Seth Lynn

Cell: 404.229.2100

Fax: 404.795.9079

Mailing Address:
Penguin Properties, C/O The UPS Store,
2897 North Druid Hills Road, Box #341
Atlanta, GA 30329

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The latest news from AOL Real Estate - Blog

Patrick Dempsey Bought New Venice Home Before Divorce News

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Patrick Dempsey Photographed Wearing His Wedding Ring Two Days After His Wife Jillian Fink Filed for Divorce

"Grey's Anatomy" star Patrick Dempsey's 15-year marriage to Jillian Fink may be on the rocks, but their real estate portfolio seems healthy. Before news broke last week that the couple would divorce, they had snagged a California micro-compound about a mile from the Pacific Ocean in the Venice Beach neighborhood of Los Angeles, Variety reports.

Met Costume Gala
APPatrick Dempsey and wife Jillian Fink, seen here in 2011, are divorcing after buying a second LA area home together.
Dempsey -- known on the TV show as Dr. McDreamy -- and Jillian, a Hollywood makeup artist who has used both the Fink and Dempsey names, bought the property for $1.9 million. One hopes that was during happier times, but it could have been a sign they were planning separate households. The tiny 3,900 square-foot lot hosts the original 1950s bungalow, which was renovated in the mid-2000s into a one-bedroom, one-bath guest quarters with kitchen. There's also a second residence, a three-story house featuring walls of glass and corrugated metal siding. The two structures are linked by a redwood bridge that also serves as a two-car carport.

The couple couldn't seem to get enough of the Pacific. They primarily have lived with their three children in Malibu on five acres above Zuma Beach. Their Frank Gehry house, known as the "Tin House" and built in the 1960s for acclaimed artist Ron Davis, recently graced the pages of Architectural Digest. The Dempseys reportedly bought it in 2009 for $7 million.

Our question now: Who will get which house?

Click through the slideshow below for a look at the Venice property. (Photos of the Malibu estate can be seen in the Architectural Digest story.)


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Posted on 26 January 2015 | 4:42 am

10 Homes You Could Buy for $350,000

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ZillowThis updated colonial in Baltimore has three bedrooms, three baths and a finished attic and is priced at $309,900.

By Sharona Ott

In some major cities, finding a home that has both quality infrastructure and modern finishes can be a tedious task.

Do not fret, home buyers. We've done the work for you and found top-notch homes that meet this criteria. Check out the following homes in well-known locales across the country -- all currently or recently on the market at approximately $350,000.


5130 S Medley Court
For Sale: $325,000


Built in 1919, this two-bedroom, one-bath Craftsman home has been beautifully updated while still maintaining its nostalgic charm. Lush foliage including raised organic garden beds, fruit bushes and mature trees engulf the property.

See more Seattle homes for sale.

Austin, Texas

9720 Alex Lane
For Sale: $320,000


This three-bedroom, three-bath home is spacious and well equipped, and its kitchen sports stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Outdoor seating is plentiful, with a lovely patio in the backyard and a private second-story balcony.

See more homes for sale in Austin.

San Diego

6356 Thorn St.
For Sale: $339,000

San Diego

Remodeled throughout, this two-bedroom, one-bath home showcases a modern and light-filled interior. All flooring is new, and the kitchen boasts new stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and cabinets.

See more homes listed in San Diego.

Billings, Montana

3228 Turnberry Circle
For Sale: $350,000


This expansive five-bedroom, four-bath home totals 3,201 square feet. The home's elegant interior leads to a roomy deck that overlooks a sprawling backyard.

See more Billings homes for sale.

Nashville, Tennessee

1011 Carolyn Avenue
For Sale: $309,900


Packed with updates, this brick, cottage-style three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home with downstairs master bedroom delivers a stylish interior with new appliances. The exterior boasts a new roof.

See more homes for sale in Nashville.

Buffalo, New York

139 Dorchester Road
For Sale: $309,900


Built in 1908, this 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom colonial home has been upgraded throughout. Its historic exterior complements the interior's open floor plan and modern updates.

See more homes listed in Buffalo.


2812 Pontiac St.
For Sale: $349,900


The exterior and interior of this 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom ranch home has received a complete update. Notable upgrades include its high-end kitchen, with new stainless steel appliances, stylish tile backsplash and white Shaker cabinets.

See more Denver homes for sale.


2 Orkney Court
For Sale: $309,900


This 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom colonial home has been renovated but still features a charming, wood-burning fireplace. The home also has a sunroom, built-in speakers throughout and a finished attic.

See more homes for sale in Baltimore.

Salt Lake City

1131 E Browning Avenue
For Sale: $345,000

Salt Lake City

Surrounded by towering trees, this 4-bedroom, 2-bath home offers a glimpse of rural living while in the city. Its warm and inviting interior includes a vaulted living room and efficient, clean-burning fireplace.

See more homes listed in Salt Lake City.


905 Van White Memorial Boulevard
For Sale: $339,000


This 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home has an open floor plan and luxurious amenities. Notable features include cherry hardwoods on the main floor, Bose surround system, two-sided slate fireplace, and master bath with a jetted tub and separate shower.

See more Minneapolis homes for sale.


