What to Get a New Homeowner for the Holidays

You’re almost done with your list of people to get gifts for this holiday season, but you may be stumped on what to get the new homeowner.  A gift card to that person’s favorite clothing store might have sufficed in the past, but perhaps he or she needs something a bit more practical this year … like a drill. Here are a few gift ideas for the person in your life with a new address (and new needs) this holiday season.

Holiday Ornaments and Decorations

Charlotte NC Christmas

What better way to commemorate a homeowner’s first holiday in a new home than with new holiday ornaments and decorations! It’s something that can be used year after year. It’s affordable and thoughtful!

Potted Herb Plant

House Plants

If the person on your list loves cooking or plants (or both!), a potted herb plant is perfect. There is plenty of room for variety, too. Get your new homeowner a mixture of herbs, such as chives, basil and cilantro. It’s the gift that will keep on giving all year round.


Charlotte NC Food

When someone is moving and unpacking, cooking is always difficult. Festive snacks or fresh local coffee beans will keep your loved one’s spirits (and energy) high during this transition into being a homeowner this holiday season. A homemade dish would also be appreciated. If you don’t have time to cook, you can always pick up takeout from a favorite restaurant.

Local Magazine Subscription

Charlotte newspaper

If the person in your life just moved to a new city, gift a subscription to a local magazine. The city’s magazine will come in handy when the new homeowner want to learn about the hot spots for restaurants or bars and will give ideas for cool things to do in the area.

Gift Certificate for a Local Restaurant

Charlotte gift cert

Do some research and find the best spots to dine in your loved one’s new area. Find a restaurant you think he or she would like and get a gift certificate. You may be introducing a new favorite local spot!

Tool Kit

Charlotte NC tools

A tool kit is a great gift for anyone who just got into a new home. With so many different tools out there, you may have a hard time deciding which tools are the best ones to gift for your loved one. Here is a list of a few “starter tools” your giftee will be thanking you for:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Cordless drill
  • Tape measure

Welcome Mat

Real Estate home mat

Nothing says home sweet home like a welcome mat at your doorstep. This will make the person on your list feel even more at home. It also keeps guests from tracking dirt inside that new home.

Last but Not Least … Offer Some Holiday Help

Charlotte Charity

If you are a close friend to the new homeowner, offer to help with home-related tasks, like rearranging furniture or meeting a furniture delivery service or contractor while your friend is at work. Even offering to walk the dog or take the kids for a couple of hours would be a fantastic gift for someone who is short on time and energy from getting settled into a new place.

The Best Neighborhoods to See Holiday Lights in 2014

 Christmas Lights

It starts the day after Thanksgiving … people adorn their homes with twinkling lights and holiday decorations, turning the neighborhood or the entire city into a winter wonderland. While most people choose to place just a few strings of lights on the roofline, there’s always at least one home that goes all out with inflatable snowmen, plastic reindeer and thousands of lights, like Clark Griswold’s home in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Every longtime resident knows of at least one Griswold-style home in their area; word spreads and, soon enough, hundreds of families come to visit each year. But for people who have just moved to a city, it can be difficult to know where to see the best holiday lights and decorations.

Compiled is a list of the five best neighborhoods to see holiday lights in the nation and in 34 metropolitan areas around the U.S. For the most part, these are old-fashioned home displays that don’t cost a thing, making a trip out to see them a budget-friendly holiday activity for friends and families.

Here are the top five neighborhoods in the U.S. for 2014:

Dyker Heights – Brooklyn, NY
“Christmas Town” – McAdenville, NC
Interlochen – Arlington, TX
“Miracle on 34th Street” – Baltimore, MD
Peacock Lane – Portland, OR
McAdenville, North Carolina, and the Interlochen neighborhood of Arlington, Texas, made the top five list, replacing South 13th Street in Philadelphia and 37th Street in Austin.

McAdenville’s nickname is Christmas Town, thanks to the elaborate displays that the residents put up every year. There are more than 375 lighted trees and 200 wreaths adorning the lamp posts, and most residents decorate their homes, drawing a crowd of more than 600,000 people each year! In Interlochen, there are more than 200 homes decorated with extravagant displays, and it has become a holiday tradition for friends and families in North Texas to make the drive out to see the lights.

