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    Do you have friends that love to go out with you, but never invite you to their home? How about neighbors who are super-nice in the yard, but never let you in the house? Don't worry. It isn't you, it's them.

    They are hiding a secret that has been kept for years by many homeowners, but the economic decline is causing the veneer of this life of illusion to crack. These friends and neighbors are victims of the American Dream: having the big house to prove you've "made it," but having no money left over to decorate it.

    So how did so many people end up real estate rich and decor poor?


    The availability of easy money and creative financing can be blamed for being "house poor." People didn't worry about how they would furnish it, the economy was growing strong and they were confident their raises and bonuses would more than cover the cost of decorating. At the very least, they counted on rising real estate prices to enable them to take out a second mortgage for improvements.

    Real Estate
    Essential How-To-Guides on AOL Real Estate: Home Buying, Selling, Renting, Moving and Home Improvement
    Life doesn't always turn out as planned, and sometimes adjustments need to be made. Instead of raises and bonuses, homeowners received pink slips and unemployment. Some homeowners chose to keep their home off-limits, while others tried to maintain the charade by only decorating the foyer or the rooms immediately visible from the front door.

    Now that the real estate bubble has burst, the secret is out. These homeowners are underwater, and having to sell or be foreclosed on. These "illusion homes" are an added challenge to an already challenging real estate market. Realtors implore the homeowner to stage the home, but they don't even have money left for that.

    The home ends up lingering on the market and either being sold at a deep discount as a short sale, or as a foreclosure. You see, today's buyers search the Internet for homes long before they ever step inside one. According to the National Realtors Association, each home receives a mere three-second glance before clicking to the next listing. You have to have great photos in order to grab the buyer's attention and get them interested enough to walk through your door. Since unfurnished rooms don't photograph well, they fail to get attention from anyone but the bargain hunters.

    As the old saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover. Your friends and neighbors may look like they have a fabulous life by the view from the street, but no one knows what lurks behind those doors.

    Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. Follow her on Twitter @thedesigndiva.



    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.


    ************************************************

    Want to learn more about home buying and home finance? If so, you won't want to miss
    our online discussion with industry experts,
    "What Works Now: Smart Moves When Buying a Home,"
    created by AOL Real Estate in participation with Bank of America Home Loans.
    Watch it now on AOL Real Estate.

     

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    A relaxing bedroom can be your escape from technology. A group of scientists intent on studying the impacts of our technological crutches spent several days camping in Utah, utterly removed from the digital world. Their trip, chronicled in The New York Times, revealed -- surprise! -- that behavior and thought processes change when we unplug from cell phones and e-mail, arguably for the better.

    One finding, however, stood out, and could have far-reaching consequences. The scientists hinted that our decision-making abilities could be hindered by technology overuse, similar to the effects of drug or alcohol addiction.

    While we can't all detox in the great outdoors, there are ways to bring some of nature's benefits inside. For urban dwellers, the bedroom is one of the most important havens from the technological deluge of daily life. Keeping the TV out of the bedroom is one of the easiest ways to improve your chances for a good night's rest. Here are some other ideas to help you create a serene sleeping place in your apartment.

    Keep It Simple


    New York-based blogger Joanna Goddard recently featured photos of her own West Village apartment, which got a makeover from interior designer Jenny of Little Green Notebook. Goddard's cozy place offers a wealth of inspiration, but it's her bedroom that stands out most. Simple and clean, with a plain white comforter, endearing needlepoint pillow, nondescript Ikea lamps and black-and-white photography, the relaxed look is easy to re-create.


    Buy the Best of Beds

    Design Sponge has a roundup of bed ideas, including four-posters, canopy beds, minimalist platform beds, sleigh beds and day beds. The focus here is on construction rather than bedding, which is a good thing--a well-designed bed requires only the simplest of bedspreads and bedroom decor.


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    Get Lazy With Lighting

    If you'd like something a bit more eye-catching, visit Casa Sugar, which points out what may be the perfect bedroom lamp: the Sleepy Lamp by Italian company Busso. An elegant piece that leans like a ladder, it's the picture of modern minimalist perfection. With a shade built into the wall and a few rungs for hanging clothes or storing books, the lamp is also a space-saver.


    Sing the Blues

    Color is also key to creating a subdued atmosphere in your bedroom. Gentle tones of blue are a good bet, according to Real Simple. The site has a slide show of beautiful blue furniture, paint and decor, and advises that warm blues "help make a room feel cozier," while cool blues "can help make a small space look bigger" and can "encourage calmness (which is nice for a bedroom)."

    The idea of a cool blue bedroom instantly conjures images of stormy beaches, where the water and sky sometime appear to collide. In a recent post, Remodelista focused on the dreamy summer beach homes of the 1930s European Modernists. Built mostly in Wellfleet on Outer Cape Cod, the homes are "humble in budget, materials, and environmental impact," which makes their design schemes applicable to apartments as well. The Modernists were also intent on living close to nature, a philosophy many scientists would likely recommend to the technology-prone insomniacs among us.


    Looking for more advice about renting? Here are some AOL Real Estate guides to help you:

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.

     

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    We've got the up, the down, and the all-around this week on RentedSpaces. So whether you're looking to go upscale with a six-figure kids room, to downsize to just 100 possessions or to hear an all-around building manager horror story, we've got you covered.

    Kids' Bedrooms Get the Royal Treatment
    For those people who can't quite seem to find enough ways to spend money, we present the $100,000 child's bedroom. Wait, what? Yes, really. Read more.

    How to Downsize to Under 100 Things
    Probably not targeted the same group who would drop $100K on their kids' rooms, but there's a movement afoot to downsize to just 100 items of "stuff". Read more.

    Six Ways to Make Sure You Get Back Your Security Deposit
    See how to increase your odds of getting your one- or two-month's worth of security deposit back from your landlord, when you read more.

    Strategies for a Serene Bedroom
    See why kicking your television to the curb (or at least to the living room) can up your chances of a good night's sleep. Read more.

    Apartment Guru: Building Manager Lets Himself In, Watches TV
    The Apartment Guru is back with a story sure to creep you out -- and probably inspire you to subtly boobytrap your apartment. Read more.


