The Luxury Living and Lifestyle Expo is being held downtown St Petersburg, Florida on February 21-22, 2015 from 10am-5pm .  Located at South Straub Park across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts and the St Pete Yacht Club, this expo will have experts and specialists in various fields displaying the “finer things in life.”

“The Luxury Living and Lifestyle Expo is a unique event that will offer a tapestry of products and services for those who hold luxury living not merely as an abstract concept, rather as a fundamental reality of life. Against the backdrop of downtown St Petersburg’s beautiful waterfront, you will have the opportunity to submerge yourself in the luxurious world of yachts, airplanes, luxury automobiles and collectables. For those with a palette for the cutting edge of the arts, will be showcased the finest selection of classic and contemporary art, fashion and design, jewelry, wines, cigars, watches, and home decor. The event will encompass all this – and so much more.” (quoted from the luxlivingexpo.com website)

You will find ideas, products and services to enrich your living and lifestyle. Sponsored by Dimmitt Automotive Group, Rolls Royce and the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

South Straub Park is located on Beach Drive, downtown St Petersburg, with 7.3 acres right on the waterfront.  Downtown St Pete has galleries, museums, including The Dali & Chihuly, restaurants, music venues, brew pubs, shops, marinas, a yacht club, an airport, sports and over 100 parks including dog parks and much more.

St Petersburg Marina 1

St Petersburg Marina 1

Marketing properties outside the country is significantly more challenging since they cannot be put into the MLS. Word of mouth and personal connections play a much bigger role when it comes to international properties. The Pinellas International Council (PIC) International Marketing Session gives you the opportunity to meet with agents involved in international real estate transactions.

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This month’s speaker is Tony Canizares, Broker with RE/MAX All Pros in Valrico. Tony recently went on a trade mission to London where he attended several meetings with British real estate agents, and agents from Spain who were there traveling as well. Tony was the main photographer for the trade mission and will be sharing his photos, insights, and humorous stories on communicating with potential clients and agents during his trip

Reserve your seat for our international marketing session and network with those who view the world as their market.

REGISTRATION is found on the PRO website calendar.
http://pinellasrealtor.org/education-and-events-calendar/
for Wednesday, February 18th from 3-4:30pm.
PRO Members are FREE but you must register by Feb.16th. Very limited seating. Thank you.

For more information please, contact: Martha Vasquez
Email: martha@marthavasquez.com

Location Details
Pinellas REALTOR Organization
4590 Ulmerton Road
Clearwater FL 33762

Strong Dollar and Foreign Home Sales.

  • The U.S. dollar has become mighty once again.  It has strengthened against most foreign currencies.  That permits Americans to buy foreign products at cheaper prices and to travel abroad with fewer dollars.  However in the opposite direction, the strong dollar means foreigners will face higher prices on American-made goods and will buy less of them, including real estate.  There will be fewer foreign tourists in the U.S. as well in 2015.
  • Not too long ago, $1 could be converted for 100 Japanese Yen or 70 euro cents.  Today, $1 gets a lot more: 120 Yens or 83 euro cents.  Similar trends against other currencies can be observed. The reason is that the global economy is no longer growing.  The only bright spot is the U.S., where GDP and job growth rates have been accelerating of late.  This disparity in the growth rates has made the dollar become measurably stronger.
  • The table below shows what foreigners paid for U.S. real estate last year and what they are facing today given the stronger dollar.  For Canadians, they are seeing 22 percent higher prices for a typical U.S. home after conversion.  For Russians, prices are higher by 122 percent.  Venezuela’s currency rate is fixed by the government but not available for transaction.  On the black market it is estimated that U.S. home prices to have risen by 195 percent.
  • REALTORS® experienced 35 percent growth in sales of U.S. real estate to foreigners in the most recently measured period (March 2013 to March 2014 versus comparable one year prior period).  Such a growth rate is unlikely for this year given the strength of the U.S. dollar.  Russians and Venezuelans in particular are hard pressed.  Professional hockey players in Russia are very envious of Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, not because of his talent per se, but because he is getting paid in dollars and not in rubles.

CountriesStrength of Dollar

Lawrence Yun, PhD., Chief Economist and Senior Vice President

Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at NAR. He directs research activity for the association and regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR® members.

The following is humorous but oh so true!

Sometimes the truth hurts by Kelly Kuhn-Wallace

Litter box Background image via Shutterstock. Modified.

Tilted couch Background image via Shutterstock. Modified.

Messy closet Image via Shutterstock.

Dirty microwave Image via Shutterstock.

Extension cord Image via Shutterstock.

Bong Image via Shutterstock.

Switchplate Image via Shutterstock.

Moving boxes Image via Shutterstock.

Throw rugs Image via Shutterstock.

House for sale Image via Shutterstock.

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Last Friday, after having 4 home inspections, I decided on the way home to St Petersburg from Ruskin/Apollo Beach area to take a 15 minute break in a very hectic week. In the last 3 months I have passed this fruit stand almost weekly but never have had the time to stop.

 

 

Oh, I am so glad that I did. As I pulled up there sat a John Deere tractor sporting its famous green & yellow paint. Good so far. The closer I walked to the building the stronger the citrus smell was-one of my absolutely favorite scents. It immediately took me back to when I lived in Northern California and when the Silicon Valley which was still called the Santa Clara Valley filled with orchards, fruit stands & small vineyards.

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Did I mention that the temperature here in Florida on this sunny clear January afternoon was 72 degrees? The license plates in the parking lot read their cold winter names off to me-Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Iowa, Quebec, Ontario, Vermont, Maine-you get the idea. I thought how nice it is that I live  just only about an hour away, but yet 50 years back in time.

I was greeted by several happy Dooley Grove employees with samples of orange & grapefruit juices only hours off the trees, one of which spoke German to me so I was able to practice a little bit of my German. There were also samples of various citrus fruits including grapefruit, pink Pomelos, tangerines, Ponderosa lemons, Orlando tangelos, Honeybells & oranges (of course, this is Florida after all). I was in citrus heaven!! You can buy the fruit individually (as I did) or by the pound or by the peck or the bushel. When was the last time you bought something by the bushel or a peck? So a bushel is equal to 8 dry gallons or 4 pecks, used for corns, oats, & various grains. I knew that one. Okay, so I had to look up a peck. A peck is equal to 2 dry gallons or 8 quarts or 16 pints OR 1/4 of a bushel. The other guests were buying bags or bushels full of fruit while I purchased my 5 Honeybells & Orlando tangelos. Some guests were waiting for their tour of the groves & then a turn at picking their own fruit. Everyday in January & February they have “u-pick” tours for groups of 6 to 24 people. Dooley Groves is a 3rd generation family owned & run business in Ruskin. Ruskin was founded in 1908 on the shores of the Little Manatee River.

So if you ever find yourself in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, you might want to stop by for some fresh citrus & take a step back in time.

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This is an interesting article. I had no idea.

If You Rent a Home in U.S., Wall Street is Probably Your Landlord

 

According to a new report by RealtyTrac, if you rent a single-family home in the U.S., the probability is pretty good that Wall Street is your landlord now.

Residential News » Atlanta Edition | By Michael Gerrity | January 8, 2015 – See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/real-estate-news/united-states/atlanta-real-estate-news/wall-street-renter-homes

RealtyTrac analyzed nearly 9.6 million sales of single family homes from January 2012 to October 2014, and found that nearly 500,000 of those homes sold to institutional investors backed by Wall Street.

This analysis is a follow-up to an analysis RealtyTrac released last month titled “Where Wall Street is Most Likely to Cash Out of the Single Family Rental Market” that looked at the estimated equity gained by some of the big Wall Street and private equity firms who have purchased tens of thousands of single family homes as rentals over the past three years.

RealtyTrac first looked at all institutional investors — which they defines as any entity that purchases more than 10 properties in a calendar year. The total number of single family homes purchased by all institutional investors from January 2012 through October 2014 was 460,840, 4.92 percent of all single family sales during that time period but 0.63 percent of all single family homes in those counties.

The following heat map shows the percentage of single family homes sold to these institutional investors in each of the 1,804 counties where they purchased properties nationwide in each year from 2012 to 2013.

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Counties with most institutional investor purchases

Counties with the most institutional investor purchases during this time period were Maricopa County, Ariz., in the Phoenix metro area (19,133), Harris County, Texas in the Houston metro area (14,990), Mecklenburg County, N.C., in the Charlotte metro area (8,852), Tarrant County, Texas, in the Dallas metro area (8,387), Wayne County, Mich., in the Detroit metro area (8,153), and Clark County, Nev., in the Las Vegas metro area (7,991).

