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The Angier, Apex, Cary, Clayton, Coats, Dunn, Durham, East Durham, Erwin, Fayetteville, Four Oaks, Fuquay Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Kennebec, Lillington, Middlesex, North Durham, Princeton, Raleigh, Smithfield, Spring Hope, Spring Lake, Wake Forest, Wendell, Willow Spring, Willow Springs, Youngsville, and Zebulon real estate market is made up of diverse and interesting communities and neighborhoods. I’ll tell you about each of them and let you narrow your search to the very best for you.

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Real Estate News and Updates
3 Ways to Write a Tempting Offer When Buying a Home 2015-08-02 08:09:00
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While these three tips don't guarantee your offer will be chosen, they will help you be competitive so you're one step closer to landing your dream home.

1. Carefully consider your approach.

If you think your dream home's listing price is just a place to begin negotiations, think again. First, have a conversation with your real estate agent. Look for similar homes and recent sales in the area.

You can do a little sleuthing on your own by searching Trulia for sold homes -- just be sure to choose a time frame in the past three months for the most accurate results. Comparables will give you a better idea of the seller's asking price in relation to similar properties and help you shape your offer based on property-specific amenities and location.

Next, you should decide how you'll pay for your purchase: cash or financing. Cash offers can sometimes command a lower selling price since there aren't mortgage details to sort through and the closing should go faster. If you're using financing but can offer a quick close (less than 30 days), take that into consideration in your offer price -- your real estate agent may be able to leverage a quick close to sweeten the deal.

If you're thinking of submitting a lowball offer, have a candid conversation with your real estate agent. Agents know the market well and might even know a thing or two about the listing agent through previous sales. There are certain times when a lowball offer might start a favorable negotiation process, but there are many others when it can derail the reality of landing your dream home. If you decide to submit an offer substantially below the listing price, be prepared for a negotiation process -- or a flat-out "no."

When you're ready to make your offer, back it up with everything the seller needs to know. You want them to believe that your offer is the one offer they should look at twice. Be sure to include completed offer paperwork, signatures where they belong, and make sure you're asking for seller concessions that make sense for the market.

2. Weigh the pros and cons of your requests for repairs.

Maybe you're looking to have some of your closing costs covered. Perhaps you just want the old, worn-out carpeting replaced. Asking for seller concessions is a normal part of the offer process, but you need to know what you can reasonably expect.

If you're in a competitive bidding situation, odds are that the seller is going to choose the offer requiring the least amount of work on their part. Work with your real estate professional to make a list of "musts" and "would like" items for the sellers to tackle. You can put these concessions side by side with your offer price and see what makes for the most compelling deal.

Bottom line? If you're entering into a negotiation and something's got to give, your requested concessions are probably the first place to consider revising to stay competitive.

3. Don't be swayed by emotions

One step it's important not to forget in the offer process is setting a maximum price. If you're financing, you will have a purchase ceiling from your mortgage lender, but when the perfect home comes along, it's easy for heartstrings to overrule good financial sense.

How much can you comfortably carry as a mortgage payment each month? (Use a mortgage calculator to get a rough idea.) How much is that home really worth? How long do you plan on staying in the home, and does that justify a higher-than-asking price?

And remember, the tips we're including here are for traditional sales, not short sales or purchases of bank-owned properties. Those types of transactions have nuances all their own.

 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Buying, Financing
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By Erika Napoletano

You've found it: the house of your dreams. In fact, you went home last night and played a little game of Where Does the Sofa Go? But before you can say "home sweet home," there's an offer to be made -- and it has to be accepted before you can move that sofa into the living room.

While these three tips don't guarantee your offer will be chosen, they will help you be competitive so you're one step closer to landing your dream home.

1. Carefully consider your approach.

If you think your dream home's listing price is just a place to begin negotiations, think again. First, have a conversation with your real estate agent. Look for similar homes and recent sales in the area.

You can do a little sleuthing on your own by searching Trulia for sold homes -- just be sure to choose a time frame in the past three months for the most accurate results. Comparables will give you a better idea of the seller's asking price in relation to similar properties and help you shape your offer based on property-specific amenities and location.

Next, you should decide how you'll pay for your purchase: cash or financing. Cash offers can sometimes command a lower selling price since there aren't mortgage details to sort through and the closing should go faster. If you're using financing but can offer a quick close (less than 30 days), take that into consideration in your offer price -- your real estate agent may be able to leverage a quick close to sweeten the deal.

If you're thinking of submitting a lowball offer, have a candid conversation with your real estate agent. Agents know the market well and might even know a thing or two about the listing agent through previous sales. There are certain times when a lowball offer might start a favorable negotiation process, but there are many others when it can derail the reality of landing your dream home. If you decide to submit an offer substantially below the listing price, be prepared for a negotiation process -- or a flat-out "no."

When you're ready to make your offer, back it up with everything the seller needs to know. You want them to believe that your offer is the one offer they should look at twice. Be sure to include completed offer paperwork, signatures where they belong, and make sure you're asking for seller concessions that make sense for the market.

2. Weigh the pros and cons of your requests for repairs.

Maybe you're looking to have some of your closing costs covered. Perhaps you just want the old, worn-out carpeting replaced. Asking for seller concessions is a normal part of the offer process, but you need to know what you can reasonably expect.

If you're in a competitive bidding situation, odds are that the seller is going to choose the offer requiring the least amount of work on their part. Work with your real estate professional to make a list of "musts" and "would like" items for the sellers to tackle. You can put these concessions side by side with your offer price and see what makes for the most compelling deal.

Bottom line? If you're entering into a negotiation and something's got to give, your requested concessions are probably the first place to consider revising to stay competitive.

