Archive for May, 2010

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The Celebrity Beat: Relocation.com’s Real Estate Report

Gated Mansion

This gated mansion can be yours for $4.5 million- Any takers?

By Serena Norr

Oh, what to do when you when you have millions of dollars? Travel around the world, eat in fine restaurants and real estate investing comes to mind and for some people, like celebrities these purchases are the norm. At Relocation.com, we are fascinated, part disgusted and semi awe struck by these luxurious extreme homes (eight bedroom condos and in-home movie theatres anyone?) and recently launched a real estate only blog called The Celebrity Beat. Every week we will cover real estate news, a rundown of recent purchases, homes for sale and foreclosures-stay tuned!

•    Uma Thurman Selling Greenwich Village Townhouse-Listed for $14.2 M
According to Zillow.com, Uma Thurman aka the lady that killed Bill is reportedly selling her Greenwich Village townhouse. This 5,086-square-foot luxurious pad has seven bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms and an urban garden complete with a Buddhist sanctuary. Those not so keen on walking up and down stairs may not be into this place (of course if price was no option) since the home has no elevators and five floors. But the media room, spacious dining area and the rooftop deck may change your mind.

•    Conan’s $29. 5 Million Home May Have a Seller
Much has been covered of Mr. O’Brien’s late night woes, but perhaps making $29.5 off of his duplex will have him laughing all the way to the bank. This sprawling super-sized duplex (the 17th and 18th floors were combined in 2004) includes seven bedrooms, three terraces, two libraries, and 8½ bathrooms, according to a listing by John Burger, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens. An unidentified buyer is intended to make this sale, which if it does follow through will be the most expensive real estate sale to date at the art-deco apartment complex, the Majestic.

•    Kanye West’s Home on the Market for $3.9 Million
Producer, rapper, quasi political communitarian, Kanye West’s Hollywood Hills condo is on the market for $3.995 million. His modern pad is modest (at least for celebrity standards) with three bedrooms and 3.5 baths. But then again, there are built-in computers in every room, an in-home movie theater and room with a pool that makes it out of the norm.

•    Billy Joel Purchases $3.3 Million Townhouse
The piano man recently purchased a 1,607-square-foot townhouse in the lovely neighborhood of Nolita. This $3.3 million home features bedrooms and two bathrooms, complete with handcrafted architecture from old NYC and an uber modern kitchen (stainless steel and modern appliances). It is speculated by CurbedNY.com that the apartment was purchased for his daughter.

•    Julianna Margulies sells Santa Monica home to Ed O’Neill
Al Bundy bought that nurse from ER’s Spanish-style home for $3,350,001. This pricey Santa Monica, California abode features a spacious office, a library with built-in shelves, three bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms and a swimming pool. There is also a separate guesthouse with its own bedroom and bathroom.

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Let’s Get Physical: Where are the Healthiest Cities to Live?

Biking in the City

Biking in the City

Let’s Get Physical: Where are the Healthiest Cities to Live?

By Serena Norr

A wise person once said: “Your health is your wealth.” Although this can’t more true, living in major metropolitan area such as the great (and stressful) New York City makes it rather challenging to stay on top of the healthy game – both physically and mentally.

Regardless of what stressors plague their way into our lives, we try our best by eating well, exercising and staying mentally stimulated (oh, do we try!). But despite what we do, some geographic locations are prone to induce stress and affect our health more than others.

While some cities are major detriments to our health, there are others that actually encourage healthy living; ranging from those with numerous outdoor parks and facilities to those that focus on eating healthy from local resources. Centrum and Sperling’s Best Place recently uncovered the healthiest cities to live; ranking how they stack up in the categories of mental, lifestyle, activity, health and diet and how they contribute to ones overall well-being. From the looks of this survey, cities in California are leading the pack, with Indiana not doing so well—which oddly enough is one of the most affordable places on our buy vs. rent report. Check out what healthy spot would be ideal for your next relocation.

Sperling’s Best Places Healthiest Cities

1.    San Jose, California — As the third largest in California, San Jose is renowned for its spacious gardens and parks (Almaden Quicksilver County Park, Alum Rock Park and Kelly Park, to name a few), outdoor festivals and cultural attractions such as the San Jose Museum of Art and the Tech Museum of Innovation. Being the number one healthiest and cleanest cities, San Jose residents rank highest for health, diet and lifestyle. And its no wonder, since residents have access to numerous outdoor trails for walking, running, camping and mountain climbing, as well as other recreational sports that encourage exercising outside. With rents averaging $950-1,200, according to apartments.com and two-bedroom homes at $450,000, San Jose, California is also an affordable moving destination.

