Mansions for Fun & Profit, 15 July 2018
By Peter Taradash
As usual, my answer about why people build and/or buy mansions is
totally different from all the rest. I have bought and sold many
mansions. They are called “grand villas” here in Europe. I always bought
many places that were way too big for my personal use. I moved into them
and personally worked on them till I could sell them—usually at a profit
of ten or even fifty times my investment. How? Why?
What my family and me needed was at most a two bedroom place. Later,
maybe a 3rd bedroom with it's own bathroom for guests. When? There came
a point where I was well off enough so that my wives & I didn't want any
overnight visiting friends and relatives & the occasional prodigal
drop-in offspring flopping in the living room and using our communal
toilet/bathroom. I got into mansions only after a lot of experience
fixing up smaller places or turning big homes into duplexes or tri-plexes.
Eventually I bought some huge near palaces (and a few churches) for one
reason only- I could make a lot of money by converting them into small
apartment units that could be sold as condominiums!
There were and probably always will be periods of economic distress when
the***/nouveau riche/*//who built personal palaces are forced to sell.
This happened when France imposed a large wealth tax. When a €5 million
white elephant mansion with say 30 rooms becomes a distress sale and is
auctioned off in a bankruptcy, this is what always happens:
A custom built place almost always has many features that nobody else
wants or if they want them, they can't afford to bid on or maintain such
What are some of the unwanted features I have seen? The funniest (?) are
big rooms they call in the trade “dungeons.” These rooms, filled with
sex toys, are or were used for weird sexual activities like hoisting
naked women aloft and spinning them around then lowering them slowly and
well, I won't go into detail. Other such features using up space are
special use green-houses for maybe exotic plants, pet snakes, tigers or
tortoises, special therapeutic hot tubs, mud baths & king sized
Jacuzzi's. Then there were racquetball courts, and mini-golf courses.
These, plus the more standard swimming pools with waves, special
computer rooms, tennis or basketball courts are sometimes found indoors
or even on roofs. Very common features are movie projection rooms with
anywhere between 10 and fifty plush seats. A famous musician's place had
a sound-proof studio with lots of electronics and recording facilities.
What the mansions almost always had in common (and what I looked for)
was the very best, solid construction materials, secret rooms for safe
retreats and/or storing valuables, a grand staircase, clothes closets
the size of normal bedrooms, etc.
For me, first of all, I could and would bid around 10% of the original
cost. The more weird and unwanted custom features a place had, the fewer
bidders there were. It was always a challenge to find the highest and
best use of the space I acquired. If possible, I would try to utilize
and market any unique special features effectively. While few perverts
could afford a whole mansion, sometimes I could market something like a
4 rooms apartment with as a “special feature,” a sex dungeon room. Guess
what? For the special features I sometimes got at a huge premium. Not
always! I never found anyone to buy apartments with the largest room
being a movie theater. Thus I needed to take out seats, sell them off,
level the floor, and just make them into a nice living room. One place
had an ice-skating rink with a mobile dance floor that rolled out top of
the ice...I could write a chapter about that place –in Nevada.
When I encountered huge gourmet kitchens I left them alone --just
installed a dining area. Being part Polish, I remembered that when I was
a little kid, our families always liked to eat and socialize in an
over-sized kitchen. I made advertising pictures of my fabulous kitchens
and sold apartments with them at a big premium. Once, I almost bought an
unused Hugh Hefner Playboy Mansion with some unusual features like a
pole between floors to slide down to a swimming pool – Unfortunately it
was for sale without the “Playmates”. I was outbid on that one.
Needless to say, I always had plenty of critics whom (just as many
online scribblers do). I respond honestly, politely and rationally. If
that doesn't satisfy or make them go away, I ignore them. People who
yap, picket & complain incessantly accomplish little or nothing. They
are not worth a bean – to me or anyone else.
My “mansion days” critics claimed stuff like I was ruining the
neighborhood by turning a twenty-bedroom mansion into say, ten very
nice, affordable, condo apartments. Sometimes my mansions were better
off converted to boutique hotels or multi-level nightclubs. There were
always plenty of frustrations from bureaucrats who were difficult about
granting permits and zoning variances. Building inspectors seldom
appreciated my creative re-use of existing facilities. But if you are
going to get rich, you have to come up with ways to turn unwanted or
abandoned properties (lemons!) into lemonade. I did that for years, &
taught other people how to do the same. I become financially independent
in the process. Then I wrote books and articles like this, about how to
do it and “how my readers can do it.” Remodeling mansions was fun while
it lasted. Some years ago I retired to the French Riviera. Now, am happy
just scribbling away for no pay—taking on the occasional consulting
client as a protege. Do these ideas still work today? Indeed they do.
Read my answer to “How I made My Girlfriend a Millionaire.” It doesn't
take a high I.Q. Or a college degree to do what I did. It does take the
ability to “Think Like a Tycoon” (see my book) and persistence.
Peter Taradash <http://petertaradash.com/>
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