit for qualifying home purchases to December 1, 2009
  • increases the maximum credit to $8000 ($4000 for a married person, filing separately)
  • waives the recapture of this tax credit for homes bought between December 31, 2008 to December 1, 2009
  • if the home is sold, or ceases to be the primary residence, within 36 months of the closed date, then the rules of recapturing the tax credit apply (currently over a time period of 15 years)

The part that really stinks about the revisions is for the first time home buyers who closed on their home between April 9, 2008 -December 30, 2008. It appears they will still need to repay the tax credit of $7500 over a period of 15 years, just as originally written, and none of the new revisions will apply to them.

Don’t worry though, at least you get a tax credit. We closed on your new home in March 2008, and even though we are only 30 days out for qualifying, no soup for us!

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I just learned today that Waterford Crystal, who also acquired Wedgwood in 1986, is declaring bankruptcy in Britain. They join the growing list of British companies, known for their higher end products, that are filing for bankruptcy as the world economy falters.

I wonder though if the financial crises was just the final piece to push the company over. For the last two decades, society is moving away from bridal gifts of china and crystal. New generations no longer need a 12 piece place setting of fine china. I know when I was married seven years ago, I fell in love with a beautiful baby blue and gold trimmed china set that I thought I had to have because all the bridal books said it was necessary. After much thought, and the price it would cost to purchase a large set, I decided against adding it to my registry. Now, seven years later, I would have to admit that I have never had a dinner party at my home where I could have used the set. My friends don’t have the parties either. (Probably the happiest person is my husband who hasn’t had to cart the things around the country the last two moves.)

Oh, and I almost forgot…the piece of crystal given to me at my wedding is sitting in a closet somewhere, as it has no place to be displayed, or risk ruin by the kids. Now, there are plenty of wealthy out there that still purchase these products, but for the world as a whole, the quantities of these items bought in stores continues to decline. Most likely, the only choices the company has to survive are to find a buyer fairly quickly, go out of business, or develop a new product for buyers, changing the brand of the company for ever.


If you haven’t yet read the October issue of Architectural Digest, you might want to pick up a copy and check out the article on a new collection from Hearts On Fire, a diamond company that has only been around for 12 years. You might recognize their work if you are a Victoria’s Secret fan…they designed the $6.5 Million Diamond Fantasy bra that you saw in 2006.

Their newest creation is a series of diamond jewelry that has been inspired by architectural masterpieces throughout the world. The Montreal Olympic Stadium, the Spire of Chicago, and the Sydney Opera House are just three of the pieces used in a spectacular display of diamonds. I honestly don’t know which is my favorite…I would like them all.


Tonight, as I was winding down for the night, my husband came in and told me he had recorded a show for me to watch. Seeing as I am a real estate agent who specializes in luxury homes, he thought I might get a kick out of the show “Million Dollar Listing”. If you haven’t seen the show, don’t waste your time. Set in California, these agents in no way represent the rest of us. I am actually pretty embarrassed for them (at least the two 20 somethings on the show) because they just look ridiculous.

To sum up last nights episode, one of the agents traveled over to his clients home to discuss two offers they had received. Problem is, he walks into his clients home in his gym clothes. Here is a seller, with a home listed around $8 Million, and in walks his listing agent in gym clothes and sweaty armpits.

The seller, obviously offended, blatantly asks the kid if he is going to a costume party. The agent just laughs it off and says “no”. The seller then asks why he is dressed this way. Sadly the young agent starts in with a story of how he had no electricity to shower or shave so he just threw on some gym clothes. The seller, now getting angry, just stops talking and refuses to tell the agent about the offers he received. He even goes as far to tell his listing agent that he will not let him represent his interests when they go to buy a home.

My response: Hey idiot, put on your work clothes! It’s not rocket science here, it’s called being a professional.

What really got me mad was that the agent defended himself and said “It isn’t like I am going on a listing appointment”. He actually could not believe his client was upset with him for his dress.

My response: You ARE an idiot. It doesn’t matter what you are doing with a client, you ALWAYS look professional.

See the unspoken rule in any industry, whether it be real estate or a corporate job, you always dress professionally…NO MATTER WHAT. It doesn’t matter that your electricity went out. Either get your act together, or reschedule the appointment. You definitely don’t walk into a meeting with a client in shorts and a sweaty tee shirt. If that agent was representing my luxury home, I would have fired him on the spot.

So what would you have done if you had been in the seller’s shoes?