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Why Patience Is a Necessity Out in the Yard

October 25th, 2014 admin

Daffodils are among the spring-blooming bulbs that need to be planted this time of year.
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Gardeners are optimistic by nature. They also thrive on delayed gratification. The very act of putting a tiny, young tree or a seed in the ground requires faith that the plant will survive harsh weather or marauding deer and some day will reach its mature size.

This time of year especially brings out these traits. For people in most parts of the country, autumn marks the end of yard chores–no more grass to cut for months. But fall is also the time to get gardens ready for spring, even though it is many months away.

Fall is the only time of year to plant spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, crocuses and hyacinths. The bulbs have evolved to need many weeks of cold weather underground to prepare themselves for the flower show they will launch upon the return of warmer weather.

Lilies such as this Asiatic type grow from bulbs that should be planted in the fall.
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This is where the optimism and delayed gratification come in. I spent more than $200 on bulbs and hours chopping through the rocky soil in my upstate New York yard to plant them—but won’t get the payback for six months. It’s like buying an expensive sweater but putting it away in the closet for half a year before allowing yourself to wear it.

Fall also is a good time of year to plant new trees, shrubs and perennials. Contrary to what many people think, most plants can be put into the ground almost until the soil starts to freeze. The roots will still have enough time to establish themselves before the brunt of winter takes hold.

And adding plants to your yard now means you can take advantage of fall sales–one of my local garden centers has everything marked down 40%. Plus, things you plant in autumn will have a head start on anything you add to your yard next spring.

Fall also is a great time to divide many types of perennials, such as black-eyed Susans or echenacea. It’s a way to relieve overcrowding in a flower bed as well as create more plants, free of charge.

But some plants are better divided in spring, and the technique varies by the plant.

Similarly, fall is a good time to transplant shrubs and flowers that aren’t in the right place or have overgrown their spot. The cooler weather means the plants will be less stressed after you move them to new homes.

Most types of shrubs can be planted in the fall, such as this lacecap hydrangea.
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By contrast, transplanting in spring runs the risk that hot weather could arrive sooner than expected and stunt or even kill the plants before they get re-established in their new places.

This autumn I plan to tackle one of my big shrub borders, which is about 35 feet wide and 20 feet deep. When I created this garden six or seven years ago in my side yard, I spaced the plants fairly close together. I didn’t want to have to wait too long for the bed to look full.

For several years it worked. The assortment of trees and shrubs looked lush. Now it is starting to look overgrown and a bit out of control–the branches of the viburnum trees are crowding out the hydrangea bushes between them, while the azaleas are merging into the spruces. I’m paying the price for putting the plants too tightly together.

That’s a frustration of landscaping: You space things out just so and they look good for four or five years. Then, too often, they start to get jammed up.

People with major-league landscaping budgets and professional help can install mature trees and shrubs from the start. For the rest of us, we have to occasionally transplant things. This time around I’m going to spread out these plants far enough to account for many years’ of growth, so I shouldn’t have to go through this again anytime soon.

Of course, as with most things involving gardening I will have to wait many months for spring’s arrival to see how it all turns out.

What fall chores do you plan in your yard? Join the discussion in our comments section.

Private Island Home Asks $30 Million

October 24th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $30,000,000
  • Location: Jumby Bay Island

The home on Jumby Bay, an island near Antigua, features beach access, outdoor games and two guest cottages. – Caitlin Huston

Business Pardners on the Mega-Ranch

October 24th, 2014 admin

D.R. Horton, one of the country’s largest home-building companies founded by Donald Horton, outbid Los Angeles Dodgers owner Bobby Patton for the 292,779-acre Great Western Ranch in New Mexico, pictured, closing in July for more than the asking price of $59 million. Above, two cowboys on the working ranch, which will remain active.

Another view of Great Western Ranch. In a statement from D.R. Horton, the company said the purchase of Great Western Ranch was a ‘long-term investment, with no immediate plans for development. It will remain an active ranch operation and be made available for use by our key employees.’

With 510,000 acres across six counties in Texas, Waggoner Ranch is one of the biggest ranches to ever go on the market. The heirs of Texas cattle baron W.T. Waggoner listed just a few weeks ago for $725 million.

Sam Middleton, a Lubbock, Texas-based ranch agent, and Bernie Uechtritz, a broker with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International, say that ‘hundreds’ of interested buyers around the world have called about the property.

Demand is particularly strong right now for mega ranches—those with over 25,000 deeded acres and often more than 100,000 total acres listed in the $10 million to $175 million range. These properties typically have cattle operations, as well as recreational assets such as hunting, fishing or hiking. Cattle are shown on Waggoner Ranch.

