It’s taken about a year, but Johnny Depp is finally rid of all five of his penthouse condos in Los Angeles‘ Eastern Columbia Building.
The final tally on the condos came out to $10.88 million, which is roughly $3.7 million more than the actor paid for them in 2008.
If you weren’t able to plunk down the cash to buy one of the fabulous units, that doesn’t mean you can’t kick back in one . Three of the units are now available for lease for $5,500 to $8,000 a month.
Listing agent Kevin Dees of The Agency, who was behind the sale of all five units, notes that they set a record per square foot in downtown L.A.
“The client is very happy with the sales,” he says, adding that Depp was a “great guy” to work with.
Dees is also handling one of the rentals: an 1,839-square-foot, one-bedroom, 1.5-bath, two-story unit available for $5,500 a month.
Dees says Depp used the five-condo complex as if it were one extra-large house, and the unit Dees is repping on the rental market was Depp’s dining and entertaining space.
As with the other four units, this one sits atop the landmark art deco building, with striking views of downtown L.A. from almost every room.
There’s a spacious bedroom and master bath upstairs, a lounge on the landing, a great room on the main floor along with an open kitchen.
The building’s amenities include a rooftop terrace with a saltwater pool and spa, a sun deck, and a fully equipped fitness studio. There’s also 24/7 concierge service and gated parking.
As for the decor, Depp has taken the wall art with him. But the chic built-ins remain, and wait for a renter’s own spin.
Also available for rent are two more units. Penthouse 1, priced at $6,999 a month, has two bedrooms, three baths, and 2,490 square feet of living space. Penthouse 3, a corner unit, is $8,000 a month and has two bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and 2,400 square feet of living space.
Like with any move, your crystal wine glasses might get crushed or your kid’s favorite toy could end up vanishing somewhere between Point A and Point B. But when you’re making the trek across state lines, there’s even more to consider—and more problems to prevent.
Like what? We’re glad you asked! We’ve unpacked nine tips to keep in mind if you’re moving far away. Who knows? If you approach a cross-country move with a smart game plan, it just might feel like you’re relocating across the street.
1. Edit ruthlessly
Before any move, you should purgebig-time. But this is especially important if you’re cramming everything you own onto a truck to move cross-country.
“Most long-distance moves are based on volume or weight, so go through your belongings and donate what you can,” recommends Mike Glanz, CEO of HireAHelper, an online marketplace for hiring moving help.
Block off an afternoon to ponder whether you really need all those vintage New Kids on the Block T-shirts, or the complete collection of “Rocky” DVDs (really, no one needs to own “Rocky V”). Sell those bad boys to defray moving costs. Depending on the furniture you own (have you upgraded at all since your first post-college pad?), it might cost less to buy replacements than to haul what you have.
2. Review pricing carefully
Long-haul moves can also be priced according to destination, so consider your options carefully before locking in with a contract.
“For example, a move between NYC and L.A. might be cheaper since it’s a busier route than one from Kentucky to Colorado, even though this is a shorter haul,” explains Nimrod Sheinberg, vice president of sales for Oz Moving & Storage.
“If your job is moving you, the expenses incurred may be tax-deductible, so check with a CPA,” adds Allison Bethell, a real estate investor analyst with FitSmallBusiness.com.
3. Ask about insurance
Some homeowners policies provide moving insurance. But if you go with your mover’s plan, you should always request full-value insurance, Glanz advises.
“Most movers offer full-value as an upgrade, but it’s worth it because the standard repair coverage only covers 60 cents per pound,” Glanz explains. With full-value coverage, on the other hand, the mover will pay you what it would cost to replace your damaged item (or in some cases, to repair the damage).
The bottom line: If movers drop your 30-pound flat screen valued at $500 and you have only the standard coverage, you’ll get a check for just $18. With full-value coverage, you’d get what it would cost to buy an equivalent replacement TV.
And don’t forget about your car insurance and driver’s license.
“Know the process for switching your license to a new state, and update your address with your car insurance company so you’re eligible for any ZIP-code based discounts,” says Vince Lefton, CEO of Bulldog Adjusters in Hollywood, FL.
4. Check the calendar
Be prepared: A long-haul move can last a full day, a couple of days, or even weeks.
“Delivery times are always estimated, and there could be changes,” Sheinberg notes.