“The institutional investors kick-started the housing recovery by buying homes in bulk at the lowest point and holding them as rentals,” said Chris Pollinger, senior vice president of sales at First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market. Los Angeles County was among the top 10 for most purchases by institutional investors over the past three years, with 6,152. “As the market continues to climb, we expect these investors to start to sell off their inventory to capture the gains made in the past couple of years.”

Counties with highest percentage of institutional investor purchases

Counties with a population of at least 100,000 and the highest percentage of all single family homes in the county that were purchased by institutional investors between 2012 and 2014 included counties in Atlanta, Charlotte, Shreveport, La., Memphis, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Boise, Macon, Ga., Kansas City, Jacksonville, Fla., Flint, Mich., Houston, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Omaha.

Counties with most purchases by the four largest institutional investors

Secondly, we looked at purchases just by entities associated with the four largest institutional investors: Invitation Homes (owned by Blackstone), American Homes 4 Rent, Colony American Homes and Fundamental REO.

The total number of single family homes purchased by the top four institutional investors from January 2012 through October 2014 was 45,747, 0.14 percent of all single family homes in the 234 counties where the top four buyers purchased homes during that same time period.

Counties with the most purchases by the top four institutional investors were Maricopa County, Ariz., (4,851), Mecklenburg County, N.C., (2,548), Harris County, Texas (1,694), Cook County, Ill. (1,598), Gwinnett County, Ga. (1,496), Pierce County, Wash., (1,227), Clark County, Nev., (1,054), Wake County, N.C. (1,012), Hillsborough County, Fla., (982), and Tarrant County, Texas (980).

Counties with highest share of purchases by four largest institutional investors

The top 25 counties with a population of at least 100,000 and the highest percentage of purchases by the four largest institutional investors included counties in Atlanta, Charlotte, Seattle, Chicago, Nashville, Winston-Salem, N.C., Phoenix, Lakeland, Fla., Tampa, Sarasota, Cincinnati, Raleigh, N.C. and Charleston, S.C.

“The moon, sun and stars all aligned for large institutional investors to buy South Florida properties the past few years. Our limited land — squeezed between the everglades and ocean — growing population enticed by a no state income tax, strengthening economy and bargain priced properties that had dropped 50 percent in value, made it a compelling bet that is paying off handsomely for these bold buyers,” said Mike Pappas, CEO and president of the Keyes Company, covering the South Florida market.  “The institutional investors positively impacted our market as they gobbled up much of our distressed inventory.  With the expanding economy and size of our market their eventual exit will be handled and absorbed reasonably well.”

The average estimated 2014 median household income in these 25 counties was $56,153 compared to national average of $54,948 among all 589 counties with a population of 100,000 or more and sufficient income data.

The average fair market rent for a three-bedroom property  in these 25 counties was $1,192 in 2014 compared to average $1,203 among all 557 counties nationwide with a population over 100,000 and sufficient rental data.

The average median sales price in October 2014 for these 25 counties was $149,168 compared to $193,380 among all 519 counties nationwide with a population over 100,000 and sufficient home price data.

Zip codes with highest share of purchases by four largest institutional investors

Among the 2,490 zip codes nationwide with at least one single family purchase by the top four institutional investors between January 2012 and October 2014, the top 50 zip codes with the highest percentage of purchases by the four largest institutional investors were in Seattle, Charlotte, Phoenix, Atlanta, Tampa, Cincinnati, Raleigh, N.C., Houston, Denver, Columbus, Ohio, Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla., Raleigh, N.C., Chicago, and Winston-Salem, N.C.

“Whilst in the short term this might seem good for the health of the housing market and current home owners enjoying their equity grow, in the long run it will impact the neighborhoods where there are a higher number of rental properties,” said Andre Mazur, broker at RE/MAX Alliance, covering the Denver market. “Because of the transient nature of rental property, this might lead to communities that don’t connect and flourish as well as at the expense of corporate American making even more money. The practice of large investment companies buying up real estate is at the expense of the American Dream to own your own home.”

“Our members represent the largest institutional owners of single family rental homes in the U.S. and their goal is, and has always been, to build a long-term, sustainable industry that professionalizes the traditionally fragmented single family market much the same way the multi-family market was transformed over 30 years ago,” said Matthew Beck, spokesman for the National Rental Home Council. “Our members provide high-quality housing alternatives to families who may not want or be able to purchase a home. Our residents are good neighbors and upstanding members of the community, helping to build stable neighborhoods. Recent studies have shown a growing percentage of renters are families who typically stay in their homes for an average of five years, and we’ve heard from residents that they’re active participants in their communities, sending their children to local schools, getting involved with their HOAs, coaching little league and volunteering with local civic organizations and projects among other engagements.”

