On Top of the World of Luxury: Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Serves as the Gold Standard for High-End Hotels

Unveiled in 1999, the Burj Al Arab made all heads turn toward Dubai. At the time, had shattered every notion of what luxury should be. With its exotic locale on a manmade island in the UAE, it has reigned supreme among all 5-star hotels worldwide for 21 years.

For those that seek the royal treatment, few places in the world can match the elite style of Burj Al Arab. Privacy, seclusion, luxury, and impeccable service await your every command, set to a backdrop of beautiful waters and extensive list of amenities that make a stay here nothing short of perfection.

Extravagance in Every Room

A stay in Burj Al Arab assures that no guest will find themselves in cramped quarters. Every room in this luxury property is a deluxe suite. The triangular shape of the hotel, designed to look like the sail of a ship jutting from the sea, was a deliberate intention to ensure every guest had luxury accommodations.

The rooms are lavish with features too. Mattresses cost more than cars and bedding is stuffed with genuine duck feathers for an unparalleled sleeping experience. Adding in even more comfort, guests have access to a pillow menu where they have a choice of 17 options that vary in firmness and size. A 14-piece Hermès set of toiletries awaits in the grandiose bathroom of every suite.

Sublime Service

The distinction of the Burj Al Arab is having access to service any time, day or night. Your wish is their command, and with 6 staff members to every guest, the efficiency is incredible. Private 24-hour butler service is included for every suite as well, meaning that guests will have full attention for fulfilling their desires.

In the world of luxury hotels, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that won’t offer car service from the airport. Burj Al Arab goes above and beyond, setting a new standard with a fleet of Rolls-Royce cars ready to pick you up so you can arrive in style. Should you desire to go on excursions around Dubai, the cars will escort you there as well.

Why keep to the ground though? The hotel also boasts a private helipad. If there’s anything that can rival a Rolls-Royce, private helicopter charters might just be it. However, if your desire is to play golf at the top of the world, the helipad can be converted into a golf green or a tennis court. It also famously became a racetrack in 2013.

Luxuries Abound Throughout

Guests have their choice of ways to indulge during their stay in the Burj Al Arab. The private beaches allow for proper sun-soaking with staff at the ready to bring you anything you desire. Telise Spa offers all the premium pampering and treatments in a serene and beautiful surrounding when you’d rather take a break from the sun.

From the atrium to the hallways to the aquariums, 24-karat gold leaf adorns massive pillars and elevator doors. The gold carries through to engraved iPads that are given to every guest on arrival to book spa treatments, summon the butler, and access the dining menus.

Each restaurant in the hotel is an epicurean experience all its own though Al Mahara is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw who creates enchanting fresh seafood dishes. Indulge with a tasting and wine pairing option to truly sip and savor every last bit of the good life at Burj Al Arab.

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What’s Driving the Luxury Housing Rebound?

By Realtor Magazine | Original article, Realtor Magazine

The biggest drivers behind the rebound in luxury home sales: Low mortgage rates, rising consumer confidence, cash buyers, and international buyers, according to real estate professionals and brokers who spoke at the recent National Association of Real Estate Editors conference. 

In 2012, there were 697 home sales over $5 million in California—a record high. Up to 20 percent of luxury home buyers in the Los Angeles area are from overseas, and the majority are making all-cash purchases, says Kofi Nartey, a real estate professional with The Agency in LA. 

However, with low mortgage rates, some luxury home buyers are financing their home purchases. For example, some buyers who traditionally would pay cash are instead securing 2.25 percent interest rates and 10-year loan terms, says Jack Cotton, a real estate professional with Sotheby’s International Realty in Cape Cod. 

Among the features that are luring luxury home buyers are outdoor kitchens boasting spacious patios and home spas. These buyers are also drawn to “properties with a story—say, a famous former owner or a renowned architect,” The Wall Street Journal reports. 

With home prices gaining momentum in the luxury market, Nartey says he believes the U.S. will soon see a record-breaking $200 million listing. The record currently is believed to be a $190 million listing in Greenwich, Conn. However, Nartey notes that many of the highest priced listings tend to be more for attention sake, and often end up selling for 50 percent or 60 percent of the original list price. 

Source: “Luxury Sales Continue to Bounce Back, Brokers Say,” The Wall Street Journal (June 6, 2013)

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Basketball Couple Candace Parker & Shelden Williams List Home

BY CATHERINE SHERMAN | Original Article, Zillow.com

After five years, they’re moving to another Southern California home with more room to grow as a family.

Athletes’ homes often show signs of their owners’ careers — whether a framed jersey on the wall or a sport court in the backyard. WNBA MVP Candace Parker and her husband, former NBA player Shelden Williams, have left their mark in the master bathroom.

“They enlarged the shower to accommodate two people over 6 feet tall,” said The Agency’s Kofi Natei Nartey, who holds the listing for the couple’s home. “It can probably fit five to six people.”

The couple bought the contemporary Mediterranean home in L.A.’s Playa Vista neighborhood in 2008.

“Our family loved its convenience and community,” said Parker, who plays for the Los Angeles Sparks. “Playa provided us with a great environment to raise our daughter and walk our dogs!”

After five years, the couple have decided to list the home at 13077 Kiyot Way for $1.499 million — $280,000 less than they bought it for, but still on the high end for the Playa Vista real estate market.

“They purchased another [Southern California] home with more room to grow as a family,” Nartey explained.

But with 4 bedrooms and 4 baths, the house they’re leaving behind is anything but small.

“It’s one of the largest homes in the development,” Nartey said. “That’s why it’s a little more [expensive] than others in the area.”

To be exact, the home is 134.5 percent more expensive than the midpoint Playa Vista home. However, it’s priced 10.8 percent less per square foot.

“We’re under $400 per square foot, and homes have sold for well into the $400 range in the area,” Nartey said. “Also, it’s one of a few free-standing homes in the neighborhood — several have shared walls.”

Other highlights of the home include an open floor plan with a large entertaining space, dark hardwood floors on the main level and several archways.

Using Zillow’s mortgage calculator, a buyer of this home can expect a monthly payment around $5,862, assuming 20 percent down on a 30-year fixed mortgage.

Photos courtesy of Andrea Gadioma.

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Luxe Agent: HGTV ‘Selling LA’ Star Kofi Natei Nartey of The Agency

By Trulia HQ Blog | Original Article, Trulia HQ

If you’re like us at Trulia HQ, you watch every episode of Selling LA on HGTV. We had the chance to chat with one of the stars, Kofi Natei Nartey of The Agency. Not only is Kofi an amazing real estate agent, he’s a really nice guy with an incredible passion for his job.

In his day job as an agent, Kofi is a luxury homes specialist and the Director of the Sports & Entertainment Division at The Agency in Beverly Hills, CA. He has over 10 years of luxury real estate experience and has had millions of dollars in luxury real estate sales. Kofi attended and played football at UC Berkeley (go Bears!), and completed his MBA at Pepperdine University. He went on to play professional sports and has acted in numerous commercials, television shows, and films. His experience in sports and entertainment makes him the go-to guy for professional athletes, entertainers, and other distinguished clientele in luxury real estate. Because of his real estate success, Kofi is also a regularly featured agent on HGTV’s Selling LA. He has quickly become a trusted resource for the luxury real estate market, often called on for speaking engagements and as an industry expert.

Let’s learn even more about Kofi!

How did you get your start in real estate?

I have always liked architecture and working with people, so the real estate business seemed interesting. But, it was the day one of my good friends showed me her first commission check that I finally made the leap. That was 10 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.

What sale or career milestone are you most proud of?

Several of the deals I have been able to close took serious negotiating ability and creativity to close. When these tough deals close, I feel the proudest. Recently, I closed a deal for Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. That was cool because he is so relevant in sports right now. My sports and celebrity clients usually come with interesting experiences and cool properties. Unfortunately, I can’t always name names.

What is your dream home location?

There are a few homes in the community of One Westbluff near Playa del Rey that have an amazing combination of city and ocean views. You get the best of both worlds in these newer homes that are centrally located and have great floor plans. I actually know the exact house in that neighborhood that I want, and in a few years, I am going to knock on their door and make them an offer. Let’s hope they accept.

What kind of car do you drive?

We have a couple of cars in our household, but my favorite to drive is my 1975 MG Convertible. I get the most looks and fun comments from my clients when I show up in this vintage roadster. It also has sentimental value, because it is the same age as me. Hopefully, I can also become more valuable with age.

iPhone, Android or BlackBerry?

iPhone AND Blackberry. Yes, I have two phones. I have a Blackberry for work and an iPhone for my personal use. I am excited to try out the Blackberry Z10.

What site/app do you check first when you wake up?

Pulse. It’s an app on the iPhone. It allows you to consolidate several categories of news feeds into one place, with snapshots of headline stories. I have links to real estate publications, sports news, and a category I call “Mantime.” Mantime includes links on cars, fitness, and GQ (gotta look sharp in this biz).

What was the last book you read?

I have a stack of business, sales, and motivational books next to my bed. I usually read or reread a chapter from a different book each night. The two books I am alternating between right now are Selling Luxury Homes by Jack Cotton and High Performance Coaching by Steven Griffith for motivation.

Name your favorite guilty pleasure

Watches. I have about 40 watches in my collection. I have special cases for them, and watch winders for my automatic watches. My favorite watch is my Rado Jubile’. It is classy, sleek, and indestructible. My favorite everyday watch brand is Invicta. They are relatively inexpensive, well made, and I have at least 5 of them.

What’s one thing someone would never guess just by looking at you?

I have an addiction to food. I love a great meal, and desserts are my favorite. I try to work out regularly to make room for this addiction. I also remind myself that reward meals lead to a trophy belly, and I have enough trophies from my days playing sports.

If you weren’t selling real estate, what else could you see yourself doing?

More motivational speaking. “Focus and Finish” is my mantra, and I have delivered dozens on sales trainings and motivational talks around this premise. I like teaching and could see myself doing more speaking engagements. It’s a great feeling when you see an idea resonate with someone and you know it is going to affect their life in a positive way.

What’s your “claim to fame?”

Currently, I am a regularly featured agent on HGTV’s Selling LA. The show follows me as I work with buyers and sellers in the luxury market. Many of my clients enjoy getting to see themselves on TV, and my wife gets to tease me about being a reality TV personality. The show continues to be great for my business. Prior to Selling LA, my “claim to fame” would have to be my acting career. I have been in dozens of national commercials, TV shows and films, including my role as Rasul in the film Kick-Ass.

If you could switch places with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Iron Man. He’s cool, rich, has amazing “toys”, and he helps people. Not to mention, he can fly.

Check out Kofi’s amazing for-sale listings!

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Behind the Scenes of HGTV’s ‘Selling LA’

BY CATHERINE SHERMAN | Original Article, Zillow.com

There’s a lot to consider when deciding to air your personal life on reality TV. And when it’s your business in the spotlight, there’s even more at stake. But for real estate agents Kofi Natai Nartey and Katy Landrum, there was more to gain than lose from joining the cast of HGTV’s “Selling LA.”

There’s a lot to consider when deciding to air your personal life on reality TV. And when it’s your business in the spotlight, there’s even more at stake. But for real estate agents Kofi Natei Nartey and Katy Landrum, there was more to gain than lose from joining the cast of HGTV’s “Selling LA.”

As the director of The Agency‘s Sports & Entertainment Division serving high-profile athletes and celebs, Nartey saw “Selling LA” as an opportunity to show a more human side of his Hollywood clients.

Landrum is a real estate agent primarily serving West Los Angeles. She’s had a lot of fun — and laughs — with her clients on the show, learning how to do her day job in front of the camera.

We spoke with Nartey and Landrum to learn more about their experiences behind the scenes of “Selling LA.” Here’s what they had to say.

Zillow: What’s it like being on a reality TV show? Is there a lot of drama?

Nartey: There’s not a lot of drama. That’s part of why I agreed to be on the show. With reality TV, it can hurt or benefit your business. On “Selling LA,” the drama in the show is what we are experiencing in real life. For example, if we are facing a deadline to get a property sold or a fire-drill during a sale — it’s not fabricated.

Landrum: The whole experience has been fun and challenging. Having no prior camera experience, it was hard to act like completely natural like no cameras were around. But I have found it easier as I’ve done more episodes.

Zillow: Does being part of the cast affect your day-to-day job? If so, how?

Nartey: Sometimes for reality TV, it’s “scripted reality” if you will. But on “Selling LA,” if I don’t have a property to sell, we are not shooting. So it’s done in real time. When I have something scheduled, I let them know and we coordinate the cameras around that. It can be fun; it can also be time-consuming.

Zillow: What’s so different about selling Los Angeles real estate that makes it entertaining for television?

Nartey: The L.A. market offers a unique variety of homes and neighborhoods. It’s like Disneyland with Fantasy Land, Frontier Land, etc. Los Angeles has so many pockets. And within those mini markets, some neighborhoods have traditional Spanish homes, others have mainly Craftsmans, and Hollywood Hills has a lot of modern homes. I think this offers enough variety to do season after season.

Landrum: The scenery and homes here are so unique to the rest of the country! I say to myself on a daily basis how lucky I am to live here … there is nowhere better. Having grown up in Seattle, I truly appreciate the clear blue skies appearing on a daily basis.

Nartey: The show also offers a glimpse into ultra-luxurious homes — we’re talking $20 million-plus.

Zillow: How do your clients feel about the show?

Landrum: Fortunately, my clients have all been very cool with being on the show. My episode with the fabulous interior designers Chris Barrett and Jenika Kurtz was the best! We laughed for hours and made fun of each other for stupid words and things we said. Then, we all watched it together and laughed the entire time. Best experience ever! So fun. I’ll never forget it and will have the video forever to go back and watch.

Nartey: Clients have opted to participate and usually enjoy the process. Life brings stress anyway and we don’t bring additional stress. And, if there is something my clients want to showcase — something about their own lives beyond being a celebrity or athlete — it’s an opportunity. Maybe they want to promote a charity, for example.

Zillow: How do you choose the homes to be on the show?

Nartey: It’s sort of a recipe: a great property, an interesting client or story. Earlier seasons were primarily about the properties, but now they want interesting stories of individuals or how they handle selling one of their properties.

Landrum: I choose properties that I like personally and go from there.

Nartey: Also, I only pick people that actually want to do the show. Some clients don’t want to be on reality TV, and I respect that.

Zillow: What have you learned from being on “Selling LA”?

Landrum: I have learned that when opportunities are presented in your life, you have to take them with no regrets. You can’t take yourself too seriously and just have fun everyday because life is too short not to enjoy the ride.

Nartey: It’s all in good fun. I love seeing my clients enjoy the process and capture those moments where we have a victory. I get asked if the show actually helps my clients, and yes, the show is definitely beneficial. For my clients selling properties, it gives them additional exposure. Some stories will show homes that don’t sell, but once the show airs for a national audience, it generates a huge bounce in the number of people viewing that listing.

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Secret home deals of the rich and famous

By LAUREN BEALE | Original Post, L.A. Times

Despite the transparency created by the Internet information explosion, many celebrities and billionaires still try to approach home listing, selling and buying in stealth mode.

This week’s Hot Property column looks at Madonna shifting gears from a privately shown “pocket listing” last year to an aboveboard one on the Multiple Listing Service to sell her Beverly Hills mansion. Listed at $22.5 million, the compound has been posted with just one aerial photo. Video guest Kofi Natei Nartey of the Agency in Beverly Hills sheds some light on why no one is talking about those secret interiors.

Also discussed is the Malibu estate that sold for a local record of $75 million and the name of the buyer has yet to appear. Why make the most expensive beach purchase in Malibu if you want to stay under the radar? It’s a small town, after all.

For Sinatra fans, the chat turns to daughter Nancy Sinatra’s 16-day turnaround from listed to sold in Santa Monica — for above the asking price.

And a restored old Hollywood haunt, a onetime home of Samuel Goldwyn (think G in MGM), looks like a good catch for the buyer.

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Q&A: Kofi Natei Nartey, LA Luxury Real Estate, Broker to Sports, Movie Stars

by Darren Sands | Original article, Black Enterprise

Go ahead and watch Kofi Natei Nartey sell a house to former NFL star Marcellus Wiley, and you’ll quickly get why the real estate industry in southern California is buzzing about one of its up and coming stars. Mr. Nartey is an agent at The Agency RE, in Beverly Hills (he leads its sports and entertainment division), and his experience is primarily in Los Angeles’s booming luxury market. He is also a featured agent on HGTV’s Selling LA. We talked to him about his goals, professionalism and one very common misperception about the luxury market in L.A.

BlackEnterprise.com: People who have worked with you rave about your professionalism. Talk to us about what they’re referring to.

Kofi Natei Nartey: A professional is a person who is committed to learning and training at a specific craft, and consistently executes at a high level. My clients appreciate my command of the real estate industry, and my ability to bring a level of calm to what can be a highly emotional transaction. Also, I am extremely responsive to my clients’ needs.

Simply stated, people like to know they are in good hands. I have been in this business for over ten years, have closed millions of dollars in transactions, and have trained hundreds of agents. I put every bit of this experience to work for my clients. Also, the majority of my clients come from the sports and entertainment industries and I have had experience in both. That helps me relate to their lifestyles. I understand things like the need for taller doorways or countertops for my NBA clients, or a screening room for my actors, directors, and producers.

What is different about working with celebrity clients and do you have a preference?

Privacy and trust become more critical when working with celebrity clients. Once that trust is established, however, it is a more complete trust. They want to find the best person for the job, turn the work over to that person, and focus on what they do best. Working with my team allows them to stay focused on their craft, while we take care of their real estate needs.

Also, we often work with a representative for the celebrity for a large part of the transaction. Most celebrity clients have managers, agents, and assistants that become an integral part of the buying or selling process. We work with them as a team to take care of the client’s needs. When the celebrity is available, flexibility and agility are important to make everything work with their schedule. I once received a call that one of my celebrity clients was arriving in town in two hours and wanted to see homes that day. We made it happen.

As for a preference, I truly enjoy working with both celebrity and non-celebrity clients because I enjoy working with people. It is very rewarding helping clients with the major transition that real estate can be. It can be just as exciting to help the newly signed athlete find a hip/modern pad as it is to help first time parents find the right family home.

What are your first questions to a high profile client? You seem rather comfortable with former NFL player Marcellus Wiley. How do you establish that relationship with your clients? Is it a balance?

Understanding my client’s motivation for buying or selling a home is most important. Their “Big Why” is what will drive many aspects of their real estate decisions. It is also important to assess their needs as thoroughly as possible up front. That way, I don’t have to waste their time with properties or issues that can be handled by me and my team. Understanding the client’s needs helps me service them better and make the most of my time with them.

There is definitely a careful balance between the business and personal relationship. I get along well with almost all of my clients, but what is most important is finding or selling their home. Closing the deal is usually a prerequisite for any relationship beyond the transaction. I have been invited to movie premieres, concerts, sporting events, and parties. These invites may have come because I was likeable, but more importantly, I delivered on my professional promise and took care of their real estate needs.

What’s the one or two things about luxury real estate people only slightly familiar with the marketplace would be surprised to know?

