Katy Perry Lists Her Post-Divorce Mulholland Drive Compound

In 2013, Katy Perry scooped up not one, but two new neighboring homes shortly after her divorce from Russell Brand. Now, just four years later, the pop princess is ready to divorce herself from one of the homes. Listed by, Ernie Carswell, her long-term partner in all things real estate Perry is hoping to unload the Mediterranean-inspired estate for a cool $9.45 million.

Consisting of four separate residential structures, the Hollywood Heights home is actually more like a compound than a single house. In addition to a main residence, the 2.33-acre lot is also home to a two-story guest house, a fitness center, a security guardhouse, and a garage that can comfortably fit a limousine (a must-have for every California Girl).

The estate is atop Runyon Canyon Park, and any lucky visitors are treated to an opulent gated entrance, followed by a hand-hewn stone driveway leading up to the 4-bed, 6-bath home. Framed by lush greenery, the white facade of the 7,418-square-foot residence provides a cheerful contrast with the red tones of the Spanish tile roof.

Photos from Zillow listing

Inside the home, there’s no shortage of luxury (and comfort). Light-colored wood beams run across the ceilings throughout, and oversized windows shower the entire main floor with natural light. The kitchen features a stunning patterned white, red, and grey tile with a matching backsplash behind a professional kitchen-grade Wolf range and state-of-the-art oven. Upstairs, the sprawling master suite occupies the entire floor. A Roman bath sits underneath the skylight in an oversized bathroom, which-luxuriously-also boasts a fireplace of its own.

A large pool is tucked in behind the house, bordered by Italian quarried stone, and with a breathtaking hilltop view of Los Angeles. The outdoor opulence doesn’t end there; among the 2+ acre grounds are an amphitheater, multiple terraces, an orchard of fruit trees, fountains, a Buddha statue, a wood-fired oven, and more.

Ernie Carswell of Carswell & Partners holds the listing.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/katy-perry-divorce-compound-221260/

How to Actually Afford to Buy A Home in America

Home buyers today face tough challenges-housing prices have soared, a dollar doesn’t go as far as it once did and rent is more expensive than the past. How are people today making such a large purchase in spite of these hurdles? With more flexibility and a bit of creativity when it comes to financing, today’s buyers are finding ways to achieve homeownership.

Make Enough Money

With fewer resources to pull from than their older, wealthier counterparts, renters wanting to be buyers face tough financial headwinds. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, renter households typically earn a median income of $37,500 annually, which is $50,000 less than the median household income netted by households who recently bought a home (of whom the median household income is $87,500 annually). While there are ways to enter into homeownership without making $87,500 in household income, it’s hard to afford to buy if you make significantly less. “If you’re making $37,500 per year, it’s probably not feasible for you to buy in almost any market,“ says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.

Only 29 percent of Americans do make $87,500 or more, per U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2016 data. For perspective, only one of the top 10 most common jobs in the United States carries a salary above $37,500, meaning the jobs that the majority of Americans hold-fast food workers, cashiers, retail salespersons, customer service representatives, secretaries, housekeepers among others-bring in less money than the median renter household. While households purchasing homes are more likely to have two incomes than renter households (and thus a higher median household income combined), even two-income households struggle to afford to buy in competitive markets.

Save Up Enough Cash (But Not As Much As You Think)

One of the most daunting parts of homebuying? The down payment. In fact, two-thirds of renters cite saving for a down payment as the biggest hurdle to buying a home, according to the Zillow Housing Aspirations Report. Per findings from the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, almost one-third (29 percent) of buyers active in the market express difficulty saving for the down payment.

For people buying the national median home valued at $201,900, with the traditional 20 percent down payment, that’s $40,380 up front-just to move in.

“The down payment remains a hurdle for a lot of people,” says Gudell. “Although, they should know they don’t have to put 20 percent down.” Although putting down less than 20 percent means additional considerations, such as the cost for private mortgage insurance (PMI), some find it worth the hassle. In fact, only one-quarter of buyers (24 percent) put 20 percent down, and just over half of buyers (55 percent) put less than the traditional 20 percent down.

Buyers are also getting creative about piecing together a down payment from multiple sources. According to the report findings, nearly 1 in 4 buyers (24 percent) build a down payment from two or more sources, including saving, gifts, loans, the sale of a previous home, stocks, retirement funds and other resources.

