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A House for Kayakers in California

October 31st, 2014 admin

  • Price: $1,900,000
  • Location: San Francisco, CA

This home on the American River was designed as a space for kayaks, as well as a family with dogs— Sarah Tilton

Quirky Mansions Are Tough to Sell

October 31st, 2014 admin

John Nugent

spared no expense customizing his Andover, Mass., home for his family. For his sports-loving children, he built a full-size indoor basketball court with a scoreboard, a 30-second shot clock and three rows of bleachers. Downstairs, there’s a bowling alley with a vintage scoring machine, and an indoor pool with a water slide. On a wall near the pool, there is a mural with images of Mr. Nugent’s children, along with the family’s dogs, cats, bird and pet rabbit.

Then the children grew up and moved out, and Mr. Nugent no longer needs as much space. The 56-year-old CEO of software company Visibility Corp. has been trying to sell his roughly 20,000-square-foot home—which also has a batting cage and pitching machine, an outdoor putting green and two locker rooms—for the past few years. The house cost about $6 million to build, Mr. Nugent said, so he put it on the market for $6.5 million—far more than most homes in this Boston suburb, where a house priced over $3 million is unusual. He is now trying to sell the property in a sealed-bid auction through the firm Madison Hawk Partners.

John Nugent, seen here with son John and daughter Katie, spared no expense customizing his Andover, Mass. home for his family.
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It’s a long-held real estate dictum that giving a home too many unusual features can damage its resale value. Despite that, many owners in recent years have only grown more focused on making their homes unique, real-estate experts said. Some owners spend years, and millions of dollars, creating a dream home suited to their specific tastes—without worrying about whether the resulting home will fit anyone else’s. The phenomenon holds especially true in areas of the country where real-estate prices are booming, making owners more confident their homes will sell no matter what.

Veterans say the emphasis on customization, which grew during the boom times of the 1990s and 2000s, has now picked up again after the economic downturn. It has been facilitated by the Internet, which gives owners access to lots of unconventional ideas with a few clicks.

“People see all the unique things that are being done, and it inspires them to want something unique,” said

Peter Archer

of Pennsylvania-based Archer & Buchanan Architecture, who recently designed a “Hobbit house” on a client’s property to hold a collection of

J.R.R. Tolkien

memorabilia.

Mel Bacon,

the founder of Coronado Stone Products in Fontana, Calif., got the idea to build a castle-like structure from a client who built a house with a turret. “I told the architect, ‘I want a house with turrets,’ ” recalled Mr. Bacon, who is now in his late 70s. When the architect responded with a drawing of a castle, Mr. Bacon said he “had to have it.” Mr. Bacon’s company manufactured special stone to build the roughly 6,000-square-foot castle, which in addition to turrets had a drawbridge with a pool underneath. He and his wife filled it with antiques and put swords on the wall.

Mel Bacon, the 79-year-old owner of Coronado Stone Products in Fontana, Calif., got the idea to build a castle-like structure for his family from a client who built a house with a turret. Mr. Bacon’s company manufactured special stone to build the roughly 6,000-square-foot castle, which in addition to turrets has a drawbridge with a pool underneath.

Mr. Bacon and his wife decided around 2003 to sell the castle and move closer to their grandchildren. Mr. Bacon said that because the structure was so different from everything else in town, it was difficult to determine the appropriate asking price, and the $3.5 million asking price turned out to be ‘a little pricey for the area.’ Eventually, they ended up selling the home for $1.8 million.

Cassidy George, a 19-year-old art student at New York University, purchased a ‘very regular’ two-bedroom Noho apartment in May for $2.775 million with help from her parents. She then renovated to give it ‘an ’80s-reminiscent, garage-rock aesthetic.’

Ms. George hired interior designer Francisca Trujillo. They painted the apartment almost entirely black, including the exposed brick, and hired street artists to cover her elevator door, shown, with graffiti. ‘The whole concept was, the same doors you see on every street in New York City, to have inside the apartment,’ Ms. Trujillo said.

Ms. George’s agent, Ande Sedwick of Town Residential, said her ‘jaw dropped’ when she saw the redo, adding that it is very difficult to remove black paint from exposed brick. ‘That resale is going to take a very unique buyer,’ she said. Nonetheless, the apartment has likely already increased in value.

