Miami’s Most Expensive Property — 6.9 Waterfront Acres in Coconut Grove

By Jennifer McGuire

He’s done it again. Last month, William P.D. Pierce listed America’s most expensive property at $139 million, and today he’s listed Miami-Dade’s most expensive property on the market. At $65 million, La Brisa is a rare 6.9-acre tract of waterfront land in the heart of Coconut Grove that has not been subdivided since it was created in 1886, with fully restored and renovated 1920s era mansion. In a town where waterfront property has been snatched up and developed for decades, a property of this size with more than 200-feet of bay-front is extremely rare. The truth is: properties like this just don’t exist.

It’s located in one of Miami’s coolest parts of town, Coconut Grove, which has attracted business tycoons, artists, novelists and celebrities since the late 1800s. Today, it’s is a laid-back enclave of sidewalk cafes, bars, boutiques, art galleries, lush parks and picturesque streets. But as you pass through the gates of La Brisa, all of that disappears and it feels like you’ve traveled back in time.

The mansion sits on an ancient coral reef 23 feet above sea level, and features 13,803 square feet “under air” plus an additional 3,338 square feet of outdoor living space, for a total square footage of 17,141. Nearly every room flows into an outdoor space, whether it’s one of the many balconies or walkways, or through direct access to the pool patio.  Not too shabby.

Reportedly, the outdoor space alone easily fits 250 for a poolside party, which is an important selling point in a party town like Miami.

The mansion was designed by famed Miami architects Kiehnel and Elliott, known for their Mediterranean Revival style using pastel stucco walls, red-tile roofs, wrought iron details and elaborate accents along entryways, rooflines and windows. The team produced some of Miami’s most notable buildings including El Jardin and the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

It’s a stunning building, but the grounds are what’s really impressive. The property is dotted with mature trees including towering centenary Canarian Date Palms, royal palms, royal poincianas, mahogany, oak and gumbo limbo trees, some which are nearly as old as the house itself, some much older, as well as a stately banyan tree that straddles the property and a hidden cobblestone path.

A huge lawn stretches down to a protected 536-foot long canal bordering the northern side of the property, which includes a private port to accommodate your 70-foot yacht. The waterfront is protected by a copse of mangroves, with an elevated walkway leading to an octagonal viewing deck over the bay.

Even beyond its relaxed beauty, La Brisa boasts a colorful history that dates back to the early settlers of Miami. The land was first deeded in 1886 to Kirk Munroe, a noted author of children’s adventure novels and books about Florida, and his wife Mary Barr Munroe.  Munroe played a big role in the area’s history: He introduced the first legislation in Florida to protect an animal after an injured manatee washed onto the property, built South Florida’s first tennis court and hosted the first game of tennis in 1892, and founded the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. During the Spanish-American War, he supplied water from La Brisa’s spring – which still exists today and feeds a natural pool – was transported 120 miles south for the American troops anchored in Key West. Reportedly, a box of Florida orange blossoms from the Munroe property that was shipped to Henry Flagler convinced him to bring his railroad south to Miami.

History buffs and billionaires alike will be clamoring to see this truly spectacular property. See more of this property at

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5 Ideas That Will Make Your Front Porch Shine

With fall in full swing, your front porch needs to transition to attract buyers. Luckily it’s easy to make a few changes so it blends in for the season. Here are five front porch design ideas to make your home stand out:

via  Tiger’s Testing ServiceDesignMine

#1 Clean out debris with a power washer.

The first step is cleaning out the debris from summer. You could use old-fashioned equipment like a broom, mop, washcloth and elbow grease or hire a professional pressure washing service to clean away stubborn debris so your porch looks like new. Dirt and grime in the floor and on the siding can be dusted off quickly by a pressure washer, which will save you time and effort otherwise spent hand washing your porch.

#2 Add a new coat of paint.

A new coat of paint is a great way to revitalize the front porch, whether it’s touching up the trim, railings and banisters, or repainting the front door. It is also an opportunity to add a bright new color as part of your front porch design. Painting is a good DIY project on the weekend, or if you intend to do a complete overhaul, you might need to get a painter to help. Make sure the color will complement the rest of the house. You could always paint the porch a neutral tone and then cover the door in a bright color so it stands out as buyers walk up.

#3 Revitalize the front door.

Once you start getting the porch fixed up, it’s time to turn your focus to the door as it will be the first area buyers see. If the door is scratched, scraped or muddy, it won’t seem welcoming to potential homebuyers. Start by cleaning off any dirt and grime with the power washer or with a washcloth covered in vinegar and water. Then you can add on decorations like wreaths, a new door knob made of brass or steel, window dressings and more. That way it will look brand new without having to install a new door for hundreds of dollars.

#4 Imbue the porch with the natural landscape.

To make your porch blend in with the landscape, consider adding potted plants with seasonal flowers. They are inexpensive, add a splash of color and can be either standing or hanging in baskets throughout your porch. They will also help to create a welcoming atmosphere on the front porch. You should coordinate the colors of the plants to match the front door or the landscape so they stand out against the porch and blend with the yard.

#5 Brighten the porch with fixtures and new decor.

If the house numbers and mailbox are showing signs of age, you might need to spend a few hours or hire a handyman to revitalize them. You should also install light fixtures to make those house numbers easy to see at night or on rainy days. Light fixtures are also good for illuminating front porch decor like chairs, rockers, swings, dining chairs and tables. If you have night showings at your home, they will be useful for giving the porch a warm feel at all hours.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

See more of the beautiful Chatham, NJ  home in the cover photo here.

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Pinterest Home Mythbusters #2: Removing Couch Stains

In case you missed it, I have pledged to finally take on some of my favorite Pinterest pins that have been collecting virtual dust with a new Pinterest Mythbusters series documenting wins, fails and discoveries. In post one I tackled a Vanilla, Rosemary and Lemon simmer that is said to make your home smell heavenly!

Sticking with the “Sunday cleaning” theme I decided to finally tackle a pin about removing stains from my microfiber couch.

Project #2 Mission Get Stain Out A Microfiber Couch

A few months ago I noticed a stain on my couch after having friends over. I have no idea what type of food or drink it was from but it is a beast of a stain. (Super difficult to get out!) I went to my go-to for cleaning solutions, Pinterest, and found a solution from blogger Julia of 551 East.


Supplies: White sponge, white bristle brush, spray bottle and rubbing alcohol

Before going any further note Julia explains that is is important to work fast as rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly. She also suggests trying a test section (which I 100% agree with)

Julia’s instructions

  1. Pour the rubbing alcohol into the spray bottle and saturate the stained area.
  2. Take your sponge and scrub the area (don’t be afraid to put a little muscle into it) If sponge starts to get really dirty use a new once so you don’t transfer dirt back onto your couch.
  3. Let the area dry. Once it dries use the white bristle brush to refluff the areas you cleaned.

Easy enough but even after successfully testing a small area on the back of my couch I was concerned about saturating such a noticeable area on my couch. Instead of using a spray bottle and sponge I dipped a toothbrush into the alcohol bottle and got to work.

The Result

Win! Woo Hoo! This worked like magic and my couch was back to looking brand new in less than 20 minutes (including dry time). Definitely adding this trick to my cleaning arsenal!

This method also works for removing pen stains. Even the king of the house, our kitty Rory, was impressed with the restoration of his throne.


Have you been wondering about a pin you saw? Leave a link in the comments and I might choose it for my next blog post!



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Has Gen Y Gone to the Burbs?

Gen Y…”They Know What They Want and They Want It Now!” But what is it that this up and coming group of buyers are attracted to? Elise Ramer, Senior Public Relations Specialist with NRT Florida teamed up with Felise Eber to provide some insight.

Felise Eber, a prominent team member of The Jills, the #1 Coldwell Banker team worldwide (and sister to Jill Eber), first spotted an emerging trend that could be a gamechanger in Miami and other real estate hot spots.