Know Your Deal Breakers, But Be Flexible

In order to get into a home-even if it’s not the home of their dreams-some of today’s buyers are considering homes and locations outside of their initial wish list, and are having to get increasingly flexible when it comes to neighborhood, house condition, and even type of home.

Although single-family homes remain a dream for most home seekers, buyers today consider and buy condos and townhouses-in order to secure a home in their ideal location. Buyers with household incomes under $50,000 are more likely to consider homes outside of the traditional single-family residence (40 percent), compared to those with incomes of $50,000 or above (24 percent). “I do think people get discouraged when they look in their target neighborhood and they see homes around $170,000 when they’re looking for a $110,000 home,” Gudell says.

Affordably-priced homes do, in fact, exist. But in popular areas, where people most often want to live, it’s going to be harder to find that cheaper home, Gudell says. "If you’re willing to take a longer commute and make a couple tradeoffs, you might be able to find a home that is further out that might be cheaper,” Gudell explains. “You have to leave the paved path before you can find cheaper choices.“

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/what-it-takes-buy-home-america-221191/

1800s Estate Proves History Is Anything But Drab – House of the Week

Steven Favreau is the type to go big – and go home.

When he set out to put down roots near his hometown of Boston, Favreau fell in love with an old country estate in quaint Chelsea, VT. It was the perfect place for this interior designer to escape from the hubbub of big city life after working with celebrity clients and more.

“It was a quintessential Vermont house in a quintessential Vermont town,” said Favreau, about spotting the house in 2012. “I hopped on a plane and bought it the next week.”

Built in 1832, the house was once owned by a man named Aaron Davis, whose family lived in it for at least 100 years. Davis’ granddaughter eventually sold the 23-acre property in the 1980s, and the new owner converted it into a bed and breakfast. (There’s still a portrait of Davis above one of the home’s five fireplaces.)

After Favreau purchased the 5-bed, 5-bath home, he sought to restore it to its original grandeur – at a frenetic pace. A contractor brought in a crew to rework everything from the wiring (it was a fire waiting to happen) to the wallpaper (there were 8 layers throughout the house). The workers even put in a massive new beam to support the house and keep it from sinking.

“The house sprung back to life and all the old Lally columns fell to the ground,” Favreau remembered. “They heard, ‘Bam-bam! Clank-clank!’ as they jacked it back to life.”

Up next on the designer’s list: keeping the look, feel and integrity of the antique touches, while updating the space to accommodate today’s trends. He tore out a downstairs wall to expand the kitchen to 700 square feet; the master suite got a modern bath with a soaking tub.

Favreau painted walls in his signature bright colors and added bold wallpaper. In a tip-of-the-hat to the history of the Green Mountain State, he lined the master bathroom with tree-print wallpaper. The dining room got a splash of flamingo pink with a print of Victorian-looking cake plates – a nod to the era in which the house was built.

“What I wanted to use for inspiration was the house and the period of the house, so nodding to the period and updating it with a contemporary aesthetic,” Favreau said. “It says today, but it also says yesterday.”

Some things are distinctly New England. A wooden footbridge connects the main property to 22 secluded acres on the other side of the White River. On warm summer nights, Favreau’s family will pull a dining room table out onto the bridge and dine al fresco.

In the winter, the adjacent land allows for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

There’s also an old wood barn, which Favreau envisions becoming an event space for weddings or storage. The possibilities for the next owner are limitless, he said.

“It’s a big glorious house, and my family is a big glorious family. We’ve enjoyed it,” he added. “I feel like I’ve loved my time being there and up in Vermont, but it’s time to find the next one. Maybe an oceanside property.”

The home is on the market for $695,000. Zoe Hathorn Washburn of Snyder Donegan carries the listing.

Interior photos courtesy of Jim Mauchly of Mountain Graphics Photography. Exterior photos courtesy of Andrew Holson with Snyder Donegan Real Estate Group.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/historic-vermont-estate-221014/

Van? RV? School Bus? 6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Home on Wheels

We’ve all seen photos of the perfectly manicured home on wheels: the reclaimed wood-lined walls, the occupants dreamily sipping coffee and watching a sunrise. People of all ages are asking themselves, “Can I do that, too?” Myself, included.