I sometimes speak at national real estate conventions, and those audiences are always shocked to hear what is NOT considered luxury in the Los Angeles market. I have sold $1M and $2M properties that were not considered luxury homes in Los Angeles. It really depends on the size and location of the property.

People are also surprised to hear stories about clients paying millions of dollars for a property, only to completely remodel it or even tear it down. At the higher price points, people are used to getting exactly what they want. This is the case with their properties as well. One of my colleagues sold a $17M house to a gentleman who bought it to live in while his primary residence was remodeled.

Also, I am often asked what particular celebrities are like to work with. Unfortunately, I can’t always say. It does not pay to kiss and tell in this business.

What are your plans for the future?

I believe we all have a responsibility to discover all of our gifts and talents and share them with the world. We must work to realize our potential in whatever field we are in, and I want to seize all of the opportunities that real estate has placed in front of me.

Ultimately, I will continue to build my team of agents as I pursue my goal of becoming the top sports and entertainment real estate broker in the country. Along the way, I hope to assist and inspire other young agents to have the courage to blaze a path where one never existed.

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Pulling a Zuckerberg: Why Tech Titans Are Buying Neighbors’ Homes

BY CATHERINE SHERMAN | Original Article, Zillow.com

Are tech bosses looking for privacy or is this new breed of celebrity rewriting the high-end real estate playbook?

As Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking company, Facebook, celebrates its 10th anniversary tomorrow and has worldwide usage by 1.23 billion people, the tech titan finds himself at the forefront of a real estate trend: tech bosses who are buying up their neighbors’ properties.

Zuckerberg made headlines last fall when he reportedly spent $30 million to purchase four of his neighbors’ homes. Not only were the homes not on the market, but Facebook’s chairman and chief executive officer turned around and leased them back to their original owners.

Two weeks later, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly bought a funeral home near her residence, with the Daily Mail proclaiming, “Yahoo! Marissa Mayer does a Zuckerberg and starts to buy up her neighborhood.” Three days later, the Silicon Valley Business Journal announced “Elon Musk pulls a Zuckerberg,” when news surfaced that the inventor and Tesla Motors CEO had purchased a home across the street from his Bel-Air pad.

While this tech titan home-buying spree was newsworthy in its own right, buying up neighbors’ homes is not a new phenomenon. From Brad Pitt to Reese Witherspoon, celebs long have been known for making multiple real estate moves in their neighborhoods. The question is whether tech titans have the same motives as Hollywood stars or if this new breed of celebrity is rewriting the high-end real estate playbook. To find out, we asked The Agency’s Kofi Natei Nartey, who helps celebrities and athletes buy and sell homes on HGTV’s “Selling LA,” and Silicon Valley real estate agents of the Boyenga Team to share their insight.

Privacy is paramount

According to Nartey, it’s common for Hollywood stars to purchase neighbors’ homes as a way of protecting their privacy.

“It’s a way to control who is your neighbor,” Nartey explained. “In the Hills, there are homes with amazing views, but with that comes limited privacy.”

Eric Boyenga says it’s the same for high-profile tech execs, who are increasingly becoming household names.

“It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to purchase neighbors’ property,” he said. “In the social era of today, those like Zuckerberg tend to be a mix of Hollywood star and tech titan, whereas a lot of execs in the past didn’t get a lot of fanfare.”

A normal quality of life

But unlike A-list celebs who are accustomed to dodging paparazzi, Boyenga says tech bosses are often in search of a more “normal” quality of life.

“We’re more engineer-driven here. Execs don’t want any news about them,” he said. “For a celebrity, that’s par for their course, but for a tech entrepreneur, they want the focus on their firm and [to have] a life outside of that.”

Younger tech company execs — including 29-year-old Zuckerberg — are drawn to the vibrant culture in Palo Alto.

Zuckerberg purchased three homes behind him and the one next door in his Palo Alto neighborhood.

“We have hills like the Hollywood Hills here that are more private, gated estates with views,” Boyenga said. “But, Palo Alto is where things are happening. It’s a very idyllic neighborhood and a great place to raise a family.”

