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Once again, it's been another week of changes, trials and tribulations. Here's a round up of some interesting luxury, North American and World stories that were in the news this and last week. If you read anything in the news that you think should be in next week's blog, feel free to comment on the posting. And I hope our readers in Canada had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Luxury Real Estate News

Athens extends its Luxury Scope (International Herald Tribune) In the last few years, the luxury products market in Greece has increased a great deal, which has inspired a range of luxury building opportunities, including a high retail mall

Concierge Auctions Pleased With Results of Luxury Real Estate Auction ( Our partner, Concierge Auctions, have completed a successful Auction in Florida. With the state of the current market, auction houses are finding more properties available for sale at both ends of the market.

Gulf's, Indian real estate markets to be among best: Survey (India Times) Looks like the luxury market in India, China and the Middle East is still growing, and will outperform all other areas of the world. So that second home in Dubai could be an excellent investment....

General Real Estate News

Buying a condo, one piece at a time (The Real Deal) One innovative way of allowing people without a down payment to get a home is a rent-to-buy scheme, which is currently being tried in Brooklyn, New York. Tenants pay an expensive monthly rent, but do not need to put any money down, so it is a way of saving for your new home, while living in it. the City? This week's Realestock Blog Post: Many people are choosing to leave their lives in Suburbia and move back to the city...with their kids and pets in tow. Is this a good move? It is worth giving up land and space to be closer to your workplace and favorite coffee shop?

Former Muppet house sells for $28M (The Real Deal) When I first saw this headline, I assumed that it was about Kermit and Miss Piggy's old place. Unfortunately not....but a nice story nonetheless

Concierge Auctions Pleased With Results of Luxury Real Estate Auction

Source: Concierge Auctions

Monday, 06 October 2008

Today Concierge Auctions hosted a luxury real estate sale of two bay front estates on Siesta Key, Florida. The auction was located at the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton Hotel, with over 100 attendees.

"It was a very well organized, transparent event," said Marisa Marino of Horizon Realty. "A client of mine participated, but unfortunately he was outbid. He and I look forward to participating again in the next sale."

This was the debut of Concierge Auctions' innovative Guaranty Program. The program benefits both buyers and sellers, as they can participate with confidence knowing the properties will sell on Auction Day regardless of the high bid.

"In the context of the current economic climate, I am thrilled that we were able to aggregate a strong crowd, including 26 qualified bidders willing to spend millions of dollars for these exceptional properties," said Stuart Mattison, Director of Sales. "The fact that they not only attended the event but also actively participated was encouraging."

AUCTION RESULTS (high bid plus premium)

1356 Point Crisp Road: $2,772,750

850 Mangrove Point Road: $2,200,000

"We are pleased with the results and have received outstanding feedback from the real estate community. Our format has resonated, and we believe we are on our way to bringing the auction process to the mainstream," said Laura Brady, President.

Concierge Auctions has made the determination that it is in the best interest of the seller and registered buyers of 850 Mangrove Point Road to re-offer the property in the next Sarasota auction in December. The decision was reached after the firm was notified that at least two buyers were precluded from placing their highest bid on the property.

Sellers interested in the Sarasota December sale should contact Concierge Auctions immediately. Availability will be limited to a maximum of five properties, which will be selected within the next four weeks. As always, Concierge Auctions fully protects listing and buying brokers. For further details and registration, call 888-966-4759.

Source: Concierge Auctions

Originally, the concept of suburbia was to create a place of community and safety. People moved their families out of the city so that their children would be safe from crime, drug problems, and so that they could be brought up somewhere where everyone knew their neighbors, and where there was a real sense of community.

However, times have changed. Suburban areas are no longer immune to these kinds of problems – a day doesn’t go by where we don’t hear about shootings and other crimes going on in suburbs of any major city. The community element has changed too. People know their neighbors, but many people work long hours in the city, and spend most of their evenings gridlocked in the daily commute, leaving little time for socializing. And I’m not even touching on the effect that rising gas prices have had on the suburban lifestyle, because there's enough material there for another ten blog posts!