When I first saw the van that would one day be mine on Craigslist, I thought it was perfect for me. The 1986 GMC vandura had a comfy bed, turquoise cabinets and twinkle lights that made me weak in the knees.

But a mobile life can involve just as much work as a stationary one – sometimes, even more. You won’t have to pay a mortgage, but you might need new brakes. You won’t have to rely on neighbors to water your plants when you travel, but you will have to keep a tiny space organized and livable on the road.

If those things don’t scare you off, the rewards can far outweigh the work. Here are some important questions to consider, first.

Which home is right for you?

There are various names for homes on wheels and recreational vehicles, along with more unique and specific categories like Westfalia campervans.

The RV is a self-contained, manufactured home on wheels. It typically contains a bathroom and kitchen and, depending on the version you choose, it can be driven or towed. If you own a vehicle with towing capacity, a towable RV allows you to park and move around more freely – without dragging the kitchen sink.

Campervans are more compact but offer fewer amenities. They might have a small kitchenette, but rarely contain a bathroom. If you’re willing to rough it on the road, the campervan can be a more affordable option.

Then there are the more creative approaches to mobile living. People have converted school buses, vintage Airstreams and even a mail truck into living quarters. Choosing the vessel for your life on wheels is an important decision, so weigh your options carefully.

How will you use it?

Once upon a time, people bought mobile homes when they retired. These days, the options for remote work allow younger people to embrace a mobile lifestyle, with many variations. Some people want to travel regularly, while others park their homes and only occasionally switch locations.

My motivation for buying a van was the freedom to spend month-long stints on the road and rent out my house whenever I left. As a freelance writer, I often travel in search of stories and this seemed like a perfect way to do so. I could have the comforts of home and the freedom of wheels.

However, since dropping $5,500 on the initial purchase and about $1,000 in repairs, I’ve landed a full-time job. It’s now more of a weekend camping vehicle than a home. The extra headspace that once seemed luxurious now feels cumbersome, especially when I’m driving over windy mountain passes and spending $60 to fill up my tank. Also, the $80-per-month insurance has come to seem extra expensive since I’m paying for something I don’t often use.

I’ll travel regularly in my van someday, but my experience illustrates the importance of knowing how your van will facilitate the life you wish to lead. Where will you go, how often will you go, and what will you do? Looking back, I would have gone for something a little smaller and lower maintenance.

Freedom can become debilitating if you don’t know how you’ll use it.

Where will you park?

Campgrounds, RV parks, Walmart parking lots and city streets have all become temporary homes for people who live on the road. But you must consider parking laws, safety and cost – every single night.

RV parks and many campgrounds offer hookups for electricity and water. If your home is designed to accommodate those amenities, they’re nice to have. It helps to research campground details before you hit the road. 

If you’re freeing yourself from rent or a mortgage, you might not want to dump that money back into parking each night. National forests offer free camping, as long as you’re 100-200 feet away from any road, trail or water source. Ask local ranger stations about access to dispersed camping and local regulations. 

While mobile life is often celebrated with a backdrop of ocean beaches or beloved national parks, cities are something to consider, too. They just require a little extra consideration.

Vans have a leg up on bigger, flashier RVs when it comes to cities, especially if your van doesn’t look like someone lives in it. Urban van-dwellers go to great lengths to keep their living quarters quiet to prevent curious visitors and theft.

The most important piece of advice when considering where to park: do your research. Reserve a spot when heading to popular parks, call ranger stations for information about parking in the area, join local forums, and always collect information ahead of time so you you’re not searching for a place to sleep when it’s dark and there’s no cell service.

How much does it cost?

Simplifying your life by paring down your belongings can be a great way to save money. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that mobile living is always cheap.

First, there’s the cost of your vehicle, which can vary considerably. If you go for a van, the Ford E series is a popular option. Donovan Jenkins, a nursing student and outdoors enthusiast bought his Ford cargo van for just $2,700 and spent about $2,500 more converting the bare interior into a cozy home. His carpentry skills allowed him to save big bucks on labor.

Conversions – van, Airstream, school bus, etc. – can be expensive, even if you’re doing the work yourself. For example, this stylish Sprinter van conversion cost $64,120You’ll see a huge range on RV prices as well, from several thousand to millions of dollars.

Once you find a home that’s right for your budget, you’ll need to consider living costs, too.

