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Tidal Waves of Elegance

Featured image: © / Chinnapong

It’s time to discover these 10 extraordinarily refined places, each with distinctly different waterfront experiences.

Birmingham, Michigan

What’s tucked inside a Great Lakes luxury property? The better question is, what’s not? Aside from fantastic lakefront views, plenty of room for entertaining, and a spot for any water toys you may fancy, the area itself is famously well-known. Janine Grillo, a Keller Williams Domain Associate Broker, tells Unique Homes that the Great Lakes region is the
No. 1 freshwater boating destination in the U.S.

“The sheer size of this territory affords boaters a whole world of fun and a number of diverse places to explore on the water,” she says, noting that every day here feels like a vacation. “This summer, we are finding buyers are looking to enjoy life more, relax (and work) from home. The updated, roomy waterfront properties sell fast,” Grillo says.

Lake Tahoe, Nevada & California

“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine. Bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be? It is the same the angels breathe,” said Mark Twain in describing Lake Tahoe. Chase International President and CEO Shari Chase characterizes it in the same way, recounting this quote from where she calls home, on the Nevada side of the iconic area.

“Lake Tahoe is a real treasure,” Chase says in painting a picture of the 22-mile-long, 12-mile-wide body of water, which is majestically surrounded by mountains. “Everything has a very spiritual essence to it here. The water is beautifully pure, with blues and crystalized greens,” she continues. The land boasts an outdoor lifestyle, where residents can easily take in treasured hiking trails, ski lodges, boating, beaches, art and more. Within one hour of the space are gems such as Virginia City, Genoa, and Jackson, California, which all are filled with wonderful recreation.

Prices here range from $3.75 million to $48 million, with most buyers prioritizing a spacious pier when considering their search.

Chase International Broker Trinkie Watson says that diversity of year-round outdoor activities, alongside good restaurants, art galleries and unique shopping are a huge draw to the area, as well as convenience to Sacramento and the Bay Area. Residents can easily take in treasured hiking trails, ski lodges, boating and beaches. “Whether it’s at the lake or on a beautiful trail in the mountains, it’s all gorgeous,” Watson says.

Londonderry, New Hampshire

The New England waterfront is known for its variety of seasonal landscapes throughout the year. Residents are able to experience the full extent of floral springs, fluttering snowflakes, peaceful waters, and crisp autumn leaves. And right now, in the summertime, the sights could not be better, says Morgan Smith, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty.

“We have hundreds of clean lakes with 360 degrees of spectacular scenery. Owners love to watch the loons, fish off the dock, kayak and waterski, and lazily soak in the clear, fresh water warmed by the sun,” she says. Coastal properties in New England feature properties with rocky ledges, crashing waves, and beaches that can be strolled for miles and miles.

With regard to how the market is faring, lower-than-average inventories are leaving very few properties for sale at a time. Prices of waterfront properties range from $1 million to $25 million, with buyers privy to direct access to the water, spacious frontage, and plenty of room for a watercraft, Smith says. She enjoys her daily life in the area, and wishes to share the elegance with new buyers. “I love spending time in Cape Elizabeth,” she says. “If I can be on a boat (or a hammock), and smell fresh air next to a body of water, I’m happy.”

Coronado, San Diego, California

The California oceanfront is star-studded with luxury at every turn. Coronado, San Diego is absolutely no exception. Broker Associate Scott Aurich of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty has lived in 17 different houses throughout the town and loved every second of it. To get away from it all, Aurich enjoys his early mornings more than anything else; he spends it surfing in tranquil waters, golfing through immaculate links, or entranced by friendly creatures at the stables. He stressed that Coronado camaraderie cannot be replicated anywhere else he’s seen.

