Next Stop, Luxury! Beverly Hills Mansion Features Its Own Railroad


Nick Springett

Rapturous adjectives are often used to describe the high-profile mansions in Beverly Hills, CA, but “whimsical” isn’t one of them.

But the word is apt for at least one major aspect of glamorous Maison 808, which recently arrived on the market for $58,888,000. Another apropos adjective is the word “largest,” as in the single largest residential estate in the history of the elite town.

This particular estate was built in 1990 by architect Budd Holden, known for creating estates for Hollywood royalty in the ’80s and ’90s, including Barbra Streisand and Cher.

It sits on a generous double lot measuring a little over an acre and a half, and the main residence measures approximately 26,800 square feet with eight bedrooms and 15 bathrooms.

Maison 808
Maison 808

Nick Springett


Nick Springett

However, the whimsical aspect of the mansion arrives via rail-as in, there’s a working train on the property. You don’t need a railroad to traverse the distance from one end of the estate to the other, but it sure adds to the fun.

Listing agent Christophe Choo of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury told us the owner-luxury developer Alan Casdan-has always loved trains. After Casdan visited Walt Disney‘s home with its famous train system, he was inspired to build one on his own property. He hired the same builder who created the locomotive systems at Disneyland to build a replica that’s one-eighth in size, complete with a steam and a diesel engine, train station, and tunnel that goes under the pool house.

“Cars stop and take photos when the train is running in the front of the house,” says Choo, who has ridden the rails a number of times himself. “I’m a big kid at heart. I love that train.”

Listing agent Christophe Choo rides the choo choo
Listing agent Christophe Choo rides the train.

Nick Springett

While the train is fun, it’s hardly the property’s main selling point. Choo says the luxury of the home is unlike anything he’s seen in his over 30 years in real estate. He notes the home’s classic architecture and design will endure, while the sterile white boxes that are popular today are bound to feel dated somewhere down the line.

Two-story library
Two-story library

Nick Springett

“The quality of the craftsmanship and materials is timeless,” he says, noting the rich marble and Versailles parquet flooring, intricate stonework, antique French crystal chandeliers, leaded-glass windows and skylights, and Lalique fixtures. The home also features custom millwork, carved wood paneling, thoughtful built-ins, and 14 fireplaces, many of them made of antique marble from France, Italy, and England.

Classic design
Classic design

Nick Springett

The 5,000-square-foot master suite has the feel of a “grand Parisian apartment,” says Choo. It boasts its own private vestibule, staircase, sitting room, wraparound terrace, and four fireplaces. There are also “endless closets,” says Choo, who adds that Casdan’s wife, Susan, is a couture aficionado.

Master suite
Master suite

Nick Springett

For entertainment and recreation, there’s a large media room with a drop-down screen and projection system, lounge, and sunken bar with a two-story wine cellar. There are two detached guesthouses, a sunken tennis court, mosaic-tiled pool with waterfalls and waterslide, and a championship croquet court.

Media Room
Media room

Nick Springett

Sunken tennis court
Sunken tennis court

Nick Springett

Pool with waterfalls

Nick Springett

Located within walking distance of the Beverly Hills Hotel and just minutes from the shops and restaurants of Rodeo Drive, the estate has been the site of numerous events and fundraisers over its 28-year history, attended by U.S. presidents, foreign prime ministers, and A-list celebrities. Yet it remains a “warm and nurturing environment,” says Choo.

The Casdans raised their family here, but now the mansion is huge for only two people. They’re ready to downsize and move on to their life’s next big adventure.

The post Next Stop, Luxury! Beverly Hills Mansion Features Its Own Railroad appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.


How to Clean Stainless-Steel Appliances and Surfaces in Your Home

how to clean stainless steel


“How do you clean stainless steel?” That might sound like a ridiculous question; after all, it can’t be stained, right? Wrong. Your appliances, range, or countertop may be stainless steel but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get any less of a cleaning than other surfaces in your kitchen. So let’s take a look at why it’s important to keep your stainless-steel appliances in tiptop shape and how easy maintaining them actually is.