Camping fees are about $20 per night, which can be alleviated by free parking. But, you won’t get water and electrical hook-ups unless you pay for them.

Vehicle insurance will add a few hundred to several thousand dollars in yearly costs. Comprehensive auto insurance, while more expensive than bare-boned liability plans, will protect your home and belongings from vandalism and theft.

I learned the hard way that an RV insurance plan is required of any vehicle that’s been converted into a living space. Even though my van isn’t technically an RV, AAA initially refused to tow me when I broke down in Seattle because I didn’t have RV insurance. I’ve since upgraded, which has been worth it for the peace of mind. AAA’s premier RV insurance includes unlimited 100-mile tows, and once per year, you can have your vehicle towed up to 200 miles.

Depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, you’ll also need to factor in regular repairs. And, don’t forget gas money! You’ll spend a lot more on gas for your mobile home than you will on filling up your regular car. And the more toys you carry with your mobile home, the more your gas bills will climb.

Where will you go to the bathroom?

Unless you’re able to find a mobile home with a built-in shower and toilet, personal hygiene can be a challenge on the road. But there are plenty of creative ways to make it work.

A membership to a gym chain with locations across the country, like Planet Fitness or L.A. Fitness, will allow you to access showers and bathrooms – not to mention a workout, which can be vital when your living space only allows you to walk a few feet in either direction.

Campgrounds and truck stops also provide facilities to the traveler looking to freshen up.

If you don’t have a toilet, you’ll likely find yourself using truck-stop and Starbucks bathrooms. But a late-night bathroom break could mean toilets aren’t available, and you’ll have to make due with whatever is around.

Can you work on the road?

Remote work opportunities have freed many people from the constraints of a typical office job. But working from a mobile home is much different than a home office.

First, consider how often you’ll need to work, and where you’ll be able to do so. It might be helpful to stay close to developed areas where there are plenty of establishments offering free Wi-Fi.

If you can work comfortably inside of your mobile home, you can use your mobile device as a Wi-Fi hotspot, or purchase a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot for $100-150. Whichever option you go with, you’ll need to sign up for a service plan with data. Check on the coverage area of service providers before you pick one – they’re no use when you’re in a dead zone!

Working from the road also means you’ll need electricity, which is nice to have for other uses, too, like charging your cell phone or running a fan to stay cool when your engine is off.

Solar panels are a convenient, rechargeable and environmentally-friendly energy source. And, this portable power station will let you plug in all sorts of devices.

I can see my van parked on the street, from the window of my house right now. I’m still not entirely sure what a mobile life will look like, but figuring it out is half the fun.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/home-on-wheels-tips-220828/

Katharine Hepburn’s Lifelong Connecticut Estate Finally Sells

UPDATE: After years on and off the market, Hepburn’s famous Long Island Sound residence has finally found a new owner. The property — most recently listed for $14.8 million in 2015 — sold for $11.5 million to an unknown buyer at the end of August. Despite being known as Katharine Hepburn’s beloved lifelong estate, architect and construction CEO Frank Sciame has actually owned the home since 2003. Sciame renovated the 3-story mansion in 2005 and has been attempting to sell it since 2011.

ORIGINAL POST 5/22/2015: The Connecticut seaside home where Katharine Hepburn spent family vacations and returned often throughout her life, and where she spent her final days, is on the market for $14.8 million.

The acting legend’s parents bought the property in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook, CT, around 1913, when Hepburn was a child. The home was washed away by a hurricane in 1938, several years after she’d won her first Academy Award. The actress dug her mother’s silver service out of the sand and rebuilt the home, creating the brick structure that still stands along the banks of Long Island Sound.

Photos by Peter Harron, courtesy of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.

According to the listing from Colette Harron of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, Hepburn used a large set of building blocks from FAO Schwarz to construct a model of the house.

Bathed in white with stunning water views, the home’s interior encompasses 8,368 square feet over three floors. It has 6 bedrooms, each with its own bath, plus 1.5 more bathrooms and 7 fireplaces.

The current owners renovated the home and lifted the structure 5 feet to protect it from water damage. The estate has been on and off the market since 2011.

The home sits on 1.47 acres with a private beach where The New York Times says Hepburn took a daily dip no matter the season. There’s also a private dock and pond.

Top photo by Aaron Thompson, courtesy of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/katharine-hepburn-estate-176656/