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Inside Real Estate (Aug 23rd, 2019)

1. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that new home sales in July dropped by 12.8 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 635,000 homes. This was the biggest monthly decline since July 2013 and was well below analysts' expectations. Sales were, however, up 4.3 percent from one year ago and June's sales were revised up to 728,000 units from 646,000 units. The median new house price consistently tracks higher than the existing home sales price but the July median new house price of $312,800, was down 4.5 percent from a year earlier, indicating that we may have reached a ceiling for prices. — BLOOMBERG

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2. The New York agents have developed a new service to offer short-term loans for renters, buyers, or sellers. The platform is called Feeasy and it offers loans up to $50,000. Two Douglas Elliman agents John Giannone and Jac Credaroli launched the project to serve the needs of clients in their market, especially renters who often struggle to pull together rent, deposits, and other costs during a move. Feeasy's lending partner is Upgrade, which is backed by Utah industrial bank WebBank.So far, Feaesy has facilitated $450,000 in loans. Being able to afford an apartment is a growing concern for many renters. In my interview with Tony Diamond, he mentioned that one of the reasons he is launching a financing service for his Stay Tony brand is because many renters are now paying rent with credit cards. — THE REAL DEAL
 

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3. Follow Friday: The Broke Agent. There is no shortage of real estate and realtor memes but The Broke Agent turned making fun of real estate into an art form and a business. The Broke Agent parodies all the things that agents do but never want to admit to, poking fun at agent greed, idleness, and the surprising social stigma of being a real estate agent. 

The Instagram account is a combination of popular memes with a real estate slant and text messages much of it falling into the "it's funny because it's true" category such as this recent tweet: “I’m sorry we decided to go with a more local agent, but you can bring us a buyer!” - Your (Former) Seller and (Current) Enemy. The founder, Eric Simon, is based in Southern California and often takes aim at the celebrity culture of Los Angeles real estate where agents are often as high-maintenance as their clients. 

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4. India's largest hotel brand, OYO, has announced it will rebrand the Hooters Casino Hotel into the OYO Hotel & Casino. The building will be managed by Highgate and will have 657 rooms on 19 floors as well as a 35,000 square-foot casino. Earlier this year, OYO announced a plan to deepen its expansion in the U.S. market. It currently has properties in 21 states. OYO has raised over $1 billion including investment from Softbank's Vision Fund and has a valuation of $10 billion. — FOX 5 VEGAS

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5. Industrious, another competitor in the flexible workspace marketplace, has closed an $80 million Series D funding round. Industrious takes a different approach than some other coworking companies, it focuses on landlord partnerships such as its relationship with Macerich which has put it in a variety of malls around the United States. Industrious expects to be profitable in Q1 2020. — COMMERCIAL OBSERVER
 

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6. The newest project from Heatherwick Studio includes a swooping plant-covered pergola. The project is located in Tokyo’s Toranomon-Azabudai district and includes offices, residences, and a school. The designs by Heatherwick are part of a development that will include Japan's tallest skyscraper, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. All of the buildings will be connected by an underground pedestrian tunnel that will include a food hall. The design is meant to bring a touch of nature to Tokyo's urban landscape. — WALLPAPER

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7. Groundfloor, an investing platform that is open to accredited and non-accredited investors, has unveiled a new Split Loans program. This program will divide larger real estate loans into multiple sections in order to allow Groundfloor to originate bigger loans. Groundfloor's prior limit was $2 million which was adept for its core market of fix-and-flip investors. Its new program will allow it to offer loans for new construction and multifamily developments. All Split Loan projects will contain at least two investment options. Groundfloor recently raised $3 million from its investors. — CROWDFUND INSIDER

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8.. A Los Angeles real estate agent is at the heart of a $500,000 fraud and embezzlement scheme that targeted luxury homeowners. Former Keller Williams agent Jason Emil Yaselli and an accomplice Benjamin Eitan Ackerman have been arrested on charges of money laundering and burglary. Victims included celebrities such as Adam Lambert and Usher. Ackerman stole items from 14 homes and sold them to make payments on Yaselli's credit card. The case against Ackerman has been in the works for nearly a year. — NBC NEWS

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9. The former home of the Denver Post's printing facility will become a large transit-oriented development. The property is located near the 41st and Fox RTD rail station and has been rezoned for buildings as tall as 12 stories. The 41-acre property was sold for $56.5 million to a partnership between two development companies,  Pure Development, which is based in Indiana and Mexico's Interland. — THE DENVER POST

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10. TMZ broke the news that Barack and Michelle Obama are in escrow for an estate on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. The Obamas rented the island home from Wyc Grousbeck, owner of the Boston Celtics. It is listed for $14.85 million but was first for sale in 2015 for $22.5 million. The seven-bedroom property is on 29 acres and has a private beach with a boathouse, a pool, and a second-floor balcony Jacuzzi.— TMZ

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Written and curated by Deidre Woollard. Deidre has a background in real estate public relations and runs the largest Facebook group for real estate press opportunities. Tips welcome at deidre@inside.com.

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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