The average estimated 2014 median household income for these 50 zip codes was $55,882 while the average fair market rent for a three-bedroom in 2014 in these 50 zip codes was $1,344. – See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/real-estate-news/united-states/atlanta-real-estate-news/wall-street-renter-homes

 

Years ago I lived in St Thomas and St John, in the US Virgin Islands. Believe me, there was nothing like this home on the island then. What a beautiful area of the world! Sometimes I wonder why I ever left. Anyway, excuse me while I reminisce but I came across this article that I thought I’d share. Ahhhhh, the Caribbean Islands.

St. Thomas Mansion Sells for Record $8.9 Million Via Remote Auction

 

Platinum Luxury Auctions announced this week the closing of Villa Whydah, a four acre pirate-themed property sitting on the westernmost tip of St. Thomas.  The final sales price was $8.9 million, which is a new record for residential properties on the island of St. Thomas.

Residential News » Saint Thomas Edition | By Michael Gerrity | January 8, 2015 – See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/real-estate-news/us-virgin-islands/saint-thomas
3_PLA_NML-Arial-Imaging.pngAlthough Platinum planned for the auction to be held at the property, all of the bidders elected to participate in the auction remotely. “Given the nature of the bidding audience, we created a virtual auction environment, with a live bidding room digitally streaming an audio/video feed to each bidder,” stated Bradley Pruitt, Platinum’s director of sales. The buyer purchased the property site-unseen, a scenario that the firm says is exceptionally rare, especially for a record sale.

Trayor Lesnock, Platinum’s president and founder added, “This is an exceptional testament to the potency of the luxury auction process, and to the power of the purchase motivation it produces for even the most unique real estate assets.”

Villa Whydah received more than 105,000 website visitors and 141 bona fide buyer inquiries during the auction’s marketing period. The virtual bidding process lasted only 15-20 minutes, and included 4 bidders who were scattered throughout the United States.

“This is a huge sale for both St. Thomas and the broader USVI market,” stated Lee Steiner, cooperating listing broker and principal of USVI Sotheby’s International Realty. “Along with a number of other high-priced transactions this year, this auction sale demonstrates the strengthening luxury market in the USVIs. We’re already looking forward to the next auction with Platinum’s team.”

1_PLA_NML-Arial-Imaging.pngLesnock credited the sale’s success to his project management team, led by Pruitt and associate David Ashcroft, as well as to the owner’s faith in the auction process that allowed them to use enticing terms to sell the property. The firm also employed a unique marketing strategy, which included mailing a custom-designed scroll that displayed a property treasure map, nodding to Villa Whydah’s pirate decor.

Considered one of the finest Caribbean properties on the market, Villa Whydah consists of seven structures spanning more than 15,000 interior, and 4,000 exterior square feet. The structures include a main residence with an in-law suite, an outdoor entertainment complex, a stone gazebo, two guest cottages, a stone tower, and caretaker’s quarters with a 4-car garage. There are a total of 8 bedrooms, 9 full and 2 half bathrooms, in addition to 3 outdoor showers. Decor and furnishings offer pirate-themed accents throughout the home, including an office meant to resemble a captain’s chambers on a ship, and a “dungeon,” serving as storage space or a playroom. – See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/real-estate-news/us-virgin-islands/saint-thomas/villa

President Obama Takes Steps to Increase Homeownership

 

Today President Obama announced plans to help increase homeownership in America, and target first time home buyers by lowing the annual cost of the FHA mortgage insurance premiums by 50 basis points.

Residential News » United States Edition | By Miho Favela | January 8, 2015 – See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com

This announcement is now getting praise by many real estate professionals and organizations.

David H. Stevens, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association says, “The MBA applauds President Obama and his administration for continuing to look for ways to help first time home buyers, grow the housing market and strengthen the economy. Specifically, MBA is pleased about the decision to make a 50 basis point reduction on the annual FHA MIP, something MBA has called for in the past.  This is a win-win.  It’s good for borrowers and good for FHA, helping the agency stabilize its market share and continue to rebuild the MMI fund.

