The Analytical Natural - Alex Bouja

As told by GATEWAY Magazine.

There are plenty of reasons to be thankful for owning a home in Silicon Valley and the Peninsula—the natural beauty, proximity to high-paying jobs, top-rated schools, access to nature, and a lifestyle that rivals the best in the country. Inventory is fixed and demand is high, and that makes buying and selling a home here more competitive. In such an environment, having a trusted advisor and realtor that can help you navigate the market is critical. Enter Alex Bouja, an analytical natural and a top producing real estate agent at Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty.

A Los Altos native known for his strategic approach to real estate, Bouja has been involved in many significant sales in the region, from Los Gatos, to Woodside, and everywhere in between. His own road to real estate began at a young age. His father owned multiple rental properties and from his earliest days he recalls being fascinated with buying, renovating, and selling real estate. “I spent a lot of time growing up working on our rental properties and remodeling projects. I obtained my real estate license in 2006 because I wanted to access raw data to make my own risk analysis on properties I was looking to purchase,” recalls Bouja. His professional career took him on a path away from real estate for several years as he conducted business and traveled internationally. After leaving “high tech” in 2013, Bouja began selling real estate full time, and the switch has proven a natural career path. This year alone, he has already closed over $60 million in sales volume and is on track to finish 2021 near $80+ million.

Photo of 1110 Golden Way, Los Altos | Sold for $4,500,000

Bouja has developed a reputation for concierge service at every price point, from initial consultation, to home preparation, to marketing, to sales and negotiation. He has years of experience in managing an entire team of professionals that make it possible, a network he prides himself in establishing and working with: “I have a small army of approved and trusted vendors across almost every trade possible who I work with to help prepare and get a home to market as fast as possible, with little-to-no impact on the seller.” His management of this team is what makes it all possible. The results have established him as a trusted advisor to his customers, helping them maximize the return on their investments by achieving the highest sale price.

The trajectory of Bouja has been exponential in the past three years, an achievement he credits to his current brokerage. “Joining Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty was the best thing I ever did for my career. I’d worked at two previous brokerages, both who claimed they were #1. Each office had over 200 agents, but I found that maybe 15 agents sold more than $25 million a year. While I had met some great people, very few agents collaborated, referred business, and absolutely zero leads or referrals ever came from management or other agents. The Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty brand, our management, marketing, operations and support network is unrivaled, and our customers feel that firsthand on every transaction. It allows me to be my best and provide the best service possible. I am proud of this, and my customers benefit directly from this.”

Photo of 177 Ramoso Road, Portola Valley | Sold for $4,700,000

His professional formula is clearly working. Since joining the brokerage in April 2019, Bouja grew his business from $23 million in 2019, to $39 million in 2020, and is well on his way to $80+ million in 2021. That’s roughly a 200 percent increase year-over-year for three years in a row. In this business, the numbers speak volumes, and discerning clientele are watching.

“Buyers and sellers are extremely busy with work and life these days. Now more than ever, my customers want information they don’t have access to online,” says Bouja. Whether that’s off-market sales, pending pricing, overall movement in the market, number of offers and contingencies, or which lender to choose and how their programs are different, his customers are also increasingly analytical. “They expect me to work the same hours they do in Tech and respond within minutes, seven days a week. They rely heavily on my knowledge, and my relationships with other realtors, lenders, and contractors. They want to be educated so they are comfortable spending the money they are spending in our local market. They want to know exactly what renovations to make to maximize their return on investment. And I’m their advisor on all the above,” says Bouja humbly. “I’m more than happy to do so, because buyers and sellers appreciate, too.”

Photo of 19361 San Marcos Road, Woodside | Sold for $6,800,000

Advising buyers in the current market is essential. Most importantly, Bouja tells buyers to make a list of the top-ten must-have items they want in a home. When you find something with seven out of those ten, you buy it. “Nothing will ever be perfect, so stop looking for it,” Bouja reminds us. Buyers also need to stop asking lenders “what’s your rate” as the only qualifier, noting we are in a unique market with of variety of buyers, jobs, pay, stock, visa status, and price points. It’s also critical that buyers understand the buying process: “You need to know what the sellers look at and consider when reviewing multiple offers. Knowing your competition and knowing what it takes to win is key.” Bouja also notes that his customers are changing, too, from a 50/50 spilt between buyers and sellers, to nearly 90 percent sellers. His number one piece of advice for sellers: “Find a realtor who listens well and that you can easily communicate with. You will be spending more time together than you ever imagined!”

AlexBouja.GoldenGateSIR.com

Alex Bouja
408.489.0025
a.bouja@ggsir.com
Lic.# 01744054

Read the original article here.


Mill Valley Film Festival

As told by GATEWAY Magazine.

Since founding the Mill Valley Film Festival in 1977, Mark Fishkin has shepherded this once small, three-day showcase into an eleven-day, internationally acclaimed cinema event presenting a wide variety of new films from around the world in an engaged, community setting. The festival has an impressive track record of launching new films and new filmmakers, and has earned a reputation as a filmmakers’ festival by celebrating the best in American independent and foreign films, alongside high-profile and prestigious award contenders.

Each year the festival welcomes more than 200 filmmakers, representing more than 50 countries. Screening sections include World Cinema; US Cinema; Valley of the Docs; Children’s FilmFest; a daily shorts program; and Active Cinema, MVFF’s activist films initiative. Festival guests also enjoy Tributes, Spotlights and Galas throughout. The relaxed and non-competitive atmosphere surrounding MVFF, gives filmmakers and audiences alike the opportunity to share their work and experiences in a collaborative and convivial setting. We’ve selected our top films and filmmakers to watch at the festival’s 44th installment, October 7-17th.

The nonprofit California Film Institute celebrates and promotes film as art and education through the presentation of the Mill Valley Film Festival and year-round exhibitions at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, film distribution by CFI Releasing, and building the next generation of filmmakers and audiences through the CFI Education program.

MVFF.com | CaFilm.org

SPENCER

Pablo Larraín’s Princess Diana feature film Spencer starting Kristen Stuart is a dive inside an emotional imagining of who Diana was at a pivotal turning point in her life.The marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles has long since grown cold. Though rumors of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. There’s eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game. But this year, things will be profoundly different. Spencer is an imagining of what might have happened during those few fateful days. Image courtesy Neon/Tag Studios.

C’MON C’MON

Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon is an ode to the relationship between adults and children. It’s the story of a middle-aged man learning how to take care of a kid for the first time, set against a panorama of twenty-first century American cities and issues. It’s a story of an adult learning how to treat a child’s needs, worries, and joys with full respect; learning that they are different but not less than an adult’s. Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his young nephew (Woody Norman) forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when they are unexpectedly thrown together in this delicate and deeply moving story. Image courtesy Tobin Yelland.

THE POWER OF THE DOG

Directed by Jane Campion and staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog tells the story of charismatic rancher Phil Burbank who inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. Image courtesy: Kirsty Griffin/Netflix.

THE LOST DAUGHTER

Written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter is a psychological drama based on the novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante. The film stars Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Paul Mescal, and Ed Harris.

The film centers on a woman on a summer holiday who finds herself becoming obsessed with another woman and her daughter, prompting memories of her own early motherhood to come back and unravel her. At it’s core, the film revolves around a daring and dangerous idea: It’s an exploration of what motherhood can drain from a woman—a dramatic switch from the typical glassy-eyed bromides about how rewarding it is to bear and raise children. Image courtesy Yannis Drakoulidis/Netflix © 2021.

CYRANO

Award-winning director Joe Wright envelops moviegoers in a symphony of emotions with music, romance, and beauty in Cyrano, re-imagining the timeless tale of a heartbreaking love triangle. A man ahead of his time, Cyrano de Bergerac (played by Peter Dinklage) dazzles whether with ferocious wordplay at a verbal joust or with brilliant swordplay in a duel. But, convinced that his appearance renders him unworthy of the love of a devoted friend, the luminous Roxanne (Haley Bennett), Cyrano has yet to declare his feelings for her — and Roxanne has fallen in love, at first sight, with Christian (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.). Image courtesy Peter Mountain/© 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.

DUNE

Academy Award nominee Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival,” “Blade Runner 2049”) directs Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ “Dune,” the big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal bestseller of the same name. The film stars Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Oscar nominee Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård and Oscar winner Javier Bardem.

A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.

Shown here: Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “Dune,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Copyright: © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Image courtesy Chiabella James.

Read the rest of the article here. 


Super Suave - Home Trends

This year a special edition of the Milan Furniture Fair, dubbed ‘Supersalone’, turned pandemic constraints into a chance to experiment. Exhibition booths were replaced with flexible, modular display walls and site-specific installations were staged across the city’s galleries and piazzas. The mood? Colorful, elegant, classic. Designers’ collections reflected a lockdown-inspired desire for homes to be ‘happy places’ with a nod to the glitzy ’60s reminding us that a little glamor can go a long way. As written by GATEWAY Magazine.

SORIANA
BY CASSINA

First designed in 1969 by Afra and Tobia Scarpa, Cassina’s iconic Soriana seating range has been rebooted using biodegradable materials. The padding is made from BioFoam® microspheres and the updated version has a CARB certified wooden panel base. The new collection also includes a selection of chromatic combinations that match lush fabrics and soft leathers with a black, blue, burgundy, green and white painted metal frame.

cassina.com

SHADE
BY SOWDEN LIGHT

Seventy-nine-year-old designer George Sowden, one of the founding members of Memphis, the ’80s radical movement that challenged modernism’s ruling aesthetic, has launched a new company and a new collection of multihued fixtures that exploit the light-diffusing, long-lasting, non-toxic properties of silicone. The initial collection includes 18 basic shapes that can be assembled into pendants, table lamps, floor lamps and mobile fixtures.

