Category Archives: Luxury Homes

Why Manhattan’s Skyscrapers Are Empty

Approximately half of the luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years remain unsold.

In Manhattan, the homeless shelters are full, and the luxury skyscrapers are vacant.

Such is the tale of two cities within America’s largest metro. Even as 80,000 people sleep in New York City’s shelters or on its streets, Manhattan residents have watched skinny condominium skyscrapers rise across the island. These colossal stalagmites initially transformed not only the city’s skyline but also the real-estate market for new homes. From 2011 to 2019, the average price of a newly listed condo in New York soared from $1.15 million to $3.77 million.

But the bust is upon us. Today, nearly half of the Manhattan luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold, according to The New York Times.

What happened? While real estate might seem like the world’s most local industry, these luxury condos weren’t exclusively built for locals. They were also made for foreigners with tens of millions of dollars to spare. Developers bet huge on foreign plutocrats—Russian oligarchs, Chinese moguls, Saudi royalty—looking to buy second (or seventh) homes.

But the Chinese economy slowed, while declining oil prices dampened the demand for pieds-à-terre among Russian and Middle Eastern zillionaires. It didn’t help that the Treasury Department cracked down on attempts to launder money through fancy real estate. Despite pressure from nervous lenders, developers have been reluctant to slash prices too suddenly or dramatically, lest the market suddenly clear and they leave millions on the table.

The confluence of cosmopolitan capital and terrible timing has done the impossible: It’s created a vacancy problem in a city where thousands of people are desperate to find places to live.

From any rational perspective, what New York needs isn’t glistening three-bedroom units, but more simple one- and two-bedroom apartments for New York’s many singlesroommates, and small families. Mayor Bill De Blasio made affordable housing a centerpiece of his administration. But progress here has been stalled by onerous zoning regulations, limited federal subsidies, construction delays, and blocked pro-tenant bills.

In the past decade, New York City real-estate prices have gone from merely obscene to downright macabre. From 2010 to 2019, the average sale price of homes doubled in many Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Prospect Heights and Williamsburg, according to the Times. Buyers there could consider themselves lucky: In Cobble Hill, the typical sales price tripled to $2.5 million in nine years.

This is not normal. And for middle-class families, particularly for the immigrants who give New York City so much of its dynamism, it has made living in Manhattan or gentrified Brooklyn practically impossible. No wonder, then, that the New York City area is losing about 300 residents every day. It adds up to what Michael Greenberg, writing for The New York Review of Books, called a new shameful form of housing discrimination—“bluelining.”

We speak nowadays with contrition of redlining, the mid-twentieth-century practice by banks of starving black neighborhoods of mortgages, home improvement loans, and investment of almost any sort. We may soon look with equal shame on what might come to be known as bluelining: the transfiguration of those same neighborhoods with a deluge of investment aimed at a wealthier class.

New York’s example is extreme—the squeezed middle class, shrink-wrapped into tiny bedrooms, beneath a canopy of empty sky palaces. But Manhattan reflects America’s national housing market, in at least three ways.

First, the typical new American single-family home has become surprisingly luxurious, if not quite so swank as Manhattan’s glassy spires. Newly built houses in the U.S. are among the largest in the world, and their size-per-resident has nearly doubled in the past 50 years. And the bathrooms have multiplied. In the early ’70s, 40 percent of new single-family houses had 1.5 bathrooms or fewer; today, just 4 percent do. The mansions of the ’70s would be the typical new homes of the 2020s.

Second, as the new houses have become more luxurious, homeownership itself has become a luxury. Young adults today are one-third less likely to own a home at this point in their lives than previous generations. Among young black Americans, homeownership has fallen to its lowest rate in more than 60 years.

Third, and most important, the most expensive housing markets, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, haven’t built nearly enough homes for the middle class. As urban living has become too expensive for workers, many of them have either stayed away from the richest, densest cities or moved to the south and west, where land is cheaper. This is a huge loss, not only for individual workers, but also for these metros, because denser cities offer better matches between companies and workers, and thus are richer and more productive overall. Instead of growing as they grow richer, New York City, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area are all shrinking.

Across the country, the supply of housing hasn’t kept up with population growth. Single-family-home sales are stuck at 1996 levels, even though the United States has added 60 million people—or two Texases—since the mid-’90s. The undersupply of housing has become one of the most important stories in economics in the past decade. It explains why Americans are less likely to movewhy social mobility has declinedwhy regional inequality has increasedwhy entrepreneurship continues to fallwhy wealth inequality has skyrocketed, and why certain neighborhoods have higher poverty and worse health.

In 2010, one might have thought that the defining housing story of the century would be the real-estate bubble that plunged the U.S. economy into a recession. But the past decade has been defined by the juxtaposition of rampant luxury-home building with the cratering of middle-class-home construction. The future might restore a measure of sanity, both to New York’s housing crisis and America’s. But for now, the nation is bluelining itself to death.

Source: by Derek Thompson | The Atlantic

A Record Number of Homes Closed for $100 Million-Plus During 2019

Six deals topped $100 million in 2019, despite a general slowdown across the U.S. luxury real-estate market. Here is a look at the top-10 home sales

Cartwell sold for $150 million in December – Jim Bartsch

In 2019, a small group of enormous real estate deals, while bearing little relationship to the overall market, had an outsize impact on the national conversation about wealth inequality and the rapidly expanding billionaire class.

A boom in ultrahigh priced deals in Palm Beach this year, including the $111 million sale of an oceanfront estate, raised questions about the number of wealthy New Yorkers fleeing to Florida in response to a 2017 change in federal tax law. A string of $100 million-plus deals completed in Los Angeles put the spotlight on high-end real estate on the West Coast.

Hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin’s roughly $238 million purchase of a New York penthouse, which set a price record for the nation, bolstered the arguments of legislators who support additional property taxes for the super rich.

These megadeals don’t necessarily speak to a broad surge in real estate values. In general, the U.S. luxury real-estate market faced a slowdown in 2019, thanks to oversupply in certain markets, tax changes and a general decline in foreign purchasers.

Read on for a closer look at the top 10 deals of the year, a record six of which topped $100 million, according to research by The Wall Street Journal and appraiser Jonathan Miller. Mr. Miller said he believes the previous record was three $100 million-plus deals, achieved in both 2014 and 2016.

1. 220 Central Park South, New York

Price: Roughly $238 million

Early in 2019, hedge-fund executive Ken Griffin closed on a roughly $238 million apartment. Emily Assiran for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Griffin’s purchase of the roughly 24,000-square-foot Billionaires’ Row apartment “came to personify the issue of income inequality for many people,” said luxury agent Jason Haber of Warburg Realty of the deal. “Ken Griffin closed right when the legislature began their session. It was like throwing meat to the wolves.”

Soon after, the New York legislature expanded the so-called “mansion tax,” designed to target buyers of properties priced at $2 million or more, and increased property transfer taxes. The deal also helped reignite discussions around a pied-à-terre tax, which would tax multimillion-dollar second homes as a funding source for the city’s beleaguered subway system.

“It served as Exhibit A for why we should look at the possibility,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the pied-à-terre tax bill.

The purchase was one of a string of record-breaking acquisitions by the billionaire in recent years In 2017, the Citadel founder bought several floors of a Chicago condominium for a record $58.75 million. He also bought a London home for about $122 million, and a piece of land in Florida for $99.1 million (see below).

To some extent, Mr. Griffin’s spending spree has made him a central figure in the debate about wealth inequality in New York. “Anyone who can afford to pay for a $238 million apartment can afford to pay a little more off the top to make the city a better place for everyone,” Sen. Hoylman said. Mr. Griffin has rarely spoken publicly on the issue. At an event this year hosted by Bloomberg News, Mr. Griffin criticized presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying he wished she spent more energy on education, rather than attacking “those of us who have been successful.”

The recently completed tower has quickly become New York’s new “it” building. Other buyers include musician Sting and hedge-fund executive Dan Och (see below).

Buyer’s agents: Tal Alexander and Oren Alexander of Douglas Elliman

Seller’s agent: Deborah Kern of the Corcoran Group

A view of Chartwell, which was purchased by Lachlan Murdoch. Jim Bartsch

2. Chartwell, Los Angeles

Price: $150 Million

Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman of News Corp., which owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, paid about $150 million for this Bel-Air estate in December, setting a record for the Los Angeles area, according to people familiar with the deal. Observers said it was the second-priciest sale ever recorded in the country for a single-family home.

Lachlan Murdoch. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

While the price-tag was huge, the property was the latest in a line of homes to sell for a major discount to their original asking prices, marking the culmination of years of aggressive or arguably aspirational pricing for luxury homes across the country. The roughly 25,000-square-foot mansion came on the market in 2017 for $350 million, making it the most expensive listing in the nation at the time.

Designed by Sumner Spaulding around 1930, the property was owned by onetime Univision Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio. It came with a Wallace Neff-designed five-bedroom guesthouse, a 75-foot pool, a tennis court and a car showroom with space for 40 vehicles. Mr. Murdoch didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Seller’s agents: Drew Fenton, Jeff Hyland and Gary Gold of Hilton & Hyland; Joyce Rey, Jade Mills and Alexandra Allen of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury; and Drew Gitlin and Susan Gitlin of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.

Buyer’s agent: Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland.

Spelling Manor in Holmby Hills sold for nearly $120 million. Jim Bartsch

3. Spelling Manor, Los Angeles

Price: $119.75 million

British Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone sold Spelling Manor, a sprawling estate built for the late television producer Aaron Spelling, this past summer for $119.75 million, records show. The buyer hailed from Saudi Arabia, according to people familiar with the deal.

Petra Ecclestone. Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

The Holmby Hills property, designed in the style of a French château, is about 56,000 square feet, making it one of the largest private homes in the country. After Ms. Ecclestone bought it from Mr. Spelling’s widow, Candy Spelling, in 2011, she brought in more than 500 workers to do a three-month, multimillion-dollar renovation. The property has a two-lane bowling alley, a wine cellar, a beauty salon, a gym, tanning rooms and a tennis court.

The property is one of several significant Los Angeles area homes to have traded to buyers from the Middle East this year. In May, a Saudi buyer snapped up two neighboring Bel-Air properties for $52 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Seller’s agents: Kurt Rappaport and Daniel Dill of Westside Estate Agency; Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury and David Parnes and James Harris of the Agency.

Buyer’s agents: Jeff Hyland and Rick Hilton of Hilton & Hyland.

Read about the next seven featured properties by clicking on the article credit below…

By Katherine Clarke | Mansion Global who republished it from The Wall Street Journal

Jeffrey Epstein’s $56 Million Mansion Could Become a Real-Estate Nightmare

(Jeanette Settembre) Jeffrey Epstein lived in what’s reportedly one of the largest private homes in Manhattan, where he allegedly sexually abused under aged girls, an allegation so horrific, real-estate experts say people will go out of their way to avoid walking down the block.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Epstein’s seven-story, 21,000-square-foot Upper East Side home near Central Park is reportedly valued at $56 million, and if the home ever hits the market again, the stigma from the financier’s alleged sex-trafficking scandal will likely diminish its worth.

“After an event like this occurs, and the public becomes aware of it, all of a sudden the value drops significantly,” real-estate appraiser Orell Anderson, who valued the homes where Nicole Brown Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey were murdered, told MarketWatch.

“When tragedy or crime occurs at a home, it could take years before it ever sells, even if it’s a high profile residence”

One might find what’s inside the mansion disturbing even without knowing the harrowing acts that occurred inside.The home is reportedly adorned with unsettling decor choices, like a female doll hanging from the chandelier, and a self-portrait Epstein reportedly commissioned of himself portrayed in a prison scene behind barbed wire in the middle of a corrections officer and a guard station, according to The New York Times. All of those adornments, of course, would be removed in lieu of any sale.

When tragedy or crime occurs at a home, it could take years before it ever sells, even if it’s a high profile residence. And when it does, the buyer usually gets a discount on it, and the market value could take years to bounce back, if it ever does, Anderson says.

Homes where something as extreme as a murder occurs can often decrease a property’s value by 25% because of physical damages to the house like blood stains, or the lingering smell of dead bodies, Anderson explains. Then there’s the stigma of living in a house where someone was killed, or a tragedy happened.

After O.J. Simpson’s former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her 26-year-old friend Ron Goldman were found dead outside of her Brentwood home in 1994, Brown Simpson’s family tried to sell it, but no one wanted to buy a home where a double homicide occurred.

The house was on the market for two years before it finally sold for a fraction of what Brown Simpson paid for it. She purchased the home for $625,000 and it sold for $525,000, according to realtor.com. And in 1974 when Ronald DeFeo murdered an entire family in the “Amityville Horror House,” it sold for a $250,000 loss in 2017.

“The property in the short-term would take a significant hit to what its potential would be.”

New York City-based real-estate appraiser Jonathan Miller says even cursed homes see resiliency.

“Whenever there is a tragedy, generally speaking, at least in New York, the property in the short-term would take a significant hit to what its potential would be,” Miller explained.

He said Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion is especially unique because there’s only a handful like them on the block near Central Park. “I find that within a few years that generally fades away and even accelerates when you have a unique property or housing shortage.”

How to salvage and attempt to sell a cursed property

Once the dust settles after a tragedy, there are physical changes that can be made to present the property in a new light.

“It’s best to make the house look different from the pictures of it in the media so that people don’t immediately recognize it.” Anderson says, of changing the facade. “Put in more lights or change the color of the walls so there’s a perception that things have changed.”

That could mean investing in landscapers to add more plants to the front entrance to make it look more inviting, or changing the color of the home to make it appear brand new so perspective buyers don’t associate the property with it’s dark history.

However, real-estate agents are typically obliged to reveal the history of a house, especially if there were serious crimes committed there such as a murder, to a prospective buyer.

To boost the value of Simpson Brown’s home, it underwent a massive renovation and an address change so prospective buyers wouldn’t associate the condo with its past. It took more than a decade to bounce back selling for $1.72 million in 2006, according to realtor.com.

In the DeFeo murder home, granite counter tops, a heated sun room, fireplace and home sprinkler system were added likely to help boost the value in 2016 before it sold a year later.

Homes where tragedies occur can be redeveloped, turned into memorials or destroyed

Anderson says another way to restore a property that’s been plagued by crime or violence is to demolish it and rebuild something completely new, like turning a single-family mansion into an apartment building or office space depending on what zoning and land laws permit.

“If you had the kind of money, you could tear down the home and make it into something different,” Anderson said. In other cases, like an act of terrorism or a mass shooting, sometimes homes or the place where a tragedy occurred are destroyed all together, Anderson noted.

Some buyers hire energy healers to chase away evil spirits and bad vibes

When the DeFeo murder home first sold in 1975 after he was convicted, the buyers reportedly moved out nearly a month after they moved in because they allegedly heard voices telling them to “get out.” It could be worth getting an energy healer or spiritual leader to come in and cleanse the house, Anderson says, to put potential home owners at ease.

“If your market demands it, you could get your local priest or energy healer to come exercise the bad spirits. It might sound ridiculous, but that seems to be calming for people who believe in ghosts, or have superstitions,” Anderson says.

Source: By Jeanette Settembre | Realtor.com

***

The Jeffrey Epstein Rabbit Hole Goes a Lot Deeper Than You’ve Been Told So Far

It seems like the whole Epstein thing was an elaborate professional blackmail operation intended to ensnare the rich and powerful. But who was really behind it, who was really bankrolling Epstein?

We really need to get to the bottom of this for all the right dominos fall.

Hunting For Ranches Like Penthouses Means Perks, Or Forget It

Source: T. Boone Pickens Family Office

(Bloomberg) — Buyers looking for the perfect luxury ranch, that billionaire’s take on American rural life, may have to hold out to get what they want.

Whether it’s sky-high in New York or in the Big Sky country of Montana, high-end properties seem to be hitting a soft patch: they’re harder to sell unless they come with an exclusivity where price matter less. But that means paying a premium for that perfect combination: from mountain views at sunset to proximity to well-stocked towns to wildlife or the cachet of neighbors.

While six of 38 ranches listed for sale at more than $10 million have been marked down in the past 90 days, there’s a limited supply of properties that cover the full range of features, according to Billings, Montana-based broker Hall and Hall.

“When you get all of those things working together, if you really want that, you have to pay up if it comes available,” said Hall and Hall managing director B Elfland, who goes by his first-name initial without a period.

That has some sellers betting that bigger is better. Morton Fleischer, chairman and co-founder of Store Capital Corp., is marketing his Arizona and Montana ranches together for $50 million. One selling point, he said by phone, is the millions poured into the area by GoDaddy Inc.’s billionaire founder Bob Parsons.

Private Jet, Horses

“If I was younger, I wouldn’t sell that ranch,” Fleischer, 82, said of his Scottsdale home. “It’s a good investment for someone.”

“I got out of the pressure cooker and could get on my horses,” he said. “Perhaps someone running a hedge fund who’s in their 40s and wants to live a lifestyle out west and has enough money to have a jet plane to get back and forth could do the same.’’

Nearly doubling the price to attract a buyer may seem counterintuitive. Take West Creek Ranch in Colorado, with no buyer since John Hendricks listed it for $149 million in 2017. Now the Discovery Channel founder is combining the offer with his guest resort and car museum down the road for $279 million, according to Sotheby’s International Realty.

Also on the market in Colorado for $46 million is Henry Kravis’s Westlands Ranch. Kravis has a net worth of $6.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. Private-equity executive Charlie Gallagher is asking $36 million for his Elk Island Ranch.

Exclusive Market

That’s a far cry from what NFL and Premier League team owner Stan Kroenke paid in 2016 when he bought the W.T. Waggoner Estate Ranch in Texas listed for $725 million, which is bigger than New York city and Los Angeles combined. Kroenke has a net worth of $8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index.

In Montana, “In each 2016 and 2017, there were only four sales $10 million and above,’’ said Hall and Hall broker David Johnson. “The next year, there were eight. It wasn’t a double in demand. It was a double in supply.”

Hall and Hall sold 16 ranches for more than $10 million in 2018, compared to six so far in 2019. While that may suggest a slowdown, ranch sales can’t be compared to the frenzy of big cities.

“Our market doesn’t have the dramatic swings that New York and California residential markets have,” said Elfland.

Owning a rural slice of heaven runs deep in the psyche of even the biggest victors of capitalism. Shining examples of the American Dream are the country’s biggest individual landowners, John Malone, who has a net worth of $8.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index, and Ted Turner, founder of CNN.

Life Timing

Buying a ranch can be a matter of timing, of having a job on autopilot and kids out of the house who want to visit.

“The clock is running, so if they’re going to enjoy it, it’s an incentive to pay a premium,” said Johnson.

When the kids stop visiting, it can be sad.

“We sold one last year that had been on the market for 10 years,’’ he said. “The price had come down by two thirds to where the buyer would pick it up.’’

Source: by Hailey Waller | Bloomberg News

Mansion Bust: Hamptons Estate Sells For 46% Discount

Arbor Realty Trust CEO and president Ivan Kaufman just bought a 58-acre estate in the Hamptons for $35 million — about HALF of its $75 million asking price from 2003 and about $14 million less than its most recent asking price, reported the New York Post.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/Arbor-Realty-Trust%20three%20ponds%20home-.jpg?itok=FqP4bLNF

The estate in Bridgehampton, called Three Ponds Farm, features an 18-hole golf course, a large pool, several gardens, a tennis court, and ponds.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/three%20pond%20front%20view.jpg?itok=YzkFqzXb

The estate was first listed in 2003 with an asking price of $75 million. Then in 2007, listed again for $68 million. It was relisted back in December 2018 for $49 million.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/three%20pond%20inside.jpg?itok=aEXjv0Xe

Down the street, the 42-acre Jule Pond estate in Southampton was slashed by $30 million for an asking price around $145 million instead of $175 million.

The developments of the deteriorating Hamptons mansion market comes at a time when luxury real estate across the North East is under structural stress.

Several months ago, we reported about the housing crisis developing between Manhattan, Greenwich, and the Hamptons.

The median sale price of a Hamptons home has fallen to a seven-year low of $860,000, according to our report.

Some of the real estate slowdowns can be connected to President Trump’s federal tax reform, which makes it more expensive to own estates.

Across all price levels, sales in the Hamptons have declined five straight quarters. This has led to an overall decline in the median sale price of homes, down 5.5% in 1Q19 versus the same period a year ago. About 300 homes changed hands in last quarter, was the lowest sales transactions in many years.

The wealth of the Hamptons real-estate market is closely correlated with those of nearby Manhattan, another real estate market that is quickly cooling.

Source: ZeroHedge

Developers Are Pulling Out All The Stops Amid Los Angeles’ Mega-Mansion Glut

Builders and brokers are throwing blowout bashes and testing an array of marketing stunts amid the area’s spec home bubble

(WSJ) Heavy duty vehicles line both sides of many of the winding two-way streets in the Hollywood Hills, making them treacherous single-lane thoroughfares. Construction workers wave stop signs as trucks laden with glass and steel back slowly out of driveways. Empty parcels of land all over Los Angeles’s poshest neighborhoods are being transformed into lavish mansions with price tags in the tens, or even hundreds, of millions.

“Every time I drive up there for any reason, if I return without getting my car dinged I breathe a sigh of relief,” says Andy Butler, a real-estate marketing consultant.

Real-estate experts estimate that there are about 50 ultra high-end spec houses under construction in the area, from Beverly Hills to Bel-Air and Brentwood.

The unprecedented wave of development has its roots in the heady days of 2014 and 2015, when foreign buyers poured into Los Angeles and luxury markets across the country logged record sales. A couple of local megawatt deals—including the $70 million sale of a Beverly Hills compound to billionaire Minecraft creator Markus Persson in 2014—inspired the construction of bigger and pricier homes, most of which were built as contemporary cubes. Some were built by inexperienced developers; many had price tags north of $20 million.

Now, there are simply too many, and not enough buyers to go around. “It’s created its own monster,” says Stephen Shapiro of Westside Estate Agency. “We have an enormous oversupply of these white boxes. There’s years of inventory out there.”