“Additionally, we were encouraged that President Obama called for GSE reform, which hopefully will spur action on Capitol Hill.  And the coming changes to Fannie and Freddie’s rep and warrant framework that he mentioned should help lessen the high level of uncertainty lenders face and allow them to use the full extent of the GSE credit box to serve more qualified borrowers.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association Chairman Bill Cosgrove further added, “As an independent mortgage banker whose business includes a significant amount of FHA lending, I can attest that the 50 basis point reduction in FHA’s annual premium will have a significantly positive impact for my borrowers and the housing market. Specifically, this will help first time homebuyers by making FHA loans more affordable.  Given the timing, just as we begin the spring home buying season, I think today’s announcement is just what the market needs.

“MBA looks forward to working with the President, as well other policymakers in Washington, to ensure the real estate finance market continues to strengthen so that all consumers have the opportunity to enjoy the dream of homeownership.”

The California Association of Realtors also chimed in on today’s announcement.

“Reducing FHA mortgage insurance premiums will make it easier for hundreds of thousands of home buyers to get a mortgage and provide greater access to homeownership for historically underserved groups and credit worthy families,” said C.A.R. President Chris Kutzkey. “Moreover, this shift in policy will also increase the volume of borrowers using FHA-backed loans, while continuing to contribute to the solvency of FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund and making the dream of homeownership a reality for millions more Americans.” – See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com

As a book-a-holic coming from a long line of book-a-holics, walking into one of these libraries is like walking into paradise. Each is so unique that it makes it difficult to choose my favorite. I have only stepped into the sacred walls of a few of these, I have now added a couple of them to my must see some day list. Enjoy but shhhhh….remember that you’re in a library.

below is from Asta Thrastardottir in http://www.businessinsider.com/18-of-the-worlds-greatest-libraries

If you love books, libraries are some of the most spectacular buildings in the world.

To celebrate these monumentally important buildings, we’ve complied a list of the most magnificent libraries on the planet.

From a library hidden in the forests of Beijing to one in Egypt that was designed like a sundial, these are the libraries that all book lovers should visit in their lifetime.

1. The Admont Library in Admont, Austria

Located in the foothills of the Alps, this beautiful library is the second largest monastery library in the world. The library hall was designed in the late Baroque style by the architect Joseph Hueber in 1776 with a nearly 230-foot-long hall that contains 200,000 volumes.

The ceilings were painted by Bartolomeo Altomonte and show the stages of human knowledge, up to the high point of Divine Revelation.

Best Libraries From Around The World - The Admont Getty Images/Imagno

2. George Peabody Library in Baltimore, Maryland, USA

The Peabody Library was funded by the the philanthropist George Peabody. Peabody built the library as a gift to the citizens of Baltimore for their kindness and hospitality.

Designed by 19th-century architect Edmund Lind, Peabody is known for its interior that has a soaring atrium. The five stories of cast-iron balconies are filled to the brim with books, and the skylight roof showers the library in natural light.

Libraries From Around The World - PeabodyFlickr/Matthew Petroff

3. The Royal Library Of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark

Completed in 1999, the ‘Black Diamond’ was built as an extension to the national library of Denmark. The neo-modern library gets its name from its polished black granite and irregular angles.

The library’s harsh exterior is interrupted by an atrium made from only glass. This glass atrium makes the interior of the building an incredible space that is full of light and views of the water, which makes for a really gorgeous reading environment.

Best Libraries From Around The World - The Royal Library of Copenhagen Flickr/Simon Lam

 4. Musashino Art University Library in Tokyo, Japan

Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto designed the library to be the simplest library in the world, made from only bookcases and a glass exterior. The 20-foot high walls are made from bookshelves, and are only interrupted by bridge-like reading areas.

Fujimoto tells arcspace that the only things you need to make a library are “books, shelves, light, and beautiful places.”

Libraries From Around The World - Musashino libraryFlickr/yoxito

5. Boston Public Library in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Boston Public Library contains roughly 23 million items, making it the second-largest public library in the US. The library is known for its incredible courtyard, Italian-inspired architecture, entrance atrium, and its quintessential library reading room: Bates Hall.

The Bates Hall of the library is named after Joshua Bates, the library’s first benefactor. In 1852, Bates agree to donate a large sum to the building of the library with a few conditions: that the building would be an ornament to the city and that it be perfectly free for everyone.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Boston Public LibraryFlickr/Xynn Tii

6. Stuttgart City Library in Stuttgart, Germany

This cube-shaped, nine-story library takes its design from the Pantheon of ancient Rome, according to Designboom.