Miami Beach is a bastion for young singles, who flock to South Beach for its white sandy beaches, trendy night clubs, international flavor and sleek modern condos.  But the trend toward high-tech condos with stunning beach views is taking a surprising shift – Gen Y buyers are beginning to move toward traditional single family homes.

Felise has closed five Alton Road properties in the past year, and increasingly these are sold by Baby Boomers and being snatched up by Gen Y buyers.

What is driving these younger affluent buyers to more traditional properties?

Location, location, location

A recent report from the National Association of Realtors revealed Gen Y places the highest preference compared to other generations on convenience to jobs. As buyers start to have children in school, the quality of school districts and convenience to schools starts to have a larger importance.

“These Alton Road homes are centrally located to everything,” said Eber. “You are blocks from Lincoln Road, close to the up and across the street from the Miami Beach Golf Club. Buyers can ride bikes to the beach and just drive across the causeway to the new Miami Design District.”

Felise has noticed an increase in showings of her properties to families with children. The proximity to wonderful schools like North Beach Elementary and ample childcare facilities make Alton Road extremely desirable to affluent younger couples who are just starting their families.

Historical Homes in Need of Love

Many of the gorgeous 1920’s homes on Alton Road have been lovingly cared for and had the same owner for decades. But as their owner’s grow older, the desire and energy to maintain these gems dwindle.

“Today’s younger buyers were brought up watching renovation shows on HGTV, so they’re scooping up several Alton Road properties in need of some TLC,” says Eber. “They see these properties as a good investment and enjoy putting their own personal stamp on them.”

Eber points to a beautiful Alton Road property that underwent a complete renovation and exemplifies old Miami glamour with modern luxuries.

Counseling Alton Road Sellers

Eber has become an expert on working with multigenerational buyers and sellers.

“Often the sellers are older couples who are moving on to the next chapter in their lives. They’re usually downsizing and looking for something with less maintenance,” said Eber. “It’s almost like the buyers and sellers are switching places. We’re seeing more mature sellers flock to the condos that used to be dominated by younger buyers, who are now looking more and more to traditional homes. Of course, Gen Y still loves the condos, too!”


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Coldwell Banker’s Thomson Sisters Debut on Season 25 of “The Amazing Race”

Meet Lisa and Michelle Thomson of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate’s Thomson Team of Pinecrest, Florida. Lisa, 28, and Michelle, 22, are very competitive and talented Realtors® who have sold more than 2,000 single family homes and condominiums in Miami-Dade to date. No strangers to a competitive marketplace, Lisa and Michelle decided it was time to take their winning edge on the road, or in this case, on CBS’ The Amazing Race.

Amazing Race Season 25 Cast

“It has been so exciting to spend quality time with my sister, Michelle. We put in a tremendous amount of hard work, time and energy into our business, so actually having the time to step back and focus on each other was a gift,” said Lisa Thomson, who recently wed to sports agent Drew Rosenhaus.

The brand new season of The Amazing Race debuts this Friday, September 26 at 8 p.m. To follow the Thomson sisters on their journey or to join in the conversation on twitter, use the hashtag #miamirealtors.

Amazing Race Season 25 Episode 1

“My sister is my best friend and she is the best possible partner to have on the show.  We work so well together in our real estate business, and aren’t strangers to competition. Together, we can do anything,” said Michelle Thomson.

Watch the video below as the Thomson Sisters tell us all about why they decided to audition for The Amazing Race and what it means to compete on the show as sisters.

Amazing Race Miami Sisters

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How To Decorate for Halloween Without Going Overboard

The humid summer air is slowly turning into cool and crisp bursts of wind. Colorful flowers like impatiens and begonias are being replaced with yellow and orange mums. Yup, fall is here.

As the countdown to summer resets, our list of things to do around house includes transitioning our house from summer to fall. For many of us that also means breaking out the Halloween decorations. If you want to show off your festive side but would prefer your home not to resemble that of Morticia Addams, then these tips are for you.