This Bel-Air home shaped like an airplane propeller is asking $56 million. A rendering of the home. Matthew Momberger

A review of the Los Angeles multiple listings service shows close to 100 homes on the market asking over $20 million in Los Angeles County, at least 35 of which could be classified as spec homes, and more are under construction. And those are just the listed ones: Appraiser Jonathan Miller says more than a third of homes in that price category are never entered in the MLS. Some of the city’s most expensive are notably absent.

The surplus mirrors a similar situation in New York, where high-end developers rushed to build pricey condos amid a market upswing, and are now faced with enormous competition for buyers.

But unlike New York, smaller, private lenders and wealthy individuals have provided much of the financing for the Los Angeles spec homes.

https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/B3-EC948_spec05_M_20190529143005.jpg

Don Hankey, a California businessman known as the king of subprime car loans, says one of his companies has provided close to $300 million on high-end homes in the Los Angeles market, including on spec homes. Public records show Hankey Capital provided about $82.5 million in financing to “The One,” an almost-built megamansion by Los Angeles developer Nile Niami, who plans to list it for $500 million.

That asking price is more than twice the record paid for a home in the U.S., a record set earlier this year by hedge funder Ken Griffin’s purchase of a nearly $240 million penthouse in New York. The record price for a Los Angeles area home was set by the $110 million sale of a Malibu mansion in 2018.

“You have to be concerned,” Mr. Hankey says of the oversupply. “We’ve cut back. We’re not as aggressive in the financing.”

Other lenders on pricey spec homes include Axos Bank, formerly Bank of Internet, which financed a massive $180 million monolith built by plastic surgeon and newbie developer Raj Kanodia.

The debt load for developers can be substantial. “If I’m living in my house and I put it on the market for sale, I’m still living in my house,” Mr. Shapiro says. “These are empty houses, and the developer is spending a lot every month to keep them.”

https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/B3-ED146_0530sp_M_20190530103731.jpg

Andy Warhol’s 1974, two-toned, Rolls-Royce Shadow can be included in the deal for a new Trousdale spec home that’s branded around the artist. Photo: Darren Asay

In this environment, and amid signs that prices are falling, developers and their agents are going to extraordinary lengths to differentiate their listings from the pack. They are throwing themed bashes in lieu of traditional open houses, thinking up gimmicky new amenities and hiring marketing experts to reimagine homes as individual brands with their own names, logos and stories. Some developers are relisting plots of land, hoping to get their money out without sinking more money into construction.

“People come to us because they want to stand out,” says Alexander Ali, whose marketing and public relations firm the Society Group is finding a growing business in creating brands for megamansions. “There are so many new homes coming to the market every day.”

Mr. Ali’s latest exercise: Turning a roughly 7,600-square-foot contemporary home in Trousdale into “WARHOL 90210,” a property branded around artist Andy Warhol. Mr. Ali and the developer, Wystein Opportunity Fund, joined with a local gallery to display Warhol prints in the home. At a Warhol-themed disco to be held on site, a Warhol look-alike will be filmed striding through the party; the resulting video will be blasted out on social media. (The house has no connection to Mr. Warhol.)

Amid a surplus of luxury spec homes, developers and their agents are going to extraordinary lengths to differentiate their listings from the pack, like throwing themed bashes in lieu of traditional open houses. Photo: Joshua Bobrove

David Parnes, Mauricio Umansky and James Harris of The Agency, which threw the party. Photo: Joshua Bobrove

Mr. Ali convinced the agent that Mr. Warhol’s onetime car—a 1974, two-toned, Rolls-Royce Shadow—and the Warhol prints featured in the home should be included in the deal. “It defines the house as a collector’s dream,” Mr. Ali says. The whole package seeks $17.75 million. The house can be sold separately for $15.625 million.

In February, Mr. Niami threw an elaborate party inspired by Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch’s painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights” in a home he is listing for $39.995 million. Its three levels were organized into heaven, earth and hell, and models in colorful tulle dresses swam in the property’s glass bottomed pool, said Mr. Ali, who organized the party.

There were actors posing as Adam and Eve while hosting a virtual reality game that allowed guests to enter a rendition of the Bosch painting. People drank whiskey infused with the body of a dead cobra, and dancing women dressed in leather, whips and chains. A camel stood at the entrance to greet guests.

Another performer floated on the surface of the pool in a transparent bubble. Photo: Joshua Bobrove

In Bel-Air, real-estate brokerage firm the Agency recently threw a “Great Gatsby” themed event to launch a $35.5 million spec house. A female performer in a bedazzled costume hung upside down from a trapeze to pour champagne for guests, while another floated on the pool in a transparent bubble.

Mr. Ali says developers will pay anywhere from $20,000 to hundreds of thousands to throw such events.

In addition to the parties, developers are always on the hunt for creative new amenities. “It’s about the wow factor,” says spec home developer Ramtin Ray Nosrati, whose under-construction mansion in Brentwood includes a secret room for growing and smoking marijuana.

The ventilated room, accessed by hitting a button hidden inside a living room bookcase, will have tinted windows that darken for privacy. The house, slated to ask between $30 million and $40 million, will also come with a budget for an employee to supervise growing and harvesting. Mr. Nosrati compared the amenity to “having your own vineyard.”

Despite all this, price cuts are the order of the day. Bruce Makowsky, a handbag designer-turned-developer who sold the Minecraft property, lowered the price of his latest project, a lavish Bel-Air house with a candy room and a helipad, to $150 million, down from its original $250 million asking price. Mr. Niami slashed the price of a sprawling 20,500-square-foot house known as Opus to $59.995 million, down from $100 million.

Developer Ario Fakheri has chopped the asking price for his Hollywood Hills home with a roughly 300-gallon indoor shark tank to $26.995 million from $35 million.

Sales are still happening: Approximately 11 deals have closed for more than $20 million in Los Angeles so far this year, and a Saudi buyer recently paid $45 million for a spec home built by diamond manufacturer Rafael Zakaria. But buyers know they have the upper hand. “People are making lowball offers,” says Mr. Shapiro of Westside Estate Agency. “They’re not being shy.”

Doug Barnes, the founder of Eyemart Express, sold a contemporary home in Beverly Hills for $34.65 million in April, or nearly 40% off its original $55 million asking price, records show. British restaurateur and Soho House co-owner Richard Caring is listing a home he bought in Beverly Hills for $29.995 million; he paid $33 million for it in 2016, records show.

As for “The One,” the $500 million property was originally slated to come on the market in 2017 but has yet to be listed. The developer blamed construction delays.

Corrections & Amplifications: Stephen Shapiro of Westside Estate Agency said buyers know they have the upper hand in negotiations to purchase high-end spec homes. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that sellers have the upper hand. (May 30, 2019)

Appeared in the May 31, 2019, print edition as ‘The Spec Home Bubble.’

Source: by Katherine Clarke | The Wall Street Journal via @kathieClarkeNYC

‘Too Big To Sell’ – Boomers Trapped In McMansions As Retirement Looms

More wealthy baby boomers are finding themselves trapped in homes that are too big to sell. They want to downsize but can’t get what they paid.

This was guaranteed to happen, and did. Baby boomers and retirees built large, elaborate dream homes only to find that few people want to buy them.

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Please consider a Growing Problem in Real Estate: Too Many Too Big Houses.

Large, high-end homes across the Sunbelt are sitting on the market, enduring deep price cuts to sell.

That is a far different picture than 15 years ago, when retirees were rushing to build elaborate, five or six-bedroom houses in warm climates, fueled in part by the easy credit of the real estate boom. Many baby boomers poured millions into these spacious homes, planning to live out their golden years in houses with all the bells and whistles.

Now, many boomers are discovering that these large, high-maintenance houses no longer fit their needs as they grow older, but younger people aren’t buying them.

Tastes—and access to credit—have shifted dramatically since the early 2000s. These days, buyers of all ages eschew the large, ornate houses built in those years in favor of smaller, more-modern looking alternatives, and prefer walkable areas to living miles from retail.

The problem is especially acute in areas with large clusters of retirees. In North Carolina’s Buncombe County, which draws retirees with its mild climate and Blue Ridge Mountain scenery, there are 34 homes priced over $2 million on the market, but only 16 sold in that price range in the past year, said Marilyn Wright, an agent at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Asheville.

The area around Scottsdale, Ariz., also popular with wealthy retirees, had 349 homes on the market at or above $3 million as of February 1—an all-time high, according to a Walt Danley Realty report. Homes built before 2012 are selling at steep discounts—sometimes almost 50%, and many owners end up selling for less than they paid to build their homes, said Walt Danley’s Dub Dellis.

Kiawah Island, a South Carolina beach community, currently has around 225 houses for sale, which amounts to a three- or four-year supply. Of those, the larger and more expensive homes are the hardest to sell, especially if they haven’t been renovated recently, according to local real-estate agent Pam Harrington.

The problem is expected to worsen in the 2020s, as more baby boomers across the country advance into their 70s and 80s, the age group where people typically exit homeownership due to poor health or death, said Dowell Myers, co-author of a 2018 Fannie Mae report, “The Coming Exodus of Older Homeowners.” Boomers currently own 32 million homes and account for two out of five homeowners in the country.

Not Just the South

It’s not just big houses across the Sunbelt. It’s big houses everywhere. If anything, I suspect it’s worse in the north. There is an exodus of people in high tax states like Illinois who want the hell out.

Already big homes were hard to sell. Now these progressive states are raising taxes.

Triple Whammy

  1. Millennials trapped in debt and cannot afford them
  2. Millennials wouldn’t buy them anyway because tastes have changed.
  3. Taxes are driving people away from states like Illinois

Good luck with that.

For the plight of Illinoisans, please consider Illinois’ Demographic Collapse: Get Out As Soon As You Can.

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,
Source: ZeroHedge

The Man Behind Billionaires’ Row Battles to Sell the World’s Tallest Condo

(The Wall Street Journal) Gary Barnett was sitting in his Manhattan office one morning in the fall when his old-fashioned flip phone started to buzz. On the line was a real-estate agent who was marketing the New York developer’s latest condo project, a soaring 1,550-foot tall building known as Central Park Tower. With a total projected sellout of more than $4 billion, the skyscraper is the country’s priciest-ever condominium project and, when complete, will be the tallest residential building in the world.

The agent had bad news. Mr. Barnett had…

Gary Barnett was sitting in his Manhattan office one morning in the fall when his old-fashioned flip phone started to buzz. On the line was a real-estate agent who was marketing the New York developer’s latest condo project, a soaring 1,550-foot tall building known as Central Park Tower. With a total projected sellout of more than $4 billion, the skyscraper is the country’s priciest-ever condominium project and, when complete, will be the tallest residential building in the world.

The agent had bad news. Mr. Barnett had agreed to reduce a condo’s asking price, but now the client refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement concealing the details of the deal. Mr. Barnett’s response: Turn him away. “If we’re going to give someone a special deal, we don’t want them saying it all over the market,” he said.

This is a harsh new reality for Mr. Barnett, who has made a fortune fulfilling the real-estate dreams of the world’s elite. The Extell Development Co. founder kicked off the U.S. condo boom with One57, the first of the supertall towers that line the 57th Street corridor now known as Billionaire’s Row. The building’s penthouse sold for $100.5 million in 2014 to tech mogul Michael Dell, the record high for New York City.

His success opened the door for other high-end towers across the city, permanently altering the Manhattan skyline. “The frenzy around One57 gave everyone the idea that this was a market that was ripe to be harvested,” said real-estate appraiser Jonathan Miller.

Central Park Tower is by some measures more audacious than anything that’s preceded it. The supertall skyscraper will feature panoramic views of the city and offer amenities like indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a 1,000-foot-high private club and a basketball court. Of the building’s 179 units, no fewer than 18 are priced above $60 million.

Gary Barnett kicked off the U.S. condo boom with One57. Central Park Tower, shown in a rendering, is the company’s latest project on Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row.

Mr. Barnett is marketing this super-luxury tower in a challenging climate: Manhattan home sales plunged by 14% in 2018, the steepest drop the industry has seen since the financial crisis in 2009, according to a report by brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Today, developers are slashing prices amid an oversupply of new luxury condos.

Some people wonder if Mr. Barnett will become a victim of the condo explosion he helped create. The great Manhattan condo boom “started with One57,” said Mr. Miller, “and it may end with Central Park Tower.”

Earlier this week, Mr. Barnett announced that he had hired Sush Torgalkar, formerly the chief operating officer of Westbrook Partners, as CEO to assist in managing the company’s growth. Mr. Barnett will stay on as the company’s chairman.

A self-described “poor boy from the Lower East Side,” Mr. Barnett grew up as Gershon Swiatycki, the son of a Talmudic scholar. His entry into the world of luxury goods came in 1980s, when he met his first wife Evelyn Muller, whose father owned a diamond business. Mr. Barnett traded precious stones in Belgium for over a decade before starting to invest in U.S. real estate.

Arriving at the sales office in a dark suit with black sneakers and a bold, flowered tie that he said is “probably 20 years old,” the 63-year-old developer is an unlikely purveyor of luxury homes. An observant Jew who largely eschews the flashy trappings of the industry, Mr. Barnett lived in Queens until moving recently with his wife and children to the heavily Orthodox suburb of Monsey, N.Y., about an hour’s drive north of the city. (He keeps a one-bedroom unit at One57 to make more time for work.)

Mr. Barnett’s refusal to give up the antiquated flip phone is a source of indulgent eye-rolling from colleagues. He often avoids computers, said a person who has worked with him; instead, his assistant prints out his emails and leaves them on his desk, where he annotates them in what one employee describes as “serial-killer scrawl” for staff to decipher.

He’s “a total nerd,” real-estate agent Nikki Field said affectionately. “He’s not a New York developer personality in any way.”

Other Manhattan developers thought Mr. Barnett was crazy when he started building One57 in 2010, the depths of the real-estate downturn. And after no major U.S. lenders would back him, he turned to the Middle East to obtain financing from two of Abu Dhabi’s wealthiest investment funds.

His gamble paid off handsomely. As One57 started sales, U.S. economic growth snapped back. As one of the few new luxury condo buildings on the market, One57 attracted billionaires from Russia, China and the Middle East. The condominium is the first ever New York City building to break the $100 million threshold for a single condo.

Central Park Tower faces a far more crowded field of competitors—including One57, where Extell still has units to sell. Approximately 3,763 new Manhattan condo units are in the pipeline for 2019, followed by an additional 4,539 in 2020, new development marketing firm Corcoran Sunshine said late last year. By contrast, in 2011 when One57 started sales, only 277 Manhattan new units launched.

Today, the builders of pricey mega-towers “are going to find themselves in a lot of trouble,” said Andrew Gerringer of the Marketing Directors, a development-marketing firm. “Those are just going to be really difficult to sell.”

But Mr. Barnett is pulling out all the stops. In a newly opened sales office at Central Park Tower, potential buyers sip Champagne and Johnnie Walker Black Label amid a onyx-clad walls and Lalique crystal chandelier. In a dimly lighted room with 14-foot ceilings, strains of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” fill the air as New York City landmarks are projected on the walls—Yankee Stadium, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building. “Is there any place that has symbolized individual success and collective ambition as boldly as New York?” booms the voiceover, describing Central Park Tower as “1,550 feet of steel, ambition and aspiration anchored to 40,000 square feet of Manhattan schist…a shimmering beacon of class, optimism and chutzpah.”

Central Park Tower has already overcome some hurdles. When real-estate company Vornado Realty Trust started planning a competing condo two blocks north, Mr. Barnett stalled the project by taking control of a parking garage on Vornado’s property in addition to other property and air rights it owned on the block. Then Mr. Barnett refused to let Vornado tear down the parking garage to make way for its tower. The dispute was eventually resolved in 2013 when Vornado agreed to pay Extell $194 million for development rights on the block. As part of the settlement, both developers agreed to move their towers slightly so they both could have Central Park views.

Lining up financing for Central Park Tower was also a challenge, since banks have pulled back from financing ultra-luxury condos amid worries of oversupply. Mr. Barnett cobbled together debt from a public offering on the Israeli bond market and tapped the EB-5 program, which grants green cards to foreigners who invest in the U.S. He also brought on SMI USA, the U.S. subsidiary of the real estate investment firm Shanghai Municipal Investment, as a co-developer. Ultimately, Mr. Barnett began construction on Central Park Tower using Extell’s own funds before securing the money to finish it, an unusual move on such a large project. He had built more than 10 stories before J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to provide a $900 million construction loan. Now he must sell $500 million in apartments at Central Park Tower by December 2020 and pay down $300 million of his loan to J.P. Morgan Chase by the following year, according to information disclosed to Israeli bond investors, who have money in the project. If he fails to meet those deadlines, the bank can increase his interest payments.

Extell has many units to sell in addition to Central Park Tower, including One Manhattan Square on the Lower East Side, which has roughly 800 units.

Of the 179 units in Central Park Tower, no fewer than 18 are priced above $60 million.Photo: Dorothy Hong for The Wall Street Journal

In an email to brokers last month, Extell advertised major incentives at its projects, saying it would pay three to five years of common charges on any Extell condo purchased before the end of 2018—at Central Park Tower, that could save the buyer of a full-floor apartment about $120,000 per year. That incentive wasn’t renewed for 2019, although Extell is still paying a 50% commission to brokers and says it will roll out new incentives soon. With buyers “saying they’ll wait a little bit and see if prices come down more,” Mr. Barnett explained, “we want to give them an incentive to act.”

He declined to say how many units he’s sold at Central Park Tower, noting only that traffic had been “decent” and that he isn’t concerned about missing financing deadlines. “We’re certainly going through a dip in the market, but we’re priced for that dip,” Mr. Barnett said confidently. In the current market, he added, “you’ve got to be a little more flexible on price.”

Extell is also leveraging the roster of billionaires it accumulated during One57’s glory days. But the strategy could backfire, especially as sellers who bought condos there a couple of years ago are suffering losses. In one instance, Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll sold a One57 unit for $54 million, over $1 million less than what he paid in 2014. One57 has even seen a foreclosure, a rarity in New York’s high-end real estate. In 2017, an apartment that had been owned by shell companies linked to a Nigerian businessman sold in a foreclosure auction for $36 million, far less than the $50.9 million purchase price in 2014.

But these challenges seem to be part of the allure for Mr. Barnett, who said in comparison to his former business, he relishes the complexity of New York City real-estate deals. “These buildings are amazing buildings—they’re complicated, they’re fine-tuned,” he said. “Diamonds are a much simpler business.”

‘Billionaire’s Row’ Boom

Completed in 2015, One57 helped turn nondescript 57th Street into ‘Billionaire’s Row.’ Photo: Dorothy Hong for The Wall Street Journal

Since the emergence of ‘Billionaire’s Row’ in Manhattan, home values in the area have skyrocketed.

An analysis of sales data looked at transactions between 2010 to 2018 of homes from 57th to 59th streets between Park Avenue and Broadway. During that time, the median sale prices leapt 64.3%, from $1,261,406 in 2010 to $2,072,500 eight years later, according to Streeteasy.com. By comparison, the median home sale price across Manhattan rose 25.7%, from $835,000 to $1.05 million, during that same period.

Source: by Katherine Clarke and Candace Taylor | The Wall Street Journal

US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Lists Park Ave. Apartment For $33 Million, Three Times What He Paid For It

No sooner did we report that the housing “recovery” over the last 10 years has skipped many “underwater” communities in the United States, than we found confirmation of the opposite: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is selling his Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan for three times the price that his aunt paid for it 18 years ago. He has listed the apartment for $32.5 million. His Aunt is listed as the broker on the sale.

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The sale is happening at the same time that residents of numerous commuter towns across the United States have seen the values of their houses collapse to less than half of what they were in 2006, prior to the housing crisis.

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Mnuchin recently listed the 6500 square-foot, 12 room apartment that he bought from his aunt in 2000. It was purchased then for just $10.5 million. It had been in his family since the 1960s and, when he turns around to list the property this time, he stands to net $22 million more than what he paid for it, if his asking price is met.

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The apartment is being listed by Warburg Realty and is located inside of 740 Park Ave., inside the historic Rosario Candela building. Other famous former tenants of this building include the Rockefellers and the Kochs. Currently, Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone Group, lives there. The building was developed by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ grandfather.

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Other than that, it’s just your average ordinary run of the mill apartment on Park Avenue: five bedrooms, a wall wood paneled library, a wet bar, a formal dining room, a private elevator, 11 foot ceilings, marble floors and a sweeping spiraling staircase that still has its original banister.

The first floor of the apartment has six bathrooms and an 800 square-foot living room.

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Upstairs, the apartment has a master suite, walk-in cupboards, study, two more bathrooms and three extra bedrooms. The apartment spans two levels in the building on both the eighth and the ninth floor and it also has a large kitchen with a “breakfast nook”.

While that all seems extremely glamorous, Mnuchin hasn’t even used this apartment as his main residence, reportedly. Mnuchin was living in California before his appointment to the Trump administration, but has since bought a $12.6 million apartment in Washington DC.

We’re glad to hear that Mnuchin was able to ride out the housing crisis successfully. We were worried about him for a moment.

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Source: ZeroHedge

$1Billion Price Cut: Luxury real estate gets slashed

  • The high-end real-estate market has seen steep price cuts in recent months as foreign buyers dry up andnew tax laws kick in.
  • The Ziff family estate in Manalapan Florida cut its price in May by $27 million, from $165 million to $138 million.
  • Even the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, has had to lower his asking price on his beach home in Laguna Beach.

The most expensive real-estate in America just became a little less expensive — with $1 billion in price cuts among America’s top listings over the past few months, according to a CNBC analysis.

The high-end real-estate market has seen steep price cuts in recent months as foreign buyers dry up, new tax laws bite the wealthiest states and sellers realize the market peak of 2014-2015 isn’t coming back anytime soon, luxury brokers say.

According to RedFin, the real-estate brokerage and research firm, fully 12 percent of homes listed for $10 million or more saw a price drop in 2018 — double the levels of 2016 and 2015. Just over 500 listings in the U.S. had a combined price cut of $1 billion in the second quarter, according to RedFin.

“Prices were growing too fast for what buyers were willing to pay,” said Taylor Marr, a senior economist at RedFin.

