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Thursday, February 12, 2015

There are a lot of Italian castles for sale: gallery

The NYT had an article recently on how families that have owned Italian castles for generations are finding themselves unable to keep them:
While castles and historic mansions in Italy have long been family inheritances, today dozens of them are for sale, even in one of the most conservative real estate markets in Europe.
In recent years, Italy’s well-rooted inherited wealth has withered from a potent combination of factors. They include the increasing costs of living and services, the shaky finances of owners in a time of lingering economic trouble, cuts in government subsidies to maintain historical properties and, not least, mushrooming property taxes.
There's also the problem with regulations:
Living a nobleman’s life in Italy comes at a cost, even for many tycoons. New owners face the same onerous bureaucracy as Italians to make even minimal changes to many older properties.
Under Italian law, the owner of a historic building is its custodian, bound to maintain it and grant its security and, in some cases, its use to the public. Many buyers give up on properties of great historic value, but in bad condition, for this reason, brokers said.
“This is a problem for possible investors, who want to have modern comforts like a spa, air-conditioning or a lift,” said Mr. Pallavicini, of the Italian Historic Houses Association.
 So, of you have a few million dollars and want to spend it on a property that you can't air-condition, what follows is a selection of properties from Italian real estate Lionard:

CASTLE FOR SALE IN CHIANTI: Prestigious old castle of the Tenth Century for sale in Chianti, halfway between Florence and Siena. Completely and carefully renovated in the early 90s, the castle has retained its unique and peculiar characteristics but nonetheless combine them with modern comforts and the most modern facilities.As many as 100 hectares of land spanning the splendid property: for over 1000 years, the production of the wine of its own oil and Vin Santo are the cornerstones of this splendid property in Chianti.

Luxurious Castle in Florence, Tuscany: Wonderful Castle For Sale in the heart of Chianti, near Florence. The Castle, located in a panoramic scenery, has an area of 2,200 - M², 2 hectares of Parklands, a Swimming Pool and many other amenities.

Former Pope’s Residence with dominating views over medieval village below: Property for sale near Rome featuring a very quaint real estate complex built on a hill in the XI century by Abbot John V. The abbey in still dominates the medieval village below with its imposing structure. Conceived as a feudal castle, in order to establish the monastic rule on Subiaco, over the centuries the building assumed different functions, from fortress, to luxurious palace and residence of popes and cardinals until 1753 when Pope Benedict XIV finally included Subiaco and its abbey in the Papal States.

PRESTIGIOUS HISTORIC VILLA FOR SALE IN FLORENCE: located on one of the hill tops on the left side of the river Arno, a few kilometres from Florence.

Unable or unwilling to spend several million on a castle? There are lots of excellent properties in Northern Virginia (and this well-reviewed book tells you have to decorate in Italian Villa style).

Lots more at Lionard.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The apartment building in Fifty Shades of Grey actually exists, and Christian's apartment would cost $6.4 million

The "Fifty Shades of Grey" (wiki) books have made British author E.L. James very rich. They have also made a certain Seattle apartment building red hot.

Ever since the trailer for the "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie came out last month, Erik Mehr's phone has been ringing a lot - Mehr is the real estate broker for the "Fifty Shades apartment." 

Yes, the upscale apartment building in Seattle where fictional billionaire Christian Grey lives -- and does lots of kinky things -- actually exists. It's called Escala, and is located at 1920 Fourth Avenue in Seattle, Washington, 98101.

E.L. James heard about Escala, which was completed in 2009, and wove it into her story, although she did take a number of liberties. For example, there isn't a helicopter landing pad on the roof. According to the Escala website, the penthouse suites can range up to 16,000 square feet; the largest includes a private spa, a gym with a yoga studio, a private dining area, a full catering kitchen, another dining area, a theater room, and a dog run. It doesn't, however, have a red room. A family from Oregon bought it in 2013 for $6.2 million.*

While the "Fifty Shades" trilogy and movie have caused some headaches for Escala residents, there have also been perks, the greatest of which has been the skyrocketing home values since the book's release - according to real estate website Zillow (Z), the median sales price for a Seattle condo has risen about 10% since 2010. The median sales price for Escala apartments, however, have surged over 75%.

Movoto calculated the value of Christian Grey's apartment by adding together the price of  the most expensive penthouse unit sold ($6.2 million, or $387.50 per square foot) and calculating the addition of the Red Room: the book, it’s clear that this room is large enough to house a bed “bigger than a king sized,” a large “oxblood chesterfield couch,” and all kinds of… decorations.
Since many of these fun toys seem to be hanging from the ceiling or walls, we can only estimate that the room is at least 24 by 24, or 576 square feet. I came up with this specific number using the dimensions of a “Super King” sized bed (6.7 by 8.2 feet) and the fact that the bed and couch are in the center of the spacious room, with plenty of room surrounding them. You know, for yoga or something.
So that’s 16,000 (as Christian Grey would surely have the largest penthouse available in Escala) plus 576 for the Red Room, making the total square footage of the room 16,576.
So there you have it. Cheap at half the price. More at CNN Money and Movoto.

Looking in northern Virginia and money no object? Check out this $70 million 2,000 acre estate

This is Oak Spring Farm, Paul and Bunny Mellon's 2000 acre Upperville estate. One of the most beautiful properties in all of America with rolling pastures and mountain views. Home to Kentucky Derby winner, Sea Hero. Private Air Strip. Two stables with forty-three stalls. Three primary residences, more than twenty cottages, multiple barns, shops, extraordinary gardens and greenhouses.

Want more information on this (or more reasonably priced) northern VA homes? Contact us!

The three residences below are, in order, the Brick House, the Spring Hill Residence and the Stone Residence.

This log house was used by Jackie Kennedy:

A view of the private airstrip (it's a mile long):

And the pool house: