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Lavish 40-chandelier mansion hits market

Published: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 @ 8:22 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 @ 8:22 AM

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A Palm Beach Gardens mansion with old world Italian details has been listed for sale at $30 million, a price tag that makes it the most expensive listing in the city and one that rivals even posh Palm Beach.

The 16,000-square-foot home, dubbed Palazzo Grande, has six bedrooms, six full bathrooms and two half bathrooms, a 75-guest ballroom and 40 chandeliers, including 30 Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers.

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Coldwell Banker agent William P.D. Pierce announced the listing Tuesday. Pierce, a luxury-home specialist, is also the agent for the $139 million Le Palais Royal mansion in Broward County.

“As you enter Palazzo Grande, it’s as if you have been transported from Palm Beach to an old world Italian villa,” Pierce said in a press release.  “The level of details, exquisite materials and custom design is refreshing and very unique for a modern home. The beauty and craftsmanship of old world combined with modern amenities make this property one of a kind in today’s market.”

Palm Beach County property records show the Palazzo Grande, 5435 Sea Biscuit Road, is owned by John and Amanda Termotto. It was built in 2005.

At $30 million, the property isn’t the most expensive listing in Palm Beach County, but it’s up there. The priciest property in Palm Beach County is the $59 million 89 Middle Road in Palm Beach.

According to the Palazzo Grande press release:

The façade features a portico with Corinthian columns that was inspired by the east façade of the Louvre in Paris. The entire exterior of Palazzo Grande is faced with cast-stone marble veneer, an architectural surface material extensively used throughout Europe.

The kitchen features limestone walls, cherry cabinets, a center island with granite countertop, two pantries, two Sub-Zero refrigerators, two Bosch dishwashers, a 60-inch Wolf range, a custom hood and Venetian-style ceiling with an attached breakfast room.

The dining room is a replica of Venice’s Galleria Academia, featuring a ceiling adorned with 80 hand-carved cherubs. Other rooms include an office, billiard room, den, rotunda library, loggia, lounge and laundry room with two Bosch washing machines and two dryers. A separate guest house features a kitchen, bathroom and laundry room with the same quality of finishings and appliances as the main residence.

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Search begins for historic relics at Warren County sports park site

Published: Saturday, April 07, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

            Heavy equipment will continue work on the rest of the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village, while archaeological digging is done at the site of two privies dating back two centuries. LAWRENCE BUDD/STAFF
            Lawrence Budd
Heavy equipment will continue work on the rest of the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village, while archaeological digging is done at the site of two privies dating back two centuries. LAWRENCE BUDD/STAFF(Lawrence Budd)

An archaeologist and other specialists in the collection and preservation of historic relics should begin work this week at the proposed Warren County Sports Park at Union Village.

Terracon, a South Carolina-based consultant already doing soil testing on the 120-plus acre site, has been hired by the county’s port authority to dig up two privies (outdoor toilets) dating back to two centuries.

Last week, the port authority board approved a contract for up to $87,000 in services to be completed over the next 90 days, as heavy equipment continues laying out the the $15 million sports park, financed through an increase in the lodgings tax.

RELATED: Sports park land transfer hinges on tax sharing deal

The contract is the result of discussions between county officials, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio History Connection/State Historic Preservation Office. The state has standing to weigh in on the development due to the fact that state funds are being used in the project

“Preservation is always our preference, however, that’s not always possible. In those cases we pursue mitigation solutions,” Emmy Beach, public relations manager for the Ohio History Connection said in an email.

RELATED: Warren County adding township park to sports complex property

The area to undergo the archaeological examination, located on about six acres on the south side of the development site, is known as the North Family Lot Site of Union Village, a 19th century Shaker settlement.

The site was discovered in 2004 when a sharp turn in Ohio 741 was straightened by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

RELATED: Township park purchase prompts pushback

The archaeological work is expected to force a shift in the work plan, but not a delay in progress, on the sports park, expected be opened later this year.

“We’re just trying to be as cooperative as possible,” Matt Schnipke, secretary of the port authority, said on Monday before the port board approved the contract.