What is stainless steel?

Stainless steel is a steel alloy that doesn’t react with oxygen and is resistant to oxidation. That means it doesn’t rust, stain, or corrode easily. Because it’s one of the least corrosive materials on the market, manufacturers use stainless steel to make everything from car parts to kitchen appliances.

Why do you need to clean stainless steel?

As we’ve mentioned, despite its name, certain types of stainless steel can actually stain. Each type or “grade” has a different level of quality and ability to hold up to wear and tear, says Tricia Holderman, CEO of Elite Home Services and Elite Facility Systems in Dallas.

But even the highest grade of stainless-steel products can be ruined if they’re not cared for properly.

“Chemicals, sodas, and hot coffee can damage the finish on the surfaces,” says Holderman. “When there is a small tear or divot in the surface, [stainless steel] can actually rust.”

Common stains

The most common issues facing homeowners with a kitchen full of stainless steel would include limescale buildup, fingerprints, and even water stains. Yes, even simple H2O can harm this resistant material.

“Tap water is never entirely pure; it consists of calcium, salts, and probably other stuff, depending on your location,” says Lucy Norman, cleaning expert at End to End Cleaning Services in London. “When a drop of water hits on stainless steel, the water molecules are slowly evaporating while the salts and other minerals are just left there. This is how the water stains are formed.”

How to clean stainless steel

Stainless-steel products should get daily (or at least weekly) maintenance, Norman says. To clean stainless steel, soak a cloth in warm water, wring it out, and wipe the surface. Dry the surface to eliminate the possibility of creating or exacerbating water stains.

For a deeper clean, or when your stainless steel has been hit by a coffee spill or the like, Norman suggests pulling the vinegar out of your kitchen cabinet and doing the following:

  1. Pour vinegar into a spray bottle and generously spray the surface.
  2. Wipe away the vinegar with a soft cloth or towel.
  3. To polish the steel, dip your soft cloth into a bit of olive oil and wipe across the surface in the direction of the grain until all of the marks are gone.


Clean fingerprints off stainless steel

Spray glass cleaner onto the surface and wipe with a microfiber cloth. Instead of glass cleaner, you can also use a couple drops of a mild dish soap diluted in water.

Clean limescale off stainless steel

Mix one part white vinegar with three parts warm water, and soak the affected area with the solution. Rinse well.

How not to clean stainless steel

Although it can be tempting to grab your steel wool to tackle dried-on gunk that builds up on your surfaces, this quick cleaning method could end up ruining your stainless steel altogether. Don’t do it!

“You should avoid abrasive cleaning products like scrubbing pads or wool brushes since they can scratch the surface and break its protective coat,” Norman warns. “Use a microfiber cloth, instead. It will absorb all the water and won’t scratch the surface.”

You’ll also want to skip out on bleach. It may be great for cutting through grass stains in your laundry, but solutions that contain chloride are another no-no when it comes to cleaning stainless steel.

“They can damage the protective layer of your piece and cause oxidation,” Norman says.

Skip the stainless-steel cleaners

The cleaning aisle of your local supermarket might have dedicated stainless-steel cleaning options that make all sorts of seductive claims about making surfaces pristine or “just like new.” But you can pass right by them, Holderman says.

“Most stainless-steel ‘cleaners’ are really just polishing the surfaces,” she explains. They’ll remove fingerprints, but not much else.

The post How to Clean Stainless-Steel Appliances and Surfaces in Your Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

What are ICC MC Numbers and Why Are They Important?

ICC MC Numbers

Sometimes it seems like just about anyone can start a company and call themselves “movers”. But aside from scouring Yelp, how can you determine your mover’s credibility? This is where ICC MC Numbers come in. We’ll explain the acronym, and break down why this number is one way to ensure your movers are properly credentialed […]

The post What are ICC MC Numbers and Why Are They Important? appeared first on Unpakt Blog.