    Still trying to decide which is right for you? Here are some
    AOL Real Estate guides to help you no matter whether you choose to buy or rent:


    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.

     

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    Homeowners of the future may hlitracon, light-transmitting concreteave a lot more options when it comes to illuminating their pads. Thanks to the Hungary-based design firm, LiTraCon, architects and designers can construct entire walls that glow. Incorporating optical glass fibers in the construction design, the fiber-concrete blend creates almost microscopically small see-through patches, making each block of LiTraCon concrete significantly less opaque than traditional building materials.

    Since fiber optics only comprise approximately 4 percent of the wall's design, the concrete can bear the same weight as traditional building materials, the only difference is, you can see glimpses of what's on the other side. Because the fiber optics are built into the concrete itself, thickness doesn't matter. LiTraCon walls can be up to 65 feet thick without losing their translucent glow. Luckily DIYers looking to get that effect in their own homes needn't pony up the $1,069 a three foot-by-three foot LitraCon block will cost you. Here's how to create light-emitting concrete yourself:
    It starts with craft clay, fiber optic wires, a bit of concrete (naturally) and an idea of what exactly you'd like to make (it helps to start with a small project like
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    a candle holder until you get the hang of it). Next, create a mold of the shapes you'd like to make. For the sake of practice, this can be almost anything waterproof ranging from a Tupperware container to a plastic bowl. Pour the clay into the mold and stick a few fiber optic wires in (the pros over at Instructables cut some off of an old toy). Mix cement in a separate container until it's relatively thin and pour over, making sure there are no air bubbles trapped within. Pull off the modeling clay and mold and voila! Light-emitting concrete that's 800 times cheaper than the professional stuff. It should look something like this. (A very detailed explanation of the process along with photos is available at Instructables.com).

    While the result on the DIY end isn't nearly as homogenous or polished as the LiTraCon material, the at-home alternative is vastly cheaper, fairly easy to make and seems to produce comparable results.



    Still trying to decide which is right for you? Here are some AOL Real Estate guides to help you no matter whether you choose to buy or rent:


    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.


     

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    eco-sensitive lawnThe prospect of weekly vacuuming and annual steam cleaning is enough to turn off many people to carpet. Dishwashers have gotten so powerful that "pre-rinsing" is becoming as outmoded as vinyl records. Even toilets are self-cleaning. What does this have to do with landscaping? Well, it's a paradox: American homeowners are willing to hunt down every time-saving device for their home interiors, but they continue to spend dozens, if not hundreds, of hours maintaining their lawn each year. Moreover, the maintenance of your lawn is, if anything, worse for the local ecosystem than many of the low-maintenance alternatives.

    Learn alternative landscaping techniques for your lawn and the myths about tending it by which you should no longer abide!



    The Sanctity of the American Lawn

    Arguably, natural grass landscaping is a generational thing. The vision of our dream home was conceived of early on in life: Our parents had natural grass lawns, so our dream house typically includes a natural grass lawn. But the 21st century has seen a growing concern for water conservation, while "grassless" landscaping design has improved by leaps and bounds. Green doesn't always mean natural, and many lawn grasses aren't even indigenous. It doesn't have to be a moral thing: Almost nobody will judge you for maintaining a perfectly manicured St. Augustine grass lawn. But at the same time you shouldn't base your choice of ground cover on the idea that natural grass is an inherently superior way to go. (Find highly rated professional landscapers in your area.)


    Alternative Landscaping Ideas, Tips, and Benefits

    • Ground covers. Mother Nature has a much larger catalog of botanical beauties than just grass. Juniper, clover, periwinkle and mosses are just a few alternative ground covers. For something more inside-the-box, "low-mow" grass species or ornamental grasses can at least reduce your lawn maintenance load.

    • Conserving water. If you're less concerned with reducing maintenance and more concerned with eco-friendly landscaping, you should focus on water conservation. Reportedly, landscaping accounts for more than 50 percent of water consumption in some municipalities.

    • Reducing lawn area. Don't fall into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking. By adding decorative rocks, installing a concrete patio or walkway, and planting a well-placed tree or two, you can significantly reduce your lawn area (and maintenance) without completely losing the appeal of natural grasses. (Find highly rated professional walkway-installers in this area.)


    Leaf-Raking: The Great Landscaping Myth

    Hand-in-hand with the sanctity of conventional landscaping are a handful of myths that lead to further missed opportunities to lower your maintenance chores. Perhaps no myth is bigger than the one that you must rake and dispose of leaves before they're buried under the first heavy snowfall. It's true that you can't leave a layer of fall foliage to slowly decompose on your lawn, while blocking sunlight and moisture. But if you get the lawn mower out and churn those leaves up into fertilizing mulch, your lawn may actually be better for it. You don't even have to wait for a dry spell. Assuming your mower blades can avoid getting snagged, slightly damp leaves actually shred more readily.

    Now, there is one caveat: A thick layer of mowed leaves can contribute to excessive thatch, the layer of organic material between grass blades and the soil. Ironically, the dead leaves that improve the soil quality can cause grass to grow too fast the following spring, the ostensible cause of thatch. That said, so long as you don't treat your lawn with conventional fertilizer and don't overwater, your lawn should be fine. To truly ease your mind, you can periodically (maybe once every one to three years) aerate your lawn, a wise step whether you rake your leaves or not. (Find highly rated professional landscapers in your area.)


    Other Landscaping Myths

    • It's better to have long grass or it's better to have short grass. Different grasses have different optimal lengths, but more important, by far, is the willingness to mow your lawn often. Taking long grass and mowing it short will leave mostly bare stock, leaving your grass less able to produce new grass shoots. If you're unwilling to make this commitment, it's another reason to consider the alternatives. (Find highly rated lawn care professionals in your area.)

    • Hedges are the best way to improve my home's curb appeal. Hedges or shrubs are beautiful landscaping additions, but they can also be dangerous disguises. Hedges can trap moisture to the side of your home for extended periods. If you're trying to cover up siding that's already in decline, hedges can become the coup de grace. (Find highly rated professionals to remove trees or shrubs.)