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Posted on 25 January 2015 | 8:16 am

Notorious Du Pont Estate Now Luxury Development

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Courtesy of Toll BrothersThe Carriage Barn clubhouse is intended as a center of the community at Liseter, a development of up to 449 homes.

Pennsylvania's famed Du Pont estate, where thoroughbreds once frolicked and John du Pont shot and killed an Olympic gold medal wrestler, has been leveled and replaced with a Toll Brothers development of luxury houses.

Foxcatcher Farm, the former name of the estate, has been transformed into Liseter, a development permitted for 449 homes on more than 200 acres. The Toll Brothers project ranges from townhomes that start in the low $600,000s to five-bedroom houses that begin at $1.1 million.

Neighbors knew the property as the Du Pont estate, the site where John du Pont, who inherited the place, shot Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz to death in 1996. "Foxcatcher," a 2014 film starring Steve Carell that is currently in theaters, depicts the incident. Du Pont died in prison in 2010 at age 72.

The property lies about 13 miles from downtown Philadelphia and a stone's throw from the Main Line -- the font of blue-blood empty-nesters who are buying the new homes, according to Brian Thierrin, Toll Brothers vice president. So far, 126 homes have been sold, and about 35 residents have moved in.

The name, Liseter, comes from Jean Liseter Austin, whose father gifted her the property in 1919 when she wed, William du Pont Jr., an heir to the Du Pont chemical fortune. They called their new home "Liseter Farm,'' and bred Welsh ponies and thoroughbred racehorses there during the 1920s and 1930s. Among their most famous was Rosemont, one of the few horses to defeat the famed Seabiscuit.

When Toll Brothers bought the property, crews demolished the mansion, which had fallen into disrepair, and razed several guest houses and storage buildings. Where the mansion stood, the developer created Liseter Square with an open-air pavilion for concerts. They also built a 9,000 square- foot clubhouse called the Carriage Barn and a fitness center with a game room and yoga center.

Developing an historic and notorious property came with challenges. Neighbors were "concerned about what was going to happen to this estate," Thierrin said. "Even people who were against this property have come in and said, 'It's not what we wanted, but what they did is fantastic.' "


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Posted on 24 January 2015 | 5:41 pm

$100 Million Condo Breaks NYC Record

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Evan Joseph/ Extell DevelopmentThe 360-degree views from the 89th and 90th floor duplex stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the Catskill Mountains.

A New York City real estate record is broken almost as often as the No. 1 train heads uptown. And the latest -- most expensive apartment ehhh-ver -- has been shattered at One57, the West 57th Street, long-drink-of-water building whose 11,000 square-foot penthouse has sold $100.47 million.

The previous record-holder was a Central Park West penthouse that sold for $88 million in 2012.

One57, which incorporates the ritzy Park Hyatt Hotel on 25 of its 90 floors, has gotten its share of press -- good and bad.
  • For a hot minute, One57 was heralded as the tallest residential building in NYC at 1,000 feet -- until 432 Park Avenue grabbed the title at 1,396 feet.
  • Central Park lovers griped that the slender building was casting a long shadow over the famed park, making it chilly. They also harrumphed that the building's sky-high prices would attract only Saudi princes, Russian oligarchs, and other non-stakeholders in New York City's welfare.
  • During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the construction crane on the building partially collapsed, causing neighborhood evacuations and snarling traffic for about a week.
Extell Development Company, which created the colossus, won't name the record-breaking buyer, but said that the building is 80 percent sold, and that half of those units are foreign-owned.

So, we wonder, what makes the record-holding penthouse worth $100 million?

The 360-degree views from the 89th and 90th floor duplex are "jaw-dropping," said Jeannie Woodbrey, senior sales executive at One57. "You can see from the Atlantic Ocean in Long Island to the Catskill Mountains -- 360 degrees of heaven."

Here are more details:
  • The penthouse includes six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two powder rooms.
  • The building features a triple-height indoor swimming pool, fitness center and private dining room.
  • Condo owners have access to preferred seating in the hotel's "The Back Room" restaurant, in-room spa and chef services, and dog walkers.


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Posted on 22 January 2015 | 4:14 am

Weekly Update: Mortgage Rates Remain Low at 3.58%

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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 rose slightly this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.58 percent, up from 3.57 percent at this time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 3.63 percent, falling to 3.46 percent on Thursday before returning to the current rate.

"Despite substantial volatility, rates remained essentially flat last week, holding near 20-month lows," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "With minimal incoming data this holiday-shortened week, we expect little rate movement as the markets look to the President's State of the Union address and the European Central Bank's Thursday policy meeting."

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate Tuesday morning was 2.92 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.83 percent.

What are the interest rates right now? Check Zillow Mortgages for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state.

To see the amount you might be able to afford to borrow, try the mortgage payment and affordability calculators found here.


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Posted on 21 January 2015 | 3:02 am

Miley's Toluca Lake House on Market for $6 Million

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Here's one way to bump Miley Cyrus' escapades with boyfriend Patrick Schwarzenegger off the hot topics list. The bad girl singer has put her Toluca Lake house in suburban Los Angeles on the market for $5.995 million.

