This estate is a beautiful expression of ranch hacienda-style architecture. Designed by acclaimed architect John Sather of Swaback Partners, it was built with the highest quality materials and workmanship, and every room reflects extraordinary attention to detail. Nestled on six acres on the side of the McDowell Mountains – and backing onto a nature preserve – the property is truly a mountainside sanctuary that offers both privacy and an organic connection to the Sonoran Desert.
The entrance speaks volumes about what’s inside. The imposing arched front door with seeded-glass panels was custom crafted of reclaimed materials by La Puerta of Santa Fe, and the two-story entryway features a commanding chandelier fabricated by the trade-only designer Paul Ferrante. The hardwood floors in the house are made of distressed hickory, and they perfectly compliment the artisanal plasterwork on the walls. Imported from Italy, the Albertini windows and glass-paneled doors, with their rich burnt-pine finish, are another strong design element. Tucson-based Taber & Co. made the bespoke in-wall mesquite cabinets in the living room, and the custom interior doors are also solid mesquite.
Attention to detail is found throughout. The twin custom granite sinks in the kitchen feature integrated drain boards chiseled into the countertop – no dish racks needed. To reduce back strain when rolling dough, chopping vegetables, or doing other prep work, the center island was set at an above-standard 42” height. Electric outlets throughout the house were faux painted to match the surrounding walls and backsplashes. The three decorative panels on each interior door were deliberately sized so that the door lever is perfectly centered on the door rail. And the massive living room fireplace surround was entirely assembled from book-matched marble slabs, to stunning effect.
Many of the rooms are worthy of special mention. Befitting a movie producer who wants to experience films in the best possible way, the 10-seat tiered theater is equipped with state-of-the-art projection and sound systems designed by Shen Milsom & Wilke, a world-class engineering firm. Next to the theater on the lower level is a 2,000-bottle wine cellar, whose rustic stone walls help maintain ideal temperature and humidity levels for long-term storage. Also on the “play” level is a game room that can accommodate all sorts of toys, which currently include a pool table, juke box, Skee-Ball alley, Harley-themed pinball machine and poker table.
The spacious Primary Suite was designed to achieve just the right balance between privacy and togetherness. The suite has a common bedroom but completely separate dual bathrooms and dual closets. The suite also includes a room for luggage storage and a private patio with a fireplace and whirlpool.
Located in a stand-alone structure a little further up the mountain, the Spa is another noteworthy space. On one side is a fully equipped exercise room with wall-to-wall French doors and transom windows that wash the room with light and offer lovely views of a desert garden. On the other side is an intimate massage room with an exquisite domed mosaic ceiling.
How many homes have an ADA-compliant bedroom suite? This one does. All of the light switches are set at ADA height, the bathroom vanity is ADA accessible, and there are grab bars at the commode and in the shower. A commercial-grade elevator serves all three floors and is also ADA-compliant.
The exterior spaces are equally impressive. Berghoff Design Group did the landscaping, which features a virtual arboretum of mature, thriving ironwood, palo verde, mesquite, and Texas ebony trees, all native to the Desert Southwest. These trees form a natural canopy and add to the overall sense of privacy which characterizes this property. The fountains are genuine antiques, and an inviting bougainvillea-lined walkway made from reclaimed stone leads to the main entrance.
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Unique Homes Online Exclusive
During the mid-year height of the Covid-19 pandemic, real estate agents comment on how the market stood, and in some cases prevailed, under enormous pressure.
This past Fall, luxury real estate agents from across the country spoke on Unique Homes’ first Zoom panel to discuss topics from the recent article “Space: The New Currency,” from Unique Homes Magazine’s recent Fall issue, written by Camilla McLaughlin. On this exclusive virtual panel, agents were able to discuss how the real estate markets of America endured (and continue to endure) through the turbulence that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused. Throughout the discussion, these experienced panelists spoke on the changes their area(s) have undergone and the how the pandemic has affected the homebuying process. We’ve highlighted some of our distinguished panelists and their unique experiences below.