An artist used a box of Ms. George’s keepsakes to cover the foyer with abstracted images, from Ms. George’s face to Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining.’

The master bedroom is pictured.

When the bathroom light is on, its door lights up with an image of a urinal.

John Nugent spared no expense customizing this roughly 20,000-square-foot home in Andover, Mass. for his family.

For his sports-loving kids, he built a 116-foot-long gym complete with a full-sized basketball court with a scoreboard, a 30-second shot clock and three rows of bleachers. There’s also a batting cage and pitching machine.

This is the home theater.

The property also has an outdoor putting green and two locker rooms.

Mr. Nugent built a bowling alley with a vintage scoring machine.

An indoor pool with a water slide has a mural with images of Mr. Nugent’s children, along with the family’s dogs, cats, bird and pet rabbit.

John Nugent is photographed with his son, John, and daughter, Katie. Now that the kids have moved out, Mr. Nugent has been trying to sell the home.

John Q. Adams, Sr. a retired pharmaceutical executive, created an Old-West-style saloon in a wooden building on his 801-acre ranch outside Steamboat Springs, Colo.

The saloon building has a front porch with a swinging wooden door. Mr. Adams, who has several other houses on the ranch, uses the saloon for parties and fundraisers, and the two upstairs bedrooms come in handy for guests.

Mr. Adams found a 21-foot-long antique bar for the space, which has a front porch with a swinging wooden door. He added velvet wallpaper, a pool table and antique tables.

Television executive Cary Glotzer spent more than $400,000 building an indoor half-basketball court at his home in the Hamptons, mostly to keep his three children entertained and ‘to make our house the hang-out house.’ Now that a business opportunity is causing him to relocate, the house is on the market for $3.795 million.

Mr. Glotzer’s son, Cole, 12, is pictured playing a video game in the loft above the indoor basketball court.

Cole shoots baskets while his twin sisters Payton and Camryn, 10, use the gymnastics bar.

The entrance to the combination tennis and basketball court. The five-bedroom Quogue house also has an elevator and home theater.

Cary Glotzer and his wife Traci Duke are pictured with their twin daughters Camryn and Payton and son Cole. Mr. Glotzer said because the home is located in the affluent Hamptons, the sports amenities will help attract wealthy Wall Street buyers. ‘If this was in an isolated area with a basketball court, it would be a challenge’ to sell, he said. ‘But because it’s in the Hamptons, I think it’s an advantage.’

The two lived in the house, on about 11 wooded acres in the small town of Running Springs in the San Bernardino Mountains, for about 13 years. They enjoyed it greatly, he said, but decided around 2003 to sell the castle and move closer to their grandchildren.

The listing seemed to attract more gawkers than buyers, Mr. Bacon said. One potential purchaser seemed to be using the home to pick up women—he brought several different ladies to look at the house, Mr. Bacon recalled. A bigger problem was determining the right asking price, because the structure was so different from everything else in town.

Mr. Bacon spent around $300,000 building the home, and the $3.5 million asking price turned out to be “a little pricey for the area,” he said. He and his wife ended up selling the home after about six months on the market for $1.8 million. They now live in a “normal-looking house” on the water.

John Q. Adams, Sr., a retired pharmaceutical executive, created an Old-West-style saloon in a wooden building on his 801-acre ranch outside Steamboat Springs, Colo.
ENLARGE

John Q. Adams,

Sr., a retired pharmaceutical executive, created an Old-West-style saloon in a wooden building on his 801-acre ranch outside Steamboat Springs, Colo. First he found a 21-foot-long antique bar for the space, which has a front porch with a swinging wooden door. He added velvet wallpaper, a pool table and antique tables. Mr. Adams, who has several other houses on the ranch, uses the saloon for parties and fundraisers, and the two upstairs bedrooms come in handy for guests.

He’s now ready to sell. The ranch has been on the market for about two years, its price reduced to $24.25 million from $32.5 million. But Mr. Adams said the resale value was never a motivating factor. We “thought it would be just so unique to have an old-fashioned Western saloon on the ranch,” he said.

The location of a property can make a big difference in how much leeway an owner has to get creative, brokers said. If a home is in a sought-after location, wealthy buyers will be more willing to spend money on a renovation or even to demolish a house and rebuild.