Whether it’s the unique amenities the town has to offer, the community center with a gym, or the iconic $34 million Crown Manor estate he is representing, Coronado is truly special. But his favorite piece of home, he says, is the people. “The best thing is the people; it’s hard to describe,” Aurich mentioned. He finds that the kindness of his neighbors is where he feels the most pride. It’s not just Aurich that has noticed the grandeur; the temperature of real estate in Coronado is booming, to say the least. The demand is so high that at press time, only 54 houses were for sale. “The market is white hot,” Aurich said, explaining that the value of homes has gone up exponentially in the last 20 years.

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Door County, Wisconsin, is a gorgeous peninsula with 250 miles of coastline — it’s surrounded by the waters of Lake Michigan on the eastern side, and Green Bay on the western side. For weekenders or vacationers, the area boasts incredible opportunities for sailing, water sports, fishing, boutiques, restaurants and quaint villages that dot the shoreline, explains Jamie Sanger, a managing broker with Coldwell Banker Realty.

The county of Door has fantastic experiences in the arts, theater, and golf courses, but most of all, it is best known for its natural scenic beauty, she tells Unique Homes. With even multimillion-dollar homes and estates selling like hotcakes, any inventory that is available is selling for well over asking price. Sanger feels that her area and the lifestyles awaiting there are in particularly high demand: “I feel the pandemic has fueled our market, in that folks want to be able to ‘get away’ from the urban areas to enjoy a more peaceful, private, and healthy lifestyle,” she continues. This is what she sees in her own hometown as well, Ellison Bay, which she says has stayed tranquil and untouched by development in recent years.

Sarasota, Florida

Over in Sarasota, Candy Swick, president and broker at Candy Swick & Company, is dazzled by the diversity of people she meets every single day. “One minute you are having a conversation with an astronaut, a rocket scientist, an author, or an international ballet virtuoso from Russia,” she says.

Swick describes the water in Sarasota as “Carribean blue,” alongside a breeze that drifts in soft and cooling. Residents can enjoy multitudes of water sports, a world-class ice skating rink where Olympic figure skaters have trained, and ballet and opera performances.

As for the price tag, luxury homes are running from $2 million to
$20 million. Houses are frequently selling the day they enter the market, at list price or often in a situation with multiple offers. A typical bayfront home in Sarasota starts at $2.5 million, where buyers can view the magic, nightlife, and restaurants outlining the entire city. “We know that if an individual desired to enjoy a new restaurant for lunch and another for dinner, it would take more than a year to explore them all,” Swick said.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

“Think of a place that has beautiful beaches, with crystal-clear water and clean, silky-smooth sand; a place that is known as the yacht capital of the world, with spectacular vessels cruising in daily through the port,” says Shai Mashiach, a Coldwell Banker Realty agent, in painting a picture of his beloved home.

He notes that in the bustling housing market, several waterfront neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale are in high demand; particularly Las Olas and Harbor Beach, where prices start in the millions. Mashiach noted the convenience of the area as well; it’s only a one-hour boat ride to the Bahamas, a 30-minute drive south to Miami or north to Palm Beach, and one hour to the Florida Keys. “It’s a place that has the best restaurants, great nightlife, and magnificent people from around the globe,” he continued.

As far as his personal favorite to-dos, Mashiach and his family enjoy quality time on the water, fishing, or docking at a favorite restaurant on the Intracoastal for a spectacular meal. “From yoga on the beach to amazing deep-water fishing, Fort Lauderdale has a wonderful ambiance and everything you need to enjoy life,” he says.

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico is known as one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world. A hundred-plus feet of visibility in the pristine, cobalt water is perfect for a deep dive, whether you’re a novice or expert. “The clarity of the water is just extraordinary,” says Cindy Case, a Realtor with Douglas Elliman. The island takes pride in differentiating itself from the mainland; as opposed to cities like Cancun, Cozumel boasts a private, more intimate community.

“It’s a unique, small island with a very relaxed vibe,” Case says. Yet, this does not eliminate the availability of ample restaurants, shopping, and hospital care. There are many properties available for sale along the water, and well-priced at that. Case notes the affordability of property on such a prime Caribbean island. When recalling her favorites, Case enjoys beach hopping along the backside of the island; she treasures the chain of beautiful, wide, white-sand beaches with restaurants and bars.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Picture year-round warm weather and sunshine, vast cultural diversity and delicacies, and a fabulous cosmopolitan lifestyle when thinking of residential life in Honolulu, Hawaii, says Tracy Allen of Coldwell Banker Realty.