3. Don't be swayed by emotions

One step it's important not to forget in the offer process is setting a maximum price. If you're financing, you will have a purchase ceiling from your mortgage lender, but when the perfect home comes along, it's easy for heartstrings to overrule good financial sense.

How much can you comfortably carry as a mortgage payment each month? (Use a mortgage calculator to get a rough idea.) How much is that home really worth? How long do you plan on staying in the home, and does that justify a higher-than-asking price?

And remember, the tips we're including here are for traditional sales, not short sales or purchases of bank-owned properties. Those types of transactions have nuances all their own.

 Permalink | Email this | Comments

Trump Sells Apartment He Never Lived in for $21 Million 2015-07-30 13:56:00
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Trump sold the nearly 6,200-square-foot dwelling on the 24th floor of his 32-story Trump Park Avenue tower for $21 million, the Wall Street Journal reports. He listed it in 2013 for $35 million and cut the price twice, settling on $24.995 million earlier this month. (However, Trump purchased the entire building in 2001 for $115 million, the Journal reported, and since has converted it into 120 luxury condo units.)

Trump never lived in the just-sold apartment, listing agent Michelle Griffith of Trump International Realty told the Journal. She also said Trump rejected an offer to rent the place for $80,000 a month.

A private elevator leads to the five-bedroom, 7.5-bath space, which boasts high ceilings and lots of windows. Luxurious details include Italian brass doorknobs, custom moldings and a kitchen with marble floors and counter tops.

The master suite features two bathrooms, two walk-in closets and a study.





 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Celebrity Homes, Selling
ZillowA private elevator leads to the five-bedroom, 7.5-bath apartment on the 24th floor of the Trump Park Avenue building.


By Melissa Allison

When he's not stumping for the Republican presidential nomination or making decrees on "The Celebrity Apprentice," Donald Trump still works in real estate -- and he just made a killing on a Manhattan apartment.

Trump sold the nearly 6,200-square-foot dwelling on the 24th floor of his 32-story Trump Park Avenue tower for $21 million, the Wall Street Journal reports. He listed it in 2013 for $35 million and cut the price twice, settling on $24.995 million earlier this month. (However, Trump purchased the entire building in 2001 for $115 million, the Journal reported, and since has converted it into 120 luxury condo units.)

Trump never lived in the just-sold apartment, listing agent Michelle Griffith of Trump International Realty told the Journal. She also said Trump rejected an offer to rent the place for $80,000 a month.

A private elevator leads to the five-bedroom, 7.5-bath space, which boasts high ceilings and lots of windows. Luxurious details include Italian brass doorknobs, custom moldings and a kitchen with marble floors and counter tops.

The master suite features two bathrooms, two walk-in closets and a study.





 Permalink | Email this | Comments

Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Level Since Early June 2015-07-29 09:13:00
Does Downsizing Add Up? 2015-07-28 13:20:00
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Many people assume that downsizing housing saves money. But does it really?

It can, especially if you're able to cash in on the equity you've built up. But there are a lot of factors that can actually result in higher housing costs once you downsize.

"What we always recommend is to consult with a financial planner to see what your monthly expenses are now and what the expenses may be where you're thinking of moving," says Jeff Stone, a seniors real estate specialist in a Port Washington, New York.

Stone points out that the term downsizing can be, well, a bit of downer.

"Rightsizing, to me, is a better word," he says.



Here's a look at several areas to consider before moving later in life.

Moving Costs

When you move for a job, you might get a relocation package from your employer or load the moving truck with help from a couple of able-bodied friends. But when you move during retirement, you bear those costs, which can be considerable if you're moving a long distance and need to hire professional movers.

"Sometimes with the cost of moving furniture, especially if you're going a longer distance, it can be more feasible to buy new furniture," says Mario Minotti, a partner at Minotti Group Wealth Advisors in Chicago. (Minotti's clients are mainly retirees and pre-retirees, so he has talked through the pros and cons of downsizing with several of them.)

Beyond the cost of physically transporting your belongings, you'll also pay transaction costs on selling an existing home and buying a new one.

"If [a home is] listed with a broker, you pay their commission and will also be paying your attorney fees, closing costs and so forth," Stone says. Many boomers also choose to rent, which comes with a different set of costs.

Storage Costs

Many boomers have amassed -- and grown attached to -- large collections of antiques and other mementos over the course of their lives.

"There's china sets, a lot of antiques and family things that they want to preserve," Minotti says. "A lot of male clients have accumulated a couple of cars, and they're excited that they're going to be able to enjoy them [in retirement], but parking spots can be expensive."

Or, in some cases, "their kids had a bunch of their childhood stuff that they want to preserve for their grandkids," he adds.

One option, if you don't have space for these items, is renting a storage unit. But it doesn't come cheap, especially if you want secure, climate-controlled storage for antiques. The average asking rent for a 10-by-10-foot, climate-controlled storage unit in the U.S. was $151 per month during the fourth quarter last year, according to the Self Storage Association.

Another option is to sell, donate or give to relatives. Unless you have items that are in demand, don't count on making big bucks or getting younger relatives excited about decades-old furniture (a notable exception being college-bound or recently graduated grandchildren furnishing a place on a budget).

An item may provide "a memory but doesn't provide value to someone else," says Chris Abts, president and founder of Cornerstone Retirement Group in Reno, Nevada. "We find many times those just don't have much in the way of value."

Many boomers also lack the energy or discipline for a serious declutter, which has spawned an entire of industry of senior move managers and organizers for hire. "The key would be to downsize the things you've accumulated while you have energy, while you're healthy," Abts says.