Terracon contracted to analyze up to 4,000 artifacts from the former privy sites, across Ohio 741 from the entrance to Armco Park.

RELATED: Club left homeless by sports park development

“The artifacts, notes, photographs, maps, and other project-related materials will be returned to Terracon’s archaeology laboratory for processing upon completion of the field studies. Artifacts will be analyzed by relative provenience, sorted by technological and functional categories, and classified using accepted regional typologies and classification systems. Artifacts will be cataloged and entered into a computer database and detailed descriptions will be provided as part of the report appendices,” the company stated in a letter outlining contract terms.

While cooperating, county officials opted against turning the project over to the state.

MORE: Supporters push for World Heritage Site status

At last week’s meeting, Schnipke looked forward to the report being complete in 60 days and indicated it would be up to the port authority to decide what to do about the relics.

Schnipke told board members, most of whom were listening via teleconference, “this isn’t necessary to begin with,” based on discussions with lawyers over the extent of the state’s influence there.

Last week, Beach said the state was unable to comment on the steps being taken by the county on the project.

“We don’t have the plans from port authority, so we can’t yet provide guidance or recommendations to them,” she said.

Martin Russell, director of the port authority and deputy county administrator, said work would continue on the rest of the site, while they awaited the report on the archaeological dig.

“We are taking a proactive approach to cooperating by amending our contract with our geo-technical firm,” he said. “We’re going to continue working on the rest of the park.”

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Too good to be true? Could your family use a reverse mortgage?

Published: Thursday, April 05, 2018 @ 12:57 PM

Retired homeowners strapped for cash are turning to the celebrity-endorsed loans called Reverse Mortgages. But there are large fees the celebrities aren't telling you about...

The idea of a reverse mortgage certainly sounds good: a person who is 62 or older is able to borrow against their home's equity in a legal arrangement that lets them tap cash for retirement or vacations without having to sell (or vacate) the family home.

But is it too good to be true?

"A reverse mortgage loan can help some older homeowners meet financial needs, but can also jeopardize their retirement if not used carefully," according to Debt.org, a debt consolidation and advice provider.

»RELATED: What is equity? 15 terms every new home buyer should know

In the past couple of years, the popularity of reverse mortgages has soared, though they still only account for 1 percent of the $11.5 trillion in U.S. mortgages.

After a plummet in reverse mortgages following the recession of 2008, "the past few years have seen a turnaround," according to Debt.org staff writer Bill Fay. "The number of eligible applicants – people over 62 – is expected to go from 46 million now to 98 million in 2060."

Fay said that the booming senior population (not to mention the television and print ads featuring Baby Boomer favorite Tom Selleck of Magnum P.I. and Blue Bloods fame) have helped make reverse mortgages popular again.

But Fay cautioned those who are old enough for a reverse mortgage not to base their whole decision on talk from Tom Selleck, who assures viewers, "It's not another way for banks to get your house, and it's also not too good to be true."

That's easy for Selleck to say: the “Magnum P.I.” star has an estimated net worth of $45 million. "The industry is steeped in promises, controversy and cautionary tales," Fay warned. "If you're considering getting a reverse mortgage, the best way to ensure a happy story is to educate yourself." 

Here are a few things Debt.org and other retirement and real estate experts want you to know about reverse mortgages:

How a reverse mortgage works

According to U.S. News, a reverse mortgage lets you borrow against your home's equity so you receive cash without selling your home. This money can be paid in a lump sum, regular payments staggered over time or via a line of credit that allows you to take out money as needed. The key factor that appeals to so many people, according to U.S. News, is that "you do not need to pay back your reverse mortgage as long as you continue to live in your home, and you do not have to make any payments on the loan." Be warned, however, that "you will need to keep up with other housing costs like property taxes, homeowners insurance, repairs and association dues."

When the loans come due

The short answer: when you die. "Your heirs can pay off the loan balance if they want to keep the property or they can let the lender keep the property to settle the debt," U.S. News explained. If you move out of the home or start living somewhere else as your primary residence, you must repay the loan, ordinarily by selling the home. "The lender considers that you changed your residence if you live outside your property for more than six months in a year for nonmedical reasons or 12 consecutive months for medical reasons." 

