Five Ugly Celebrity Homes

Social media and reality TV have shown us a glimpse of the inner lives of the rich and famous – champagne wishes, caviar dreams and all that. We’ve become intimately familiar with celebrities and business elites whose palatial estates cost tens of millions of dollars and require a small army of workers to maintain. The hefty monthly expenditures on on upkeep and taxes alone is enough to make anyone blush.

When you come right down to it, the one percent are just like you and me. They put their pants on one leg at a time, go through the same daily frustrations and challenges in life, and some also have hideous taste in architecture – just like regular people!

Here are five ugly, gaudy or just plain weird celebrity homes:


1. Spaceship House – Naomi Campbell / Vladislav Doronin


Built by billionaire Russian property tycoon Vladislav Doronin for his then-fiancée, supermodel Naomi Campbell, this futuristic residence looks like something straight out of Star Trek. Designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, this angular glass and concrete monstrosity took years to build and can be found in the resort town of Barvikha just outside Moscow.


2. Airport Mansion – John Travolta


When he’s not busy acting, John Travolta is something of an airplane geek in his spare time. An accomplished private pilot with extensive flight experience and a commercial pilot’s license, Travolta owns a fleet of five aircraft including a Boeing 707 commercial jet airliner – all of which he pilots himself.

North of Ocala, Florida lies the little settlement of Jumbolair. Officially titled Jumbolair Aviation Estates, the community bills itself as the “…gold standard for residential aviation communities.” Essentially this is a luxury residential community with its own private airport facilities, including a 1.4 mile runway that leads directly to your front door. Travolta’s 6,400 square foot mansion with attached airplane hangar is located here.


3. Wacky Desert Wonderland – Penn Jillette


Magician Penn Jillette fell in love with this little bit of Las Vegas real estate back in the 1990’s. The property initially featured a single two story building with an A-frame design. Over the years Penn started buying up land around the building expanding his property from a few thousand square feet to a 10 acre compound. He then proceeded to fill his ten acres with a cornucopia of weird and colorful structures that ended up resembling a toddler’s attempt at building a Lego house.

As of 2015, citing pressure from the family, Penn has moved out of his colorful desert wonderland, and is actively seeking buyers.


4. Versailles, Florida – David Siegel


A monument to gaudiness and out of-control-spending, the Versailles is a 90,000 square foot mansion under construction in Windermere, Florida modeled after the Palace of Versailles in France. Commissioned by billionaire David Siegel, construction started in 2004 and stalled in 2006 with 60% of the work done. The house languished for years in its incomplete state during the Great Recession, but construction restarted in 2013 and the property is due to be fully completed by 2016. The Versailles features 14 bedrooms, 11 kitchens, 32 bathrooms, an indoor roller rink and a 2 story movie theater. It is expected to be appraised at $100 million.

The home has been featured in multiple news stories and TV exposés, and was the subject of award winning documentary 2012 The Queen of Versailles which chronicled the Siegel family’s attempts at building the mansion. The Siegels went on to sue the producers of the documentary but lost the case.


5. Gas Station Mansion, Long Island NY


Ok, so it’s not a celeb property, but we just had to include this 6 bed / 5.5 bath / 8,700 square foot Long Island property. Constructed in the 1994’s and consistently ranked as the ugliest mansion in America by Forbes, this ugly domicile has always been something of a local landmark in Lake Success, Long Island. Nicknamed ‘gas-station mansion’ for obvious reasons.


Down Payment Relief For First Time San Diego Home Buyers

Home Ownership Assistance ProgramSpringboard CDFI is a nonprofit company that helps first-time home buyers in San Diego realize their dream of owning a home. Among their many services is a down payment assistance program which offers substantial loans to qualifying home buyers. Currently they offer up to $30,000 down-payment loans anywhere in California, $76,000 for first time buyers in Chula Vista and $70,000 in National City.

These plans are run in conjunction with local city and county authorities as an incentive to encourage new residents to move in and contribute to the city’s economic growth. National City funds the program with money from the Home Investment Partnerships Program, administered by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. Chula Vista relies a combination of HUD funds and grants from the California Department of Housing and Community Development to fund their down payment assistance program.

Qualifying requirements are steep, the program is open only to first-time home buyers who qualify for a mortgage. The homes must be bought within the city limits of the participating municipalities and the applicant’s annual household income must not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.

The down-payment loan does not need to be paid back for 30 years and has a 3 percent simple interest rate that does not compound. If the owner sells or rents the house however, the 30 year grace period disappears.

The program has proved to be successful so far with default rates less than 1 percent since the housing market recovered from the Great Recession.

If you are a prospective homebuyer put off by high down payments, there are similar programs out there for people just like you. Contact Carlos or myself and see how we can help put you on the path of home ownership.

Source: Springboard CDFI, UT San Diego

Opportunities for San Diego in a Possible Chargers Exit

Rafael Perez San Diego Union Tribune article.

Our own Rafael Perez has an article in the San Diego Union Tribune where he discusses possible opportunities amid all the doom and gloom of the Charges leaving the city. I can’t describe it any better than Rafael already has, so please click the link below to read this article.

We have a team of agents, just like Rafael, who are all passionate and knowledgeable about living and working San Diego. Contact us and take advantage of our expertise.

Real Estate 101 with Team Aguilar: Episode 2 – Dual Agency is Bad News

In our continuing series of weekly vlogs, we tackle the tricky issue of dual agency. It’s no secret I’m no fan of dual agency; I’ve been fairly vocal about this topic.

In this video I discuss the various ethical issues that routinely crop up with dual agency and how it can cost sellers money.


Home Mortgage Options for the Self-Employed

Mortgage Options for the Self-Employed

Ever wonder why there are not any home mortgage options for the self-employed? One of the many ironies of working in real estate is that real estate agents themselves often have a harder time being approved for a mortgage than the clients they represent! Self-employed individuals (such as real-estate agents) are generally not seen as the ideal borrower. They typically pay higher interest rates than someone who collects a regular paycheck from their employer. If an advertised mortgage rate seems too good to be true, it usually is. The best rates are applicable only for prime borrowers. Individuals with excellent credit scores and steady verifiable income source. Something many of the self-employed lack. But of course they never mention that in the ads.

As a self-employed individual you will often have to go the extra mile to find lenders willing to work with you. Reporting requirements are more stringent and lenders will look at your financial background with more scrutiny than they would a regular 9-to-5 employee with a steady income.

Mortgages Options for Self-Employed Individuals

Traditional FHA Loans – Most lenders these days will only offer traditional FHA loans to the self-employed on the basis of their tax returns for the last two years. Borrowers will have to fill out IRS Form 4506-T, authorizing lenders to request tax transcripts. Tax returns can only be received directly from the IRS and not the borrower and lenders will have to wait until the IRS has processed and recorded them.

A lender will look at the average of the borrower’s adjusted gross income for the last two years, unless the most recent year shows falling income, in which case the lower number will be used. The actual requirements (such as the debt-to-income ratio) to qualify for an FHA loan varies greatly depending on each borrower’s unique financial situation – this is something you really should discuss with a qualified mortgage broker or financial adviser.

Stated Income Loans – Before the housing market crash of the mid to late 2000’s, most banks would approve what was known as ‘stated income’ loans from most self-employed individuals. A stated income loan, as the name suggests, was where the mortgage lender would approve the loan on the basis of the borrower’s stated income, without verifying it against pay stubs, tax returns or other documents. Needless to say such loans were abused (by both borrowers and lenders) to such an extent during the housing boom, they came to be known as liar’s loans.

While stated income loans have been all but outlawed by federal legislation, some smaller lenders at the State level are offering their versions of stated income loans, albeit with more stringent requirements. For example, a lender might provide a stated income loan to a borrower who has a credit score of 720 or higher, can put a down payment of at least 30 percent or more and has at least six months of cash reserves at hand to cover all their monthly obligations beyond just the mortgage. Also it should be noted that the mortgage rates of stated income loans on the secondary market are not as competitive as those offered by traditional FHA loans.

No Documentation Loans / Alt-A Loans – Similar to stated income loans, these are loans given out in the secondary market where the lender will not seek to verify borrower income information. Since these are riskier loans than full documentation loans, the interest rates will be considerably higher. As with stated income loans, Alt-A loans have come under increased scrutiny in the wake of the housing market crash of the mid to late 2000’s.

Read More Website Redesign

As our regular readers might have noticed, the Team Aguilar website has undergone a total redesign. The old site, while perfectly functional, was getting a little long in the tooth. What was cutting edge design in 2008 was starting to show its age in 2014.

Our overall goal with the redesign was to streamline the site while retaining much of the old content. A typical real estate website belonging to a small to medium sized brokerage limits itself to a few sections containing a weekly blog, a contact page and MLS listings. What sets apart is that it is crammed with information covering all aspects of residential and commercial real estate in San Diego you won’t find anywhere else (and yes, we have a weekly blog and MLS listings as well.)

The menu bar linking all the information pages is persistent throughout the site, meaning users are only a mouse-click away from a treasure-trove of information on San Diego real estate. Our ambition was to allow the user reach his or her desired page with the fewest number of clicks – we hope we have succeeded in that aspect!