Some of the price cuts have reached tens of millions of dollars, according to the listing. The Ziff family estate in Manalapan Florida cut its price in May by $27 million, from $165 million to $138 million. That follows a previous price cut, from $195 million last year — so it’s price has dropped by $57 million over the past year.

A 10-bedroom mansion on Miami Beach’s posh Star Island cut its price by $17 million in May, from $65 million to $48 million. A giant apartment at New York’s Sherry Netherland had its price cut by $18 million, falling from $86 million to $68 million.

The cuts follow a spate of even bigger cuts earlier this year. The $250 million mansion in Bel Air California known as “The Billionaire” became America’s most expensive listing when it came onto the market for $250 million in 2017. In April, the price was cut by a massive $62 million, to $188 million.

Brokers representing the house said that unique homes like “The Billionaire” – which comes with a $30 million car collection, a giant outdoor TV that retracts from behind the pool, and elevators lined with crocodile skin – said the home is just finding its true market price.

“There is no comp for a house like this,” said Shawn Elliott, one of the brokers for “The Billionaire.” So the new price reflects the price offered by a recent potential buyer.

A spec home in Beverly Hills, called Opus, was listed in August of 2017 for $100 million, but the price was cut to $85 million a month later. Now the home, which once had a gold theme, has been re-styled in black in hopes of finding a buyer.

The late Johnny Carson’s estate in Malibu, Ca. saw its price drop by $16 million, to $65 million from $81 million. The house is being sold by fashion magnate and film producer Sidney Kimmel.

Even homes that see big price cuts are selling for less than their discounted prices. A 20,000 square-foot mansion in the Hamptons, once owned by fashion mogul Vince Camuto, was first listed in 2008 for $100 million. Its price got chopped to $72 million, and it sold this spring for around $50 million – half of its original listing price.

Even the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, has had to lower his asking price on his beach home in Laguna Beach. The home was listed in 2017 for $11 million, but he has slashed the price to $7.9 million. He’s still likely to make a big profit – he bought the home in the early 1970s for $150,000.

The reasons for the price drops are many. In some cases, the prices for the homes were fantasies. Sellers had irrational expectations or they were using the sky-high prices to attract attention to their properties. The luxury real-estate market has fallen since its peak in 2014 and 2015, and many sellers are finally adjusting to a different market.

Supply of homes at the high end is also high, especially for newer condos and spec homes in New York, Los Angeles and major metro areas.

“There could be an over-supply of these high-end homes,” Marr said.

The new federal tax law, which limits deductions of state and local taxes, is also putting pressure on real-estate in high-tax states. And foreign buyers, who were driving some of the highest-priced sales in 2014 and 2015, have pulled back. A stronger dollar has also made U.S. real-estate more expensive.

It’s unclear whether the price cuts signal an upcoming crash in the luxury market. Prices could simply adjust without a severe correction. But the size of the cuts suggest that many luxury listings have yet to find their sale prices.

“Price cuts can be a great leading indicator and give a forward-looking view,” Marr said. “But it’s too early to tell where it’s headed.”

Source: by Robert Frank | CNBC

“Granite Islands And Backsplashes”: Even Singlewide Trailers Are No Longer “Affordable”

 

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Since the early 1900s, millions of Americans have relied on trailers as a source of no-frills, affordable housing.  In fact, roughly 22 million Americans live in trailer parks today, but the industry is hardly the stable source of affordable housing that it used to be…a lesson that 73-year-old Judy Goff of Naples, Florida recently discovered the hard way after Hurricane Irma ripped through her park and destroyed her home, along with roughly 1.8 million others.

As Bloomberg points out, when Goff went to a local LeeCorp dealer lot to replace her $46,000, 1,200 square foot trailer with something of similar size and value, what she found instead was “manufactured homes” stuffed with high-end upgrades like granite counter-tops and vaulted ceilings that rendered them too expensive for her $23,000 per year of income.

Last month, Judy Goff, a 73-year-old hardware store clerk whose double-wide in Naples, Fla., was blown to bits, pulled into a LeeCorp Homes Inc. sales lot and wandered through models with kitchen islands and vaulted ceilings. In the salesman’s office, she got the total price, including a carport, taxes, and removal of her destroyed trailer: $140,000. “I don’t have that kind of money,” said Goff as she stood amid the wreckage of her old home, whose walls and ceiling were stripped away, leaving her leather furniture and a lifetime of possessions to bake in the sun. “That was all I had.”

Goff—who just wants to replace the wrecked 1,200-square-foot trailer that she bought 17 years ago for $46,000, including the cost of land—says she feels boxed in. Her mobile-home community won’t allow single-wide homes or older used models as replacements. And every home must have a carport. She’s willing to give up such upgrades as the higher-end countertops, but that probably won’t be enough. Between her Social Security check and income from her job at Ace Hardware Corp., she earns only about $23,000 a year. “I just want a home that’s equal to what I had,” she says. “My home was a beauty.”

“I get that higher-end countertops and kitchen islands are where the better margins are, but that’s also going to put homes out of reach for a lot of buyers,” says Doug Ryan, director of affordable homeownership at the Washington nonprofit Prosperity Now. “The storm is revealing a whole lot of problems in the low-cost housing market.”

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Meanwhile, as we note frequently, while the cost of manufactured homes has surged, the pay for the bottom fifth of American wage earners has been somewhat stagnant for nearly two decades now. Even after a modest uptick recently, the bottom 20% of households have seen their income fall 9% since 2000, in real terms.

But, as low-income households have found it increasingly difficult to rebuild after devastating hurricanes, the surge in manufacturing home pricing has been a boon for billionaire Warren Buffett who made a big financial bet on the largest manufactured housing builder, Clayton Homes, back in 2003.

The industry, led by Warren Buffett’s Clayton Homes Inc., is peddling such pricey interior-designer touches as breakfast bars and his-and-her bathroom sinks. These extras, plus manufacturers’ increased costs for labor and materials, have pushed average prices for new double-wides up more than 20 percent in five years, putting them out of reach for many of the newly homeless.

Phil Lee, the 74-year-old founder of LeeCorp, has been riding a wave of retiring baby boomers who want affordable luxury. Driving a reporter in his black BMW SUV through Bayside Estates in Fort Myers Beach, where many of the fanciest homes he sells are installed, Lee points out units with pitched roofs that look almost indistinguishable from conventional homes, facing canals with boats tied outside. Their owners, former dentists, doctors, executives, and others, spent upwards of $150,000 to buy aging units just to clear the way for something more luxurious. On a palm-lined street flanked by ranks of 1970s-era trailers, Lee sees profit. “There’s no end to replacing these homes,” he says. “You get a hurricane in there and it really accelerates things.”

Terms such as “mobile home” or “trailer” are now verboten in an industry striving to break free of its downscale origins. Buffett’s Clayton Homes, which produces almost half of all new manufactured housing in the U.S. and competes with such companies as Cavco Industries Inc. and Champion Home Builders Inc., still builds lower-priced units, but there’s barely a sign of them on its website, which is mostly devoted to high-price models. The 2,000-square-foot Bordeaux features a separate tub and shower, a computer station, and a mud room, with prices starting at $121,000 and ranging as high as $238,000, not including delivery and installation costs. Clayton declined to comment.

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Of course, while mobile homes are becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive for low-income families in Florida and Texas, Silicon Valley’s future tech billionaires can’t seem to get enough of them.

Source: ZeroHedge

Pabst Mansion in Illinois Gets Another Price Cut

Sold in 1999 for $6.95 million the 14,000-square-foot home is now on the market for $3.9 million

It isn’t often that a historic estate with 21st-century features, finishes and amenities is available at a 20th century price, and yet that’s exactly what is on offer at the Pabst Mansion on Sheridan Road in Glencoe, Illinois.

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Sited on 2.2 acres, the 14,000-square-foot house was built in 1936 by architect Willian Pereira.

On the market for two years, the price was just reduced to $3.9 million, nearly $3 million less than what it sold for in 1999 at $6.95 million, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. The current owner, who bought the home in 2014, originally listed it for $6.3 million in June 2015. In May 2016 the asking price was lowered to $4.95 million and since then, has reduced the price several times before this latest drop.

Crain’s Chicago Business first reported the price reduction, noting how the house’s sale price has decreased from the 1999 price tag, in each of the mansion’s subsequent sales. It sold for $5.2 million in 2009 and $4.8 million in 2014, when it was bought by the current owner, an insurance executive, according to the public records.

Sited on 2.2 acres, the 14,000-square-foot house was built in 1936 by architect Willian Pereira, who became famous in later years for his work in California, including the Los Angeles International Airport’s space-age control tower and the Transamerica pyramid in San Francisco. The house is known as the Pabst Mansion because of its first owner, Harris Perlstein, who ran Milwaukee’s Pabst Brewing Co. after the merger with his company Premier Malt Products.

On the inside, the house’s details and amenities are extensive. There is a large oval dining room, a paneled library, a bar and entertainment room, a game room, an exercise room, and a party-sized screening room, according to the listing agent. Situated at the end of a long gated driveway, the grounds include a pool with water slide, a half basketball court and a hedge shaped like a maze.

“The new price is an extraordinary value,” said Coldwell Banker listing agent Wendy Friedlich.

| Mansion Global

This is What the Most Expensive House in the United States Looks Like

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In Bel Air, California, ultra-luxury home developer Bruce Makowsky has unveiled his most ambitious project yet, 924 Bel Air Road. Listed at US$250 million it is the most expensive home ever listed in the United States.

To attract the clientele Makowsky is targeting, he is selling more than just a home he is selling a lifestyle. Whoever buys 924 Bel Air not only gets the home, but a full-time, 7-person staff for 2 years, a US$30 million car collection and all of the artwork, wine, furnishings and extras you can imagine.

Below you will find a gallery of this insane property along with a video tour and a list of some of the most unbelievable highlights and inclusions. For more information visit 924belair.com.

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– List price: US$250 million (previous US record $195 million mansion in Manalapan, Florida)
– 38,000 sq. ft. over 4 floors with 2 commercial elevators lined in alligator skin and handcrafted, polished steel staircase
– 12 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms, 3 kitchens, 6 bars, massage and spa room, fitness center, bowling alley
– 2 wine and champagne cellars, 85 ft Infinity pool, 40-person home theatre, 18×12 ft retractable outdoor tv screen
– Includes $US 30 million car collection, all artworks, wine and champagne collection, helicopter, boat
– Comes with 7 pre-paid, full-time staff including chef, chauffeur and masseuse for two years.

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In an interview with CNBC, Makowsky likens the home more to a mega yacht than a house, stating:

Megayachts have gone from 150 feet to 300 feet or more and they can cost up to $500 million,” he said. “People spend two weeks a year on a yacht, but they live in a house. I wanted this to be the ultimate megayacht, but on land.” [source]

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According to CNBC, the “auto gallery” features some of the rarest, fastest and most expensive cars in the world and come with the home. The collection includes a one-of-a-kind Pagani Huayra ($2 million+); the famous “Von Krieger” 1936 Mercedes 540 K Special Roadster($15 million+); and 10 of the rarest and fastest motorcycles ever built.

The most expensive home ever sold globally is believed to be a US$221 million penthouse in London, England. Globally, there are homes listed for more than US$300 million but none in the U.S. tops Makowsky’s US$250 million listing. [source]

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Source: Twisted Sifter

Glut in Luxury Apartments: Boom Set to Fizzle in 2017

Real estate is has been one of the economic bright spots in the US for several years.

But rising interest rates and a glut of luxury apartments portends a slowdown in 2017.

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The Wall Street Journal reports Luxury Apartment Boom Looks Set to Fizzle in 2017

Landlords of upscale properties across the U.S. are bracing for rough conditions in 2017 that will likely force them to slash rents and offer deep concessions as a glut of supply brings a seven-year luxury-apartment boom to an end.

The turnaround follows a more-than-26% jump in U.S. apartment rents since early 2010, far outstripping inflation and income growth. But in 2016, rents rose a modest 3.8%, a significant drop from the recent high of 5.6% year-to-year growth in the third quarter of 2015, according to a report to be released Tuesday by MPF Research, a division of RealPage Inc. that tracks the U.S. apartment market.

Developers in New York are already offering up to three months of free rent on some projects. In Los Angeles, some landlords are offering six months of free parking, and some in Houston are waiving security deposits. Meanwhile, MPF Vice President Jay Parsons said he expects little or no rent growth in urban rental markets this year.

“This will be a very challenged leasing environment almost everywhere,” Mr. Parsons said.

More than 50,000 new units were rented by tenants in the fourth quarter in the U.S., six times the number in the year-earlier period. But that demand was overwhelmed by the 88,000 new units that were completed in the quarter, the most since the mid-1980s, according to MPF.

That gap looks set to widen in 2017. More than 378,000 new apartments are expected to be completed across the country this year, almost 35% more than the 20-year average, according to real estate tracker Axiometrics Inc.

The New York area alone will be flooded with nearly 30,000 new apartments in 2017, double the historical average, according to Axiometrics. Roughly 85% are luxury units.

Dallas is expected to see nearly 25,000 new apartments delivered, compared with the long-term average of roughly 9,000 new apartments a year, according to Axiometrics. Los Angeles is expected to get roughly 13,000 new apartments, nearly double the historical average.

Nashville could see some 8,500 new apartments, more than triple the typical 2,400 apartments completed annually.

John Tirrill, managing partner at SWH Partners, an Atlanta developer that has several projects under way in the Nashville area, is leasing a new five-story property with a fitness center, yoga and barre studio and swimming pool. He has lowered rents from $2.25 a square foot to $2.10 a square foot—a $150 discount on a 1,000-square-foot apartment—and is offering one to two months of free rent.

Banks are pulling back on lending, which could help slow the pace of construction starting in late 2018.

“We’re just being really selective,” said John Cannon, a senior vice president at Pinnacle Financial Partners, a Nashville-based financial-services company that has increased its focus on multifamily lending in the last couple of years. “Multifamily has a large number of units on the ground that they really have to demonstrate some absorption.”

2017 Real Estate Synopsis

  1. New home sales and existing home sales are already slowing because of mortgage rates.
  2. A huge supply of apartments will come online in 2017.
  3. Banks are tightening lending standards for apartments.
  4. Mall space is hugely overbuilt.

by Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Tear Downs Are On A Tear

Houston lost its locally famous Bullock-City Federation Mansion in 2014 to a developer who plans to erect townhouses on the site.

The house may not have been worthy of a place on a list of historically significant structures. But the 5,000-square-foot structure that was erected in 1906 on a 30,000-square-foot lot was the first in the sweltering Texas city to have air conditioning. And its demise was mourned by more than a few people.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Ernesto Aguilar, general manager of KPFT Radio, which sits next door, told the Houston Chronicle at the time. “It is sad to see a piece of Houston history going the same way as many others do.”

Tear downs — in which builders or private individuals purchase an aging, outmoded house, then demolish it and replace it with a modern home that will suit today’s homeowners — are currently on a tear in Houston. Permits for tear downs are up by 22% in the city this year.

And that phenomenon isn’t limited to Houston. Barry Sulphor, a real estate agent in the Los Angeles area, counts no less than 100 tear down sites in the so-called beach cities where he plies his trade: Hermosa Beach, Redonda Beach and Manhattan Beach. “And I’m sure there are just as many in Venice, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills,” Sulphor says.

According to the National Association of Home Builders’ best count, nearly 8% of all single-family housing starts in 2015 were attributable to tear down-related construction. That’s roughly 55,000 older houses gone forever, and that’s on top of the 31,800 single-family tear down starts in 2014.

In some instances, the houses that are destroyed are outmoded, functionally obsolete relics that no longer serve a useful purpose. But in other cases, they work just fine and simply lack up-to-date amenities. And some have historical significance that may or may not be worthy of saving.

Usually, the places that replace a tear down are larger, covering more of the lot and rising higher than the old place — often to the maximum height allowable under local zoning rules.

Sulphor recently sold two lots where the old houses were taken down. One was bought for $1.35 million by a builder who plans to put up a house with a nearly $4 million price tag. The other was purchased for $2.15 million by a retired couple who “love the creativity of working with architects to design luxury beach properties,” according to Sulphor. “When the new place is completed, it will fetch close to $5 million.”

Not everyone sees the benefit of tear downs. The leading opponent is the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which argues that they are an “epidemic” that is “wiping out historic neighborhoods one house at a time. As older homes are demolished and replaced with dramatically larger, out-of-scale new structures, the historic character of the existing neighborhood is changed forever.”

Richard Moe, a former president of the National Trust, said, “From 19th-century Victorian to 1920s bungalows, the architecture of America’s historic neighborhoods reflects the character of our communities. Tear downs radically change the fabric of a community. Without proper safeguards, historic neighborhoods will lose the identities that drew residents to put down roots in the first place.”

But the NAHB, which admits that tear downs “have become a significant modus operandi” for its members in some parts of the country, counters that the new houses often “breathe new life into older communities.”

Because tea rdowns are sometimes controversial, folks considering buying an older place with the idea of taking it down and putting up a new house should proceed cautiously. Often, these old homes are not advertised for sale on the open market or in the multiple listing service, so the challenge begins with finding out about one, says Sulphor. And once you do, the agent suggests making absolutely sure the condition of the current home is such that it cannot be salvaged.

Would-be buyers should also determine, before making an offer, whether what they plan to build conforms to local restrictions. Preservationists often use — or try to change — local building codes to push back against tear downs.

On the other hand, people trying to sell old properties that are tear down candidates should make sure whatever offers they receive are legit, Sulphor advises. Look for the proof that they have the funds to close the deal, especially if they say they will pay with cash and have no need of a mortgage.

Sellers should also realize that selling a property “as-is” does not insulate them from their obligation to disclose any issues that might impact value. The term “as-is” means only that the house is being offered and sold in its present condition.

by Lew Sichelman | National Mortgage News

Leak Reveals Secret Tax Crackdown On Foreign-Money Real Estate Deals In Vancouver

Confidential briefing for CRA auditors outlines strategy to tackle suspected tax cheats who do not report global income or who ‘flip’ homes – but reveals that last year, there was only one successful audit of global income for all of British Columbia

A backhoe destroys a C$6 million mansion in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood this year. The destruction of the well-kept home prompted community outrage and was cited in a briefing for Canadian tax auditors looking into Vancouver real estate transactions. Photo: Twitter / @DeborahAMG

A secret strategy briefing for Canada Revenue Agency auditors has revealed plans to crack down on real estate tax cheats in Vancouver, with 50 auditors being assigned to investigate purchases funded by unreported foreign income.

Presentation notes for the seminar, delivered to auditors on June 2 and leaked to the South China Morning Post, show that only one successful audit of worldwide income was conducted in British Columbia in the past year, in spite of Vancouver’s reputation as a hotspot for immigrant “astronaut families” whose breadwinners often work in mainland China and Hong Kong.

The plans, which come amid a furore over the role of Chinese money in Vancouver’s runaway housing market, were provided by a Canada Revenue Agency employee who attended the June 2 briefing. The briefing is identified as a “protected B” confidential document on the cover.

The cover for a confidential CRA briefing for auditors. Photo: SCMP Pictures

But the employee feared the sweep would prove inadequate. “Sure, they’ve upped the numbers because it’s hitting the papers,” they said. But on average, they estimated, each redeployed income auditor would only be able to conduct 10 to 12 audits per year – about 500 or 600 in total. “This is nothing,” compared to the likely scale of the cheating, they said.

Confidential briefing notes for CRA auditors reveal how the Canadian tax agency is targeting unreported global income and other issues related to real estate sales in the Vancouver region. Photo: SCMP Pictures

That estimate is in keeping with the briefing text which says the crackdown will “review the top 500 highest risk files within our region”.

The briefing lists four areas being targeted for audit under the CRA’s “real estate projects”, launched in response to “significant media attention”: unreported worldwide income, property “flipping”, under-reporting of capital gains from home sales, and under-reporting of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on sales of new homes.

‘High-end homes, minimal income’

The time-consuming global income audits will tackle “individuals living in high-valued areas in BC who are reporting minimal income not supporting their lifestyle”, as well as those who buy “high-end homes with minimal income being reported.”

The supposed case of a C$5.8 million home bought by someone who claimed a tax break intended for the poor is cited in the CRA briefing. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The presentation includes a photo of a luxury home supposedly bought for C$5.8million whose owner claimed the “working income tax benefit” for low earners. It also lists the tuition fees of Vancouver private schools.

 

Confidential briefing notes for CRA auditors show that 50 income tax auditors are being redeployed to tackle real estate cheats in BC. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Property flippers who swiftly resell homes for profit will meanwhile be audited to see if their properties truly qualify for exemption from capital gains tax, granted to people selling their principal residence.

The briefing describes various excuses given by owners who moved out of newly purchased homes, including a negative feng shui report, the “bad omen” of tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, and a painter dying in the home.

It cites the highly publicized case of a well-kept 20-year-old, C$6million mansion that was simply torn down after being bought, prompting community outrage.

Yes, we are getting a response now, but the government has known about this issue for a few years. They held back

CRA employee

The briefing does not say the owners of this home, or the $5.8 million home, are tax cheats and nor does the SCMP suggest so.

The CRA employee said the briefing, which was streamed online, was delivered by CRA’s Pacific region business intelligence director, Mal Gill.

The CRA briefing lists various excuses given by people who moved out of new homes, apparently claimed as principal residences. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Gill declined to discuss the briefing. “I cannot confirm anything to you,” he said, referring the SCMP to a CRA communications manager.

The case of a well-kept C$6million Vancouver home that was simply demolished after purchase is cited in leaked notes for Canadian tax auditors. Photo: SCMP Pictures

A spokeswoman said: “The CRA cannot comment or release information related to risk assessment or non-compliance strategies.”

However, she said real estate transactions in Toronto have been the subject of greater scrutiny, for some years. “More recently, the CRA has been actively monitoring and auditing real estate transactions in British Columbia,” she said.

“For the year ending March 31, 2016, the CRA completed 2,203 files [in BC and Ontario] related to real estate,” she said.

In addition to the 50 redeployed income auditors, the leaked briefing says CRA is assigning 20 GST auditors and 15 other staff to the real estate project in BC.