 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Buying, Lifestyle, Selling
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By Susan Johnston

It's a common bit of retirement advice: Downsize your housing after the kids leave the nest to cut costs. Interestingly, though, many baby boomers have no intentions of downsizing. Nearly two-thirds of boomers surveyed in 2013 by The Demand Institute -- a nonprofit owned by Nielsen -- plan to "age in place" rather than move. Of those who do plan to move, nearly half said they plan to increase the size of their home or pay more for a comparably sized home.

Many people assume that downsizing housing saves money. But does it really?

It can, especially if you're able to cash in on the equity you've built up. But there are a lot of factors that can actually result in higher housing costs once you downsize.

"What we always recommend is to consult with a financial planner to see what your monthly expenses are now and what the expenses may be where you're thinking of moving," says Jeff Stone, a seniors real estate specialist in a Port Washington, New York.

Stone points out that the term downsizing can be, well, a bit of downer.

"Rightsizing, to me, is a better word," he says.



Here's a look at several areas to consider before moving later in life.

Moving Costs

When you move for a job, you might get a relocation package from your employer or load the moving truck with help from a couple of able-bodied friends. But when you move during retirement, you bear those costs, which can be considerable if you're moving a long distance and need to hire professional movers.

"Sometimes with the cost of moving furniture, especially if you're going a longer distance, it can be more feasible to buy new furniture," says Mario Minotti, a partner at Minotti Group Wealth Advisors in Chicago. (Minotti's clients are mainly retirees and pre-retirees, so he has talked through the pros and cons of downsizing with several of them.)

Beyond the cost of physically transporting your belongings, you'll also pay transaction costs on selling an existing home and buying a new one.

"If [a home is] listed with a broker, you pay their commission and will also be paying your attorney fees, closing costs and so forth," Stone says. Many boomers also choose to rent, which comes with a different set of costs.

Storage Costs

Many boomers have amassed -- and grown attached to -- large collections of antiques and other mementos over the course of their lives.

"There's china sets, a lot of antiques and family things that they want to preserve," Minotti says. "A lot of male clients have accumulated a couple of cars, and they're excited that they're going to be able to enjoy them [in retirement], but parking spots can be expensive."

Or, in some cases, "their kids had a bunch of their childhood stuff that they want to preserve for their grandkids," he adds.

One option, if you don't have space for these items, is renting a storage unit. But it doesn't come cheap, especially if you want secure, climate-controlled storage for antiques. The average asking rent for a 10-by-10-foot, climate-controlled storage unit in the U.S. was $151 per month during the fourth quarter last year, according to the Self Storage Association.

Another option is to sell, donate or give to relatives. Unless you have items that are in demand, don't count on making big bucks or getting younger relatives excited about decades-old furniture (a notable exception being college-bound or recently graduated grandchildren furnishing a place on a budget).

An item may provide "a memory but doesn't provide value to someone else," says Chris Abts, president and founder of Cornerstone Retirement Group in Reno, Nevada. "We find many times those just don't have much in the way of value."

Many boomers also lack the energy or discipline for a serious declutter, which has spawned an entire of industry of senior move managers and organizers for hire. "The key would be to downsize the things you've accumulated while you have energy, while you're healthy," Abts says.

 Permalink | Email this | Comments

Home Security Doesn't Have to Be Expensive 2015-07-20 08:45:00
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A professionally installed security system can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, plus $30 or so a month for monitoring. But in the last decade, dozens of do-it-yourself alarm systems have come on the market, some with monitoring options and others that send alerts to you via email or text so you can decide whether to call police. Even a rudimentary system is likely to make a loud noise when an intruder enters the house, and sometimes that's all it takes to scare away a burglar.



"Some of them are almost plug and play," says Holloway, who has a $60 security camera that he installed himself at his home. "I can control it with an app on my phone, and it's great." For a simple DIY security system, you can install cameras inside or outside your house, with a hard drive or cloud storage that collects the video footage so there is something you can review after a break-in.

Neal Scott, an Internet marketing consultant for security companies, cautions homeowners who go the DIY route to make sure they know what they're doing and install the system properly. He says homeowners should also ensure the system includes sensors for doors and windows.

One factor to consider is your insurance company may not grant a discount on your homeowners insurance if the system is not professionally installed, and some municipalities may require installers to be licensed. Good tech support is important, too.

"A technology problem with your smartphone is not a big deal, but a technology program with your security system is," Scott says. And the newest technology may not yet be tested, he warns.

"There an awful lot of time and experience that's gone into professional home security devices," says Scott, who has been working in the security system field since he started at his father's company at age 15. "I'm a proponent of going professional."

Security system or not, cameras or not, there are also free or cheap low-tech solutions that can be surprisingly effective against thieves. Here are seven free or low-cost ways to protect your home:

Use your deadbolt lock. The basic lock on your doorknob isn't really very good, Holloway says. "Many knob locks can be defeated by simply grabbing the knob with, at most, a pipe wrench or with, at the least, two hands and twisting hard," he says. "The internal locking mechanism shears and the door can be opened, and this can all happen in a matter of seconds. This is an old burglar trick." Deadbolts are harder to defeat, and a cheap deadbolt is as good as an expensive one. "The lock isn't going to break, but it's the doorjamb and the wood around the door that's going to break," Holloway says.

Protect your garage door. Garage doors have a pull cord that can be used to open them if the power is out. A burglar can stick a coat hanger down the top of a garage door, latch onto the cord and "unlock" the door. To keep that from happening, Holloway advises placing a zip tie through the piece from which the cord is hanging, which will make it almost impossible for a thief to open it from the outside with a coat hanger.

Secure sliding glass doors. Many older doors are easy to open from the outside. Use a broom handle lying on its side on the track to prevent the door from being opened.

