The Luxury of Losses

Am still digesting this–and wondering what I am missing? Dare we venture a guess?

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Another Warning Against Travel to Mexico?

Corruption in Mexico

Mexican Federal Police

by Roberta Murphy

At the risk of infuriating some and appearing xenophobic, I am warning against travel to Mexico. Chances of ending up in a Mexican jail are probably pretty remote–unless of course you happen to be in the vicinity of illegal substances.

That’s what happened to Yanira Maldonado, an Arizona mother of seven who is sitting in a Mexican jail. She had gone down to Mexico to attend a family funeral and was riding back home on a bus.

Apparently, someone was trying to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana across the border and packed it under one of the seats. And it just happened to be the seat Yanira Maldonado sat upon for her fateful trip home.

And in Mexico, one can be arrested and thrown in jail just for being in the proximity of drugs.

According to local reports, the family was told that they would need to pay $5000 to get Yanira, a Mormon, released from jail, whether she was innocent or not. After scraping the money together, family members were told it was too late. She now must go through the Mexican court system.

Meanwhile there are other Americans rotting in Mexican jails for being inadvertant mules and pawns for the Mexican drug cartels.  We don’t know how many Americans are imprisoned in Mexican jails because our State Department no longer reports the numbers. But in 1998, CNN reported that there were 400 U.S. citizens sitting in Mexican jails and prisons.

Until Mexico gets its corrupt criminal justice system in order and presumes innocence instead of guilt, reduces its murder rate which is 600% higher than in the United States, and its high incidence of kidnappings–perhaps we should just stay away.

Mexico is expecting 20 million tourists in 2013. I am encouraging a boycott.


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A Just Solution for Jodi Arias

by Roberta Murphy

Jodi Arias

Jodi Arias

Let me start of by saying I am no Jodi Arias fan and I would be happy to never hear her name again as long as I live. Or see her face.

So here’s my two cent solution for the judge in this case:

Give Jodi the “lesser” punishment. Jodi Arias should be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole (perhaps under supervision of Sheriff Arpaio) and with NO visitors for 7 years and no media contact–starting immediately. And should a reporter approach her for a story, he or she might be held in contempt of court.

To give Jodi the death penalty would only guarantee that we will be forced to look at her face and hear her name for years to come as she appeals her way through the system–at taxpayer expense.

And that is just what she wants.



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The Luxury of a Senior Discount

Senior Discounts

Discounts for Baby Boomers

Who doesn’t like a discount when stepping out?

Below is a long list of restaurants, stores, grocery chains, airlines , hotels and car rental agencies that offer senior discounts–with minimum qualifying ages ranging from 50 to 65.

Many of these discounts are not published or advertised, so you must ask for them. Please print or save this link for future reference, and if you have any corrections or additons, please email:–Roberta Murphy Continue reading

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Taking BMW to the Matte

Matte Gray BMW M3

BMW M3 Matte Gray

by Roberta Murphy–I’m not really into the luxury of high maintenance–especially when it comes to cars.

But could this this gun metal grey BMW that is otherwise not as the Frozen Gray M3 Coupe be an exception?

It’s a sexy, slinky-looking car to be sure, but the exterior maintenance is sure to be a pain. Owners must fill out a special stack of paperwork before taking possession of their new matte gray machine.

This “maintenance” agreement demands that the M3 never be polished or waxed, run through an automatic car wash, or even be vigorously rubbed. Furthermore, new caretaker is to immediately remove splatted bugs, bird poop, tree sap and fuel spills with a soft sponge.

All in the interest of maintaining that frozen gray M3 finish.

Furthermore, BMW is very clear that the warranty for the M3 will not cover any damage due to owner neglect. Additionally, all exterior repairs must be performed by an authorized BMW shop.

And what if you refuse to sign the agreement?

It seems you can forget about getting one of these cars–unless, perhaps, it is via a resale.

I’ve heard this custom matte paint runs runs around an extra $5000. Would that sex appeal be worth the extra cost–and perhaps even more important, the strict maintenance?


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Most Expensive Rental in the U.S.

Beverly House is most expensive rental in U.S

Beverly House

by Roberta Murphy–At $600,000 per month, the Beverly Mansion in Beverly Hills, is most likely contender for most expensive luxury rental in the nation.  And it’s got an interesting history as well.

  • It was in the Beverly Mansion that the infamous horse-head-in-bed scene was filmed for The Godfather.
  • John F. Kennedy and his bride honeymooned in the Beverly Mansion.
  • Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston filmed scenes for The Bodyguard here.
  • Marion Barries bought the manse for William Randolph Hearst in 1946 and it was at the Beverly Mansion that he spent the rest of his days.

With 50,000 square feet, the estate has 17 bedrooms, 29 bathrooms, a 50-foot entry hall with loggia, and museum-quality ceilings that soar 22 feet in the living area.  The dining room is elegant, but the outdoor terrace will easily seat 400 for al fresco dining.

As might beexpected on this 3.7 acre estate, there are massage rooms, gym, lighted tennis court, staff offices and quarters, art-deco night club, wine cellar, billiard room, commercial kithen and so much more.

The Beverly Mansion is also offered for sale at $115,000,000. and private showings might be arranged courtesy of Hilton and Hyland. For additional information, contact Roberta Murphy at 877-818-8197 or email


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Between Rancho Santa Fe and the Beach…

Home Near Rancho Santa Fe

Best of Ranch and Coast!

…sits an irreplaceable plot of land that surely belongs to another century.

The wide and expansive rear lawn backs up to pasture, wetlands and forest beyond.  Family of deer come grazing and cows come to visit when the lawnmower is at work.