The types of reverse mortgages

Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM) are the most common type, offering federal backing, limits on some fees and the ability for the borrower to spend their loan moneys however they want. HECMs do restrict eligibility and limit borrowing to the FHA maximum loan limit, which was $679,650 in 2018. Proprietary Reverse Mortgages are similar, but they have fewer restrictions and no government guarantee. Single-Purpose Reverse Mortgages involve the lender restricting how you can use the money from the reverse mortgage and tend to be the least expensive. They are offered by some state and local governments and nonprofits, and are typically only available for low- and moderate-income borrowers, according to U.S. News.

Number crunching is only part of the work that goes into a reverse mortgage decision.(Contributed by Realtor.com/For the AJC)

Who is a good candidate for a reverse mortgage:

"If you own your home and don't have much savings or need an infusion of cash, a reverse mortgage has some advantages," Fay explained. The most notable is its ability to ease the strain on your monthly budget, especially when you need it to supplement Social Security or help handle mounting medical expenses.

Who is not a good candidate for a reverse mortgage:

"A reverse mortgage is a questionable proposition if you have sufficient income to pay your bills or are willing to sell your home to tap into the equity," Fay said. "If that's the case, it may make more sense to just sell it and downsize your home." And because reverse mortgages can be expensive loans, it may make more sense to weather a temporary shortfall than take on a costly debt. "A reverse mortgage is also not a great idea if you want to leave your home to your heirs," Fay added. "They can still inherit the home, but they'd have to pay a mortgage debt that has been mounting instead of dwindling."

Who is a terrible candidate for a reverse mortgage

That, according to Fay, would be anyone who blindly believes everything they see, read or hear on advertisements for reverse mortgages. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) fined three companies in the reverse mortgage industry a total of $790,000 in 2016 for alleged false claims.


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Warren County to grant $750,000 tax break on apartment building

Published: Monday, April 02, 2018 @ 6:24 PM

            The Warren County Port Authority voted to subsidize development of a 242-unit apartment building to launch a mixed-use community in southern Warren County. In a teleconference meeting Monday, the board approved a resolution agreeing to enable developers of the building as much as $750,000 in sales tax savings on the $28 million, 242-unit apartment building - the first of 12 proposed at the District at Deerfield.
The Warren County Port Authority voted to subsidize development of a 242-unit apartment building to launch a mixed-use community in southern Warren County. In a teleconference meeting Monday, the board approved a resolution agreeing to enable developers of the building as much as $750,000 in sales tax savings on the $28 million, 242-unit apartment building - the first of 12 proposed at the District at Deerfield.

The Warren County Port Authority voted to subsidize development of a 242-unit apartment building to launch a mixed-use community in southern Warren County.

In a teleconference meeting Monday, the board approved a resolution agreeing to enable developers of the building as much as $750,000 in sales tax savings on the $28 million, 242-unit apartment building - the first of 12 proposed at the District at Deerfield.

RELATED: Warren County weighs subsidizing housing

The vote, conditional on obtaining a letter of support and development agreement demonstrating Deerfield Twp.’s support for the deal, was cast in the absence of board member Dave Bolton, who questioned the deal last week.

“I don’t see how that’s economic development,” Bolton said during a meeting last Monday. “I don’t understand why this money is being spent by the public.”

RELATED: Warren County Port Authority takes ownership to allow tax break

With two members absent, the board approved 5-0 a resolution to enter into leases with the developer, Silverman and Co. The leases and other agreements needed to seal the deal were not approved on Monday.

The 28-acre District at Deerfield would join a handful of walkable, planned communities in the area, including The Greene, Austin Landing, Liberty Center and the proposed Austin South Springboro.

MORE: What’s happening at Liberty Center

West of the Fields-Ertel-Mason-Montgomery Interstate 71 interchange, the District at Deerfield is to include $140 million in development, including a two-acre public square and an entertainment district, brewpubs, retail and restaurants.

Tiffiany Zindel, county administrator and board member, said she motioned to conditionally approve the resolution so that the developers could continue forward with work at the site.