(Not So) Spooky Steps

Your steps are probably the easiest thing to decorate. If you want to go basic, you can buy a few pumpkins and you are all set. Want to take it a step further? Add a few lanterns for an elegant effect.

Get instructions for this DIY project

Party Porch

Porches were made for Halloween decorations. OK maybe I am exaggerating, but they are the perfect spot  for seasonal decor. Focus on one corner of your porch and pick one large item as your focal point. Some ideas to get you started: a cauldron, broomstick, pumpkin topiary or a hay bale.

Candy Sign



Ghastly Garden

Mums are a fall classic that are an elegant addition for your curb appeal. In addition to planting mums you can find other garden decorations like flags and signs on sites like Etsy and Amazon.

Like this flag? Buy it here.

Dressed Up Door

A simple wreath will tie the look together. You can make your own or buy one from Michaels or Etsy.

Like this Wreath? Buy it here.



Eerie Entry Table

Creating a frightening foyer is as easy as picking a theme. You can go with colors, like orange, black and/or purple, creatures like bats, skeletons or witches or just an overall Autumnal theme. This is the first, and sometimes only, thing guests will see when they enter so you can show off your Halloween spirit without even touching any other room in the house.

Get the look here

Frighteningly Fun Fireplace Mantel

If you have a fireplace then you have prime real estate in your home for a Halloween display. Candles, mini pumpkins and simple garland are affordable touches that go a long way.

Need more mantel ideas? Click Here

Looking for more Halloween fun? Click here.

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Happy Autumnal Equinox! What You Need to Know about the August Housing Numbers

As the summery temperatures begin to subside and the smell of pumpkin spice takes over, today marks the first official day of autumn. To close out the summer of 2014, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its August existing-home sales report. After four consecutive months of gains, existing-home sales lost momentum due to a decline in all-cash sales from investors. The median existing-home price in August was $219,800, 4.8 percent above August 2013, marking the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

On the bright side, this provides an opportunity for first-time homebuyers who have a better chance at purchasing a home with bidding wars declining and inventory constraints easing throughout the U.S. The percent of first-time buyers remained unchanged from July at 29 percent. First-time buyers have represented less than 30 percent of all buyers in 16 of the past 17 months.

 As job growth continues, NAR predicts that steady purchasing power will help Americans’ demand for buying homes.

Take a look at a breakdown of the median price of homes sold in each region of the country during this past August. And as we start cozying up to the crisp fall air, check out the below home listings currently on the market, perfect for spotting foliage and celebrating the start of autumn.

Northeast median sales price: $265,800

o   82 Shaw Road in Goshen, MA

o   $265,000 for a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home (2,003 sq. ft.)

Midwest median sales price: $173,800

o   42 Kentland Dr. in Romeoville, IL

o   $174,000 for a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home (1,600 sq. ft.)

South median sales price: $186,700

o   200 Timber Ridge Circle in Madisonville, TN

o   $187,000 for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home (1,947 sq. ft.)

West median sales price: $301,900

o   7048 E. Cuernavaco Way in Gold Canyon, AZ

o   $301,000 for a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home (2,194 sq. ft.)

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6 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Landscaper

As you prepare your lawn for the fall season, why not hire a landscaper to save yourself some time? Landscapers have the tools, experience and knowledge to create the landscape you need or prepare it for the cold days ahead. To help you find the right landscaper, here are some essential tips to follow and questions to ask regarding landscaping.

As you prepare your lawn for the fall season, why not hire a landscaper to save yourself some time? Landscapers have the tools, experience and knowledge to create the landscape you need or prepare it for the cold days ahead. To help you find the right landscaper, here are some essential tips to follow and questions to ask regarding landscaping.

1. Ask around to find a landscaper. If you see well-kept lawns in your neighborhood, why not ask your neighbors who they hired? You might also ask friends and family in the area if they’ve hired a good landscaper recently. You might also check online for screened and approved landscaping contractors who have been rated by homeowners in your area, which will save you time and effort on checking them.