Cary Glotzer, here with wife Traci Duke and children Camryn, Cole and Payton, spent more than $400,000 building an indoor half-basketball court with electronic scoreboard at his home.
ENLARGE

The combination tennis and basketball court of Cary and Traci Glotzer's house.
ENLARGE

Television executive

Cary Glotzer

spent more than $400,000 building an indoor half-basketball court with electronic scoreboard at his home in New York’s Hamptons. The five-bedroom Quogue house also has an elevator and home theater, and outside there is a pool and a combination tennis and basketball court.

Mr. Glotzer, who built the house in 2009, said he added the sports features mostly to keep his three children entertained and “to make our house the hangout house.” Now that a business opportunity is causing him to relocate, he put the house on the market a few weeks ago for $3.795 million with

Patrick Galway

of Town & Country Real Estate.

Mr. Glotzer said because the home is located in the affluent Hamptons, he thinks the amenities will be an asset that will help attract wealthy Wall Street buyers. “If this was in an isolated area with a basketball court, it would be a challenge” to sell, he said. “But because it’s in the Hamptons, I think it’s an advantage.”

Cassidy George, a 19-year-old art student at New York University, painted the apartment almost entirely black, including the exposed brick.
ENLARGE

Cassidy George,

a 19-year-old art student at New York University, is taking this principle even further in Manhattan. With help from her parents—her father Eric is an investor and CEO of Omega Hospital in Louisiana—she purchased a “very regular” two-bedroom downtown apartment in May for $2.775 million.

Ms. George said she knows that the space may not appeal to everyone, but that is part of what she likes about it.
ENLARGE

When the bathroom light is on, its door lights up with an image of a man urinating.
ENLARGE

Then Ms. George got creative. Enlisting the services of interior designer

Francisca Trujillo,

she painted the apartment almost entirely black, including the exposed brick. Aiming for “an ’80s-reminiscent, garage-rock aesthetic,” she hired street artists to “vandalize” her elevator door and cover the foyer with a floor-to-ceiling graffiti installation using abstracted images from a box of her keepsakes, from Ms. George’s face to

Jack Nicholson

in “The Shining.” When the bathroom light is on, its door lights up with an image of a man urinating.

Ms. George said she knows that the space may not appeal to everyone, but that is part of what she likes about it. Plus, she doesn’t foresee moving for at least 10 years, and she’s confident the apartment will appreciate significantly during that time, black paint notwithstanding. As she told her father when she started looking at apartments, “the neighborhoods where I want to live are the ones that are really going up in value.”

Ms. George’s agent,

Ande Sedwick

of Town Residential, said her “jaw dropped” when she saw the redo, adding that it is very difficult to remove black paint from exposed brick. “That resale is going to take a very unique buyer,” she said.

Still, “the Bowery is so hot now” that the unit has likely appreciated since they bought it. “If they were to sell tomorrow, they would definitely get a return,” Ms. Sedwick said.

Florida Penthouse Under Construction To Ask $29 Million

October 31st, 2014 admin

The apartment will include 11,660 square feet of interior space and more than 7,500 square feet of outdoor terrace, which includes a pool overlooking the ocean.
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A penthouse still under construction in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., will ask for $29 million.

More than 19,000 square feet, the apartment is expected to be the priciest offering in the unfinished Jade Signature condo building. It will include 11,660 square feet of interior space and more than 7,500 square feet of outdoor terrace, which includes a pool overlooking the ocean.

The 57-story tower was designed by Pritzker-prize winning design firm Herzog & de Meuron. The five-bedroom, 9½-bathroom unit will have 12-foot ceilings and walls of glass that open to the terrace area. An upstairs space will be marketed as the “man’s cave” and spa.

While the building won’t be completed until late 2016 or early 2017, more than 80% of the 192 units have already sold, said

Edgardo Defortuna,

CEO of Fortune International Group, which developed the building. In South Florida, condo sales typically require a 50% cash down payment.

Mr. Defortuna said he expects a buyer to come from New York, or perhaps from Brazil or Argentina—though if past experience is any indicator, the penthouse probably won’t sell until it is closer to completion. “A buyer for $29 million wants to have it right now,” he said.