And give yourself more time than you think you’ll need, urges Kathleen Marks, a real estate agent with United Real Estate Asheville in North Carolina.
“Moving trucks, especially those towing cars, can’t drive very fast,” she says. (An eight-hour car trip could take 12 hours in a 24-foot moving truck.)
Finally, if you can, be flexible with your dates—and watch it pay off with discounts. For instance, rates tend to be 20% to 30% higher between May and September (holidays such as July 4 and Labor Day are the priciest of all), so you might try to avoid a summer move if possible.
5. Label everything—and take photos
After you’ve decluttered, donated, or sold your items, the next step is to label.
“Go room by room and put sticky colored dots on every box,” recommends Julie Subotky, a moving pro at Consider It Done. “Movers need to know what to take and what to leave—or you might ending up moving your garbage across the country—which really happens.”
And take photos of valuables, Glanz says. “When the move is over and something is damaged, you’ll have proof the item was in fact broken in transit.”
6. Cushion your valuables
Cross-country moves can do a number on your stuff (read: lots of jostling!), so use blankets, towels—even clothing—to pad the boxes, experts say. These items need packing anyway, so it makes sense to use them to fill in gaps and reduce the likelihood that boxes will get crushed.
7. Make a ‘first off’ bag
When you (finally) arrive after a multistate trip, you won’t want to hunt for the most important items, so put together a couple of “first off” boxes and alert movers to them.
“One should contain toilet paper, flashlights, and batteries,” Subotky says. You’ll also want these things close at hand: the shower curtain, coffee paraphernalia, clothing, medication, dog food, soap, shampoo, power cords, and clean linens.
Naomi Hattaway, a real estate agent with 8th & Home in Virginia, tells families moving across state lines or farther to “leave well”—because you probably won’t be back anytime soon. Connecting with everyone and everything one final time gives a sense of closure, especially for young kids who will be sad to leave and might have a harder time making the transition
“Take a photo walk of favorite locations in town (such as the park, playground, a beloved diner) and intentionally say goodbye to friends and family, beyond just the awkward farewell parties that most people attend,” she says.
9. Turn the move into a vacation
A long-distance move may not feel like a spa trip, but it can be a somewhat enjoyable event.
“Have your route mapped out, and pack snacks and games in the car for the kids,” suggests Joe Devost, moving operations field manager at You Move Me. Plus, choosing fun, touristy stops along the way can make a long-haul move more memorable and make it feel like a getaway. Sort of.
The holidays are officially here—and while merrymaking and gift shopping are likely top of mind, you may have to keep some of those celebratory urges in check if you’re planning to sell your home next year. Why? Because many holiday season activities can come back to haunt you when your house is on the market, even if it’s months later.
Don’t believe us? Here are five holiday splurges to avoid if you hope to have a smooth home-selling process next year. It’s our gift to you! (You’ll thank us later.)
1. Don’t do decorations that could damage your home
Yes, we know you want to display your holiday spirit. But avoid any decor that could leave behind damage you’ll have to repair later—holes in the walls, marks on the floor, screws that mar the side of the house. If you have a live Christmas tree, be careful not to let spilled water sit on hardwood or laminate flooring, which can warp and stain. And it should go without saying that you don’t want to paint walls dramatic colors; save the winter wonderland mural for another year.
Think about curb appeal, too. “Avoid blow-up animals and reindeer in the yard,” advises Flor Blanchett, a Realtor® atthe Keyes Company in Florida. “When you take those things out, especially in the South, they leave spots on the grass that are totally dead for months afterward.”
2. Don’t clutter your home with huge holiday gifts
The mantra of anyone trying to sell a home? “Declutter, declutter, declutter,” says Blanchett.
Don’t buy a bunch of gifts that are going to have to be hidden away after the new year.
“If you have young children with toys all over the place, I advise packing it all away in a container under the stairs or somewhere people won’t see it,” she says.
The basic organizational rule is that you don’t want your closets to appear bursting at the seams, which will give the impression there’s not enough storage.
Obviously, nobody is saying that Santa has to skip your house this year, but consider forgoing the bulky play kitchen or drivable toy car in lieu of smaller action figures or electronics.
Remember: You’re going to have to move all that stuff after you sell the house. You’ll thank yourself at packing time if you spring for a gift certificate or jewelry instead of sports equipment or kitchen gadgets.