The CRA source said they leaked the material because, “like many people, I’m pretty disgusted by what’s happening here [in the Vancouver real estate market], and a lack of enforcement has been a part of the problem. Yes, we are getting a response now, but the government has known about this issue for a few years. They held back.”

The CRA briefing reveals that there was just one successful audit conducted on unreported global income in BC last fiscal year. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The employee said they were surprised to discover that only one successful audit of global income had been conducted in BC in the year to March 31. “That’s the ludicrousness of this. I was shocked when I saw this, and they only got C$27,000 in tax revenue out of it,” they said.

Asked whether this might show a widespread problem with undeclared worldwide income did not exist in BC, the source said: “No, what it shows is that inadequate people and resources have been put to the task. These [tax cheats] are highly sophisticated individuals, with good representation from their lawyers and accountants, and we are sending out our least experienced people to catch them. That’s the problem.”

Source cites CRA’s ‘racism fear’

Census data from 2011 has previously shown that 25,000 households in the City of Vancouver spent more on their housing costs than their entire declared income, with these representing 9.5 per cent of all households.

But far from being impoverished, such households were concentrated in some of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, where homes sell for multi-million-dollar prices.

The source suggested CRA bureaucrats previously feared being labelled racist if they targeted low-income declarers buying real estate “because the vast majority of these cases, involving high real estate values, involve mainland Chinese”.

The crackdown was not intended for public knowledge, and instead was to satisfy “people from high up” in the CRA and government who wanted to know “what are you guys doing about this…there’s stuff hitting the papers every day”, the source said. Yet the briefing says the crackdown “will not address the major concerns about affordability of real estate”.

“The vast majority of these [undeclared global income] cases, involving high real estate values, involve mainland Chinese”

CRA employee

The source said there had previously been little done to check whether taxpayers were secretly living and working abroad while supporting a family in Vancouver. “There’s virtually no liaising done with immigration. The common auditor would never check when people are actually coming and going, to check whether they might be going back to China or wherever to work. You can be lied to, to your face: ‘Oh no, I live here [in Canada] full-time’.”

The leaked documents show that in in addition to the single audit on global income in the last fiscal year, CRA in BC conducted 93 successful audits on property flips, 20 on capital gains tax and 225 on under-reported GST. The audits yielded C$14.4 million in new tax, of which C$10million was GST. There was C$1.3 million in fines.

As of April 29, there were 40 audits of global income under way, 205 related to flipping, 34 related to capital gains and 428 related to GST.

The average Vancouver house price now sits around C$1.75million for the metropolitan region, while the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s “benchmark” price for all residential properties is C$889,100, a 30 per cent increase over the past year. However, incomes remain among the lowest in Canada, making Vancouver one of the world’s most un-affordable cities .

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/1989586/leak-reveals-secret-tax-crackdown-foreign-money-real

The Hongcouver blog is devoted to the hybrid culture of its namesake cities: Hong Kong and Vancouver. All story ideas and comments are welcome. Connect with me by email ian.young@scmp.com or on Twitter, @ianjamesyoung70

USA Today Reports Existing Home Sales Hit 9-Year High In June

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Bolstered by first-time home buyers, existing-home sales rose for the fourth straight month in June, reaching a nine-year high.

Sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops increased 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million, up from May’s downwardly revised 5.51 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. The June pace was the strongest since 2007.

First-time buyers made up 33% of those transactions, the biggest share in four years. That eased concerns that a shortage of affordable houses has been pushing entry-level buyers out of the market.

The median existing-home price also reached a new high as it surged 4.8% to $247,700 from a year ago, above the former peak of $238,900 in May.

June’s sales exceeded the highest forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg, 5.56 million.

Healthy job gains, record-high stock prices and near-record low mortgage rates stoked June’s positive showings, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.

“The modest bump in June sales to first-time buyers can be attributed to mortgage rates near all-time lows and perhaps a hopeful indication that more affordable, lower-priced homes are beginning to make their way onto the market,” he said. “The odds of closing on a home are definitely higher right now for first-time buyers living in metro areas with tamer price growth and greater entry-level supply — particularly areas in the Midwest and parts of the South.”

The Midwest has the lowest median existing-home price among all regions, $199,900, followed by the South, at $217,400. The median price in the West climbed 7.2% from a year ago to $350,800.

Total available existing homes for sale dipped 0.9% to 2.12 million, now 5.8% below a year ago.

“Seasonally adjusted, the month’s supply of homes in June 2016 was the lowest since June 2005, indicating that inventory problems still plague home buyers,” said Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s chief economist.

by Athena Cao | USA Today

31 Year Old Hedge Funder Trashes $20 Million Hamptons Mansion In Wild Midget-Tossing Party, Is Fired

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In another reminder why most of the population is increasingly furious at the “elites”, over the holiday weekend a 31-year-old portfolio manager for Moore Capital, Brett Barna, threw a wild “Wolf of Wall Street”-style Hamptons party, complete with Champagne, scores of bikini-clad women and costumed gun-toting midgets, and in the process trashed a $20 million mansion.

According to Page Six, Barna, “a portfolio manager at Louis Bacon’s Moore Capital Management, hosted the all-day “#Sprayathon” pool party on Sunday, where 1,000 people doused themselves in bubbly as rapper Ace Hood performed.”

Making things more complicated is that Barna is not the owner of the 9-bedroom, 8 acre Hamptons mansion which “comes with tennis court, gym, outdoor pool & jacuzzi” where he celebrated US Independence Day in decadent style, and instead rented it from “Tommy” for $29,000 on AirBNB, a fee he is now disputing.

And now Tommy is angry: “the furious owner of the 14-bedroom estate in Bridgehampton plans to sue Barna, 31, for $1 million, saying the Wall Street hot shot had claimed the party would be a fundraiser for an animal charity for a mere 50 guests.”

The owner, who asked to not be named, told Page Six that , “Brett came to me dropping Louis Bacon’s name and saying he was a big deal with the Robin Hood Foundation. He said there would be 50 people at the event and it was for animal rescue. But the only animals there were the people, a thousand of them. They drowned themselves in Champagne, they had midgets they threw in the pool, they broke into the house, trashed the furniture, art was stolen, we found used condoms. So many people were there that the concrete around the pool crumbled and fell into the water. It was like ‘Jersey Shore’ meets a frat party. We are preparing a massive lawsuit . . . We’re waiting to serve him.”

“Brett was last seen on Sunday chugging Champagne with two midgets.”

Wild social media posts show party goers dousing themselves in booze and dancing wildly.

The videos and photos below, capturing the festivities, will surely be Exhibit A-X in the upcoming lawsuit.

Party video link

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Party pictures link

According to the publication, this is an annual bacchanal: Last year #Sprayathon revelers started a brush fire at a Hamptons manse owned by “Hercules” actor Kevin Sorbo.

Page Six adds that a rep for the embarrassed hedge fund didn’t comment, but a source said Moore raised $100,000 for Last Chance Animal Rescue, and they hired cleaners and left the house in good condition.

As CNBC adds this morning, Moore Capital said it has fired Barna. “Mr. [Brett] Barna’s personal judgment was inconsistent with the firm’s values,” the company told CNBC in a statement.

“He is no longer employed by Moore Capital Management.”

Source: ZeroHedge

As International Billionaires Get Nervous, Sales In L.A.’s Ultra-Luxury Housing Market Slow

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Billionaire Steve Wynn finally found a buyer for his Bel-Air home when he dropped the asking price to $15.95 million, or $300,000 less than what he bought it for in 2014. (Redfin)

A cooling market for the most expensive homes is costing hotel and casino magnate Steve Wynn some money.

Two years ago, Wynn paid $16.25 million for an 11,000-square-foot mansion perched on nearly an acre above the Bel-Air Country Club. Less than a year later, he sought to unload the home with a paneled library and staff bedroom for $20 million.

No luck. Then he tried $17.45 million. No luck again.

In May, Wynn dropped his price to $15.95 million, $300,000 less than what he paid for the property in 2014. The home went into escrow “very close” to that price last month, said Coldwell Banker agent Mary Swanson, who confirmed Wynn would be taking a loss.

It’s not just Wynn who isn’t getting as much money as he hoped.

Even before Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union jolted investors worldwide, there were reports of a slowdown in the ultra-luxury housing market.

In Los Angeles, agents were seeing more price cuts. Condo sales on New York’s Billionaires’ Row were slowing. Luxury developers shelved projects in Miami. And prices at the tip-top end of the London market were on their way down.

Blame it on the global economy, which has displayed weakness in the past year, choking off the spigot of international millionaires and billionaires seeking a pied-à-terre, or two, in glamorous locales.

So far, in Los Angeles, Wynn’s experience aside, the effect has been minimal, given the nature of Southern California ultra-luxury development – which largely consists of one dramatic hillside estate at a time, rather than a condo tower with multiple units.

But a spate of new construction is on the horizon. By one estimate, there are about 30 new hillside homes priced above $30 million that could hit the market in the next year and a half.

The so-called Brexit vote may not help matters.  It has sown economic uncertainty on a global scale and caused the dollar to strengthen against major currencies – potentially leading international buyers to trim their purchases in the United States.

“The price of real estate here in California and the U.S. has gotten more expensive,” said Jordan Levine, an economist with the California Assn. of Realtors.

In Manhattan, the slowdown has taken a sharp toll. The number of previously owned homes that sold in the first quarter for $10 million or more fell 40% from a year earlier to 15, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

One builder, Extell Development Co., trimmed $162 million in projected revenue from its One57 condo-and-hotel project, a 1,000-foot tower on Manhattan’s 57th Street originally slated to bring in $2.73 billion, according to a March regulatory filing.

It features more than 90 units, with several reportedly selling for more than $40 million and one bought by an investment group for about $90 million.

“More has been constructed in New York,” said Stephen Kotler, chief revenue officer of real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman. “You have some sellers [in Los Angeles] getting more realistic, but in New York you are seeing more.”

In Los Angeles County, by comparison, $10-million plus sales ticked up by one to 17 in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, according to the California Assn. of Realtors, whose data largely covers resale transactions.

But over a longer timeline, it appears the market has begun to stall. The number of sales of $10 million or more in L.A. County has dipped in three of the last five quarters for which data is available, even as inventory has steadily grown, according to the Realtors group.

And, brokers say, the slowdown is more pronounced the higher the price.

As of mid-June, nine homes in the county had sold this year for $20 million or more, compared with 18 during the same period last year, according to Loren Goldman a vice president with First American Title Co.

Michael Nourmand, president of L.A. luxury brokerage Nourmand & Associates Realtors, said the slowdown will probably bleed into the rest of the market eventually, but that’s not likely to happen “any time soon.”

Like elsewhere, local agents put much of the blame on a pullback by international buyers who had flooded Los Angeles in recent years. Turmoil in their economies, along with a strong dollar, have many from Russia, the Middle East and China second-guessing a purchase here.

“It used to be, if they like it they buy it, or more like, if they like it they buy two,” said Cindy Ambuehl, director of residential estates for the Agency. “Now they are keeping their hands in their pockets and they are waiting.”

Nourmand has seen that first-hand.

A client from the Middle East recently hoped to pull the trigger on a nearly $40-million estate in Bel Air – one set behind gates with a driveway that took “one to two minutes” to walk from street to front door.

But the buyer got cold feet in February and backed out, Nourmand said, explaining that her family’s businesses had taken a beating along with the price of oil, which plunged last year.

“You have a shrinking buyer pool for the really expensive stuff,” he said.

http://www.trbimg.com/img-56940497/turbine/la-fi-hotprop-playboy-mansion-for-sale-2016011-002/750/750x422Daren Metropoulos plans to reconnect the Playboy Mansion, above, to his estate next door, creating a 7.3-acre compound. (Jim Bartsch)

Unlike other brokers, Adam Rosenfeld, founding partner of brokerage Mercer Vine, said he thinks the market is still strong and pointed to some recent mega-deals that went into escrow, including the Playboy Mansion, which is being purchased by the son of a billionaire food magnate for $105 million – a record for L.A. County.

(Though that’s half the asking price of $200 million, agents who know the market say they didn’t expect the mansion to sell for that astronomical, headline-grabbing figure.)

But even Rosenfeld said it was unclear how well the upcoming flood of high-end homes will sell.

“There are only so many buyers that can afford a $30-million plus house,” he said. “The [developers] that do them the best probably will make a killing. Guys who don’t … some of those people might lose their shirts.”

Levine, of the Realtors association, said that one dynamic has yet to play out – whether the strong dollar deters international investors from entering the U.S. real estate market, or as their own home country currencies weaken, they come to increasingly view it as a haven.

“It’s not necessarily clear which one of those two is going to win out,” he said.

by Andrew Khouri | Los Angeles Times

McMansions Are Back And They’re Bigger Than Ever

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There was a small ray of hope just after the Lehman collapse that one of the most lamentable characteristics of US society – the relentless urge to build massive McMansions (funding questions aside) – was fading. Alas, as the Census Bureau confirmed this week, that normalization in the innate American desire for bigger, bigger, bigger not only did not go away but is now back with a bang.

According to just released data, both the median and average size of a new single-family home built in 2015 hit new all time highs of 2,467 and 2,687 square feet, respectively.

And while it is known that in absolute number terms the total number of new home sales is still a fraction of what it was before the crisis, the one strata of new home sales which appears to not only not have been impacted but is openly flourishing once more, are the same McMansions which cater to the New Normal uber wealthy (which incidentally are the same as the Old Normal uber wealthy, only wealthier) and which for many symbolize America’s unbridled greed for mega housing no matter the cost.

Not surprisingly, as size has increased so has price: as we reported recently, the median price for sold new single-family homes just hit record a high of $321,100.

The data broken down by region reveals something unexpected: after nearly two decades of supremacy for the Northeast in having the largest new homes, for the past couple of years the region where the largest homes are built is the South.

While historically in the past the need for bigger housing could be explained away with the increase in the size of the US household, this is no longer the case, and as we showed last week, household formation in the US has cratered. In fact, for the first time In 130 years, more young adults live with parents than with partners

…so the only logical explanation for this latest push to build ever bigger houses is a simple one: size matters.

Furthermore it turns out it is not only size that matters but amenities. As the chart below shows, virtually all newly-built houses have A/Cs, increasingly more have 3 or more car garages, 3 or more bathrooms, and for the first time, there were more 4-bedroom than 3-bedroom new houses built.

In conclusion it is clear that the desire for McMansions has not gone away, at least not among those who can afford them. For everyone else who can’t afford a mega home or any home for that matter: good luck renting Blackstone’s McApartment, whose price incidentally has soared by 8% in the past year.

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For those curious for more, here is a snapshot of the typical characteristics of all 2015 new housing courtesy of the Census Bureau:

Of the 648,000 single-family homes completed in 2015:

  • 600,000 had air-conditioning.
  • 66,000 had two bedrooms or less and 282,000 had four bedrooms or more.
  • 25,000 had one and one-half bathrooms or less, whereas 246,000 homes had three or more bathrooms.
  • 122,000 had fiber cement as the principal exterior wall material.
  • 183,000 had a patio and a porch and 14,000 had a patio and a deck.
  • 137,000 had an open foyer.

The median size of a completed single-family house was 2,467 square feet.

Of the 320,000 multifamily units completed in 2015:

  • 3,000 were age-restricted.
  • 146,000 were in buildings with 50 units or more.
  • 148,000 had two or more bathrooms.
  • 35,000 had three or more bedrooms.

The median size of multifamily units built for rent was 1,057 square feet, while the median of those built for sale was 1,408 square feet.

* * *

Of the 14,000 multifamily buildings completed in 2015:

  • 7,000 had one or two floors.
  • 12,000 were constructed using wood framing.
  • 6,000 had a heat pump for the heating system.

* * *

Of the 501,000 single-family homes sold in 2015:

  • 453,000 were detached homes, 49,000 were attached homes.
  • 327,000 had a 2-car garage and 131,000 had a garage for 3 cars or more.
  • 200,000 had one story, 278,000 had two stories, and 24,000 had three stories or more.
  • 348,000 were paid for using conventional financing and 42,000 were VA-guaranteed.

The median sales price of new single-family homes sold was $296,400 in 2015, compared with the average sales price of $360,600.

The median size of a new single-family home sold was 2,520 square feet.

The type of foundation was a full or partial basement for 80% percent of the new single-family homes sold in the Midwest compared with 8% in the South.

109,000 contractor-built single-family homes were started in 2015.

source: ZeroHedge

Sales of New Homes Fall on Slump in West

https://s16-us2.ixquick.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=http%3A%2F%2Fassets.site-static.com%2FuserFiles%2F309%2Fimage%2FHousing_Market.JPG&sp=7c4a15640519e1a0f951ca3407211459Purchases of new homes unexpectedly declined in March for a third month, reflecting the weakest pace of demand in the West since July 2014.

Total sales decreased 1.5% to a 511,000 annualized pace, a Commerce Department report showed Monday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey was for a gain to 520,000. In Western states, demand slumped 23.6%.

Purchases rose in two regions last month, indicating uneven demand at the start of the busiest time of the year for builders and real estate agents. While new construction has been showing limited upside, cheap borrowing costs and solid hiring will help ensure residential real estate continues to expand.

“Housing is certainly not booming,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics Ltd. in Valhalla, N.Y., said before the report. “Some people may be shut out of the market because lending standards are still tight. There may still be some reluctance to buy versus rent.”

Even so, “through the volatility, the trend is still more up than down, and we expect modest growth in sales,” he said.

Economists’ estimates for new-home sales ranged from 488,000 to 540,000. February purchases were revised to 519,000 from 512,000. The monthly data are generally volatile, one reason economists prefer to look at longer term trends.

The report said there was 90% confidence the change in sales last month ranged from a 13.5% drop to a 16.5% increase.

Sales in the West declined to a 107,000 annualized rate in March after surging 21.7% the previous month to 140,000. In the South, purchases climbed 5% to a 314,000 pace in March, the strongest in 13 months. Sales in the Midwest advanced 18.5%, the first gain in three months, and were unchanged in the Northeast.

The median sales price decreased 1.8% from March 2015 to $288,000.

There were 246,000 new houses on the market at the end of March, the most since September 2009. The supply of homes at the current sales rate rose to 5.8 months, the highest since September, from 5.6 months in the prior period.

From a year earlier, purchases increased 5.8% on an unadjusted basis.

New-home sales, which account for less than 10% of the residential market, are tabulated when contracts get signed. They are generally considered a timelier barometer of the residential market than purchases of previously owned dwellings, which are calculated when a contract closes, typically a month or two later.

Borrowing costs are hovering close to a three-year low, helping to bring house purchases within the reach of more Americans. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.59% last week, down from 3.97% at the start of the year, according to data from Freddie Mac.

The job market is another source of support. Monthly payrolls growth averaged 234,000 in the past year, and the unemployment rate of 5% is near an eight-year low. Still, year-over-year wage gains have been stuck in a 2% to 2.5% range since the economic expansion began in mid-2009.

The market for previously owned homes improved last month, climbing 5.1% to a 5.33 million annualized rate, the National Association of Realtors reported April 20. Prices rose as inventories remained tight.

Even so, the market is getting little boost from first-time buyers, who accounted for 30% of all existing-home purchases, a historically low share, according to the group.

Recent data on home building has been less encouraging, although those figures are volatile month to month. New-home construction slumped in March, reflecting a broad-based retreat, a Commerce Department report showed last week. Home starts fell 8.8% to the weakest annual pace since October. Permits, a proxy for future construction, also unexpectedly dropped.

Source: National Mortgage News

HSBC Curbs Mortgage Options to Chinese Nationals Buying U.S. Real Estate

https://i0.wp.com/libertyblitzkrieg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Screen-Shot-2016-01-28-at-9.08.53-AM-768x770.jpgTwo days ago, I published a post explaining how the super high end real estate bubble had popped, and how signs of this reality have emerged across America. Here’s an excerpt from that post, The Luxury Housing Bubble Pops – Overseas Investors Struggle to Sell Overpriced Mansions:

The six-bedroom mansion in the shadow of Southern California’s Sierra Madre Mountains has lime trees and a swimming pool, tennis courts and a sauna — the kind of place that would have sold quickly just a year ago, according to real estate agent Kanney Zhang.

Not now.

Zhang is shopping it for a discounted $3.68 million, but nobody’s biting. Her clients, a couple from China, are getting anxious. They’re the kind of well-heeled international investors who fueled a four-year luxury real estate boom that helped pull America out of its worst housing slump since the 1930s. Now the couple is reeling from the selloff in the Chinese stock market and looking to raise cash to shore up finances.

In the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, where Zhang is struggling to sell the six-bedroom home, dozens of aging ranch houses were demolished to make way for 38 mansions built with Chinese buyers in mind. They have manicured lawns and wok kitchens and are priced as high as $12 million. Many of them sit empty because the prices are out of the range of most domestic buyers, said Re/Max broker Rudy Kusuma, who blames a crackdown by the Chinese on large sums leaving the country.

Well, I have some more bad news for mansion-flipping Chinese nationals.

From Reuters:

Europe’s biggest lender HSBC will no longer provide mortgages to some Chinese nationals who buy real estate in the United States, a policy change that comes as Beijing is battling to stem a swelling crowd of citizens trying to get money out of China.

An HSBC spokesman in New York told Reuters on Wednesday that the new policy went into effect last week, roughly a month after China suspended Standard Chartered and DBS Group Holdings Ltd from conducting some foreign exchange business and as authorities try to limit capital outflows.

Realtors of luxury property in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, said more than 80 percent of wealthy Chinese buyers have ties to China.

Luxury homes news website Mansion Global, which first reported the HSBC policy change, said it would affect Chinese nationals holding temporary visitor ‘B’ visas if the majority of their income and assets are maintained in China.

Meanwhile…

HSBC’s pivot away from lending to some Chinese nationals abroad comes as other international banks clamor to lend more to wealthy Chinese.

The Royal Bank of Canada scrapped its C$1.25 million cap on mortgages to borrowers with no local credit history last year in a bid to tap into surging demand for financing from wealthy immigrant buyers.