The aim of the library was to create a continuum inside of the room, so the entire room is painted in uniform pure-white. The only color in the building comes from the books themselves.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Stuttgart City LibraryFlickr/jwltr freiburg

7. José Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City, Mexico

Designed by architect Alberto Kalach, the library is a concrete and glass structure. The bookshelves look as if they are hovering in midair, and a giant whale skeleton hangs in the center of the library.

The library is named after José Vasconcelos, who was a philosopher and politician. Vasconcelos was an important cultural figure in Mexico and an active promoter of reading.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Vasconcelos LibraryFickr/LWYang

8. Liyuan Library in Beijing, China

Located in a small village outside of Beijing, the single-story library blends into its forest surroundings. The library is made from timber beams and its exterior is covered in sticks, according to dezeen. The light of the library comes from the cracks in the twig frame.

The building may be covered in firewood but it has a very advanced integrated cooling system that draws in cold air from the lake it sits on. The library is also completely eco-friendly and made from all recyclable material.

Plus, it looks like an incredibly cozy place to sit and read a book.

Liyuan LibraryFlickr/Forgemind ArchiMedia

9. Vennesla Library and Cultural Center in Vennesla, Norway

This library in Norway is made of a series of arcs, or “ribs,” that support the roof. The concept of the building comes from the ribs of a whale skeleton.

”In this project, we developed a rib concept to create usable hybrid structures that combine a timber construction with all technical devices and the interior,” architects Helen & Hard told ArchDaily.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Vennesla Library Getty Images/View Pictures

10. Beinecke Rare Book Library in New Haven, Connecticut, USA

The Beineck Rare Book & Manuscript Library is the literary archive of the Yale University Library, and is the largest building in the world devoted to the preservation of rare books and documents. The entire library is shaped around the massive display in the center.

The library’s building is iconic because of its incredible Vermont marble, granite, bronze, and glass ‘windows’ that were designed to filter in enough light so that rare materials can be displayed without damage, according to ArchDaily. From the outside, the building looks as if it is completely solid.

The Beineck’s vast collection includes a Gutenberg Bible.

Libraries From Around The World - Beinecke Rare Book Flickr/Lauren Manning

11. Alexandria Library in Alexandria, Egypt

The original library of Alexandria was established in the third century B.C., and was one of largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. When it was destroyed in the third century A.D., there were countless scrolls and books that were lost.

The new library of Alexandria was built in 2002 to pay homage to the openness of the original library. Built by Snøhetta architects, the building is designed like a sundial and tilts towards the Mediterranean Sea.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Alexandrina Library Flickr/bliink

12. Central Library in Seattle, Washington, USA

First opened in 2004, the 11-story glass and steel building in downtown Seattle was designed to be a reinvention of the traditional library. The contemporary building is not only a space dedicated to books, but is also an access point for all forms of media.

Designed by Rem Koolhass, the building combines “futuristic lines with the functionality of a library.” The interior of the building is notable for its large public spaces and natural light.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Central LibraryFlickr/_bclay

13. Trinity College Dublin Library in Dublin, Ireland

Famed for its ‘Long Room,’ the library of Trinity College library is home to the largest collection of books in Ireland.

The over 200-foot-long main room is covered in marble and dark wood pilasters. When it was first completed, the ‘Long Room’ had a flat ceiling, but the roof was raised to accommodate more books.

Best Libraries From Around The World - Trinity LibraryFlickr/nymo59

14. Sir Duncan Rice Library in Aberdeen, United Kingdom

The Sir Duncan Rice Library is the new library of the University of Aberdeen. The library incorporates 21st-century design, and has a huge spiraling atrium in its center.

The library gained a lot of attention for the range of sustainable features that were included in its design. The spiraling atrium lights up all eight floors — the building also has photovoltaic cells on its roof to convert the energy of light directly into electricity.

Libraries From Around The World - Sir Duncan Rice Library Flickr/kaysgeog

15. Sainte-Geneviève Library in Paris, France

The Sainte-Geneviève library is the main research and reference library for the students of the University of Paris.

Constructed in the mid-19th century by the famed architect Henri Labrouste, the library is well-known for its cast iron column reading room. The MoMA even described the library as a “temple of knowledge and a space for contemplation.”