Sowdenlight.com

MARMINI CHAIR
BY LA CHANCE

Inspired by Scott Burton’s 1980 Rock Chair, which the artist famously created by carving an L-shape into a two-ton sierra granite boulder—the Marmini lounge chair similarly blurs the lines between furniture and sculpture. Exhibited during Supersalone in the airy apartment of its designer, Hannes Peer, the chair, which is made from Verde Alpi, Bianco Carrara and Fior di Pesco marble, features an oversized cushion of Lelièvre fabric.

lachance.paris

ALLURE O
& FLAIR O BY B&B ITALIA

Referencing the glitzy 1960s—and more specifically the shape of Jackie O’s iconic eyeglasses—the new throne-like Flair O chair and sculptural Allure O table are a tribute to glamor reinterpreted in contemporary style. Designed by Monica Armani, the Allure O table is available in glossy or matte painted finishes in 18 colors, while the Flair O chair can be covered in a wide range of options from the B&B Italia upholstery collection.

bebitalia.com

ROUND TABLE BY AGGLOMERATI

This year Alcova, an exhibition for exploratory designs, included new works from Agglomerati. The London-based studio presented a new version of Fred Ganim’s iconic Round Table, a limited-edition piece carved from a single block of Brazilian Quartzite. The deep grey of the stone, shot through with layers of warm red and cool, natural tones, create tightly compressed layers on the table’s smooth surface.

agglomerati.com

GOLIA COFFEE TABLE
BY DRAGA & AUREL

Lake Como-based design duo Draga & Aurel took inspiration from the materials and architectural style of New Brutalism for their new capsule collection Transparency Matters. The Golia coffee table combines a concrete surface gently corroded with sea salt, with smooth, bright resin that changes based on the surrounding light.

draga-aurel.com

Read the original article on GATEWAY Magazine here.


GATEWAY Magazine Fall 2021

The Fall 2021 issue of our premier publication GATEWAY Magazine is here. In real estate, and in our pages, we are constantly curating inspirational lifestyles orbiting around ‘home’. From where to call home and how to furnish it, to how to enjoy it, we are essentially curators of all things chic. Our Fall issue embraces and celebrates this role, showcasing the properties, designers, agents, and artists that make life at home elegant and inspired. Enjoy.


GATEWAY Magazine | Shore Stopper

The future of Tahoe real estate is here. Meet Katherina Haug, the not-so-new-to the shore top-producing agent with an impressive book of established clients and savvy buyers dipping their toes into the lake. Sharp, witty, unfiltered, free, candid, wild, and competitive are just a few characteristics that define Haug, one half of Miller & Haug Real Estate Partners. We sit down with Ms. Haug to discuss all things Lake Tahoe, learn about the market, her ambitions and an unyielding drive to serve her clients. As featured in GATEWAY Magazine.

First off, tell us about your road to real estate and how you wound up in this Lake Tahoe market.

I was working in marketing and sales for a sports company and traveling all the time for work. I’d still find time nearly every weekend to come up to Tahoe. I decided to make the move up here and merge personal and professional lives. I transitioned to marketing and transaction management for a local real estate firm but it didn’t take long for me to learn I wanted to work for myself in real estate. I got my license and hit the pavement, day-in and day-out. Snowstorm, rainstorm, sunny day, it didn’t matter: I was working. I hustled, I followed up, I did an open house every damn weekend. I told myself: “If this doesn’t work out, at least I can’t say I didn’t try!” It took me 13 months to sell my first house. But then the flood gates opened up and it hasn’t stopped.

Your focus really payed off, didn’t it?

“What you focus on, expands” is one of my current life mottos. Where positive energy flows, positive energy returns. I’m a people person, so I have always combined my passion of meeting people with the final result of making a real estate connection, but I’ve always said “Worst case scenario, I’ve met and had an incredible interaction with another person.” The sales and money come second to that personal connection.

You’re one half of a team. Tell us about your partnership with Craig Miller. 

I partnered with my business partner Craig Miller in 2017, and it’s been an incredibly rewarding relationship, both personally and professionally. We both bring something so different to the table, and I am constantly learning something new from him, and I’d like to think vice versa. We’ve found that building and working with our two different personalities and relativity basis has created a very dynamic and brilliant approach to our business and handling our client’s needs. We work off one another, it’s a constant sports game: I dribble an idea, volley it over to him, we dialogue, lob it out, constantly juggling between the two of us tag-teaming the business execution. We’re in constant communication, both with eyes and ears on our work, and we share responsibilities in perfect harmony, each taking on our respective fields of strength.

Sounds like a dream team.

Yes, we are a great team! Craig shares perspectives and advice on life and has helped me build into a bigger person professionally and personally. In our partnership, we continue to build a bigger and bigger business, and yet our respective qualities of life have never been better, and that is ultimately the goal: to live in happiness. 

Tell us about your market and what your team is focused on inventory-wise.

We specialize in the listing and acquisition of legacy lakefront properties on the west shore and north shores of Lake Tahoe, spanning across both California and Nevada, as well as historic old-Tahoe properties on the west shore from Tahoe City to Rubicon, including the neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Homewood and Meeks Bay, as well as the Dollar Point community, and the luxury concierge condominium communities of Fleur du Lac, Chambers Landing, Chinquapin, and Stillwater Cove. Craig and I have chosen to focus our energies on this relatively small sector of the real estate market. That said, this inventory segment has a large geographic area, is incredibly varied, and the particular market has a very unique set of considerations to property ownership, especially within the Lakefront sector. There are multiple agencies and entitlements to review and consider, and we take pride in helping our clients navigate that. Craig and I have close ties to water, water rights, and wanted our focus to be on said subject properties and client base.

What’s your ultimate value add? 

We are advisors, we are specialists in our field, and I take that role very responsibly. I’m not a good order taker, I am a brilliant project manager to achieve my clients’ successes.  I focus my work to run my business as efficiently and professionally as possible, but still retaining the human aspect that calls me to this profession. We only have so many hours in the day, and I strive to maintain a stately pace to my work.