“Breathtaking hikes along the Ko’olau mountain ranges and scenic coastal trails offer incredible vistas second to none. Visitors and residents love the vast cultural foods found in Hawaii, and come to the island to enjoy many different dining experiences,” Allen describes.

For purchases on the water, prices start at around $6 million, and can range from $8 million to $20 million as well. Allen says that waterfront homes in the area have generally been built within the last 10 years, and include modern touches such as lighter wood tones, smart technology, gyms, home offices, and large, professional kitchens.

Surfing, paddle boarding, kite surfing, jet skiing, and canoe paddling are just a few activities keeping residents entertained. Allen wants buyers to know: if you’re looking for a diverse experience, Hawaii is for you. And when asked her perfect way to spend a day, her answer is simple; “The beach! You can never go wrong with our turquoise crystal-clear waters!”

Kaua’i, Hawaii

In another part of the islands, luxury on Kaua’i translates to “soulful” according to Hawaii Life broker Neal Norman. It is that very soul and heart that keeps residents smiling in the sunshine, just as Norman found himself when he moved in 25 years ago.

“We’re seeing purposeful buyers who want to live the lifestyle: that luxury, soulful living that Kaua’i provides,” Norman says. In the North Shore region where he is located, buyers and sellers are connected on the ocean view at a variety of prices, ranging from $3 million to $50 million. Dream homes are purchased on the daily in this blue-sky paradise, where residents can spend quality time with loved ones and friends.

Offering numerous outdoor endeavors, hiking, surfing, sailing, snorkeling, swimming, beach combing and biking are just a few of the fantastic opportunities in Kaua’i. “Buyers are finding solitude and serenity on this little island in the Pacific Sea,” Norman says. “Kaua’i is a rare and special place.”


More than a football team, The Green Bay Packers have a real estate arm called Titletown Development LLC. Together, phase two of the mixed-use real estate development in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, will include approximately 220 residences and a four- or five-story office building by summer 2020.

Settled directly west of Lambeau Field, Titletown includes a spacious public park and plaza, outdoor games, the Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine & Orthopedics Clinic, and more for everyone to enjoy. “While many are under the impression that Titletown will strictly attract Green Bay fans, it’s our mission to go above and beyond the demographics. We’ve already received interest in our residences on a global scale,” says Ed Policy, the chief operating officer and general counsel of the Green Bay Packers.

Phase two of the project is set to begin construction in spring 2019 and will bring up to 150 units in an apartment building that varies in size, 70 to 90 residences of various styles of townhomes, and an office building with the space to allow for 400 workers. “It’s a unique position to be able to see what this new community will evolve into, especially considering our expectation of attracting more notable retail and commercial businesses as we grow,” says Policy.

Rendering courtesy of KTGY Architecture + Planning.

At the International Builders’ Show, John Burns Real Estate Consulting identified six new home construction and repair/remodeling design trends.

Backed by significant consumer research — which has become easier thanks to consumer behavior on websites such as Houzz and Pinterest — building products companies continue to offer new products to stay one step ahead of the competition. John Burns Real Estate Consulting’s growing building products research and consulting business, as well as its DesignLens™ business, continue to help the company inform its expanding builder and developer clients.

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies open the door to whole-home connectivity. 

Amazon’s Alexa and other personal assistants have opened the flood gates for smart home products, especially in plumbing, appliances and home security.

  • Plumbing: Companies debuting the latest smart bathroom products at 2018 International Builders’ Show included Moen, Delta, KOHLER and American Standard.
  • Appliances: ioT connected products for the kitchen and other parts of the home were also on full display. ioT connectivity is important because it makes using smart products throughout the home a seamless, user‐friendly experience.
  • Home Security: Smart products related to home security have been around for a few years, but companies like Broan‐NuTone and Baldwin have rolled out new introductions with enhanced features including voice‐control though Amazon and Microsoft platforms.