Make sure your home is well-lighted outside. Motion detector lights are inexpensive and an easy way to illuminate anyone who approaches the house. "In all the years I was a cop, I don't think I worked a single case where a burglar kicked in a front door," says Alex Bracke, a police officer turned real estate agent in Northern Virginia. "The reason for that is because the front door is commonly the most visible part of the house, and if there's anything would-be burglars don't want, it's to be visible."

Make it look as if you're home. Lights, radio and TVs on timers create the illusion that someone is home when you're gone on vacation. Get a neighbor to pick up mail and newspapers when you're away.

Make it painful for thieves to climb in your ground-floor windows. "A window is the most vulnerable part of your house," Holloway says, reminding homeowners that keeping windows locked also is important. A thief who has to climb into a bed of thorns may be deterred. He suggests planting these three plants that grow in most parts of the U.S.: Pyracantha, also known as "firethorn," European holly, which has very sharp leaves, and voodoo rose. Homeowners who live in tropical areas can plant Bougainvillea.

Make it easy for people to see potential entry points. You want to have easily "inspectable space," says Joshua Godknecht, a sensitive compartmented information facility design specialist for AdamoSecurity.com, which designs and builds secure rooms for the government. "Most people have lots of overgrown plants or hedges to provide privacy, but trimming hedges and arranging your landscape so that it creates a single, very visible path to your front door, and only your front door, is practically free and ensures that no one could take advantage of the hidden places near your home." Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Home Improvement
anekoho/Shutterstock A simple video camera often can be installed by the homeowner. Its presence alone is a deterrent to thieves.


By Teresa Mears

You want to keep your home safe from thieves, but you don't want to spend a fortune doing so because, frankly, you don't have a fortune worth stealing.

Technology has significantly brought down the cost of home security systems and home surveillance cameras, many of which you can install yourself. But there are also many low-tech solutions that cost little or nothing that will keep your home safer from intruders.

"Most burglars are just opportunists," says Martin Holloway, owner of Hollotec.com. A security expert who teaches lock-picking and specialized entry techniques to law enforcement and the military, Holloway says burglars are going to "find the easy house."

A professionally installed security system can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, plus $30 or so a month for monitoring. But in the last decade, dozens of do-it-yourself alarm systems have come on the market, some with monitoring options and others that send alerts to you via email or text so you can decide whether to call police. Even a rudimentary system is likely to make a loud noise when an intruder enters the house, and sometimes that's all it takes to scare away a burglar.



"Some of them are almost plug and play," says Holloway, who has a $60 security camera that he installed himself at his home. "I can control it with an app on my phone, and it's great." For a simple DIY security system, you can install cameras inside or outside your house, with a hard drive or cloud storage that collects the video footage so there is something you can review after a break-in.

Neal Scott, an Internet marketing consultant for security companies, cautions homeowners who go the DIY route to make sure they know what they're doing and install the system properly. He says homeowners should also ensure the system includes sensors for doors and windows.

One factor to consider is your insurance company may not grant a discount on your homeowners insurance if the system is not professionally installed, and some municipalities may require installers to be licensed. Good tech support is important, too.

"A technology problem with your smartphone is not a big deal, but a technology program with your security system is," Scott says. And the newest technology may not yet be tested, he warns.

"There an awful lot of time and experience that's gone into professional home security devices," says Scott, who has been working in the security system field since he started at his father's company at age 15. "I'm a proponent of going professional."

Security system or not, cameras or not, there are also free or cheap low-tech solutions that can be surprisingly effective against thieves. Here are seven free or low-cost ways to protect your home:

Use your deadbolt lock. The basic lock on your doorknob isn't really very good, Holloway says. "Many knob locks can be defeated by simply grabbing the knob with, at most, a pipe wrench or with, at the least, two hands and twisting hard," he says. "The internal locking mechanism shears and the door can be opened, and this can all happen in a matter of seconds. This is an old burglar trick." Deadbolts are harder to defeat, and a cheap deadbolt is as good as an expensive one. "The lock isn't going to break, but it's the doorjamb and the wood around the door that's going to break," Holloway says.

Protect your garage door. Garage doors have a pull cord that can be used to open them if the power is out. A burglar can stick a coat hanger down the top of a garage door, latch onto the cord and "unlock" the door. To keep that from happening, Holloway advises placing a zip tie through the piece from which the cord is hanging, which will make it almost impossible for a thief to open it from the outside with a coat hanger.

Secure sliding glass doors. Many older doors are easy to open from the outside. Use a broom handle lying on its side on the track to prevent the door from being opened.

Make sure your home is well-lighted outside. Motion detector lights are inexpensive and an easy way to illuminate anyone who approaches the house. "In all the years I was a cop, I don't think I worked a single case where a burglar kicked in a front door," says Alex Bracke, a police officer turned real estate agent in Northern Virginia. "The reason for that is because the front door is commonly the most visible part of the house, and if there's anything would-be burglars don't want, it's to be visible."

Make it look as if you're home. Lights, radio and TVs on timers create the illusion that someone is home when you're gone on vacation. Get a neighbor to pick up mail and newspapers when you're away.

Make it painful for thieves to climb in your ground-floor windows. "A window is the most vulnerable part of your house," Holloway says, reminding homeowners that keeping windows locked also is important. A thief who has to climb into a bed of thorns may be deterred. He suggests planting these three plants that grow in most parts of the U.S.: Pyracantha, also known as "firethorn," European holly, which has very sharp leaves, and voodoo rose. Homeowners who live in tropical areas can plant Bougainvillea.