The Tuscan-inspired house, designed by architect Bob Eaton, is walled and gated and sits at the end of a long, tree-lined driveway complete with motor court.The six-bedroom, seven-bath house is about 8,700 square feet and sits on a half-acre lot. Features include:
  • Three-car garage with individual arched doors.
  • Juliet balcony.
  • Copper rain gutters.
  • Red clay tile roof.
  • Wood-beamed ceilings.
  • Master closet to die for.
Los Angeles County property records show that the property is owned by The Sunshine Girl Trust, which is reportedly Miley's trust. The property was transferred to the trust in 2012 by Mommy and Daddy, Billy Ray Cyrus and Leticia Cyrus, who bought the house in 2007 for $5.846 million.

The Toluca Lake house looks a little stodgy for a pop star. Listing agent Thomas Atamian said the property is where Miley grew up, and that he sold her a midcentury modern in Studio City a few years ago. It appears the queen of twerks was living there in February 2014 when two police squad cars reportedly rushed to the Studio City home for reasons that remain unclear.

For the record, the real Miley is so much more substantial than just her tonque-flicking, twerking image. "She's very down to earth," Atamian said.

You read it here first!


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Posted on 20 January 2015 | 12:24 pm

Grey Gardens Is Summer Rental for $250,000

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Corcoran GroupBen Bradlee and wife Sally Quinn bought the 10-bedroom home known as Grey Gardens in 1979 for $220,000.

If you love political and social history -- and have very deep pockets -- you'll love this East Hamptons rental of the Grey Gardens estate owned and restored by Ben Bradlee, the late, great Washington Post editor, and his wife, writer Sally Quinn.

Grey Gardens was once the decrepit, cat-infested home of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, aka "Big Edie," and her daughter, Edith Bouvier Beale, "Little Edie" -- the aunt and cousin of First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, later known as Jackie Onassis. The home and blue-bloods-turned-cat-ladies lifestyle of the Edies were the subject of a 1975 documentary, a Broadway musical, and a 2009 HBO film starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange.

When Bradlee and Quinn bought the house in 1979 for $220,000, it smelled of cat urine. Its ceilings were caving in, and raccoons lived in the attic. Quinn reportedly became obsessed with restoring the house back to its WASPy beauty. The restoration took a year and included installing French doors on the back of the house, which faces the ocean. She also covered the furniture with chintz and painted the walls in blues and greens that closely mimic the home's original decor.

"My goal was to have anyone who entered the house feel good," Quinn said in an Architectural Digest piece about the restoration.

Feeling good in Grey Gardens doesn't come cheap. Quinn and Bradlee spent Augusts at the beach house. But Bradlee died in October at 93 and Quinn is planning to travel this summer, so the 10-bedroom, 6.5-bath house is being offered as a rental for $250,000 from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It also is available at $295,000 for one year or $225,000 for just July and August.

Sound pricey? It's a drop in the summer-rental bucket in the Hamptons, according to agent Gary DePersia, who is handling the property for the Corcoran Group.

"If it were a newer home, it would go for $325,000 for the summer," DePersia told AOL. "We rent for much more than that, dear, up to $1.5 million for the summer."

Aside from its great history, the two-acre estate has a pool, tennis court, and, perhaps, a ghost.
In the Architectural Digest piece, Quinn says during the renovation a neighbor approached with a message from Big Edie, who died in 1977.

Quinn wrote that the neighbor told her, "I talked to 'Big Edie' the other day," in a totally matter-of-fact way. "She wanted me to tell you how pleased she is that you have bought Grey Gardens. She wants you to know that she believes you will make the house as beautiful as it once was, and that she will be watching over you to make sure that everything goes perfectly and that this will be a warm and loving and happy house."

So is Grey Gardens haunted?

"I've been in the house even at dusk and never got the sensation of beings," DePersia said. "But who knows?


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Posted on 20 January 2015 | 8:34 am

5 Closet Upgrades That Make You Feel Like Royalty

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LA Closet DesignA spacious and well-organized closet can make getting dressed a luxurious experience and help you look your best.
You may not have Kate Middleton's wardrobe, but with these five closet upgrades you can create a luxury closet fit for royalty:

1. Cozy seating
A fur chair offers a gentle landing spot where you can slip on your heels. Jonathan Adler's chic Maxime Fur Chair suits a variety of décor.

LA Closet Design
2. Deluxe drawer inserts
Felt-lined, specialized drawer inserts protect and display your jewelry, ties, glasses or lingerie. Rev-a-Shelf's velvet-lined drawers put the perfect accessory for your outfit at your fingertips.

3. A 3-Way Mirror
Before she walked down the aisle at her sister's wedding, Pippa Middleton probably checked in a three-way mirror to see how she looked to those sitting in the back of the church. You can check the rear-view, too, by installing a three-way mirror in your closet. If space and budget are issues, Bed Bath & Beyond sells a $129 over-the-door, three-way mirror in black or white.

4. Crystal Chandelier
The glittering light of a chandelier or crystal wall sconce will warm your closet and prevent you from putting on one black sock and one navy blue sock. Pescaso's mini-chandeliers, available through Costco, lend a romantic elegance to your closet.

