Saturday, April 28, 2012


The key word is MAY.

Many economists see the easing of foreclosures as the key reason the market may be on the rise.  However, they note, “Banks still retain many foreclosed properties on their books and some analysts have predicted that housing prices could weaken again if lenders dump these properties into the recovering market.”

Lowe’s Daily Real Estate Report for first three months of 2012 says, “Foreclosure filings up in most markets.” This was for more than half of the markets tracked by RealtyTrac, “an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets.”

The foreclosures referred to above are only part of the shadow inventory, and more people who are “underwater” may do short sales or be foreclosed on in the near future.  Ris Media points out that one of several factors holding back a major turnaround in the housing market is, “the huge number of homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth leaving them essentially stuck in their properties.” 

One good sign is that Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index of 20 US cities shows the steady shrinking in recent months of a year-over-year decline in home values.  Ris Media says, “analysts note that prices have stablizied and sales volume has been gaining.

DataQuick of San Diego reported that, “statewide the notices of default had a 17.6% drop from the same period last year.”  One of the early callers of the housing crash, Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics said, “What are important are sales and inventory, and those are pointing in the right direction… I would say that by the end of the year, they should translate into better prices.”  As reported in this blog recently, NAR Chief Economist said that by the end of the year prices might rise by 10%.  Zillow predicts a 5%+ price rise by the end of  the year.

Some promising factors for home sales include low interest rates and the availability of bargain-priced properties, and a prevalence of investors buying up, fixing up and renting out former foreclosures.  New home sales, with last year being their worst on record, are up 16% for the first three months compared to 2011.  Now we will wait to see what happens to some or all those shadow inventory foreclosures.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Beautiful Old World exquisitely proportioned details mix with modern conveniences in the ivy-covered Marion Syms Wyeth 1926 grand Italian Palladian-style historic villa on about 2.79 acres in Palm Beach with 268’  of oceanfront and a private tunnel from the house to the beach.  Details included are cornices, moldings arches, pecky cypress and 12’ ceilings.  Interior spaces are well proportioned.

Landmarked in 1959, the Landmarks Preservation commission noted that the simple, balanced design helped mark the beginning of the toning down the architectural excesses seen on much of the Island in the 1920’s. The hipped-roof structure, as the report described it, is symmetrical, has projecting facades with pediments and cast-stone decorative details.  There is an interior courtyard.

 There are 7 bedrooms, six bathrooms, three powder rooms.  Some bedrooms open onto sleeping porches. 

The dramatic entry foyer is covered in imported marble.

 The palatial living room has a hand-painted coffered ceiling and marble columns.

 The deep-red library boasts gold-applied molding details.

The formal dining room has a tray ceiling, a trumeau over the mantle and the fireplace is connected to the molding.  The walls are finished in Venetian plaster that has “mellowed with age.”  Throughout the house are many wood-burning fireplaces.

Originally a family room combined with original garage is now a combination media and family room that opens to the inner courtyard, beautifully landscaped and a perfect party setting.  

 A covered lanai connects the main house to a 2-story “tennis house” with a 2nd floor loft-like bedroom overlooking the courts.

The pool is 60’ long next to an expansive lawn with views of the pretty back exterior of the Villa.  There is an oceanfront cabana, five car garage and full house generator.  The foyer floor is Cuban marble and there are original restored floors.  The house has a grand staircase and jewel-like library.  Ceilings are interesting, some coffered, some painted.  
There are two cabanas on the ocean, one Italiate, the other Moroccan. 

The house is located on a prominent corner where South County Road meets South Ocean Boulevard.  The house was originally built for a New York City banker.  Another former owner was Jean Flagler Matthews, who founded the Henry M. Flagler Museum in 1959 as a tribute to her grandfather, thereby preserving the lavish 1902 Museum for future generations.

Current owners renovated the house and made additions and improvements – now with 270’ of oceanfront and 17,000+ square feet inside and out.  It now measures about 3 acres and includes a second smaller guest house with 6131 sq ft inside and out, 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and powder room, pool and staff quarters.

List price is $34,000,000.

Call Marilyn at 561-302-3388 for more details.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Columbia University will be the happy beneficiary from the sale of one of Palm Beach’s highest priced estates.  In 2007, philanthropist Kluge donated the ultra-private 4.3-acre compound, a magnificent trophy estate made up of five contingent parcels, to Columbia as part of a $400-MM pledge exclusively for student scholarships.   

His vision was to create a verdant park-like retreat with 150’ of oceanfront and a private beach parcel.  Ocean views are exceptional.  Gardens and outdoor art collections are extensive. 

Kluge came to the US as an immigrant from Germany in 1922, worked for his stepfather in Detroit when he was 10 and by age 37 he made his first million dollars.  In 1987 Forbes named him as the world’s richest man.  This pledge is the largest ever gift devoted exclusively to student aid at a single institution of higher education in the United States.  By the time of his death, Kluge had accumulated $6.5BB.

At the entrance to the house, a domed ceiling appears with artwork within.  To the right is the casino room with pool table and seats for socializing. There is a lush and beautiful arcade with rotunda on the grounds.

The piano sits on a tiger skin carpet in the piano room.  The second floor has bedrooms with French windows and doors overlooking the gardens.

Once ranked by Forbes as the world’s richest man, John Kluge, the late billionaire who died at age 95 in 2010, purchased the five residences in the heart of Palm Beach’s estate section over a 30-year period before gifting the estate to his alma mater.  Kluge was CEO of Metromedia.

Casa Sin Nombre has exotically landscaped grounds and 21,000 living sq ft of housing.   

The 12,000 sq ft Garden House, his main residence, was built in 1935 and designed by society architect Marion Sims Wyeth.  Addison MIzner designed the now-renovated  6000-sq ft Mediterranean-Revival style oceanfront house in 1921.  Three separate buildings are for staff and/or guests.  The property has frequently been used for charity events.  It is located near the world-famous Worth Avenue and between Ocean Boulevard and South County Road.  Kluge acquired the properties in 1995.  

Listed price tag is $59MM.  The property has been on the market advertised globally for nine months.


Yesterday, job fairs for military veterans took place in New York, Chicago and Fort Hood, Texas.  In New York the job fair was held at the Intrepid Air & Space Museum.  There, over 5000 veterans and military spouses connected with more than 100 employers.  A total of 23,000 veterans and military spouses attended Hiring Our Heroes events.

Companies came with job opportunities in hand, including rock band KISS.  They received over 500 applicants for their roadie job.  Comcast was there. NBC Universal pledge to hire 1000 veterans over the next three years.

Over 400 more job fairs are being held across the country. and are holding virtual career fairs for veterans and military spouses; over 19,000 people applied online.

The campaign was held by the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Chamber Foundation and Capital One, which has pledge $4.5MM to support job fairs and workforce training initiatives.  NBC has promoted this effort.
Andrea Mitchell reported that the veteran unemployment rate was 12.1% last year.