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Even The Donald has been trumped by a real estate record
By Jessica Gresko – Associated Press
PALM BEACH, Florida â€” Donald Trump’s property for sale has all the big-time extras one might expect. Pricey marble and 24-karat gold fixtures in its bathrooms, a gargantuan fountain by the driveway and 145 metres of oceanfront out back.
Perhaps the biggest thing about the home, however, is its price: $125 million (U.S.). And (sorry, Donald) that price has already been trumped. A home in Aspen, Colo., is now listed at $135 million. Another in Lake Tahoe, Nev., was recently listed at a flat $100 million.
The listings represent a monetary milestone in American real estate: The first time U.S. homes have broken into a whopping nine figures, according to real estate experts, and they’ve done so in quick succession. A May survey of the nation’s most expensive homes by Forbes.com put Trump’s home at the most expensive and the first to break the $100 million mark.
Now, the trio has market followers wondering: Will they sell? And what do you really get for $100 million?
“I’m surprised it took so long for people to realize value,” Trump said of the listings.
Usually the top 10 per cent of any marketplace is considered the luxury market, but these properties are a tier above.
“They’re super-luxury properties,” said Trump, the real estate mogul and reality TV star.
Shari Chase, of Chase International, which has the Lake Tahoe listing, said: “This is stratospheric for offering prices but I think we’re going in that direction….These three properties, they are really the Super Bowl of real estate.”
The listings are extreme. At these prices, bedrooms, bathrooms and square-footage are almost irrelevant. Like their price tags, all three are gigantic.
At the Aspen property, owned by Saudi Prince Bandar, the main residence, finished in 1990, has more than 56,000 square feet (about 1,000 square feet bigger than the White House) on a nearly 40-hectare site. It even has its own car wash and gas pumps.
Need more outdoors? The Lake Tahoe home, owned by Tommy Hilfiger Corp. co-founder Joel Horowitz, comes with 38,000 square feet of livable space on 85 hectares. Included are a private trout-stocked lake and two par-3 golf courses. Among indoor features is a grand staircase that replicates one built on the Titanic.
Smaller on acreage but bigger in square footage is Trump’s property, called Maison de L’AmitiÃ© (House of Friendship), which he bought for about $41 million in 2004.
He assigned renovations to Apprentice winner Kendra Todd. Its approximately 80,000 square feet encompass several buildings.
Sara Clemence, an editor for Forbes.com who wrote its listing report, says the recent 100-million-plus-dollar listings are significant.
“That said, just because you ask for it doesn’t mean you’re going to get it,” she said.
Taxes alone on the Trump property, if sold at its current asking price, would be more than $2 million a year, according to the Palm Beach County property appraiser website.
The Donald, surprised to hear his property had U.S. competition, asked, “Who’s at 135? My property is worth more than $125 million. It’s a bargain.”
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by Amit Paul
Today most buyers who consider a resale home are increasingly educated in all facets of the real estate transaction, from the research to the viewings to how much they should be paying and the sale process itself. This knowledge has as much to do with the Internet as it does with a good buyerâ€™s agent – a realtor who acts specifically on behalf of a buyer.
However, in my experience, the same isnâ€™t true for those looking to purchase new. It seems that buying from a builder has a stigma of helplessness attached to it in terms of what the buyerâ€™s rights are and what they can and should expect in the process.
The first thing I recommend to all my friends and inquisitors who are looking to purchase new is to seek the aid of a qualified realtor – someone who comes highly recommended from a trustworthy source, even after the sale has closed. Finding a realtor who meets this criterion can be challenging, but rest assured they do exist!
What many buyers donâ€™t know is that purchasing via a buyerâ€™s agent can be a huge advantage. The fact is that, contrary to popular belief, the builderâ€™s terms, contracts, deposits, restrictions, and so on are all negotiable. What you need is a skilled and trained negotiator who can not only make sense of the phone-book sized documents presented to you, but is also familiar enough with the process to make the alterations that protect you as much as possible.