The Making of the Most Expensive Mansion in History

On a hilltop in Bel Air, a 100,000-square-foot giga-mansion is under construction, for no one in particular. The asking price—$500 million—would shatter records, but, as ridiculous as it sounds, in L.A.’s unbridled real-estate bubble, this house could be billed as a bargain.

My mansion really is worth $500M, claims the man behind most expensive home ever built which boasts five swimming pools, a casino and a VIP nightclub

  • The Bel Air home, which will be finished in 2017, is close to those of celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Elon Musk
  • The property has panoramic views of the LA basin and Pacific Ocean and will cover more than 100,000 square feet
  • The price works out to about $5,000 per square foot, which the property’s developer Nile Niami says is a good price for what the buyer is getting
  • The home will have five swimming pools, a casino, a nightclub and a lounge with jellyfish tanks replacing the walls and ceilings
  • Niami, behind films including action-thriller The Patriot, hopes to double the world-record for the most expensive home ever sold

A mega-mansion in Bel Air has been listed for a whopping $500million – but the extravagant home is worth its value, the real-estate developer claims.

Sitting on a hilltop with views of the San Gabriel Mountains, LA basin, Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean, the home will have five swimming pools, a casino, a nightclub with VIP access, a lounge with jellyfish tanks replacing the walls and ceilings, and many other amenities.

The home, which will be finished in 2017 and boasts neighbors including Jennifer Aniston and Elon Musk, will be more than 100,000 square feet – twice the size of the White House.

A home being built in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, by real-estate developer Nile Niami is being listed for $500million. Above is a depiction of what it will look like when finished.

A home being built in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, by real-estate developer Nile Niami is being listed for $500million. Above is a depiction of what it will look like when finished

The 100,000-square-foot home, which is still being built (pictured) is close to several celebrities' houses 

The 100,000-square-foot home, which is still being built (pictured) is close to several celebrities’ houses.

The 100,000-square-foot home, which is still being built (pictured) is close to several celebrities’ houses 

The price works out to about $5,000 per square foot, which Hollywood producer-turned-developer 47-year-old Nile Niami notes is less than half of what some billionaires pay for Manhattan penthouses.

Niami, pictured in 2013, said the property will be worth the cost

Niami, pictured in 2013, said the property will be worth the cost.

‘We have a very specific client in mind,’ Niami told Details magazine. ‘Someone who already has a $100million yacht and seven houses all over the world, in London and Dubai and whatever.

‘To be able to say that the biggest, most expensive house in the world is here, that will really be good for LA.’

Niami, behind films including action-thriller The Patriot, hopes to double the world-record for the most expensive home ever sold with the $500million asking price.

He grew unpopular with neighbors last fall, when he sliced off the top of a hill to create panoramic vistas on his four-acre lot.

For weeks, dump trucks filled the neighborhood’s narrow streets as they removed about 40,000 cubic yards of dirt from the property.

Drew Fenton, the real-estate broker listing the property, said that the home is important to Los Angeles.

‘It is by far the most important estate project in Los Angeles over the last 25 years and will raise the bar for all other estates built in the city,’ he told Details.

The home will have several features that most residential properties don’t, including a two-story waterfall, temperature-controlled room for storing fresh flowers, a cigar lounge and an indoor-outdoor dance floor. 

It also will have a 30-car garage, 40-seat screening room and a 6,000-square-foot master suite.  

Sitting on a hilltop with views of the San Gabriel Mountains, LA basin, Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean, the home will have five swimming pools, a casino, a nightclub with VIP access, a lounge with jellyfish tanks replacing the walls and ceilings, and many other amenities.

Sitting on a hilltop with views of the San Gabriel Mountains, LA basin, Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean, the home will have five swimming pools, a casino, a nightclub with VIP access, a lounge with jellyfish tanks replacing the walls and ceilings, and many other amenities

The price works out to about $5,000 per square foot, which Hollywood producer-turned-developer Niami notes is less than half of what some billionaires pay for Manhattan penthouses.

The price works out to about $5,000 per square foot, which Hollywood producer-turned-developer Niami notes is less than half of what some billionaires pay for Manhattan penthouses.

But when inside the master suite, ‘it doesn’t look that big, because everything else is so big’, Niami said.

It will have three smaller homes, four swimming pools including a 180ft long infinity pool and a 20,000-square-foot artificial lawn to comply with California’s drought-induced water restrictions.

A glass-walled, high-ceiling library will take part of the first floor, but Niami said not to expect to find books in the room.

‘Nobody really reads books,’ he said. ‘So I’m just going to fill the shelves with white books, for looks.’

Niami sells his homes fully furnished and decorated to the buyers’ tastes.

The property’s chief architect, Paul McClean, told Details that listing prices are not often the reality. 

Drew Fenton, the real-estate broker listing the property, said that the home is important to Los Angeles in that it will ‘raise the bar for all other estates built in the city.’

Drew Fenton, the real-estate broker listing the property, said that the home is important to Los Angeles in that it will ‘raise the bar for all other estates built in the city’

‘The numbers right now are crazy, no matter how you look at them,’ he said. ‘But for most people who buy these kinds of houses, it’s not a decision that they calculate based on price per square foot.

‘It’s more about the emotional draw. With Nile, we’re trying to sell a lifestyle, a sense of how people imagine they would live.’

Niami said he does not know who sold him the Bel Air plot – the secret transaction took place through a bank trust where the owner remained anonymous.

The real-estate developer declined to say how much he paid for the property, which originally included a decrepit home that has since been torn down.

As for who he’d like to live in his soon-to-be mega-mansion: ‘It doesn’t make a difference as long as they pay the money.

The home will have several features that most residential properties don’t, including a two-story waterfall, temperature-controlled room for storing fresh flowers, a cigar lounge and an indoor-outdoor dance floor. This image gives an idea of what it will look like when finished.

The home will have several features that most residential properties don’t, including a two-story waterfall, temperature-controlled room for storing fresh flowers, a cigar lounge and an indoor-outdoor dance floor. This image gives an idea of what it will look like when finished.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3318573/Nile-Niami-claims-Bel-Air-meganmansion-really-worth-500million.html#ixzz3racjlltZ

Ultra Wealthy Buying Homes Globally for Investment Diversification, Gain Citizenship

Ultra Wealthy Buying Homes Globally for Investment Diversification, Gain Citizenship

by Michael Gerrity in the World Property Journal

According to a study by Wealth-X and the Sotheby’s International Realty, a growing number of ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals view homes as ‘opportunity gateways’, driving buying decisions that are based on potential opportunities from owning these luxury residential properties.

UHNW-Real-Estate-Index-(Q2,-2015).png

The UHNW Luxury Real Estate Report: Homes As Opportunity Gateways reveals two trends that are fueling the rise in the number of ultra wealthy individuals who are buying luxury homes:
 
1) International home-buying by UHNW individuals (defined as those with at least US$30 million in assets) from emerging nations seeking a safe investment diversification.
 
2) Home-buying as part of a program to gain citizenship or residency status in foreign nations.
 
The report provides insight into the UHNW residential real estate opportunities in Sydney and Vancouver for buyers seeking safe investment diversification; and Malta, the Bahamas and Sao Paulo, which may appeal to ultra wealthy buyers who are seeking citizenship or residency through property investment.

Key report findings include:
 

  • 12% of second homes purchased by UHNW individuals in emerging countries (those who reside in BRICS nations) are located outside their country of residence.
  • Recent market fluctuations in emerging nations are leading a new generation of UHNW investors to consider investing in luxury residential real estate in Western markets.
  • Chinese UHNW individuals make up the third largest share of foreign UHNW homeowners in the United States, behind only Canada and the United Kingdom.
  • Twenty nations in Europe and the Americas now offer citizenship or residency programs to individuals willing to invest in domestic residential real estate.
  • Many residential real estate markets with such programs – including Sao Paulo, Malta, and the Bahamas – offer good long-term investment opportunities.

The UHNW Residential Real Estate index, tracked by Wealth-X, rose to 115.2 in Q2 2015, an 8.3% rise year-on-year, and the sixth consecutive quarter in which the index has risen. The continued rise in the index reflects the confidence of UHNW individuals to invest in luxury residential real estate.
 
The index takes into account the full range of luxury residential properties that are owned by the world’s wealthiest individuals. Wealth-X data shows there are 211,275 UHNW individuals globally, who collectively hold nearly $3 trillion in real estate assets, equal to 10% of their net worth.

Wealth-X President David Friedman commented, “Wealth-X is pleased to partner with the Sotheby’s International Realty brand for this third luxury real estate report for 2015. This new joint study explores the trends and home-buying motivations of a distinct group of ultra wealthy individuals in the emerging markets. As their wealth grows, so will their investment fueled by various motivations, be it to diversify their portfolio or to gain citizenship or residency in a foreign country.”
 
According to Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, this joint report was designed to provide an understanding of the trends driving buying decisions of ultra-high net worth individuals around the world. “The research reveals trends that go beyond traditional motivations and help guide real estate investments that contribute to long-term wealth,” he said.  “It underscores the important role real estate plays in a larger strategy to build a valuable asset portfolio.”

UHNW-second-citizenship-origin-countries.png

Why China Is on an L.A. Spending Spree: “It’s Just Monopoly Money to Them”

by Seth Abramovitch in The Hollywood Reporter

“$20,000 on drinks is a plain night on the town,” says one local restaurateur, as big-time Chinese money pours into Los Angeles, consuming everything from wine to diamonds to watches to cars to prime real estate (in one case, 25,000 square feet for a teenage college student).

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The ultra-wealthy Chinese tend to get what they want, and right now most of them want one thing: to get out. More than 60 percent of China’s most affluent citizens have already left the country or are planning to leave it, according to the Los Angeles Times. And L.A. — a politically stable and always-comfortable metropolis where catering to the rich is a way of life — is among their most coveted destinations. The numbers don’t lie: In 2014, a full 20 percent of the city’s $8 billion in real estate sales was purchased by Chinese buyers. Showing no signs of slowing down, this injection of Chinese capital and influence can be felt at every level of L.A.’s culture of consumption.

Thanks to big import and consumption taxes introduced in recent years by President Xi Jinping, most wealthy Chinese consider the cost of homes and luxury goods in L.A. to be something of a bargain. “They’ll buy high-end watches in threes and fours,” says Korosh Soltani, owner of Rodeo Drive jewelry store David Orgell, of his Chinese clientele, who’ll typically drop $200,000 on gifts in a single shopping spree. (Soltani has so many Chinese customers, he asks companies like Corum and Baume & Mercier to send him watches bearing the Mandarin logos they are more familiar with.)

Brand names are essential: Hermes tableware, Lalique crystal and yellow-gold jewelry from Carrera y Carrera — gold is the most popular gift among Chinese — are consistent hot sellers. Spending can easily soar much higher if shopping for a special occasion: “We just had a Chinese family come in looking for the finest, most vivid canary yellow diamond you can have. Fortunately I had one,” says Beverly Hills jeweler Martin Katz of a recent engagement ring purchase. “It was a seven-figure-priced stone in the six-carat range.”

While money is frequently no object, the Chinese still like to negotiate and won’t close a deal without getting “big discounts … it’s in the culture,” Soltanti says. They also expect a little something extra: “We ask our brands to give us pens or hats that will keep them happy. They’re very appreciative of it.”

The Beverly Center, meanwhile, has taken active steps toward luring China’s big spenders: The high-end shopping mall — which houses Louis Vuitton, Prada and Fendi boutiques — provides a Chinese version of its website and brochures, staffs Mandarin-speaking concierges, accepts China UnionPay credit cards and promotes itself on Sina Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.

“They arrive with this endless stream of money without working or earning it. It’s just Monopoly money to them,” says Gotham Dream Cars’ Rob Ferretti of Chinese customers who come to him in search of an exotic ride. They lease cars like the $397,000 Maybach 57S for $2,200 a day. Color-wise, “They love these light blues,” Ferretti says. They’re even particular about the car’s VIN number: They like when it has as many eights in it as possible.

“Eight in Chinese rhymes with the word for prosperity. It’s extremely significant,” explains architect Anthony Poon of Beverly Hills-based Poon Design Inc. The Chinese fixation on the number can verge on the obsessive: One client, whose husband is a major film director, wanted Poon to design her an 8,888-square-foot home, while another Chinese developer working on a luxury community in Pacific Palisades insists that it have eight estates.

“They understand vertical living very well, and they love new construction, so condos are very much in their wheelhouse,” says Beverly Hills realtor (and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star) Mauricio Umansky of his Chinese clients, most of whom are relocating from densely packed urban centers like Shanghai to the comparative expansiveness of Arcadia, an L.A. suburb and Chinese-wealth magnet. If their kids are attending UCLA, parents will think nothing of spending $1 million to $3 million or more on a Westwood pied-a-terre instead of putting their children up in dorms. “The wealth and lack of reference point can be staggering,” marvels Poon, before sharing an anecdote about the family who purchased a 25,000-square-foot home in the Hollywood Hills for their teenage son. On the ultra-high-end market — mansions that cost $50 million and above — Umansky estimates that about 25 percent of sales are made to Chinese, a figure he says is climbing due to ongoing “political and financial uncertainty in China.”

When it comes to design, feng shui — the ancient philosophy of living in harmony with your surroundings — is a top priority among Chinese buyers, with architects scrambling to accommodate its highly specific criteria. According to Poon, a contained foyer is preferable to an open-plan entryway (it helps retain life force, or chi); floor plans must be simple, with no awkward or cramped spaces; furniture should be placed away from doors and be round, not rectangular; sloping backyards are a no-no (again, to avoid chi loss); and, says Umansky, “you don’t want the staircase facing the front door because it’s the money and fortune flowing out.”

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Dining, too, comes with its own set of Chinese rules. For a taste of home, Chinese emigres gravitate to authentic dumpling houses like Din Tai Fung — either the original in Arcadia or either of two trendier outposts in Costa Mesa and Glendale. (The latter location, nestled in Rick Caruso’s Americana at Brand, serves the much-coveted black-truffle soup dumplings, a Hong Kong delicacy.) Restaurateur Peter Garland, owner of Porta Via on Canon Drive, notes that uber-wealthy Chinese diners spend freely on high-end wines — especially chardonnay and California cabernet. That extends to any restaurant boasting a stellar wine list, as Beverly Hills mainstays like Cut or Mastro’s regularly draw a deep-pocketed Chinese clientele who’ll think nothing at dropping four-figures on rare vintages and for whom “$20,000 on drinks in one night is a plain night on the town,” says Poon.

“She Sheds” Are the New Man Caves

Except they’re way, way better

First, there were actual caves. Then came man caves. So what’s the next hot thing in gender-specific sanctuaries? Meet the “she shed,” a backyard haven for busy women seeking a quiet reprieve from the world.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorites, from the humble aluminum-sided storage shed to the tricked-out den retreat.

Get inspired, then get away from everyone.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

First, define the purpose of your She Shed

Whether it’s for reading, crafting or indulging a fave hobby, like gardening.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

Or simply make it about chilling out

No dirt allowed in this elegant hideaway.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

Make it fancy

Ever say, “This is why we can’t have nice things”? Solution: Put all your nice things in your own private place (hello, crystal chandelier collection).

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

Sometimes, a gal just needs a moment to herself

And a 45-minute nap in a padlocked hut finished with coordinating throw pillows.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

Serenity Now

Bedeck your bungalow with ivy and practically disappear into nature.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

Tree House chic

Just add lights, a daybed and a glass of wine.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

The secret to transforming any shed into a personal reprieve.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

As Does a Trip to the Salvage Yard

This guy is made from recycled glass doors and windows.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

Hang a hammock for a lazy day

Um, is that an outdoor shower?

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

What makes you feel relaxed?

For some, it’s about blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space…

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

And for others…

It’s about creating a glorified bunker that says, “leave me be.”

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

Keep it contemporary

With minimalist accessories and clean, modern lines.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

Or really own your theme

Like this quirky Zen den fit for a yoga goddess.

She Sheds Are the New Man Caves

And for that rare time you’re feeling neighborly

Throw open the door, add bar stools and a few bottles. The backyard pub is open for business.

The Art of Capital Flight

Contemporary art and apartments in major cities such as New York, London and Vancouver has become the two most important stores of wealth internationally. Forget gold as an inflation hedge; buy paintings.

by Kenneth Rogoff in Project Syndicate

CAMBRIDGE – What impact will China’s slowdown have on the red-hot contemporary art market? That might not seem like an obvious question, until one considers that, for emerging-market investors, art has become a critical tool for facilitating capital flight and hiding wealth. These investors have become a major factor in the art market’s spectacular price bubble of the last several years. So, with emerging market economies from Russia to Brazil mired in recession, will the bubble burst?

Just five months ago, Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, told an audience in Singapore that contemporary art has become one of the two most important stores of wealth internationally, along with apartments in major cities such as New York, London, and Vancouver. Forget gold as an inflation hedge; buy paintings.

 

What made Fink’s elevation of art to investment-grade status so surprising is that no one of his stature had been brave enough to say it before. I am certainly not celebrating the trend. I tend to agree with the philosopher Peter Singer that the obscene sums being spent on premier pieces of modern art are disquieting.

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The Women of Algiers, 1955 by Pablo Picasso

We can all agree that these sums are staggering. In May, Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers” sold for $179 million at a Christie’s auction in New York, up from $32 million in 1997. Okay, it’s a Picasso. Yet it is not even the highest sale price paid this year. A Swiss collector reportedly paid close to $300 million in a private sale for Paul Gauguin’s 1892 “When Will You Marry?”

Picasso and Gauguin are deceased. The supply of their paintings is known and limited. Nevertheless, the recent price frenzy extends to a significant number of living artists, led by the American Jeff Koons and the German Gerhard Richter, and extending well down the food chain.

For economists, the art bubble raises many fascinating questions, but an especially interesting one is exactly who would pay so much for high-end art. The answer is hard to know, because the art world is extremely opaque. Indeed, art is the last great unregulated investment opportunity.

Much has been written about the painting collections of hedge fund managers and private equity art funds (where one essentially buys shares in portfolios of art without actually ever taking possession of anything). In fact, emerging-market buyers, including Chinese, have become the swing buyers in many instances, often making purchases anonymously.

But doesn’t China have a regime of strict capital controls that limits citizens from taking more than $50,000 per year out of the country? Yes, but there are many ways of moving money in and out of China, including the time-honored method of “under and over invoicing.”

For example, to get money out of China, a Chinese seller might report a dollar value far below what she was actually paid by a cooperating Western importer, with the difference being deposited into an overseas bank account. It is extremely difficult to estimate capital flight, both because the data are insufficient and because it is tough to distinguish capital flight from normal diversification. As the late MIT economist Rüdiger Dornbusch liked to quip, identifying capital flight is akin to the old adage about blind men touching an elephant: It is difficult to describe, but you will recognize it when you see it.

Many estimates put capital flight from China at about $300 billion annually in recent years, with a marked increase in 2015 as the economy continues to weaken. The ever-vigilant Chinese authorities are cracking down on money laundering; but, given the huge incentives on the other side, this is like playing whack-a-mole.

Presumably, the anonymous Chinese buyers at recent Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions had spirited their money out of the country before bidding, and the paintings are just an investment vehicle that is particularly easy to hold secretively. The art is not necessarily even displayed anywhere: It may well be spirited off to a temperature- and humidity-controlled storage vault in Switzerland or Luxembourg. Reportedly, some art sales today result in paintings merely being moved from one section of a storage vault to another, recalling how the New York Federal Reserve registers gold sales between national central banks.

Clearly, the incentives and motives of art investors who are engaged in capital flight, or who want to hide or launder their money, are quite different from those of ordinary investors. The Chinese hardly invented this game. It was not so long ago that Latin America was the big driver in the art market, owing to money escaping governance-challenged economies such as Argentina and Venezuela, as well as drug cartels that used paintings to launder their cash.

So how, then, will the emerging-market slowdown radiating from China affect contemporary art prices? In the short run, the answer is ambiguous, because more money is leaking out of the country even as the economy slows. In the long run, the outcome is pretty clear, especially if one throws in the coming Fed interest-rate hikes. With core buyers pulling back, and the opportunity cost rising, the end of the art bubble will not be a pretty picture.

Miami’s One Thousand Museum Tower Enjoys $1 Million an Hour Sales Rate

The developers of Miami’s new and uber-luxe One Thousand Museum reported approximately $24 million in new condo sales contracts signed within 24 hours of their 24-hour concrete pour.

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“If we knew we’d sell $1M an hour, we would have poured longer,” said Louis Birdman, one of the developers of the 62-story skyscraper. Four contracts were signed during the pour with buyers from the US, Mexico City, and Argentina. All sales were for half-floor units ranging in price from $5.8 to $6.5 million.
 
The 83-unit tower, slated for completion in late 2017, will expect 4,800 pieces of the project’s revolutionary exoskeleton being shipped from Dubai to initiate this installation.

Once complete, One Thousand Museum will be the first building in the country to utilize this glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) outer shell as a permanent formwork.
 
“Zaha Hadid is a visionary. The buildings she designs not only make headlines worldwide, but also garner critical acclaim and promise to be in history books for generations to come,” said Louis Birdman on the architectural component of the project.
 
Some noted amenities include 30,000 square feet of luxury communal areas include a two-story amenity space at the top of the tower, an aquatic center, garden areas, event spaces, a two-story health spa, multiple art galleries, a theater, and the city’s only private rooftop helipad.

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Via Miho Favela in World Property Journal

‘Most Expensive’ Mansion Listing In U.S., Palazzo di Amore Cut Price By $46 Million

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Despite the $46-million price cut, the 53,000-square-foot Beverly Hills home is still asking a top-of-the-charts $149 million. (Marc Angeles | Inset: Tribune Publishing)

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A Luxury Tear Down In LA’s Bird Streets

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A luxury tear-down in the Bird Streets. 9212 Nightingale Drive, priced at $13.8 million, the 5,000-square-foot house on more than half an acre is being marketed as the site for a 12,000-square-foot home that developers hope would garner as much as $70 million.

By Neal J. Leitereg in The Los Angeles Times

The actual house didn’t factor much into the equation when Dr. Dre parted with his Hollywood Hills West home in January for $32 million.