Sainte Genevieve LibraryWikipedia

16. New York Public Library in New York, New York, USA

The New York Public Library has nearly 53 million items, and is the third largest library in the world. The incredible Beaux-Arts landmark was one of the largest marble structures in the US when it was built.

The Rose Main Reading Room of the library stretches nearly two city blocks. The reading room measures 297 feet long by 87 feet wide, and has 42 long oak tables for visitors to sit in.

Beautiful Libraries From Around The World - New York Public LIbraryFlickr/Alex Proimos

17. Kanazawa Umimirai Library in Kanazawa City, Japan

This three-story library in Japan is designed like a “cake box,” with large white hole-punched windows that light up the space. The library is meant to be a tranquil room, and the “punching walls” are meant to make it look like a forest of books.

“This environment would allow users to experience the joy of reading while surrounded by a treasure trove of books with a overwhelming physical presence, something that the convenience of electronic and digital books cannot offer,” the architects told ArchDaily.

Beautiful Libraries From Around The World - Kanazawa LibraryFlickr/Forgemind ArchiMedia

18. Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Built in the 19th century, this gorgeous rooms is home to over 350,000 works — and the largest collection of Portuguese works outside of Portugal.

The library is known for its Neo-Manueline design, which “evokes the Gothic-Renaissance style that flourished during the time of the Portuguese Discoveries,” according to My Modern Met.

The room is completely covered in books, many of them rare works dating back to the 16th century. It’s the perfect destination for anyone who loves to be surrounded by beautiful books.

 Most Beautiful Libraries From Around The World - Royal Portuguese Reading Room

http://www.businessinsider.com/18-of-the-worlds-greatest-libraries-2014

I can’t believe how many requests I have received to re-post this. So without further ado…

New Year’s is the oldest holiday still being celebrated. The Babylonians celebrated the New Year as early as 4000 B.C. At that time, the New Year began on the first new moon after the Vernal Equinox. The celebration continued for eleven days, with each day having a different purpose and activity.

Some of the most widely used superstitions include the following: Kissing at midnight to ensure that the affections & relationships that we have made will continue for the next year. Filling up your refrigerator & pantries with food to ensure that you will have plenty of food throughout the next year. Putting money in every wallet in the house to ensure prosperity.  Also all of your bills should be paid before New Year’s Day to ensure that prosperity will be welcomed in your home but do not pay any bills on New Year’s Day or you will ensure a year of paying nothing but debts. You should not eat beef because cows mostly stand still. You should not eat poultry because they scratch backwards. Pigs, however, constantly root forward for food. So if you eat pork on New Year’s, you will be moving forward in a positive manner throughout the year. Wearing new clothes will increase your chances of receiving more clothes. Throughout the world the custom of making noise to ring in the New Year has not changed since ancient times as this is to scare off any evil spirits.

In Britain the custom of first footing is practiced. The first male visitor to the house after midnight brings good luck. Usually they bring a gift of money, bread, or coal, to ensure the family will have plenty of these things all the year to come. The first person must not be blond, red-haired or women as these people are supposedly bad luck. SO, I better not be the first person to cross your threshold, being a blonde woman!!

The Druids gave a gift of mistletoe, the sacred source of fertility. It would give you a fruitful year in the number of children, cattle and crops and thus wealth.

In Ireland the direction of the wind blowing at New Year would indicate the trend of politics in the coming year. If it blew from the west it would bring the Irish good luck, if from the east the English would have the luck. Also on New Year’s Eve if they ate a very large supper they would have plenty of food for the coming year.

In France dinner parties are thrown for the entire family customarily include special dishes like foie gras, oysters and champagne. They exchange kisses and wishes, saying, “Bonne Année”, Bonheur, Sante, Amour, Argent (“Good Year”, Happiness, Health, Love and Money).

In Germany people would drop molten lead into cold water to tell the future from the shape it made. A heart or ring shape meant a wedding, a ship a journey, and a pig plenty of food in the year ahead. People also would leave a bit of every food eaten on New Year’s Eve on their plate until after Midnight to ensure a filled pantry. Carp brings wealth. Traditionally jelly filled doughnuts with or without liquor fillings are eaten. Finally a tiny marzipan pig is eaten for more good luck. (Hmmm, eating a lot & eating pig seems to be a recurring theme.)

In Denmark they stand on chairs and then jump off them at midnight. Leaping into January is supposed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.