The landscape at Waggoner Ranch.

The compound of the ranch is shown.

Some listings include mineral rights in the sale, which offers potential revenue from oil, gas, uranium, coal or other resources. Here’s an oil pumpjack on Waggoner Ranch.

Desert prairie and Horseshoe Pond at Waggoner Ranch.

The 124,000-acre Broken O Ranch near Augusta, Mont., listed for $132.5 million, was purchased in 2012 by billionaire Stan Kroenke, who owns the St. Louis Rams and soccer’s Arsenal F.C.

Mr. Kroenke’s purchase elevated him to No. 8 on the 2013 list of largest landowners from No. 10 a year earlier, according to the Land Report. Mr. Kroenke didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The land includes a large agricultural operation.

A home on the ranch. The property is listed by the estate of William and Desiree Moore, the late co-founders of Kelly-Moore Paints.

Caleb Matott, a Texas-based ranch real-estate agent, sold the 35,000-acre Red Bluff Ranch, listed for $7 million, near Roswell, N.M., to D.R. Horton founder Don Horton and his wife, Martha, in August, according to public records.

Caleb Matott, a Texas-based ranch real-estate agent, sold the 35,000-acre Red Bluff Ranch, listed for $7 million, near Roswell, N.M., to D.R. Horton founder Don Horton and his wife, Martha, in August, according to public records.
Caleb Matott

In marketing the ranch, Mr. Matott stressed the legacy value of the property: ‘To stand on the same ground that John Chisum, John Tunstall, Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and so many more have stood, makes a man walk with a little higher step in his stride.’

Bobby Patton paid more than the $10.9 million asking price for the 174,000-acre York Ranch in New Mexico and some other land holding. Mr. Patton says the money he paid over the asking price was for additional land that wasn’t originally included the listing.

A cowboy at work on York Ranch, which also generates revenue from elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope hunting.

IX Ranch in Big Sandy, Mont., is listed for $64.5 million. This professionally managed operation runs a cattle herd of 4,300. The property has accommodations for a full crew, as well as comfortable quarters for guests. In addition to the cattle operations, IX Ranch has huntable populations of elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, antelope, mountain lion and five species of upland birds.

It was a showdown in New Mexico earlier this year, as two billionaires, both from Fort Worth, Texas, battled it out to buy two enormous cattle ranches.

When the dust cleared, oil, gas and real-estate investor

Bobby Patton,

co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, had won the 174,000-acre York Ranch, spending more than the $10.9 million asking price and outmaneuvering


D.R. Horton
,

one of the country’s largest home-building companies. In a separate deal, D.R. Horton, founded by

Donald Horton,

outbid Mr. Patton for the nearby 292,779-acre Great Western Ranch, closing in July for around the asking price of $59 million.

The market for large ranches is on the rebound. The recession and droughts dampened demand for wide swaths of ranch land in recent years. Dry conditions forced ranchers to sell off their herds, creating a glut that drove down cattle prices. Now, with easing drought conditions across much of the country and higher cattle prices, ranches that had been sitting on the market have started to sell. A boom in the oil and gas industry and current 2% interest rates on ranch mortgages are also fueling big land grabs.

Bobby Patton paid more than the $10.9 million asking price for the 174,000-acre York Ranch in New Mexico.
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“It’s the perfect storm,” says

Sam Middleton,

a Lubbock, Texas-based ranch agent who is representing Waggoner Ranch. With 510,000 acres across six counties in Texas, Waggoner Ranch is one of the largest ranches ever to go on the market. The heirs of Texas cattle baron W.T. Waggoner listed it just a few weeks ago for $725 million. Mr. Middleton and Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International broker

Bernie Uechtritz

say “hundreds” of interested buyers have called about the property.

Demand is particularly strong right now for mega ranches—those with over 25,000 deeded acres and often more than 100,000 total acres listed in the $10 million to $175 million range. Deeded acres are more desirable because they’re owned outright; ranches may also include acreage leased from the state or federal government, which allows them to graze their cattle in exchange for a fee. These properties typically have cattle operations, as well as recreational assets such as hunting, fishing or hiking. Some listings include mineral rights in the sale, which offers potential revenue from oil, gas, uranium, coal or other resources.

Hall & Hall, a ranch real-estate agency that listed both the York and Great Western ranches in New Mexico, says a substantial part of its $1 billion-plus in ranch sales since 2012 has come from these larger properties. The firm has sold seven ranches bigger than 25,000 deeded acres since 2011, three times the number it sold in the previous four years.

Waggoner Ranch was recently listed for $725 million. The property has 510,000 acres across six counties in Texas. Cowboys work the cattle operation.
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Buyers of these mega ranches are looking for income, such as a profitable livestock operation or fees from allowing wildlife-hunting, says

Jeff Buerger,

a Denver-based partner with Hall & Hall. More important, they are looking for a safe, long-term investment. The value of U.S. pasture land normally grazed by livestock rose 11% in the fiscal year 2014, which ended in September, from a year earlier, after averaging about 5% yearly increases for the two years before that, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In a statement from D.R. Horton, the company said the purchase of Great Western Ranch was a “long-term investment, with no immediate plans for development. It will remain an active ranch operation and be made available for use by our key employees.”

Michael Hewatt,

a member of the D.R. Horton board, says the company will use it much like it does the two large ranches it owns in Texas: as a place to entertain brokers, bankers and other D.R. Horton vendors. “It’s a perk for the people we work with,” he says. He also says the ranch is a “good investment for the long term.” Mr. Horton has also personally purchased large parcels of ranch land in Texas and New Mexico, according to public records.

Mr. Patton is more likely to use York Ranch for entertaining than for raising cattle, says

Thomas G. Fitzgerald,

one of the sellers. Mr. Fitzgerald says the cash flow from the cattle was “insignificant” in comparison to the value of the land. There’s also some potential hunting revenue, from $25,000 to $40,000 a year. The ranch, which has elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope, is allocated about 14 big-game tags—which signifies the number of animals that can be harvested. A three-bedroom, two-bathroom main house and a small airplane hangar with two landing strips came with the sale. It is very much a working ranch—it’s nothing fancy, says Mr. Fitzgerald. Mr. Patton declined to comment on his plans for the ranch.

A major ranch purchase also comes with bragging rights. Many of the bigger properties are known as “legacy” ranches in part because buyers want to stake their claim in history. These ranches stand out for their size, unusual location or a unique feature, says

Eric O’Keefe,

editor of the Land Report, which publishes an annual ranking of the largest 100 private landowners in the country. To make that list requires owning 100,000 deeded acres or more.

Billionaire

Stan Kroenke,

who owns the St. Louis Rams and soccer’s Arsenal F.C., bought a roughly 124,000-acre ranch in 2012 near Augusta, Mont., listed for $132.5 million by the estate of William and

Desiree Moore,

the late co-founders of Kelly-Moore Paints. Called the Broken O Ranch, Mr. Kroenke’s purchase elevated him on the Land Report’s list of largest landowners, where he currently holds the No. 9 spot. Mr. Kroenke didn’t respond to a request for comment.


Liberty Media

Chairman

John Malone

remains at the No. 1 spot on the Land Report’s 2014 list, with 2.2 million acres. Mr. Kroenke didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The 124,000-acre Broken O Ranch near Augusta, Mont., was listed for $132.5 million and purchased in 2012 by billionaire Stan Kroenke.
ENLARGE

Much of the action is in New Mexico. Unlike Texas and Colorado, the state still has quite a few very large properties that haven’t been broken apart. Real-estate agents estimate that New Mexico has about 30 ranches bigger than 100,000 acres of deeded land. Land prices are lower, too. New Mexico ranch land sells for $200 to $300 per acre, compared with as high as $1,000 an acre in Wyoming, Montana and elsewhere.

Ben Scott

of Dimmitt, Texas-based Scott Land Co. is representing a 109,000-acre Double V ranch near Roswell, N.M., listed for $26.2 million, or $240 an acre. Double V first went on the market in 2009 but didn’t sell. It was relisted in the spring of 2013 and is currently under contract.

Caleb Matott,

also a Texas-based ranch real-estate agent, in August sold the 35,000-acre Red Bluff Ranch, listed for $7 million, near Roswell, N.M. The buyers were Mr. Horton and his wife, Martha, personally—not by the company, according to public records. In marketing the ranch, Mr. Matott stressed the legacy value of the property: “To stand on the same ground that John Chisum, John Tunstall, Billy the Kid,

Pat Garrett

and so many more have stood, makes a man walk with a little higher step in his stride. To own a ranch of the grandeur makes a person part of history.”

Mr. Patton has another property in New Mexico: He and

Mark Walter,

the Chicago financier who is also a co-owner of the Dodgers, bought the 93,403-acre Double H ranch in west-central New Mexico last year through Double H Holdings LLC, which was used to buy the York ranch. The sale price isn’t public, but the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a habitat-protection organization that owned the ranch, earned at least $30 million in the deal, according to

Blake Henning,

vice president of lands and conservation for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Vast ranch holdings by a few individuals can cause deep resentment in the community, Mr. Henning says. Since private landowners either ban the public from hunting on the land or use outfitters to sell expensive hunts, local hunters often complain, he says.

That resentment won’t go away soon. Competition for recreational ranches, particularly by owners of thriving oil and gas companies, has picked up. There’s a shortage of supply now of the largest properties, which tend to go to the same small group of investors. “There’s a finite group of potential purchasers. We are all aware of them and what their appetites are,” says

Greg Fay,

founder of ranch brokerage firm Fay Ranches.

Corrections & Amplifications

Great Western Ranch closed in July for around the asking price of $59 million. A previous version of the story said the ranch had sold for more than its asking price.

Donna Karan Lists in Turks and Caicos for $39 Million

October 24th, 2014 admin

Donna Karan is selling a portion of her longtime family retreat on Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands for $39 million.
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Fashion designer

Donna Karan

is selling a portion of her longtime family retreat on Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands for $39 million, adding to the number of properties to come to market on the small island recently.

Ms. Karan is selling 7 acres of the more-than 10-acre beachfront property, which she purchased in 2002, according to co-listing agent

Katherine Baryluk

of Regency, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate for Turks and Caicos. Ms. Karan frequently vacations on the island, but is selling because the property is more space than she needs, according to a spokesperson.

The property for sale has two guest villas flanking a center dining pavilion. There are also three swimming pools, a yoga pavilion on the beach, a chef’s kitchen, staff quarters and other buildings.
ENLARGE

The property for sale has two guest villas flanking a center dining pavilion. There are also three swimming pools, a yoga pavilion on the beach, a chef’s kitchen, staff quarters and other buildings. Ms. Karan is keeping the portion of the property with the family home, a spa house and two swimming pools.

Each of the two-story guest villas is about 3,850 square feet, with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a kitchen and a pool, Ms. Baryluk said. The dining pavilion, meant as “a family gathering place,” has seating for more than 20 people, she said.

Ms. Karan, who founded her eponymous company in 1984, played a large role in designing and furnishing the homes, which have African and Balinese influences, said Ms. Baryluk. In addition to custom-designed hardwood furniture, the home is filled with decorative carvings from her travels around the world. The property is being sold fully furnished.

Lately Parrot Cay has seen several big home listings: “Oliver’s Cove,” a roughly 6½-acre estate, was recently listed for $48 million. In late 2013 model

Christie Brinkley

listed her Parrot Cay home on 1.6 acres for $10.75 million, recently reducing the price to $9 million. The island is the site of the luxury resort Parrot Cay by COMO, and homeowners there have access to hotel amenities, such as room service and housekeeping.

Fashion designer Donna Karan is selling a portion of her longtime family retreat on Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands for $39 million. The dining pavilion, shown, was intended as ‘a family gathering place’ with seating for more than 20 people, said co-listing agent Katherine Baryluk of Regency, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate for Turks and Caicos.

Ms. Karan’s property is one of several high-profile properties on Parrot Cay to hit the market recently.

Ms. Karan is selling 7 acres of the more-than 10-acre beachfront property, which she purchased in 2002, according to Ms. Baryluk. Ms. Karan frequently vacations on the island, but is selling because the property is more space than she needs.

The property for sale includes two guest villas, each about 3,850 square feet, with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. It also includes three swimming pools, a yoga pavilion on the beach, a chef’s kitchen, staff quarters and other buildings. Ms. Karan is keeping the portion of the property with the family home, a spa house and two swimming pools.

A bathroom is shown.

Ms. Karan, who founded her eponymous company in 1984, played a large role in designing and furnishing the homes, which have African and Balinese influences, said Ms. Baryluk.

In addition to custom-designed hardwood furniture, the villas are filled with decorative carvings from Ms. Karan’s travels around the world. The property is being sold fully furnished.

The private island is the site of the luxury resort Parrot Cay by COMO, and homeowners there have access to hotel amenities, such as room service and housekeeping. Lately Parrot Cay has seen several big homes hit the market: ‘Oliver’s Cove,’ a roughly 6½-acre estate, was recently listed for $48 million. In late 2013 model Christie Brinkley listed her Parrot Cay home on 1.6 acres for $10.75 million, and recently reduced the price to $9 million.

Ms. Baryluk said the recent spate of pricey listings on Parrot Cay is a result of a recovering real estate market in the Turks and Caicos, which has prompted owners to list high-end homes.

Ms. Baryluk, who is listing the property with

Rick Moeser

of Christie’s, said the recent spate of pricey listings is a result of the recovery of the luxury home market in the Turks and Caicos. Many buyers come from the U.S., and the 2008 financial crisis “slowed down the market significantly,” she said. Since the middle of last year, however, “we’re seeing the luxury market skyrocket,” she said, which is prompting homeowners to list their properties.

Bernadette Hunt

of Turks and Caicos Property, who isn’t affiliated with the Donna Karan listing, said home sales above $10 million are a relatively new phenomenon for the Turks and Caicos. “We have not traditionally had a high-end product,” she said, noting that many wealthy vacationers “are still discovering it for the first time.”

A Big Hamptons Spread Quickly Sells

October 24th, 2014 admin

The estate of the late cable and telecommunications entrepreneur Richard Treibick had listed the Sagaponack property, which totals about 31 acres, as two separate parcels for a total of $34.99 million in August.
ENLARGE

An oceanfront spread in the Hamptons listed for nearly $35 million has sold two months after going on the market.

The estate of the late cable and telecommunications entrepreneur

Richard Treibick

had listed the Sagaponack property, which totals about 31 acres, as two separate parcels for a total of $34.99 million in August. Both properties sold to the same buyer in a deal that closed last week, said Mr. Treibick’s son-in-law,

Gordon Caplan.

He declined to identify the buyer or divulge the sale price.

Listing agent

Gary DePersia

of the Corcoran Group said the property went into contract about a month after being listed, in “one of the fastest sales of a property in this price range that I’ve seen,” he said.

There were multiple bidders on the property, Mr. DePersia added, noting that the Hamptons market has been very active this year.

In Rural Idaho, a Modern Home

October 24th, 2014 admin

Just under 6,000-square-feet, Lauri and Doug Siddoway’s home on a 290-acre barley farm in rural Squirrel, Idaho is pictured. Originally, the couple asked for a traditional, Tuscan-style home, but their architect, Mitch Blake of Jackson, Wyo.-based Ward+Blake Architects, thought a modern look would gel better with the property’s wide open farmland and mountain views.

The home is divided into two pavilions, connected by an outdoor walkway under Cortan steel and sod roofs. The Siddoways purchased their 290-acre property from a local farmer in 2000. A few years later, ready to build their home, they contacted Mr. Blake. The house took about 16 months and about $283 per square foot to build, and was completed in 2009.

The guest wing is shown. About 1,510 square feet, it has a small living room with a double sided fireplace, which overlooks the deck.

Big glass windows reveal gold-and-green grain fields out back with the mountains in the distance. The floors are concrete; the vaulted ceilings of reclaimed wood have exposed structural beams.

One of the home’s most striking visual elements is a thick rammed-earth wall that stretches the entire length of the home. It’s made of packed layers of soil, water and waste product from gravel and concrete plants. Subtle lines indicate where the mixture has been tamped down. This is a detail.

Despite the nods to traditional farmhouse vernacular and the landscape, the house certainly doesn’t look like the homes on other farms in the area, many of which are typical two-story, pitched-roof structures. The Siddoways said neighbors sometimes jokingly refer to their home to a visitor’s center. ‘It’s definitely not what they’re used to,’ said Mr. Blake.

Here is the open kitchen. Squirrel is a remote farming area that’s about a 20 to 30-minute drive from a few small towns with grocery stores, churches and some shopping.

The guest house has three bedrooms, including this ‘bunk’ room with four built-in twin beds.

Doug and Lauri Siddoway are shown on the patio with their Great Pyrenees. Outside are weathered-looking cedar beams and steel columns girded by split Engelmann spruce logs. ‘[W]e’ll see maybe two to three cars a day go by,’ Mr. Siddoway said.

Here is a view of the Tetons from the home. The property is not far from Yellowstone Park, as well.

Mr. Siddoway, a 63-year-old attorney, said he and his wife were drawn to the area both for its beauty and proximity to relatives. He grew up on a farm in the area and his nephew, who lives nearby farms their land. During the summer the couple says they fly fish, bike, hike and camp in the area.

Mesa Falls, on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River, near the home. To get to Squirrel, the couple either drives about eight hours from their home in Spokane, Wash. over several mountain passes, which can prove difficult in wintertime, or they fly. The nearest airports are about an hour and a half drive from the property, in either Idaho Falls or Jackson, Wyo.

The road leading to the home. With the nearest neighbor about a mile and a quarter away, just beyond a patch of cottonwood trees, Mr. Siddoway said they get plenty of peace and quiet.

When Lauri and

Doug Siddoway

were planning to build a home on their 290-acre barley farm in rural Squirrel, Idaho, they asked their architect to design them something in a traditional, Tuscan-style akin to their Italian-revival home in Spokane, Wash.

What they got is anything but Tuscan. Or traditional.

Just under 6,000-square-feet, the modern four-bedroom, 3½-bathroom home is divided into two pavilions connected by a covered outdoor walkway under the home’s Corten steel and sod roofs. Outside are weathered-looking cedar beams and steel columns girded by split Engelmann spruce logs.

The guest wing, about 1,510 square feet, has a small living room with another two-sided fireplace which overlooks the deck.
ENLARGE

Inside, big glass windows reveal jagged mountain peaks and gold-and- green grain fields out back. The floors are concrete; the vaulted ceilings of reclaimed wood have exposed structural beams. Standing on the back patio, Ms. Siddoway, a 60-year-old appellate court judge, said matter-of-factly: “We didn’t envision this.”

The couple’s architect,

Mitch Blake

of Jackson, Wyo.-based Ward + Blake Architects, said the Tuscan traditional idea “wasn’t gelling” with the property’s wide-open farmland and Western scenery. Luckily, the Siddoways were willing to pivot. “We love it,” said Ms. Siddoway. “Thank goodness he didn’t listen to us.”

In the 3,895-square-foot main wing, there is a living room and dining room, separated by a two-sided stone fireplace. Flanking the fireplace on both sides are counter-weighted metal pulleys that can be used to open its glass doors. A large open kitchen opens onto a den that holds the home’s only television. The master suite has big mountain views and leads to an outdoor shower tucked inside a rammed-earth alcove.

The guest wing, about 1,510 square feet, has a small living room with another two-sided fireplace, which overlooks the deck. There are also two bedrooms and a “bunk” room with four built-in blonde maple wood single beds alongside the walls with drawers underneath. The couple’s three grown sons often stay there when they visit.

One of the home’s most striking visual elements is a thick rammed-earth wall that stretches the entire length of the house. It is made of packed layers of soil, cement, water and waste product from gravel and concrete plants. Subtle lines indicate where the mixture has been tamped down.

Mr. Blake said the earth wall made sense, partly because it offers exceptional seismic stability. The property is roughly 10 miles southwest from Yellowstone National Park, an area that averages about 1,600 earthquakes a year, according to the Yellowstone Park Foundation. Though most of them measure less than 3.0 in magnitude, structures in the area must be built to withstand frequent shakes if they’re going to last, said Mr. Blake.

The wall also helps regulate the home’s temperature, storing warm or cool energy in its thick core, and the home uses geothermal heating in the winter. Though Idaho can get quite warm on sunny summer days, and the home has vents for air conditioning, the Siddoways said they never installed it.

Squirrel is a remote farming area that is about a 20 to 30-minute drive from a few small towns with grocery stores, churches and some shopping. To get here, the couple either drives about eight hours from their home in Spokane over several mountain passes, which can prove difficult in the winter, or they fly. The nearest airports are about an hour and a half drive from the property, in Idaho Falls and Jackson.

Doug and Lauri Siddoway with Great Pyrenees Izarra
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The Siddoways said the effort is worth it. They visit about once a month, and sometimes their sons use the place as well. With the nearest neighbor about a mile and a quarter away, just beyond past a patch of cottonwood trees, Mr. Siddoway said they get plenty of peace and quiet. “This is nice because we’ll see maybe two to three cars a day go by,” in addition to a few farm vehicles, he said as Izarra, his Great Pyrenees, napped nearby on the patio.

Mr. Siddoway, a 63-year-old attorney, said he and his wife were drawn to the area both for its beauty and its proximity to relatives. He grew up on a farm in the area and his nephew, who lives nearby, farms their land. During the summer the couple said they fly fish, bike, hike and camp in the area. In the winter, Mr. Siddoway volunteers regularly for the ski patrol at Grand Targhee, about 45 minutes to the southeast.

The Siddoways purchased their 300-acre property from a local farmer in 2000. A few years later, ready to build their home, they contacted Mr. Blake. Mr. Siddoway and Mr. Blake realized they attended the same small-town high school not far from the property, which seemed fortuitous. The house took about 16 months and about $283 a square foot to build, and was completed in 2009. A 79-acre ranch in nearby Ashton with a three-bedroom home with upscale fixtures is currently on the market for $1.35 million.

Despite the nods to traditional farmhouse vernacular and the landscape, the house certainly doesn’t look like the homes on other farms in the area. The Siddoways said neighbors sometimes jokingly compare their home to a visitor’s center. “This is definitely not what they’re used to,” said Mr. Blake.

Philanthropist Selling San Francisco Home to Give Away More Money

October 23rd, 2014 admin

  • Price: $6,250,000
  • Location: San Francisco, CA

Lorry Lokey, founder of Business Wire, has listed his Russian Hill apartment to get closer to his goal of giving away $1 billion – Sarah Tilton

London’s Regent’s Park Is Having a Moment

October 23rd, 2014 admin

Avenue Gardens in Regent’s Park, London.
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Regent’s Park, the 395-acre green space in Northwest London, is home to lions, tigers and other big game that reside at the park’s London Zoo. Now London’s property hunters increasingly have their sights set on the handful of streets surrounding the park.

British property developer Christian Candy, who already has a home on the park, has bought a row of seven houses on a street overlooking the park. He has planning permission to turn the row into a single, 45,000-square-foot family home, which local agents estimate could be worth £200 million when completed.

Property developer Christian Candy has bought a row of seven houses on a street overlooking the park.
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Artist Damien Hirst spent a reported £34 million on a 14-bedroom villa in the neighborhood.
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Fashion designer Tom Ford is a resident of the neighborhood.
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This summer, artist Damien Hirst, who made his name pickling sharks and embellishing skulls with diamonds, spent a reported £34 million on a 14-bedroom villa in the neighborhood. Fashion designer Tom Ford is also a local resident.

Though it is about 4 miles northwest of London’s traditional prime real estate heartland, which includes the better known districts of Knightsbridge and Mayfair, Regent’s Park is a sought-after address, particularly for wealthy buyers from abroad.

The area’s high security, discreet atmosphere and palatial houses have made it popular with Russian buyers, while the presence of a major mosque on the park fringes has always made it a hot spot for Middle Eastern buyers.

“The park is closed overnight and so it is completely car-free apart from residents. It is very secure because most of the terraces have private security and the houses are all gorgeous,” says Stephen Lindsay, a director of


Savills
,

who has been involved in some of the biggest real-estate deals in the area.

An aerial view of the park and surrounding streets.
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Part of the reason for the area’s exclusivity is its size. It is comprised of only a handful of streets, most notably the Outer Circle which as its name suggests rings the park, and a dozen or so offshoots.

Another factor is the sheer cost: up to $8,000 a square foot for a property in good condition.

According to research by Savills, average prices in Regent’s Park today stand at about $2 million—although whole houses routinely sell for north of $16 million. These prices have risen a relatively modest 5.5% in the last year as London’s top end of the market cools, and 37.5% since the prerecession peak of the market in 2007.


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Most of the houses were commissioned by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) and designed by the architect

Sir John Nash

in the early 19th century. Nash’s classical terraces and villas clad in white plasterwork have become a hallmark of the Regency period.

There are some potential drawbacks to the area. Despite paying prices in the tens of millions, most buyers don’t actually own their homes outright. Properties in Regent’s Park are owned by the Crown Estate, one of central London’s richest landowners. Those who buy in the neighborhood are in fact only freeholders who have the right to use a property for a set period.

Homes sold with long leases (up to 150 years) are the most valuable, while those with short leases of less than 50 years are relative bargains, with a square foot value as low as $2,400, according to Mr. Lindsay, because of the cost and red tape surrounding extending that lease.

And the distance from central London means that residents need to travel to reach shops, restaurants and bars—although Marylebone High Street, which has a surfeit of all three, is a 10-minute walk away.

Then there is the flip side of all that Regency splendor: The historic houses of Regent’s Park are highly protected, and getting building permissions to alter the interior or exterior of the properties can be almost impossible.

New development within Regent’s Park is also largely prohibited. Developer PCW Property Holding plans to convert houses on Park Crescent West, at the southern fringes of the park, into 91 apartments, with nine new houses built in the gardens behind. The plans have met with a wave of protest from neighbors who say they fear disruption from the construction and complain the properties could be bought by overseas buyers likely to leave them largely vacant. Westminster Council is expected to give its verdict on the proposals later this year.

Sam Mitchell, the CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty in the U.K., believes that the area’s strict rules are part of its charm. For instance, to help preserve the uniformity of the Regent’s Park houses, exterior paintwork most all be in the same color scheme of off-white plasterwork and black front doors. “It does look very, very smart,” he said.

Jason Kidd Lists Hamptons Home for $7.995 Million

October 23rd, 2014 admin

An aerial view of Jason Kidd’s Hamptons home
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Jason Kidd,

retired NBA star and head coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, has listed his Hamptons home in Water Mill, N.Y., for $7.995 million.

Built in 2012, the roughly 7,800-square-foot, transitional-style mansion includes six bedrooms, six bathrooms, and a large “man cave” area on the lower level that was recently filled with Kidd’s sports memorabilia, said listing agent Matthew Breitenbach of Corcoran Group Real Estate. “But that’s going with him,” he added.