    • It's best to water my lawn in the evening, when I won't need as much water. Yes, the midday sun will cause a certain amount of your lawn irrigation to evaporate, but your grass is still in greatest need during this time. By watering later in the day, you may be creating enough moisture for fungus to take hold. (Find highly rated sprinkler-system professionals in your area.)

    Still wondering what you should do with your lawn or exterior spaces? See AOL Real Estate's Home Improvement Guides for more tips:

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.

     

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    Whether you're looking to downsize from a traditional house to a tree house, or from a mortgage to a rental payment, we had great ideas for you this week on RentedSpaces. See what else was hot:

    1. Could a Tree House Solve Your Housing Dilemma?
    All signs seem to indicate that the housing market is looking up, but these homes are taking that fact a little more literally. See what kind of cool dwellings are sprouting in treetops around the country -- and the world. Read more.

    2. Interior Design Made Easier Than It Looks
    A successful Miami design firm has just published a book in which they reveal a few of the secrets of a well-designed home. See how to incorporate their ideas in your own space. Read more.

    3. From Homeowning to Renting: Where to Begin

    With the recent housing market turmoil, many sellers are so relieved to have gotten out with their wallets intact that they're ready to try renting again. See why it's such an attractive idea for so many people. Read more.

    Essential How-To Guides on AOL Real Estate
    4. Back to School Program Protects Kids, Neighbors
    With back-to-school time looming for many students, crosswalk safety is a top concern of parents and schools. See how concerned citizens around the country are making sure their communities are safe. Read more.

    5. How to Make a Small Bedroom Feel Bigger
    Sure, paint colors and good lighting can make a room seem bigger, but if you want to reclaim some actual space you may want to consider some of these cool foldaway furniture finds. Read more.


    Still trying to decide which is right for you? Here are some AOL Real Estate guides to help you no matter whether you choose to buy or rent:


    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.

     

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    What do you do when you move into a new rental? Redecorate, of course. The White House last week unveiled President Obama's redesigned Oval Office.

    The makeover, completed under the eye of California designer Michael Smith while the First Family was vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, showcases a sea of brown, camel, and tan. The earth tones are throughout, on the subtly striped wallpaper, on new, comfy, coffee-colored sofas, reupholstered leather chairs, new coffee table and lamps, and the most-controversial touch: new carpet with the presidential seal and quotes on its borders from four past presidents and Martin Luther King Jr.

    "Barack Obama is urban, elegant, sophisticated, educated and contemporary, and now his workspace is, too," says interior designer Elaine Griffin. "Your personality should always shine through, no matter what decor style tickles your fancy. There's no such thing as non-partisan decorating."
    Just how well Obama decorated his office depends on the designer you ask: "In a word, 'yawn,' " says interior designer Sam Jernigan of Renaissance Design Consultations. "Where's the air of tradition? Where's the stately decor reflecting the stature of the office? Alas, the venerable desk looks like it's adrift on a sea of vanilla pudding."

    Professional color consultant Amy Wax, of Your Color Source Studios in Montclair, N.J., disagrees: "The presidential seal is scaled for the people who will be in the room. They can sit for long periods and feel comfortable. Let the person make a statement, not the room. It is a very subtle, elegant design."

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    As for the air of tradition? It's there, continues Wax, from the Resolute desk to the reupholstered leather chairs and the quotes from past presidents on the rug: "Obama has elegantly blended classical elements from our past and architectural history, while looking to the future for what could be done: Not only is everything made from Americans, but he has ventured out into the green with the rug, which is made of 25 percent recycled fibers. This particular design seems very well thought out."

    The designers do agree that there are some color tips that you can take from the Oval Office design team's choice of hues. Here are seven of them:


    1. Don't overdo


    If you're striving for an elegant look, "for the bulk of the room, use colors that are long-lasting; not the latest trends," says Wax, author of Can't Fail Color Schemes. "Bring contrasting colors in as accents, with accent pillows or accent chairs."

    The Oval Office makeover is lacking in accent color, says Jernigan. "With no color contrast to engage one's eye, the desk and draperies are the star of the show (more like, understudy)," she says. "For our first president of color.... I have to ask, where's the color, Mr. President?"


    2. Add a dash of citrus for zing

    "If the yellow of the flowers on the side table permanently enlivened the room as throw pillows on the sofa, it would look better," says Griffin, author of "Design Rules: The Insider's Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator." "Raspberry would also do the trick, but is a little girly for the leader of the free world's lair."

    "A good color story adds rhythm and life to a room," says Jernigan. "The trick, however, is to successfully integrate that key anchor color along with accent and neutral color(s) successfully throughout the room so as to keep your eye moving to create a feeling of balance throughout. No one element should overwhelm or dominate the room."


    3. You can't beat Mother Nature

    The coffee table in the Oval Office is adorned with a bowl of apples. "Using fruits and veggies for tabletop centerpieces is a favorite trick of decorators, who know that they're cheaper and longer-lasting than flowers," says Griffin. "Almost any fruit or veggie will do; the bowl should be a pretty one."


    4. Use natural color combos in threes

    Add depth to the room by using colors in groups of threes. "Choose a color combination that exists in nature, and your color triad can't go wrong," says Griffin. "The blue of the table lamps in the Oval Office ups the style ante and adds visual sophistication to the room's beige color story." Think Earth and sky.


    5. Stripe it rich

    "Stripes add an elegant element of visual texture to any room," says Griffin, who noted the new wall paper in the Oval Office. The closer in color they are, the more sophisticated and less circus-like they are, she says. "Stripes of four to seven inches in width look best. The larger your space, the larger the stripe can be."


    6. Consider the architecture

    Select furnishings in style and color that match the architecture of your home, says Jernigan. "It can, as seen [in the Oval Office], feel disjointed to decorate in a style totally dissimilar from the bones of your house. The odd Pottery Barn vibe to the sofas and woefully clunky modernity of the coffee table looks like they belong in a suburban media room, not the office of the ruler of free world. Are visiting heads of state supposed to kick off their shoes?"


    7. Contrast your upholstery and rug


    In the Oval Office, "the sofas' tobacco-y brown velvet calls for a paler-hued rug. Cream is just what the doctor ordered," says Griffin about the Oval Office rug. To get the lightness of a cream or ivory rug in your home and not drive yourself insane keeping it clean (unlike at the White House, where stains are lifted regularly), opt for nylon or a nylon/wool combo, she says.

    The Oval Office now has a residential feel, which makes it feel more cozy, says Wax. "It shows a sense of confidence of the person who is in the room and reflects the understated person that Obama is. He is not flashy with bright colors."


    Still trying to decide which is right for you? Here are some AOL Real Estate guides to help you no matter whether you choose to buy or rent:

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.

     

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  • 09/16/10--04:43: Big Green Home Bust
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    A well-appointed green home outfitted with energy-saving appliances and other eco-friendly features might save money on utility bills and ease your conscience, but it won't always help close a sale in a tough real estate market, a California homeowner has learned.

    The warning sign for the green residential market: A house for sale in Costa Mesa that was the first in Orange County to receive a coveted LEED Platinum certification (green building's Good Housekeeping Seal) had its price slashed by half a million.

    The seven-bedroom, 4,900-square foot Craftsman-style house is the ultimate green showcase, boasting everything from low-flow faucets to solar panels (see "Home Energy Saving Projects for Every Budget"). But even those hallmarks of sustainable design were no match, it seems, for the cruddy economy and skittish buyers. According to the Orange County Register, the green home's list price recently dropped $500,000, from $2,999,000 to $2,499,999.
    The hefty drop underscores the continuing debate about the resale value of green homes. Many have believed that green would command a premium among buyers who aspire to a sustainable lifestyle, but now it appears that green might not be as big a selling point in a market that has gone off the rails.

    So how green do prospective buyers want to go?

    There's not much hard evidence to go by. Anecdotes suggest that sustainable homes can sometimes sell faster than conventional ones, especially if energy-efficiency is the main marketing theme, according to the National Association of Home Builders. On the other hand, some green condo buildings in urban markets like New York, that were expected to fly off the market in the boom, have had a rough ride.

    Green or not, buyers are still constrained by the market's current tight financial conditions, the NAHB says, and even the prospect of lower monthly energy bills "has not gained the attention of the lending community."

    One problem is that most people are in the dark about what green building really means, and more importantly, if it's worth paying for. Green can also be confusing: Quick, what's the difference between LED and LEED? (Answer: LED is energy-efficient light emitting diodes, used in lighting and LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the much touted green certification program that includes a checklist of environmental standards).

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    Although the price gap between green and standard housing is reportedly closing, buyers aren't always interested in the technical aspects of how and why green will improve their lives, especially if they are agonizing over a big financial commitment. The Costa Mesa home, for example, which sits on a golf course, features dual-flush toilets, an internal gray water system, and drought-tolerant native plants in the garden (see "Landscaping With Low-Maintenance Lawns Saves Money").

    Sounds great, but most buyers are more likely to wonder whether they can afford the mortgage.

    For more on green homes and related topics, see these AOL Real Estate guides:
    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.

     

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    Actor Marc Blucas, who played Buffy the Vampire Slayer's boyfriend on TV for several seasons, has put two Brentwood, Calif. homes on the market that he personally renovated.

    "Marc did it all himself," listing agent Juliette Hohnen of Teles Properties told HousingWatch. The single-family homes located at 11938 and 11930 Currituck Drive, are listed for $1,639,000 and $1,489,000, respectively, with only one other property sitting between them on a cul de sac.

    "If the middle house came up for sale [by a different owner], you can buy that third house and then you'd have a 20,000-square-foot lot in the middle of Brentwood," says Hohnen. "It would be the most incredible site to develop -- to put a big house up on it."

    But for prospective buyers, once they get a look at Blucas' handiwork (pictured below), they just might not want to tear down these well-cared-for homes.
    The larger of the two homes, a 1,766 square-foot 1960's-style ranch, originally had a lot of small rooms, but Blucas knocked down walls to open the space. "It is loft living in Brentwood for the hip and cool people who might like living in Venice, but want to live in a safe, ritzy area, near the schools," says Hohnen.
    Real Estate
    Essential How-To-Guides on AOL Real Estate: Home Buying, Selling, Renting, Moving and Home Improvement

    For the renovation, Blucas used reclaimed materials, such as a bar that he personally found and put in himself, says Hohnen. This three-bedroom, two-bath home has polished concrete floors and beamed ceilings, a den and an office.

    The other home, which Blucas purchased first and at one point rented to Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, is 1,218 square feet with two bedrooms. It sits at the end of the cul-de-sac and could be a starter home or a Westside pied de terre, says Hohnen. It has stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors, as well as a hot tub on the deck.

    Blucas, who last year married journalist Ryan Haddon (ex-wife of Christian Slater), is trading up for a more space.

    "He has two kids and needs a bigger place," says Hohnen. "He'd like to sell as soon as possible."

    See more homes for sale in Brentwood, CA at AOL Real Estate.

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Get property tax help from our experts.

     

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    1It took three years and at least four price offerings, but JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon has finally sold his four-story mansion on Chicago's Gold Coast, and for under $6.95 million -- less than half of its original list price.

    The price on the 13,500-square-foot property, which first went on the market at $13.5 million in April 2007, was slashed to $10.5 million in 2009, then $9.5 million when a new agent came on board, reports AOL's Luxist. Its last price cut was to $6.95 million in late August.

    The buyer is reported to be Michael Polsky, founder of closely held Invenergy LLC, a developer of large-scale energy generation facilities. According to Crain's Chicago Business, he will soon move into the Marvin Herman-renovated home.
    Listing agent Janet Owen of Chicago-based Sudler Sotheby's International Realty, says she can't comment on the buyer or the seller, but about the house itself, she says, has a commanding presence. "Because it is on a corner, the house is flooded with light," she wrote in an e-mail to HousingWatch. "The outstanding provenance of the house, the architectural detail and the livability of the home are all important."

    The 18-room home (with an address befitting a bank chairman: 25 E. Banks) has eight bedrooms, nine full baths, two half-baths, and a two-car garage. A grand staircase leads from the expansive foyer with its high ceiling and stately pillars to rooms with ornate crown molding and inlaid wood.