A 19th-Century Villa in Italy Lists for About $25 Million

October 31st, 2014 admin

On roughly 247 acres, the 4,843-square-foot villa has nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms and four reception rooms, a country-style kitchen, media and music rooms.
ENLARGE

A 19th century villa near Florence, Italy has listed for about $25 million, says

Simone Rucellai,

who inherited the property from his late maternal grandmother in the early 1990s.

On roughly 247 acres, the 4,843-square-foot villa has nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms and four reception rooms, a country-style kitchen, media and music rooms. It also has a separate building with two apartments that can be used for staff or guests. There is a large conservatory, an underground wine cellar and a 19th century gate house.

“This was the holiday house we used to live in from May to November,” recalled Mr. Rucellai. The villa has about 14 acres of olive groves, formal gardens and a large lake. “Growing up I used to play in the woods with my brothers,” he said.

Alasdair Pritchard

of selling agent Knight Frank said the luxury property market in Italy, like the rest of Europe excluding London, “has suffered in the last four years.” However, he said he’s seen a renewed interest in properties close to major Italian cities.

Fall Planning for April Tax Savings

October 31st, 2014 admin


ENLARGE

Before the first snowflakes of winter, homeowners should think about spring savings. Steps taken today could reduce the tax hit on April 15.

Most homeowners who itemize their taxes can deduct the interest paid on their first and second mortgages of up to $1.1 million in debt. That total reflects up to $1 million for home loans and another $100,000 for home-equity loans.

The deductions add up for homeowners with jumbo mortgages—those above $417,000 in most places and $625,500 in high-price areas. A hypothetical example looks at a couple in the 30% tax bracket who files jointly. Assuming their income is under $300,000, the $24,000 they paid toward mortgage interest could see a benefit of up to $7,200 in tax savings, according to

Mary Canning,

dean emeritus and professor at Golden Gate University’s Braden School of Taxation and Accounting in San Francisco.

Some homeowners don’t realize they can deduct the mortgage interest paid on second homes, Ms. Canning says. Some of her clients, many of whom are approaching retirement age, have paid off the mortgage on their primary home and are buying a vacation home in nearby scenic towns like Sonoma or Carmel, she adds. With the deduction, “they are finding it’s quite affordable as opposed to putting up children and their families in hotels for a vacation,” Ms. Canning says.

That second home can even be a boat, mobile home or any structure, as long as it has plumbing, such as toilets and showers. However, an empty lot being held to build a future retirement home doesn’t qualify.

One mistake Ms. Canning often sees: Homeowners who try to deduct mortgage interest on a second home that was purchased using a margin loan on their brokerage account. “Sometimes people are surprised that they cannot make the deduction,” she says. It isn’t allowed, however, because the loan “has to be secured against the home.”

Beyond mortgage interest, documenting other home-related expenses can help further reduce tax bills. For example, self-employed taxpayers and business owners can write off some expenses if part of their home qualifies as a home office, says

Robert Winton,

a partner at White Plains, N.Y.-based Citrin Cooperman & Co.

Qualified taxpayers with second homes can also rent out the property and deduct some of their expenses, Mr. Winton adds. Deductions can include “maintenance, insurance and property taxes,” he adds.

Because the IRS doesn’t require reporting of rental income for 14 days or less a year, some business owners rent their home to their business for a meeting or retreat and then deduct the rental fee as a business expense on their company’s tax return, says Robert Walsh, founder and president of Red Bank, N.J.-based Lighthouse Financial Advisors.

Homeowners can take a few steps now to prepare for tax time. Diagram and measure home office space and total square footage, take pictures and save utility, security and real-estate tax bills, Mr. Walsh says. “If you paint your home office, it’s a 100% expense to office,” he adds.

Those who rent a second home regularly may wish to set up a separate bank account for rental earnings and keep a calendar for days of personal use, Mr. Walsh says.

Of course, with interest rates so low, tax savings may not be the highest priority for many high-end home buyers. “For people who are buying a big home and have a $1.5 million mortgage and it’s your dream home, you don’t mind not [being able to deduct] all of that interest,” Mr. Walsh adds.

Here are a few more tips to consider when looking for tax savings. Be sure to consult a tax professional or financial adviser for more specifics.

