Extreme Real Estate: Homes on a Cliff

BOSTON (MainStreet) -- Want to live life on the edge -- literally?

Consider buying a cliffside home, where you'll get stunning views and often your own private beach or dock.

"Living in a home along the coast lets you feel a sense of magnificence, for lack of a better word," says San Francisco broker Bill Bullock, who frequently sells cliffside homes. "Homes on cliffs have a boldness to them that's different from what you'd get living at sea level."

U.S. cliffside homes are available along rivers and canyons, but some of America's most beautiful -- and expensive -- ones sit next to the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.

Bullock admits that properties right on a beach offer "a much more stimulating experience than cliff homes, because you have the waves coming in right there. But cliff homes provide a much larger, broader expanse of a view."

Of course, cliff homes have some disadvantages.

For openers, they typically cost $1 million to $40 million or more.

By definition, cliff houses also sit in precarious locations. Bullock remembers erosion sending some San Clemente, Calif., cliffside houses falling into the water years back, leaving neighbors "scared like hell that their homes were going to wind up in the Pacific Ocean, too."

Still, the views can't be beat.

"Cliffside homes just have higher views that give you a difference feeling than you'd get anywhere else," Bullock said.

Here are five upscale cliffside homes listed for sale at Realtor.com:

Belvedere Avenue home, Belvedere, Calif.
Asking price: $22 million
Listing agents: Bill Bullock and Lydia Sarkissian, Decker Bullock Sotheby's International Realty, 415-517-7720
This property sits on the westernmost promontory of San Francisco's exclusive Belvedere Island in San Francisco Bay, some two miles north of San Francisco.

The home's three-level yard and big picture windows look out past a sharp drop-off to Sausalito, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline.

The main house features a master bedroom suite with a fireplace, private terrace and his-and-her bathrooms and dressing areas. There are four additional bedrooms, five more bathrooms and four other fireplaces.

The 0.75-acre gated spread includes a one-bedroom/one-bathroom detached carriage house, a three-car garage and parking for seven additional cars.

Pony up an extra $12 million and you can buy an adjacant parcel of waterfront land down the cliff, providing an extra acre -- plus your own private boathouse and pier.

Belvedere is a town so exclusive that it hosts the San Francisco Yacht Club but doesn't allow any shops or restaurants. You have to go to adjacent Tiburon for that, as well as for ferry service to San Francisco 25 minutes away.

Point Place home, Laguna Beach, Calif.
Asking price: $10 million
Listing agent: Donna Pfanner, Coldwell Bankers, 949-499-1320
This contemporary home is perched above the Pacific Ocean in tony Laguna Beach, Calif., about an hour south of Los Angeles.

The four-bedroom home features three private terraces, walls of windows and a master bedroom suite with 180-degree-plus views to take advantage of its oceanside location. All bedrooms have their own private bathrooms, which are outfitted with Philippe Starck fixtures.

There's also a game room, meditation area, Gaggenau gourmet kitchen and steps that lead to the white-sand beach below. Additionally, the home features garage space for three cars -- including a special hydraulic lift that drops one vehicle into a display area in the home's entryway.

Privacy seekers will love this place, as you can't see the home from the street. It's accessed via a "secret" stone-tile tunnel.

Cedar Point Estate, Jamestown, R.I.
Asking price: $9.5 million
Listing agent: Paul Leys, Gustave White Sotheby's International Realty, 401-849-3000
This 6.3-acre estate sits atop a high bluff overlooking Mackerel Cove on Jamestown Island near exclusive Newport, R.I.

Built in 1916, the home features six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a sunroom, terrace and three-car garage with a one-bedroom in-law suite above.

The property also has a carriage house, grape arbor, extensive flower and vegetable gardens, 1,000 feet of ocean frontage and a set of steps leading to a private beach and dock.

Listing agent Paul Leys says brave swimmers can jump off of the home's 25-foot cliff directly into Mackerel Cove, "which is a fun little swimming hole."

Baylis Lane estate, Bedford, N.Y.
Asking price: $5 million
Listing agent: Caroline Shepherd, Houlihan Lawrence, 914-234-9099
Not all cliffside homes are along the ocean.

This 18-acre gated estate in one of New York City's exclusive Westchester County suburbs features a contemporary-style house perched high above a private rock quarry suitable for swimming in summer and skating in winter.

The house has five bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, an exercise room and three-car garage. There's also a wraparound deck, a large patio and lots of big windows looking out over the water and the trees surrounding the home.

The rustic property also features a private waterfall, sustainable herb garden and lots of groomed trails -- all only an hour or so away from Manhattan via car or commuter train.

Stagecoach Trail home, Lyons, Colo.
Asking price: $1.2 million
Listing agent: Karen Bernardi, Coldwell Banker, 303-402-6001
This modern home sits on a cliff overlooking Colorado's Little Thompson River some 20 miles north of Boulder.

The 4.6-acre parcel's main house features two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a huge living-room fireplace and four garage spaces. There's also a chef's kitchen with a Wolf double oven, a Sub-Zero refrigerator and custom cabinets.

The property hosts a second building that would make a perfect home office or artist's studio.

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