Nick Nolte Sells Home

home for sale

Nick Nolte just sold his home in Malibu for $3.9 million; that’s $4.3 million less than the original asking price!  The 73-year-old actor listed the house in April 2013 for $8.25 million, but the property’s price has been lowered significantly since it hit the market. The home’s new owner certainly got a deal on the actor’s former residence, which spans 6,006 square feet and sits on over two acres of land.

Nick Nolte sells home

The property’s grounds are absolutely gorgeous with a touch of romance, landscaped with sycamore and pine trees. Inside, the home is just as romantic as the outside, with Italian marble floors, French doors and windows, high vaulted ceilings and carved wooden fireplaces. A mahogany arched entranceway with onyx floors leads into a spacious living room with plenty of natural light coming from the skylights above. The property also has a two-bedroom, three-bathroom guest house, tennis court and a pool and spa in the backyard, making this estate feel more like a vacation destination than a home.

Nick Nolte house for sale

Nolte, who has been nominated for three Academy Awards, must have a passion for music as well as acting; the 17th listing photo shows a room full of guitars. Other photos reveal décor with an Asian influence, including two Chinese guardian lion statues at the entrance into the living room.

Luxury Homes For Celebrities

When it comes to real estate, celebrities flock together — and they will pay top dollar to do so. Take Malibu Colony in California. Tucked behind guarded gates, the beachfront community was constructed in the 1920s and quickly became a favorite vacation hub of Hollywood’s elite. Nearly a century later, the list of residents of the enclave, comprised of postage stamp-sized lots packed with large houses, still reads like a red carpet event, with celebs like Tom Hanks and Jason Statham shelling out millions to live there.

“In Malibu Colony you can literally jump off your deck into the sand. It’s guard-gated and you’re walking distance to the best shopping and restaurants in Malibu,” says Chad Rogers, a luxury real estate agent with Hilton and Hyland in the Los Angeles area.

Still, two of the Colony’s A-list celebrities are looking to sell: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jim Carrey. In November, DiCaprio listed his Cape Cod-style compound for $23 million after attempting to lease it out for $75,000 per month during the summer rental season. Included in the hefty price tag is a four-bedroom main house, a detached two-bedroom guesthouse and a third detached loft with gym, media room and office – all squeezed onto less than half an acre of land. Not included is an address inside the gates; the actor’s home technically lies just west of the guardhouse.

At $14 million, funnyman Jim Carrey’s Colony home isn’t quite as big by neighborhood standards. Occupying 0.17 of an acre, it touts five bedrooms, five-and-a-half baths, a rooftop deck with a hot tub and a private patch of ocean frontage. More than the miniscule lot size, Carrey’s property parcel is narrow – a mere 27 feet in width compared to the “roomier” 30 to 33 feet of neighbors’ lots.

Carrey and DiCaprio are two of about 25 celebrities looking to offload eight-figure homes right now. With the help of Realtor.com and Trulia.com, we scoured through listings and property records to find the most expensive celebrity homes currently for sale in the U.S.

Los Angeles’ Platinum Triangle – comprised of Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills — is where the kind of glitterati who escape to Malibu Colony on the weekends have their main digs. Homes in the Triangle boast the most precious celebrity amenity: privacy. There are two types of properties there: multi-acre estates situated down long driveways behind tall hedges, and side-by-side mansions located in guard-gated developments.

Songstress Christina Aguilera is asking $13.5 million for her Beverly Hills abode. Sitting behind private gates on Doheny Road, the pink-hued 10,000-square-foot manse has six bedrooms, nine baths, a gym, a beauty salon, a gift-wrapping area and a pool with water slide in the backyard. The guesthouse, perhaps not surprisingly, has a recording studio.

Actor-producer Mark Wahlberg has relisted the Beverly Hills home on Oak Pass he has been trying to shuck since 2008. Originally listed for $15.9 million, the new asking price is $13 million. The estate includes an 11,500-square foot mansion, a two-bedroom guest house, a 2,500-square-foot gym with boxing ring, a pool with a grotto, and a putting green. The Massachusetts native also created a Boston Celtics-themed basketball court on the 1.7-acre property. The Ted star is reportedly upsizing into a custom-built 33,000-square foot compound in another nearby Platinum Triangle community, Beverly Park.