3. Don’t buy appliances or furniture that may not fit your future home
It’s another prime gift-giving no-no. Avoid shelling out for appliances, furniture, or anything that’s specific to your current home’s layout. Unless you already know where you’re moving, that gorgeous (and large) new couch might not fit correctly in your new digs. And that sparkling new washer-dryer set is probably going to be a gift for the buyers, since appliances usually stay with the home. Grills, sheds, anything bulky—you’re going to either gift it to your buyers in a few months or pay someone to move it. Save the heavy stuff for next year.
4. Don’t take on too much holiday-related debt
This is not the year to live out your “new car with a giant bow on it” fantasies. Taking on debt, whether it’s credit card debt or a car or boat loan, can hurt your chances of getting approved for a mortgage when you’re ready to buy your next home. So, don’t go out and buy expensive things; a lender will take note and it could work against you. When in doubt, ask first.
“Speak with your lender if making a real estate purchase after the sale on how much you can spend on big-ticket items,” says Dillar Schwartz, a Realtor in Austin, TX.
5. Don’t surprise the family with a new pet
The holidays are a common time for families to get a new furry friend—there are even adoption drives based around getting a holiday pet. However, right before you’re ready to sell your house is not a terrific time to be housetraining a puppy or teaching a cat not to scratch the couch.
Showing a house with a pet can be challenging enough even when it’s not a new pet, and then they’re going to have to go through the wildly pet-unfriendly process of moving. However much you’re longing for a cat, pup, or capybara, it just makes sense to wait until after the move. Especially the capybara.
Owning the best toilet plunger doesn’t really seem that relevant—that is, until you actually need it. With a clogged toilet just centimeters from spilling over, the last thing you’ll want to do is run to the hardware store, especially on Brown Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. the busiest day of the year for plumbers).
That’s why you need to keep a reliable plunger stashed away.
“Having the proper equipment makes all the difference when tackling a dreaded clogged toilet,” says Glenn Gallas, vice president of Operations for Mr. Rooter Plumbing.
OK, let’s get down to business: There are three main types of plungers: a cup plunger, a flange plunger, and an accordion plunger. Each design is best suited for a certain use, so unfortunately, you might end up needing more than one plunger in your home, depending on how finicky your pipes are.
Let’s take a look at the best toilet plungers to get you out of any foul mess.
Best toilet plunger for everyday toilet clogs: flange plunger
“To clear a clogged toilet, a flange plunger is just what the plumber ordered,” says Gallas.
Flange plungers are bell-shaped, with a flange (the flap part) that helps it create a tight seal on a toilet bowl. Flange plungers are usually made of black rubber instead of red. They can also double as cup plungers in a pinch by folding the bottom part of the bell back inside the cup, explains Gallas. (Gross but necessary tip: Don’t use a plunger you’ve already used on a stopped-up toilet on your sink or tub unless it’s been fully sterilized.)
This MAXclean flange plunger and holder ($15.99, Amazon.com) should be enough to clear most clogs. It gets four-and-a-half stars on Amazon and, according to one reviewer, there is “not much to say other than it serves its purpose very well.”
Best toilet plunger for the design-conscious
Keeping a plunger in the bathroom near the toilet is doing you and your guests a service, but who wants an ugly rubber plunger hanging out in your powder room at all times? This sleek and modern plunger ($30, simplehuman.com) houses a flange plunger inside a white or black case. Even better, a magnet in the case holds it on to the plunger so that you can transport both at once, cutting down on drips. Is there anything less appealing than toilet plunger drips? That alone makes it worth the upgrade.
Best toilet plunger for serious clogs: accordion plunger
Accordion plungers are made of hard plastic and are, unsurprisingly, shaped like an accordion. They’re great for breaking up really tough clogs in toilets, but beware: They aren’t quite as easy to use as a flange plunger.
“Because accordion plungers have small cups and are rather rigid, forming a tight seal can be tricky,” says Gallas. “The plunger must also be completely submerged, so you may need to add water to the toilet bowl before attempting to clear a clog.”
Consider the accordion plunger the plumbing version of calling in the big guns.
In addition to toilets, they work on sinks, showers, and bathtubs, but again, don’t cross-contaminate.
The G.T. Water MP 100-3 Master Plunger ($15.59, Amazon.com) is recommended by Amazon reviewers for busting up hair-clogged tub drains and stopped-up toilets alike. Hosting the entire family for Thanksgiving dinner? You might want to keep one of these guys in the garage at the ready. Maybe two.