5. Embellishments
Drawer pulls, molding, decorative medallions and trim add a touch of sophistication. Accessorize your drawers with a glittering Swarovski crystal pull from, leather and stainless steel beauties from Doug Mockett, or the fun options from Anthropologie.
LA Closet Design

On a Budget? Lisa Adams, CEO of LA Closet Design, is known for building luxury closets, but she also knows how to get the look for less.

"Here's my playbook for creating a luxury closet for less," she says. "Lose the wire and plastic hangers and get matching hangers for your closet; add base and crown molding to create a more finished look; add a chandelier and ottoman, update your knobs/handles and install pullout valet hooks."


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Posted on 20 January 2015 | 5:05 am

House Where Bob Hope Spent Final Days Returns to Market

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Courtesy of Craig Strong of the John Aaroe GroupBob and Dolores Hope's 15,000 square-foot mansion on 5.6 acres in Toluca Lake is on the market for $23 million.
Bob Hope's Toluca Lake home, the place the entertainer and later his wife Dolores spent their final days, has returned to Los Angeles market -- this time with a $23 million price tag.

Toluca Lake is a neighborhood just north of Universal Studios where Steve Carell, Zac Efron, Kiefer Sutherland, Miley Cyrus and Melissa McCarthy also live. The Hopes' English traditional house, just a half mile from where buddy Bing Crosby lived, is far less spectacular than the couple's Palm Springs contemporary, also on the market with a 50 percent price slash to $25 million.

The 5.6-acre Toluca Lake property -- really, a gated compound -- was "the" place for entertainers and politicians to meet and greet in the 1940s and 1950s. Richard Nixon reportedly once landed his helicopter on the grounds on his way to play golf.

At one time, the Hopes were considered among the largest private landowners in California. But of their many properties, this Toluca Lake estate is where they called home. Hope would often drive a golf cart around the neighborhood on his way to the Lakeside Golf Club down the street. Obituaries for the couple say they both died at home in Toluca Lake -- Bob at 100 in 2003 and Dolores at 102 in 2011.

The property spans four parcels and clearly dwarfs anything in that neighborhood. It has a large main house, pool house, and staff quarters/production office. It originally was listed for $27.5 million in 2013, then reduced to $21.8 million when two acres were lopped off the listing, taken off the market for about five months, then returned with those two acres for $23 million.

The 15,000 square-foot mansion was built in 1939 for the Hopes by architect Richard Finkelhor (who also designed homes for Zeppo Marx and Barbara Stanwyck), and later renovated in the 1950s by John Elgin Woolf, known as the king of the Hollywood Regency style that melds 19th-century French, Greek Revival and Modernist styles into a glitz-glam look. Woolf's celebrity-studded client list included Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Lillian Gish.

The Hopes' main house features:
  • Eight bedrooms and eight baths.
  • Master suite including fireplace, dual bathrooms, sitting room, and glass sliders to a huge terrace.
  • Par-three golf hole.
  • Indoor and outdoor pools.
  • Library, bar, and billiard room.
Listing agent Craig Strong hopes someone who loves the Hope history will buy the estate, renovate a little -- no one has lived there since 2011 -- but basically keep it intact. Lacking that, Strong imagines a developer will buy the corner estate, and perhaps the Hope-owned property on the three other corners that are listed in a separate deal for about $5 million.

"Whoever buys the main estate has the first right to buy the other corners, too," Strong said.


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Posted on 19 January 2015 | 12:00 am

These 10 Tiny Homes Could Be a Steal

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5021 Virginia Dare, Kitty Hawk NC

By Melissa Allison

Small homes have gotten so hot, thieves are lifting them.

In recent months, bandits have made off with a 200 square-foot cabin in Canada's Yukon woods and a tiny house in Texas. The latter was recovered, and its owner now recommends a boot clamp and a hitch lock for other owners of tiny homes.

The home above, on North Carolina's Outer Banks, probably isn't going anywhere unless Mother Nature is involved. The 560-square foot house at 5021 Virginia Dare Trail North in Kitty Hawk is for sale for $250,000. The two-bedroom, one-bath cottage sits on new pilings and has a wide front deck.

See more homes that measure 600 square feet or less and aren't on wheels below.

3150 North Sheffield Avenue, Apt. 308
For sale: $159,000
Size: 600 square feet

3150 N Sheffield Ave Apt 308, Chicago IL

This studio loft is a 10-minute walk from Wrigley Field and near many popular restaurants and shops. Homeowners Association fees are just $218 a month.

See other listings in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood.

International Falls, Minnesota
1775 Grindstone Island
For sale: $284,900
Size: 400 square feet

1775 Grindstone Island, International Falls, MN

Located on an island in far northern Minnesota, this property includes three bedrooms spread across three small cabins that total 600 square feet. The main cabin has a living room, kitchen and "master" bedroom; each of the other two cabins is a bedroom. Separate buildings house a sauna, shower and outhouse.

Check out what else is on the market in and around International Falls.

770 Northeast 69th St., Apt. 5E
For sale: $149,999
Size: 521 square feet

770 NE 69th St, Miami FL

Residents enjoy views of Biscayne Bay and Palm Bay Marina from this studio's entertainment area and extended balcony. A sleeping alcove big enough for a queen bed is hidden at the back of the unit.