    The master suite makes up the entire second floor, with family bedrooms on the third-level. The kitchen has a glazed butcher-block island, overhead storage, a wine vault and a black-and-white tiled floor. There is a large rooftop terrace, a gym with a domed ceiling, a media room that leads to the deck, and 2-bedrooms in the staff quarters, with a separate entrance; that's according to the listing details and photos, which can be seen on here on Luxist. (Notice the craftsmanship.)

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    Originally built in 1880, one block from Lake Michigan and within walking distance of the shops along the Magnificent Mile, the home apparently sits on two lots, one of which is 34 x 116 and the other is 25 x 32, according to ChicagoNow. Property taxes are upward of $60,000 annually.

    "The Gold Coast is thriving and is truly a wonderful place to live," says Owen.

    Dimon, who moved to New York in 2004, bought the Chicago home in September 2000 for $4.68 million, presumably after he accepted the post of CEO of Bank One, which was based in Chicago before being bought by Chase.

    As CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Dimon received a bonus of about $17 million in restricted stock and options for 2009, reported the Wall Street Journal. Dimon was paid $1 million in salary in 2008, but in 2007 his total compensation was $27.8 million, and $39.1 million in 2006.

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    Cortney and Bob Novogratz, developer-designers and stars of Bravo's "9 by Design" are trying to unload their colorful, modern townhouse in Manhattan's West Village. Even a stay this past summer by the Heidi Klum and Seal clan hasn't helped.

    According to AOL's Luxist, the townhouse overlooking the Hudson River originally was listed for a whopping $25 million last year and is now offered at $18.95 million. Ouch, that's a big cut.
    But the Novogratzes, with their newfound fame are moving on, leaving the dramatic, five-story pad, with its basketball court, huge kitchen and stunning, rooftop terrace.

    The listing is a co-exclusive between Paula Del Nunzio at Brown, Harris, Stevens and Raphael De Niro at Prudential Douglas Elliman. Also check out our review of the Novogratzes' book, Downtown Chic.

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    Supermodel Gisele Bündchen and her hubby, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, are that much closer to seeing the completion of their 22,000-square-foot, Los Angeles home now that the roof is on.

    Custom-built homes, like theirs in the Brentwood neighborhood overlooking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's house, comprise 30 percent of the housing market. That's up from 20 percent during the boom years, says Donna Reichle, a spokesperson for the National Association of Home Builders. "Obviously that is an increased share of a much-diminished total market," she told HousingWatch.

    Although the housing market is not as robust as it was, and homebuilders are among those suffering in its decline, they are feeling more confident about the market, says a recent NAHB survey. Homebuilder confidence is up three points, its first increase in five months.
    "Builders are starting to see some flickers of interest among potential buyers, and are hopeful that this interest will translate to more sales in the coming months," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a homebuilder in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "However, because most builders still have no access to credit for building homes, there is a real concern that we will not be able to meet the pent-up demand when consumers are ready to get back in the market.

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    "The toughest obstacles for homebuilders really come down to financing - the scarcity of construction credit for builders along with tougher mortgage requirements for consumers," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe in a release.

    Although Reichle says that the NAHB does not have numbers on the percentage of wealthy homeowners seeking the custom-build route, on the surface it would seem that those with a hefty amount saved up are able to afford to build a true custom home, because they have the upfront cash.

    Bundchen made a reported $25 million last year, and Brady is in his last season of a six-year, $60 million contract, according to the Boston Herald. Given their incomes, there aren't many who will be able to build a custom home as grand as the Brady-Bundchen plans. (And some athletes can't keep up with the payments, as HousingWatch discusses in "Sports Stars: From Homebuyers to Renters.")

    Being built on a 3.75-acre property by Boston-based Suffolk Construction, the home is estimated to cost $20 million to build, not including the $11 million that the super couple spent on the land. The eight-bedroom, Mediterranean-style home will have an elevator and covered bridge connecting two parts of the two-story house, as well as a cardio-room, a weight room and a lagoon-shaped pool with spa.

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    A portion of Frank Lloyd Wright's most elaborate and largest prairie-style home, the Avery Coonley Estate, has hit the market for $2.89 million after a decade of extensive restoration.

    The five-bedroom, five-bath manor, one of several buildings on the original Coonley Estate, sits on a bank of the Des Plaines River in the Chicago suburb of Riverside, Ill. The 6,000-square-footer (pictured left and below) has since been restored by the sellers, Dean Eastman, the former Argonne National Laboratory head, and his wife, Ella Mae, who purchased it in 2000.
    Originally built from 1908 to 1912, the home was divided into two residences in 1950, separating what had been the servant's bedroom wing from the main house. Although it is still two residences, with only one for sale, the Coonley House has been restored to its original architectural elements, colors and textures. However, three original servants' bedrooms were converted to a master bedroom and a master bath with a large soaking tub.

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    "It was in restoring the Wright architectural elements that the current owners showed their respect for the home and Wright," Baird & Warner real estate agent Marcee Gavula said in the home's listing description. "Original tile floors were brought back to former glory when the owner cleaned them by hand. Wright cabinets were sometimes moved but preserved and restored. All home restoration was researched from color to texture to authentic historic detail." That includes artisans' re-creation of a 28-foot mural from a fragment of it that had escaped destruction.

    Gavula has experience marketing Frank Lloyd Wright homes. She sold his 1902 Heurtley House in Oak Park in January 2007 for $2.5 million, and the Eastmans enlisted her in 2008 to sell the Coonley Coach House, which they purchased in 2005 for $350,000.

    After $1 million in total restoration, the coach house was listed for $1.63 million. It is now off the market.

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    When celebrities such as Sting, Lenny Kravitz, John Legend, Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen are selling their multimillion-dollar celebrity homes, awestruck fans and potential buyers ogle the listing photos to catch a glimpse of what these stars home lives are like.

    What's on the coffee table, adorning the walls or decorating the bookcases? Do they live like you, Joe and Jane next door, or like the demigods we want them to be? Well, one man has had an upclose look at many of these homes: photographer Evan Joseph.

    Joseph (pictured left) says, "The thing that has always struck me most about celebrity homes is how comfortable they are."
    Joseph
    , who just released the book "New York City at Night," has been shooting luxury real estate for years. When top-yielding real estate agents, such as Jared Seligman of Prudential Douglas Elliman or top agents at the Corcoran Group need a home shot, he is the photog to call.