A Housecleaning Checklist for People Hosting Guests With Pet Allergies

A House Cleaning Checklist for People Hosting Guests With Pet Allergies


Pet allergies might not be a problem for you, but there’s a decent chance one of your guests can’t sit among dander without sneezing or coughing. And even if a pet is taken out of the house, it takes a certain amount of time for dander levels to go down significantly.

“Studies show that it may take as many as six months before allergen levels become low enough so as not to cause a clinical reaction,” says Andrew S. Kim, medical director of Allergy & Asthma Centers in Virginia.

But we challenge you to find a pet owner who would be willing to send their furry friend away for half a year-it’s not going to happen! So let’s focus on more realistic solutions.

Luckily, Kim says that “aggressive cleaning of homes may reduce allergen levels.” And while hours and hours spent vacuuming, dusting, and sanitizing your home doesn’t sound like fun, it’s one reasonable way to ensure your guests will be comfortable in your house during the holidays and beyond.

Here’s what you can do to get your pet-friendly house ready for pet allergy–prone guests. (Or even owners!)

1. Give your pets the spa treatment

A good bath can temporarily reduce the number of allergens on your pet, says Kim. Sadly, the results are only temporary. Two to three days afterward, your pet’s allergens will be back to baseline.

To make a long-term difference, “washing must be done at least two times per week,” Kim says.

2. Roll up your rugs

“Carpets are a greater reservoir of pet allergens versus a polished floor,” says Kim. Therefore, remove those fur catchers from your hardwood or tile floor so you can vacuum up pet hair.

3. Turn on your air conditioner

Doing so will help keep humidity levels in your house low.

“Higher numbers of airborne allergens are found in homes with high humidity,” Kim says.

4. Dust before your guests arrive

Aim to do this a day or two before their arrival.

“This will give dander time to settle out of the air,” says Leslie Reichert, cleaning coach and author of “The Joy of Green Cleaning.”

5. Take up vacuuming as a hobby

“Regular vacuuming or three-times-weekly vacuuming may temporarily reduce allergen levels,” Kim says. So get into it!

Make sure you use the best vacuum for pet allergens and hair, such as the Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150.

6. Change your vacuum bag

Each time you vacuum, be sure to change or clean the filter. You should also change the bag or empty the dust cup.

“This will make sure you aren’t spreading dander around the house,” Reichert says.

7. Don’t forget to vacuum your furniture

Even if your pets aren’t allowed on your couch, “their dander is airborne so it will be on all the surfaces of your home,” Reichert says. Use your vacuum attachments to clean all fabric furniture.

8. Don’t let laundry pile up

Sure, you might fall behind on a few loads given how much other cleaning you have to do. But fun fact: Pet allergens stick to your clothing. Once there, they can easily transfer to your furniture or guests.

9. Clean those places you normally don’t

You might vacuum your lamp shades or dust under your couch only on a quarterly basis, but now’s the time if you’re preparing for guests with sensitivities to dust and dander. Put throw pillows into the dryer, dust the tops of doorways and picture frames, and don’t forget to wash and put away your pet’s food bowls.

10. Clean your air

An air purifier for pet hair is essential. Make sure yours has a HEPA filter, which can remove more impurities from the air. Place the purifier in the most-used room of your home and run it 48 hours nonstop before your guests arrive, advises Reichert. After their arrival, it should move into the room where your guests will sleep.

“This will give them a place to escape should their allergies get overwhelming,” says Reichert.

11. Come clean to your guests

Make sure your visitors know you have pets and the measures you’re taking to lower their exposure to allergens. Remind them to take their asthma and allergy meds before and during their visit.

The post A Housecleaning Checklist for People Hosting Guests With Pet Allergies appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Tax Overhaul Plans Make New York Home Buyers Think Twice


Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There are signs home buyers in metropolitan New York are pausing to consider the effects of proposed federal tax law changes, setting the stage for a possible chill in the market, brokers say.

The changes, in versions of bills in both the House and the Senate, likely would increase the cost of home ownership and reduce after-tax discretionary income for many mostly affluent home buyers in New York and other states with high state and local income and property taxes, brokers and analysts say.