Make it easy for people to see potential entry points. You want to have easily "inspectable space," says Joshua Godknecht, a sensitive compartmented information facility design specialist for AdamoSecurity.com, which designs and builds secure rooms for the government. "Most people have lots of overgrown plants or hedges to provide privacy, but trimming hedges and arranging your landscape so that it creates a single, very visible path to your front door, and only your front door, is practically free and ensures that no one could take advantage of the hidden places near your home." Permalink | Email this | Comments

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Brownstone Fetches $7.4 Million 2015-07-18 06:33:00
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Courtesy of Peter*Ashe Real Estate via StreeEasyThe brownstone at 169 E. 71st St. on the Upper East Side.

By Catherine Sherman

You may remember Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard standing on these front steps. The brownstone featured prominently in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" has sold for $7.4 million after most recently being listed for $8 million.

"Any time they had a street scene, the house was featured," said Asher Alcobi of Peter*Ashe Real Estate, the Manhattan home's exclusive broker. "The signature olive green doors are still the same."



The 1961 romantic comedy was filmed in a studio for the interior shots, including the famous party scene with Mickey Rooney's character, Mr. Yunioshi. But 169 E. 71st St. continues to garner interest as the place Miss Holly Golightly made her debut in The Big City.

"The house is on the tourist tour of the Upper East Side," Alcobi said.

The 3,800-square-foot brownstone boasts four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a sweeping staircase and an enclosed greenhouse.

It's split into an upper and lower duplex. Upstairs, two bedroom suites have their own renovated baths. There's also a sunny living room with a wood-burning fireplace, a renovated kitchen and laundry room. Downstairs, a garden apartment with a separate entrance has a front library, powder room and a large bedroom and full bath.

The house was renovated in the mid 1980s and again in the late '90s. It was last listed in 2011 before finding a buyer for $5.975 million in April 2012.

An earlier version of this story was published on Oct. 29, 2014.


 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: News, Celebrity Homes


Getty ImagesAudrey Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Holly Golightly in the 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's."







Courtesy of Peter*Ashe Real Estate via StreeEasyThe brownstone at 169 E. 71st St. on the Upper East Side.

By Catherine Sherman

You may remember Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard standing on these front steps. The brownstone featured prominently in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" has sold for $7.4 million after most recently being listed for $8 million.

"Any time they had a street scene, the house was featured," said Asher Alcobi of Peter*Ashe Real Estate, the Manhattan home's exclusive broker. "The signature olive green doors are still the same."



The 1961 romantic comedy was filmed in a studio for the interior shots, including the famous party scene with Mickey Rooney's character, Mr. Yunioshi. But 169 E. 71st St. continues to garner interest as the place Miss Holly Golightly made her debut in The Big City.

"The house is on the tourist tour of the Upper East Side," Alcobi said.

The 3,800-square-foot brownstone boasts four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a sweeping staircase and an enclosed greenhouse.

It's split into an upper and lower duplex. Upstairs, two bedroom suites have their own renovated baths. There's also a sunny living room with a wood-burning fireplace, a renovated kitchen and laundry room. Downstairs, a garden apartment with a separate entrance has a front library, powder room and a large bedroom and full bath.

The house was renovated in the mid 1980s and again in the late '90s. It was last listed in 2011 before finding a buyer for $5.975 million in April 2012.

An earlier version of this story was published on Oct. 29, 2014.


 Permalink | Email this | Comments

Where to Spend $10,000 if You're Remodeling 2015-07-17 08:17:00
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If You're Planning to Stay in Your House

If selling isn't in the cards for you and your family, you can still consider all of the tips above. You'll enjoy living in an upgraded house, especially if you're staying put. Additionally, think about these projects for long-term payback.

1. Heating and air system upgrades.
New heating and air systems will actually reduce your monthly utility bills over time and are a great investment.

2. Going solar.
In sunny climates, investing in solar technology can increase the value of your home and reduce your monthly and yearly utility costs.

 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Home Improvement, Selling
Getty ImagesA bathroom remodel can improve your enjoyment of your home but might not pay off if you're planning to sell soon.


By Michael Corbett



Whether you're looking to sell or stay put, you'll save money on these home improvement projects.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to remodeling and upgrading your house, and deciding where to put your precious dollars can be tough. Many of these remodeling decisions can be made based on whether or not you're planning to stay in your home long term.

Let's take a look at the places where a $10,000 investment in your home can go the furthest.

If You're Planning to Sell Within 2 Years

It's important to remember that there's not always a direct relationship between exactly how much you put into a specific renovation project and exactly how much you get out of it.

If you consider home improvements item by item, you'll likely conclude that undertaking almost any individual home improvement prior to the sale of your home is a losing proposition. However, when you add small improvements together with vision and creativity, you create an overall house improvement and a big return on your investment. The whole package is far more valuable than the sum of its parts!

Top 6 Target Projects

1. Kitchen.
A $10,000 investment is not going to get you a full kitchen makeover and leave enough extra cash to make many other upgrades. Instead, think about upgrading tired old appliances. Cabinet resurfacing and upgrading the countertops can be very affordable and give a big splash. One word of caution: Make sure you don't overspend for your neighborhood. Know your market.

2. Master bath.
Again, here in the master bath, $10,000 will not go very far, but you can create a wow effect. Consider upgrading the shower to a frameless glass shower enclosure, adding new fixtures, and maybe a new vanity and countertops.

3. Paint.
Repaint the interior of your home and keep it neutral with soft earth tones. Then make sure you pick up some fantastic pillows and accessories to add punches of color.

4. New carpet.
No homebuyer wants to walk barefoot across your tired, old, stained, dirty, worn-out carpet. When you replace the existing carpet, go with a neutral shade.

5. Curb appeal.
This is a low-cost no-brainer. Trim up the hedges, give the grass some TLC, plant some flowers, and give the front door a fresh coat of paint in a wonderful accent color. Create a strong first impression by adding shiny new house numbers and maybe even a new mailbox. Finally, add in some wonderful outdoor lighting, and presto!