Jason Kidd is selling the home to be closer to his new coaching position in Milwaukee, said listing agent Matthew Breitenbach.
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Collectibles notwithstanding, the home is being sold with furnishings. “You could basically show up with your toothbrush and sleep there,” the agent said. Mr. Kidd bought the home through a trust for $5 million in 2012, according to public records.

The nearly 2-acre, gated compound includes a pool, tennis court, half basketball court and a putting green. There is also a 1,250-square-foot carriage house with space for a gym or office.

Mr. Kidd is selling the home to be closer to his new coaching position in Milwaukee, as he prepares for his first season with the Bucks, Mr. Breitenbach said. Mr. Kidd couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Write to Stefanos Chen at stefanos.chen@wsj.com

Workaround for Wealthy People

October 23rd, 2014 admin


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Mortgage lenders offer proof to the adage, “Rules are meant to be broken.”

Government regulations that took effect Jan. 10 set new qualification standards for all mortgages, including conventional government-backed loans and jumbo loans—those that exceed $417,000 in most areas and $625,500 in some high-price areas. At first, lenders backed away from loans that didn’t meet the new rules, but that’s beginning to change.

New Penn Financial, for example, introduced in September its first nonqualified jumbo mortgage product. It allows a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) up to 55%. The DTI looks at monthly debts as a percentage of gross monthly income.

Under federal rules, borrowers can’t have a debt-to-income ratio above 43%. New Penn also has an interest-only option, in which the borrower’s initial payments cover only the monthly interest and not the loan’s principal.

“We see an under-served market of people who have excellent credit and strong income but have had a lot of debt,” says

Brian Simon,

COO of the Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based lender. Examples include recent law- or medical-school graduates, he adds.

The lender is also developing another potential nonqualified product targeting self-employed borrowers, whose regular earnings can be difficult to document. Instead, the lender reviews the borrower’s bank statements, which can better reflect liquid assets.

Still, lenders who bend the rules put themselves at risk, since only those that offer qualified mortgages are protected from lawsuits filed by borrowers who default on the loans.

Guardhill Financial, a New York-based lender, is also issuing both interest-only jumbo mortgages and loans to some borrowers who exceed the 43% DTI limit. Interest-only loans are especially attractive to borrowers who receive substantial year-end bonuses, says

Alan Rosenbaum,

the company’s CEO.

Of course, the purpose of the federal rules was to prevent consumers from taking on more debt than they could afford to repay. But many lenders felt that the restrictions were constraining their ability to work with wealthy borrowers who “do not formally meet ability-to-pay requirements but still have excellent credit attributes,” says

Cameron Findlay,

chief economist for Discover Home Loans, which is considering offering a nonqualified jumbo mortgage product.

So far, most of the nonqualified jumbo loans are made by small and medium-size banks.

The problem typically stems from income-documentation challenges, he explains. In a much-publicized recent example, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was turned down when he tried to refinance his three-bedroom home in Washington, D.C.

Lenders have more flexibility when issuing jumbo mortgages, since many are keeping the loans on their books instead of selling them as mortgage-backed securities, where investors tend to be risk-averse. Only 2% of all jumbo mortgages have been securitized in 2014, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry publication.

Guy Cecala,

CEO and publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, predicts an uptick in nonqualified jumbo lending. In 2014, an estimated 15% of all jumbo mortgages will be nonqualified, he says. Next year, nonqualified jumbos could make up a quarter of the market. “There’s a lot of talk about people getting into that market and not a lot of loans being originated, but that’s going to change in the latter part of the year and into 2015,” Mr. Cecala says.

Here are a few more considerations for borrowers looking into a nonqualified jumbo:

• Higher costs. On loans to borrowers with higher debt-to-income ratios, expect the lender to require a better credit score, charge a higher interest rate and require a 30% down payment, Mr. Cecala says. “A larger down payment rebuffs any argument down the road that you can’t repay the loan,” he adds. New Penn Financial’s nonqualified mortgage requires a credit score of 720 or higher, a 20% down payment, and has an interest rate between 5/8 to 125 basis points higher than its qualified mortgage jumbo.

• Reserves still important. Lenders typically want to see six months of liquid assets to qualify a jumbo borrower, Discover Loans’ Mr. Findlay says.

• Geography may matter. Lenders may be more likely to offer nonqualified mortgage lending in states where the foreclosure process is faster, such as California, Mr. Findlay says. In the event a borrower defaulted on the loan, the bank could start proceedings early on and minimize its losses.

• Rules may change. Federal mortgage rules are under review, so qualification standards may still loosen. Lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this week announced that they are working on guidelines that would reduce the minimum down payment percentage from 5% to 3%, in an effort to fuel the housing recovery.