A celebrity name won’t increase the value of a property, but it helps in marketing, says Joyce Rey, a Coldwell Banker Previews International agent who has sold homes for the likes of Ringo Starr, Goldie Hawn, Nicholas Cage, Renee Zellweger and Maria Shriver.

In some cases, particularly for homes associated with dead icons, sellers hope that history will lure moneyed collectors. Four homes on our list have been marketed this way, including the $30 million former family home of screen legend Katharine Hepburn. The listing for the Old Saybrook, Conn., compound even invokes the actress’ romantic relationship with Howard Hughes, noting that in the 1930s and 1940s, he “landed his seaplane directly in front of the home.”

Still, a boldface name does not guarantee a sale. Rapper 50 Cent has been trying to shed his 48,515-square foot Farmington, Conn. mansion since 2007. Initially priced at $18.5 million, it’s been discounted to $10 million. The hulking Hartford-area home occupies nearly 18 acres and boasts 19 bedrooms, 25 full baths, multiple kitchens, a racquet ball court, indoor and outdoor pools, a shooting range and a 3,500-square-foot night club with lighted dance floor.

In California, NFL great Joe Montana’s 500-acre Napa Valley estate debuted on the sale block with a $49 million price tag in 2009. He dropped it to $35 million in January. It has a 9,700-square foot Tuscan-style house, equestrian facilities, a basketball court, a skeet-shooting range, a bocce ball court and an olive farm. According to the property’s listing, Montana has described his eponymous ‘Villa Montana’ estate as “an expression of art and architecture.”

Greg Hardy Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panther Greg Hardy’s assault case brings new twists: Restraining order suit dismissed; guns must be turned in; argument linked to rapper Nelly

CHARLOTTE The domestic violence case against the Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy took several surprising twists Thursday, with the dismissal of the accuser’s request for a restraining order, a court order that the Pro Bowl defensive end turn over his weapons, and a link to the rapper Nelly.

In new documents filed in the case, Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Becky Thorne Tin ordered Hardy to surrender all of his firearms as an added condition of his bond.

Nicole Holder, 24, who alleges Hardy beat her up at his apartment early Tuesday, told authorities Hardy keeps a cache of 25 to 30 firearms at his two Charlotte residences. Holder says her arm was cut and her back bruised when Hardy slammed her into a futon covered with guns, according to documents filed in the case.

Christopher Fialko, Hardy’s attorney, said this week it was Holder who attacked Hardy.

When Holder failed to show up for a hearing Thursday to consider her protective order request, District Court Judge Charlotte Brown dismissed the case.

Holder, a waitress at an EpiCentre nightclub, has told authorities she and Hardy broke up in March, when she moved out of Hardy’s home, according to documents. Holder said she and Hardy were trying to reconcile, but that Holder’s “short-lived relationship” with Nelly during their breakup was a continuing source of friction. Holder said Hardy “often becomes suddenly very angry.”

Nelly, 39, is a Grammy-winning artist and a part owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Holder told police she and Hardy went out drinking with friends Monday night before returning to Hardy’s uptown residence on North Tryon Street, documents show.

Holder says she was lying in bed with Hardy when “he just snapped,” according to the warrant worksheet. Holder says Hardy threw her to the floor, tossed her into a tile bathtub and slammed her into a futon.

She also says Hardy twice choked her during the altercation, leaving welts on her collarbone. Holder says Hardy “threw her around several times” and “beat the (expletive) out of me.”

Holder told investigators she swung her heeled shoe at Hardy several times while defending herself, and began screaming loudly and cursing. Holder said Hardy then began videotaping her and agitating her, “trying to get her to flip out on him,” according to the documents.

Holder said the two continued fighting “back and forth” until another woman in Hardy’s apartment woke up and left with Holder.

In a 911 call Hardy made about 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, he told dispatchers Holder was attacking him with her shoe and repeatedly refused to leave his apartment.

After declining medical treatment at the scene, Holder later went to the emergency room, according to her former attorney.

It’s unclear how Holder feels about the criminal case. In addition to not showing up for Thursday’s hearing, she has parted ways with attorney Stephen Goodwin of Matthews.