Best do-it-all plunger: Korky Beehive
This hybrid of a flange and an accordion plunger is a winner for both its plunging power and its ability to form a tight seal on multiple kinds of toilet bowls. It costs more than a basic flange plunger and is less aesthetically pleasing than the SimpleHuman plunger, but it delivers accordion plunger power with ease.
If you constantly have difficult-to-clear toilet clogs, it’s probably worth upgrading to the Beehive ($29.47, Amazon.com). You can get a Beehive for less without the holder ($13.98, Amazon.com), but if it’s going to be sitting on your bathroom floor, spend the extra money on a holder. Otherwise, the germ situation is going to be a whole other issue.
Worst plunger for toilets (but the best for flat surfaces): cup plunger
A cup plunger is the classic half-globe red plunger with a stick on the end—”probably what comes to mind when you think of a plunger,” says Gallas. It’s actually not optimal for toilets, though.
According to Gallas, cup plungers are designed to be used on sinks, showers, or tubs with flat surfaces.
“The cup plunger really only works well on flat surfaces where it can make a tight seal over the drain in order to create the necessary suction to dislodge a clog,” says Gallas. “If used on a toilet, the cup plunger will lose its seal over the bowl-shaped drain as soon as you pull up.”
How to get the most out of your plunger
Picking the right plunger for the job is only the first step, according to Gallas. He shared some of his plumber tricks for dislodging clogs like a pro.
When plunging a sink or tub, plug the overflow drain with a wet washcloth to get better suction. If there’s another sink or drain nearby, temporarily block it with a rag for better results.
For really stubborn clogs, put some petroleum jelly along the rim of the rubber cup to improve the plunger’s seal.
A coat of petroleum jelly will also prevent a rubber plunger from drying out. A dry, cracked plunger won’t make the best vacuum seal and will lose pressure when plunging.
Still have a clog? This video shows you the proper technique for unclogging a toilet.
Now the nine-bedroom, 13-bathroom home, christened “Chateau Montclair,” is going to auction again, on Dec. 13. And this time, there’s no reserve. Does that mean the former Prime Time palace could be sold for just one dollar?
“This is correct,” says Jodi Fillmore of Concierge Auctions. “Though we are looking at bids of $1.5 million to $2 million to open.”
It’s an “amazing opportunity,” Fillmore says. When it was owned by Sanders, the mansion sat on 112 acres, but now all but 5.95 acres have been transformed into an upscale community called Montclair.
Homes in the neighborhood start at $1 million and sit on three-quarter-acre lots. For as low as a few million, Sanders’ former home, complete with bowling alley, barber shop, basketball court, and 12-car garage, is a deal indeed.
Why go with a no-reserve auction? “The seller is just ready to move on,” Fillmore says. “An auction creates a definitive sell date. We’re kind of like a Navy SEAL team, accomplishing in a short period of time what might take much longer on the market.”
An auction also opens the potential field of buyers from local big shots to international investors. They’re expecting to have at least 10 to 12 people bidding on the property. And in case a buyer isn’t looking for a master bedroom with a built-in coffee bar, the property has been pre-approved by the city for subdividing: an investment buyer could create as many as six lots from the sprawling property.
“It’s a ridiculous opportunity because of the growth around here,” Fillmore says. Prosper is just 35 miles from Dallas, or a 10-minute drive from the Cowboys training facility. “This definitely expands the playing field for a person who never thought they could touch a property like this. It’s fun and fast and approachable for most.”
Ready to start bidding? The online registration deadline is Dec. 11. Bids placed before the deadline don’t pay a 12% buyer premium, so make your move.
Some of us wait eagerly all year for the holidays and the jolly merriment that accompanies these few crazy weeks: the festive shindigs, the bottomless eggnog bowls, and the no-longer-so-ironic ugly sweaters. All of it might have you feeling like nothing can go wrong.
But as much as you’re looking forward to the holidays, so are the bad guys.
(Warning: Buzzkill ahead.)
Yes, that dizzying schedule of end-of-the-year fêtes and last-minute holiday shopping means you’re out of your home more often than in it, providing would-be burglars ample opportunity to case your place. And whether you’re checking in at a winter ski getaway or Instagramming that sweet Black Friday deal you just nabbed, your social media profile is also alerting the world that nobody’s home.
Don’t give the bad guys a holiday bonus! You can outsmart them and protect your home, as long as you know where you’re most vulnerable. Luckily, we’ve done the heavy lifting to gather security experts’ top tips to keep your home—and everything in it—safe during the busy holiday season.
1. Lock it down
Nothing too earth-shattering here, but it bears repeating: If you’re going to be out of town, program your outdoor lights to switch on at dusk and off at dawn, keep your doors and windows locked, and set your alarm system, if you have one.
If you’re going on vacation, some experts recommend keeping a car parked in the driveway so it looks like someone’s home. To prevent your mailbox from overflowing while you’re away, have your mail held until you return.
“Packages sitting outside your door are like a billboard that screams ‘no one is home,'” says Justin Lavelle, chief communications director for BeenVerified, an online background check platform.
His recommendation? If you live in a city or high–foot traffic area, consider using an Amazon Locker, where you can pick up packages at your own convenience. (You can also have packages sent to your office address or, for U.S. Postal Service deliveries, held for pickup at a post office location.)
If you’re purchasing from a retailer with brick-and-mortar locations in your area, consider having your items shipped to the local store for pickup.
If that sounds like a lot of work, most shipping providers (including UPS and FedEx) allow you to postpone delivery until you know someone is home. UPS and FedEx also allow consumers to leave directions for where to drop off packages.
“Follow their shipping details so you know what date the delivery is anticipated, and leave a note attached to your door with where you want the delivery to be left,” he says. “Just make sure you write ‘For UPS’ or ‘For FedEx’ on the outside and fold the note over or put it in an envelope.”
Also, make sure the path to your door is open, clear, and visible to neighbors and the street.
“If thieves can shield themselves behind large bushes and decor such as large blowups and Christmas trees, it’s that much easier for them to go unnoticed,” Lavelle says.
3. Take a break from social media
Yes, we realize this is a tall order in today’s like-happy society. But trust us here: Smart thieves are watching not only your house, but also your social media channels. Be aware that when you trumpet that two-week holiday trip to Bali all over Facebook, you’re telling the world that your pad will be unattended.
The same logic applies to sharing photos of your home and your stuff: They tell would-be burglars what else you have in your home and if there’s something worth stealing.
And while you’re taking stock of your online profile, take a minute to adjust your privacy settings for event RSVPs as well.
“Anytime you publicly RSVP to parties, school events, concerts, or any other event, you’re giving an intruder an invitation to target your home,” Lavelle says. “Social media may not give away your home address, but with the internet it’s not hard to find out.”
4. Get smart
If you’ve been wavering on outfitting your home with the latest smart home technology, the holidays could be the perfect time to finally get on board. You’ll have the fun of a new gadget to play with, and the peace of mind that your home has some extra safeguards—even when you can’t be there.
The options are virtually endless: Consider a smart doorbell (like Ring’s video doorbell), which detects motion and provides a view of your front door from your smartphone. Or try the Maximus Smart Security Light, which sends real-time push alerts to your phone so you can see and speak to who’s lurking on your porch—or sound an alarm directly from an app, if necessary.
Want to control your lights with the swipe of a finger? Check out innovations like the Philips Hue smart lightbulbs, which allow you to operate your lighting from anywhere.
And if you’re looking for an all-in-one smart security solution, consider a system like Nest Secure, which combines a variety of self-installable cameras, motion sensors, and alarms and poses a serious threat to traditional, clunkier alarm companies.
5. Consider a home upgrade
Wood or glass can break easily under pressure from an intruder, says home security expert Sadie Cornelius of SafeSmartLiving.com. Consider upgrading your door to stainless steel.
If that doesn’t jibe with your aesthetic, make sure your deadbolt requires a key on both sides. Smart locks (like those from Schlage and Kwikset) are easy to install and provide an additional layer of security from would-be burglars.
And to better illuminate wannabe burglars, consider installing motion-detecting lights, which use little energy and are usually affordable.
6. Beef up your online security
“While it might not seem obvious, security goes beyond the physical,” Cornelius says. “Cyber Monday and online shopping are an opportunity for hackers to steal your credit data and identity.”
She recommends using a virtual private network, or VPN, when using public Wi-Fi to protect your online data from hackers. If you’re shopping online, be sure the sites are secure and have a valid encryption certificate (which you can usually spot with the green locked indicator in front of the site address).