Mauricio Umansky, Founder/CEO of The Agency
Los Angeles, CA
In the beginning of “Space: The New Currency,” Mauricio Umansky, Founder and CEO of The Agency, notes that in the midst of the pandemic, consumers who were staying at home also found themselves asking impactful questions regarding their homes and their futures: where am I sequestering versus where am I at home? What do I want my home to look like? What do I want my second home to look like?
As one of the opening speakers, Umansky adds that though many of these questions may not be answered right away, the pandemic proved to be a catalyst for many potential home buyers to start a dialogue with their local real estate agents. “Sequestering at home, stay in, shelter in place, whatever it is we want to call it, has caused a conversation that is equal amongst everybody, whether it’s politically driven, whether it’s answering ‘what do I want to do with my life?’ and understanding that we can now work and operate from anywhere.”
Courtney Hampson, Vice President of Marketing
Palmetto Bluff, SC
Palmetto Bluff is a community in coastal South Carolina that caters to a mix of primary and vacation homeowners. Courtney Hampson, Vice President of Marketing for Palmetto Bluff, says on the panel that at the beginning of the pandemic many residents were already staying in Palmetto Bluff due to Spring Break, and were mandated to stay due to the shutdown. Many stayed until May when the state began opening up again, and there were several instances where those who extended their stay ended up moving to Palmetto Bluff full time. About a particular couple from New York with young children, Hampson says “They literally walked down the street into our real estate office, went on our tour, looked at available homes, closed two days later, our fastest closing ever, and that was it. ‘This is where we are,’ they said, ‘This is the plan now.'”
During the panel Hampson also stated that the utilization of virual tours and showings became more widely utilized, so much that they had to include the option on their website right away on their website.” She also noted that in the midst of everything, they found that buyers were buying almost like they were suffering from FOMO, or a Fear of Missing Out. “[Clients] are booking their stay at the hotel first, and … they have almost a fear of missing out. They’re not waiting to get here to look at real estate — they’re doing that virtually, going under contract and seeing their property the first time they come to visit.”
Carrie Wells, Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate
Though located on the opposite side of the United States, Carrie Wells of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate in Aspen, Colorado experienced similar situations as Hampson had in South Carolina. March is typically the latter part of the state’s skiing season, but due to the pandemic the season was cut short, and those visiting found themselves sequestering in Aspen — and staying. She remarked that you can see this reflected in the school district alone, where 175 new students were admitted and a weight list was created for the Aspen Country Day School, Aspen’s main private school. She also noted that with the help of Matterport virtual tour technology many sales were able to happen, as clients wanted to be able to visit openings safely.
Wells remarked about her own experience with a New York family who stayed in Aspen until the summer. “He said, ‘I never realized that Aspen is so enjoyable in April and May,’ which are normally our off-season months. … People have experienced being here year-round, when they normally would not be here, and there’s so much to do other than downhill skiing that I think regardless of what happens with our winter, we’re still going to see our market continue to be strong.”
Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty
The title of the article “Space: The New Currency,” as well as the main point of discussion for the panel, was inspired by profound statement by Frank Aazami of Russ Lyon Sothebby’s International Realty. During the panel Aazami notes that when the pandemic began and people were sequestering, he noticed that areas that were previously difficult to sell beforehand, regions outside of Phoenix and Scottsdale such as Fountains Hills, Cave Creek, etc, were now like beacons that buyers were gravitating towards. Before there were no sales north of $3 million, but eventually there were closings reaching upwards of $4 and $6 million. The reasoning for this market change? Space!
In the article Aazami notes that from his region of Scottsdale, Arizona, his experience during the pandemic that no matter what buyers were generally looking for, a vacation home, relocation refuge, etc., the key point he saw was that consumers were looking for a safe haven, with plenty of space. Not only that, but consumers are also requesting specifics when it comes to this space in order to make their purchases personal and customized to their lifestyles, from multiple offices and indoor gyms to view decks and larger patios.