6. Push the inside out.
f there's an existing room that looks out to the backyard, push it out! Replace existing windows with French doors and build a small deck. You've just increased the "size" of that room -- and added value to the house for very little money.

If You're Planning to Stay in Your House

If selling isn't in the cards for you and your family, you can still consider all of the tips above. You'll enjoy living in an upgraded house, especially if you're staying put. Additionally, think about these projects for long-term payback.

1. Heating and air system upgrades.
New heating and air systems will actually reduce your monthly utility bills over time and are a great investment.

2. Going solar.
In sunny climates, investing in solar technology can increase the value of your home and reduce your monthly and yearly utility costs.

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Jeff Bridges' Old World Montecito Estate Listed at $29.5M 2015-07-16 08:03:00
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The couple bought the 19-acre spread in 1994 from musician Kenny Loggins, and they're handling its sale (asking price: $29.5 million) like true Hollywood royalty: Right up front.


Jordan Strauss/Invision/APJeff Bridges


Listing photos include a shot of personal pictures and memorabilia, and Susan gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which she shared her husband's love of the property's aloe trees and his "fort," "a quiet spot with a hammock, swings and benches, where he occasionally makes pottery."

The 9,593-square-foot home, listed by Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby's International Realty, resembles a hilltop estate in Tuscany, but with views of the Pacific Ocean.

An antique stone fireplace anchors the sunken living room, which features oak floors, an exposed-beam ceiling and a grand terrace. It adjoins a dining room with antique terra-cotta pavers, beyond which is a fireplace with banquette seating.

The kitchen opens onto a dining terrace and abuts a spacious family room with a cathedral ceiling. The library was built with rough-sawn beams from centuries-old East Coast bridges. It's surrounded by an open-air walkway, and beyond that is a secret hedged garden.

Next to the master suite, which includes a Juliet balcony and a sitting area with a limestone fireplace, is a stairwell that leads to a tower room with a fireplace, deck and views in all directions.

Outside, a stream cascades into a pond-shaped pool next to an elevated deck and fireplace -- an outdoor living area serviced by its own kitchen, bath and changing rooms.

The estate also boasts walking trails to a nearby hot spring, two guest houses, plus a narrow footbridge that crosses a stream to reach a home theater and recording studio. Below it is a playhouse Bridges built for his children.

Photos by Jim Bartsch via Zillow




 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Celebrity Homes, Selling

Jim Bartsch via ZillowActor Jeff Bridges and his wife bought the 19-acre estate from musician Kenny Loggins in 1994.


By Melissa Allison

Sometimes, there's a house. Well, it's the house for its time and place. It fits right in there. And that's this house, in the California coastal retreat of Montecito.

Actor Jeff Bridges -- beloved as The Dude in "The Big Lebowski" and an Oscar winner for his role in "Crazy Heart" -- and his wife, Susan, are ready to pass the five-bedroom, 5.5-bath house to a new owner after raising their daughters there and finding a smaller place nearby.

The couple bought the 19-acre spread in 1994 from musician Kenny Loggins, and they're handling its sale (asking price: $29.5 million) like true Hollywood royalty: Right up front.


Jordan Strauss/Invision/APJeff Bridges


Listing photos include a shot of personal pictures and memorabilia, and Susan gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which she shared her husband's love of the property's aloe trees and his "fort," "a quiet spot with a hammock, swings and benches, where he occasionally makes pottery."

The 9,593-square-foot home, listed by Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby's International Realty, resembles a hilltop estate in Tuscany, but with views of the Pacific Ocean.

An antique stone fireplace anchors the sunken living room, which features oak floors, an exposed-beam ceiling and a grand terrace. It adjoins a dining room with antique terra-cotta pavers, beyond which is a fireplace with banquette seating.

The kitchen opens onto a dining terrace and abuts a spacious family room with a cathedral ceiling. The library was built with rough-sawn beams from centuries-old East Coast bridges. It's surrounded by an open-air walkway, and beyond that is a secret hedged garden.

Next to the master suite, which includes a Juliet balcony and a sitting area with a limestone fireplace, is a stairwell that leads to a tower room with a fireplace, deck and views in all directions.

Outside, a stream cascades into a pond-shaped pool next to an elevated deck and fireplace -- an outdoor living area serviced by its own kitchen, bath and changing rooms.

The estate also boasts walking trails to a nearby hot spring, two guest houses, plus a narrow footbridge that crosses a stream to reach a home theater and recording studio. Below it is a playhouse Bridges built for his children.

Photos by Jim Bartsch via Zillow




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10 Gated Homes You Could Buy for Less Than $600,000 2015-07-14 13:24:00
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See more listings in Pawleys Island.


 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Buying, Lifestyle, Selling

ZillowThe home behind these gates in Roseville, about 20 miles from the California capital of Sacramento, has fairway views.


By Melissa Allison

Whether the fences, walls and gates are for a single home or a whole community, they bring privacy -- and a certain degree of glamour -- to what's behind them.

Celebrities have long favored gated living, and retirees are known to roam there as well. Here are a batch of listings to keep the magic in and the paparazzi out:

Roseville, California
319 Diamond Oaks Road
For sale: $575,000




Zillow

The same owner has lived in this home with a gated driveway and golf-course views for more than 25 years. The landscaped backyard boasts an expansive deck, plus a pergola. View more homes for sale in Roseville.




Manitou Springs, Colorado
6120 Aspen Way
For sale: $358,000

Zillow

Privacy abounds in this gated community outside Colorado Springs. It borders a national forest, and from this home's private deck, you can take in the aspen grove and listen to the burbling of a nearby creek. See what else is on the market in Manitou Springs.