Ensure your system is running the latest security updates and antivirus software, and consider signing up for identity theft protection so you’re immediately alerted to suspicious activity on any of your accounts. Many banks will allow you to set up mobile push alerts for certain types of transactions or spending thresholds.
Hosting this holiday season? While we all love to complain about houseguest foibles—the friend who cleans out your fridge, the aunt who leaves the lights on all night—did you ever stop to ponder that you, dear host, might be the one annoying your guests?
Believe it or not, many hosts’ “guest-iquette” is less than hospitable. Take note: Here are 10 hosting behaviors that drive your houseguests completely nuts.
1. You gave your guests your crappiest, castoff towels and linens
Don’t just unload your leftover linens and lumpy pillows on your guests. It’s simply not that expensive to outfit your guests with absorbent, unstained towels (and plenty of them!) and decent sheets.
Really want to impress your guests? Do what Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and president of the Etiquette School of New York, does and offer a variety of pillows.
“One of my friends is so attached to her pillow that she actually shipped it to my house when she was visiting,” she says. “That got me thinking, it might be nice to have different styles to choose from, from firm to fluffy.”
2. Your sofa bed sucks
Have you ever slept on your guest bed? You might try it for a night; it would offer some perspective on how comfortable (or not) it actually is, says San Francisco–based etiquette expert Lisa Grotts.
If you don’t have a decent guest bed, there are better options than a pull-out couch with that bar that prods your spine all night long. She recommends using an inflatable mattress, which can be surprisingly comfortable.
3. The coffeepot looks more complicated than a space shuttle
For an early riser, there’s nothing crueler than not being able to get your caffeine fix.
“Before I go to bed, I get the coffeepot set so the guests can just turn it on if I’m not around when they get up in the morning,” says Rachel Wagner, an etiquette consultant in Bixby, OK.
She also recommends giving a quick kitchen tour the night before so they know where breakfast items are located in the pantry, cabinets, and fridge without a lot of banging around.
4. Your food options don’t fit guests’ dietary restrictions
Sometimes hosts are well-versed on all their guests’ allergies and idiosyncrasies, but a refresher is always in order.
“It’s polite to inquire about special dietary needs or allergies and general likes and dislikes so you can stock the fridge before they arrive,” says Napier-Fitzpatrick.
While you don’t have to go overboard, it’s probably not a good idea to push your to-die-for mac and cheese on your paleo friend. And now’s not the time to get preachy: Don’t force-feed your uncle sprouts and quinoa if he really, really craves meat and potatoes.
Finally, don’t forget to pay special attention if children are part of the package, as a hangry kid is no fun for anyone.
5. Your closets are so full, guests can’t unpack
Yes, the guest room closet is a convenient place for you to stash out-of-season clothes, or stockpile your donations until you head to the drop-off site. But make sure your guests have ample room to store their stuff when they arrive.
Wagner supplies a luggage rack, which not only looks inviting but also helps prevent the guest from soiling a comforter with dirty suitcases. You’ll also want to empty out a couple of drawers and some closet space, and don’t forget to have a few empty hangers available.
6. Your shower has a cheap, almost-empty shampoo bottle
Most travelers today try to avoid checking a bag whenever possible, which means they’re likely traveling light in the liquid department. Give your guests a break by offering them sumptuous, spa-worthy toiletries, as well as other necessities.
Wagner sets up a basket with a note inviting them to use and keep anything they need. She includes unopened hotel shampoos and conditioners, body wash, lotion, small bars of soap, shower caps, and sewing kits, and new disposable razors, toothbrushes, and small tubes of toothpaste. Let them know where extra TP is, too, of course.
7. You planned an evening at the theater, but guests brought only jeans
Some guests assume a visit is going to entail sitting by the fire in PJs, enjoying some mulled wine, and swapping stories. But if your plans include a special dress code, such as a holiday party with festive attire or an evening out at a restaurant where a jacket is required, give them a heads-up, says Napier-Fitzpatrick.
Also clue them in to other activities you might have in mind so they bring outdoor gear for a hike or appropriate clothes for a session at your favorite yoga studio.
8. You exhaust guests by overscheduling
You love your city, and you want to show off every square inch of it. While most guests will appreciate your playing tour guide, make sure to also give them some time to relax—it is their vacation, after all—and even to explore on their own. If you’re a museum buff and their tastes run more toward a jog in the park, it can be a relief to part ways and let everyone indulge in their preferred activity.
“Have some group outings and activities planned, but it isn’t necessary—nor is it necessarily appreciated by your guests—for you to have every minute of the day planned,” Napier-Fitzpatrick says.
9. Guests can’t find your Wi-Fi password, or figure out how to turn on the TV
Gah! The mystery Wi-Fi code! In today’s well-connected world, it’s a must for people to know how to access Wi-Fi, since many guests work even while on vacation. Also leave them a list of TV/cable channels and some instructions on your remote if it’s complex (and trust us, it is).
10. Your home is burning hot or freezing cold
Grotts recalls one hostess announcing that the electric bill was too high so she didn’t like turning on the air conditioner—despite the 108-degree temperature. Please don’t try to save a few bucks on your energy bill at your guests’ expense.
Show your guests where the thermostat is and have a short discussion about appropriate temperatures, or supply them with a small space heater and fan so they can create the sleeping conditions they favor.
Bobby and Tamar Ben-Simon thought they had found the perfect site to build a new family home.
The couple had planned to tear down the sprawling but dilapidated stucco house in White Plains, N.Y., and build a home that would be a gathering point for their children, most of whom are grown, and future grandchildren, said Mr. Ben-Simon. The 4.3-acre property at 283 Soundview Ave. is next door to a synagogue, a convenient walk for family members during the holidays, he said.
But for the last two years, those plans have been on hold as the Ben-Simons have grappled with a new government body standing in their way.
When the couple signed the contract to buy the home in January 2015, Mr. Ben-Simon said, their research turned up no obstacles. But after closing on the house in August 2015 they learned the city had enacted a preservation law three months earlier and launched a commission. Almost two months after they closed the deal, the ramshackle house they had purchased to knock down and replace was on a swift path to being designated a historic landmark.
The White Plains Historic Preservation Commission sees the 1920 house as a significant, intact example of a beaux-arts architectural style and one of the few buildings in the city some 30 miles north of Manhattan that embodies the characteristics of a classic manor house built for the wealthy.
The homeowners disagree.
“It’s a basic stucco house with no special features, not even nice stone work,” said Mr. Ben-Simon, a builder of luxury single-family homes. “It’s just a plain stucco house.”
Now the couple is petitioning in state supreme court in White Plains to overturn the designation. They allege the city has disregarded their property rights and carried out the landmark law in a way that was at times secretive and confrontational and was always headed toward a predetermined outcome.
Requests for comment from members of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission as well as the mayor were referred to the city attorney, who declined to comment on pending litigation. In court documents, the city has asserted that the commission followed a preservation law crafted over several years that was based on the New York State Historic Preservation Office’s model ordinance.
The legal fight highlights the tensions that can flare between property owners and landmarking bodies. It also underscores the broad criteria preservation committees can call on to designate properties as landmarks. To some neighbors the house has been an eyesore; to the city’s preservation commission it is a local treasure.
“This scenario is one in which there is the ever-present contest between historic preservation law and the owners being able to control their property,” said Shelby D. Green, a professor of law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.
Mr. Ben-Simon said he didn’t realize there was any local historic preservation until his request for a demolition permit was held up and he received a stop-work order around Oct. 16, 2015. On Oct. 19, the city’s historic preservation commission proposed the house be considered for landmark designation.
The property has been listed on the state register of historic places since 2008 and on the national register since 2009. Neither of the listings restricts owners from demolishing or altering a property but brings with it an extensive study conducted by a state researcher to support its historic significance.
The home, called Soundview Manor, was built by wealthy tobacco-company executive Robert B. Dula likely for his son, according to a report supporting its listing on state and national registers of historic places. But in the years before the Ben-Simons bought the house, it had fallen into disrepair, Mr. Ben-Simon said. The previous owner had used it illegally as a bed-and-breakfast, according to city documents. It sat on the market for roughly a decade, its price slowly falling from $8.5 million until the Ben-Simons offered $2.25 million, said Nick Wolff, a Rand Realty broker associate who handled the transaction.
The city said in court papers it was using the law to protect a historic structure under imminent threat of being destroyed, one of the main purposes of landmarking legislation, according to experts in the field.
“The recommendation to designate Soundview Manor as a local landmark was reasonable and rational,” the city said in court documents.