Those taxes now can be deducted from income on federal tax returns. The proposals would reduce or eliminate that benefit, though some of the benefit already is offset by another federal tax provision known as the alternative minimum tax.

The proposed tax changes are threatening the already vulnerable high-end housing market in New York City and the surrounding suburbs, brokers say, as some prospective buyers put off decisions.

“People are worried,” said Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty Inc. in New York, who follows trends in the luxury market. “They want to know how much less money is going into their pockets every year. The tax changes proposed in the House and the Senate mean a pay cut for New Yorkers.”

Dawn Knief, a broker in the Scarsdale, N.Y., office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty, said buyers aren’t panicking, but they were closely watching what was happening in Washington.

Many communities in Westchester are known for their quality public schools and high property taxes that pay for them. “People are still digesting all of this,” said Ms. Knief. “If this comes to pass, there might have to be some price adjustments.”

Brokers said the tax issue regularly comes up in conversations with buyers, particularly more sophisticated ones who work in finance, and some people have put plans on hold.

In New York City, budget analysts said they might have to reduce revenue forecasts from the city’s transfer taxes on residential property sales because of expectations of fewer sales and lower prices. In Florida, where there is no income tax, brokers say they expect to see a new wave of buyers from New York and California looking to move there to reduce taxes.

“If legislation like this passes, I think people will be running for Florida, that is a perfect escape route,” said Pamela Liebman, president of New York-based Corcoran Group, which also operates in South Florida. “We have seen it all before, and it will escalate.”

The proposed tax changes are complex and will affect home buyers in different ways. They were designed to reduce taxes for many middle-income families, by lowering rates and doubling the standard deduction that reduces taxable income.

But both the Senate and the House proposal reduce or eliminate deductions for state and local taxes that are important factors in high-tax states. The House version would preserve a deduction on up to $10,000 in property taxes.

Deductions of interest paid on loans totaling up to $1 million would be preserved in the Senate bill but would be capped at $500,000 in the House bill for new buyers.

The alternative minimum tax would be eliminated, blunting a portion of the impact of other tax changes. According to new estimates from New York City’s Independent Budget Office, deductions by city residents for state and local taxes reduced their federal tax bills by $11.1 billion in 2015, but 24% of that was offset by $2.7 billion collected through the AMT.

The AMT totaled 30% of the savings from state and local tax deductions for taxpayers earning $200,000 or more, and 7% for earners making between $100,000 and $200,000, the budget office said.

Frederick Peters, the chief executive officer of Warburg Realty, said some proposed tax changes for business owners and partners could benefit the after-tax earnings of some New York buyers in the luxury market.

But most worrying to industry professionals were proposed changes that raise the direct cost of home ownership and likely reduce the value of a home. For example, ending the deduction on every $10,000 of local property taxes of a house would cost a homeowner in the 33% federal tax bracket $3,300 the first year. The budget of that added tax liability year after year, plus future property tax increases, could limit how much buyers are willing to pay for properties today, brokers said.

Likewise, the loss of the deductibility of $100,000 in mortgage interest would increase the after-tax interest costs on a jumbo loan by more than $1,200 a year.

Hall Willkie, president of brokerage Brown Harris Stevens, said the potential impact of tax changes is adding to uncertainty that has already led buyers to delay decisions and made them price sensitive.

“It is an uncertain time in the world,” he said. “This is going to create another little pause until people get their hands around it.”

Soon after the House tax plan was announced, Jeff Miller, a Miami broker, said he fielded several phone calls from New Yorkers who had looked at Miami Beach property in the past and were now getting serious.

One couple, who looked for homes in the area last year, is coming down to see a house on an island off Miami Beach listed for $22.5 million over the summer, Mr. Mille said.

“People I have been working with were on the fence,” he said. “Now they want to move. The new tax bill was the nudge they needed to push them over.”

The post Tax Overhaul Plans Make New York Home Buyers Think Twice appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.