According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, “outdoor living” has taken a whole new meaning in the luxury home sector. With the cost of travel and security concerns on the rise, people have been choosing to stay at home more and are spending their vacation budget on creating a home away from home….at home!

             What used to be a place for the occasional grill and beer get-together, the backyard is turning into a mini resort outfitted with state of the art kitchens, plasma screen TVs, Japanese infinity spas, waterfall showers, and even outdoor bedrooms.

               Last year homeowners spent almost $300 billion dollars in home improvements and Harvard’s Center for Housing Studies predicts that improvement spending will increase by 45% over the next 10 years. While much of that money has gone to standard kitchen and bathroom upgrades, some has been spent on outdoor fireplaces, $20,000 four person hammocks, designer tree houses and pergola covered living rooms.

            Forget all the hassle with luggage, jet lag and those tiresome details that accompany planning a vacation. Create a vacation spot in your backyard and you can step out your door into your own little piece of paradise and enjoy it any day of the week!   

Good News in the Face of Mortgage Problems

Every day we hear about mortgage banking organizations closing and certain mortgage products being eliminated.  Stocks of many surviving lenders are low, and it is common to find shares in the industry that have lost 90 percent of their value in the past few weeks and months, according to a report from the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

This economic downturn is mostly the result of the relaxed credit activity of subprime lenders over the last six years. The interest rates on these subprime loans are now adjusting to higher rates, making them unaffordable to many investors and homeowners, and causing delinquent mortgage payments and home foreclosures. Borrowers with good credit, however, are having no difficulty in making their mortgage payments, and new mortgages are available to them today just as they were a year ago.  Fannie/Freddie/FHA/and VA mortgages are fully available, underwriting is unchanged, and funding for closing as reliable as ever. In fact, mortgage applications are increasing, according to a recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.  Subprime loans are still available, but they are more difficult to find and their rates and terms have toughened up.

The rising inventories of unsold homes are benefiting today’s home buyers.  They have more homes to choose from and mortgage financing with historic low rates is still available for buyers with good credit histories.  Sellers are also becoming more realistic in the pricing of their property, and more open to negotiations.

Your privacy is My Concern

One of the highest priorities among high-end homebuyers and sellers is privacy.  Marketing a multi-million-dollar home that contains valuable art, jewelry, antiques, home furnishings and clothing is often done through the real estate agent’s select contacts, to preserve the personal security of the client.

Many exclusive homes never make it to the MLS service, because the agents who represent the sellers introduce the property selectively.  Agents who are familiar with the luxury market know that finding a buyer is often a matter of great detective work.  For every upscale home, there is an ideal buyer among a target group with a high probability of interest in such a property.  One of the secrets to success among agents who work with very high-end clients is that they are able to market the home directly to the right buyer pool, instead of casting a wide net that draws in people who are merely fascinated with the high-profile lifestyle.

The client’s business manager or financial advisor will often be the working contact in the negotiations process, while the client remains secluded.  Luxury home marketing requires extensive networking on the agent’s part.