    "Evan is a terrific photographer and definitely the best in the industry," says Seligman. "We often bend over backwards to ensure that we use him to shoot our exclusive properties."

    Joseph, who shares 10 of his celebrity homes photos (below) with HousingWatch, as well as some skyline shots from his book, says one might be surprised at how celebrities really live: with their names on the mailing labels of magazines strewn on their coffee tables and piano. Yes, strewn on their piano.

    "The pianos are beautiful, but those pianos look used. They are heaped with piles of books and magazines, like a magnet that has drawn the items of the room toward it in a way that other people's coffee table in front of the TV has the same magnetic draw." He says the same is true of a rapper or a cellist -- even though they don't play that instrument.

    Of course, the clutter and really personal items will be removed before Joseph shoots a picture -- and before the home is listed for sale.

    "Celebrity homes feel very welcoming and not like designer showrooms. Their homes are designed to be lived in," Joseph told HousingWatch. "They have chairs you can sit in. The upholstery is overstuffed. The tables look like you can put your feet on them. It may be brand new furniture from a boutique in Tribeca or an exquisite midcentury antique, but it seems clear the celebrity homes have imposed their own design sense on the space and not allowed a designer to make every decision."

    In comparing celebrity homes to those of similar opulence in the same building owned by a wealthy stockbroker, for example, he says:

    "A rapper will have some really outrageous pieces of art ... it forces the designer to work around that. An investment banker's home looks like the designer left yesterday and no one wants to go in and touch anything. "

    He says that the only difference is among some of the younger celebrities who have recently come into fame:

    "They have more flash since they typically went from nothing overnight and they are excited to have something to show off. Older celebrities are like 'this is where I live to get away from this sort of thing.' Their homes seem like sanctuaries or getaways."

    He says one of the main differences between a New York celebrity's home and the average person's, other than the expense of the furnishings, is the view the celebrity has from a penthouse suite or other high-level floors in prime locations.

    "It is the view and the location and those two things go together," says Joseph, who has 110 photos in "New York City at Night" (written by Marcia Reiss). "When you are in a $20-million apartment it probably has an incredible view of something.... Looking at it from 20 stories up and all you see is the moon, the sky, the clouds moving by, it is pure poetry."

    So in addition to shooting luxury real estate, Joseph began shooting the skyline from above. Real estate brokers would use these scenic images in their marketing materials. But it was a photograph of Central Park taken from Bob Costas' living room that attracted the attention of the book publisher. These images, and others he took while dangling from a helicopter, have now taken on a life of their own in his book.

    So if you want to get a feel for how celebrities live, kick off your shoes, put your feet up on the coffee table and flip through it. Or see the photos below.

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    New York City home of Sting and Trudy Styler.










    New York City home of Robert and Cortney Novogratz, stars of the Bravo reality TV series, "9 BY DESIGN." (The home is currently listed for sale for $18.95 million with Raphael De Niro of Prudential Douglas Elliman.)













    From the book "New York City at Night"



    The Time Warner Building and Columbus Circle from the air


    View of Central Park from Fifth Avenue residence of Bob Costas

     

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    Environmentalists might just approve of this cheap housing, a mobile egg-shaped home covered in bamboo and grass seed-filled burlap sacks. But will it catch on as a real living space?

    Dai Haifei, a 24-year-old Beijing architect who developed the egg home, had been living in it on a sidewalk in the high-rent Chinese city for almost two months, until it was ordered removed by city managers who said it didn't conform to housing standards, according to the Beijing Review.
    The 6-foot-high, solar-powered home is just big enough for a small bed and a tiny dresser. Pegs hanging on the wall can hold books and articles of clothing. Although there's no kitchen, a water pump system stored under the bed can keep
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    water for basic washing for about three days. There doesn't seem to be signs of a toilet, but perhaps a pot works just fine.

    "I want to have a home of my own, no need to be too big, as long as it shelters me from the sun and the rain," he said on his blog explaining the egg home. Haifei, has an internship at Standard Architecture, a company that was involved in an "egg of the city" design project about movable small homes for struggling groups of people in the city such as migrant workers, the college students and street vendors.

    The home, which is starting to sprout grass, cost $969 in materials to build, and another $538 to transport to his company's compound.

    Flickr has a slideshow of 141 pictures
    showing the construction of the egg structure from beginning to end.




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    jennifer lopez new homeThe unveiled design of Jennifer Lopez's home is "modern and streamlined," according to an article in the January/February issue of Veranda, which features seven photos of the pop star's abode.

    Although the magazine, by way of contract with Lopez, cannot reveal the location of the home other than that it is in California, the home appears to be J-Lo's 17,129-square-foot estate in the Ashley Ridge section of Hidden Hills, Calif.

    The interior designer, Michelle Workman, who added the blues and grays with bronze accents in several rooms of the house (pictured below) and gutted the kitchen in under 10 weeks, told AOL Real Estate that they were on a schedule to complete the look before the singer's well-publicized June house-warming, which was a combo anniversary party for the star and her husband Marc Anthony Muniz.

    The curvy staircase pictured in the double-high entry resembles the staircase in photos on Shelterpop of the same 9-bedroom, 12-bath, home the "American Idol" judge purchased in San Fernando Valley earlier this year with her husband. The home, complete with a 20-seat movie theater, recording studio, wine cellar, tennis courts, and swimming pool on nine acres, was last listed for $9.995 million.

    "The kitchen is one of the most beautiful rooms in the house," says Workman, who says one of her
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    favorite elements is "a ceramic tile on the backsplash that looks like a dusty antique mirror. There is also a stove with brass elements. It is not something you see in the photo [in Veranda]. Only the beakfast area of that room is in the photos in the magazine."

    "At Veranda, we generally don't feature homes of celebrities, but when I saw Jennifer Lopez's house, I knew our readers would love it because it's glamorous, but also feels real and personal," Editor-in-Chief Dara Caponigro told AOL. "To me, it's a perfect reflection of Jennifer." However, the magazine, whose theme for the month is "American Glamor," did not put the celebrity or her home on the cover.