See more Miami homes for sale.

Emigrant Gap, California
41027 Skyline Drive
For sale: $169,000
Size: 480 square feet

41027 Skyline Dr, Emigrant Gap, CA

This tiny cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains is near skiing, hiking, rivers and lakes -- and has a hot tub on the screened-in porch.

Check out more homes for sale in and around Emigrant Gap.

West Point, Texas
530 Justice Road
For sale: $434,900
Size: 336 square feet530 Justice Road interior


The home is small, but its spread is Texas big. It sits on nearly 24 acres between Austin and Houston and the property includes a four-acre lake.

See other listings in West Point.

Boulder, Colorado
811 Main St.
For sale: $200,000
Size: 565 square feet

811 Main St, Boulder CO

Located in the former mining town of Gold Hill outside Boulder, this cabin was built in 1914 and has a sunny kitchen, sleeping loft and claw-foot bathtub.

Check out more listings in Boulder County.

New Orleans
526 Madison St., Apt. 2D
For sale: $239,000
Size: 375 square feet

526 Madison St, New Orleans LA

A block from Jackson Square, this French Quarter condo has a kitchen and sitting area downstairs and a bedroom and bathroom upstairs. It also has lots of windows, exposed brick and hardwood floors.

See more homes for sale in New Orleans.

Rockport, Massachusetts
182 Granite St.
For sale: $154,000
Size: 400 square feet

182 Granite St, Rockport MA
Fred Light for Nashua Video Tours via Zillow

Built in 1850, this "micro cottage" in coastal Massachusetts includes a living room, kitchen area, sleeping loft and bathroom. And it's less than an hour from Boston.

See more homes for sale in Rockport.

Portland, Oregon
709 Southwest 16th Avenue, Apr. 509
For sale: $189,900
Size: 517 square feet

709 SW 16th Ave Portland OR

This corner condo studio in Southwest Portland has hardwood floors, a dining room with built-ins and a gas cooktop.

View more real estate in Portland.


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Posted on 18 January 2015 | 1:00 am

Prince Andrew and Fergie Buy Winter Palace in Switzerland

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Duke And Duchess Of York And Their Daughters Attend Photocall
Getty ImagesShown here in 2003, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson still take family ski vacations despite their 1996 divorce.

I never could understand why Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson split. They seemed so right for each other. And when it comes to real estate, they are still very much together.

The couple, who divorced in 1996, reportedly purchased a seven-bedroom ski chalet in Verbier, Switzerland -- considered a winter playground for the wealthy, particularly old British families and new Russian oligarchs.

According to the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, Andrew and Sarah still share Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, a 30-room mansion near Windsor Castle where their daughter Eugenie, 24, also lives. Elder daughter Beatrice, 26, keeps a suite there, although she also has a flat at St. James Palace.

The Yorks' new ski chalet is where the royals hosted a 2013 family vacay that included Prince Harry and then-girlfriend Cressida Bonas, the Mail says. It is also where the Duke and Duchess of York were staying recently when a civil court filing in Florida named Andrew as one of several men alleged to have had sex with an unidentified underage girl more than a decade ago -- claims the Palace and others have repeatedly denied.

But back to the Yorks' chalet, which is reportedly worth up to $19.6 million, although it's not clear what the couple paid. It's located in an exclusive section of swanky Verbier, where such celebrities as Hugh Grant and Victoria Beckham have vacationed and singers Phil Collins and James Blunt reportedly keep homes.

The chalet, according to the Mail, features:
  • Fur-draped master bedroom.
  • Antique-filled living room.
  • Sauna.
  • Indoor pool.
  • Boot room.
The Mail quotes a source "close to the duchess" as saying: "They have bought the chalet as a family investment. Neither of them have their own property and wanted to buy the chalet as an asset to leave to their children. They holiday in Verbier several times each year as all the family are keen skiers and it makes sense to have their own place there."


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Posted on 17 January 2015 | 11:55 am

Rat Pack Pad Sinatra Shared With Mia Farrow Under Contract

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ZillowThe four-bedroom East 72nd Street apartment that once was a Rat Pack hangout has been completely updated.
The Manhattan penthouse that Frank Sinatra shared with Mia Farrow during their short marriage has finally found a buyer. Luxury Listings NYC reports that the Upper East Side apartment, which originally hit the market in 2012 for $7.7 million, is under contract for $4.9 million.

The East 72nd Street apartment has 3,200 square feet and once was a Rat Pack hangout where legend has it Sammy Davis Jr. threw champagne glasses off the 23rd floor terrace into the East River below. Pop artist Andy Warhol called it a "glittering grotto in the sky," where President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe used to party down when they visited Sinatra's place in old New York, New York.

The four-bedroom duplex, which has 18-foot ceilings and a new glass staircase, also was the love nest Sinatra shared with Mia Farrow when they married in 1966; Sinatra was 50, and Farrow was 21. The couple divorced two years later but remained close friends throughout Sinatra's life, a Vanity Fair profile says.

The New York Observer says Sinatra owned the co-op from 1961 to 1972. The current owner bought the apartment in 2010 for $2.3 million, according to New York City property records.


