Only $33,750,000 down and $587,250 per month

Hala Ranch, Aspen Colorado

I was checking out the Forbes list of the most expensive residential real estate in the U.S. this morning. I’m not really shopping for a new home but it’s sometimes fun just to see how the other .00001% of the population lives.


Currently, the most expensive home in the United States (listed since the Forbes list was released) is available for a whopping $135,000,000. My mortgage calculator doesn’t accept prices over $100,000,000 so I had to figure this one by hand, so please, don’t quote me on this. The last thing I need is to be chipping in for the monthly payments on your new estate. With only $33,750,000 down and monthly payments of $587,250 per month (not including taxes) this one could be yours.


Hala Ranch is a 95 acre estate tucked in the mountains of Aspen, Colorado. Owned by Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, former Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., it boasts a 56,000 square foot mansion with 15 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms. It’s listed with Joshua Saslove at Joshua & Co.


Just a touch out of your price range? Hey, I understand. Perhaps this property (no longer available) located in Palm Beach Florida and owned by Donald Trump fits the budget a little better. This lovely home offers a ballroom, conservatory, a 100-foot swimming pool and 475 of Florida ocean front. It’s a steal at only $125,000,000. The property is listed with Dolly Lenz and Geoff Thomas at Prudential Douglas Elliman.


Dolly Lenz is reportedly the number 1 REALTOR® in North America. Her dollar volume of listed properties far exceeds what I’ll sell in a lifetime, perhaps two lifetimes. I’m sure she doesn’t need any advice from me. I’ve been on a bit of a rant lately about the value of decent photographs both in quantity and quality so I couldn’t help but notice what a poor presentation the Trump property gets online. I mean, two photos and practically no information whatsoever.

If I were “the Donald,” I think I’d be saying, “you’re fired!”


Read also: A Compelling Case for More Photos on Your Home Listing and If A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, What Are the Photos of Your Home Saying to Prospective Buyers.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Who actually pays the commission on a Saskatoon real estate sale?

Commissions on Saskatoon Real Estate Sale I was speaking with a mortgage person yesterday. He was recounting a conversation that he had with a young person who is interested in purchasing his first home. In response to the question, “are you working with an agent?” this young man indicated that he wasn’t because he couldn’t afford to pay a commission. My mortgage broker friend responded by telling his new client that “the seller always pays the commission and it costs you nothing to use the services of an agent, so you should use one.”

I’ll agree with my friend on his latter point. It probably comes as no surprise that this agent believes that almost anyone can benefit by using the services of an agent in the purchase of real estate. First time buyers are particularly prone to making costly mistakes which can take years to pay for. I will however take issue with his first point. Even though a buyer will not likely see “real estate fees” show up on an invoice; I firmly believe that it is in fact the buyer who pays the commission in a real estate trade. After all, the buyer brings the money to the transaction. Real estate services may or may not be included in the property’s price but chances are, you are paying for those services. Understanding this simple truth may be helpful to you in getting maximum value for your money.

It’s important to understand that a commission is earned in every real estate transaction. If the property is listed through a real estate brokerage, the agent earns the commission for affecting a sale on the property. If a property is marketed privately, the seller is attempting to earn the commission. In rare instances, a buyer who buys “unrepresented” may in fact earn some portion of the commission. You should at least understand that it’s your money that is being earned.

The myth that buyers don’t pay real estate fees has been an excuse for poor service that has gone on long enough. Let’s face it, if you are led to believe that you’re not paying for the service, you’re probably not going to have very high expectations of your agent. After all, we all know that you don’t get much for free, or to put it another way, “you get what you pay for.” Are you getting what you’re paying for?

Prudent buyers should interview prospective agents to find out exactly what services the agent is prepared to provide. Once you’ve selected an agent, hold that person accountable to deliver what’s been promised. Moreover, let the agent know that you actually believe that you’re paying the real estate fees and that you expectations for service are fairly high because of it.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Hot housing trends for 2007

Ourdoor fireplace I came across an article on CNN Money titled, “5 home trends we never saw coming” which highlights some unusual items which more buyers are apparently looking for.


We’ve known for a number of years that many buyers are going for larger homes, so perhaps these top trends shouldn’t come as any real surprise.


CNN credits Mark Nash, author of Real Estate A-Z for Buying and Selling a Home who gathered this information in a recent survey which involved 923 real estate brokers, agents and industry experts were interviewed.