Chris Bernier, Churchill Properties
Boston’s North Shore, MA
Located just 30 minutes outside of Boston, Chris Bernier of Churchill Properties notes during the Zoom panel that despite the usual trends of buyers looking for smaller, more minimalistic style homes, space really is the new currency. He affirms that many buyers in his market are flocking toward the larger homes. These market shifts are no doubt due to the pandemic shifting priorities, and continues to show
James Torrance, Keller Williams Luxury International
Palm Beach, FL
James Torrance from Palm Beach, Florida has much to say about the pandemic has shifted Florida into more than just a retirement or snowbird refuge, seen in these clips from the Zoom discussion. He notes further that in fact a large wave of buyers from California and more specifically Chicago brought interest to the area and helped close several sales, a rarity in his area. What was also interesting that he notices are the importance of the private schools and districts in South Florida, as he mentions that many buyers were shopping around different homes once they had found a school system they liked, then picking from available homes nearby.
This, alongside his points about the importance of homes with multi-functional spaces such as guesthouses and just the overall outlook on how the market has shifted, highlight just how much action Florida has seen in the past several months due to Covid-19’s effect on real estate.
Roxann Taylor, Engel & Völkers Dallas Forth Worth
As an real estate agent with 40-plus years of selling experience, Roxann Taylor of Engel & Völkers Dallas Forth Worth was a fountain of wisdom toward the end of the virtual panel. She highlighted much of which was similar to what the other panelists had noted, including buyers prioritizing homes with large space as opposed to downsizing, putting houses on the market through a near fully-virtual process, and much more.
For More Unique Homes Online Exclusive content, click here.
Photo courtesy of Troon North Golf Club
With art museums, golf courses and luxury architecture, Scottsdale, Arizona is more than just a desert town.
Known as The West’s Most Western Town, Scottsdale, Arizona, is certainly more than just a desert town as it is annually rated among the nation’s most desirable communities to live in, visit and conduct business. Three focuses in particular are art, golf and architecture, each a key draw for the luxury sector and ones that have shaped the culture of the city.
Among Scottsdale’s 80 art galleries are museums that not only showcase fantastic creations from artists, but also provide an insight to the city’s past. One in particular is Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, located in Old Town, which offers high-quality exhibitions reflecting the arts and dynamic cultural exchanges in the city’s history. Dr. Tricia Loscher, assistant director of collections, exhibitions and research at Western Spirit, says that the Scottsdale art scene started at the Arizona Craftsmen Center in the 1940s, where skilled artisans could work and collaborate together, and customers could watch art being created in front of their eyes. These artists in turn helped to elevate Scottsdale’s cultural standing by showing and selling their unique creations.
Photo courtesy of © Loren Anderson 2018
Museum of the West
Today, artists are continually drawn to Scottsdale, a place that is recognized worldwide as a destination for art collectors and enthusiasts. The diversity of the city’s artistic community, says Loscher, leaves visitors remarking on how much there is to see, and that it cannot all be viewed in one trip. “You’ll want to come back again and again because you can’t possibly do justice to what Scottsdale has to offer.”
Photo courtesy of © Jill Richards Photography
The distinctive landscape of Arizona, punctuated by giant granite boulders strewn across the rugged Sonoran Desert, is the perfect playground for those who live and breathe the golf lifestyle. There are several key points as to why Scottsdale is such a popular golf destination, according to Mike Friend, director of sales at Troon North Golf Club, from wonderful weather to the beautiful desert itself. “The unique desert layouts are so different from typical tree-lined golf [courses],” he notes, adding that players love how the green grass contrasts from the desert browns.
This culture began in the 1990s as many courses over the last 30 years were built around luxury residential developments and communities, which also stimulated the growth of resorts and travel interest overall. “The growth of this type of traveler created a need for more golf,” Friend says. The travel fever has not stopped since, and from the variety of activities and sights, Scottsdale is bound to experience growth and diversity for years to come.
