Feb 24, 2016
London's Falling

(LONDON) If you’ve been holding off buying that luxury home in London, you’re not alone. Sales in London’s poshest neighborhoods fell to a seven-year low thanks to a changes in the Stamp Duty Land Tax. Seems buyers, naturally, are turned off by the prospects of a new tax that will increase the stamp duty tax to as high as 12 percent for the most expensive homes. The new tax goes into effect in April and effects all investment and second home purchases in the UK by making them subject to a higher tax (3 percent more) than primary residences. The pending tax has already had an effect in the desirable London neighborhoods of Kensington, Chelsea, Mayfair and Westminster where sales in January were 30 percent below the average, the lowest since 2009. The Stamp Duty Land Tax applies if you buy a property or land over a certain price in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Feb 22, 2016
This One’s for the Birds

(BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, PA) Snowbirds or migratory birds? Seems like only one group will come out a winner in the battle brewing at Green Pond Country Club. Developers want to build a 55-and-up community on a portion of the club’s property. Founded in the 1930s by a group of wealthy Lehigh Valley residents, the club is owned by 24 shareholders, relatives of the original founders. Many of the current shareholders have never even seen the club, says the club’s chairman. But they’d like to make some good money for their shares and have voted to sell off a portion of the course for development. Thing is, the course is still viable, with 35,000 rounds played each year. And for 79 years the course has hosted the Lehigh Valley Amateur. Now a group of residents, Save Green Pond Marsh, has joined the fray. They are opposed to the development plan because of the land's value as an important rest area for migratory birds. The shareholders are fighting back, saying they’ll sell the entire course for development if they current plan isn’t approved. A fine feathered mess this has turned out to be.

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Feb 18, 2016
Shark Sale

(JUPITER ISLAND, FL) Something we don’t know about Jupiter Island? Last week, Celine Dion put her house on the ultra-pricey, ultra-private island on the market for $45 million. The listing price was $30 million less than it was several years ago. Now comes word that Greg Norman has put his estate up for sale for $55 million. That’s a price drop of $10 million from the last time he listed it. Don’t shed any tear for Norman, though. He bought the estate for $4.9 million in 1991. If he sells anywhere near the asking price that’s a tidy profit. And to think Fox just paid up on his cancelled contract with the network. The Shark is going to have a lot of cash available for whatever he’s up to next. If you just happened to win Powerball and have an interest in his oceanside property, nicknamed “Tranquility,” here’s what the listing has to say: "Experience the serenity and privacy of a relaxed, yet active and healthful lifestyle for which this extraordinary, eight-acre Jupiter Island estate was named. Stretching from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean, Tranquility presents the opportunity to wake each day to an enchanting waterside environment filled with the finest sporting and entertainment venues that include a tennis pavilion, resort style pool area with Polynesian style grill house, a putting green, complete gym, game room, home theater, beachside activities, and boating."

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Feb 17, 2016
Buying In at Bluejack

(MONTGOMERY, TX) Even as Tiger Woods’ world ranking continues to trend downward (currently 444th), he can take solace that buyers at Bluejack National, the high-end Texas community that is home to his first U.S. design, are on the rise. According to the Houston Chronicle, more than 70 homes or home sites have been sold or are spoken for at the residential community. Director of Sales, Gary Short, told the Chronicle that “the majority of buyers have been young families, empty-nesters and retirees. Buyers are opting for suites (designed like luxury hotel suites and starting in the mid $400s), freestanding cottages (staring in the $700s), and Sunday Homes (up to five bedrooms and starting at over $1 million. As of now, only the first nine holes of Tiger’s course are complete, with the back nine scheduled for completion in April. Golf won’t be the only activity for residents. Zip lines, fishing, and bowling are also planned for the community. 

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Feb 15, 2016
A Look into the Future

(NEW YORK) The smart home is already here. Now it appears the smart home walkthrough is as well. Though not quite perfected, virtual reality technology, is allowing homebuyers to tour homes they are interested in without ever actually stepping inside the home. In some cases, these virtual reality tours are being offered for homes that aren’t even built yet. With a pair of 3D goggles strapped to your face, you can “walk” through every room of a potential home to feel how it lives. You can even look out the windows to see what the view from each room will be. The New York Times reports that “Later this year, haptic technology, or the science of touch, will let users see their own hands in the virtual world, allowing them to open closet doors and feel hot water from the faucet.” Not far behind is technology that will also introduce smells to the virtual experience. Sounds like, in the future, realtors won’t have to bake chocolate chip cookies for open houses. Or put up with curious neighbors who just want a look-see.

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