Yes, you read that correctlyâ€”buildersâ€™ contracts are not written in stone. Iâ€™ve worked with builders on numerous occasions, both directly and through buyers and sellers, and if thereâ€™s one thing Iâ€™ve learned itâ€™s that theyâ€™re just as human as the rest of us. Theyâ€™re understanding, willing to negotiate, and reasonable. The key lies in negotiating from a point of legality and sensible argument rather than emotional or subjective contention. When understood in this light, itâ€™s easy to see why a realtor comes in handy when purchasing new.
Of course, as is the case with resale, your buyerâ€™s agent would receive compensation from the builder, so thereâ€™s no financial loss to you. Also, the commission the builder pays to your agent cannot be taken off the purchase price if you go it alone. Remember, itâ€™s all about legality – a commission is a tax-deductible expense, a cut in purchase price is not.
Everything from square footage variances, timelines, construction quality, design, appliances, potential fees, and everything else involved in the contract is subject to negotiation and should be put through the wringer to obtain maximum benefit for you. It only takes someone with the right influence and experience to find that perfect deal.
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Each month, our local home builders’ association receives several market intelligence reports from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. This month’s newsletter contained a number of items that I thought would be of interest to new-home buyers in the GTA.
Dr. Peter Andersen, CHBA’s consulting economist, notes that this year will be much busier than expected for construction activity of all types. Housing starts have surged and residential construction has picked-up again. Non-residential construction, always a second-half cyclical performer, is in a solid expansion. A strong office leasing market and a declining office vacancy rate are signaling the onset of an office tower construction cycle.
Housing starts averaged 248,000 at annual rates in the first quarter – an increase of 17% from the same period a year earlier. This is far above the 2005 housing starts total of 225,481 units and also the annual cyclical peak of 233,431 units set in 2004.
The March starts figures were striking – 252,300 at seasonally adjusted annual rates. The first-quarter surge reflected both single-detached and multiple-unit starts. Housing start forecasts for 2006 are being revised upwards as a result of the monthly performance through the first three months of the year.
The resale market is always a good indicator for new-home demand. It is still hot and shows no sign yet of affordability stress. First-quarter sales were at an all-time record high, after adjusting for seasonality. Sales of existing homes and condos in March continued at close to record levels. This is also good news for renovation demand as the stimulus to renovation from resale housing activity, which works with a lag, shows no sign of slowing down. The national average resale price in March in major markets was up by 11.5% year over year.
RBC affordability index
High home prices and utility costs in the last three months of 2005 pushed home affordability to its highest level in 10 years, according to the Royal Bank of Canada.
RBC’s affordability index measures the proportion of pre-tax household income it takes to service the costs of owning a home. Despite the fact that incomes continue to rise, this increase does not match the hikes in mortgage rates, house prices and utility costs.
Income growth in Canada is starting to accelerate, wages are rising, but the increase in house prices has been faster. Add to it higher interest rates and overall size of rising mortgages, so affordability is going down.
Vancouver and Calgary were hit the hardest as housing prices soared in the last quarter of 2005. Affordability is expected to get worse in the first half of this year, but should level off by year’s end.
The construction industry is concerned after hundreds of construction workers from Portugal and other countries have been deported as the new Conservative government moved away from Liberal government promises of an amnesty plan.
Promises of an amnesty gave hope to underground workers who came forward to file refugee claims as a result. Their attempts to stay in the country legally ended up getting many of them deported. Canada’s current immigration system is tailored to educated immigrants, and blue-collar workers often do not qualify.
“This is insanity,” says immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman. “We have an immigration system that is supposed to supply workers for jobs, but these blue-collar workers who are needed cannot qualify to get in.”
There is a major labour shortage in the construction industry – an industry that accounts for 9.5% of Canada’s total gross domestic product and 7.5% of Ontario’s alone. It is estimated that there are between 10,000 and 15,000 illegal immigrants working in southern Ontario’s construction and hospitality industries, and 200,000 undocumented workers across the country. Deportations are therefore a major threat to the construction industry.
The Canadian Home Builders’ Association wrote a letter to Immigration Minister Monte Solberg, supporting the work foreign workers do in the homebuilding industry and urging him to resolve the labour shortage.
Solberg says the government is working with the provinces to ensure labour needs are met. “We understand the process doesn’t work well for a lot of people. We’re trying to fix that. The ideal situation is for people to go through the process.” He ruled out an amnesty, he said, because he doesn’t want to encourage people to come to Canada illegally.
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