An article in last week’s Globe and Mail Newspaper looked at the growing number of families who are moving from large suburban houses to smaller places in the city. This is becoming a widespread trend all over the world. The families mentioned in the article citied a range of reasons for leaving their suburban houses, including shorter commuting times, more activities for their children, exposure to a more diverse mix of cultures, and close proximity to restaurants, shops and bars.

However, there are a number of plus points to staying in suburbia. If you work from home, it can have many advantages. There are lots of community events and groups, and if you’re not spending your evenings gridlocked somewhere on the 401, then you have the opportunity to really get to know your community. Also, even though crime is rising in the suburbs it very rarely compares to the city, so your kids are still safer in suburbia. Not just that, you get much more space, in terms of indoor square footage, and outdoor acreage, which is tempting when looking at a new home.

It’s an interesting situation. Do you sacrifice the space and tranquility of the suburbs for being five seconds walk from your nearest Starbucks? It’s a hard one. As an ex-English major, I love a good compare/contrast piece, so I had a look at the prices in Bloor West Village (a community in Downtown Toronto) and Caledon, Ontario, a town which is part of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). I chose these places because they were examples given in the article, and also they are both desirable ‘luxury’ areas of the GTA. I looked at detached houses on priced between $650,000 and $800,000 (average spend for a single detached family house in Bloor West Village seems to be in the high $500,000s) in both areas, and then looked at what you could get for a cool million. The differences were very interesting, although not entirely unexpected:

Caledon, Ontario

In Caledon, $650,000 buys you a three bedroom, four bathroom, two storey detached house, with a saltwater pool in the back yard, and a games room. Said back yard? About five acres

For just over $650,000 you can get a five bed, five bath detached Victorian/Heritage house, which includes a suite to rent out, and has a range of period features, such as vaulted ceilings

For just over a million You can get a four bed, 2.5 bath Victorian house set on 25 acres. Unique features include a stone fireplace, and your own private waterfall(!)

For just under $1,100,000 you can get a hundred acres of land – and a six bedroom, six bathroom house with a workshop and heated stone floors

Toronto (Bloor West Village)

For over $650,000, you can get a four bedroom, two bathroom detached house with features such as a finished basement, and a renovated kitchen

For over $650,000, There is a work/live house which has two offices, one bedroom and three bathrooms. Features include a ‘loft like’ setting, and a renovated basement with a separate entrance

For just over a million you can get a three bed, three bath detached property, with a landscaped yard

For just under $1,100,000 you can get a five bed, five bath ‘Georgian-style’ house with a family rec room, and a nanny suite(!)

While the differences do not seem that monumental, it is worth noting that MLS doesn’t list the acreage on the Toronto properties, which indicates that you get little to no land.

To sum up, it depends entirely on your lifestyle, and how much you have to spend. If you can spend upwards of $600,000, then in either place, you’ll be living in a beautiful and quality house. However, the difference will be the space inside and outside – if you want all the conveniences of living in the city, you have to give up the space and privacy that comes with living in a small town. Granted, the lower costs to keep up a smaller place, plus the lack (or reduced use) of a car, will save you money, but the cost of groceries and house maintenance is much more expensive in the city, compared to a small suburban town.

The views expressed on the blog portion of this site represent only the opinions of the author and may not necessarily be the opinions of

Are you thinking of moving to the city? Or have you already done it? Let us know by posting below!



Welcome to our newest Realestock feature. Every week, Taking 'stock will give you a roundup of the news and views that have arisen in the past week.

Luxury News

What's on the market: While new record looks unlikely, Palm Beach primed for big deals (The Real Deal, NY)

Looks like luxury homes in Palm Beach are still doing well. Multi million dollar homes are still on the market, and are selling!

Young guns driving enviro-condo push (Globe and Mail)

The Green Movement is growing…but is the luxury market lagging behind? Why aren’t luxury buyers going green?

General North American Real Estate News

Economist debate whether US property market plunge will cross into Canada (Property Wire)

Housing market could soften more but not crash: CIBC (Globe and Mail)

Prudent Canada won't experience a U.S.-style housing collapse (Vancouver Sun)

There’s been a couple of articles on this in the last week. The bad news? House prices will go down. The very good news? Most economists, including those at CIBC, BMO, and Desjardins, assure us that Canada will not suffer the same crash that the US is currently experiencing.

Loonies find a second home in U.S. real estate (National Post)

Many Canadians are taking advantage of the US property market…by buying vacation homes in the States. But is this a wise buy?

Bailout plan offers vague help to homeowners (Associated Press)

It looks like the bailout may not help those US home owners who are currently losing their houses, but may help to stop a rapid drop in house prices…

Miscellaneous and Fun News

A Million Reasons to Look Globally?

This week on our Realestock Blog: What does your million buy around the world? Will it go further in Paris, London or New York?

Sex and the City' Writer Bushnell Probes Real Estate (Bloomberg)

Candice Bushnell, famed writer of “Sex and the City” has set her newest novel in the backdrop of Manhattan’s booming real estate market. OK, so she’s a little out of date…but it sounds like a fun read…maybe something to take your mind off the current real estate woes?

The Barenaked Ladies may once have sung “If I had a million dollars”, but since the rise of “Who wants to be a Millionaire” or “Deal or No Deal”, the once giant amount of a million dollars has really begun to lose its meaning. If hanging out with Howie Mandel for an hour can make you a million - I’m in (however, two hours – might be too much).

Recently, I read an article on what kind of real estate you can get for a million US dollars. Considering Realestock has luxury developments listed in various countries, I rushed to read it.

The differences are astonishing:

In Cape Town, you can get a five bedroom house with amazing views, a tennis court, pool and pool house, and a computerized irrigation system to water your extensive grounds

In Namibia, you can get a four bedroom, three bathroom ranch, with an additional one bedroom apartment to rent out, if you so wish

In Beijing, $1million gets you a four bedroom serviced apartment, with access to two pools and a gym

Your money does well in Toronto – You can get a three bedroom house, with beautiful bay windows and a pool

In Paris, you can get a two-bed duplex! However, you might want to stop jumping for joy – because that’s a 230 square foot duplex

What does $1 million buy in Tokyo? A 600-square foot, one bedroom apartment

A million dollars doesn’t go far in London, England, which is hardly a surprise. Forbes discovered a three bedroom flat in Maida Vale (a relatively upscale part of London), which they described as ‘drab’. Hey! In England we’d call that a ‘character’ apartment!

As for New York, prices are dropping, so your million goes a little further than it did a few months ago– you can now afford a one bedroom, 670 square foot apartment in Chelsea, with dramatic city views, a doorman, and various other amenities.

So what does this mean for luxury real estate? Possibly this indicates that the boundaries have changed, and that depending where you are buying, a million dollars doesn’t necessarily indicate luxury. If you spend $12 million, chances are you’ll still get that luxury home, - irrespective of where you shop, but in many of the most desirable cities, that sole million won’t go very far.

It also indicates the strength (or not) of the US Dollar – which is important for most sellers and developers, particularly for those selling their properties in the current ‘buyer’s market’. If you have properties in the US, you may find that British, Japanese or European customers may be interested in purchasing property in the States where their £500,000, €700,000 or ¥106,000,000 will go much further (Would you rather have a three bedroom house in the Hollywood Hills, or that ‘character’ flat in London?). Conversely, if you are selling a development in Costa Rica, Mexico, or somewhere else where US buyers will be able to stretch their dollars a little further, you may find that you’ll have more inquiries stateside.

Either way, what you need is international exposure, and knowledge of where to base your marketing and promotional dollars. Listing your property on Realestock is one way to do this. We have visitors from all over the world, so potential clients looking for the bigger bang for their buck, whether they’re in Berlin, Germany, or New Berlin, Wisconsin, will be able to view your property, and see what they can get for $500,000, $12 million, or indeed a million dollars. If you are really looking for that $1 million price tag, we have a range of condos, townhouses, and yes, even estates that are priced around the million mark. And look, you didn’t even need to phone a friend, or challenge the banker!


The views expressed on the blog portion of this site represent only the opinions of the author and may not necessarily be the opinions of


I’m in a cab at 58th & 7th in NYC - broke my bluetooth Jawbone headset. No worries - it’s hanging by wires, still working - sort of, if I hold it just right. Anyway, I bought the extra protection plan from the retailer who sold it to me - Sharper Image.

“Drop me off on 51st…” - I figure I’ll stop in at the Rockafeller Center Sharper Image and get a replacement. I walk to the Bank of America Building - I find the Shaper Image sign - and the image in the blacked out windows tells the story - the one time leader, high end brand, is closed for good. What happened?

About two years ago, before we narrowed our focus on the Connected Market Space technologies to the for the Luxury Real Estate Sector. we were approached to use our platform by the Sharper Image. The entire CMAEON Team and I were excited. We were one of the “lucky” recipients of the final RFP process. We presented our 1to1Connect - MRM3 Product (the predecessor to our newly released 1to1REAL) to the internet marketing Team at the Sharper Image. When we discussed how to make connections, drive these through to the entire organization and “start the conversation marketing online…” we were surprised to see blank stares. “all we want to do is sent out big e mail blasts…” was the response. Our advice that “spamming your customers with generic information is a bad idea …” fell on deaf ears. We were practically begging the people charged with bringing the brand to customers on the web to listen to what they were saying themselves. “you’re the Sharper Image. You have the edge, you need the edge, you need to be a leader, not a follower using old generic distribution of information - you need to have conversations with your customers on the web” Nothing.

For the retailer, who was once viewed as the innovator of gadgets for “…the people who have everything - but this … Crowd”, we were stunned that they could have so much foresight in the past and fail to see the future. This was all happening while the Facebook Kid was still in his dorm room conjuring up social networking - before Rupert Murdoch had myspace. Granted it was early advice - or was it an early warning. I should have shorted the stock then and there!

“Hey pull over ….” I said to the cabbie - I was rushing to JFK to catch my flight, but we passed another Sharper Image with the lights still on. “Final Close Out Sale - only 12 days left “, written in big yellow letters in the window. “Hey Buddy, I can’t stop here - what ya wan me ta do ??##**” HONK! Yep, I’m in NY - “Just go to JFK”

I looked at my dangling wires and snapped the Jawbone back together once again to make a call. Hey there’s Brookstone - they seem fine, I thought.

I wondered how many more of these big brands we will see falter - I’ll focus on - our Connected Market Space for the high end global real estate market - where we can make sure our clients and the customers are connecting on fronts “wires in tact” in the Connected Market Space.

So much for my extended warranty - I think I’ll buy my replacement bluetooth Jawbone on line - I hear they have a newer model that’s smaller and less ugly anyway. Any suggestions of where to shop?

My son turned 20 the other day - he’s a great guy - I’m a proud Dad. I was talking to him “man to man” about social networking on the web.

“You know what makes you different than me?”, I said. “Other than the fact that I’m 6′1″, and handsome…”, he responded - ok, a little humility is in order. “Yea, other than that - I mean online”, I said.

“I’m a guy who’s spent his whole life using the computer to work - it’s been a means to an end for me, for the baby boomers. We don’t see it as entertainment, really, not at the deep levels of our psyche. Our generation started out with green letters on screens - and we sat there to accomplish something with the computers - take it from me PONG wasn’t that fun!

Your generation sees it as fun. You started, at about 5, with a Mac. There you were, a little guy drawing pictures on kidpics. Then you graduated to some fun, interactive video games. Along came the teen years and Napster and Kaza music downloads - then it was Myspace and Facebook. For you, it’s all been social, a blast, fun, a way to connect with friends.

When I get on the “puter” I’m always trying to accomplish something and get off - like leaving work. It’s a means to an end. It can be something I want to do - just like I bought my beautiful sailboat online. I searched and searched - then I bought. Now I want to go sail - so I use the computer to find ports, find parts (lots of parts), and spend even more money!

And I do love looking for RealEstate on line -on Realestock of course (I’m not too interested in all the MLS based sites, I want a vacation home). I like to search for the next great vacation spot for the family. But, when I’m done, I want to book it, buy it and go off-line and use it. I want to get on the screen and get off. For me the network is satisifaction that I’ve seen comments, commented, that I’ve searched and asked questions, that I’ve done the job -even if the job was fun - vacations, real estate or buying a luxury item.