The contemporary-style residence behind gates on Oriole Way was not purchased for its 9,696 square feet of space, but rather for its land value and potential to build an astonishing $100-million-plus estate on what has been called the best view lot in Los Angeles.

Such is life in the so-called Bird Streets, an enclave that has long been popular among celebrity and mogul types, where a developers flush with cash look to double down on a surging luxury market.

At 9212 Nightingale Drive, a home taken down to the studs and built new last year is now being shopped as a tear-down, according to listing agent Benjamin Bacal of Rodeo Realty Beverly Hills. That’s how popular and sought-after the area has become.

Priced at $13.8 million, the 5,000-square-foot house on more than half an acre is being marketed as the site for a 12,000-square-foot home that developers hope would garner as much as $70 million.

If that sounds like a pie-in-the-sky figure, Bacal points to two other homes on the same street where $70 million seems to be the magic number.

Three doors down, Global Radio founder and president Ashley Tabor has invested more than $30 million into a two-house compound he bought from Megan Ellison, the film producer and daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison, in 2013 for $26.25 million.

In similar fashion, billionaire Ted Waitt, who co-founded Gateway Inc., has put about $30 million toward his home on Nightingale. Also purchased from Ellison in 2013, the corner-lot property cost $20.5 million.

Each could end up worth $70 million, as long as the tear-down market stays red hot.

Wealthy Russians Rush to Buy Up Luxury Greek Villas

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Russian buyers are scrambling to buy bargain properties in Greece as the financial meltdown has eroded luxury real-estate prices, Damien Sharkov reported for Newsweek.

Just to give you an idea of the scale of sales: The Greek real-estate agency IRM Aegean Estate has put properties in package deals, with two villas in Corfu —private beach and all — selling together for $4.9 million.

According to the German magazine Bild, the number of luxury Greek villas bought by Russians has more than doubled in the past year, Newsweek reported.

That’s partially because of Russia’s own currency crisis — rich people are looking for safe places to park cash — but also because real-estate prices in Greece have fallen roughly 50% since 2009, Bild reported.

“If a villa on the Greek island of Syros still cost €1.6m a few years ago, it is now selling for just €800,000,” IRM founder Isabelle Razi told Newsweek. That’s a fall to roughly $870,000 from $1.74 million with today’s exchange rates.

The strengthening relationship between Russian buyers and their Greek holdings is mirrored by ties between their national governments.

Last month the two countries agreed to build a $2.27 billion gas pipeline, Sharkov reported for Newsweek, and some critics are concerned the move signifies a tug-of-war between the West and Russia, as Athens may be inching toward the Kremlin’s umbrella of influence.

An Inside Look At Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row

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Along Manhattan’s 57th Street, stretching from Columbus Circle on the west side to Park Avenue on the east, you’ll soon find more than a half-dozen glittering, ultra-exclusive condominium towers that will offer unparalleled views of Central Park — and virtually the entire city. Welcome to Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row, the current trophy real estate of the 1%.

The mega projects, with some penthouse floor plans such as those at 432 Park Ave. expanding to more than 8,200 square feet, are expected to list on average for more than $14.5 million (or $4,375 a square foot). Some even have living rooms bigger than most condominium units in Manhattan (the average size of a condo unit in Manhattan being 1,100 square feet.)

The sky-high prices on Billionaires’ Row will also help push the average price for a unit at new developments in Manhattan to $7 million (or $2,787 a square foot) by 2017, according to Gabby Warshawer, head of research for CityRealty, a New York real-estate research firm. Manhattan condo units on average were just $1 million as recently as 2005, says Warshawer.

An inside look at ‘Billionaires’ Row’

For the Manhattan, and global, elite, trophy apartments in the sky, overlooking Central Park, will set new marks for luxury and price.

Aside from the luxuriously appointed apartments and the central location, there’s something else that’s appealing about the apartments: As Noble Black, a real-estate agent who has marketed condominium units in One57, points out, unlike many city co-ops — whose boards are famously picky and have turned down such notables as pop singer Madonna and former President Richard Nixon as potential residents — buyers on Billionaires’ Row don’t need to open up their financial books to co-op boards or even submit to interviews.

Here’s a look at what $14 million–plus will buy you along Billionaires’ Row …

These sky-high trophy homes overlooking Central Park set new marks for both luxury and price

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157 West 57 St.

One57, built by developer Extell, was the first on the Billionaires’ Row strip to be built and is 75 stories tall and more than 1,000 feet high. The building, which includes a Park Hyatt hotel with services catering to owners’ every whim, with room service, maid service and a spa and gym, saw its penthouse apartment sell for a record $100.5 million in December 2014 to a yet-unnamed buyer. All told, the entire building’s 92 condo units were worth an estimated $2 billion and will sell for an average of $6,300 a square foot, according to CityRealty.

111 West 57th St.

Built by JDS Development Group, this extraordinarily slender skyscraper will rise 80 stories and more than 1,400 feet. That’s taller than the Empire State Building. The 60 apartments will start at $14 million according to the developer’s website and rise to $100 million, according to CityRealty. Completion is expected in 2018.

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550 Madison Ave.

The rehab of the 37-story Sony Building will include a $150 million penthouse and possibly a five-star hotel. The skyscraper, completed in 1983, was sold to Joseph Chetrit, a real-estate developer for more than $1 billion in 2013. The sell-out price for the property will likely approach $2 billion, or more than $4,400 a square foot, CityRealty says.

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432 Park Ave.

Currently the tallest residential building in the city at 1,396 feet, the condominium development by CIM Group/Macklowe Properties recently sold its penthouse for $99.5 million.The building’s total sales will be worth an estimated $3 billion (or nearly $6,300 a square foot), according to CityRealty, assuming the 144-unit building is sold out. Closings on the remaining units — which range from $17 million to $81 million — are expected to start at the end of the year.

53 W. 53rd St.

Hines Development’s 77-story condominium has been in the works for 10 years but has only recently started marketing its 100-plus units. The 1,050-foot-high trapezoidal tower with geodesic elements is set to be completed in 2018 and to include a unit priced at $70 million, according to CityRealty. All told, the sell-out price is anticipated at upward of $2 billion.

by Daniel Goldstein for Market Watch

 

Sales of $100 Million Homes Rise to Record Worldwide

Source: Bloomberg Businesshttps://i2.wp.com/www.ealuxe.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/this-is-what-you-could-wake-up-to-every-day.jpgThe Odeon, Monaco Penthouse: most expensive penthouse in the world

The ultra-luxury housing market is scaling new heights as a record number of properties around the world command prices topping $100 million.Demand for mega-mansions and penthouses has accelerated as wealthy buyers seek havens for their cash and search for alternative investments such as art and collectible real estate, according to a report Thursday by Christie’s International Real Estate, owned by auction house Christie’s. Five homes sold for more than $100 million last year, with at least 20 more on the market with nine-figure asking prices, the brokerage said.“You’re looking at a universe of over 1,800 billionaires who are starting to become members of this club of collectors of the most unique and incredible real estate in the world,” Dan Conn, chief executive officer of Christie’s International Real Estate, said in a telephone interview. “It’s something they’ll hold onto for a lifetime, the same way they’ll hold onto a Picasso or a Warhol or any number of the great pieces of art we’ve sold over the years.”

 

Sales are likely to increase this year with more newly built properties and off-market homes trading for at least $100 million, Conn said. Demand is growing among affluent Americans and Europeans; billionaires from unstable economies, such as Russia and Middle Eastern countries; and buyers from mainland China, who were barred from investing overseas before 2012 and since have snapped up houses in cities including Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York and London, he said.

https://i0.wp.com/www.ealuxe.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/most-expensive-penthouse-in-the-world-odeon-ealuxe.jpgThe penthouse and pool area of the Tour Odeon residential apartment block. At least 18 residences have asking prices of $100 million or more, led by the $400 million Monaco penthouse. Source: Realis/SCI Odeon via Bloomberg

‘Can Boast’

“People want trophy homes,” Eyal Ofer, a Monaco-based shipping and real estate magnate, said in interview earlier this week at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California. “They’re a scarce commodity. And they’re better than gold because you can boast about it.”

Last year’s sales of homes for at least $100 million were led by an East Hampton, New York, estate purchased for $147 million by Barry Rosenstein, managing partner at hedge fund Jana Partners. The other top sales were a $146 million villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France; a $120 million estate in Greenwich, Connecticut; a $104 million Hong Kong residence; and a $100.5 million duplex penthouse in New York’s One57 condominium tower, according to Christie’s.

Not all the properties went for close to the asking price. The Greenwich estate that sold for $120 million was originally listed for $190 million.

‘Fundamentally Different’

The fact that asking and sales prices for ultra-luxury properties are reaching new heights isn’t a sign of problems in the broader market and shouldn’t raise concerns that last decade’s housing bubble will be repeated, Conn said.

“I think of this market as fundamentally different from the rest of the market,” Conn said in an interview Thursday on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” “In order to buy one of these properties, you have to be in the billionaires club.”

Just one home sale exceeded the $100 million mark in 2013, following four such transactions in 2012 and three in 2011, Christie’s reported.

Residences currently on the market with asking prices at that level include a $400 million Monaco penthouse, a $365 million London manor and a $195 million estate in Beverly Hills, California, according to Christie’s. France’s Cote d’Azur, a getaway for jet-setters, has homes with asking prices of $425 million and $215 million.

The report analyzed home sales in 10 cities known for prime property and 70 additional markets, including weekend getaways, vacation resorts and suburban locations. The 10 cities are Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney and Toronto.

Location, Privacy

The average starting price for a luxury home was $2 million in the areas Christie’s studied. It defines a luxury home as having a combination of location, such as a prominent street address, and amenities such as privacy, urban conveniences or collectible architectural quality.

London luxury homes averaged $4,119 a square foot, the most expensive of the top 10 cities. Beverly Hills and neighboring areas of Los Angeles had the highest luxury entry-price point, at $8 million. Toronto had the fastest sales pace, with prime properties finding a buyer an average of 31 days after listing. Dubai had the highest share of international and non-local buyers, at 75 percent.

Thinking About Selling Your Home? ― They Already Know

How Real Estate Agents Are Using Big Data to Track Prospects


Tech-savvy agents are teaming with data companies to identify cognition

Sitting in bed at 1:40 a.m. one morning last November, Jon Hoefling was thinking about selling his 4,300-square-foot home in Morgan Hill, Calif. While browsing Facebook on his phone, he clicked on a real-estate ad offering to estimate his home’s value. His future listing agent, who paid for the ad, was waiting.

Mr. Hoefling, the 50-year-old owner of an office-furniture resale company, had been targeted for the ad—along with 1,500 others in California’s Silicon Valley area—by an algorithm that identified him as a likely home seller. The telltale signs: Mr. Hoefling has lived in the home for more than 15 years, and his home’s market value is high for the area. Most important, his youngest son will soon leave for college. Empty nesters might as well wear a bull’s-eye.

To target prospective clients in competitive markets, tech-savvy agents are buying data subscriptions and teaming up with firms that identify potential buyers using increasingly precise metrics. Exotic-car owners can be courted to buy a car-collector’s mansion. Equestrians are rounded up for ranch homes

Last year, Sotheby’s International Realty announced a partnership with Wealth-X, a consulting group that uses public records and research staff to manually track the habits of “ultrahigh-net-worth individuals.” There are about 211,000 people world-wide valued at more than $30 million, according to the company’s president and co-founder, David Friedman—and the firm’s goal is to write a detailed dossier on each one of them.

These reports may contain everything from an individual’s net worth and social circles to even more personal details. For example, the dossier for one Australian multimillionaire notes that he is likely fond of topiary, because he proposed to his wife in front of a massive topiary created by artist Jeff Koons.

Mark Lowham, managing partner at TTR Sotheby’s in Washington, D.C., enlisted Wealth-X to help find a buyer for a penthouse apartment listed at $9 million in the Georgetown neighborhood. His team first established a basic description of the people they were looking for: Homeowners with a combined income of $2 million who have lived in a house assessed at more than $4 million for at least five years.

Consulting group Wealth-X was enlisted to find prospective buyers for this penthouse, which is asking $9 million in Washington, D.C. Photo: Sean Shanahan.

Then, they got more specific: Art collectors, because the condo has ample wall space. Empty nesters, because they prefer single-floor living. Private-aircraft users, because the area attracts jet-setters.

Using a combination of data from Wealth-X and their client contact base of about 700,000, they might be left with 400 targeted leads, Mr. Lowham says. The listing isn’t public yet, but the next step is to launch a mail campaign to their targeted list of prospects.

Sophisticated data collection has been crucial to the growth of the Agency, says Billy Rose, co-founder of the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based real-estate firm. His company, which launched in 2011, closed on 12 transactions of $20 million or more last year. He says the Agency so far has spent about $800,000 to create a database of people with high-net worth. “When I have a house coming up for sale with a garage for six cars, I’ll reach out to my Lamborghini owners,” he says.

Mr. Rose declined to describe the sources that make up the database, but says they have 100,000 individuals in their direct network and another half-million through partnerships. People familiar with the system say it incorporates data from credit-card companies, as well as sales information from luxury brands.

Scanning obituaries for leads has long been a tactic of up-and-coming real-estate agents looking for new business. Today, the practice is getting a 21st-century makeover. Tracking major life events—marriage, divorce, death, all of which frequently entail a home purchase or sale—is big business for a number of new firms.

The 90,000 Square Foot, 100 Million Dollar Home That Is A Metaphor For America

Just like “America’s time-share king”, America just keeps on making the same mistakes over and over again.  Prior to the financial collapse of 2008, time-share mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie began construction on their “dream home” near Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  This dream home would be approximately 90,000 square feet in size, would be worth $100 million when completed, and would be named “Versailles” after the French palace that inspired it.  In fact, you may remember David and Jackie from an excellent 2012 documentary entitled “The Queen of Versailles”.  That film documented how the Siegels almost lost everything after the financial collapse of 2008 devastated the U.S. economy because they were over leveraged and drowning in debt.

Source: Zero Hedge – Author: Michael Snyder

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But since that time, David’s time-share company has bounced back, and the Siegels now plan to finally finish construction on their dream home and make it bigger and better than ever before.


But before you pass judgment on the Siegels, it is important to keep in mind that we are behaving exactly the same way as a nation.  Instead of addressing our fundamental problems after the last financial crisis, we have just continued to make the exact same mistakes that we made before.  And ultimately, things are going to end very, very badly for us. As Americans, we like to think that we are somehow entitled to the biggest and best of everything.  We have been trained to believe that we are the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on the entire planet and that it will always be that way.  This generation was handed the keys to the greatest economic machine in world history, but instead of treating it with great care, we have wrecked it.  Our economic infrastructure is being systematically dismantled, Wall Street has been transformed into the biggest casino in the history of the planet, we have piled up a mountain of debt unlike anything the world has ever seen, and the reckless Federal Reserve is turning our currency into Monopoly money.  All of our decisions have been designed to make things better for ourselves in the short-term without any consideration about what we were doing to the future of this country.

That is why “Versailles” is such a perfect metaphor for America.  The Siegels always had to have the biggest and the best of everything, and they almost lost it all when the financial markets crashed

David Siegel (“They call me the time-share king”) and his wife, Jackie Siegel — titular star of the 2012 documentary “The Queen of Versailles” — began building their dream home near Disney World about a decade ago. Soon it became evident that the sheer size of the mansion was almost unprecedented in America; it’s thought that only Biltmore House and Oheka Castle are bigger and still standing, and both of those are now run as tourist attractions, not true single-family homes.

But when the bottom fell out of the financial markets in 2008, their fortunes were upended too. By the time the documentary ended, their dream home had gone into default and they’d put it on the market. The listing asked for $100 million finished — “based on the royal palace of Louix XIV of the 17th century or to the buyer’s specifications — or $75 million “as is with all exterior finishings in crates in the 20-car garage on site.”

But just like the U.S. economy, the Siegels have seemingly recovered, at least for the moment.

Thanks to a rebound in the time-share business, the Siegels plan to finally complete their dream home and make it bigger and better than ever

The unfinished home sits on 10 acres of lakefront property and when completed will feature 11 kitchens, 30 bathrooms, 20-car garage, two-lane bowling alley, indoor rollerskating rink, three indoor pools, two outdoor pools, video arcade, ballroom, two-story movie theater modeled off the Paris Opera House, fitness center with 10,000-square-foot spa, yoga studios, 20,000-bottle wine cellar and an exotic fish aquarium.

Two tennis courts, a baseball diamond and formal garden will be included on the grounds.

The couple admitted that some of their plans for the house – such as children’s playrooms – will have to be modified now that their kids are older.

However, they are determined to see the project through.

‘I’m not at the ending to my story yet, but so far, it’s a happy ending, and I’m really looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life and moving into my palace, finishing it and throwing lots of parties – anxious for the world to see it,’ Mrs Siegel said.

It is easy to point fingers at the Siegels, but the truth is that they are just behaving like we have been behaving as an entire nation.

When our financial bubbles burst the last time, our leaders did not really do anything to address our fundamental economic problems.  Instead, they were bound and determined to reinflate those bubbles and make them even larger than before.

Now we stand at the precipice of the greatest financial crisis in our history, and we only have ourselves to blame.

Just consider what has happened to our national debt.  Just prior to the last recession, it was sitting at about 9 trillion dollars.  Today, it has just crossed the 18 trillion dollar mark…

Total Public DebtYou may not think that you are to blame for this, but most of the people that will read this article voted for politicians that fully supported all of this borrowing and spending.  And yes, that includes most Democrats and most Republicans.

We have stolen trillions of dollars from future generations of Americans in a desperate attempt to prop up our failing standard of living in the present.  What we have done is a horrific crime, and if we lived in a just society a whole lot of people would be going to prison over this.

A similar pattern emerges when we look at the spending habits of ordinary Americans.  This next chart shows one measure of consumer credit in America.  During the last recession, we actually had a brief period of deleveraging (which was good), but now we are back on the exact same trajectory as before…

Consumer Credit 2015Even though we had a higher standard of living than all previous generations of Americans, that was never good enough for us.  We always had to have more, and we have borrowed and spent ourselves into oblivion.

We have also shown absolutely no respect for our currency.  Having the primary reserve currency of the world has been an incredible advantage for the U.S. economy, but we are squandering that privilege.  Like I said at the top of the article, the Federal Reserve has been treating the U.S. dollar like Monopoly money in recent years in an attempt to prop up the financial system.  Just look at what “quantitative easing” has done to the Fed balance sheet since the last recession…

Fed Balance SheetMost of the new money that the Fed has created has been funneled into the financial markets.  This has created some financial bubbles which are absolutely insane.  For example, just look at how the NASDAQ has performed since the last financial crisis…

NASDAQThese Fed-created bubbles are inevitably going to implode, because they have no relation to economic reality whatsoever.  And when they implode, millions of Americans are going to be financially wiped out.

Just like David and Jackie Siegel, we simply can’t help ourselves.  We just keep on making the same old mistakes.

And in the end, we will all pay a great, great price for our utter foolishness.

Ramshackle San Francisco home sells for $1.2 million

This San Francisco fixer-upper proves the old real estate adage, “Location, location, location.”

by Daniel Goldstein  Click here to see more images of the home.

The tale of this otherwise humble two-story home selling for more than $1.2 million has gone viral and has much of the real-estate chattering class talking.

“This is not a joke,” wrote SFist’s Jay Barmann. “[T]his is the world we live in.” He called the 1907 four-bedroom, two-bath Craftsman home “ramshackle.” A “total disaster,” chimed in Tracy Elsen, a real-estate blogger in San Francisco.

Indeed, it might not look like much from the outside or on the inside, but where it is — 1644 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA, 94122 — is where it is.

The 1,832-square-foot house, listed on Redfin.com as a “contractor’s special” in a “deteriorative state” that “needs everything,” just sold, on March 24, for a whopping $1.21 million in cash (or $660 a square foot) after being listed in February for $799,000 (a premium of $411,000). At that per-square-foot price, this house, on San Francisco’s often-chilly western fringe, was more expensive than the going rates in Boston, Washington and New York.

The home, even though it has been gutted, has an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean and sits a short walk across San Francisco’s Great Highway to the beach, and it is just five blocks from San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Park. Oh, and it’s got off-street parking, not a small thing in the City by the Bay.

The house sold for $340,000 in August of 1997 and was sold for $935,000 in June of 2008, when it looked a lot better.

A minimalist museum and a literary landmark

Since then, the house has taken a pounding. Many of the Craftsman-era fixtures common to Bay Area homes, including stained glass and Tiffany-style lamps, have been ripped out, as have most of the fixtures and carpeting and, evidently, the outdoor hot tub that was listed in 2008 but not mentioned in the 2015 listing. A second-story deck in the front of the house with a view of the ocean remains, but it is badly weathered, as is the forest-green paint, in sharp contrast with the careful upkeep evident in 2008.

But some of what made this home a gem in 2008 remains intact, including its picture windows, its decked garden, the fireplaces with wood mantels, the built-in cabinets common to Craftsman homes, the wainscoting and a gas O’Keefe & Merritt stove that dates back to the late 1940s or early 1950s (collector’s items that are prized by many homeowners in the Bay Area).

And given the fact that San Francisco’s median home price recently hit $1 million, and that it rose 10% between February 2014 and February 2015 and is expected to gain another 4.3% through February 2016, the price for this house, on this lot, might just prove to be a bargain.

Housing Contribution To US GDP Lowest In Post-War Era

In “Underwater Homeowners Here To Stay” we highlighted a report from Zillow which showed that negative equity has now become a permanent fixture of the US housing market. The report also showed that the percentage of homeowners who are underwater was flat from Q314 to Q414, breaking a string of 10 consecutive quarters of declines. We also recently noted that a completely ridiculous new home sales print that defied all logic notwithstanding, housing data, including starts and existing home sales, has come in below expectations. On a side note, home price appreciation has outpaced wage growth at a rate of 13:1, to which we would add: 

Of course, the biggest determinant of home price appreciation over the past 2 years has nothing to do with US consumers, or household formation, as confirmed by the collapse in first-time home buyers or the unprecedented depression in new mortgage origination, and everything to do with what we first suggested is one of the main drivers of the US housing bubble – foreigners parking their illegally procured cash in the US and evading taxes, now that US housing, with the NAR’s anti-money laundering exemption blessing, is the new normal’s Swiss Bank Account. That and flipping homes from one “all-cash” buyer to another “all-cash” buyer in hopes of a quick capital appreciation and the constant presence of the proverbial dumb money.

