Attack of the $100 Million House!

Via MSN Real Estate, a glimpse into the world of ultraluxury listings ringing in at a whopping $100,000,000 or more. The very upper reaches of the real estate market survive in their own stratosphere, where money is no object and status is paramount. Well, as it turns out, a hundred million bucks buys you a whole lot of it.

These recently listed or sold residences round out the featured group:

  1. A New York penthouse occupying 3,500 square feet. In one room
  2. A 42,500-square-foot Texas compound with a full-floor theater room.
  3. A 47-acre spread in the heart of Silicon Valley (with the condition that the current owner can live there until she dies).
  4. A 9,000-square-foot duplex in New York’s Bloomberg Tower featuring a double-story living room.
  5. Late fashion mogul Gianni Versace’s Miami estate, boasting a 54-foot pool lined with 24-karat gold.
  6. A Los Angeles-area French Chateau containing a ballroom for 200 guests.
  7. A Beverly Hills compound that’s also available to rent for $600,000 a month.
  8. The country’s first $100 million existing-home sale, which includes a private car wash.
  9. A $103,000,000 empty parcel in New York’s tony Hamptons.
  10. A yet-to-be-completed 11,000-square-foot penthouse with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Central Park.
  11. A 60,000-square-foot Florida home with a 50-car garage previously owned by Donald Trump.

Enjoy!

Put A Cork In It!

Literally.

After being relegated to wine bottles and kids’ pinboards for decades, cork is making a grand entrance into the rest of the home. Everything from flooring to backsplashes to wallpaper (yes, wallpaper) is getting a little bit of cork. Here are some pros and cons:

Pros

  • Cork is 100% natural, harvested from cork trees over and over without cutting them down. It’s an environmentally sustainable material from a reusable source. 
  • corkIt’s soft, making it the perfect flooring for people with knee problems.
  • It’s naturally water resistant, so it resists mold and mildew.
  • It insulates well, meaning it will keep in cold or hot air, as well as sound.

Cons

  • While it’s water resistant, it’s not waterproof. It may requiring sealing every couple of years.
  • It’s prone to stains and nicks, so think hard before using it in the kitchen

Cork stacks up well to many building materials, so don’t be afraid to put a cork in it!

Hurricane Season Is Here!

June 1 marked the official start of the 2013 hurricane season. While no one’s excited over the prospect of a hurricane slamming the East Coast, you can take several steps now that’ll make your life much easier if a storm heads our way.

  1. Emergency Kit. You should have this one anyway: flashlights; batteries, first aid supplies; water; non-perishable food; radio (with batteries); cash. hurricane Keep it all together in a handy place.
  2. Go Bag. Pack some clothes, needed medications, copies of important papers (insurance, deed, car titles, etc.), and your home inventory (see 3) in case you need to be out in a rush.
  3. Make a Home InventoryIf a storm wipes out your home, you’ll be glad you documented your possessions before they got ruined. Make a list (with photos) of major items, such as TVs, computers, and jewelry.
  4. Check Your Insurance Policy. Read your homeowners’ insurance policy carefully, or speak with an insurance agent who can explain it to you. Policies often differ in coverage depending on whether the damage is from rain or flooding or a named storm, so make sure you know what’s covered.
  5. Trim Trees. Any sagging, dying, or low-lying limbs need to go before gale-force winds do it for you. Don’t risk a hurricane depositing your dead trees on your roof–take them out the right way.

Above all else, make sure you have all you need to keep your family safe and minimize the disruption to your life if the worst happens. 

Your Upgrades Could Be Downgrades

With today’s homeowners only expecting to stay put for about five to seven years, many must rethink major upgrades or renovations that may hurt them when it comes time to sell.

Zillow highlights five of the worst upgrades you can make if you’re hoping to resell soon. Most of them sound like great home improvement projects; many are. But they might not appeal to everyone, so exercise restraint if you’re not in it for the long haul.

  1. Overblown Gardens. Elaborate landscaping and gardening may sound like your backyard paradise, but it’s also some people’s worst nightmare. If you’re looking to sell, your buyers will most likely be interested in neat, but low-maintenance, lawns, not the hanging gardens of Babylon.
  2. Garage Turned Family Room. You may crave the extra space that your garage-to-family-room conversion yields, but many buyers are unwilling to make that trade. Garages offer not only car parking, but storage for your outdoor items and other things you can’t find room for. Getting rid of it could cost you.pool
  3. Removing a Bedroom. Jettisoning a smaller bedroom to enlarge a master suite or home office could cost you in the long run. Extra bedrooms add tremendous value to a home, and a two-bedroom home with a cavernous master suite and walk-in closet just won’t have the same selling power as a standard three-bedroom house.
  4. Taking a Dip. You may end up taking a bath by adding a backyard pool. While they may be fun, pools could actually hurt your home’s resale value. They boost homeowners’ insurance rates, carry loads of maintenance, and can be a major turn-off for families with small children.
  5. Making it Too Personal. Adding too many personal touches–whether it’s a custom pink tile you absolutely love or shag carpeting you think is stylish–could turn buyers away who see the house as a fixer-upper instead of the pinnacle of design. When it comes time to sell, nothing beats mass appeal–even if you don’t like it.

Mortgage Rates Hit 12-Month High

Mortgage rates are continuing to creep up as the real estate market improves, rising to their highest average levels in 12 months.

price increase

The average for 30-year fixed rates peaked around 3.71% this week, up from earlier lows between 3.4% and 3.5%. Cutting back to 15 years will shave off about 1%, with averages hovering about 2.87%.

Rising rates could cool the housing market, but rates are still at historically low levels, letting borrowers take advantage of increased purchasing power. Rates could continue their upward trend as the overall economy recovers and the housing market regains it momentum.

Get Creative With Chalkboard Paint!

Chalkboards aren’t just for elementary schools anymore!

With the expanding use of chalkboard paint, crafty people have started putting chalkboards in places you would never have dreamed of. But before getting into the fun part, the basics: chalkboard paint is applied like any other paint by rolling it onto a clean, smooth surface. Most manufacturers recommend using a wet towel to wipe off the chalk instead of a traditional eraser. Light-colored chalks will wipe away without leaving residue.

Now for the creative ideas:

playroom

Give the kids the ultimate playroom!

molding

Add decorative molding to frame out the chalkboard

kitchen wall

Paint a whole wall in your kitchen for grocery lists

calendar

Use boxes to create a permanent calendar

Confused By Kitchen Counters? Help Is Here!

Unsure if granite resists stains better than marble? Not sure if laminate is easier to clean than stainless steel? Don’t even know you had an option for paper countertops? Have no fear–Houzz has put together a simple primer for all your options!

Its Kitchen Countertops 101: Choosing a Surface Material cuts right to the chase, comparing 11 materials. Get the lowdown on:

marble

  • Granite (completely unique)
  • Solid Surface (maintenance free)
  • Quartz (great looks; low maintenance)
  • Marble (ultra elegant, but prone to stains)
  • Tile (inexpensive, but with grout stains)
  • Laminate (the least expensive)
  • Soapstone (ages with time)
  • Stainless Steel (clean and sleek)
  • Concrete (rugged but expensive)
  • Butcher Block (rustic but prone to expanding)
  • Paper Composite (ecofriendly but pricy)

The materials and installation can run you anywhere from $10 per square foot to $125 per square foot, so opting for an expensive material drives up the cost quickly. 

Cruise on over to check out the full scoop on each one–and take a look through the kitchen photos!