How do you balance it all?

Over-committing oneself does not benefit anyone; the quality of work suffers, and my quality of being declines as well. We are not computers, and we can only do so much, however, I truly love all aspects of this business, and I reject the idea of delegating tasks out so that I may increase my volume. I like writing my ad copy, I like staging my listings, tidying things up, and taking ownership of the whole process. That is rewarding to me. 

In just seven years you’ve established a reputation for quality and service. How’d you manage that with all the competition?

Yes, we have. Craig and I have chosen to focus our business on quality over quantity. We interview our prospective clients, and make sure we are good fits on both sides: this is after all, a people business. We dig into who our clients are, what they are looking for in owning property at Lake Tahoe, and work on a personal level to find that perfect property from which our clients can create these dreams. A home in Lake Tahoe is a dream, and we are very fortunate to be a part of that with our clients. We take our book of business and know-how of the market to pair our clients with their goals on a personal level. 

Tell us about your clientele. Who’s buying and selling homes in your market?

My client base varies greatly in all walks of life, from young families looking for a home to foster memories with their children, to retirees looking to relax and enjoy the life they’ve worked so hard to create, and of course families selling their retreats for a large variety of reasons. They come to us for the professional and personal expertise we offer to help them achieve their lifestyle and estate planning goals.

Describe a dream client.

One that is a blast to work with, aligns well personality-wise, shares their knowledge and experience and desires to learn what I have to share with them and their life. 

What’s your next big goal? 

In 2017, I made it my goal to become the “#1 Lakefront Sales Agent in Lake Tahoe.” I’m working on it, and am on my way, which has been a very rewarding process. Rewarding of course monetarily, as money allows dreams to become tangible realities, however rewarding also because of the lifestyle and history that these properties represent, and the incredibly unique and brilliant people I get to meet through these transactions.

What advice can you give to buyers and sellers?

Call me.

www.MillerHaug.com

Katherina Haug
530.209.4980
katherina@katherinarealestate.com
CalDRE# 01979758
NV Lic# S.0181216

Read the original article here.


Man of Wire | GATEWAY Magazine

New York-based wire sculpture and performance artist Skye Ferrante has made waves, headlines and the occasional spectacle for his provocative and truly distinct body of work. Sit down with GATEWAY Magazine as they get utterly candid with the Man of Wire to learn more about his mind- and wire-bending process and his fascination with the nude form, with a welcome dose of his signature wit to match. 

Paysage Normand (Normandy Landscape); Honfleur, Normandie, 2016 | Photography: Tony Notarberardino

You’ve developed quite a following and garnered attention for your work in recent years. How did you get to this point and moment? 

SF: Well I didn’t fly, and certainly not first class. As a boy until my early twenties I was a ballet dancer; there weren’t many of us—but I got comfortable being the only boy in a room, in most rooms, until I went to School of American Ballet where there were enough boys to have a class of boys. It wasn’t easy in the Eighties, pre Billy Elliot, being a boy ballet dancer, but I was happy, and in time I was able to do it well—or good enough sometimes to be the best in a room, which is a feeling I think all children should have, at least once, about something, anything—just to know, ‘I’m really good at this.’ That feeling which came for me with ballet has informed everything I’ve done since. My sculpture is ballet.

When did you first become interested in making art?

SF: My parents were in the arts, commercial, advertising in the golden age, they were encouraging, and for me to choose dance was economical; at the time nearly all boys in ballet were on scholarship. My father taught me to draw, somewhat, though I didn’t go to art school. My first and favorite subject to draw was volcanos, and once I even performed the “Fall of Pompei” on stage for the entire school; I built a volcano, and played all the parts, the dying Pompeians, as well as the volcano—Vesuvius. As you can see, I’ve moved on from volcanos.

Now that volcanoes have blown over – so to speak – how did you land on the human form and the medium of wire? 

SF: There’s no landscape I love more, and I view the body as a landscape—when the portrait works it is a landscape and not a portrait; although I do love landscapes too. Before I took to wire, I would paint with oil pastels on Hampstead Heath in London, and I loved the movement of trees. It’s what I saw and loved in the Impressionists: Abstraction in the figurative. Blur. My spools of wire begin as static mediums; if I get the portrait right, it moves—and becomes a landscape, see?

I chose wire after apprenticing for a bronze sculptor whose studio was in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. John the Devine. I lacked the patience for bronze casting; I wanted to sculpt as fast as a painter paints, and so I removed the process down to the armature wire beneath the clay and found that I could ‘paint’ with that. I was aware of Calder and his ‘Circus’ at the Whitney, in the old lobby, but wasn’t influenced, technically, at least; I always work with one continuous piece.

Sky Ferrante, Man of Wire | Photography: Tony Notarberardino

When did you get your first big break? 

SF: (Large Orson-Wellian Belly Laugh) Oh that would have to be Joe Smegegge. Yeah, it was Smegegge who gave me the big break. Been on easy street ever since.

Tell us about some of your most notable clients and collaborations. 

