Charlie Sheen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Palin. If you can name the reasons why those names captured the lion’s share of celebrity real estate coverage on Zillow Blog in 2011, you’re a true celeb-watcher. Don’t forget a variety of other celebrity real estate transactions that involved Ashton, Jen, The Donald and Bruce.
But in terms of page views, Facebook shares, tweets and comments, the real attention grabbers on Zillow Blog for 2011 fell to the Mushroom House, two humongous real estate sales that involved international buyers and a unique home along Lake Erie that was designed and owned by the inventor of the drop ceiling, Don Brown. Enjoy the Zillow blog trip back through 2011.
See Most Popular Posts for 2011:
1. Mushroom House
There’s a reason this home had more than 1,000 Facebook shares and captured the fancy of our readers — it’s fun! Located in the woods in upstate New York, the whimsical Mushroom House (above) features five, interconnected “pods” in the shape of mushrooms. Who would want to live in a traditional home when you can live in a mushroom? It is still for sale for $799,900.
Not only did the late Don Brown invent the ubiquitous drop ceiling, but he created his own Shangri-la in Ohio, called Waterwood Estate (above). Located along the shores of Lake Erie, it consists of 60,000 square feet on 160 acres. The estate contains underground streets and stories of Dobermans being released every two hours to patrol the grounds. Pretty wild. The estate is still for sale for $19.5 million.
She is British, 22 years old and the heiress to the Formula One auto rating empire. She is Petra Eccelstone as well as the new owner of the gigantic Spelling Manor (above). The manor is the former home of the late TV mega-producer Aaron Spelling and his wife, Candy. Listed for $150 million, Eccelstone paid $85 million in July.
If you think the sale of the Spelling Manor for $85 million was the talk of the town, how about Russian investor Yuri Milner’s purchase of a French chateau-style mansion (above) in Silicon Valley for $100 million? It is the highest known price paid for a single-family home in the U.S.
Who can resist thinking about how homes will evolve in future years? Our readers ate this one up and wanted to know what changes are coming. For one, homes will be smaller — an average of 2,150 square feet instead of the current 2,400 square feet (above). And, some rooms will go away altogether. Do you know which ones?
6. Many Buyers Don’t Understand Mortgage Basics
Let’s face it: Getting a mortgage is not a pleasant experience. But, for perhaps the biggest monetary investment any of us will make in our lifetime, knowing the lingo and how the process works should be a priority before we sign on many dotted lines. Yet, our recent mortgage survey reveals that nearly half of prospective buyers don’t understand essential information about mortgages, including details about loan types, mortgage rates, fees and loan qualification requirements. which can cost them money. Think you know your way around mortgages? Take the quiz!
7. How to Lower Your Property Taxes
This post struck a chord with many homeowners for good reason. Since jurisdictions peg property tax rates to assessed values of homes and since our home values have been sliding since market peak in May 2007, why pay higher taxes than what your home is worth? Bingo! This post explains how to fight the good fight and get your property taxes lowered. Don’t know how much you pay? There’s a tax table on most properties in the U.S..Enter your home’s address here and scroll down to “Tax History” to see how much you’re paying in taxes.
These homes are in a league of their own — the league of millionaires and billionaires, that is. Led by the Spelling Manor, which sold earlier this year, this always-popular list includes the priciest homes for sale in the U.S. and they all have one thing in common: sheer mass. Plus, most carry over-the-top amenities such as private elevators, helipads, theater rooms, ornate fountains, grand staircases and the occasional tennis court and private gym. This post ran in May, so some homes may have sold or been removed from the market. The photo above is of the Woolworth Mansion in New York City, which is still for sale for $90 million.
It all started with a tiny dome home listed for sale for $74,000 in the Taos Desert (above), which spawned a bigger-sized story about dome homes in America. Not only are dome homes energy efficient and easy to build, but they can better withstand hurricanes and tornadoes due to their aerodynamic shape. Needless to say, these homes are becoming a big hit in the tornado-prone Midwest. But, which wall to put the couch against?
10. The Consequences of Walking Away
It’s been a rough year. Scratch that. The past five years have been rough. When the market started sliding downward and unemployment rose, home values declined and the burden of paying mortgages on underwater homes created a whole new way of thinking, even considerations of leaving a mortgage. But who would ever do something so… dire? Unfortunately, dire times require bold moves, such as walking away from your mortgage. Lots of people did it and are doing it. While we do not advocate this move, you should know the consequences.
And Last, But Not Least: Celebrity Real Estate
Every day, we scour the news to help chronicle the stars’ real estate comings and goings. It’s fascinating to watch their progression from modest homes to fancier digs as their star rises, or when it falls due to — ahem — transgressions in behavior. Here are some of the most popular celebrity posts this year. Enjoy!
- Beach House from “Beverly Hills 90210” Listed for $8,999,000 — We really can’t explain why this post rose to the top of the heap, but it took off like wildfire. Amazing.
- Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Former Home Listed — In putting the timeline together, this is the home where the Governator admitted to fathering a child during a long-term affair with the housekeeper. Ouch.
- Report: Sarah Palin Buys Scottsdale, AZ Home — The former Alaska Governor could get a hang nail and create news, so when this rumor started swirling, the blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree. And yes, it is true.
- Katharine Hepburn’s Former Family Estate Listed — Screen great Katharine Hepburn survived a category 5 hurricane while visiting her family in this home in 1938 and she had it rebuilt a year later. No wonder they called her Kate the Great.
- Charlie Sheen Lists Sherman Oaks Home for $7.2 Million — Discretion was not a characteristic of the former star of “Two and a Half Men,” who proudly lived with his “goddesses” at this address. Winning!
- Steve Jobs’ Housing Legacy Includes a Hotplate — Apple’s brilliant founder and CEO was a billionaire, but even he found himself cooking with a hotplate during a home renovation. RIP, Mr. Jobs.