Asked whether Holder is still cooperating with prosecutors, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said professional ethics “prevent our office from discussing details of a pending case.”

Holder did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.

The prosecution of domestic violence cases doesn’t rely solely on the victim’s participation. The district attorney’s spokeswoman said Thursday the charges are still pending. Hardy is scheduled to be back in court June 27.

New bond terms

Hardy, 25 and in his fifth season with the Panthers, was not in court Thursday. Hardy, who is 6 feet 4 and 290 pounds, has been charged with assaulting a female and communicating threats, both misdemeanors.

He was released on $17,000 bond Wednesday and ordered to attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week and to stay away from Holder. Judge Tin amended the bond requirements Thursday, ordering Hardy to turn over “any and all weapons and firearms currently in his possession or to which he could otherwise have ready access to,” according to documents.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Julia Rush said she expected deputies to visit Hardy’s home and ask for the weapons as early as Thursday night. The judge’s handwritten order is not a search warrant, and deputies will not be able to enter Hardy’s apartment without his permission, Rush said.

Fialko, Hardy’s attorney, said he was aware of the order but declined to comment.

Thursday’s hearing was to consider Holder’s request that Hardy be barred from her home, the EpiCentre and the home of her parents in an adjacent county.

Judge Brown dismissed Holder’s request for the restraining order when Holder wasn’t in court for the early afternoon hearing. Brown also accepted Goodwin’s request to withdraw as counsel.

After Brown signed his release, the attorney walked back to his briefcase, clearly shaking his head. Outside the courtroom, Goodwin repeatedly declined comment, although he did say irreconcilable differences led to the break.

Players watching case

Hardy’s arrest comes just more than two months after he signed a one-year contract guaranteeing him $13.1 million for this season.

When the Panthers secured Hardy in February, general manager Dave Gettleman said the team would “continue to look at the future of Greg with the Carolina Panthers.”

The Panthers recently agreed to give Hardy a $1.3 million salary advance – 10 percent of his guarantee – if he attended all of the team’s offseason workouts.

After Hardy spent Tuesday night in jail, he and agent Drew Rosenhaus met with the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Middle linebacker and team captain Luke Kuechly indicated Thursday that Hardy hasn’t been at the workouts this week.

Kuechly, at an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway connected to Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, said players are waiting to see how Hardy’s case unfolds.

“We have to wait to see what happens with the whole deal, that’s the biggest thing,” Kuechly said. “It’s speculation right now, and we need to see what happens.”

Asked whether Hardy’s arrest has been a distraction, Kuechly said: “I don’t think so. We wish we had Greg there (at optional practices) with us. But like I said, we’ll see how it all shakes out.”

Dueling 911 tapes

Holder, who says in documents she began dating Hardy in September, filed for the restraining order Wednesday, one day after arrest warrants say Hardy assaulted her and threatened to kill her.

Both Hardy and Holder were intoxicated at the time of the incident, according to Judge Tin.

Fialko, Hardy’s attorney, said Holder set off the Tuesday morning fracas by attacking the player and a friend, Sammy Curtis.

Wednesday afternoon, authorities released a series of 911 tapes connected to the case. In one, a heavily breathing Hardy describes Holder as out of control, intoxicated and trying to attack him with the heel of her shoe.

“Like, yo, she’s out of it, my man,” Hardy tells the 911 operator. “And she will not stop coming at me, bro.”

In another call, apparently made from the security desk of Hardy’s building, a woman who claims to have attended the gathering at Hardy’s home yells that a woman had been beaten there for more than 30 minutes.

“We need the police here now before this girl gets seriously hurt. Now!” she said.

At the bond hearing Wednesday morning, Judge Tin said Holder’s injuries and the nature of the allegations against Hardy “raise concerns” about Holder’s safety. Staff writer Jim Utter contributed.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/15/4911720/carolina-panthers-greg-hardy-case.html#storylink=cpy

Benham brothers lose HGTV show after ‘anti-gay’ remarks

(CNN) — Twin brothers David and Jason Benham have lost their opportunity to host their own HGTV show.

The brothers ran afoul of the network after the site Right Wing Watch published a post about the pair, labeling David Benham as an “anti-gay, anti-choice extremist” for reportedly leading a prayer rally in 2012 outside of the Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The site posted a recording of Benham talking to a talk show host about “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation” and “demonic ideologies” taking hold in colleges and public schools.

Benham also discusses the fight for North Carolina’s Amendment One, which involved a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state constitution.

The Benham brothers were the planned stars of the HGTV show “Flip It Forward,” set to premiere in October, in which they would have helped families purchase homes they otherwise could not afford. An April press release described the planned show this way: “After a decade of flipping houses for profit, brothers David Benham and Jason Benham now help families buy the homes they never thought they could afford. In each episode, the guys help a deserving family find a fixer-upper and transform it into their forever home – with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry between the brothers along the way.”

But after the post went public, HGTV tweeted, “HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series.”

The pair responded with the following statement:

“The first and last thought on our minds as we begin and end each day is: have we shined Christ’s light today? Our faith is the fundamental calling in our lives, and the centerpiece of who we are. As Christians we are called to love our fellow man. Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying.

“Over the last decade, we’ve sold thousands of homes with the guiding principle of producing value and breathing life into each family that has crossed our path, and we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views.

“We were saddened to hear HGTV’s decision. With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals. If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”

There is also a YouTube video of David Benham speaking at a “celebration” of a closing of an abortion clinic in 2013. Website GlobalFlare.com, which emphasizes “positive news and entertainment,” called it a “smear campaign” against the brothers. The organization Faith Driven Consumer, which started a campaign in support of Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” has launched #FlipThisDecision, a petition aimed at reinstating the HGTV show.

Construction of the Siegel Versailles Palace Resumes

David Siegel, owner of Westgate Resorts, and his wife Jackie have resumed building their 13 bedroom, 23 bathroom home near Orlando Florida. This American Dream home, astutely named Versailles, is to be a stunning physical mark of the Siegel legacy. The two year construction time is expected to involve hundreds of workers, and they are highly anticipating its completion. It was estimated to be worth over $100 million before construction, so one can only imagine the price tag after its completion.



Luxury Home For Sale

The home is to include ten kitchens, two elevators, two movie theaters, a roller rink and a bowling alley for entertainment. A full personal spa will also be built for a private place to relax and unwind. Three large pools are planned to be built throughout the property, equipped with a waterfall and four-story grand ballroom designed to hold over 500 people.



Luxury real estate

The house, which was once on the market for $100 million, will be the couple’s residence when it’s finished, Siegel said. Due to the receding economy and Siegel’s struggle to stay afloat during the recession, construction was put on hold in 2009 and put up for sale upon foreclosure. Siegel is now recovering, reporting that Westgate business is up 50% this year. He says he’s leaner and meaner with how he runs his business and is no longer reliant on banks who he says are there where you don’t need them and are gone when you do. Although the company is much smaller than when it started, he reports that it is run much better and will be more stable for the years to come.



luxury new construction home


Simonini Homes

Simonini Homes is conducting a Spring Preview at Shadow Creek March 25th, 2014 12pm– 2pm

The Simonini Team is a collection of the most experienced and talented individuals in the home building industry. A group that is passionate about building and renovating homes of the highest quality, delivering exceptional design and unmatched client service.

Simonini custom homes in Charlotte, NC


Charlotte home for sale

7320 Summerlin Place

7320 Summerlin Place, Charlotte, NC 28226. Wonderful appointments and details, beautiful South Charlotte neighborhood, so close to everything….3′Hardwoods, Crown, chair, picture moldings everywhere. Stainless steel, gas appliances, 9 ft ceilings, 8 ft doors, custom stone surround fireplace, custom cabinets, over/under cab lighting, recessed cans, AV wired, Granite tops kitchen and all baths, patio, the list is endless!!!

For complete details visit yourleaderinluxury.com

Waxhaw home for sale

2823 Bevis Lane

2823 Bevis Lane, Waxhaw, NC 28173. Fabulous luxury European two-story estate in the prestigious Cureton subdivision. This magnificent custom build brick/stone home has distinctive amenities including exotic hardwoods, stunning moldings, chefs gourmet kitchen, media room, 3 car garage, the list is endless. This beauty has an entertainers dream backyard with all the features and qualities that define the luxury homes of Cureton.

For complete details please visit yourleaderinluxury.com