Your generation, you and your oldest sister (don’t even get me started on your little sisters and “Webkins” - that’s a whole other generation and discussion) will sit there and howl and laugh and use emoticons … LOL. You guys are up and comming - but let’s face it, my generation are the ones inking the checks for the millions to buy these lifestyle items like properties, resort getaways, yachts, cars and jewellery.

You’ll post stuff on each others “Wall.” You’d just as soon talk online, or on SMS than on a phone. It’s your social basis. My generation uses it for our lifestyle now, to find stuff - answers to questions about stuff, talk about stuff, lifestyle stuff. We get on and then go do other stuff, off line. Just like when we have done our work use of computers - we’ve been ingrained this way from our careers.”

Social networking is for the midlifespace has escaped most sites online so far. Even with sites like “” - it’s been about linking to other “work related” resources. I think our generation finds the computer interesting, fun and informative to find stuff on-line. In fact I think we like to work at our job of having a great lifestyle this way, using our computers - it’s our comfort zone.

We need better tools to do it, more easily, and it’s not Facebook. We think and network differently, in a more objective oriented way. We are interested and engaged in these big lifestyle decisions we are making - like buying our dream home, second home, third home, our golf/spa vacation.

It’s like the jewellery I wanted to buy for my wife. She found it online. She even showed me the picture (strategically around February 10th before my business trip to New York) I couldn’t remember the name of the designer - but I remembered it was Tiffany’s. So I went to the store in New York and told them. They the took me online and we searched together. “That’s it,” I said. I recognized the picture. It worked - I was a hero on Valentines Day this year.

So whether it’s your dream sports car or yacht, Jewels or a Penthouse in Manhattan - fun is part of it, for sure. But, I bet you one thing, our generation is online because, in the back of our minds, we want to make a decision based on what we found, what we discover, comments. We want to make the right decision, and when we’re ready, we’ll buy. Let’s face it, we’ve been doing this a long time - it’s why we can have the lifestyle we want now!

I keep this in mind when designing Realestock with my Team. And we see this at work everyday with savvy searchers and buyers around the globe. Find a luxury piece of real estate - become an exclusive by invitation only member, and get the real scoop. The people on Realestock are there, because they will, eventually, make some very big lifestyle and investment decisions. Like the single largest online generated sale to date on a $5mm estate. And the inquires and conversations in our exclusive community reach upwards of $18 million.

I’d love to have feedback on this line of thought and some ideas of tools any of you searchers on Realestock would like to see. I’ll make sure to take it very seriously, and take it to our programmers and design team.


I'm speaking at the Luxury Council event in New York at the beautiful Hotel Plaza Athenee along side some very impressive collegues in the industry. Greg.... From, Michale... From, Susie Ellis from and Steve Nobel from the Luxury Council.

I'm #4 - ugh! These people are SMART - what should I say? We're talking to executives from luxury brands - I don't want to repeat what the panel members have already discussed - I listen - I'm watching the nods and reactions from the audience.

All of a sudden, Bill Murray pops into my head - that scene where he's trying to kill himself, again, by driving off a cliff in the movie "Ground Hog Day" - that's what this is like, I think - today, in the marketing industry. I've been in this movie before - over and over again - in fact, we all have:

  • 1987 - the S&L crises, Black Monday October 19th, 1987, Graham Rudman, Crashing Real Estate and Financial Institutions
  • 1992 - Desert Storm
  • 1994 - Netscape browser is free - the web; what's that (the first year I bought my first Internet company for $40,000)
  • 1999 - 2000 .Com boom/bust
  • I skipped over the oil prices in the 1970's
  • Web 1.0
  • Web 2.0
  • Web x.0

What ever number you put behind it - it's all about the Technomic revolution - the way technology changes the way we think - we interact - we communicate - we research - we buy.

I then think about the first paper I wrote as a PHD student/University Prof in 1997, "Technomics: The Use of Information in the Distribution Revolution." It was pretty good - access to information, as information grows, and use grows, relevancy becomes more important, etc.

It's my turn to speak - I mention the movie "Ground Hog Day" - the audience chuckles, so I guess the analogy isn't lost on them.