Louisville, Kentucky
8500 Pine Valley Trail
For sale: $549,000



Zillow




Here's a home on 18 acres with a pond -- all inside a gated community. The home's great room and master bedroom feature fireplaces and vaulted ceilings.

Check out more listings in Louisville.


Enon, Ohio
5481 Hunter
For sale: $449,900



Zillow








This gated estate includes hiking trails, a stream and a pond with a fountain and a gazebo. That's before you even walk inside, where you'll find 3,335 square feet of skylit luxury, including a wet bar in excellent proximity to the sauna and a hot tub with sylvan views. Visitors stay in the two-bedroom guesthouse.

View more homes for sale in Enon.

Boone, North Carolina
206 Leatherflower Lane
For sale: $515,000



Zillow




The mountains of North Carolina are home to this gated community that feels like a national park. The home features a wide deck for taking in the natural beauty.

See more homes on the market in Boone area.


Mason City, Iowa
1545 N. Carolina Avenue
For sale: $397,545







Zillow


A gated entry and a white picket fence set apart this Midwestern home, which measures 4,910 square feet and includes a landscaped yard with a gazebo.

Check out more listings in Mason City.
Laughlin, Nevada
1280 Country Club Drive
For sale: $375,000


Zillow






Perched on a desert oasis between Las Vegas and Lake Havasu City, this home offers panoramic mountain views. It also boasts 2 master suites, each with a closet the size of a bedroom, plus a Jacuzzi tub with more views.

See what else is on the market in Laughlin.

West Palm Beach, Florida
985 Bear Island Drive
For sale: $375,000



Zillow






This home has a heated pool and spa, and it backs up to a golf course -- all within a gated community that's surrounded by green space.

Check out more listings in West Palm Beach.

Harvey, Louisiana
1816 Squirewood Drive
For sale: $369,000



Zillow






This home in a gated community just outside New Orleans features an open floor plan spread across 2,950 square feet, a large den with a fireplace and a covered patio overlooking the landscaped yard.

View more homes on the market in Harvey.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina
195 Doral Drive
For sale: $547,500



Zillow






Coastal South Carolina offers lots of opportunities for golfing, including homes in gated communities like this one that boast their own golf courses. The 4,200-square-foot home includes a screened-in porch and a skylit "Carolina room."

See more listings in Pawleys Island.


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7 Ways to Save Water in Your Yard 2015-07-10 10:48:00
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Filed under: Home Improvement
Associated PressReplacing some of your grass with drought-tolerant landscaping and native plants is one way to save water.


By Jennifer Gravely

Brown grass, dead shrubs, puny gardens -- they're an eyesore for sure. But keeping your yard in pristine shape can be quite a burden, especially in the summer heat, when drought conditions are rampant.

Here are seven tips to keep your yard looking its best, without wasting water.

1. Be sprinkler savvy.

Your automatic sprinkler can be a huge help when it comes to keeping your yard looking its best, but it can also be a huge water -- and money -- waster.

First, make sure your sprinklers are watering your lawn, not the driveway or road, and frequently check the system for leaks. Consider installing rain and/or moisture sensors that will turn sprinklers off if it's raining or if the ground is already saturated.

2. Water when it matters.

Water your lawn only in the morning. In the heat of the day, that water will touch the surface and then quickly evaporate -- leaving you with less than ideal results.

A rain gauge can help you track how much water your yard is getting - about an inch of water per week is all it really needs. During especially dry times, it's best to just leave the yard alone. Yes, it will brown, but it will be dormant and bounce back once it gets cooler, saving loads and loads of water.

3. Use a drip system.

For the ease of a sprinkler system but with far less waste, opt for a drip-irrigation system. With this type of system, a hose riddled with tiny holes is placed throughout your yard, allowing small amounts of water to seep directly into the ground over long periods -- exactly what your yard needs to thrive.

4. Collect rainwater.

Stock up on water when you can to use around your yard and garden. Turn gutters into your own personal watering system by directing them into much-needed areas in your yard. Or, install a rain barrel to collect the runoff from your gutters.

Check local laws first, as there may be restrictions on water collection.

5. Adjust your lawn mower.

No matter how unruly your yard looks, don't mow it down as low as it will go. Set your lawn mower blade a bit higher than usual, or at least 3 inches. Longer blades of grass shade each other, reducing some evaporation. Longer blades also mean longer roots, so the grass can reach water deeper than it normally would.

6. Use mulch.

A fresh layer of mulch around shrubs and trees will hold nutrients and moisture much longer than plain old dirt. Go green and make a compost of food and lawn waste to add to the mix. You'll see that your trees and plants will need less water than before.

7. Opt for natural beauty.

Cut out the need for watering outdoors altogether by removing your grass. You can replace most of it with porous paving stones, which allow water to soak through to the ground.

You will want some plants in your yard to help absorb the rain and prevent runoff, however. The best plants to choose, as well as the easiest to care for, are those native to the region. If you live in a dry, drought-prone area, a xeriscaped yard might include desert shrubs and cactuses, but there are many colorful drought-tolerant plants. You'll find that these plants will thrive without excessive watering.

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Scott Disick Bought Bachelor Pad Before Kardashian Breakup 2015-07-09 13:54:00
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It's a curious flip prospect: Records show he paid almost twice what the previous owner bought it for -- $1.965 million -- in early 2014.

Disick might have bought the 4,095-square-foot home as insurance against a possible breakup. Last fall, he struggled to maintain his sobriety in "Kourtney and Khloé Take the Hamptons."

Now he'll have plenty of room -- five bedrooms and six bathrooms -- in which to ruminate while taking in ocean and canyon views. Or he could soak in the saltwater pool and spa.

The listing agent was Bill Thon of Lamerica Real Estate.