Here’s what Mr. Nash sees coming:

  • Upscale garages – “Today’s owners want their garages decked out with cabinet and storage systems, matching refrigerators, air conditioning and residential looking flooring.”
  • Personal Space – Nash calls it “caving” but the bottom line is personal space where people can find a little privacy to work or relax.
  • Rejuvenation rooms – Spaces set up for exercise, meditation, yoga, saunas and steam showers.
  • Heated patios – Expanding your living space to outdoor areas makes sense and there’s nothing like an outdoor fireplace or a natural gas heater to add a few weeks to both ends of the season.
  • Snoring rooms – A “snoring room” is simply an additional bedroom off of the master bedroom.

My wife asked me what a snoring room is and I described at as a comfortable room which she could use to escape my snoring. She said she thought it is more likely to become a comfortable room which I could use to escape her elbows. 🙂


Topping the list of features which we can expect to see less of? Spiral staircases, bamboo and laminate flooring.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

85 year old woman gets surprise of her life lease

Old Woman

I heard a story today that left me so incensed, that I couldn’t resist repeating it.


Some time ago, a local church built “a 15 story high-rise building offering enriched housing for seniors.” Apparently, the building is managed by “a voluntary board (hereinafter referred to as the board) independent of the church. The building contains 109 suites, 36 are subsidized rental units and the remaining 73 are “life interest lease suites.” For those unfamiliar with the life lease concept, a buyer buys the right to use the unit for their lifetime. When they are finished with the home, it’s sold back to the original owner, usually a non-profit organization, and the price is determined based on terms outlined in the lease document.


Here’s the story as it’s told to me by the daughter of a senior couple (hereinafter referred to as John and Mary) who purchased a life lease in the building. I have not seen the documents involved in this transaction.


It seems that in 1989, John and Mary had reached their senior years and decided that they were ready for condo living. They purchased a life lease for $83,000 and happily settled in. At the time of the purchase, their lawyer expressed some concern regarding the ambiguity of the resale clause which stated that John and Mary were obliged to sell their interest back to the board when they were ready to sell at a price “hereon depending upon the conditions prevailing” at the time of the sale. Apparently, the documents do not indicate what “conditions” the price is dependent on. I expect most would agree that “real estate market conditions” would be the obvious inference. Comfortable that they were dealing with the church, John and Mary felt good about moving forward. They did.


In 1998, John passed away and Mary was a widow at 78 years of age. Sometime in early 1999, Mary gets a call from the board. As she tells the story, she’s allegedly told that her documents have to be updated to remove John’s name from the life lease. Mary is all too happy to oblige and signs the documents placed before her with the understanding that the only alterations to her original agreement are the names.


Mary’s most recent statement from the board is dated January, 2005 and it shows the “current market value” of her unit being $100,300. Between 1989 and 2005, the average selling price of an east-side condominium has increased 62%. For some reason, Mary’s unit has only increased by 20%. Further, it seems that some provision in her contract entitles the board to 50% of her equity gain. If true, this reduces her total return to just 10%.


Mary’s daughter is not pleased. She’s particularly troubled by the claim of entitlement to half of Mom’s equity, so she starts digging for paperwork. Lo and behold she comes across the original purchase agreement, and the updated agreement which was executed in 1999. She’s unable to find any clause which specifically addresses a sharing of the equity, but she notices that the first and second agreements are not the same. Where the initial agreement stated that the selling price was “hereon depending upon the conditions prevailing,” the second agreement has additional wording which states the price is to be determined at the “sole discretion” of the board.


It seems that the board has also contracted themselves with an “irrevocable assignment” to act as her attorney to deal with and make all decisions related to the disposition of the property.


Of course, I’m not a lawyer so I suggested that Mary’s daughter might want to meet with one real soon.


I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

The paradox of price

Saskatoon Real Estate Prices

The Paradox of Price: When the ‘price is right’ buyers get involved quickly and sellers gain a competitive advantage. Use the paradox of price to your benefit. If you have the will to set a compelling price, the reaction of the marketplace will benefit you.


These wise words come from Toronto’s Real Estate Intelligence in an excellent post titled, The Price is Righteous. Check it out here for some smart insight into pricing your home properly.


Even in a hot real estate market like Saskatoon is experiencing proper pricing is an important element to obtaining top-dollar offers early on in the listing period. Homes which remain on the market longer than the average selling time are viewed suspiciously by buyers and agents, who usually conclude that the property is overpriced, or has some other problem which is preventing it from selling. Of course, if prices are rising or falling at a rapid pace, price trends need to be given serious consideration as you review comparable sales and competitive listings.


I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate