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Inside Real Estate (Mar 22nd, 2017)

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that existing home sales fell 3.4 percent from January but are up 5.4 percent over last February. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, attributes the drop in sales to the lack of housing supply and weakening affordability conditions that thwarted potential buyers in many areas. "Realtors are reporting stronger foot traffic from a year ago, but low supply in the affordable price range continues to be the pest that's pushing up price growth and pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers," he said. Total housing inventory in February increased 4.2 percent but is 6.4 percent lower than one year ago and has fallen year over year for 21 months. The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $228,400, up 7.7 percent from February 2016 ($212,100). February marks the 60th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. – FORBES

Genting Group, a Malaysia-based casino builder, has proposed a 300-room hotel for Miami’s Omni bus terminal. The company has received approval from Miami-Dade county’s transportation committee for a 90-year lease of the property. The Miami Herald reports that Genting was the sole bidder on a county request for proposals to redevelop the bus terminal site. The deal is expected to generate $55 million in rent and revenue sharing for the county over the life of the lease and would create 1,871 jobs during construction and 171 jobs at the hotel. The bus terminal would be rebuilt and expanded and the tower, including retail shops on the ground floor, would be built above it. In 2011, Genting bought the old Miami Herald building and property facing Biscayne Bay and announced Genting Resorts World Miami, a massive casino resort. The former Herald building was torn down in 2015 but plans for the casino never moved forward. Last year, Genting received approval from the Miami River Commission for a new marina with 50 slips along the former Miami Herald site. – MIAMI HERALD

Downtown Chicago saw the biggest rise in prime office rent in the US according to CBRE’s Global Prime Office Rents survey. Chicago rents were up 19.9 percent in 2016 as the city faces its lowest overall vacancy downtown in 16 years. The largest increase worldwide was in Belfast, with a 25 percent uptick. Central Hong Kong is the world’s highest-priced office market with prime office rent of $264 per sq. ft. per year. The rest of the top five include the West Kowloon area of Hong Kong, two areas of Beijing, and London’s West End. Midtown Manhattan was the most expensive market in North America ranking sixth on the global list, with a prime office rent of $144 per sq. ft. Downtown Calgary, Canada saw the biggest decrease in office rents, dropping 26.5 percent. – MARKETWATCH

Nested, a London-based startup that guarantees it can sell your home in 90 days, has raised an additional £8 million in funding. Passion Capital led the round with participation from Rocket Internet’s venture arm GFC, both existing backers of the company. Nested, which was inspired by the rapid success of OpenDoor in the US, promises to ease selling a home by offering a firm offer for your home in a shorter window than the traditional sales process. Nested guarantees to sell a property for 95-98 percent of their estimated price within 90 days, or they will buy the home. The company was launched in January 2016, is currently only operating in London. – TECHCRUNCH

Brokerage startup Compass has launched a new development it calls the first truly interactive home search tool. The service, dubbed Collections, has a Pinterest-like interface that allows homebuyers and their agents the ability to collaborate on a hand-picked portfolio of properties. Agents can share real-time updates such as availability and pricing changes. The product has been beta-tested since November and Compass says 10,000 clients have already used the service. – THE REAL DEAL

More than 20 tiny homes are being sold in a court-ordered online auction after the bankruptcy of Lil Lodges based in Alabama. Pearce & Associates is conducting the auction for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Alabama. The homes are in a log cabin style and most are built on chassis with four or five axles. Many of the homes are incomplete and the auction also includes tools, appliances, and other items. The auction ends April 4. – BUILDER

A new report from Abodo shows that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach region of Florida has the highest percentage, 44.8 percent, of 18- to 34-year-olds living with their parents. The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area of California is second with 44.5 percent and the New York-Newark-Jersey City area has 43.8 percent. New Jersey is the state with the most millennials living at home, 45.8 percent, which is is the highest state figure by a wide margin of about six percentage points. The study found that a combination of high rent, student debt, and low wages, are leading to slow household formation. – MULTI HOUSING NEWS

Door, a Dallas-based flat-fee real estate brokerage, has raised $2.3 million in Series A funding. Door was founded in 2015 and charges a flat rate of $5,000 per transaction side rather than the customary commission based on a percentage of the property’s sale price. The funding was led by Robert Smith, owner of Dallas-based Sold Out Sports and other investors included Blair Baker, managing partner at Precept Capital Management and real estate developer Phillip Huffines. Door is licensed in the state of Texas. The company currently employs nine full-time agents. – D MAGAZINE


Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have listed their Santa Barbara home for $45 million. The couple bought the home for a reported $26.5 million and later purchased two other lots nearby creating a total compound of 16.88 acres. The home, known as The Villa, was built in 1934 by architect Wallace Frost. After living in Italy, Frost created the two-story, 10,500-square-foot residence for himself, emulating the classical style of 17th-century Italian villas. The home has six bedrooms, a media room, multiple libraries, and more. The grounds feature olive and eucalyptus trees, fountains, gardens, and a Roman-style pool. DeGeneres added an entertainment pavilion known as Jordan Hall that includes a lap swimming pool and tennis court. Known for her love of design and style, DeGeneres has bought and sold many homes in Southern California as well as releasing several decor collections and a book of her favorite designs which featured this property. – CURBED

A unit at 432 Park Avenue, the tallest residential tower in New York City, has closed for $65.16 million. The buyer is a business associated with Macau casino owner Lawrence Ho. The deal was done off market. The most expensive sale in the building was a full-floor penthouse on the 96th floor which was bought by Saudi billionaire Fawaz Al Hokair for $87.7 million. Another buyer also purchased a full-floor unit for $65.6 million earlier this year. There are 18 active listings in the building, from $6.5 million to $82 million and another unit listed at $44.25 million is under contract. The Rafael Viñoly-designed tower is also the subject of a lawsuit following a flood in floors 83 through 86. – MANSION GLOBAL

Kristen Wiig is selling her home in the Franklin Hills area of Los Angeles for $2.395 million. She bought the home for $1.764 million in 2013. The three-bedroom home looks out over the hills and has multiple levels. A series of decks offer an outdoor dining area, an outdoor shower, and a dry sauna. Variety reports Wiig recently completed an extensive restoration of a mid-century residence in the hills above the Silver Lake Reservoir that she bought in 2014 for $1.7 million. She also owns a New York loft and a vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. – VARIETY

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