• Income limits. The Internal Revenue Service limits and phases out Schedule A itemized deductions if the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income exceeds $250,000 for a single individual or $300,000 for a married couple, says Mr. Walsh. Common Schedule A deductions include mortgage interest, state and local income taxes, sales taxes, and medical expenses and charitable donations.

The so-called “Pease Limitation,” named after former Rep. Donald Pease, was enacted by Congress in 1990. During the Bush tax cuts, the limits went away, but they kicked back in for 2013.

• Equity means everything. That $100,000 home-equity loan doesn’t have to be used to improve the home.

• Status matters. Unmarried couples who file separate tax returns and own their own homes will each get up to $1.1 million. Conversely, married couples filing separate returns can only deduct mortgage interest on up to $500,000 of home debt.

A Long Island Home for the Arts

October 29th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $1,995,000
  • Location: East Hampton, NY

The contemporary East Hampton, N.Y., home, built in 1994, features a 1,230-square-foot art gallery and open, airy rooms. – Erin McCarthy

A Family Beach House in Sri Lanka

October 29th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $2,100,000
  • Location: Sri Lanka

This home on the Indian Ocean island has a swimming pool and tropical gardens and is steps from the shore. —Andre Cooray

A Minimalist Miami Home—Kids Welcome

October 29th, 2014 admin


ENLARGE

The sleek, austere living/dining room of this Miami home belies the playful pandemonium that goes on here. On the sofa: jumping and dancing. Bicycles, scooters and games of tag pass through here. And when a rainy day befell a toddler’s birthday party last year, the two ponies clomped inside for rides.

Chad Oppenheim,

the home’s owner and architect, explains that while most of the furnishings are limited-edition, museum-quality pieces, the space, which he calls “the everything room,” revolves around family—himself, his wife, Ilona, son Hendrix, 6 and daughter Liloo, 3.

“You design around life and not around the architecture,” says Mr. Oppenheim, the 43-year-old founder of Oppenheim Architecture + Design.

Here’s a breakdown of the elements selected by Mr. Oppenheim and his wife over the course of about a year for the home, which they call Villa Allegra.

1. The “Esse Sofa” by Italian company Edra is covered in synthetic ostrich skin, perfect for a room with juice boxes and sticky fingers. “If something gets on it, you can wipe it off,” Mr. Oppenheim says. The piece came from the couple’s previous home and is a good fit with the room’s neutral palette.

Price: $15,000

2. The area rug comes from the Miami-based Stephanie Odegard Collection. Made from Himalayan wool and hand-spun silk, the rug offsets the naturally dark Brazilian chestnut floors, called sucupira wood.

Price: $35,000

3. The dining table was custom made in Indonesia using reclaimed teak. The family eats at the table, which also gets plenty of use with the kids’ activities.

Price: $55,000 for the table and two benches

4. Like many of the home’s furnishings, the small marble table was a serendipitous find. “We weren’t necessarily looking for it,” Mr. Oppenheim said. Rather, when the couple sees something they like, “we find a place for it.” The piece came from the Stephanie Odegard Collection.

Price: $4,000

5. “From the moment I saw it, I wanted it,” says Mr. Oppenheim of the “Blossom Chandelier” designed by

Tord Boontje

for Swarovski Crystal Palace. His wife purchased the cherry blossom-inspired fixture as a surprise. “I’m a fanatic about nature.” Still, the chandelier is seldom used. “In the daytime, we get a lot of natural light. At night we use candles everywhere, along with floor lights and dim ceiling lights,” he says. “The [chandelier’s] light is a bit cold—LED bulbs—and it has settings that, quite frankly, are a little hard to control.”

Price: $40,000

6. The white “Crochet Chair” comes from Marcel Wanders Studio, a quirky, contemporary firm based in Amsterdam. The surface is basically resin-impregnated lace—firm but with a little give to it, Mr. Oppenheim says. While nothing in the room is sacred, “I would not be too excited if the kids were jumping on it.”

Price: $25,000

Harbor Views in Sydney

October 28th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $9,700,000
  • Location: Australia

This three-level, renovated Victorian-style Australian home is steps from the water and overlooks Sydney’s dramatic skyline. —Andre Cooray

Island Charm in South Carolina

October 28th, 2014 admin

  • Price: $8,900,000
  • Location: Kiawah Island, SC

The Kiawah Island property has a main house, carriage house and views of the water – Caitlin Huston