Also nestled in the desert, along the foothills of the McDowell Mountains, is an architectural mecca — Taliesin West, known to historians as Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert laboratory in Arizona. Taliesin West was Wright’s beloved winter home and the headquarters of the Taliesin Fellowship, an architectural marvel that has since become a National Historic Landmark, as well as the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin.
“[Wright] found the site in 1937 and with his apprentices began experimenting with new materials and building techniques to create a desert camp that embodied his principles of organic architecture,” according to Foundation president and CEO Stuart Graff. The Foundation works to preserve the site and Wright’s legacy through programs that bring more than 110,000 visitors to Scottsdale. Here Wright’s experimental camp is open to the world as a living expression of his ideal vision for how he wanted humanity to live in harmony with the world around us.
Photo courtesy of © 2016 Andrew Pielage
Real estate professional Jennie Heal puts her skills as an auctioneer to work for good causes.
By Roger Grody
Supreme Auctions provides an alternative marketing strategy for sellers of luxury real estate. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based firm’s President, Jennie Heal, explains, “We saw an opportunity to provide owners the ability to sell their property in a more expedited manner and many times for far more money than traditional real estate can bring.” She reports the process has been embraced by sellers, listing agents and buyers.
Since its founding 15 years ago, Supreme Auctions has achieved a 94-percent success rate while selling in 70 different countries. “We’re very selective about the properties we auction, accepting only about 10 percent that come to us,” says Heal, a veteran broker with extensive experience in international marketing. She joined the company more than 12 years ago as director of marketing before ascending to the position of president. The auction process is familiar to Heal, as this is a prevailing means of selling luxury manors and estates in her native England.
Growing up in rural Somerset, Heal frequently attended auctions with her father, a farmer who enjoyed bidding on cattle and antiques. “I was bitten by the bug at an early age, but remember him saying, ‘Keep your hands in your pocket,’” says Heal of those childhood experiences. Even after joining a real estate auction company, the seasoned professional’s development as an actual auctioneer occurred very much by accident.
“I was attending an event to raise money for my son’s school, and the auctioneer never showed up,” recounts Heal. “One of the parents said, ‘You work for an auction company … why don’t you do it?’ and I found myself on stage.” After her reluctant debut, another parent commented, “You’re really good at this!” When she decided to get serious about auctioneering, Heal attended the Texas Auction Academy and additionally the Professional Ringmen’s Institute.
Heal now serves as a charity benefit auctioneer at approximately 50 events per year, but spends a considerable amount of time before each auction with representatives of the nonprofit organization. “I want to thoroughly understand their missions so I can be as effective as possible in raising money for them,” says Heal, who views herself equal parts salesperson and auctioneer. “I see myself as a conduit from the nonprofit to the audience and frequently conduct additional pledge donations at the conclusion of the live auction,” she explains.
“I was attending an event to raise money for my son’s school, and the auctioneer never showed up,” recounts Heal. “One of the parents said, ‘You work for an auction company … why don’t you do it?’ and I found myself on stage.”
Bringing the spirit of Sotheby’s or Christie’s to those nonprofit galas, Heal’s work has benefitted a diverse array of charities, including Ronald McDonald House Charities, YWCA, Phoenix Zoo, Arizona Foundation for Women, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Legendary for covering all costs of a child’s care, as well as the family’s travel, housing and food expenses, St. Jude is a particularly personal passion of Heal’s, whose brother is a brain tumor survivor. The non-profit has selected her to conduct auctions across the country and Heal never declines an opportunity to raise money for its world-class treatment and research.
Back at her day job with Supreme Auctions, Heal is creating a culture in which giving back to the community is strongly encouraged.
Last year, she and her staff participated as a team, cleaning facilities for Family Promise, an organization that rescues homeless families from the streets. This year, they are planning to work together on a Habitat for Humanity house.
Heal, who lives in Scottsdale with her husband and two children, loves the outdoors. “Any day I am not sat behind a desk is a great day,” she quips.