I talk about the how a brand, especially a luxury brand, can't be Connected if you're not in the Connected Market Space - connecting internally inside your organization( B2B) and managing the culture and the mindset of your marketing and sales teams - giving them the tools that make them part of the Connected Market Space process. This is an imperative while you manage your brand and connect in the Connected Market Space B2C. It's what we do with our clients at - and what we do in our own organization. I like to call it, "eating our own cooking"

I discuss the Q3 Principal - Quantity doesn't mater - it's Quality and Quaified - without Qualified prospects and buyers who will do business with you - it's all just noise. And, if you're not using the right tools and outreach (e.g. People in China send 5 Billion text messages a day - they're not on the net, they are on their phones - e.g. We just go the iPhone in Canada two days ago!) Know the platforms of your audience if you want to connect.

I share a story about how the numbers we see Print Media was 664% more expense to use to acquire a lead for a new development real estate versus using online media. At the same time only 6% of the marketing budget is spent online.

55% of the sales, for my example projects, came from leads we generated on line (the balance came from referrals to the real estate project in the developers tight circle - prospects they already knew - 0% came from print media). That's an expensive $150K thrown away on that real estate deal in today's market - maybe in any market. What don't they know? What cant they track? It's time to use the tools and the net the right way - I'm not saying "print is dead" - it's not. But PR is more important than ever, and 90% of the audience will go online - so online should lead where traditionally print has lead the way to market real estate - I believe this is true for Luxury Brands as well.

And that brings me back to that Bill Murray scene in the movie - why do developers still insist on throwing their money at media that doesn't return on the objective? Sell realestate - generate conversations with buyers, online that lead qualified prospects to become buyers. So many operate just like Bill Murray, driving off that Cliff in the movie, smashing the alarm clock.

The moral of "Ground Hog Day" - acknowledge that the world is different, that you have to wake up to the changes in the industry (inside Bill in the movie) - until then, it's just the same old story - and it's not working - it will be the same day of expensive media, without results. I finish - lots of q & a which is always the best part of these events. That's how I know we connected.

It was only an hour and a half, time to get back to doing what we were talking about "on-line" with our customers in luxury real estate along side the high end luxury brands and with the media that works.

Here's and example of Media that works - go buy the Robb Report Vacation Homes Aug/September Edition - The Robb Report has always been "Connected" - I believe the smart media like The Robb Report "gets it" and always will be.

--Tim Vasko

*Tim Vasko is the Founder and CEO of

Victoria, BC - July 15, 2008 - Realestock is pleased to announce that we have recently been the subject of an article profiling the release and powerful capabilities of our global luxury real estate search engine and community in the prestigious Robb Report Magazine. The article stands as yet another example of the intrigue and excitement that Realestock is inspiring in people worldwide.

Read The Article Here Now!


I've lived through the internet bubble (and have some scars) and tried to avoid the real estate bubble (it wasn't easy). But, bubbles have a way of being painful and long lasting.

So, no doubt, the real estate bubble has been painful (may be the worst market for at least the past 50 years). But, could this be a short-run thing?

Perhaps so. In fact, this is the view from the front-cover piece in this week's Barron's [a paid publication]. Actually, there may be the start of a real estate recovery by the end of this year.

This is certainly a controversial stand. Keep in mind that inventory levels are stubbornly high (helped by foreclosures) and housing prices seem to fall further and further. What's more, the credit crunch is still here and there are serious problems with major real estate operators, such as with the implosion of IndyMac Bancorp (NYSE: IMB), as well as the deterioration of Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE).

OK, so why the optimism? Well, if you peel back some of the recent housing data, it appears that things are stabilizing in terms of home sales and inventories. Basically, market forces are making the necessary adjustments.

Something else: the federal government might take some action. For example, Congress is pushing a bill to deal with $300 billion in subprime mortgages (of course, financial institutions have already taken major steps to write down subprime mortgages).

Ironically enough, a government takeover of Fannie and Freddie is likely to be a good thing. Basically, there should be a boost in the availability of credit.

Oh, and there are also strong demographic trends in the U.S., in terms of population growth and employment.

Finally, the real estate bust has made housing much more affordable (if you take into account per capita income).

True, Barron's scenario may be off base. Then again, it's always good to take the other side of the argument -- which most of the media hasn't so far

-- Tom Taulli

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