Labor efficient products take center stage. 

Building product manufacturers continue to invest in products that streamline the installation processes, with KATERRA’s large booth the poster child for potential labor disruption this year.

  • Turn‐Key Construction Solutions: KATERRA’s booth highlighted its plans to revolutionize construction, controlling nearly every part of the value chain from procurement of raw materials to framing and finish work. It plans to be a one‐stop shop for production building, controlling cabinet manufacturing, finish plumbing installation and wood floor manufacturing.
  • Wall Panels: Manufacturers have been designing products that eliminate labor in the framing process for several years. At the 2018 International Builders’ ShowHuber Engineered Woods debuted advanced versions of its R-Series Modular Wall Sheathing Panels, in four different thicknesses, as insulated wall panel solutions for various climates. Structural wood panels with protective barriers eliminate the need for house wrap and on-site framing. It also provides a continuous barrier to moisture and air that optimizes energy efficiency.
  • House Wrap/Seals: Residential‐grade sealants and tapes have been around for decades but companies are beginning to design better, more forgiving products that create efficiencies in the framing process.  Many companies, including DuPont and Georgia Pacific, introduced new flexible tapes that cover wide  surface areas while creating tight seals around exterior wall outlets or between structural panels. Framing crews can spend less time measuring and cutting outlets to precise fits because these products  seal any imperfections that exist as a result of a quick cut.
  • Fittings: A modular under the sink rough‐in plumbing solution that eliminates the need for on the job‐site pipe fabrication, sweating and sealing was launched by Keeney Manufacturing Co this year. The pipes can be connected in just three steps, similar to other labor‐eliminating quick‐connect fittings and supplies on the market.
  • Plumbing: Updating a shower is one of the most expensive, labor intensive components of a bathroom remodel. In recent years, many plumbing manufacturers have launched retro‐fit  ‘custom‐shower’ solutions that allow plumbers to upgrade a shower without going behind the wall, saving time and money for the installer and homeowner.

Engineered products offer better design and less maintenance. 

Engineered products look increasingly like their natural counterparts, often at better or comparable prices, and continue to offer meaningful value propositions to the trade and consumers.

  • Windows and Doors: Door manufacturers continue to build lower‐maintenance doors made from metal or composites that look just like solid wood alternatives.
  • Structural Lumber: LP debuted a new subfloor, infused with Gorilla Glue, that it markets as stronger and  more water resistant than traditional OSB.
  • Decking: Trex and other composite decking manufacturers continue to expand offerings that make deck installation and maintenance simpler for the installer and homeowner.
  • Engineered Wood Products: Weyerhaeuser launched a new parallam® that it claims is one of the most durable engineered wood beams on the market and it comes in the form of a fireplace mantel — a unique application that has become fashionable in interior design.
  • Siding: Companies continue to develop siding made from metal or composites that offer the look of wood but are designed to shorten installation times and eliminate maintenance for the homeowner.
  • Plumbing: Paneling solutions for custom showers continue to gain popularity in the custom‐shower  segment as these products not only eliminate labor (panels are far less labor intensive than tile), but they also requires less homeowner maintenance (no grout, fewer leak paths). Although plumbing  manufacturers have been designing similar products for years, solid surface and laminate manufacturers such as Wilsonart are now introducing products for this segment as well.
  • Countertops and Surfaces:  Engineered Stone (also known as ‘Quartz’) product offerings continue  to grow, emphasizing easier to maintain products than natural stone slabs like granite, marble and  soapstone. Consumers often prefer engineered designs because the factory‐controlled process provides a consistent look. With major laminate and solid surface players such as Corian making large investments in this now very‐competitive market, prices may come down as more capacity comes online.

Black is back. 

Black finishes dominate the appliance, plumbing, hardware and window/door exhibits.
In the design community, it’s often difficult to delineate between what is fast‐fashion and what will become a mass trend. In 2018, it is clear that black finishes are a huge trend in the building products industry. Home appliance  manufacturers debuted ‘black stainless’ several years ago, and plumbing, hardware and window and door manufacturers have quickly followed. Mixed metals, perhaps a developing trend, often include black as well.

Customizing becomes simpler. 

Customized product offerings this year focused on minimizing costs and complexity for the consumer. Standouts included private-label hardware options, mix-and-match handle/spout colors and finishes and appliance panel customizing options.
The design community and homeowners love choice. Custom product specification has historically been a complex and expensive process, but product manufacturers have invested heavily in lines that offer the customer more options to truly customize or personalize a space. Higher‐end finishes such as specialty door hardware no longer need to be specified from a separate vendor or commissioned made‐to‐order from local artisans. Today, consumers can get similar modifications directly from the door, cabinet, appliance or window manufacturer, making product customization easier than ever.

Design has shifted to ultramodern.

Exhibitors highlighted ultramodern interior designs in the 2018 International Builders’ Show, mirroring the home builder shift to ultramodern home elevations.
Many new product launches across categories leaned ultramodern in their design aesthetic, mirroring the home builder shift to ultramodern home elevations. Themes included large/oversized formats in doors, surfaces and plumbing products; modern cubist/geometric design in tile, surfaces and plumbing products; and unique ombre finishes.

Photo courtesy of Steve Basten at John Burns Real Estate Consulting

State capitals are oftentimes thriving cities with a lot of economic and cultural value. In fact, they can be some of the best places to live in America. But not all state capitals are created equal. WalletHub has put together a list of 2018’s Best State Capitals to live in. And though 17 of them are the largest cities in their states, the biggest population doesn’t always represent the best quality of life.
In order to determine which state capitals make the best homes, WalletHub compared all 50 across 51 key indicators of affordability, economic strength, quality of education and health, and overall living standards. Our data set ranges from cost of living to K–12 school-system quality to number of attractions.

Best State Capitals to Live In

  1. Austin, TX
  2. Madison, WI
  3. Boise, ID
  4. Lincoln, NE
  5. Bismarck, ND
  6. Raleigh, NC
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Salt Lake City, UT
  9. Juneau, AK
  10. Concord, NH
  11.  Columbus, OH
  12. Helena, MT
  13. Olympia, WA
  14. Oklahoma City, OK
  15. St. Paul, MN
  16. Cheyenne, WY
  17. Montpelier, VT
  18. Pierre, SD
  19. Des Moines, IA
  20. Phoenix, AZ

Pictured above: Columbus, OH waterfront; Oklahoma City, OK

Out of these places:

  • Juneau, Alaska, has the highest median household income (adjusted for cost of living), $67,310, which is 2.6 times higher than in Hartford, Connecticut, the city with the lowest at $26,264.
  • Bismarck, North Dakota, has the lowest unemployment rate, 1.7 percent, which is 4.6 times lower than in Hartford, Connecticut, the city with the highest at 7.8 percent.
  • Providence, Rhode Island, has the lowest share of state-, local- and federal-government employees, 8.4 percent, which is 4.6 times lower than in Juneau, Alaska, the city with the highest at 38.4 percent.
  • Madison, Wisconsin has the highest share of adults 25 years and older with at least a bachelor’s degree, 56.3 percent, which is 4.7 times higher than in Trenton, New Jersey, the city with the lowest at 11.9 percent.

For the full story, and the entire list of best small cities, visit

Phoneix, AZ

Denver, CO

Priced at $10.5 million, this is the most expensive home ever listed in Southeastern Wisconsin.

“Minnewoc,” one of Lake Country’s most stunning estates, is a replica of Anne Boleyn’s castle built in 1892. It has undergone a beautiful renovation and expansion in the last few years. The home also offers more than 800 feet of pristine lake frontage and a private island. Both inside and out, the home provides some of the finest entertaining space.

America’s Most Expensive Homes
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