Mr. Ben-Simon said he now has a white elephant on his hands. The wood banisters and balustrades ringing the terraces are rotting, the foundation is cracked, and the floors are slanted and warped from leaking pipes and radiators, Mr. Ben-Simon said.
The couple’s original plan to build a new home would have cost about $900,000, Mr. Ben-Simon said. They estimate they would have to invest $2 million to preserve and restore the existing structure’s facade while overhauling the interior to make it usable.
The commission last month denied the couple’s application to demolish the building, saying the Ben-Simons failed to show hardship and that the landmarked house is unable to bring a reasonable return. By the commission’s calculations, the couple could still make a profit if they built and sold homes on subdivided parcels, according to city documents.
With a resolution up in the air, the Ben-Simons now have received preliminary approval to split the property into four lots.
But Mr. Ben-Simon remains exasperated. “First they rejected my evaluation of the cost involved,” he said in an email. “I do have the experience to know when I get into a financial disaster!”
Home buyers pinching their pennies should rejoice: Existing-home prices are continuing to drop. Sorry, sellers!
The median price of an existing home (i.e. one that has previously been lived in) fell 0.24% from September to hit $247,000 in October, according to the most recent National Association of Realtors® report. And as cash-strapped would-be buyers are well aware, every little bit helps.
In fact, prices have been falling each month since hitting a high of $263,300 in June. That seasonal adjustment is fairly typical, as prices usually soar in summer as the market is flooded with buyers hoping to close on homes before the school year begins.
“We usually see prices go down as we move into the fall. Buyers who are in the market now are usually looking for smaller properties that tend to cost less,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com®. “[But] in spite of the month-to-month price decline, it’s still a pretty tough market for buyers. There aren’t very many options of homes available for sale.”
Existing homes are also considerably easier on the wallet than newly constructed abodes, which cost a median $319,700 in September, according to the latest available government data. That’s about a third, or 29.4%, less.
However, median prices were still up 5.5% year-over-year. Single-family homes were a median $248,300, while condos and co-ops sold for a little less at $236,800.
The number of October home sales nudged up 2% over September, but were down about 0.9% from a year earlier, according to the seasonally adjusted numbers in the report. (That means the numbers have been smoothed out over 12 months to account for seasonal fluctuations in the market.)
Monthly closings were up across the nation, but they dipped annually in the U.S. particularly in the South, by 1.8%, and the Midwest, at 1.5%. The slight drop in the South may be due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hammered the Houston area and much of Florida and paused many sales temporarily.
“Job growth … is starting to slowly push up wages, which is in turn giving households added assurance that now is a good time to buy a home,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said in a statement. “While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated.”
The cost of buying an existing home also fell in every region—except the West. The median price in the region, home to uber-expensive Silicon Valley and cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, OR, was $375,100. That’s up 0.48% from September and 7.8% higher than a year ago.
The next most expensive region was the Northeast, where the median price was $272,800. That’s down 0.8% month-over-month, but up 6.6% annually.
It was followed by the South, at $214,900. That represents a 1.1% monthly drop, but a 4.6% annual increase. Homes were cheapest in the Midwest at $194,700. That’s a 0.9% dip from September, but a 7.1% rise from October 2016.
Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza is selling his high-scoring home in Tarzana, CA, for $3.5 million. The Mediterranean-style estate has 8,600 square feet of living space, including five bedrooms and eight baths.
The 32-year-old Ariza has strong ties to Southern California, where he graduated high school and attended UCLA for a single season before declaring for the NBA draft.
Now based in Houston, Ariza may not be able to spend as much time in the Los Angeles area as he’d like, which is too bad, since the gated home seems like the perfect place for some serious down time.
The palatial home features large living and dining rooms, a family room with custom bar, and a chef’s kitchen with high-end appliances and a casual dining nook. The master bedroom comes with a sitting area and massive bathroom. The upper level contains a home theater. The lower level is lounge central, with a bar and hangout space and even a barber chair for in-home haircuts.
A guesthouse was recently added and comes with a gym. Outdoors, along with manicured lawn and landscaping are a pool and sport court.
Ariza had his NBA debut with the New York Knicks in 2004, and has bounced around the league for over a decade. He played a key role on the Los Angeles Lakers championship squad in 2009. The well-traveled forward rejoined the Houston Rockets in 2014 on a four-year contract that will conclude at the end of the current season.