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Inside Real Estate (Jun 17th, 2017)

Lennar Corp., one of the largest homebuilders in the US, has partnered with Amazon to design homes that will incorporate home automation and voice control by Amazon Alexa. The homes are being sold as “wi-fi certified” and powered by Ruckus Wireless to provide coverage in every room with no dead spots. Alexa will be integrated into new homes to control systems such as lights, front door locks, and heating. The homes will also have whole-home automation by Samsung SmartThings and smart home products from Ring, Honeywell, Baldwin, Kwikset, Lutron, and Sonos with white-glove activation and service. – MASHABLE

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Online loan marketplace LendingTree has created a new home valuation feature that estimates home value by accessing third party data. The My LendingTree platform also uses mortgage balance information to estimate the user's home equity. It provides credit score information and prompts homeowners when there's an actionable opportunity to tap into home equity, connecting them with potential lenders. – HW

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Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods has investors concerned about the safety of shopping center real estate investment trusts (REITs). After the news broke, shares of shopping center REITs dropped. Regency Centers, which operates strip malls anchored by both Kroger and Whole Foods stores, saw its stock fall by more than five percent. Brixmor Property and Weingarten Realty, two REITs that also own and operate shopping centers saw their shares drop nearly four and five percent. Smaller shopping center REITs have fared better than mall REITs in recent months, however the introduction of a new competitor has some investors concerned. CNBC’s Jim Cramer called it a 'game changer' for food retail and says Amazon will dominate the sector within two years – CNBC

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An investigation from USA Today shows that since Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, the majority of sales by his real estate companies have been to LLCs. The data shows that for the last twelve months, 70 percent of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies compared to approximately four percent of buyers in the two years before. Prices have ranged from $220,000 to $10 million or more. The investigation also compared the ratio of shell-company purchases in buildings where others own condos and found that the post-nomination shift to LLCs is unique to the Trump companies. – USA TODAY

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Buildout, a web application for marketing commercial real estate, has raised $8 million in Series A funding in a round from Susquehanna Growth Equity. The company plans to use the funds to double headcount, especially in technology development and client services. The company was started in 2012 and has signed up more than 1,500 brokerages so far. – CRAINS

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Wells Fargo is selling the Wells Fargo Center, the tallest tower in Portland, Oregon. The company leases out 40 percent of the building to other companies. Wells Fargo plans to lease back some space following the sale but will also relocate some of the building’s 900 employees. The Wells Fargo Center was completed in 1973 and is Portland's tallest skyscraper at 546 feet. Wells Fargo is also selling a separate five-story operations building nearby. – OREGON LIVE

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Google’s parent company, Alphabet, will be building 300 temporary modular homes at its Bay View development at NASA’s Moffett Field. The development will include three large office buildings totaling about 600,000 square feet which are already under construction. Alphabet will purchase the apartment-style units, which will be used as employee housing, from Factory OS, a modular-home startup. The agreement is valued between $25 and $30 million. Prefab construction will reduce construction costs between 20 and 50 percent. – MERCURY NEWS

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HOT PROPERTIES OF THE WEEK

George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson have bought the Mi Patria estate in the Bel-Air area of Los Angeles. The nine-bedroom home transacted off the open market for $33.9 million. The 0.89-acre property was purchased from billionaire and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot, who bought the estate in 2013 for $18 million. Earlier this year it was announced that Lucas is building his new $1-billion museum in Los Angeles. – VARIETY

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Musician Lindsey Buckingham has listed a home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles for $22.5 million. Buckingham bought the property in 2012 for $5.8 million and constructed a three-story shingled Georgian style estate with six bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, library, screening room, and a pool with cabana. Buckingham, who is married to interior designer Kristen Buckingham, has owned several properties in Brentwood and picked up a residential lot in Ventura Country, California in 2016. – LAT

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Christie Brinkley is continuing her quest to sell off her Hamptons estates, paring $5 million off the asking price of her home in North Haven, New York. The 4.44-acre estate, now listed for $20 million, has 327 feet of beach frontage, a pool, and a columned three-story home built in 1843. Brinkley also has Tower Hill, her Bridgehampton home listed for $29.5 million. – NYP

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