The other major goal was to make searching for properties easier. To achieve this, we placed the MLS search bar front and center in the home page. Users can now search for San Diego homes based on a number of criteria including neighborhood, number of bedrooms, price and type of property.

You may have noticed the new “search by map” feature, where users can zoom in via Google Maps and see what properties are available on the map itself along with their listing price. Links to this are available in the home page as well as the property search page.

We have also included a persistent “search by MLS#” box and “Search for San Diego Properties” link in right sidebar of every page.

Note: MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, a centralized online resource where real estate brokers (such as Team Aguilar) access and share information with buyers, sellers and fellow brokers. MLS contains a comprehensive up-to-date list of all the available real estate inventory throughout California. If there’s a property on the market in San Diego County, it will show up in the MLS search.

Have questions, comments, or suggestions on how to make the site even better? Contact us!

Real Estate Market Update Template

Why I Hate Real Estate Dual Agency

The practice of Dual Agency brings so many conflicts to the table; I wanted to share some of them. Over the last 5 years we have sold hundreds of REO’s (foreclosures) and now with the market improving we are seeing fewer and fewer REO’s come up for sale, which is fantastic because it means we are dealing with regular sellers and the market is starting to improve. Take a look at this email I received about a new foreclosure listing we have. We have received similar e-mails inquiring about dual agency at least once a week for the last 5 years.

Read More

San Diego’s Uneven Housing Recovery And How You Can Benefit From It!

We’ve all heard news of the San Diego housing market recovery by now – I’ve already blogged about it before (mini housing bubble, Prices Up, Foreclosures Down ). Latest data from real estate tracking company DataQuick, however, provides an interesting quirk on the recovery story. It turns out that the recovery is not uniform across all neighborhoods in San Diego County but, in fact, certain neighborhoods are recovering faster than others.

Unsurprisingly, high-density subdivisions close to major employers as well as beach-front neighborhoods in northwest San Diego recovered fastest, gaining back much of their pre-housing-crash value, while neighborhoods in south and east San Diego County have been much slower to recover.

What’s driving the recovery?

First of all, it is important to pinpoint the reasons behind the recovery in the first place. A gradually strengthening national economy, combined with steady increases in employment and historically low interest rates mandated by FHA have played a role in creating a mini-frenzy in the real estate market last year. Many would-be home buyers sitting on the fence decided to jump into the market to take advantage of low rates and depressed prices, driving up property values in certain desirable neighborhoods. The limited inventory of detached single-family homes combined with increased demand from local, out-of-state and international buyers resulted in a significant rise in home prices.

Which areas experienced the strongest recovery?

Carmel Valley, thanks to its proximity to large employers such as Qualcomm and good schools experienced the strongest recovery – the average home value are a mere 3.2% below their pre-crash peak in 2005.

The coastal communities of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach have also seen strong recoveries in home values thanks to limited supply of prime beach front property. Premium beach-front areas in a city like San Diego will always be in demand, regardless of the overall state of the housing market. The average home in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach sells for around 9.3% less than their peak pre-crash price.

Which areas are going through slow recoveries?

Neighborhoods mainly in the southern and eastern parts of San Diego County such as Logan Heights, Paradise Hills and Chula Vista are not faring as well as their northern counterparts. Average home prices in these areas are still nearly 50% lower than their pre-housing-crash peak.

These areas were hardest hit by the mortgage crisis, experiencing a high level of mortgage defaults resulting in foreclosures. To reduce their inventory of foreclosed homes banks were compelled to resell these properties at highly discounted prices, which had a knock-on effect of lowering property values throughout the neighborhood. While values have risen, they have not kept pace with other parts of San Diego County.

The silver lining (Here’s how you benefit!)

Economists and analysts all agree that the recovery is well underway, and has been for some time now. It’s not a matter of if, but when, prices will return to their pre-crash peaks. Even neighborhoods like Logan Heights and Paradise Hills are expected to recover fully as homeowners in those neighborhoods fix up their properties and put them on the market. As non-distressed home sales increase in such neighborhoods it will have the effect of raising median home prices across the board.

Investors are already being priced out the more expensive areas on San Diego and are turning to the South and East areas of the County to find great deals on single family homes. Southern and Eastern San Diego County are prime areas for anyone looking for a bargain right now.

The historically low interest rates for single family detached homes won’t last forever. FHA has artificially held rates down to speed up recovery in the national housing market, but once the government intervention ends mortgage rates will start to rise, pushing many would-be buyers out of the market.

San Diego’s Uneven Housing Recovery and How You Can Benefit From It!

The signs are clear; prices have no way to go but up and rates are still historically low (for the time being). Now is a great time to invest.