27 December 2013

13 Worst Home Photos in 2013

Between all the heavy food for the Holidays, it may be time for some lighter fare.

In the Realtors' database of homes for sale (the "MLS"), one can see a lot of awful photos.

I'm a big contributor: I take a truckload of bad photos, but still, I must wonder if whoever took those photos – mostly the real estate agents, only with expensive properties also professional photographers – couldn't pour just a bit more love into it.

So as 2013 closes, here are my winners for this year:

This is one corner of one of the rooms in our house.

Someone else's belly, not mine
If you wake up drunk in your new home, that's the view.
Landscaping is for Loosers.
Everything here's for sale... if the price is right and if you really want it.

Our family believes in preparing for emergencies. Of all kinds.
Never mind the wet towel. It'll be gone by the time we move out.
My flash reaches farther than your flash.
I waited a long time until three cars came rushing by perfectly lined up.
My, what a big generator...

Sometimes when a boat comes by, it gets a tad darkish in the house.

Sorry, but I couldn't be bothered to A) hold the camera straight B) to open the window C) to turn of that flash.
The kitchen of this home comes with ceiling lights.

By the way, the last photo is of one of my masterpieces. It never saw the MLS, but my clients and I had a good laugh about it. – If you have a good contestant at hand, would you share it with me?

24 December 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Snowmen kissing, Feldafing/Bavaria 2000. ©tckaiser

06 December 2013

Art Miami 2013 - Impressions and Thoughts

In the choice between Design Miami and Art Miami, art won this year – I was blessed with preview tickets to both events on Tuesday evening.

A few thoughts, from a naive and uneducated layperson's perspective:

1. a friend of mine is a curator and gallerist - how much fun must it be to walk an art fair with a pro!

2. there was a clear differentiation from tent to tent (Art Basel - Context - Red Dot), becoming funkier and odder each time.

3. Lots of interesting art, but very little I would hang (which means nothing, coming from a terrone like me). Some of the exceptions include especially two lovely Milton Averys, at just under $1m each.

4. A flood of Calders, paintings and mobiles – where did they come from?

5. It seems odd that there is not as much gallery specialisation or focus – at least not visible to me – as I thought in this market would be. Is everyone really selling everything? (not a total serious question).

6. Miami is becoming so in. Art is already in. Both together: even inner. Best to be seen slightly unshaven, a bit sloppily dressed, driving a Maserati or at the very least a black Range (nice cars both), having a very pretty woman approx. 20 years younger hanging from your arm, with endlessly long legs and impossibly high Blahniks. Now you belong.

An LED-lit wire sculpture floating above our heads, by Michael Gard. Excellent.
"The Selfish Gene", painted bronzes by Marc Quinn at Forsblom

Didn't take any notes on this one. Bad Tobias! Likely at Rudolf Budja Gallery
"Reveur" (Dreamer) by Cyrille Andre, at Piece Unique

"The Conversation" by Milton Avery at arcature
Blue stones (marble?) moving up and down - riveting! By Paula Rivas at Aldo de Sousa
Not an objet d'art but a very campy Westie-vase
Lifesize bronze by Chinese artist Xie Aige, at Michael Goedhuis
(Three Bathers), another lovely Milton Avery
Render: "Chinoiserie" (vases inside out) by likeable and enthusiastic Molly Hatch, at Todd Merrill

Did you see the show? And what were your thoughts?

Photos ©tckaiser

28 November 2013


Every Thanksgiving, before I start the barbecue and make a turkey breast for the dinner invitation we have later that day, weather allowing I go for a motorcycle ride.

And already, that little custom of mine – both rituals, ride and 'cue, I celebrate without my wife's participation, who is busy preparing other dishes – hints at plenty of occasions to be thankful for. Typically this day's ride is slow and reflective, thinking of major events of the past months. I once had lost a riding buddy the previous summer, and found myself the whole ride in prayer for him and his family.

Unity of Fort Lauderdale taught me to thank the Lord for what I have and for what I affirm.

And if I open my eyes, there is so much more to be grateful for than to bitch about. Yes, I didn't close every single client this year I planned to; yes, my wife and I will have to move by end of January; yes, I didn't have time to do a major task this year so I have to face it next.

But when I look around, I am always astonished about blessings large and small, hiding within plain sight. A ride, a feast, a building, the love of friends and family, the fragrance of an orange groove  riding through it, recognition for a job well done, a happy client, a flourishing business, a beautiful basket of pears, my health, my marriage. I am grateful. Try it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo: Pears Bad Oynhausen/Lake Constance, ©tckaiser

15 November 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright's Auldbrass Plantation

Few modern architecture aficionados know that Frank Lloyd Wright designed a complete plantation, located in South Carolina's low country: Auldbrass in Beaufort County, near the town of Yemassee.

Known since 1736 as Mount Pleasant, Wright renamed the property Auldbrass (from "Old Brass") and designed the (smallish) main house, stables and other buildings for an industrial engineer, Leigh Stevens, who had joined five parcels to form the plantation.

After quite a tumultuous ownership history – last in line a club of local hunters with little interest in modern architecture or preservation – movie producer Joel Silver ("Matrix", "Hudson Hawk", Die Hard", "Lethal Weapon" etc.) bought the property in 1986 for $148,000. With a permanent staff of ten including an architect, Mr. Silver since has sunk considerable funds into preserving and restoring Auldbrass, as well as finishing buildings designed by Wright but never built.

The plantation is open to the public every two years for only two days, thus tickets sell out within days of becoming available. During this year's window, I was able to visit Auldbrass on November 3rd with a fun troupe from NCMH, the North Carolina non-profit for the preservation of modern architecture.