He says most people who move to Palo Alto want to keep the neighborhood the way it is, and tech entrepreneurs are no exception. For instance, when Zuckerberg began buying additional homes in his neighborhood in December 2012, it was because he reportedly learned of a developer’s plans to capitalize on his residence in the area.

“These are tech titans that want to be part of their community but also want to make sure they don’t have someone move in next door that they don’t want there,” he explained. “It’s not a control thing as much as about quality of life.”

No way to buy bigger

Because Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are drawn to historic neighborhoods such as Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park, they’re subject to a competitive market.

“Inventory is so hard to come by,” said real estate agent Janelle Boyenga, Eric’s wife. “What we’ve seen is people are buying properties and keeping them to pass on to generations to come. Inventory is only going to get tighter as the years go by.”

And, unlike celebs who buy sprawling Beverly Glen estates or Manhattan penthouses spanning multiple floors, execs living in the Valley don’t always have the choice to buy a bigger home.

“In Old Palo Alto, there are not many large lots. Most are less than a quarter of an acre,” Eric Boyenga said. “Only a handful are half an acre, and they just don’t get sold off.”

Making room for friends & family

But when tech titans buy neighboring properties, it instantly raises questions about what they’re going to do with the lot and how it will impact the neighborhood.

“Marissa Mayer [buying the funeral home] — I’m curious about that one,” Boyenga said. “It could just sit there for years to keep a big development from coming near her property.”

He’s skeptical that Mayer can drastically change the property, even if she wants to, because of building restrictions. For this reason, Boyenga says most people tend to use neighboring property as a place to have friends come and visit.

“It’s not easy to buy a parcel and take the house down,” he said. “Most of these people are looking to use for guesthouse purposes or just for privacy.”

Rumors about high-profile real estate purchases are common — fashion mogul Kimora Lee Simmons’ reported 2009 purchase of her neighbor’s tennis court to build a pool is a good example. Nartey points out that often rumors are just because, frankly, it’s very difficult to drastically change a residence in L.A.

“You have to get permits from the city for any remodel or new construction — anything that might undermine the aesthetics of the neighborhood,” he said.

At the end of the day, whether celebrity or tech titan, it’s about finding a place to call home.

“More than anything else these buyers are buying for privacy and quality of life,” Boyenga said.

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Luxury housing boom in U.S. is still playing out

By LAUREN BEALE | Original Article, L.A. Times

Agents Jack Cotton of Cotton Real Estate, Kofi Nartey of the Agency and David Boehmig of Atlanta Fine Homes discuss the state of the luxury home market at a panel moderated by Alyssa Abkowitz of the Wall Street Journal. (Lauren Beale/Los Angeles Times)

ATLANTA — The U.S. luxury home market is being driven to new heights by relatively low prices, low interest rates and a more stable economy than in many countries, experts say.

Buyer interest is recovering quickly, said Kofi Nartey of the Agency in Beverly Hills, who was part of a panel of real estate agents speaking at the National Assn. of Real Estate Editors conference in Atlanta. “That tends to be the trend with the generation now. We get a lot of immediate gratification and bounce back.”

Among those buying are people in the sports world, whose accountants are suggesting they get into real estate, Kofi said.

On the East Coast, boomers are buying luxury second homes as a reward for a lifetime of hard work, said Jack Cotton of Cotton Real Estate. “A property on Cape Code may function as a magnet for bringing family back together.”

Younger people are buying second homes for aspirational reasons, Cotton said. “They want to grow into the person who would have a beautiful property like this.”

International buyers in his market are looking for homes with a tale to tell or an architect of note. A portrait of the original owner’s wife at a house built in 1880 has hung to the left of the fireplace since the house was constructed. “That kind of story would appeal to an international buyer.”

Luxury housing agents from around the nation are reaching out to international buyers. Even though they make up only about 5% of the Atlanta market, David Boehmig of Atlanta Fine Homes said he is planning on traveling to Hong Kong to take part in a real estate show. “It’s an expensive proposition.”