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Sold! 9 simple steps to saving for your first home

Published: Monday, April 02, 2018 @ 12:42 PM

Here are seven tips to lower the cost of your first home Work on your credit score way ahead of time Crowdsource your down payment See if Uncle Sam will help Find a housing counselor Pick a real estate agent based on where you want to live Choose a home where you could stay five to seven years Don't get distracted

You're probably not trying to purchase a million dollar dream house as a first-time buyer, but coming up with the funds for your first home can make even a modest house seem out of reach.

"The top challenge for would-be homebuyers is the down payment requirement," The Mortgage Reports blog reported, citing a study from Trulia. "Over half of potential buyers claimed saving a down payment was a bigger issue than credit scores, income needed or housing prices."

»RELATED: 9 ways to save for a down payment on a home

There are ways to drive down the cost of a first home and to get the down payment into the 3 percent range. This is not one of those times when you can just put away a little here, a little there. You'll need to figure out exactly how much you'll need and then set a time frame for savings.

It may also require some creativity. Consider these tips to help save for your first house:

Keep the change

This is one of those "every little bit helps" endeavors, according to Realty Times. You can combat the discretionary spending that invades your savings by getting used to paying for daily expenses with cash. Keep all the coins from each transaction and put them aside at the end of the day.

"You'll be surprised how it can add up over a few months," RT noted.

Shop for a better savings account

Any serious savings plan should involve a careful choice of savings accounts. "Some banks offer special rates or even kick in money if you open a new account and maintain a certain balance," RT noted. "If you already have a good head start on your down payment, this could be a great way to get a bump." While you're evaluating your options, note any fees you regularly pay at your current bank. Try to negotiate to have them eliminated, and if you can't, it might make sense to open fee-free accounts elsewhere.

Spend some money repairing your credit

This suggestion seems contrary to your goals, but it actually makes sense. If you can spend a couple thousand dollars driving down critical financing numbers like the percent of available credit you're using or the number of collections you have active, you may be able to improve your buying position. That could lower your interest rate and the amount of money you'll need for a down payment.

"A conversation with your lender or broker and a detailed look at your credit history may yield some surprising suggestions," RT noted.

After filling the bottom part of the stovetop Cuban coffee pot with water, spoon ground espresso into the moka pot's metal filter. (Contributed by Michelle Lara/ Cupcakes, Cocktails and Kids)(HANDOUT/CupcakesCocktailsAndKids)

Make your coffee at home

The math is simple, though the habit can be hard to break. Coffee from Starbucks or another similarly priced café can mean spending upwards of $4 a day per person. That's hundreds of dollars a month that could be going towards your down payment.

Quit the gym

This tip from Blue Water Credit may seem brutal, but you could save $400 or $500 a year if you dropped the gym membership. "Instead, set up a workout area in the garage or the basement and get back to basics, or coordinate a fitness group with friends in a park," BWC advised.

Move in with your parents

Yikes! It's drastic, for sure, but if it helps you save for that down payment more quickly, it's worth it, BWC noted. "By not paying rent for a few months, you'll probably be able to pocket your whole down payment in short order. And remember that when you start looking for a home, make an offer, and go through the escrow and closing process, you can't anticipate if it will take 6 weeks or 6 months, so you'll have the ultimate flexibility by not being locked into a rental lease."

Get a roommate

If the "moving in with the 'rents" thing isn't an option (or would affect your sanity), consider clearing a spare room in your current rental and getting a tenant.

"The extra money – often $400 or $500 a month for one room – can make a big dent in your down payment," BWC noted.

Get rid of the new car

This is another "tough love" savings suggestion from BWC.

"It's not a popular suggestion, but would you rather have a new car or a new house? Sell your new car and buy a reliable used model and put the savings towards your down payment. You may even be able to go from two cars in the household to one, carpooling, using public transport or even biking to work."

Set up a gift account

While you're saving for the down payment, stop accepting presents, BWC advised. Instead of exchanging presents for Christmas, birthdays and so forth, set up a separate account and let friends, family and coworkers know you'd rather they made a small donation to your house fund.


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