2.    Washington, D.C. — As the nation’s capitol there is never short of something to do in Washington, D.C. According the cities website-Washington.org, D.C. is the number one city for walking, which is a great way to discover the areas historic monuments and museums. Residents also rank the highest for mental health and diet, along with affordable living that features modern and historic neighborhoods. Homes average $330,000 and increasing in sales of 2.36 percent in March, 2010, according to ziprealty.com.

3.   San Francisco, CA— On top of being number three on Sperling’s list, San Francisco, California residents were recently surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation for the state of their health and wellbeing. The results? 71 percent of residents reported being in excellent or good health. And it’s no wonder why with a city that encourages walking, biking and running up and down its uphill and windy streets. Activities don’t fall short here either with golf, trips to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Yerba Buena Gardens or simply taking in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rents range from $1,000-1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to apartments.com and homes average $799,000, according to zip realty.

4.    Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA— It’s not all rain and coffee (although this is part of the Seattle, Washington experience) in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett areas of Washington. This healthy city is renowned for their outdoor activities— biking, fishing, running and exploring— that is also considered one of the cleanest cities to reside. Residents can also enjoy the Space Needle, visits to the Pike Place for fresh fish, local fruits and vegetables, walks to the waterfront and exploring the areas many zoos, sporting facilities and wildlife trails at the Northwest Trek.

5.    Salt Lake City-Ogden, UT — This outdoor lover’s paradise is home to the historic temple square, national parks (The Bonneville Salt Flats, Kennecott Copper Mine and Miller Motorsports Park) and attractions such as The Utah Museum, the Historic Temple Square of Natural History and Great Salt Lake. A healthy culture, Salt Lake City is also all about outdoor recreation where residents can enjoy skiing, golfing, biking, hiking, camping and extreme sports such as scuba diving, rafting, paragliding and skydiving to keep you busy and very active. The average two-bedroom rental in Salt Lake City, Utah is $804, according to mynewplace.com.

6.    Oakland, California — Another California City-are we starting to see a trend? Oakland, California ranks very high on the list for its healthy lifestyle choices and activities available to its residents. Visits to Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, Preservation Park and local attractions (Chinatown, Oakland Museum of California and the Chabot Space and Science Center) are a part of life in Oakland; along with access to healthy dining options, farmer’s markets and walking that keep residents fit. Apartments average $895 for a two-bedroom place, according to mynewplace.com and homes averaging $895,000, according to zillow.com.

7.    Sacramento, California — The state capital, Sacramento, California ranked very well in the lifestyle, activity, health and diet categories, which is apparent by the areas attractions that includes historic buildings, museums, and recreational parks (Old Sacramento national and California state historic park). Residents can also take advantage of the areas natural surrounding area by biking, hiking, camping, golfing and partaking in numerous recreational sports throughout the year.

8.    Orange County, California — Much as been chronicled about life in “The O.C” by reality shows, but little is discussed of the high quality of diet, lifestyle, activity and metal health in Orange County, California. With 42 miles of coastline, numerous beaches and recreational parks that include historic sites and open spaces, for biking, camping and hiking. Recreational activities such as surfing, running, tennis, volleyball, basketball and golf also keep residents of the O.C. healthy and active. All the healthy amenities are great, but real estate in the area is a bit steep, averaging 1.5 million for homes, according to zillow.com.

9.   Denver, Colorado — Residents of Denver, Colorado have access to historic western and cultural attractions (Denver Art Museum and the Denver Zoo) and natural beauty to hike, raft, horseback ride and camp. The Mile High City also has affordable rentals with $978 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to mynewplace.com.

10.    Austin-San Marcos, Texas — Dubbed the “live music capitol of the world,” Austin, Texas is also one of the healthiest cities for its high ranks in physical activity. The area also has the highest number of gyms and health clubs in the U.S, along with being a biker friendly area and one that is very eco-conscious, aptly named the “Greenest City in America,” by MSN. The city also has affordable apartments with the average two-bedroom rental at $1,065, according to apartments.com.