2. Get multiple bids for a project.Once you have a few businesses in mind, you’ll need to get bids. You should never hire the first one to answer the phone. Once you explain the job, the landscaper will give you a project estimate, and numbers will vary from business to business. You can compare bids against project data costs for various landscaping projects to make sure you’re not paying more than you should be. Also be wary of any “low ball” bids, since this could be a sign of a poor job or additional or hidden fees.

3. List past project references. If you find the landscaper in the yellow pages or online, ask about past clients. As you speak to these clients, ask them about the landscaper’s process, communication, staff and how quickly they complete a project. These should help you learn more about the landscaper and how they would work with you.

4. Check for documentation and licenses. The landscaper should be able to prove they’re legitimate with a license. They should also have insurance for the length of the project, if not worker’s compensation to cover injuries on the job.

5. Discuss the specifics. This is where you need to hash out everything about the project before you get to the contract and putting down a deposit. Some of the landscaping questions to ask include:

  • What are your work practices?
  • What equipment and materials will you be using for my project?
  • What’s your past experience with this kind of landscaping project?
  • Does your landscaping business belong to any local, state or national landscaping associations?
  • Can you provide me with a design sketch for the project before we begin?
  • How much of a deposit will you want before beginning the project? (Pro tip: the average is 30% of the total project, so be cautionary of anyone who asks for 50% or more.)

6. Put together & sign a contract. Once you’ve found the right landscaper, it’s time to put down all the details of the job in writing. This contract should include:

  • Start and end date of the project
  • Materials involved
  • Costs and fees
  • A lien waiver
  • Guarantee, if applicable

A lien waiver will keep you from being responsible for paying for materials from a supplier, as the landscaper should be paying for them and then charging you later. A guarantee for items like a deck, patio or other major projects should be for at least two to five years, if not longer. Make sure the contract is completely filled out and that nothing is left blank.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Cover Photo: Beckett Creek Ln, Humble, TX Currently listed with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors

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Pinterest Home Mythbusters #1: DIY Natural Home Deodorizer

Pinterest has become the Google of the home tips, tricks and decor ideas. Like countless others, my boards are filled with mouth water recipes, holiday decor ideas and stunning outfits that I would have never thought of putting together.

The sad part? I would say about 90% of what I pin I never actually make, cook or buy simply because I don’t have the time.

Sound familiar?

Now that I have officially been a homeowner for one year I have decided to take on a minimum of one Pinterest project a month. It’s time to break out the super glue, finally try my crockpot and even test out some of those “natural” cleaning tips.” I will keep you updated and let you know about my Pinterest victories, fails (I’m sure there will be a few) and discoveries. You can follow along here on Blue Matter or on my Pinterest board.

Project #1: Vanilla Rosemary Lemon Simmer

To start kick off my Pinterest mythbusters series I decided to start with a very popular and very easy project. If searching for home ideas is your hobby then I can almost guarantee you have come across the “Vanilla Rosemary and Lemon” simmer which guarantees to leave your home smelling heavenly.

Seriously it’s everywhere!

pinterest rosemary lemon vanilla


The instructions are super easy…

  1. Fill a pot of water (about 2/3)
  2. Add 1 Lemon (sliced)
  3. Throw in a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  4. Add 1-2 tsp of vanilla extract
  5. Simmer all day (add water as needed)

I threw the ingredients in and went about my Sunday cleaning occasionally stopping into the kitchen to take in the aroma. I even posted about it and was surprised by how many others who had wondered if this lemony concoction was all it is cracked up to be.


The Verdict

Fail. I was really disappointed with the outcome. Now, it is important to of course note that everyone has difference preferences when it comes to scents and smells. For me, this scent just didn’t deliver. My husband walked into the kitchen and told me there was no way he was eating whatever I was cooking. (haha) He was happy when I explained what I was doing and agreed with me that the smell wasn’t as pleasant as one would expect and that he preferred the orange peel/cinnamon simmer that I normally do.

Here is the recipe for the orange peel recipe I use from Apartment Therapy:

Peel from 1 lemon
Peel from 1 orange
2 bay leaves
3 cinnamon sticks
2 Tablespoons whole cloves


Have you been wondering about a pin you saw? Leave a link in the comments and I might choose it for my next blog post!