January 1st is an important date in Greece because it is not only the first day of the New Year but it is also St. Basil’s Day. St Basil was one the founders of the Greek Orthodox Church, who was kind and generous to the poor. St Basil’s cake, baked with a silver or gold coin inside, is eaten. Whoever receives the coin will have good luck throughout the year. Pomegranates & grapes also bring good luck.

Italians call New Year’s Eve Capodanno (the “head of the year”). Traditionally, they wear red underwear.  A lentil stew is eaten when bell tolls midnight – one spoon per bell. This is supposed to bring good fortune; the lentils represent coins.

In Spain celebrations usually begin with a family dinner, including shrimp, lamb or capon. Wearing new, red underwear on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. It is traditional to eat twelve grapes, one on each chime of the clock, make a wish and then toast with sparkling wine such as cava or champagne. This tradition started in 1909, when grape growers in Alicante needed a way to get rid of the large surplus of grapes they had had that year.

In Puerto Rico and in parts of South America children enjoy throwing pails of water out the window at midnight. Some believe that this rids their home of any evil spirits.

In Bolivia families make beautiful little wood or straw dolls to hang outside their homes to bring good luck.

In Brazil the lentil is believed to signify wealth, so on the first day of the New Year they serve lentil soup or lentils and rice. The lentils are supposed to resemble coins. Grapes are also eaten. Brazilians traditionally dress in white, to bring good luck into the New Year.

Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Eve, Año Nuevo, by eating 1 grape while making a wish with each of the twelve chimes during the midnight countdown. Homes and parties are decorated with colors such as red, to improve lifestyle and love, yellow to improve employment conditions, green to improve finances and white to improve health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm will have good luck in the New Year. Another tradition is to make a list of all the bad or unhappy events from the current year and before midnight throw it into a fire, symbolizing the removal of negative energy from the New Year.  At the same time, thanks are given for all the good things.

In Costa Rica in addition to eating the 12 grapes, they run across the streets with luggage asking for new trips and adventures in the upcoming year.

In Venezuela, many of the traditions are very similar to the ones from Spain. Those who want to find love in the New Year wear red underwear and yellow to have happiness.  If you want money, you must have a bill of high value when it is time to toast and if you want to travel, you must go out carrying some luggage.

In India people try to finish uncompleted work and pay off all debts before the end of the year. People buy new things for their homes or new clothes.  Animals are washed, groomed and decorated for the festival.

Chinese New Year is celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Firecrackers and noisemakers will chase away evil spirits. The fabulous dragon and lion will dance in the streets. People will wear red, the most auspicious of colors, and red envelopes with lucky money will be given to children. Tangerines are often given for good luck, but odd numbers are unlucky, so the tangerines are given in pairs.

It is traditional in Japan to spend a full week preparing for the New Year to arrive. The house must be thoroughly cleaned and all debts must be paid. All disagreements must be resolved and forgiven. Before midnight, 108 bells ring, to symbolize the elimination of 108 troubles. With no troubles, disagreements, debts, or disorder to contend with, all are free to welcome in the New Year with every expectation of peace and prosperity. The day after New Year’s is First Writing Day, when people write their hopes and dreams for the New Year.

Round shapes (representing coins) bring prosperity for the coming year in the Philippines. Families have large amounts of round fruits on the dining table and eat exactly 12 fruits at midnight (grapes). Some wear polka dots for luck.

In the USA black-eyed peas and rice called Hoppin’ John is eaten. An old saying goes, “Eat peas on New Year’s day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year.”  Most people toast with champagne at midnight. The dropping of the ball from the top of Times Square in New York City started in 1907.  The custom came from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors. New Year’s Eve is traditionally the busiest day of the year at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

Well, I need to go now and get my things in order to ensure that I have the best New Year ever.  I’m off to the store to buy some black-eyed peas, greens, lentils, grapes, and champagne. When I return I must make sure to put money in each wallet in the house. Then I will make sure to wear red, yellow, green and white. At the first stroke of midnight while jumping off a chair and holding a suitcase, I will be eating 12 grapes and making 12 wishes, hoping that I don’t choke or fall on my head. Yikes, I can’t forget the kisses! Wow, I certainly will be quite an interesting sight on New Year’s Eve. Ridiculous photos to follow, I’m sure. So Happy New Year to you all. I wish you happiness, good health, wealth and great friends to enjoy throughout the year!

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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