Blog entries will be posted in the language in which they were written.

Archive for January, 2010

January 25th, 2010

Follow up on the 2010 European Conference in Rome, Italy!

Posted by Joan McGuigan


What do Brian and Joan Pepin McGuigan have in common with George Clooney?
We had the same private chauffeur! On Friday, January 22, Franko—who used to be Mr Clooney’s private driver at his Lake Como residence—picked us up at the train station in Florence for a drive of a lifetime. The 30 hours we spent in and around Florence were the highlights of our Rome Luxury Real Estate Conference.  We drove in Franko’s super refurbished Mercedes van through the Tuscan Hills, the heart and soul of Italy, to the largest private land holding in the country—4200 acres, 1700 hectares.  Vineyards and olive groves pattern the landscape. Dotting the hillsides are restored Casali farmhouse villas, each with its own mesmerizing glass tiled infinity-edge pool. This treasured property is Castello di Casole, the most romantic addition to the Timbers Resorts portfolio.
After settling us in the Resort’s ultra luxurious Tuscan Guest House (B & B), our charming and gracious hosts, Marina and Amy, wined and dined us with the best Chianti Classico and a authentic Tuscan seven course dinner at one of the privately owned Castelos. The following morning—after a delightful breakfast from Carina, our cook—our hosts took us on a mesmerizing tour of the villas and castles, nestled between the olive groves and vineyards and rolling Tuscany hillsides. Overlooking, but hidden from the private residences is an historic castle, soon to be completed into one of the greatest hotels on the continent—sold in 1/12 or 1/10 fractional ownership—with spa, chapel and many other amenities for the benefit of the members. A short drive from the mythic cities of Sienna, Florence, San Gimignano, and Montalcino, this historic resort will be a destination of choice for not only the rich and famous all over the world, but ordinary people like you and I, who want the best properties for a fraction of the cost.
Before returning to Rome, Franko dropped us off at the Palace Residence Club (sold in 1/8 fractional ownership) in Florence, with elegant studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom residences. Our host, Peter Kempf, whom we met in Rome at the LuxuryReal conference, gave us a tour of the Palazzo Tornabuoni, a Florentine Palazzo home. The Palazzo Tornabuoni is a rare opportunity to live amongst the history, architecture and culture of Renaissance Florence while enjoying the finest comforts and amenities of Four Seasons perfection. The Palazzo Tornabuoni overlooks the Duomo in the most sought-after, culturally-rich neighborhood in Florence. The diverse and rich elements created over the past five centuries have been transformed into the Palazzo; interweaving centuries of statuary, mosaics, frescoes, inlaid stone and elaborate stucco work with handcrafted furnishings, state of the art entertainment systems and custom-designed Boffi kitchens.
Is there any better way to enjoy the culture, beauty, and elegance of Tuscany than through its real estate, architecture and history? This 2010 LRE Rome conference will be in our memories for many years to come. We want to share as much of this rare experience with you, our clients, friends and colleagues. We also wish to thank Franko for his superb driving skills, his candid humour, his deep love of the beloved Tuscany heritage and especially for inspiring me with the title for this blog.
Brian and Joan McGuigan
McGuigan Pepin Realty
Westmount, Montreal, Quebec

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January 21st, 2010

Greetings from glorious sunny Roma!

Posted by Joan McGuigan


Buon giorno, greetings from sunny and glorious Rome!
Here we are at the Luxury Real Estate Conference, the lone Canadian contingent, networking and socializing with 9 European and Asian countries and five US states, exchanging valuable information and statistics on the state of the real estate market all over the world. Tomorrow and Friday we will be joining one of our confreres in Florence on a private tour of the luxurious (6000 sq ft refurbished castles) Castello di Casole in Tuscany. You can dream about owning them, it’s easy because they are sold in fractional one tenth ownership for around four hundred and sixty euros. Take a peek on our website and in our storefront windows. Brian and I will have more to report after the visit.
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January 13th, 2010 Unveils New Version of Award-Winning Website

Posted by Joan McGuigan

Reposted from Article written by Meghan Barry.

Tuesday January 12th (Seattle, WA): unveils the new face of its award-winning website – the #1 online portal for global luxury properties and the professionals representing them.

The redesigned home page is the first phase of a complete re-launch of The new website will include a completely revamped property, agent, broker and luxury community search, along with better international coverage of luxury communities and property listings around the world.

Beyond the more polished and improved look and feel of, the redesign introduces under-the-hood improvements that might not be obvious to the casual visitor, but will improve the user experience and increase exposure of luxury homes listed on the site. Features include – faster page loading, more search engine friendly, and more future safe with upgraded web browsers. Utilization of Twitter posts and Microformats as well as RSS and Atom feeds will allow for easier user subscriptions and syndication of editorial content.


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January 13th, 2010

McGuigan Pepin and Susan Pepler featured in the Westmount Independent.

Posted by Joan McGuigan


McGuigan Pepin and artist Susan Pepler were featured in yesterday’s Westmount Independent.

Susan Pepler’s artwork can be seen at A number of her pieces are on display at our satellite office, located at 4431 Ste-Catherine Ouest in Westmount.

Full text of the article:

"It was a  busy holiday season for the agents and staff of local real estate broker McGuigan Pepin. In November, they celebrated 15 years as an independent firm. On December 15, they held a more subdued affair to inaugurate their new, St. Catherine St. office (at Kensington), and used the occasion (and space) for a showing of work by local artist Susan Pepler."

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January 8th, 2010

Information about the Expanded Home Buyer Tax Credit

Posted by Joan McGuigan
While browsing Rismedia (Real Estate Information Systems) today, I found an informative article by Ken Trepeta about the Expanded Home Buyer Tax Credit. This is an exciting expansion, and I hope you’ll find the information as useful as I have.

The Expanded Home Buyer Tax Credit Could Chase Away the Winter Blues
By Ken Trepeta, Director, Real Estate Services

 RISMEDIA, January 7, 2010—As we begin 2010, both real estate professionals and home buyers have something to look forward to and more importantly, take advantage of—the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit.

Originally created in 2008, the home-buyer tax credit has evolved from a $7,500 credit, which had to be repaid by the home buyer over the course of 15 years, to an $8,000 tax credit with no repayment required in 2009. Now, for a limited time in 2010, the $8,000 home buyer tax credit will still be available to first-time home buyers and certain current homeowners will also be eligible for a $6,500 credit.

To help everyone better understand the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit, here are some highlights of the changes.

Who can claim the credit?
“First-time home buyers” who purchase homes between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010 are eligible for the credit. To qualify as a “first-time home buyer” the purchaser or his/her spouse may not have owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase.

For current homeowners purchasing a home during the same time frame, they are also eligible for a tax credit, so long as the home being sold or vacated was their principal residence for five consecutive years within the last eight. To elaborate, it must be the same home; it is not enough that they have been homeowners for five consecutive years, they must have been in the same home for five consecutive years.
Another key point is that the existing home does not need to be sold. One must, however, occupy the new home as a principal residence and do so for three years or risk recapture of the credit. Also, the new home does not need to cost more than the old home despite the concept that it is directed at “move up” buyers.

How much is the credit and what are the income limits?

The maximum allowable credit for first-time home buyers is $8,000 or 10% of the sales price, whichever is less. For current homeowners, it is $6,500 or 10% of the sale price, whichever is less. Under the extended home buyer tax credit, single buyers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000 may receive the maximum credit.

The credit decreases for single buyers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000 and between $225,000 and $245,000 for home buyers filing jointly. The amount of the tax credit deceases as his/her income approaches the maximum limit. Home buyers earning more than the maximum qualifying income – over $145,000 for singles and over $245,000 for couples – are not eligible for the credit.

What are the deadlines for qualifying for the credit?

Under the extended home buyer tax credit, as long as a written binding contract to purchase a home is in effect on April 30, 2010, and the deal is closed by July 1, 2010, one can claim the credit.

Will the tax credit need to be repaid?

No, the buyer does not need to repay the tax credit if he/she occupies the home for three years or more. However, if the property is sold during this three-year period, the full amount of the credit will be recouped on the sale. Another provision of the law waives the recapture provisions for service members who receive orders that require them to move.

Are there any other critical provisions?

-There are three provisions people should be aware of:
-There is an $800,000 limitation on the cost of the home
-The purchaser must be at least 18 years old on the date of purchase
-For a married couple, only one spouse must meet this age requirement and dependents are not eligible to claim the credit

Finally, as an anti-fraud measure, purchasers must attach documentation of purchase to his/her tax return claiming the credit. Normally this would be a copy of the HUD-1, but could include other documents memorializing the settlement.

As with all tax matters, responsibility for complying with the tax code belongs to the taxpayer. Real estate professionals should recommend that their buyers consult their tax professionals to ensure eligibility for the credit and the proper way to claim the credit. For more information including the required IRS forms please contact the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040.
Ken Trepeta is the Director, Real Estate Services for the National Association of REALTORS® Real Estate Services program.

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January 3rd, 2010

McGuigan Pepin’s 15 year anniversary

Posted by Joan McGuigan

McGuigan Pepin’s 15 year anniversary is a milestone worthy of a memorable gala.

The party was a spectacular success, so we were told by all who attended.  

A big thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate in style. And a special thanks to Marc for making available his stunning Galerie d’Este on Greene Ave., Sylvie Thibodeau, for her outstanding catering services and the well-known Pierre Francois jazz trio, who kept everyone musically entertained all evening.

Here are some happy moments that Marianne captured for your viewing.

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