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10 Things You Need To Know Before Moving With Pets

By Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

Moving? Let’s be honest, moving is stressful. But, imagine if you can’t read, understand all of the chatter around you and all you see is the chaos of boxes, your home in an upheaval and stressed out humans everywhere. Sounds even more stressful, right? That’s why it is vital to look after your furry friends during the moving process.

Moving doesn’t have to be a dog-gone cat-astrophy. The good news is that with a paw-ful of wise tips you can ease their trauma. Here are ten tricks that have been approved by Dr. Sara Sheltren, veterinarian at the East Padden Animal Hospital, in Vancouver, Washington to keep Fluffy and Fido cared for during the moving process:

  1. Before Moving Day: Become familiar with pet rules and regulations. Landlords and homeowners’ associations may have specific pet rules. Become familiar with your new area’s leash laws, pet ordinances and/or pet licensing requirements. Your pet may need additional vaccinations, medications or certain certificates depending on where you are moving. A call to the local animal control facility should answer your questions.
  2. Talk To Your Current Vet:Your veterinarian is a great resource. If you have an animal that dislikes traveling, your vet can suggest behavior modification techniques or medication that can make traveling less stressful for your pet. When talking to your vet, also discuss getting Fluffy or Fido micro-chipped. Dr. Sara Sheltren, a veterinarian at the East Padden Animal Hospital says getting pets’ identification microchips can be a vital step in reuniting pets with their owners.
  3. Find A New Vet: Find a new vet in your new area before moving day. Your current vet may be able to make recommendations for colleagues he or she knows in your new area. When finding a new vet, it is recommended to set up an appointment as soon as you move in order to get established. It always important to make sure you are comfortable with their practice before they are needed in an emergency.
  4. Get Medical Records: Before you leave your old home, make sure you get a copy of all of your pet’s medical records to give to your new vet and be sure to find the closest emergency animal hospital and keep that phone number handy.
  5. Update Your Address: Don’t forget to have new identification tags with your new address and phone number made for your pet’s collar, and if your pet has an identification microchip, remember to update your contact information in the database. Dr. Sheltren also recommends carrying a picture of your pet with you in case they get lost.
  6. Keep Things Normal:Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time so that your pet thinks everything is normal. This will keep their stress level down. If you are moving with cats, it can help to bring out their carriers out a few a weeks before the move. Put their favorite treats and toys inside their carriers so they can get used to it before the big moving day. Don’t pack the food away! Keep your pet’s food, water, bowls, medication and any other important supplies (like that favorite squeaky toy) off the moving truck and with you.
  7. Moving Day: During the actual moving day, where boxes and furniture are being moved, pets should be removed. Find a friend who wouldn’t mind pet sitting or find a place away from all the noise of moving such as a doggy day care or cat care center. If you can visit them during a spare moment, it can help reassure the pets that nothing is going on.Keeping pets locked away in a room during moving day can make them anxious from all the noise and new people that might be in your home. If you must keep them locked away, find a quiet room, water bowl and put a HUGE sign on the door.
  8. Travel with Your Pet:Unless your move is long distance or international, your pet will likely be traveling by car with you nearby. By driving them yourself you can care for them and give them a sense of familiarity as they move. To prepare your pet for this trip, drive for short distances with your pet to prepare them before the final move. Also, remember to plan ahead for any special carriers your pets may need for transportation. There are even special seat belts for large dogs.
  9. Air Travel: If you are moving your pet by air or internationally, check all rules and regulations far ahead of the day you plan to leave and remember to keep your pet’s special documentation at hand.
  10. After Moving Day: Don’t let pets roam around the neighborhood until they are acclimated. Take them out on a leash to explore their new territory and show them how to get home. If you let them out in a new place right away, they might get lost or run away due to stress. Make sure your pet’s new identification tags are secured to their collar.

Now snuggle up with your furry friend and enjoy the new home!


Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.

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