And now for the low-ranking cities…

1. New Orleans, LA
2. San Antonio, TX
3. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
4. Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH
5. Orlando, FL
6. Columbus, OH
7. Detroit, MI
8. New York, NY
9. Las Vegas, NV-AZ
10. Indianapolis, IN

Listing Courtesy of Sperling’s Best Places

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Relocation.com’s Best New York City Real Estate Blogs

Night View of Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan

Night View of the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan

By Serena Norr

Often dubbed “the Greatest City in the World,” New York City is a cultural melting pot that millions of people call home. Within this prime locale, residents have access to fine dining and nightlife, ethnic cuisine, museums and galleries, Broadway shows, sporting events and recreational parks and facilities.

With all of these unique amenities, it’s no wonder people from all over the world are moving to New York every year. However, once you relocate to NYC there is the issue of finding a place to live. There is no shortage of housing options in NYC with luxury apartments, two-family houses, buildings, condos and coops, brownstones, and even some houses with property; however these places don’t come without a sizeable price tag. In fact, when you move to NYC you will quickly find that locale determines the price of real estate. Due to these high-rentals (and desire for space), many people have moved away from Manhattan, opting for a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, as opposed to a studio in the Lower East Side. This real estate shift has greatly altered what neighborhoods are desirable in NYC; however the high-end Manhattan real estate shows no signs of slowly down with new development deals and luxury condos throughout the city.

From new commercial developments to residential brownstones on the market to celebrity deals, there is always something exciting happening in the NYC real estate scene. On the beat of the real estate industry are some extraordinary NYC bloggers that are on top of the latest industry news and trends and whose sites feature in-depth articles ranging from tenant’s rights to real estate taxes. Here are some of Relocation.com’s favorites:

Created by Jonathan Butler in 2004, Brownstoner covers Brooklyn’s real estate market, latest news, new housing developments and renovation projects. This also includes covering housing issues in Brooklyn, buying tips and pictures of houses, and listings of apartments, coops and condos on the market. The site has grown tremendously since it began that also includes a directory of services, a community forum, restaurant guide, links to various renovation blogs and a sister site called Brownstoner Philadelphia.

A free listing resource, How to Rent in NYC features no broker fee and no fee apartments. The site also includes a renters section where users can write reviews about their landlords, as well as place to read past tenant’s experiences. Created by Alicia Schwartz, the site also features a directory of no fee management companies and landlords, a helpful question and answer segment for renters, rental articles and a listing of moving companies to get you to NYC.

Covering all of Manhattan, NYC Blog Estate features current real estate listings, recent developments and informative articles about the industry. Users can also navigate their way through the site based on the neighborhood they are interested in. The site also has a buyer and seller section where interested parties can post their home or apartment for a direct sale.

A self-professed “real estate solider,” Property Grunt features the latest news on Manhattan’s real estate industry. The daily blog also provides commentary pertaining to current issues such as crooked real estate transactions, taxes and housing issues, problems with landlords, housing reports, tenant’s rights and pictures of local real estate developments.

A print and online edition, The Real Deal features daily content about real estate news, commercial developments, foreclosed properties and expensive deals throughout the NYC area. Stories can also be broken down by neighborhood and users can share their tips about real estate to the website’s editors. The site also has an event section and listing of offices, retail spaces and commercial properties for sale.

The New York Observer’s blog-The Real Estate covers stories about high-end real estate transactions, building developments, tenant experiences and market reports. They also showcase “it’s free to look” area where users can check out luxury apartments and condos on the market.

Published by the Heddings Property Group, the True Gotham blog delivers content that pertains to the inner workings of the real estate industry. Taking an open and honest approach, the site features market reports of transitions in Manhattan, industry news, podcasts and videos and a residential listing section.

As mentioned, in our Best Real Estate Blogs in Los Angeles post we are fans of Curbed and their network of websites. The New York addition — aptly named Curbed NY— follows a snarky and direct approach to covering the latest news and headlines of the NYC real estate market. The site also features celebrity homes on the market (Olsen twins home for $.45 million is just one example), real estate gossip and developments, commercial real estate news, real estate construction and a link to their flickr site showcasing gorgeous photos of real estate around the city. Sellers can also list their home and buyers can search through homes on the market at the Curbed Marketplace.

A comprehensive real estate site, Urban Diggs analyzes the Manhattan real estate market through the use of macro economics to determine real estate trends and investment strategies. Created by Noah Rosenblatt, the site provides in-depth articles, a user discussion section, charts of current trends and insider tips. The also site covers renovations, mortgages, inventory and features a contractor directory.

Everything is coming up green, which also rings true for the real estate industry. Green Buildings NYC not only covers the real estate segment, but design and construction projects in the greater NYC area. The content on the site is organized by neighborhood where users can discover the latest news and articles on green building and sustainability on office spaces, commercial real estate, architecture projects, environmental issues, energy efficient buildings, alternative energy sources, lawn development and much more. Through the site users can also learn about local events, engage in a community forum, locate jobs and search for green real estate listings.