Late afternoons, it is not unusual to seeRancho Santa Fe Just Beyond colorful hot air balloons gliding across the sky–and the stars at night twinkle just a little brighter than in the surrounding suburbs. Love the ocean? Encinitas and Cardiff beaches are just a couple of miles away.

  • The 4-bedroom home itself has aged gracefully–and has many possibilities for expansion and improvement.  It could truly be a decorator’s dream-come-true.
  • Oversized 3-car garage and ample guest parking.
  • Close to excellent public and private schools and Mira Costa College (San Elijo Campus).
  • Home feels rural, but is very close to Harvest Ranch Market, fine restaurants and upscale boutiques.

Asking price is $1,350,000.

This property is not yet in the MLS, but private showing can be arranged. For additional information, call Roberta Murphy 877-818-8197 or 760-402-9101.



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Swiss Homeowners Most Indebted in World


Swiss Homes

Swiss Homes

by Roberta Murphy–Would you believe that Swiss homeowners are sitting on a “mountain of debt” and that the Swiss National Bank claims that mortgage credit now represents 103.6 percent of Switzerland’s Gross Domestic Product or GDP.

The Swiss are only outdone by the Netherlands  with 107.1,  according to SwissInfo, who also report that other heavy debtors include the United States at 76.5 percent and Spain at 64.

The article goes on to state that the difference (perhaps) between the United States and Switzerland is that the Swiss mortgage debt represents, on average, only half the cumulative property values. Switzerland may have a housing bubble of sorts, but values would have to fall by 50% for the mortgage debt to become toxic.

Mortgage rates are currently very low in Switzerland, at around 2 to 2.5 percent for a 10 year mortgage term. Even more unusual is the fact that the principal balance of the loan does not have to be re-paid for a long period of time. For example, banks only demand that a third of the debt be paid down within 20 years–or at retirement age.

The Swiss income tax situation also complicates things, because homeowners must pay taxes on the “assumed rent” they would be paying for their home were they renting it. At the same time, they are allowed to deduct mortgage interest and other expenses entailed in maintaining the home. This creates some serious tax advantages  for home ownership.

These tax advantages, on one hand, encourage Swiss homeowners to hold onto mortgage debt because of its deductability. On the other hand, if government were to remove that tax advantage, Swiss would be more likely to pay down their mortgage debt.

This is a synopsis of a much more detailed article here.



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How to Make Your Home Look More Luxurious (Inexpensively)

Making Your Home Look Luxurious Without Breaking the Bank

Maple Greystone [kitchen]

Maple Greystone [kitchen] (Photo credit: Mirage floors)

When purchasing a home it comes down to price, function and luxury. Most people look for and want as many luxuries as they can get for the right price.

In new home purchases, these are often called “upgrades,” and they can run into thousands of dollars.

For those who can’t afford a total remodel or who prefer not to spend a ton of money trying to make the home more luxurious, here are a few things that can be done that won’t break the bank.

1. Get rid of clutter and clean
One of the easiest ways to make your home look more luxurious is by getting rid of things that you either do not use or no longer need. Items strewn about make a space look busy, cluttered and dirty. Try organizing and throwing things into boxes and baskets for safe keeping. By removing these unnecessary items you not only tidy the space up and make it look bigger but make the space look more inviting and luxurious. It is also important to keep the room clean by dusting, vacuuming or mopping on a regular basis which not only will make your space look cleanly but will facilitate keeping the clutter at bay.

2. Lighting
This is another simple and inexpensive way to upgrade your home. Harsh lighting can wreak havoc on a room. Switching all lights to dimmers not only softens the light and lets you control the amount of light in a room, but can make the entire home feel richer and luxurious. Also consider pendant lighting over islands for a fresh update. And while at it, you might also change out the white plastic switch plates for something such as brushed nickel or something artistic for a more sophisticated look.

3. Laminate and vinyl flooring
One of the most sought after luxury home features is hardwood or tile flooring. Buying genuine hardwood and tile can be quite expensive. If this is still the look that you are going for then there a couple options that are much cheaper. Laminate and vinyl flooring is easy to install and come in a number of synthetic wood stain and tile types. These flooring types are both more resistant to damage and easier to take care of than those of genuine nature.

There are also numerous other relatively inexpensive ways to make your home look more luxurious but these three are some of the best.

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The Luxury of a $500,000 Closet

Luxury Closets

Luxury Closet by Robeson Design

by Roberta Murphy

We’ve written about luxury closets in the past, but these days some are spending up  to $500,000 for luxe clothing storage that might include a champagne refrigerator, sound system, glass-enclosed display cabinets, wet bar or even a breakfast area.

Gone are the simpler days of a luxurious dressing room. The master closet area has become a destination room.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on four luxurious closet areas, ranging in size from a modest 600 square feet to a dressing suite with 1300 square feet.  What are the trends with luxury closets?

Luxury home owners today want closets that invite lounging–with prized clothing and accessories on display behind lighted display cabinets. Materials used may include exotic woods, crystal chandeliers and windows that allow for natural lighting. These dressing lounges might also have a sound system, television, jewelry vaults, exercise equipment and even an office nook. Clothing is easily compartmentalized, with large and organized spaces for shoes, hanging clothes, accessory storage and vaults for jewelry and valuables.

These dressing areas have become trophy rooms of sorts–and are a key selling feature in luxury homes we show in our own San Diego real estate practice. Frequently, properties are crossed off luxuy home buyers’ lists if closets are not large enough or appointed to their standards.

What are your demands when it comes to closets?

For additional reading:

 The Luxurious Closet
The Luxury Pantry

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