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Posted on 16 January 2015 | 8:28 am

Is This the Right Time to Refi? 8 Tips to Smooth the Way

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Successful Refinance Refi tips

Ready to consider refinancing your mortgage? It can seem like an overwhelming prospect. So we broke it down into the key tasks you'll need to take care of. Here are eight checkpoints that can help make sure you're on track, each step of the way. But it's important to remember that every situation is unique: Consider consulting a real estate or financial professional to evaluate your specific scenario.

1. Identify Your objectives.

Are you trying to save money by reducing monthly payments, or do you want to take out equity from your home? Interested in switching from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage? (Or vice versa?) When you shop around with lenders, they're going to want you to be able to answer these questions. Make sure you can clearly articulate why you're looking to refinance.

2. Refresh old paperwork.

Remember all that paperwork you needed to obtain your first mortgage? Yep, you'll need to dig it up and update each piece. (Remember, it's important to be truthful.) Get a copy of your most recent credit report and make sure that you understand your score and take steps to correct any errors. (And remember, now is not the time to apply for a new card. Every time you open a new account, your credit score is affected -- and lenders can (and will) check your credit again, sometimes days before closing on the refi.

3. Crunch the numbers.

Not a math genius? No problem. You can use online tools such as Trulia's refinancing calculator to figure out what makes sense for you. Don't forget to consider closing costs when you evaluate totals: Even "no-cost" refinancing options can have associated fees.

4. Shop around.

Again, just like in your first go-round shopping for mortgages, you'll want to choose multiple lenders and submit an initial application with each. Comparing rates and fees can save you serious cash, so it's worth it to make sure you interview potential lenders and weigh their pros and cons.

5. Submit your application.

Gather all the required documents for prequalification. (Yes, it's worth it.) Required documentation can include recent pay stubs (or other proof of steady employment) and bank statements. Lenders will probably also ask to see your tax returns from the last two or three years. Take care to have all of your paperwork in place beforehand so that you're not wasting precious time that your lender could have used to approve you.

6. Pick your loan.

Consider the terms and fees of each loan, and make sure that you don't just read the fine print, but that you understand it. Be certain to look at the "true" long-term cost of refinancing, along with the immediate financial benefits. For example, refinancing into another 30-year fixed-rate mortgage may lower your monthly payments upfront, but you'll have to weather many more years of additional payments.

7. Get an appraisal.

The appraisal report will be an important factor in determining the success of your loan application -- and you have to pick up the bill (anywhere from $300 to $500). It's important to understand why the appraisal is a crucial component of the process. Unfortunately, there's the very real possibility that you find out your home is worth less than you thought. The good news is that there are steps you can take to fight that low appraisal.

8. Be prepared to wait.

Delays are common in the refinancing process, so you'll want to factor in a few extra days for the unexpected. Since you've already done your homework and compiled all the relevant paperwork, you should be able to respond quickly to requests from your lender to help speed up the process.


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Posted on 16 January 2015 | 6:06 am

Money-Saving Uses For Snow and Ice

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Ice on Roof
Getty Images

I'm a margarita-glass-half-full kinda gal. So when snow and ice cover my house and yard, I don't curse the weather gods; I use the cool stuff to save money on desserts, drinks and even electricity.

The trick is to collect fresh snow and icicles before they're contaminated by auto or animal pollutants. Icicles pick up any contaminants on roofs and trees. So if your roof is covered with bird poop, your trees are sprayed with chemicals, or for any reason you think the icicles and snow aren't pure, don't eat any.

But if you trust the purity of your snow and ice and still have power after a storm, bag up the cold stuff and store it in a freezer until you want to use it for these purposes. (As with many things, moderation is a good idea.)

1. Icicle Stirrers: Clean icicles make great drink mixers that cool hot chocolate or chill cocktails. The pointy part looks great leaning on the side of a martini glass.

2. Chilling Shelves: If you're passing a snow day watching a game and chugging some brews, pack down the snow outside with a shovel and place a plank on top. Voila! Instant cooling shelf. Or, instead of putting ice in a bucket on the table, pack a cooler with snow and place drinks inside. If you've lost electricity, you'll be able to keep food cold in snow- and icicle-packed coolers, too.

3. Ice Packs: Wrap icicles in a towel and apply the cold wrap to muscles inflamed during snow shoveling.

4. Slushies: Pack a tall glass with fresh snow and mix with your favorite juice or syrup.

5. Snow Cones: Use an ice cream scoop to place packed snow into a paper cup. Drizzle syrup on top. You can make your own syrup by boiling ¾ of a cup of sugar with ¾ of a cup of water. Add a package of drink mix and let it cool before adding it to the snow.

6. Maple Sugar Taffy: Heat maple syrup or sap to about 255 degrees, then pour over a bowl of packed, fresh snow. Eat the maple taffy with a spoon. Pair with a pickle for a sweet/sour treat.

7. Extra Ice: Break and bag icicles to use to chill bottles of drinks at your next party.


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Posted on 15 January 2015 | 6:45 am

U.S. Foreclosures Drop to a Level Last Seen in 2006

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sold foreclosure home for sale...
Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock
The inventory of distressed U.S. properties has fallen to the lowest point since 2006, before the financial crisis sent foreclosure filings, default notices, property auctions and bank repossessions soaring, according to RealtyTrac, a housing data company.