Against this backdrop, Deutsche Bank is out predicting that a sluggish US housing market is likely to impact the supply of MBS going forward. As DB notes, housing isn’t the GDP contributor it once was and not by a long shot. Not only that, but when it comes to recoveries, the housing market’s GDP contribution was 7 times below its post WW2 average in year one and has fared even worse since. Here’s DB with more:

The contribution of housing to US GDP continues to run at some of the lowest levels since the end of World War II. New construction of single- and multi-family homes, renovations, broker fees and the like still only make up a bit more than 3% of current GDP, well below the post-war average of 4.7%. Not only has the level of lift from housing come in low, but it has bounced out of the last official recession slowly, too. Housing on average has contributed a half a percentage point to GDP a year after the end of every post-war US recession. This time around, housing added only 7 bp. And the contribution of housing in the second and third years after the recent recession also has fallen well below post-war averages.And while “insufficient supply” (not enough homes) was cited as a possible contributor to the existing home sales miss, DB notes that at least as of today, there appears to still be a “supply hangover” (although it’s waning):

US home ownership started the decade at 66.9%, peaked in 2004 at 69.2% and ended at 66.5%. It has since dropped to 64.0%. The exodus of owners initially threatened to leave a lot of extra houses behind and reduce the need to build new ones. But investors have come in to pick up the keys, and many houses have found a new home in the market for single-family rentals. This has helped reduce the supply of distressed homes, although it’s still higher than the levels that prevailed in the early 1990s when homeownership last ranged around 64% . The supply hangover isn’t done but should be in the next two or three years.

And demand isn’t looking so hot either: 

Demand has likely played a part in slow housing, too, starting with owners that bought their homes in the last decade. Thanks to a 38% drop in home prices nationally from 2006 to 2012, according to Case-Shiller, a lot of those owners walked out the front door without any equity and without the ability to reenter the market as buyers. This has almost certainly contributed to the drop in rental unit vacancies from 10.6% in mid-2009 to 7.0% today. As for potential new owners, Americans, even before the crisis, started moving into their own place at a much slower pace than the long-term average of 1.2 million new households a year, that is, until recently. Demand from former and potential new owners has been soft.

Even in the best case scenario is which supply falls and demand rises, banks’ reluctance to lend could end up hobbling the market for the foreseeable future. 

Although the market seems to be clearing out the lingering housing supply and the economy and the labor market look likely to repair demand, the availability of credit could prove to be the lasting constraint. Today’s lending standards reflect limits designed to keep the last decade’s boom and bust from happening again. Borrowers today without the ability to repay will not get a loan. But it looks like some borrowers with the ability to repay—but with low FICO scores or with needs that keep them outside the agency or prime jumbo markets—will also not get a loan. The market is reducing risk today to avoid risk tomorrow. But it also is likely reducing housing growth today to avoid a downturn tomorrow.

And here’s further confirmation of this from BofAML:


So there is your housing recovery in a nutshell: supply hangover, lackluster demand, and reluctant lenders all coalescing in a housing market whose contribution to US economic growth is virtually nonexistent. 

And if you’re looking for the next shoe to drop, here’s a hint: 

Read more at Zero Hedge

Leading Texas Golf Resort Communities Revealed

By Scott Kauffman | World Property Journal

Tops in Texas: Leading Golf Resort Communities Revealed

While much of America struggled during the last financial crisis, Texas grew in greater economic stature on a number of levels. Fueled by a thriving energy economy, strong tech sector and job market, one strong growth area was real estate development.

Texans have always had a strong affinity to golf so it’s no surprise real estate communities, resorts and private clubs feature golf as a central component.  Two top leisure properties in Texas are 72-hole Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas Hill Country and TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas, home to the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship.

On the private club front, the “Big D” features a collection of renowned golf clubs, including Brook Hollow Country Club, Dallas National and Preston Trail Golf Club, where initiation fees start at $125,000.

The following is a handful of golf and resort-style communities leading the Lone Star State’s leisure real estate sector today.

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When it comes to country club living, this Dallas-area private club is as luxurious as they come. Originally developed by Discovery Land Company, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company known for creating such elite clubs as Estancia in Scottsdale, Ariz. the Madison Club in La Quinta, Calif., and Kukio on the Big Island of Hawaii, Vaquero Club is now member-owned and fresh off an extensive $2.8 million renovation to its Tom Fazio-designed golf course.

According to club executives, part of the motivation behind the project was to enhance real estate vistas and create a more core-golf experience. A perfect example of this took place on the club’s drivable par-4 fourth hole, where new tee boxes were added, as well as on nine other holes.

This means resident members inside Vaquero’s stately manors have even more beautiful views to enjoy. Of an estimated dozen listings by the Jeff Watson Group of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, Vaquero’s most affordable home is currently listed at $1.295 million for a 4-bedroom, 4 1/2 -bath residence and it goes up to $5.995 million for a 5-bedroom estate on 3.8 acres featuring a 5-car garage and wine cellar with 1,500-bottle capacity.

The Vaquero Club consists of 385 equity memberships with an initiation fee approaching $200,000. Besides world-class golf, the club also offers a family-friendly Fish Camp, wine programs and other member amenities and services.

Cordillera Ranch, Boerne, Texas

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Located 30 minutes northwest of San Antonio, Cordillera Ranch is a debt-free 8,700-acre master-planned residential community in the Texas Hill Country. The family-owned and operated development is not short on activities, considering residents of the gated community can join The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch that feature seven resort-style clubs in one location: The Golf Club, The Social Club, The Tennis and Swim Club, The Equestrian Club, The Rod and Gun Club, The Spa and Athletic Club and The River Club.

Opened in 2007, the community’s Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course has consistently been ranked among the best in Texas, most recently placing fifth on the Dallas Morning News‘ annual poll. Its par-3 16th has claimed the No. 1 spot as “Most Beautiful Hole” by the same publication for the past five years.  

Among the community’s newest real estate offerings are golf course frontage lots, villas and an entirely new section aimed at young families. Overall, Cordillera Ranch boasts ¼-acre villa homes, valley-view and Guadalupe River-front homes, hilltop home sites and 1-to-10-acre estate residences.

According to the developer, 2014 was a banner year in both real estate and membership sales. For instance, Cordillera Ranch sold 33 homes at an average of $886,000 and total lot sales increased by 32 percent.

Trending in 2015: 46 new homes are under construction totaling more than $60 million in new starts – easily the highest total of any upscale community in the San Antonio area, according to the developer. Another 39 homes are in the architectural review approval process – a 65 percent increase over 2013.

Since its inception in 1997, more than 1,200 lots have been sold and approximately 700 homes have been completed. At final build-out, this low-density Hill Country community will total approximately 2,500 homes and preserve approximately 80 percent of the land in its natural vegetation. More than 70 new members were added in 2014, bucking the national trend of private club membership attrition.

“We’re excited and humbled to be a leader in the luxury lifestyle category,” says Charlie Hill, Vice President of Development at Cordillera Ranch. “With the economy thriving and the San Antonio area continuing to prosper, we expect the upward trend in real estate sales to continue in 2015.”

Cordillera Ranch credits much of its growth to being in the highly acclaimed Boerne School District, which is regarded as one of the best in Texas and boasts schools ranked in numerous national-best lists. The community is also benefitting from being in the prosperous Eagle Ford Shale. While other oil-rich areas have struggled with the drop in oil prices, the Eagle Ford Shale has continued to produce. That has attracted oil and gas executives to come to the Texas Hill Country and settle down in communities like Cordillera Ranch.

Boot Ranch, Fredericksburg, Texas

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Three years after being put up for sale, the once-bankrupt Boot Ranch community has kicked back into high sales gear. This posh 2,051-acre master-planned golf community in Texas Hill Country’s Gillespie County started selling luxury lots in 2005 and opened a golf course designed by PGA Tour star Hal Sutton in 2006.

But sales were sluggish as the real estate market started to collapse worldwide and Lehman Brothers eventually foreclosed on the property in 2010. Then, the Municipal Police Employees Retirement System of Louisiana, one of Sutton’s original backers and a past partner on the project, sued a number of Boot Ranch partnerships and corporations, putting the project under further stress.

With all of these financial and legal troubles behind them, Boot Ranch is now able to focus on a revitalized real estate market and the renewed life is paying off for this private golf and family community near the popular town of Fredericksburg.

Case in point is Boot Ranch is coming off an eight-year record high for home and property sales, highlighted last year by $13.781 million in year-to-date sales through Sept. 30. Of the $13.781 million in sales, $9.057 million came from estate home sites; another $1.524 million was from Overlook Cabin home sites and $2.825 million were sales of fractional shares of the club’s Sunday Houses.

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Overall, Boot Ranch sold 135 lots last year and had 16 homes completed with another 20 under construction or in the planning stages. Boot Ranch real estate options range from fractional ownership shares of 4,500-square-foot Sunday Houses to large Overlook Cabins priced from the $800,000s to estate home sites from $300,000 to $2.5 million for 2-18 acres.

“The booming demand for luxury ranch living is a byproduct of the successful Texas economy, particularly the energy business,” says Sean Gioffre, Boot Ranch director of marketing and sales. “The advent of hydraulic fracturing and the achievements of prized shale formations, like the Eagle Ford, Permian and Bakken, have pushed oil and gas production to record highs. With low interest rates, many people are looking to second homes as a hedge against inflation and as a tangible asset in which to put their money.”

Five miles north of the historic town of Fredericksburg, Boot Ranch is a master-planned retreat featuring one of the rare Sutton-designed courses, and a 34-acre practice park comprised of a short game range and executive par-three course. Other amenities at Boot Ranch include access to the 55,000-square-foot Clubhouse Village, casual and fine dining, a fully-stocked wine cellar, golf shop, ReStore Spa & Fitness Center, the 4.5-acre Ranch Club with pavilion, pools, tennis and sports courts, 10 member/guest lodge suites, a trap and skeet range overlooking Longhorn Lake, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and fishing.

Construction is under way on a fishing pier and comfort station near Boot Ranch’s signature tenth hole on the golf course.

“We call Boot Ranch the ‘American Dream Texas Style,'” says co-director of marketing and sales Andrew Ball. “The motivation for buyers seems to be for recreational property – somewhere where owners can golf, fish, dine, swim, relax and generally enjoy the Texas outdoors. Many people say they just want to get their kids and grandkids out of the city, even if for only a few days or weeks at a time.”

Traditions Club and Community, Bryan, TX

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This new upscale golf and country club development gives Texas A&M loyalists something else to brag about in Aggieland. Located less than 10 minutes from 10 minutes from a bustling college town and burgeoning health and research center, it’s no surprise why this is shaping up to be another successful Texas real estate project.

Traditions Club and Community is the private golf and residential community in “Aggieland” and home to the Texas A&M men’s and women’s golf teams. Located in Bryan-College Station, the club rests in the shadow of the university and in the heart of The Research Valley’s “One Health Plus Biocorridor.”

From custom-garden homes to large estate lots, Traditions Club has a wide range of developments that cater to many buyers. Future plans to attract even more residents call for a multi-use retail, entertainment and health/fitness complex to be built within the neighboring Biocorridor area that would mirror one of the top suburbs in Houston, The Woodlands.

Traditions’ tournament-caliber, Jack Nicklaus/Jack Nicklaus II-designed golf course hosts many high-profile junior, collegiate and amateur events. Other amenities include a 21,000-square foot, four-building clubhouse with men’s and women’s locker rooms; 25-meter junior Olympic lap and sport-leisure pools; family swim center with beach-like wading pool; and fully-equipped fitness center.

Casual fare is offered at the Poole Grille and fine dining at the clubhouse, home to an impressive wine cellar. Overnight accommodations are available in two-, three- and four-bedroom cottages and casitas located just walking distance from all the club’s amenities.

Overlooking stately oak trees, gently rolling terrain and the lush green fairways of the golf course, the Traditions Club and Community is an enclave of custom estates, Game Day Cottages, cozy casitas, villas, garden homes and luxurious condominiums. Home sites range from .25 acres up to an acre, with homes spanning 1,800 to 8,000 square feet.

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Traditions Clubhouse

The newest phase being marketed is the Blue Belle home sites, a collection of 34 lots designed for two and three-bedroom custom homes. Overlooking a heavily wooded and rolling landscape in a peaceful and quiet enclave, the home sites encompass up to one-third of an acre and are priced with the home. The residences range from 2,200 to 3,500 square-feet and start in the low $400,000s.

Blue Belle residents can enjoy the outdoors without having to worry about extensive home and yard maintenance. Creative landscaped patios open up to peaceful settings that exemplify private community living. A multi-use trail meandering around a small lake is perfect for short walks and hikes

Interiors exude Texas Hill County elegance, with hardwood flooring, granite countertops, gourmet kitchens, high ceilings and open living area. The floor plans are highly personalized, providing a rich, distinguished selection of upscale finishes and features.

“Real estate sales in vibrant college towns like Bryan/College Station continue to thrive as master-planned communities like Traditions build to suit an array of buyers,” says Spencer Clements, Traditions Club Principal. “Empty-nesters or those seeking a second home with minimal maintenance will find Blue Belle offers the square-footages, relaxing setting and customized features catering to their needs and lifestyle.”

Tribute, The Colony, Texas

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The Tribute, a Matthews Southwest, Wynne/Jackson master-planned community on the shores of Lake Lewisville, is one of the more ambitious golf and country club developments in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Located just 23 miles from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the Tribute is a 36-hbole upscale semi-private facility whose original plans call for 1,150 single-family homes, 160 golf villas, 183 townhomes, and 700 European condominium units.

The community’s newest course, Old American Golf Club, opened in the summer of 2009 and was designed by Tripp Davis and PGA Tour player and native son Justin Leonard. When Old American opened (it was originally called the
New Course), the developers offered premium lake-view, golf course-fronting lots in the Balmerino Village.

This initial phase of lots, located adjacent to the No. 5 green and the No. 6 tee box featured unobstructed views of Lake Lewisville and ranged in price from $135,000 to $275,000 for little more than 1/3 of an acre.

What makes the Tribute so unique it its Scottish links-inspired setting. For instance, the Tribute’s namesake layout, or “Old Course” as it’s often called, is patterned after the legendary courses of Scotland and the Open Championship what with its wind-swept dunes and fescue grasses.

The first and 18th holes share the same broad fairway, just the Old Course at St. Andrews, and you’ll also find a likeness of Royal Troon’s Postage Stamp hole and experience replica holes from Prestwick, Muirfield, Western Gailes and Royal Dornoch. For a special treat, make sure to stay in one of the overnight guest suites above the clubhouse that overlook the course.

The Tribute’s newest course pays homage to famed golf course architects such as Donald Ross and A.W. Tillinghast, many of whom came to the United States from Great Britain around the turn of the century.

According to an Old American spokesman, the new course currently has about 58 resident members of the club, which represents approximately 25 percent of the overall membership. Among the other amenities enjoyed by members are first-class amenity centers, pools, parks, playgrounds, on-site schools, hike-and-bike trails, landscaped canals and hundreds of acres of accessible open space reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.

Airbnb And Other Short-Term Rentals Worsen Housing Shortage, Critics Say

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Landlords in Venice and other tourist-friendly areas are converting units into short-term rentals, worsening the area’s housing shortage, a study says.

The last time he advertised one of his apartments, longtime Los Feliz landlord Andre LaFlamme got a request he’d never seen before.

A man wanted to rent LaFlamme’s 245-square-foot bachelor unit with hardwood floors for $875 a month, then list it himself on Airbnb.

“Thanks but no thanks,” LaFlamme told the prospective tenant. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

But he understood why: More money might be made renting to tourists a few days at a time than to a local for 12 months or more.

Where are the short-term rentals?

About 12,700 rental units were listed on Airbnb in Los Angeles County on Dec. 22, 2014, but they were not spread out equally. In parts of Venice and Hollywood, Airbnb listings accounted for 4% or more of all housing units.

As short-term rental websites such as Airbnb explode in popularity in Southern California, a growing number of homeowners and landlords are caving to the economics. A study released Wednesday from Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a labor-backed advocacy group, estimates that more than 7,000 houses and apartments have been taken off the rental market in metro Los Angeles for use as short-term rentals. In parts of tourist-friendly neighborhoods such as Venice and Hollywood, Airbnb listings account for 4% or more of all housing units, according to a Times analysis of data from Airbnb’s website.

That’s worsening a housing shortage that already makes Los Angeles one of the least affordable places to rent in the country.

“In places where vacancy is already limited and rents are already squeezing people out, this is exacerbating the problem,” said Roy Samaan, a policy analyst who wrote the alliance’s report. “There aren’t 1,000 units to give in Venice or Hollywood.”

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Fast-growing Airbnb and others like it say they help cash-strapped Angelenos earn a little extra money. Airbnb estimates that 82% of its 4,500 L.A. hosts are “primary residents” of the homes they list, and that nearly half use the proceeds to help pay their rent or mortgage. And the effect on the broader housing market is so small that it’s all but irrelevant, said Tom Davidoff, a housing economist at the University of British Columbia whom Airbnb hired to study its impact.

“Over the lifetime of a lease, rents maybe go up 1.5%,” he said. “That’s peanuts relative to the increases we’ve seen in housing costs in a lot of places.”

But there are growing signs of professionalization of the short-term rental world, from property-manager middlemen like the one who e-mailed LaFlamme to Airbnb “hosts” who list dozens of properties on the site. The Los Angeles Alliance study estimates that 35% of Airbnb revenue in Southern California comes from people who list more than one unit.

“I don’t think anyone would begrudge someone renting out a spare bedroom,” Samaan said. “But there’s a whole cottage industry that’s springing up around this.”

City Council member Mike Bonin, whose coastal district includes Venice, and Council President Herb Wesson want to study how these rentals have affected the city. No regulations have been drafted, and Bonin said the council would seek extensive community input. Current rules bar short-term rentals in many residential areas of the city, but critics say they’re rarely enforced.

As city officials craft new ones, they’ll certainly be hearing from Airbnb and its allies. Last year, the company spent more than $100,000 lobbying City Hall and released a study touting its economic impact in L.A. — more than $200 million in spending by guests, supporting an estimated 2,600 jobs. A group representing short-term rental hosts has made the rounds of City Council offices as well.

This industry “needs to be regulated and regulated the right way,” said Sebastian de Kleer, co-founder of the Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance and owner of a Venice-based vacation rental company. “For a lot of people, this is a very new issue.”

Neighborhood groups are sure to weigh in too, especially in Venice.

https://i0.wp.com/fc09.deviantart.net/fs4/i/2004/194/c/7/canals_of_venice_california_11.jpgThe beach neighborhood has the highest concentration of Airbnb listings in all of metro Los Angeles. Data collected by Beyond Pricing, a San Francisco-based start-up that helps short-term rental hosts optimize pricing, show that in census tracts along Venice Beach and Abbott-Kinney Boulevard, Airbnb listings accounted for 6% to 7% of all housing units — about 10 times the countywide average.

A letter last fall from the Venice Neighborhood Council to city officials estimated that the number of short-term rental listings in the area had tripled in a year, citing a “Gold Rush mentality” among investors looking for a piece of the action. That’s hurting local renters, said Steve Clare, executive director of Venice Community Housing.

“Short-term rentals are really taking over a significant portion of the rental housing market in our community,” Clare said. “It’s going to further escalate rents, and take affordable housing out of Venice.”

Along the Venice boardwalk, a number of apartment buildings now advertise short-term rentals, and houses on the city’s famed “walk streets” routinely show up in searches on Airbnb. Even several blocks inland, at Lincoln Place Apartments — a 696-unit, newly renovated complex that includes a pool, gym and other tourist-friendly amenities — Roman Barrett recently counted more than 40 listings on Airbnb and other sites. Barrett, who moved out over the issue, said Airbnb effectively drives up the rent. He paid $2,700 a month for a one-bedroom; now he’s looking farther east for something he can afford.

“It’s making places like Santa Monica and Venice totally priced out. Silver Lake is impossible. I’m looking in Koreatown right now,” Barrett said. “They need to make a law about this.”

 

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A new law of some sort is the goal at City Hall. New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., have crafted regulations to govern taxes, zoning and length of stay in short-term rentals, and Airbnb says it’s glad to help in that process here.

“It’s time for all of us to work together on some sensible solutions that let people share the home in which they live and contribute to their community,” spokesman Christopher Nulty said in a statement Tuesday.

Will Youngblood, the man who e-mailed LaFlamme about managing his apartment in Los Feliz, says he’d also appreciate clearer rules and an easier way to pay occupancy taxes.

Youngblood runs five Airbnb apartments, mostly in Hollywood. A former celebrity assistant, he’s been doing this for two years; it’s a full-time job. Most of Youngblood’s clients own their homes but travel a lot or live elsewhere. One, he rents and lists full time. He’s been looking around for another.

“I’m honest about what I do,” he said. “Some [landlords] are like, ‘That’s insane. No way.’ Other people say, ‘We’d love that.'”

If the city decides it doesn’t like what he’s doing, Youngblood said, he’ll go do something else. But for now, he said, it’s a good way to make some cash and meet interesting people.

But he won’t meet LaFlamme. The longtime landlord concedes he “might be old-fashioned,” but he just doesn’t like the idea of strangers traipsing through his apartments. He prefers good, long-term tenants, and in L.A.’s red-hot rental market he has no problem finding them.

“I almost find it painful to rent things these days,” he said. “There’s so much demand and so many people who are qualified and nice people who I have to turn away.”

For that apartment in Los Feliz, LaFlamme said, he found a tenant in less than 24 hours.

Dreaming Big: Americans Still Yearning for Larger Homes

by Ralph McLaughlin | Trulia

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43% of adults would prefer homes bigger than where they currently live, but attitudes differ by age. Baby boomers would prefer to upsize rather than downsize by only a small margin, while the gap among millennials is much wider, with GenXers falling in between. Would-be downsizers outnumber upsizers only among households living in the largest homes.

Last year, we found that Baby Boomers were especially unlikely to live in multi-unit housing. At the same time, we noted that the share of seniors living in multi-unit housing rather than single-family homes has been shrinking for decades. These findings got us thinking about how the generations vary in house-size preference. So we surveyed over 2000 people at the end of last year to figure out if boomers have different house-size preferences than their younger counterparts. And that led us to ask: What size homes do Americans really want?

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Most Americans are not living in the size home they want

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As a whole, Americans are living in a world of mismatch – only 40% of our respondents said they are living in the size home that’s ideal. Furthermore, over 43% answered that the size of their ideal residence is somewhat or much larger than their current digs. Only 16% told us that their ideal residence is smaller than their existing home. However, these overall figures mask what is going on within different generations.

It’s natural to think that baby boomers are the generation most likely to downsize.  After all, their nests are emptying and they may move when they retire.  As it turns out though, more boomers would prefer to live in a larger home than a smaller one: 21% said their ideal residence is smaller than their current home, while 26% wanted a larger home – a 5-percentage-point difference. Clearly, boomers don’t feel a massive yearn to downsize. On the contrary, just over half (53%) said they’re already living in their ideally sized home. Nonetheless, members of this generation are more likely to want to downsize than millennials and GenXers.

In fact, those younger generations want some elbow room. First, the millennials. They’re looking to move on up by a big margin: just over 60% told us their ideal residence is larger than where they live now – the largest proportion among the generations in our sample. By contrast, only a little over 13% of millennials said they’d rather have a smaller home than their existing one – which is also the smallest among the generations in our sample. The results are clear: millennials are much more likely to want to upsize than downsize.

The next generation up the ladder, the GenXers, are hitting their peak earning years and many in this group may be in a position to trade up. Many aren’t living in their ideally sized home. Just 38% said where they live now is dream sized. Nearly a majority (48%) said their dream home is larger, while only 14% of GenXers would rather have a smaller home.  This is the generation that bore the brunt of the foreclosure crisis. So, some of this mismatch could be because a significant number of GenXers lost homes during the housing bust and may now be living in smaller-than-desired quarters. But a much more probable reason is that many GenXers are in their peak child-rearing years. With kids bouncing off the walls, the place may be feeling a tad crowded.

Even the groups that seem ripe for downsizing don’t want smaller homes

Of course, age doesn’t tell the whole story about why people might want to downsize. It could be that certain kinds of households, – such as those without children, and living in the suburbs or in affordable areas – might be more likely to live in larger homes than they need. But our survey shows that households in these categories are about twice as likely to want a larger than a smaller home. For those with kids especially, the desire to upsize is strong: 39% preferred a larger home versus 18% who liked a smaller home.  For those living in the suburbs, the disparity is even greater – 42% to 16%. And even among those living in the most affordable zip codes, where ideally-sized homes might be within the budgets of households, 40% of our respondents preferred larger homes versus 20% who said smaller.

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Are all households more likely to upsize than downsize?

At this point you might be asking, “Are there any types of households that want to downsize?” The answer is yes. But only one kind of household falls into this category – those living in homes larger than 3,200 square feet.  Of this group, 26% wanted to downsize versus 25% that wanted to upsize – a slight difference. But, when we looked overall at survey responses based on the size of current residence, households wanting a larger home kicked up as current home size went down. We can see this clearly when we divide households into six groups based on the size of the home they’re living in now. Among households living in 2,600-3,200 square foot homes, 37% prefer a larger home versus 16% a smaller home; in 2,000–2,600 square foot homes, its 34% to 18%; 38% to 18% in 1,400–2,000 square foot homes; 55% to 13% in 800–1,400 square foot homes; and 66% to 13% in homes less than 800 square feet. This makes intuitive sense.  Those living in the biggest homes are most likely to have gotten a home larger than their ideal size. And those in the smallest homes are probably the ones feeling most squeezed.

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The responses to our survey show significantly more demand for larger homes than for smaller ones. But the reality, of course, is that households must make tradeoffs between things like accessibility, amenities, and affordability when choosing what size homes to get. The “ideal” sized home for most Americans may be larger than where they’re living now. But that spacious dream home may not be practical.  As result, the mismatch between what Americans say they want and what best suits their circumstances may persist.

Inaccurate Zillow ‘Zestimates’ A Source Of Conflict Over Home Prices

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By Kenneth R. Harney

When “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell asked the chief executive of Zillow recently about the accuracy of the website’s automated property value estimates — known as Zestimates — she touched on one of the most sensitive perception gaps in American real estate.

Zillow is the most popular online real estate information site, with 73 million unique visitors in December. Along with active listings of properties for sale, it also provides information on houses that are not on the market. You can enter the address or general location in a database of millions of homes and probably pull up key information — square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and baths, photos, taxes — plus a Zestimate.

Shoppers, sellers and buyers routinely quote Zestimates to realty agents — and to one another — as gauges of market value. If a house for sale has a Zestimate of $350,000, a buyer might challenge the sellers’ list price of $425,000. Or a seller might demand to know from potential listing brokers why they say a property should sell for just $595,000 when Zillow has it at $685,000.

Disparities like these are daily occurrences and, in the words of one realty agent who posted on the industry blog ActiveRain, they are “the bane of my existence.” Consumers often take Zestimates “as gospel,” said Tim Freund, an agent with Dilbeck Real Estate in Westlake Village. If either the buyer or the seller won’t budge off Zillow’s estimated value, he told me, “that will kill a deal.”

Back to the question posed by O’Donnell: Are Zestimates accurate? And if they’re off the mark, how far off? Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff answered that they’re “a good starting point” but that nationwide Zestimates have a “median error rate” of about 8%.

Whoa. That sounds high. On a $500,000 house, that would be a $40,000 disparity — a lot of money on the table — and could create problems. But here’s something Rascoff was not asked about: Localized median error rates on Zestimates sometimes far exceed the national median, which raises the odds that sellers and buyers will have conflicts over pricing. Though it’s not prominently featured on the website, at the bottom of Zillow’s home page in small type is the word “Zestimates.” This section provides helpful background information along with valuation error rates by state and county — some of which are stunners.

For example, in New York County — Manhattan — the median valuation error rate is 19.9%. In Brooklyn, it’s 12.9%. In Somerset County, Md., the rate is an astounding 42%. In some rural counties in California, error rates range as high as 26%. In San Francisco it’s 11.6%. With a median home value of $1,000,800 in San Francisco, according to Zillow estimates as of December, a median error rate at this level translates into a price disparity of $116,093.

Some real estate agents have done their own studies of accuracy levels of Zillow in their local markets.

Last July, Robert Earl, an agent with Choice Homes Team in the Charlottesville, Va., area, examined selling prices and Zestimates of all 21 homes sold that month in the nearby community of Lake Monticello. On 17 sales Zillow overestimated values, including two houses that sold for 61% below the Zestimate.

In Carlsbad, Calif., Jeff Dowler, an agent with Solutions Real Estate, did a similar analysis on sales in two ZIP Codes. He found that Zestimates came in below the selling price 70% of the time, with disparities ranging as high as $70,000. In 25% of the sales, Zestimates were higher than the contract price. In 95% of the cases, he said, “Zestimates were wrong. That does not inspire a lot of confidence, at least not for me.” In a second ZIP Code, Dowler found that 100% of Zestimates were inaccurate and that disparities were as large as $190,000.

So what do you do now that you’ve got the scoop on Zestimate accuracy? Most important, take Rascoff’s advice: Look at them as no more than starting points in pricing discussions with the real authorities on local real estate values — experienced agents and appraisers. Zestimates are hardly gospel — often far from it.

kenharney@earthlink.net Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group.

How To Buy Your Own Greek Island

About 20 privately owned Greek islands are currently up for sale, some for the first time in generations.

Skorpios island was sold last year to Ekaterina Rybolovleva, daughter of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. European Pressphoto Agency.   Article written by Stelios Bouras and Nektaria Stamoul

It’s the ultimate dream property of the super rich: your own Greek island, drenched in sunshine and surrounded by turquoise water.

Traditionally, these islands have rarely come up for sale, staying in the same families from one generation to the next. But Greek’s private-island property market is perking up, bolstered by growing interest from foreign investors, a drop in prices and changes to Greek tax laws. Some 20 privately owned Greek islands are currently up for sale.

Brett Taylor/The Wall Street Journal
Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy on Skorpios in 1969. They were married there the previous year. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

 

Notable new island-owners include Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the 25-year-old daughter of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Early last year, a company belonging to a trust affiliated with Ms. Rybolovleva bought the Greek isle of Skorpios from Athina Onassis Roussel, the granddaughter of Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. (The island was the site, 45 years earlier, of the wedding of the magnate and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.) The sale price was reportedly £100 million, or $158 million; a representative for Ms. Rybolovleva confirmed the sale but wouldn’t comment on the price.

“After Skorpios was sold, and especially during the past year, there has been an intense interest in the islands’ market,” says Alexandros Moulas, an agent for real-estate firm Savills . “An intermediate usually gets in touch with us and the name of the actual investor is kept as a closely guarded secret.”

Ms. Rybolovleva’s neighbor a few islands to the south on the islet of Oxia, is reportedly the former emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Last year, the Athens-based investment group Pima bought the islet—a 1,236-acre uninhabited island in the Ionian Sea off Greece’s west coast—for about €5.5 million, or $6.9 million. A representative for the investment group says Pima was acting on its own, though two local government officials say the group was buying on behalf of the former emir. Efforts to reach the former emir were not successful.

Prices for these islands can run anywhere from a few million euros to more than €100 million, depending on amenities such as running water, electricity—and, in some cases, mooring facilities for a yacht. Still, property experts say prices are down overall—as much as 30% from pre-crisis levels.

Most of the 20 islands on the market are completely undeveloped; some have wooded areas, while others are mostly rock. Nissos island, in the Ionian sea five nautical miles off mainland Greece, is priced at about $6.8 million and can accommodate six houses of up to 130 square meters each, according to broker Savills. Nearby Omfori Island, priced at nearly $62 million, has one small building on the island with permissions in place to build on 20% of the 1,112-acre island, according to the real-estate listings site Private Islands Online.

The Ionian island of Oxia. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

With some 6,000 islands and islets, Greece has no shortage of supply, but island ownership can come with its share of headaches. Most islands aren’t suitable for development, and access to many of them is difficult—especially given Greece’s restrictions on private seaplanes. The red tape is fearsome: To buy an island, up to 32 bureaucratic steps are required, including background checks to determine whether a prospective buyer would pose a threat to the country’s national security.

Another turnoff for some buyers is that, in Greece, all beaches are public. That means no matter how remote the island or how high the price tag, anyone with a yacht can show up, uninvited, for a swim.

Sometimes, there are issues with the locals. Greek businessman Yannis Perrotis, managing director of real-estate company Atria Property Services, set his sights on developing the small, privately owned island of Arkoudi in the Ionian Sea almost a decade ago. He is considering building an exclusive super high-end resort with luxury villas, a hotel spa, a marina, and recreational and sports facilities and sports facilities—all at a cost of between $312 million and $375 million.

But Mr. Perrotis discovered that his uninhabited island actually had residents: a shepherd and his flock of goats. It took him more than two years to get them off the island.

“I went through a few years of real trials and tribulations followed by a few years of anger,” said Mr. Perrotis. “But now I have something in my hands that has additional value and tangible prospects.”

Some Greek island owners—many bequeathed their islands from distant family forebears—are reassessing the value of their land in the face of the financial crisis and the new tax laws. Athens, under pressure from its international creditors from the Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund to fix its public finances, this year introduced its first permanent tax on real estate.

After a decade in which only a handful of deals have taken place, say property experts, suddenly, a private island has become a possession that many owners no longer have the luxury to maintain.

“I have customers telling me they need to sell as quickly as possible. They say they can’t handle the tax burden,” says Yannis Kriaras, a real-estate agent based on the island of Crete. “Most of them resent having even inherited an island.”

The Most Expensive Billionaire Homes In The World

Introduction
by
Erin Carlyle

Jana Partners founder Barry Rosenstein recently purchased an East Hampton estate for $147 million, setting a new record for the most expensive home ever purchased in the United States. But compared to other homes owned by FORBES billionaires around the world, that price tag was a relative bargain.

Case in point: less than two weeks ago, Reuters broke the news that a penthouse at prestigious One Hyde Park in London’s tony Knightsbridge neighborhood had sold for $237 million, setting a new world record for the priciest apartment sale ever. Although the buyer remains unknown, the purchaser is an Eastern European, reports Reuters. Given the cash involved, the new owner is also very likely a FORBES billionaire. (In 2011, Ukraine’s richest man, billionaire Rinat Ahkmetov, paid $221 million for a penthouse in the same development. At the time, that was the most expensive apartment sale ever.)

Throughout the global economic crisis and recovery, the super-wealthy have been putting their money into the comparative safe haven of real estate. “After years on the outskirts of asset allocation, property is starting to move into the prime investment arena traditionally occupied by stocks and bonds,” says the Candy GPS (Global Prime Sector) Report, produced by Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management with research from Savills. As demand for real estate pushes property values up the world over, the price tags of homes already owned by the super rich also increase. Last year when we combed through property records to identify some of the most expensive homes owned by members of the FORBES Billionaires List, many estates fell well below the $100 million mark. This year, when we repeated the same exercise, only six of the top 20 most expensive homes owned by billionaires were priced less than $100 million–and several are valued at more than twice that figure.

The title of the most outrageously expensive property in the world still belongs to Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia in Mumbai, India. The 27-story, 400,000-square-foot skyscraper home–which is named after a mythical island in the Atlantic–includes six stories of underground parking, three helicopter pads, and reportedly requires a staff of 600 to keep it running. Construction costs for Antilia have been reported at a range of $1 billion to $2 billion. To put that into perspective, 7 World Trade Center, the 52-story tower that stands just north of Ground Zero in Manhattan with 1.7 million square feet of office space, cost a reported $2 billion to build.

In second place is Lily Safra’s Villa Leopolda, in Villefranche-sur-mer, France. The estate is reportedly one of several waterside homes that King Leopold II of Belgium built for his many mistresses. Set on 20 acres, the massive home was valued at 500 million euros ($750 million at the time), when Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov tried to buy it in 2008. Prokhorov eventually backed out of deal, losing his 50 million euro deposit.

The third-most expensive billionaire home–and the most expensive in the United States–has to be Fair Field, Ira Rennert’s Sagaponack, N.Y., enclave. Although Rennert built the property and it has never traded hands, the local assessor’s office peg its value at about $248.5 million in its latest (2014) tentative tax assessment. Since no Hamptons estate has ever sold for so much (Rosenstein’s recent $147 million buy set both the Hamptons and U.S. record), it’s hard to know if the home would really ever fetch such a sum. In the meantime, the property taxes on Rennert’s 29-bedroom, 39-bath estate have got to be monstrous. (Larry Ellison’s 23-acre Japanese-style estate in Woodside, Calif. enjoys the opposite situation: the home reportedly cost $200 million to build, but was assessed at just over $73.2 million in 2013. Nice property tax break.)

As 2014 continues, the list of outrageously-priced homes owned by billionaires is stacking up. Although the market cooled off a bit in in 2013, with no properties trading hands above the $100 million mark (2011 and 2012 both saw $100 million transactions), 2014 has kicked off with a bang. London set a new record, and three homes have sold for more than $100 million so far this year in the U.S. alone.

Just weeks before Rosenstein (who is not on the FORBES Billionaires List) snapped up the East Hampton estate formerly belonging to investment manager Christopher Browne in a private deal, an unknown buyer purchased Connecticut’s Copper Beech Farm for $120 million from timber tycoon John Rudey–at the time the most expensive home sale ever in the United States. Set on 50 acres of Greenwich waterfront, the estate includes a 13,519-square-foot main house with 12 bedrooms, seven full baths and two half baths and a wood-paneled library. Also included: a solarium, a wine cellar, and a three-story-high, wood-paneled foyer. David Ogilvy, the agent who brokered the sale, tells FORBES the buyer plans to keep the home intact rather than tear it down (a common tactic among the rich). We’d bet money that individual is a billionaire.

At the end of March, the Los Angeles Times broke the news that Suzanne Saperstein had sold her expansive Holmby Hills estate, Fleur de Lys, for $102 million. That property, too, went to an unknown buyer. Although the property tax bill will be mailed to a law firm that shares an address with the Milken Institute, a Milken spokesperson told FORBES that neither Michael Milken nor his Institute are the buyer.

The latest sales continue the ongoing trend of billionaires and $100-million-plus property buys. In November 2012, Softbank billionaire Masayoshi Son, of Japan, snapped up a Woodside, Calif., estate for $117.5 million. Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner purchasing $100 million on a property in Los Altos Hills (paying 100% more than its market value, according to tax assessors) in 2011. In 2007, billionaire fund manager Ron Baron paid $103 million for 52 undeveloped waterfront acres in New York’s East Hampton–and that was before construction costs. With properties like Dallas’ $135 million Crespi-Hicks Estate and the $90 million Carolwood Estate still on the market, more news is sure to come down the road.

1. Antilia, Mumbai, India1. Antilia, Mumbai, India

Owner: Mukesh Ambani, net worth $23.9 billion

Value: upward of $1 billion 

The twenty-seven story, 400,000-square foot skyscraper residence, named after a mythical island in the Atlantic, has six underground levels of parking, three helicopter pads, a ‘health’ level, and reportedly requires about 600 staff to run it. It is the world’s most expensive home far and away with construction costs topping $1 billion.

2. Villa Leopolda, Villefranche-sur-mer, France2. Villa Leopolda, Villefranche-sur-mer, France

Owner: Lily Safra, net worth $1.3 billion

Purchase Price: 500 million euro ($750 million at the time) in 2008

King Leopold II reportedly built a series of waterside homes for his many mistresses. This 20-acre estate was valued at 500 million euros in 2008, when Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov attempted to buy it. He eventually pulled out of the deal, forfeiting a 50 million euro deposit.

3. Fair Field, Sagaponack, N.Y.3. Fair Field, Sagaponack, N.Y.

Owner: Ira Rennert, net worth $6 billion

Property value: about $248.5 million, according to 2014 tentative tax assessment

The industrial billionaire’s hulking 29-bedroom, 39-bath Hamptons compound has not one, but three swimming pools, plus its own power plant on premises.

7. Ellison Estate, Woodside, Calif.7. Ellison Estate, Woodside, Calif.

Owner: Larry Ellison, net worth $51.4 billion

Value: estimated $200 million to construct

The Oracle founder, arguably the world’s most avid collector of real estate, built his 23-acre Japanese-style estate in 2004 with 10 buildings, a man made lake, a tea house, a bath house and a koi pond. The property is was assessed at $73.2 million in 2013.

10. Xanadu 2.0, Seattle, Wash.10. Xanadu 2.0, Seattle, Wash.

Owner: Bill Gates, net worth $77.5 billion

Market Value: $120.5C million, 2014 tax assessment

The high-tech Lake Washington complex owned by the world’s second-richest man boasts a pool with an underwater music system, a 2,500- square foot gym and a library with domed reading room.

11. Copper Beech Farm, Greenwich, Conn.11. Copper Beech Farm, Greenwich, Conn.

Owner: Unknown

Sale Price: $120 million in April 2014

The property, originally listed for $190 million in May 2013, dropped to $140 million in September 2013 before selling in April 2014. Copper Beech Farm boasts a 13,519-square-foot main house with 12 bedrooms, seven full baths and two half baths and a wood-paneled library. Additional selling points: a solarium, a wine cellar, and a three-story-high, wood-paneled foyer. It was previously owned by timber tycoon John Rudey.

12. Mountain Home Road, Woodside, Calif.

12. Mountain Home Road, Woodside, Calif.

Owner: Masayoshi Son, net worth $17.3 billion

Purchase Price: $117.5 million in 2012

The most expensive home sale on record includes a 9,000-square foot neoclassical house, a 1,117-square foot colonnaded pool house, a detached library, a “retreat” building, a swimming pool, a tennis court and formal gardens.

13. Further Lane de Menil, East Hampton, N.Y.13. Further Lane de Menil, East Hampton, N.Y.

Owner: Ron Baron, net worth $1.9 billion 

Purchase Price: $103 million in 2007

The investment guru snapped up more than 50 acres of undeveloped oceanfront Hamptons land during the market’s height with the intention of constructing his own home.

14. Fleur de Lys, Holmby Hills, Calif.14. Fleur de Lys, Holmby Hills, Calif.

Owner: Unknown

Purchase Price: $102 million in March 2014

The 50,000-square-foot estate known as Fleur de Lys is the most expensive home ever sold in Los Angeles County. Suzanne Saperstein, ex-wife of Metro Networks founder David Saperstein, is the seller but the buyer remains unknown. However, tax bills for the property are mailed to a law firm at the same address as the Milken Institute.

15. Silicon Valley Mansion, Los Altos Hills, Calif.15. Silicon Valley Mansion, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

Owner: Yuri Milner, net worth $1.7 billion

Purchase Price: $100 million in 2011

Bought as a secondary home, the Facebook investor broke records with the purchase of a French chateaux-inspired limestone abode that touts indoor and outdoor pools, a ballroom and second-floor living areas that gaze out on San Francisco Bay.

16. Maison de L'Amitie, Palm Beach, Fla.16. Maison de L’Amitie, Palm Beach, Fla.

Owner: Dmitry Rybolovlev, net worth $8.8 billion

Purchase Price: $95 million in 2008

Originally listed for $125 million, the sprawling oceanfront 60,000-square foot compound, bought from real estate billionaire Donald Trump, includes diamond and gold fixtures and a garage with space for nearly 50 cars.

17. Promised Land, Montecito, Calif.17. Promised Land, Montecito, Calif.

Owner: Oprah Winfrey, net worth $2.9 billion

Market Value: $90.3 million, according to 2014 tax assessment

Purchased in 2001 for nearly $52 million, the media queen’s 23,000-square-foot Georgian-style manse sits on more than 40 acres, boasting a tea house, more than 600 rose bushes and an upscale outhouse.

Click here for the entire top 20 list for 2014

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