Some brokers are working in conjunction with art sales in far-flung locales in Asia. Attendees have to pass displays of luxury properties on their way to the show.

Bus tours of potential international buyers have been taking place in the Los Angeles market for the last several years.

West Coast buyers in the $20-million price range are looking for a wow factor, Nartey said. One house being built in Beverly Hills will be surrounded by a moat.

Where luxury prices end up in this boom has yet to play out, but the Multiple Listing Service recently experienced a new high with a $190-million estate in Greenwich, Conn. California had 697 home sales at $5 million and over last year for an all-time high, Nartey said.

“I definitely think we will see a $250-million listing,” he said. “Price at that level is just a suggestion.”

Just having the highest price in a market will have people lining up, Nartey said, and quickly reach the top-tier buyers.

“Some of the numbers are justifiable and some are slightly arbitrary,” he said. His office is marketing the home of a sports star for whom the No. 25 is significant, he said. “So we listed it at $25 million.”

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Many pro athletes are drawn to L.A.’s beach cities, Calabasas

By NEAL J. LEITEREG | Original article, L.A. Times

Dustin Brown and the Los Angeles Kings ride through Hermosa Beach during a Stanley Cup victory parade. (Jabin Botsford / Los Angeles Times)

The South Bay, with its low-key atmosphere and sought-after beachfront, has been attracting athletes since the 1980s, when the Joe Montana-led 49ers were Super Bowl fixtures, Kurt Rambis was minting four NBA title rings with the Lakers, and Steve Sax and the Dodgers made their last two World Series appearances.

Montana, Rambis and Sax each called L.A.’s beach cities home during those championship years. The Los Angeles Kings roster, Lakers players and coaches as well as athletes for teams outside of California have joined the most recent wave of residents.

In the South Bay, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach have been some of the most popular spots, particularly among the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Last year, Kings center Jeff Carter paid $5.25 million for a home in Hermosa Beach, near the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. Fellow teammates, including team captain Dustin Brown and goalie Jonathan Quick, followed suit, each buying homes in Manhattan Beach.

“There is a high congregation of hockey players in the South Bay, Manhattan Beach in particular,” said Kofi Natei Nartey, director of the sports and entertainment division at the Agency. “But you also see a lot of out-of-state players who want to live here and train in more favorable conditions.”

Diana Taurasi, the former Connecticut Huskies basketball star who currently plays for the Phoenix Mercury, became a resident of L.A.’s beach cities in June, buying a Manhattan Beach townhouse for $3.3 million. Former Stanford guard Landry Fields, currently with the Toronto Raptors, paid about $2 million for property in the area in July.

In Calabasas, there’s a different vibe — and it’s not just reserved for the Kardashian clan. More sports figures are gravitating to the guard-gated communities in the affluent pocket between Agoura Hills and Woodland Hills, even at the sacrifice of a more practical commute.

“A lot of athletes, particularly those with families, are attracted to the peaceful, gated lifestyle,” said Nartey, who has worked with WNBA star Candace Parker, former Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson and Lakers guard Nick Young, among others. “When they travel, they have peace of mind. They have security.”

It’s also an area where someone can get more bang for their buck, said Nartey, whose clients, many of whom are originally from the Midwest, are accustomed to larger properties.

For scale, Keyshawn Johnson’s former estate, which the retired NFL star sold to Kourtney Kardashian in February, occupies nearly two acres in the exclusive Estates at the Oaks enclave. Former NBA all-star Mitch Richmond, who lives nearby, is seeking $8.495 million for his 2.23-acre property.

Whereas homes were once looked at as merely trophies, many sports figures see real estate as a way to build and diversify their portfolios.

“There is a shift taking place among athletes in that there is a desire to build wealth as opposed to just getting rich,” Nartey said.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety and Carson native Dashon Goldson has purchased investment properties in Marina del Rey in recent years, as has 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.

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