RealtyTrac's new Year-End 2014 Foreclosure Market Report shows that U.S. foreclosure filings were reported on 1,117,426 properties in 2014, down 18 percent from 2013 and down 61 percent from the peak in 2010. The number represents the lowest annual total since 2006, when 717,522 properties had foreclosure filings nationwide.

The report also shows that 0.85 percent of all U.S. housing units -- one in every 118 -- had at least one foreclosure filing in 2014, the first time since 2006 that the annual foreclosure rate had fell below 1 percent of all housing units.

Stabilization Forecast

The numbers show "a foreclosure market that is close to finding a floor and stabilizing at a historically normal level," said Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac vice president.

However, the housing market isn't doing cartwheels just yet. After 27 consecutive months of decreases, U.S. foreclosure starts in December increased 6 percent from the previous month and 14 percent from a year ago -- the second month in a row that showed increases.

December foreclosure starts increased from a year ago in 26 states, including Massachusetts (up 323 percent), New Jersey (up 262 percent), Nevada (up 194 percent), Missouri (up 88 percent) and New York (up 33 percent).

Blomquist said that a year-end surge in foreclosure starts and scheduled foreclosure auctions indicates that lenders in some markets are gearing up for "a spring cleaning of deferred distress" properties in the first half of 2015. This could flood some local markets with distressed sales and impact home prices.

This recent uptick largely reflects failed attempts to rescue distressed properties, rather than new loans going bad, he said. "Many of these properties have been in mediation, loan modification, efforts to try to prevent foreclosure. Unfortunately for some of these homeowners, none of those solutions stuck, so they're finally going into foreclosure ... casting a lingering shadow on the housing market."


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Posted on 15 January 2015 | 12:00 am

Mortgage Rates Settle at 3.57%, Still Near 19-Month Lows

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ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.57 percent, down from 3.58 percent at this time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 3.64 percent, falling to 3.52 percent on Saturday before returning to the current rate.

"Though rates fluctuated slightly last week, they settled back around the 19-month lows not seen since May 2013," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "It's hard to see rates staying this low, and we expect rates to be flat or rise slightly this week on higher demand, particularly as refinancing activity picks up."

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 2.87 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.67 percent.

What are the interest rates right now? Check Zillow Mortgages for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state.

To see the amount you might be able to afford to borrow, try the mortgage payment and affordability calculators found here.


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Posted on 14 January 2015 | 2:59 am

Jared Leto Buys LA Home With Very Unusual History

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TruliaThe actor's Laurel Canyon home was a military compound and secret film studio in the 1940s-60s.

Jared Leto has a lot on his plate these days besides awards shows and fancy hairdos. The "Dallas Buyers Club" Oscar winner, who hit the red carpet for the Golden Globes on Sunday evening, just spent $5 million on a Laurel Canyon home that used to be a military compound and secret film studio. Would you expect anything less from the man formerly known as Jordan Catalano?

72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room
Jordan Strauss/Invision/APJared Leto

Previously known as Lookout Mountain Air Force Station, the compound is rumored to feature about 50,000 square feet of living space, eight bedrooms, and 12 bathrooms, as reported by Variety. According to photos, the palatial spread also has several art galleries, a spiral staircase, and a lagoon-like pool.

Curbed reported in 2012 that the compound was set to be leased as an addiction treatment center. Naturally, this was an off-market buy, befitting a celeb who doesn't quite follow the mainstream. (Case in point: he wore a braid to the Globes.) He also owns a luxe spread in Cahuenga Pass, which he's had since 2006. The Thirty Seconds to Mars musician/fanny pack enthusiast dropped $1.65 million for that five-bedroom, three-bathroom home.


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Posted on 13 January 2015 | 12:00 am

More Fallout from Tiger Divorce: Swedish Island for Sale

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On the Fringe Golf
APTiger Woods never completed the purchase of a Swedish island that was being developed for him during his marriage.
A Swedish millionaire who developed a 62-acre private island near Stockholm for Tiger Woods during happier days in the golf star's marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren appears to have been caught in the fallout from the couple's divorce. The millionaire never finished the deal with Woods -- who split from Nordegren in 2010 -- and is selling the property complete with six practice tees. Price: $7.1 million U.S. dollars.

We're getting this inside info from Farhad Vladi, owner of Vladi Private Islands, which is representing the property for the millionaire owner, whose name Vladi declined to provide.

The island, which contains several buildings designed for Woods, represents "Tiger Woods' taste," Vladi told AOL. But in the end the island "did not convey," he said. "We are not selling Tiger Woods. We are selling the island."

Courtesy of Vladi Private IslandsThe 62-acre island has six private tees for golf practice and ultimate privacy, about an hour by boat from Stockholm.
The property in Lake Malaren features a 2,500 square-foot main house, a 900 square-foot hunting lodge, and a landing strip for a propeller plane. (See more pictures of the island here.)

