Howard Hughes' log cabin for sale: $19.5 million

Howard Hughes

A log cabin on the shores of Lake Tahoe has gone on sale. It's a spectacular property, with 5.5 acres of land on the very edge of the lake, five bedrooms and four bathrooms. However, the real draw is that it was once owned by billionaire aviator, film-maker and businessman Howard Hughes.

So why does this add so much value to the property?

The cabin

The Nevada property was built in 1934 and bought by Hughes in the 1950s. The property itself has plenty of features to help sell it - including five bedrooms, four bathrooms and an office, a guest cottage, a detached garage with space for up to four cars, a pier, and 500 feet of lakefront panoramic views.

However, the real selling point is the Hughes connection. "It must have been the ideal hideaway for Hughes," Karen Bruno, of estate agents Chase International, said in a statement. "He had become fairly reclusive by the time he bought the property in the early 1950s. The estate offers spectacular views and luxurious details in a very private setting."

The company selling the property is also keen to share some of the rumours and stories surrounding Hughes' activities at the lake. It describes the Gatsby-like lifestyle Hughes lived, and says Marilyn Monroe is rumoured to have once had a tryst with Hughes at the cabin.

Celebrity connection

This is a common approach when selling a property with a celebrity connection. As we reported in June, the description of one of John Lennon's former homes in Surrey begins with this in the first sentence of the description.

As Laurence Hall from property website Zoopla said: "Our hunger for anything celebrity-related has as much impact on the property market as it does fashion, food or anything else. A property is more than just bricks and mortar and a unique history can improve a home's marketability. " His site has even launched a 'Purple Plaques' scheme to allow residents to advertise their home's celebrity connection.

In the current environment, it's harder for a celebrity connection to add outright value to a property. If the estate agent adds a premium, even if the individual is happy to pay extra for a famous property, the valuer may disagree, highlight that it's more expensive than other similar properties, and the mortgage company will refuse to lend.

Often the connection has a more subtle link to value: it will raise the profile of the property. Alongside the influx of nosy fans there will be those who will have the chance to see a property because of press coverage, or will have their interest piqued by the agent. More serious buyers seeing the property increases the chances of an asking-price offer, and in some cases a bidding war that will actually push the price up.

The dead celebrity rich list
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Howard Hughes' log cabin for sale: $19.5 million

King of pop Jackson was rumoured to have financial problems when he died in June 2009.

However, his music shot back into the charts as soon as he was no longer around to make any more and it is estimated that Jackson has sold well over 10 million albums since his death at the age of 50.

As a result - according to the latest figures from Forbes Magazine - Jackson's estate made an incredible $170 million (£108 million) in the 12 months to October 2011.

Presley's estate, which is thought to be worth about £1 billion, has generated many millions from music royalties, licensing deals and tourism at Graceland since his death in 1977, aged 42.

And it continues to earn about $55 million a year, partly thanks to posthumous appearances in adverts for products including Apple's iMac to Lipton's Tea.

Monroe is one of the most iconic stars of all time. And despite dying in 1962, her curvaceous image is used to sell everything from Visa to Volkswagen.

When she died, aged 36, her estate was valued at £1 million. However, the Forbes figures indicate that it earned a massive $27 million in the 12 months to October 2011.

The Beatle's estate has earned vast sums since he was shot dead in New York in 1980.

It was valued at about £100 million at the time of his death, but is since estimated to have grown by a further £200 million. And according to the latest Forbes list, it still makes $12 million a year.

The Nirvana singer, who committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 27, continues to be an iconic figure for many fans.

And his songs are still bringing in huge amounts of cash. In 2006, Cobain's widow Courtney Love sold 24.5% of the grunge band's publishing catalogue for a rumoured £35 million.

Not all the celebrities on the list are singers or film stars. Crime writer Christie has also amassed a huge fortune since her death in 1976, aged 85.

Her books continue to fill shelves around the world, while the immense popularity of her sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have made her the bestselling author of all time, according to The Guinness Book Of Records.

However, his music shot back into the charts as soon as he was no longer around to make any more and it is estimated that Jackson has sold well over 10 million albums since his death at the age of 50.
As a result - according to the latest figures from Forbes Magazine - Jackson's estate made an incredible $170 million (£108 million) in the 12 months to October 2011.

Einstein died in 1955 at the age of 76, but the dead scientist is still raking in $10 million a year, according to Forbes Magazine.

His image has been used to advertise everything from McDonald's Happy Meals to the Toyota Prius.

The reggae singer died of cancer aged 36 in 1981. But the Marley family has continued to receive massive royalties from his musical catalogue.

It includes the best-selling album "Legend", which alone is believed to have earned them more than £10 million since his death.

The American rapper was just 25 when he was killed in Las Vegas in 1996.

However, his untimely death has not stopped him becoming the most successful hip-hop artist ever, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide. His estate is thought to earn about £4 million a year from his back catalogue.

The Hollywood star, who started her career at the tender age of 10, died in March 2011 at the age of 79.

By October of that year, according to Forbes Magazine, the value of her estate had swelled by about $12 million.


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10 top ways to add value to your home
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Howard Hughes' log cabin for sale: $19.5 million

Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.

This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.

It may be difficult, but getting your property ready for sale means depersonalising it. 

Clutter can distract viewers and more than half (60%) of the property valuers who took part in the 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey said that the number one way to increase a property's chance of selling quickly, and for a good price, was to de-clutter.

This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.

A quick splash of paint can work wonders on tired-looking walls, and sticking to neutral tones is the safest bet.

Keeping the colour scheme simple, fresh and inviting will help potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.

Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.

According to Halifax valuers, loft conversions - which require lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres - are a good way to increase the potential sale price of your home.

Be sure to stick to your budget, though. The average loft conversion will cost between £10,000 and £30,000, while HSBC's figures show that they typically add £20,876 to the value of a property.

Putting in new windows adds around £5,265 to the value of the average property and can reap big rewards when it comes to energy efficiency.

It is, however, sensible to ensure that your new windows are in line with the style of your property to maximise the added value - particularly as putting them in can set you back about £5,000.

Off road parking or a garage can be especially advantageous in areas where parked cars line both sides on the street.

Nationwide's figures show that adding a garage, which can cost anything between £8,000 and £25,000, can increase the value of your property by 11%.

Outside space is just as important as inside - especially when people are seeing your home for the first time.

While 63% of the HSBC survey expert respondents said that repainting or varnishing a front door would make a difference, only 23% of homeowners recognised this. Peter Dockar at HSBC said: "It is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a sale."

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