The wait to get in was well over 1.5 hours – no timed tickets, yet – so I unfortunately did not have a chance to see every building; in addition, interior photos are strictly (and understandably so) verboten by the owner.

Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Path to the main house
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Main house, pool on the right, entry on the far left
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Dining room on the left, main house adjacent to the right
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Dining room shows angled walls and copper rain spouts
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Kitchen windows details
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Clerestory windows, main house with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Window detail, main house
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Window detail, dining room
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Dining room from opposite side
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Angled walls at bedrooms (not to be entered by the public)
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Pool and main house
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
More details about Auldbrass and South Carolina plantations can be found here. If you have visited Auldbrass, I'd love to hear your impressions!
All photos ©tckaiser

31 October 2013

Happy Halloween!

modern Florida homes and architecture by real estate agent Tobias Kaiser

Seen in Boca Raton, Florida. Photo ©tckaiser

25 October 2013

South Florida Housing Market, 3rd Quarter 2013

I know I have been neglecting the blog for a bit; my apologies: work got in the way. Summer seems to come to an end in South Florida – about time, we're all well-done by now – and so is the overheated single family market that ruled from approximately April until about mid-August.

Falling relative and absolute inventory, rising asking prises, increasing selling prices: for now all this is over. Middle of August I first could feel a bit of slack, from one week to the next. What most August numbers hinted at, September confirmed: the froth is gone.

A 36 months-overview:

SE Florida single family homes: inventory, median asking prices and median selling prices, Sep 2010 - Sep 2013. Break indicates end 2012. Source: Kaiser Assoc.

Note how list prices and selling prices trend downwards, while inventory points upwards. The break in the lines indicates 2012 year end.

More specific, Q III 2013 vs. Q II 2012 by the numbers:

      +9.8%  Number of Houses for sale
    +19.8%  Inventory for sale (absorption rate in months)
      –3.6%  Median list price
      –8.2%  Median list price/sf
      –8.1%  Number of Houses sold (quarter)
      +4.3%  Median selling price
      +0.1%  Median selling price/sf

Outlook: we are hopefully returning to normal ranges, avoiding further overheating and the inevitable speculation that accompanies it.

But that doesn't mean we're in bargain territory again. Right now those days seem to be over, and I do not anticipate a return any time soon: the quiet Holiday season is coming up – quiet for buying and selling – and that will carry us into January. By then interest rates will be the next deciding factor.

In the meantime, vulture buyers who are hoping for bottom deals – "Hi, I'm Billy-Bob, and I'm looking for only really good deals. Got any for me?" "Yes sure, I held them secretly just for you." – have zero chance in any good market segment for single family homes, be it by location (water front, ocean front, good school districts) or be by expertise like mine, modern architecture.

But do you know which buyers really get the juicy deals?

Stay tuned.

28 September 2013

For Sale: The Wheeler house, by Don Singer

Over the years, I observed that undisturbed and unaltered modernist homes do not become available very often – yet that is exactly what many modernist-deprived buyers are pining for.
A fine example and great opportunity* is the Wheeler house in Fort Lauderdale, designed by noted Florida modernist Don Singer for his friend Dick Wheeler. 
It's a very private 3/2 – which was quite a challenge for exterior shots –  with a 2-car garage and pool, built in 1976 on a double lot with mature foliage. With ca. 2487 sf under air (ca. 220 sqm), the house is spacious for modern architecture of that age, but so seem a lot of Singers. 
Curious? Read more about it here.  
*Viewings currently by invitation only. Photo ©tckaiser

13 September 2013

Mies designs a Golf Club

1930, only one year after he created the Pavilion for the Barcelona World Expo, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed a golf club house for the newly founded Krefeld Golf Club in Krefeld, Germany.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: drawing for golf club house, Krefeld, Germany

The Krefeld Golf club had a location staked out, but what it didn’t have was a club house. It seems the two main initiators of the KGC then both asked their favorite architects for concepts. Mies won and designed a spacious single story structure, sitting like a star on top of the slightly elevated site.

Due to the Great Depression, the KGC founders did not manage to raise the estimated building costs (around $36,000 at the time). So Mies received his fee, but the house was never built, and several years later, the KGC put down its roots a few kilometers to the south, utilising a more modest club house concept.

The plans – fully preserved in the Mies van der Rohe Archive at the MoMA in New York – show that the golf club house would have been one of the most spectacular works of Mies. The building would not only be an excellent example of the International Style, but it would also reflect Mies’ mature and superior language of form. Its large panoramic windows would have provided visitors with a stunning view of the surrounding landscape.

This year, on initiative of MIK (for “Mies in Krefeld”, as he had built several other structures in town) and based on Mies’ plans, Belgian architect Paul Robbrecht created a 1:1 walkable architecture model of the club house, in the middle of rye and wheat fields only a few hundred feet from the originally planned site at the Egelsberg in northern Krefeld.

The model – no windows, partially roofed, constructed from wood, steel and concrete – is open to the public until 27 October, when it will be disassembled before the cold and rainy November weather sets in.

The day in July my wife and I visited the site, the model was officially closed, but we drove over from nearby Düsseldorf nevertheless; it was our last day in town.

That turned out to be a brilliant plan: the site was deserted, and my wife and I had the model to ourselves except some crickets, bumble-bees and a warm breeze. 

Walking the model felt nearly surreal, especially since the hike along an unpaved road was about 10 min. from our car. That bit of remoteness only added to the major impression of the architecture.

Without a guided tour, any sort of floor-plan or explanatory literature, we took our time wandering the model, taking photos and experiencing Mies’ sense of spatial arrangement and crisp composition:

Aerial photos ©Kleczka, ©Werthebach, all others ©tckaiser