Prime Meat in Real Estate

By: Sophia Ling

Most people have never set foot on a 29 000 square foot piece of real estate. This is roughly the size of 3 and a half football fields. Imagine a mansion that spans as far as the eye can see, and you'll get the picture. Prime real estate is spread out on Biscayne Bay, Florida. If you can afford the land, you can probably afford to build a state of the art mansion to go with it, and that is what Thomas Kramer did. The 48-year-old real estate developer has created the ultimate trophy home. The property has 13 bedrooms, an odd number but still a large one. For security purposes, a fingertip identity scanner has been installed and for privacy there is a mist machine that clouds the backyard from the ogling eyes of those passing by on boats. High tech indeed. How much does something like this sell for in the market? The current asking price is a massive $50 million and after several years on the market, no one has been bold enough to take up the offer. Thomas Kramer isn't in the business of accepting anything less than his asking price.

Such property is definitely going to be an attraction and many celebrities have viewed the place. Sears Chairman, Edward Lampart as well as the singer Enrique Iglesias have both viewed the house. Hollywood director, Michael Mann has used the house to film scenes for the 'Miami Vice' movie that was released in 2006. It's become more of a show house rather than residential property.

But Thomas Kramer's place isn't the only one that is making eyes pop. The real estate market is expanding rapidly and many homes are going for $30 million and more. There are currently about 60 of these mini-castles for sale in the United States alone. Here are some of the homes that have been trying to find a new owner for close to a year or more.

  • Location: Wildeat Ridge, Snowmass, Colorado
    Owner: Leon Hirsch (pioneer in surgical stapling)
    Asking price: $35 million

    This piece of property is located in the Rocky Mountains and the location itself probably increases the value of the land by 8 figures or so. This home has seen more than a dozen prospective buyers but so far, the asking price has not been met. It sits quietly on a ridge 300 meters above a ski resort, the Snowmass Village. There are 11 bedrooms in the 14 300 square foot home, and a view to die for. The interior itself has a very modern feel with designers such as George Nakashima and Charles and Ray Eames contributing to the décor.

    Get this; the hydraulic garage door used is actually taken from an airplane hangar.


  • Location: Mercer Island, Washington State
    Owner: Chuck and Karen Lytles (retirement-community developers)
    Asking price: $40 million
    Now what are retirement-community developers doing with a $40 million dollar home? The Lytles actually put their home on the market in 2004 when a mutual friend introduced a Saudi Sheik to the home. The Saudi Sheik expressed interest in purchasing the property after a tour but he never did. Since then, the house has been on the market and has been viewed by a dozen people. The property isn't exactly large in size but it is the interior that marks up the price. It only has 5 bedrooms and is a Mediterranean-style home. Recent improvements to the home have been made but it is all for aesthetics. A 12 meter saltwater indoor pool was installed and it is surrounded by 10 columns that have been fashioned in Egyptian style, complete with hieroglyphics. An Asian garden courtyard gives it a touch of Asia and a Medusa-like chandelier enhances the Mediterranean décor.


  • Location: Penthouse Apartments, Trump World Tower, New York City
    Owner: Donald Trump
    Asking price: $58 million

    Can you imagine a penthouse selling for $58 million? The infamous Donald Trump is the owner of this piece of real estate that is perched on the top of Trump World Tower in New York City. The massive 22 000 square feet penthouse is spread over two floors and hasn't seen any new owners for the past 6 years. It is housed in a 72-storey tower and is actually four apartments being sold as a single unit. There are 16 bedrooms, 24 bathrooms (one wonders why there are more bathrooms than bedrooms) and have windows that climb up to 5 meters high. Such a place would only rack up thousands of dollars in fees and taxes and its not surprising that the total comes up to $30 000 a month. The man himself can probably afford to maintain it but he is considering renting out the penthouse at $200 000 a month. A pretty absurd number and the more logical option would be to rent out all four individually at $50 000 a month which by the way, is still a bit extreme.


  • Location: Locksley Hall, Belvedere, California
    Owner: Robert Friedland (mining executive)
    Asking price: $65 million
    This 0.5 hectare piece of property was bought at $5.5million in 1995. After a decade and a lot of renovations, it is now valued at $65 million. The 12 000 square foot home is a designated historical landmark and is owned by Mr. Friedland. Some of the fascinating points of this house include an indoor and outdoor sound system, as well as a panic room. Its location probably ups its value by a mile considering that an acre of land is valued at $10 million. The panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Fransisco Bay area is definitely a plus point whether it is worth $65 million is another issue. Being a designated historical landmark also has its perks as tax benefits are given. Property taxes for a place like this is currently $28 000 a year.


  • Location: The Ranch, Brenwood, California
    Owner: Ken Roberts (former radio station owner)
    Asking price: $60 million
    This is possibly one of Los Angeles's largest estate on the west side. It sits in the Santa Monica Mountains, prime real estate in the ever popular California state. Since there are no willing buyers, the owner often opens his home for fund raisers that is attended by many celebrities. It has 17 bedrooms in a ranch compound that was originally designed in 1956. The property has seen many major developments since the current owner, Ken Roberts purchased it for $900 000 in 1975. $20 million has been spent on renovations alone. The main residence is 11 000 square feet and only consists of one floor. The place is great for entertaining as it also has a hot tub, a small outdoor pool as well as screening and casino rooms.


  • Location: Rio Vista, New Jersey
    Owner: A Manhattan Business Executive
    Asking price: $40 million
    If you thought 29 000 square feet was large, this will definitely make your eyes pop. This mansion is set on a 60 000 square feet piece of land with the main residence running more than 55 meters from one end to the other. Think Richie Rich and Bruce Wayne. The house has a two-lane bowling alley, a dark room and an art gallery with solid steel security doors. The closet itself is larger than many houses with 4 000 square feet of storage space. The garage has enough space for a whopping 19 vehicles. The real kicker is the 7 500 liter aquarium that is filled with tropical fish. The 2.8 hectare piece of land itself is worth about $14 million and the 13 bedroom home cost more than $28 million on its own. So at a price of $40 million, this place is actually quite a steal.

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