SF: Of late, Ferrari. They seem to like me and there’s only a few letters different in our name. Our work together is performance sculpture, they fly me to Pebble Beach and I live-sculpt a 1959 250 Testa Rossa off a big aluminum spool over a three-hour event. It adds color and authenticity, I suppose—although, Ferrari doesn’t need me for more color or authenticity. Artistic parsley, I guess—or Parmesan. 

I’ve done some large-scale spectacle pieces captured on time-lapse, too. I actually love doing corporate work; unlike most galleries, they pay up, often in advance, meet their agreements, including post-sculpture massage—it’s in my rider—and I don’t have to sue them in the end to get my work back. Presumably they just destroy it. I’m just kidding. But they might.

Describe a memorable exhibition for us.

SF: I can think of one I’d like to forget. Imagine an exhibition of two dozen nude portraits sculpted in Paris, New York, London, Athens and Moscow; each portrait has a corresponding portrait story, written on a typewriter, about the model and our portrait sitting—imagine that, except the exhibition was in a basement, in a nightclub, in the dark. The whole unseen show was taken down, and what wasn’t damaged by the rich ended up in a garage in Islington with a leaky roof for six months.

What is a dream client/subject for you?

SF: Thank you for asking. If I may dream: She will arrange for a never-ending portrait on a never-ending spool, on a never-ending monthly retainer. I’ll cancel all other clients, suspend exhibitions permanently, make a thoughtful bend when I feel like it, and when not working you can find me through binoculars in Central Park, on the Boating Pond with my daughter. She’s old enough to row.

Read the rest on GATEWAY Magazine here.


It's All Relevant | GATEWAY Magazine

In a drastically evolving real estate market, the role of big-data and ai have never been more top-of-mind. With a sea of tech players entering the space and an agent base reevaluating their own relevance, we take a deep dive with the founders of TopHap, the one platform proving ai and agent go hand-in-hand. As featured in GATEWAY MAGAZINE.

TopHap

When top producing real estate agent Anton Danilovich and seasoned software engineer Dennis Khvostionov set out to revolutionize the data analytics platform space for real estate, they had a data-geek’s tenacity to build a powerful tool to change the industry. Today, they are making headlines in Forbes, Inman and our pages for their runway-ready app, TopHap. An everyday business-decision tool, TopHap is empowering agents, brokerages, developers and real estate investors alike to dig deep into meta-market data and regional analytics to track where values are headed. It’s also empowering home buyers to put themselves in the best competitive position while allowing home sellers to understand pricing and true market value. With its virtually unmatched interface that’s slick, colorful and user-friendly, it’s clear TopHap has arrived.

“We need to embrace technology with one hand and the client with the other.”

We sit down with Danilovich and  Khvostionov to learn more about their vision, their game-changing platform and the future of AI and the agent in real estate:

G: Tell us why TopHap is needed in the industry now from an agent perspective.

TH: Many agents are waking up to the fact that they must use technology to boost their credibility, provide real value and build a trusted relationship that clients can rely on. With the increasing availability of public and private data combined with machine learning and AI insights, we can show clients more than just fancy bells and whistles. We can empower them to turn what may be their largest transaction ever into their wisest transaction ever.

TopHap Technology

G: There is often resistance or fear of AI replacing the role of the agent. Tell us why an agent would develop a tool like TopHap? How will you stay relevant and how do you harness the power of big data?

TH: The answer isn’t exclusively about data. It is also about how we analyze, understand and present that data. The most powerful force on earth, the human mind, is limited in its ability to process mountains of data simultaneously. If someone asks you to figure out the cubed root of Pi, you’ll immediately turn to a calculator, a machine, to help you out. And that’s OK. We need to embrace our limitations and partner with technology.

AI can do much more than this. It can use machine learning to take a series of changing data points, compare them with historical trends, uncover correlations that we might never have seen, and tell you what a house is actually worth—and how much it will be worth next year and the year after that. Machine - learning algorithms can observe both static and evolving trends and factor them into calculations of a property’s value in real time. Similar methods can reveal neighborhood trends, how they shift and how they may change in the future. They can reveal how much to invest in a property or how to renovate it to maximize the specific preferences of a neighborhood.

TopHap Technology

G: So it’s “power to the people” with TopHap?

TH: Yes, as a group of committed professionals, we can and should provide our clients more than just surface information; we can provide the deep information they need to make an informed decision. For buyers and sellers, it will become a right, not a privilege, to have access to this information.

G: Tell us more about the platform and what makes you different from Zillow, Realtor.com, Homesnap and others.

TH: What makes TopHap different from the existing online real estate platforms is that they all focus on search, while we focus on research. Their value is promoting properties while our value is providing data-driven market insights. Our far superior and unmatched interface colorfully processes critical comparative market analysis (CMA) information. There’s a plethora of data points we have that other platforms don’t. For example, proximity to schools and walkability scores are merely surface-level data points and the easiest-to-understand value indicators. Homes get more expensive when construction restrictions, such as a sloped lot, earthquake zone and other environment concerns enter the equation. Our software considers land use, government policies, municipal infrastructure, geography, traffic and noise pollution—to name a few—to determine home values. Real estate analysis tools of this depth simply do not exist and there isn’t another product like TopHap.

Read the rest of the article on GATEWAY Magazine here.


Find Your Oasis

The Maldives’s azure waters, verdant jungles and white sand beaches are calling. So is the allure of a castaway, back-to-nature resort lifestyle by owning a slice of island paradise with Soneva Villa Ownership. Join us for a sparkling glimpse into the oasis and the group’s portfolio of private residences. As featured in GATEWAY Magazine, written by Kevin Dwyer.

Soneva Villa

One of the world’s first barefoot luxury brands, Soneva was a pioneer in villa ownership and eco-responsibility in the Maldives. The acronym SLOW LIFE (Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspired-Fun-Experiences) reveals the Soneva philosophy. The goal behind its resorts and private residences is to “illuminate lives whilst treading lightly on the earth.” SLOW LIFE eco-responsibility is reflected on every level of the property, from organic farming, locally sourced seafood, sustainable building materials, employing local craftsmen, on-site water treatment and purification, recycling and environmental preservation efforts.

Soneva’s visionary founders, Sonu Shivdasani and Eva Malmström Shivdasani always wanted to develop a resort that would satisfy their desires for a dream destination for those who liked to travel in style, and they both had an overwhelming desire to protect the environment. A descendant of Indian parents, Sonu was born and studied largely in England, with some periods of his education in Nigeria and Switzerland. He is an alumnus of Eton College and a graduate of Oxford University, where he earned an MA in English Literature. During his time at Oxford, Sonu met his Swedish-born wife, Eva. During the 70s and 80s Eva was a top fashion model appearing on the covers of more than 100 high-end magazines world-wide, as well as having a successful clothing company: L’EVA in Paris. They fell in love with the beauty of the Maldives and its nature when they visited the island nation while on their honeymoon.

Luxury Pool

The couple leased an island in 1990. After considerable effort and some good luck—their first resort, Soneva Fushi opened in 1995—a pioneer luxury and environmentally friendly resort in the country which redefined tourism in the Maldives and soon became known as the premier beach destination for discerning global jet setters.

“It took a good four years to raise the funding and construct the resort and in 1995 we opened Soneva Fushi. Our focus on low volume, high quality and high-end clientele was a conscious decision. What attracted us to the Maldives was its natural beauty and we knew that to preserve it, one needed to limit the number of people coming. I strongly believe that combining luxury and sustainability is the right business model and that when done right, it is the most successful business model. However, I had no idea that our intensely personal vision of a locally crafted villa and environmentally responsible lifestyle would form the basis of a successful collection of world-class resorts. But that’s exactly what happened. Soneva Fushi was the first castaway resort in the Maldives, pioneering a trend for back-to-nature luxury holidays. What we also did not realize was that our decision helped transform the Maldives from a three-star high volume destination into the luxury destination it is today,” says Sonu, Founder and CEO (Guardian of the Culture) of Soneva.

Soneva Villas

Today, Soneva Villa Ownership represents the ultimate expression of the signature experiences and style for which Soneva has become world-renowned; understated design and luxuriously spacious accommodation, uncompromising quality and service, and environmental sensitivity. Private Residences are currently available at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani in the Maldives. The private villas and retreats in the Soneva Villa Ownership portfolio are sold on a renewable leasehold and are fully maintained by the resort to ensure owners’ peace of mind.

The Robinson Crusoe-style Private Residences at Soneva Fushi are located on the quiet private island of Kunfunadhoo within the unspoiled Baa Atoll, far from the usual tourist trail and part of a protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Available villas range from a spacious one-bedroom pool villa suite, to a stunning nine-bedroom mansion. Each villa is set within its own extensive rainforest garden, just steps away from the soft sandy beach and crystal-clear waters.

At Soneva Jani, one of the world’s lowest density resorts, there are two types of Private Residences to choose from: the iconic overwater villas, ranging from one to four bedrooms, or the vast three- or four-bedroom beachfront Island Reserves. All Private Residences are designed to meet each owner’s specific requirements, whilst remaining true to the Soneva values of SLOW LIFE. Each villa is fully serviced, including your personal ‘Mr./Ms. Friday’ butler service (a fantastical reference to Robinson Crusoe), complimentary transfers to and from the resorts and full access to all the island’s facilities.

Read the rest here!


Back to Basics

Written by Sophie Kalkreuth, as featured in GATEWAY Magazine. 

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In recent months new realities have forced many of us to pause and reflect on what truly matters. The importance of home has perhaps never felt more prescient, nor has the value of appreciating simple things: the raw beauty of natural materials, the functionality of design objects and the skill of craftsmanship. The designers featured in this issue were inspired by everything from Tuscan sunsets to ancient cities to childhood gardens and their creations invite us to dwell in the here and now.

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Otto Blood Orange by Fort Street Studio

Husband-and-wife design team Janis Provisor and Brad Davis have spent decades traveling the world sourcing inspiration and materials for their luxurious hand-knotted carpets. Provisor created the original painting for this carpet while the pair was in Roccantica, Italy, and witnessed blazing sunsets from their terrace. The painting ended up resembling the number 8--—the luckiest Chinese number—so she named it Otto for 8 in Italian. Her design is rendered via a blend of hand processed, high-altitude wood and cultivated silk, using Tibetan hand-knotting techniques. Meticulous dyeing of the yarns produce complexity and depth of color, while the wool and silk blend creates a shimmery mix that is subtle yet polished.

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The Grand Life Collection by Christophe Pillet

French designer Christophe Pillet studied at the National School of Decorative Arts in Nice so he could go surfing after class. Known for his work with Philippe Starck and brands like Cappellini and Lacoste, the designer has long advocated for a design approach that is less about the objects and more about how we live with the objects. His collection of sofas and over-sized loungers for Italian brand Ethimo blends a classic Mediterranean aesthetic with a contemporary sensibility. Pieces are made from teak with a sturdy metal core and woven acrylic rope, while the generously filled pillows are covered in all-weather fabric in a range of neutral shades.

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Talisman Sconce by Apparatus Studio 

Husband-and-husband design team Gabriel Hendifar and Jeremy Anderson are known for an approach to craftsmanship that recalls a Renaissance atelier. At their New York studio, materials like marble, suede, horsehair, lacquer and porcelain are combined with patinated brass for distinctive creations that are luxurious without being effusive. The Talisman Sconce and Pendant lamps feature a strict arrangement of semi-precious stones inspired by the fine details of statues in the ancient city of Persepolis. Agate, jasper, or jade beads are pierced by finely fluted pins and affixed to a leather-bound brass structure.

Read the rest here!


GATEWAY Magazine Summer 2020

GATEWAY Magazine's Summer 2020 Issue is here! Enjoy the latest in architecture, design, art, interiors, travel, and properties.

See more here.


Man of Wire

New York-based wire sculpture and performance artist Skye Ferrante has made waves, headlines and the occasional spectacle for his provocative and truly distinct body of work. We sit down and get utterly candid with the Man of Wire to learn more about his mind- and wire-bending process and his fascination with the nude form, with a welcome dose of his signature wit to match. As featured on GATEWAY Magazine.

Normandy LandscapePaysage Normand (Normandy Landscape); Honfleur, Normandie, 2016 | Photography: Tony Notarberardino

You’ve developed quite a following and garnered attention for your work in recent years. How did you get to this point and moment?

SF: Well I didn’t fly, and certainly not first class. As a boy until my early twenties I was a ballet dancer; there weren’t many of us—but I got comfortable being the only boy in a room, in most rooms, until I went to School of American Ballet where there were enough boys to have a class of boys. It wasn’t easy in the Eighties, pre Billy Elliot, being a boy ballet dancer, but I was happy, and in time I was able to do it well—or good enough sometimes to be the best in a room, which is a feeling I think all children should have, at least once, about something, anything—just to know, ‘I’m really good at this.’ That feeling which came for me with ballet has informed everything I’ve done since. My sculpture is ballet.

When did you first become interested in making art?

SF: My parents were in the arts, commercial, advertising in the golden age, they were encouraging, and for me to choose dance was economical; at the time nearly all boys in ballet were on scholarship. My father taught me to draw, somewhat, though I didn’t go to art school. My first and favorite subject to draw was volcanos, and once I even performed the “Fall of Pompei” on stage for the entire school; I built a volcano, and played all the parts, the dying Pompeians, as well as the volcano—Vesuvius. As you can see, I’ve moved on from volcanos.

Now that volcanoes have blown over – so to speak – how did you land on the human form and the medium of wire? 

SF: There’s no landscape I love more, and I view the body as a landscape—when the portrait works it is a landscape and not a portrait; although I do love landscapes too. Before I took to wire, I would paint with oil pastels on Hampstead Heath in London, and I loved the movement of trees. It’s what I saw and loved in the Impressionists: Abstraction in the figurative. Blur. My spools of wire begin as static mediums; if I get the portrait right, it moves—and becomes a landscape, see?

I chose wire after apprenticing for a bronze sculptor whose studio was in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. John the Devine. I lacked the patience for bronze casting; I wanted to sculpt as fast as a painter paints, and so I removed the process down to the armature wire beneath the clay and found that I could ‘paint’ with that. I was aware of Calder and his ‘Circus’ at the Whitney, in the old lobby, but wasn’t influenced, technically, at least; I always work with one continuous piece.

Portrait of AmeliePortrait of Amelie; Chelsea Hotel, NYC, 2019 | Photography: Tony Notarberardino

Read the rest on GATEWAY Magazine here. 


2020 Vision

As featured in GATEWAY Magazine.

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With a focus on looking forward and eyes on new frontiers and possibilities, real estate in 2020 is all about visionaries. Be it Puget Sound, Marin County, Jackson Hole or the East Bay, we take an in-depth look at the market leaders in the ever-competitive destinations and the prime locations they serve. From new opportunities and emerging markets, to tax havens and established strongholds, to the next generation of real estate's brightest stars, we profile who, where and what you need to know, now.

Michele Schuler - Seattle, WA

SEATTLE CALLING

Water front properties in Seattle

As the fastest-growing large city in America, Seattle’s booming and diversified economy has spurred unprecedented development and population growth with a clear urbanization trend. Home to 730,000 residents and counting, the city has grown 18 percent since 2010, with over 4 million residents in the greater metropolitan area. With homegrown giants like Amazon and Microsoft firmly situated in the region, along with multiple unicorn-status start-ups like Auth0 and Convoy, the Puget Sound feels a little like the Bay Area’s younger sibling. Expedia, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Nintendo and Costco also call the Emerald City area home, and Facebook, Google, and other Bay Area companies have opened outpost offices. It’s not surprising that the greater Seattle area has been dubbed the “Silicon Forest”.

But it’s not all tech. Seattle has a long history of booms and reinventions—from the lumber industry to the Klondike gold rush, from shipbuilding to Boeing to Microsoft. Cycles aside, Seattle’s abundance of natural resources put the city on the map, and today, these same natural surroundings attract buyers seeking a pristine environment and immediate access to nature. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities for locals and visitors alike; hiking, skiing, snowboarding, rafting, sailing, mountain biking, kayaking and more. The city is also pulsing with culture and events, has a culinary scene rivaling Portland and is dubbed a “must visit” food destination, and is renowned for its craft breweries and artisan coffee roasters. As more and more transplants are beginning to find out, Seattle is a pretty special place.

No one knows this better than Michele Schuler. A native Washingtonian, Schuler is one of Puget Sound’s top producing real estate advisors and a founding member of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty’s newest Bellevue office. A former finance professional and self-professed data geek, Schuler has developed a book of business and deep-rooted client relationships thanks to her underlying service ethos: obsessive due diligence, always looking out for the best interest of her clients, to the point of holding them back rather than pushing them forward if need be.

Read the rest of Michele's article here.

Christian Cisco - Jackson Hole, WY

WHY WYOMING?

Jackson Hole

There are plenty of reasons to be thankful for owning a home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming—the mountains, the rivers, two national parks, three ski resorts, art galleries, restaurants, a charming Western-style downtown, and a close-knit, philanthropic-minded and fun-loving community. The real estate market is small, yet mature and exclusive. Inventory is fixed and demand is high, and no one knows it better than Christian Cisco.

A major player in the real estate market, Cisco is a top producer at Jackson Hole Sotheby’s International Realty and has been involved in many significant sales in the region. His own road to real estate began with his Aunt, a top producer herself in Jackson Hole in the 1980s. Cisco moved back to Jackson Hole with his family in the 1990s after successful sales careers in Houston and Chicago. “I have lived here for the better part of forty years and know just about everything (and everyone) there is to know,” says Cisco. “My clients describe me as very responsive, yet patient…a rare combination in our industry they say.” Cisco is also known for his creativity, intuitive nature and the ability to find people just what they are looking for, even though they might not immediately recognize it themselves.

A proven, trusted expert, Cisco’s clientele are mostly baby-boomers who love Jackson Hole and are at a place in their lives where they are seeking a change, mainly moving from their overpopulated and overtaxed urban lifestyles for everything the town has to offer. “The trend is simple and clear: Jackson Hole is a small philanthropic mountain community at the foot of the Teton Mountain range in the most tax friendly state in the country,” says Cisco.

Read the rest of Christian's article here.

Magdalena Sarkissian - Marin, CA

MARIN’S NATURAL

Listing represented by Magdalena Sarkissian

Magdalena Sarkissian has risen quickly to the top of her industry in Marin County— having closed nearly $100 million in sales in 2019 alone with the Sarkisisan Bullock Team—but her road to success is a lifetime in the making. We catch up with the real estate natural to learn about her holistic approach to the business, closing deals and helping the next generation of real estate buyers and sellers.

“Residential real estate is an emotional industry. When a client vocalizes what they are feeling, you have to listen, create empathy and appreciate the opportunity to serve their needs and desires,” says Magdalena Sarkissian, a top agent at Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty. “I learn everything I can about the person I am representing. I want them to feel mutual trust so that I can do what I do best for them.”

Sarkissian is an integral part of the Sarkissian Bullock Team, one of Marin’s top performing real estate teams for nearly 20 years, comprised of Lydia Sarkissian, Magdalena Sarkissian and Bill Bullock (who also is President and CEO of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty.) Catering to predominantly repeat and referral based clientele, the team concentrates exclusively on the upper-end Marin County residential market, with a serious market share of Belvedere and Tiburon’s ultra-prime listings, among other enclaves. A Marin-native, Magdalena joined the team in 2015, after graduating college and working for several years at an architectural firm specializing in five-star resorts, a period she credits for giving her a global perspective of luxury and building her ever-growing network.

Read the rest of Magdalena's article here. 

Anthony Cassel - Berkeley, CA

EAST BAY ROOTS

Twilight city and Bay Bridge view

East Bay has been one of the hottest markets in the San Francisco Bay Area for several years, attracting buyers from the City, Silicon Valley and the Peninsula to the cross bridge, enjoy the sunshine and enter the housing market at a more affordable price point. Its gentrification – a phenomenon that has its benefits as well as its share of critics – has also fueled a renaissance of culture; from cuisine to the arts to city parks. Attractive, thriving communities and rising home values are at the heart of the movement attracting newcomers to the area. So is Anthony Cassel, a top agent who’s an expert in East Bay real estate thanks to his deep connections to clients and unyielding commitment to the communities he serves.

A top producer at Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, Cassel works with his wife and business partner, Maria and their passion for their work – and subsequent success – is all about trust. “This is a relationship business, and clients trust us to do what’s best for them. My goal is to treat every situation as if it were my own. I want to do what feels right, whether that means closing a deal or not. Life is too short to choose money over people or our reputations and integrity,” says Cassel.

Read the rest Anthony's article and the rest of 2020 Vision here.