    In the eight-page spread readers learn the redesigned Lopez home has lots of silks, velvet and leather. Workman tells the magazine the fabrics make it "graceful, with just enough sparkle" without being stuffy and conservative. With the gray tones, she says it is almost like a black-and-white film from the 1940s.

    "We went through several different designs [such as a French chateau-inspiration] before we landed on something we both were happy with. We were going for something very chic and elegant, yet family friendly that would showcase the personalities of Marc and Jennifer," Workman tells AOL Real Estate, adding that the couple was easy to work with and made decisions very quickly. "This is the third project I worked on with them. I did their guest house of a previous house and then that main house before this project."

    A year ago, December 2009, Lopez sold her five-bedroom Bel Air mansion for $6.2 million, just under the nearly $6.25 million she paid for it in January 2005. The farmhouse-style home was originally listed for $8.5 million and had dropped to $7.9 by time the offer came in.





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    serena venus williamsSerena and Venus Williams have recently completed a two-story addition to replace a one-story wing on their massive Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., estate that they share. The 4,000-square-foot structure, which sits to the left of their circular drive by the gated entry, houses their training facility, says area real estate agent Jeff Lichtenstein, who commissioned an aerial photo of the home (pictured below).

    "The sisters applied for permits to do an addition to their home in March of 2010 and just completed it," he says. In fact, several construction projects were conducted on their property over the past year. (A Bing aerial shot before the remodel is also below).

    Serena also remodeled her bathroom, which cost her about $180,000, according to county records, and probably has an elegant vanity with mirrors and drawers for her beauty products since Serena once wrote in her official Women's Tennis Association bio that her favorite place to visit was "the mirror in my house."

    Considering her bathroom before the remodel was described by one Vogue writer as "an over-the-top affair of white marble, gold fixtures, a tub that could fit four," we really can only imagine all of the new upgrades for showcasing her cosmetics.

    "I'm addicted to hair products," she told Vogue. And lotions and scrubs and perfumes. "I got so much stuff I could sell it on the street."

    The 11,000-square-foot home, which the tennis champions finished building in 2000 after purchasing a home there in 1998 for $525,000, is on the BallenIsles Country Club grounds, a gated golf community of 1,562 homes. This is the same community, where Bernie Madoff's sister Sondra Wiener lived before selling her home in 2009, says Lichtenstein of Illustrated Properties.

    The Williams sisters did not put an outdoor tennis court
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    on their property, but the BallenIsles put one on its grounds for them when it spent $26 million redoing its 22 courts. The other residents and country club paid to put in two blue Har-Tru courts, which are the type of hard courts the professionals use, says Lichtenstein, who has a picture of the courts on his blog.

    Most residents have to be paying members of the country club to use its facilities, but apparently not the sisters. "They tried to charge me $85,000 to be a member. Uh-huh. Knowing I could bring in a lot of people if they give me a membership for free," Serena told Vogue. And the sisters have done tournaments there, which is about an hour's drive from the Miami Dolphins' stadium. The Williamses are part owners of the franchise.

    "We're South Florida girls. When we get off the road ... we come home to Dolphins games," Venus told ESPN.

    But they also go to relax in their V-shaped home, with two master wings, one for each sister. The home has a circular theme throughout, from a circular foyer, breakfast room, dining room, library and two-story glass enclosed sitting rooms off each master bedroom with its own double walk-in closets with built-ins.

    "Suffice it to say you have not lived until you've been in Serena Williams's closet. The size of a studio apartment in New York, it is an explosion of color and fur, organized by Serena herself, who 'hates mess' and therefore spends her downtime rearranging racks and racks of her on- and off-court wardrobe and accessories," Vogue reported.

    Her closet has sections that keeps her fur-coats separate from another coat section, and there is a handbag section, a sneaker section separate from her other shoes, and one for gowns too.

    "It is a very specific house," Lichtenstein tells AOL Real Estate. "It is a giant house for the community." And he says it will be a tough sell should ever the sisters decide to live separate lives.

    "There are not a lot of homes with double master suites like that. There are couples who want their own master suite, but these are mirrored wings." In order to sell the home, he says buyers will have to be relatives in a similar situation as the Williams' sisters, or, he jokes, "be a husband and wife who argue with each other a lot."

    The palatial home, with 30-foot ceilings and white marble floors, is about 15 miles away from the home Venus and Serena once shared with their parents, who are now divorced. In 1991, the family moved to Palm Beach Gardens from their home state California so that Venus and Serena could train with Rick Macci, who had also trained Jennifer Capriati.

    "I could not wait to move out," Serena told O magazine. "I was ready...to go to bed when I wanted, ready to watch what I wanted on television when I wanted to, ready to hang out with friends and not be asked, "Serena, where are you going?" So when Serena was 18 and Venus was 19, they moved out of their parents home and into one together.

    Serena told O that she finally felt like an adult when her first electric bill arrived.

    "[It was] $1,500! I couldn't believe it. Suddenly I understood why Daddy was always telling me to turn out the lights. Another time I came home from a tournament and -- click! No lights. Our power had been turned off because I hadn't paid the bill on time. I was constantly running out of groceries, toiletries, and little things I needed. That's when you realize what it means to be an adult: when you're on your own and you run out of toilet paper."






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    new american home"The New American Home" was unveiled at the 2011 International Builders' Show, the biggest trade show of the National Association of Home Builders that is now taking place in Orlando.

    For 28 years, IBS showcases new products, the latest design innovations and building technologies by incorporating them all under one roof, and one theme, in a home that is typically put up for sale after the show. However, this year, due to the economy and the potential financial losses of building a home on spec, this year's New American Home (TNAH) is a 9,689-square-foot custom residence that is being constructed for specific buyers who were on board before ground was even broken. (Last year's home went into foreclosure before the project was completed, as we reported in "New American Home Goes MIA.")

    The theme this year covers green technology, as the Greek Revival style home with an American Empire design has achieved "Emerald" status, the highest status under the National Green Building Standard. The home (pictured left and below) is expected to consume 42 percent less energy than if it were built to the minimum code standards, saving the homeowners about $2,085 in annual energy savings, says the NAHB. Overall, the two-story limestone-clad home uses 77 percent less energy for heating and 83 percent less energy for cooling compared to a similar home in the same climate zone.

    The home has only three bedrooms, but also has an in-law suite with its own bedroom, kitchen, laundry room and living room, as well as a carriage house with a six-bay garage and a 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom suite. All in all, this home was truly designed to be a multi-generational living space.

    The main kitchen features multiple work zones with staggered and stacked cabinetry at an entertainment wall with storage for dishes, books and audio-visual equipment. The work island, made of DuPont Corian, has an elevated countertop and eating area.

    The master suite, with black heart hardwood flooring, has a sitting room the size of some other home's living room. The master bath, with low-flow shower head and faucets and a dual-flush toilet, also has a steam generator in the
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    shower. The master closet has a built-in armoire with hidden storage for shoes and sweaters, and a wall-mounted tie and belt cabinet, and of course built-in drawers.

    The rear exterior of the home, which opens to a palm court with a swimming pool and fountains, has an entertainment area and a fully-functional kitchen that has not only a grill, but also a smoker, deep fryer and pizza oven.

    With panoramic views of Lake Davis and the Orlando skyline, as well as stained glass front entry doors, the home has integrated controls for operating motorized draperies, lighting, a music system and the security system that notifies homeowners when they are away.

    The home's other green building features include masonry block construction for exterior walls, a solar-assisted HVAC system, an 80-gallon solar hot water heater with gas backup, open and closed spray foam insulation in different parts of the house. And 60 percent of all interior and exterior lamps are energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps, but around the edge of the dining room ceiling there is LED lighting that uses even less energy.

    The design adheres to the green goals in various ways, including the use of drought-tolerant native plants and artificial turf. Trees and shrubs were placed in a way that provides shading and sun control to both the home and exterior living spaces. A water-efficient drip irrigation system combines with other water-regulating systems to capture rain water into an underground storage tank so it can be reused.





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    canadaWhy are Canada's homeowners less likely to face foreclosure? Fewer than 1 percent of Canadian mortgages are in arrears, compared to the 2.9 million homeowners that received foreclosure notices in the U.S. in 2010.

    You might think it's because there are a lot fewer Canadians, and you'd be right on that score. Canada's population is just 34.3 million, while the U.S. population now exceeds 307 million. But foreclosure rates are as high as 20 percent in the hardest hit states, so population alone does not explain the difference.

    Canada avoided the housing bubble that both the U.S. and the U.K. faced. That's thanks to the more conservative banking practices in Canada. Canada has stricter underwriting standards, and the banks must set aside more money toward potential losses if the market takes a downward turn. Also, Canada has no secondary market for mortgages, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which means banks can't sell off their risky mortgages, so they don't make them in the first place.

    Not only are the banks more conservative about lending, but private mortgage insurers have more control over mortgage approval. Any Canadian who puts less than 20 percent down on the house must pay the full cost of mortgage insurance upfront; and the mortgage insurance company has the authority to approve or reject the property appraisal. This gives banks and buyers a strong incentive to get realistic property appraisals.

    When people apply for a mortgage in Canada, there are some significant differences to the type of mortgage they'll get. Most Canadian mortgages are for 25 years, and the interest rate readjusts to the current interest rate every five years. This encourages Canadians to pay off their mortgage faster. There are also substantial prepayment penalties that discourage refinancing, especially to tap equity.

    Another big difference is that Canadians don't get a tax deduction for mortgage interest, so they don't have an incentive to keep paying on a mortgage. The U.S. tax incentive for mortgages may soon be reduced as part of the deficit reduction efforts to be considered in this Congress.

    If you have a mortgage in Canada, you can't just walk away. Canada has full recourse on mortgages, which means you must pay off the mortgage even if the bank forecloses on your home. If the bank forecloses and the house is
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    worth less than the mortgage, the bank can sue for a deficiency judgment. The bank can then attach a lien to other assets and garnish future wages. Some states in the U.S. are full-recourse states, but others, such as California, are not.

    Canada does not encourage homeownership for low-income households. Instead the Canadian government provides public funding for low-income rental housing. So you won't find subprime lending in Canada.

    In reality the Canadian system is not that different than the home financing rules that used to be in place before the speculative housing market that led to the U.S. housing bubble. Prior to the boom years, banks required information to prove income and held to strict income standards. Banks also held appraisers to higher scrutiny. That's what Canadian banks continued to do, while the U.S. and U.K. lowered their underwriting standards.

    Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Bankruptcy and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your Credit Score.


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    kyle richards and mauricio umanskyThe Real Houswives of Beverly Hills Kyle Richards and her real estate agent husband Mauricio Umansky have wasted no time starting extensive renovations on a 6,500-square-foot home they purchased last week for just over $3 million.

    The home, (pictured below) which has a pool, sports court, theater and billiards room, will be a complete remodel where every space from the kitchen floors, the bathrooms and even the ceilings, will be redone. Umansky, an agent with residential brokerage Hilton & Hyland and his own busines LA Luxury Estates, even spent the weekend furniture shopping.

    Umansky, who started selling real estate a little more than 15 years ago, told AOL Real Estate that he expects the renovations to be done in about six weeks because he doesn't like downtime. When we noted that seemed like an ambitious goal, he said, "I'm fast. I preorder everything. I already bought my cabinetry and my marble."

    "We are going to convert it into kind of a Ralph Lauren comfortable, casual and traditional home,"
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    Umansky told the Hollywood Reporter. "It'll have a bit of an East Coast charm."

    The Mexican-born father of three and stepdad to Richards's oldest daughter, says sometimes when people remodel homes, the homes get butchered. "I like to go in and bring back their life. I like to sit in the house for as many hours as it takes. The house tells me what it is suppose to be."

    He does some of the work himself, but not a ton of the physical labor, mainly due to time-constraints. Closing $190 million in sales for 2010, he has been the #1 agent at Hilton & Hyland for the past six consecutive years, according to his Umansky Group website.

    The interior design of the home will be decorated by Faye Resnick, who has appeared on Housewives and who worked on the couple's current home, which has a pending sale, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

    Umansky, who happens to be Paris Hilton's uncle, represented himself in the purchase and Joyce Essex of Coldwell Banker represented the seller.





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