 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes

ZillowThe 4,095-square-foot home has five bedrooms and six baths, providing enough space for his three children to visit.


By Melissa Allison



Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick split over the Fourth of July weekend, and he already has a bachelor pad to call his own.


APDisick and Kardashian


Disick paid $3.699 million for a spread in Beverly Hills nine days after Kourtney gave birth to their third child in December.

"He plans to redo [the house] and flip it," an anonymous source told US Weekly at the time.

It's a curious flip prospect: Records show he paid almost twice what the previous owner bought it for -- $1.965 million -- in early 2014.

Disick might have bought the 4,095-square-foot home as insurance against a possible breakup. Last fall, he struggled to maintain his sobriety in "Kourtney and Khloé Take the Hamptons."

Now he'll have plenty of room -- five bedrooms and six bathrooms -- in which to ruminate while taking in ocean and canyon views. Or he could soak in the saltwater pool and spa.

The listing agent was Bill Thon of Lamerica Real Estate.





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Mortgage Rates Dip to 3.88%, Fluctuating With Greek Crisis 2015-07-08 10:14:00
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Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.00 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.88 percent.

Check Zillow Mortgages for trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

 Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing
ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.


By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.88 percent, down 5 basis points from the same time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 3.97 percent on Wednesday and hovered there throughout the holiday weekend, then fell to the current rate early this week.

"Mortgage rates jumped last Wednesday after Greece defaulted on its international debts, then fell early this week due to continued Greek instability, turmoil in Chinese stock markets, and unexpectedly strong global oil supplies," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "Uncertainty over Greece's future will continue to dominate headlines this week, but economic news elsewhere suggests interest rates will remain lower for longer."

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.00 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.88 percent.

Check Zillow Mortgages for trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

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Rising Mortgage Rates Could Block a Third of Millennials 2015-07-07 01:24:00
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Filed under: Buying, Financing
Shutterstock


By Christine DiGangi

Mortgage rates hit a 2015 high when the national average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 4.08 percent earlier this week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey. That's lower than the U.S. average at this time last year (4.12 percent), but home loan pricing -- rates, loans and fees -- has been on the rise for most of 2015, pushing homeownership out of reach for many Americans as the cost of a mortgage creeps up.

For example, if mortgage rates hit 6 percent, a third of millennials (people younger than 35 years old) wouldn't be able to afford homes as they're currently listed, according to an analysis by HouseCanary, a housing-data analytics company. Given that millennials make up more than a quarter of the population, their ability to buy homes will weigh heavily on the performance of the housing market, which has been driven by the baby boomers for decades.

Why do interest rates have such a huge impact on home affordability? Mortgages are huge loans, so a seemingly small shift in interest rates can change a borrower's monthly payment by hundreds of dollars (though going from the current 4.08 percent rate to 6 percent would be no small shift). Timing plays an important role in a borrower's ability to buy a house, but there's a lot more to home affordability than the economic factors. A consumer's credit standing will significantly impact the rate he or she qualifies for on a home loan, as does that consumer's outstanding debt obligations and down payment on the property.

As much as potential homebuyers should monitor mortgage rates before applying for a loan, preparing to enter the mortgage process requires much more planning. In the months and years leading to when you want to buy a home, prioritize paying down your debt and improving your credit score, in addition to avoiding unnecessary damage to your credit, like applying for new credit (that will slightly ding your score for a short time period) or running up balances on your credit cards.

If you're planning to buy a home soon, give your credit a thorough review to see if there's anything that needs your attention before applying for a home loan (you can start by getting your free credit report summary on Credit.com) -- and take the time to figure out how much home you can afford. You'll want to make the home-buying process as simple and surprise-free as possible.

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Joan Rivers' Fifth Avenue 'Palace' Sells for $28 Million 2015-07-05 09:05:00
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ORIGINAL POST 2/9/2015: Can we talk real estate? Joan Rivers' Versailles-esque condo on Manhattan's Upper East Side has hit the market for $28 million.
Rivers, who received a posthumous Grammy award earlier this year (see the video about daughter Melissa's acceptance below) lived in high style in the palatial penthouse just off Fifth Avenue at 1 E. 62nd Street. She used to quip it was a condo fit for Marie Antoinette -- if Antoinette were a rich New Yorker.


attan skyline views.
Private elevator.
Wood-paneled library.
Huge master suite.
Separate two-bedroom guest apartment with living room and kitchen.

This is the third time Rivers' condo has been on the market: In 2012 and 2013, it was listed for $29.5 million.

Rivers is gone but was not forgotten when she won a Grammy for best spoken word album for her 2014 memoir, "Diary of a Mad Diva." Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling
The Corcoran Group


UPDATE: Late comedian Joan Rivers' glitzy New York home has sold for its asking price of $28 million to unnamed "Middle East royalty," CNBC reports.

ORIGINAL POST 2/9/2015: Can we talk real estate? Joan Rivers' Versailles-esque condo on Manhattan's Upper East Side has hit the market for $28 million.
Rivers, who received a posthumous Grammy award earlier this year (see the video about daughter Melissa's acceptance below) lived in high style in the palatial penthouse just off Fifth Avenue at 1 E. 62nd Street. She used to quip it was a condo fit for Marie Antoinette -- if Antoinette were a rich New Yorker.


attan skyline views.
Private elevator.
Wood-paneled library.
Huge master suite.
Separate two-bedroom guest apartment with living room and kitchen.

This is the third time Rivers' condo has been on the market: In 2012 and 2013, it was listed for $29.5 million.

Rivers is gone but was not forgotten when she won a Grammy for best spoken word album for her 2014 memoir, "Diary of a Mad Diva." Permalink | Email this | Comments

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