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Buy or Rent? The 10 Best Cities in the U.S for Both Markets

Buy or Rent? The 10 Best Cities in the U.S for Both Markets

By Serena Norr

The great debate lives on: Should you buy or rent? Both sides of the discussion are very passionate about their stance. Renters scuff at the idea of buying due to an inability to put down a sizeable down payment or perhaps they live in an area where renting is favorable to buying a home. Buyers, on the other hand don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to own their own property in order to build a home for themselves or their families, as well as own a piece of real estate that may increase in value over time. This friendly debate has seen a bit of a shift with the upturn of the economy where some renters can now afford to buy due to foreclosures and financial assistance from the $8,000 tax credit for new homebuyers. Whereas, some homeowners have been forced out of their homes and can now only afford rent.

Of course, the complexity of the housing bubble isn’t so black and white. Location also plays a huge factor in an individual’s decision and ability to buy or rent. For example: in New York it is cheaper to rent than to own; whereas in Boston the market is stronger for buyers. As this paradigm continues to flip, we at relocation.com won’t be taking any sides; but we can offer a list of the best cities (area amenities, price, thriving job markets and real estate growth) for both markets. Now if we could just solve the mortgage crisis, we would all be one big happy family.

10 Best Cities for Renters

1. Columbus, Ohio: According to apartments.com, the average rental in Columbus, Ohio is $837 for a two-bedroom apartment—pretty amazing deal for the largest city in Ohio and home of Ohio State University. Real estate is also expected to pick up, but for now it is certainly a renters market.

2. Indianapolis, Indiana: As the largest city in Indiana, Indianapolis is experiencing a steady job market that is also renowned for its job market within the manufacturing industries and home of the Indianapolis 500. Residents of this Midwestern area also have access to numerous cultural attractions such as the Indiana State Museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions and the White River State Park. Renters can also look forward to affordable apartment prices with an average monthly rent of $751 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to mynewplace.com.

3. San Antonio, Texas: As the second largest city in Texas, San Antonio has cultural ties to Mexico and the U.S. where residents can see a rodeo or check out exciting cultural attractions such as the Alamo and the River Walk. The area is also home to major universities and research centers such as South Texas Medical Center. The area is also ideal for renters where months rents average $850 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to apartments.com.

4. Salt Lake City, Utah: The average two-bedroom rental in Salt Lake City, Utah is $804, according to mynewplace.com. This outdoor lover’s paradise is home to numerous ski resorts, golf courts and national parks and attractions such as The Utah Museum, the Historic Temple Square of Natural History and Great Salt Lake.

5. Austin, Texas: Dubbed the “live music capitol of the world,” music and Austin, Texas are often mentioned in the same sentence, which is evident by the numerous musical festivals (South by Southwest and Austin City Limits Music Festival) that are held here. Austin is also the corporate headquarters of Whole Food Market, Dell and recently a new office for Facebook. The city is also a biker friendly area and one that is very eco-conscious and not to mention affordable with the average two-bedroom rental at $1065, according to apartments.com.

6. Charleston, South Carolina: An exciting southern city, Charleston, South Carolina features numerous recreational amenities such as beaches, campgrounds, museums (Gibbes Museum of Art and the Charleston Museum) and an historical downtown area. The area also boosts a mild climate throughout the year to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. What’s even better is that you get all of this for a monthly rate of $ 825 as stated by mynewplace.com.

7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: As the largest city in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City is renowned for its livestock industries and oil production. This western city is also home to the Ford Center to check out a basketball game or a concert, the American Banjo Museum and Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Renters will also love the price of $665 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to apartments.com.

8. Sacramento, California: Sacramento, California is known as a lively area for its recreational amenities (Sacramento Zoo, national parks, museums and marina). There is also favorable rent in this area of $934 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to mynewplace.com.

9. Tucson, Arizona: Dry, arid climates are in the norm in Tucson, Arizona where residents can enjoy outdoor adventures such as rock climbing, hiking at one of the areas numerous parks and nature reserves. New construction is also promising for renters with an average two-bedroom apartment at $723 a month, according to apartments.com.

10. Denver, Colorado: If surrounded amongst natural beauty and access to historic western attractions aren’t enough, cheap rents are sure to entice you to move to Denver, Colorado. According to mynewplace.com the average rent in the Mile High City is $978 for a two-bedroom apartment.