Other features:
  • Ferry with capacity of 12.
  • Sit-down wine cellar for 10.
  • Horse stable measuring 3,200 square feet.
  • One-mile jogging path.
Woods, now dating skiing star Lindsey Vonn, is set to make his 2015 PGA Tour debut at the Phoenix Open on Jan. 29 and move on to California the next week to play at Torrey Pines, a course where he has won eight professional tournaments, including the 2008 U.S. Open. He was winless last year in an injury-marred season. Calls to Tiger Woods' manager and foundation about the Swedish property were not returned.

By the way, the island isn't the only sale that resulted from Woods' infidelities. The Florida family home near Orlando that was the site of the wee-hours car crash that started the public unraveling of his secret life was sold to fellow golfer Bubba Watson in 2012.


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Posted on 12 January 2015 | 9:46 am

4 Smart Ways to Split the House During a Divorce

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couple fight over a house...
ShutterstockTax implications of a home sale as well as lifestyle plans should be part of the decision-making process in a divorce.

Your home is likely the biggest asset you and your spouse own, so it's critical to split it fairly during a divorce. No matter what you choose to do, you'll likely face tax and financial consequences.

Here are four options that work for most people:

1. You buy out your spouse's half of the house.

A buyout works only if you've got the cash on hand to fund it, or you can qualify for a new mortgage from today's tightfisted mortgage lenders.

What you pay your spouse doesn't have to be exactly half the value of your home. Maybe you'll take a bigger portion of the savings and your spouse will get less than half the home price.

Don't rely on an online estimate to value your home. Contact a real estate professional to get an accurate, up-to-date price opinion or pay an appraiser to value your home.

Good news: You likely won't owe any capital gains taxes when you sell your half of the house as part of a divorce, even if it has appreciated since you bought it.

Bad news: Spouses sometimes lie. If you're the one who's selling, get written proof that your former partner paid off any existing mortgage or home-equity lines so you're sure you're no longer responsible for the debt.

2. Sell it and split the profit now.

You can rid yourself of your spouse and your house if you sell and split the proceeds. You won't owe federal tax on your post-divorce home sale profit if you meet these rules:

o. Your profit it doesn't exceed $250,000 (filing single).
o. The home was your principal residence for two of the past five years.
o. You haven't used the home-sale profit exclusion in the past two years.

Good news: There are some loopholes in the "you have to live there for two years" rule. Read about them in IRS Publication 523 Selling Your Home.

Bad news: State real estate and divorce laws can also influence your capital gains taxes, particularly in community property states.

3. Keep the house until the children move out, then sell and split the profits.

When children are involved, often one parent will remain in the home with the children while the other one moves out of the house during the divorce.

When the children are launched, the couple sells the home and splits the profit. If you're the one who moved out and you haven't lived in the house in two of the past five years, you could owe taxes on the profit from the home sale.

Good news: Fortunately, there's a work-around. If your divorce or separation agreement outlines your future plans to sell the house, the IRS considers that as meeting the two-out-of-five year residence rule.

Bad news: Your spouse could lower the value of the home by failing to maintain it or could lose it to foreclosure or by not paying property taxes.

4. You and your spouse keep the house and take turns living there.

It's pretty rare that a family opts to maintain three households, but it can happen. The children stay in the original home and the parents alternate living with the children and living in their own homes after the divorce. If you split the expenses, you'd each deduct the expenses you paid, such as mortgage interest and property taxes.

Keep in mind that you can only deduct mortgage interest for a home you own and from a mortgage you're obligated to pay.

Good news: Putting the kids first qualifies you as an amazing parent.

Bad news: You'll suffer the way children do when they shuttle between divorced parents' households -- that report due at work today will end up being at the other house and the shirt that matches your pants will be in your other closet.

Tax laws are complicated and the devil is in the details. This article contains general information, so it may, or may not, apply to your situation. A tax professional or tax software can tell you how the tax rules apply in your circumstances.


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Posted on 12 January 2015 | 12:00 am

How Much Could Lower FHA Mortgage Insurance Costs Save You?

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NOBUHIRO ASADA/ShutterstockThe White House cited $900 a year as the typical savings, but the number would be higher for buyers with larger loans.

By Alison Paoli

In an effort to make homeownership more accessible and sustainable, President Obama announced last week the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will reduce annual mortgage insurance premiums by 0.5 percentage points. On a $175,000 home loan with less than 5 percent down, that reduction would mean a savings of $818 per year, or $3,932 over five years.

FHA annual mortgage premiums are paid in 12 monthly installments every year, and are paid on top of principal, interest and insurance. For new FHA loans, they last for the entire life of the loan, regardless of whether you have more than 20 percent equity in your home.

The announced changes will take the annual mortgage insurance premiums from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent for loans with less than 5 percent down, and from 1.30 percent to 0.8 percent for loans with more than 5 percent down. According to the White House, the lowered premiums will help more than 800,000 homeowners save on their monthly mortgage costs and enable up to 250,000 new home buyers to purchase a home.

Annual Savings in FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums on a $175,000 30-year Fixed Loan


3.5% Down

5% Down

1 Year



5 Years



10 Years



20 Years



30 Years



Methodology: Zillow calculated the monthly mortgage insurance premium payment by applying the annual fee (in basis points) to the average annual outstanding balance after accounting for upfront fees, as described by the FHA.


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Posted on 11 January 2015 | 1:03 am


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