10 Best Cities for Homebuyers

1. Boston, Massachusetts: A vibrant college town, Boston, Massachusetts is the home of Harvard, Boston University and the Boston Conservatory of Music. The area is also experiencing a strong housing market with a 2.17 percent increase in home sales and an average single family home priced at $359,900, according to ziprealty.com.

2. Atlanta Georgia: Dubbed the Sun Belt for its hot temperatures, Atlanta, Georgia is the headquarters of CNN, the Coca-Cola Company and Delta. Not just a mecca for big business, this area is a hot market for homebuyers with the average single family home costing $146,500, according to zillow.com.

3. Baltimore, Maryland: Centrally located in Maryland, Baltimore is a vibrant seaport city situated along the Patapsco River. The area also has a downtown commercial district and nine surrounding neighborhoods for your pick of a suburban or city environment. According to ziprealty.com, the average home is $194,000 whose area is experiencing a steady increase since January 2010.

4. Minneapolis, Minnesota: The average single-family home in Minneapolis, Minnesota aka the Twin Cities is $184,000 , according to zillow.com along with a 2.33 percent sales increase in March, 2010 that makes this area favorable for buyers. In addition to affordable homes, the job market is seeing a slight increase, along with area amenities such as the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, recreational parks and parks and historical tours that makes for an ideal (and affordable) location.

5. Washington, D.C.: As the nation’s capitol there is never short of something to do in while living in Washington, D.C. Exploring the White House, Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian Museum are just some of the many area attractions residents can take advantage of. This area also has a combination of modern and historic neighborhoods that is favorable for buyers with homes averaging $330,000 and increasing in sales of 2.36 percent in March, 2010, according to ziprealty.com.

6. Sacramento, California: Famous for the home of the gold rush in the 18th century, Sacramento is now a thriving city situated along the Sacramento River. The area is also the state capitol of California that is a hub for parks, modern museums and music (Crocker Art Museum and the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra), theatre (Sacramento Theatre Company) and colleges (Sacramento State). Buyers can also look forward to affordable housing prices with homes averaging $239,900, according to ziprealty.com.

7. Charlotte, North Carolina: Known as the “Queen City,” residents of Charlotte, North Carolina have access to numerous artistic and cultural attractions such as the NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, the Discovery Place: a hands-on science museum, a vibrant financial center located in downtown Charlotte and historic neighborhoods. On top of all that buyers can score a major deal with the average price of home at $148,900, according to zillow.com.

8. Dallas, Texas: With a motto like: “Live Large, Think Big,” Dallas surely lives up its credo with its diverse culture, modern restaurants and access to one of the largest arts districts in the U.S (the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas City Arts Festival, and Shakespeare Festival of Dallas are just a few of the many cultural offerings.). This vibrant city is also very affordable with the average home at $189,750 and a steady increase in sales at 2.57 percent, according to ziprealty.com.

9. Jacksonville, Florida: The largest city in Florida, Jacksonville is sure to please sun worshippers but will also be favorable to individuals who seek a diverse area whose job market is steadily rising. Jacksonville is also home to the largest park system in the country, according to coj.net, along with beaches and a vibrant downtown area. Home buyers will also love this area for its affordable home prices. In March, 2010, the average home in Jacksonville was $165,000, according to ziprealty.com.

10. Las Vegas, Nevada: Hit pretty hard by the housing market, real estate in Las Vegas is starting to see signs of growth with a 1.19 percent increase in home sales in March 2010, as opposed to the -4.95 percent loss in December 2008. This dessert city is sure to be exciting for residents (and not just cause of the Vegas Strip), but an area that features natural beauty, an arid climate and established neighborhoods whose homes feature modern amenities and access to great schools. Houses typically range from $169,900 and new construction is promising for this dessert city.

Resources:

•    MyNewPlace.com
•    Apartments.com
•    Ziprealty.com
•    Zillow.com
•    AOL’s Best Cities for Renting
•    Ten Cities for Real Estate Steals

City Pages:
•    Columbus, Ohio
•    Indianapolis, Indiana
•    San Antonio, Texas
•    Salt Lake City, Utah
•    Austin, Texas
•    Charleston, South Carolina
•    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
•    Sacramento, California
•    Tucson, Arizona
•    Denver, Colorado
•    Boston, Massachusetts
•    Charlotte, North Carolina
•    Dallas, Texas
•    Jacksonville, Florida
•    Las Vegas, Nevada