1. Los Angeles developer Bruce Makowsky finally sold his expansive 38,000-square-foot Bel-Air mansion — dubbed “Billionaire” — for $94 million to an undisclosed buyer. When it was first listed approximately two years ago, it broke records for being the priciest residential real estate listing in the U.S. with its initial listing price of $250 million. The price dropped to $188 million in 2018 and again to $150 million earlier this year. What sets this estate apart from others — apart from its price and size — is its recreational space, which includes an 85-foot infinity-edge swimming pool, 17,000 square feet of decks and auto gallery. Included in the sale of the residence was a small fleet of exotic luxury cars. - LA TIMES
2. Speaking of big houses… Mansion Global said there’s a nationwide pattern of mega-mansions sitting on the market for extended periods of time, adding that “when it comes to smart real estate investment, biggest is rarely best.” Those who build big frequently have to concede to price cuts and potential loses on investment in addition to protracted listings. That’s because not only are these properties typically much more expensive, but even those with the means to afford them are looking beyond just the size of dwellings, including location, architecture, acreage and security. - MANSION GLOBAL
3. Follow Friday: Joy Bender of San Diego brokerage Aumann Bender & Associates. In addition to market insight, Bender also offers savvy digital marketing advice to Realtors. Some of her seminars center on educating agents when it comes to SEO best practices, public relations, social media platforms and digital advertising. Follow her here.
She shares her favorite tips and advice for agents through daily issues catered to luxury real estate agents and offers quick market snapshots. Among her tweets to Realtors is a short explanation on the importance of staging wisely: “Interior designers help clients save money by avoiding costly mistakes. Designing well-crafted living spaces helps people lead healthier, happier lives when they come from a place of beauty (and functionality).”
4. The growing “retail apocalypse” — mass closings of brick-and-mortar shops going digital — has changed the commercial real estate landscape in the U.S. Steve Zimmerman, a managing director at retail space development company The Retail Connection, said retail remains the “most fluid sector of commercial real estate.” He explains that restaurants have gone from occupying about 10 to 15-percent of shopping centers to 20 to 40 percent today. There’s also a proliferation of gyms across the U.S. Fitness facilities have grown by an astounding 70 percent since 2013, he notes. The result is “empty boxes” that are neither large enough for nontraditional businesses — places like Candytopia and other playgrounds — nor small enough to house shops that don’t require or can’t afford too much square footage. - D MAGAZINE (opinion)
5. Those looking to buy or sell a property in the U.S. should watch certain markets for value changes, according to a new study from research firm Natixis. Houses for sale in these cities could increase, which make them good places to buy now and sell high later: San Antonio, Texas; Tampa, Florida; Miami; Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C. These markets could decrease in average home prices, making them better cities to buy later on: Cleveland, Detroit, El Paso, Texas; Chicago and Memphis, Tennessee. To determine which cities made the cut, Natixis evaluated “supply-and-demand forces that drive prices,” including projected population shifts and the rate of housing construction. - USA TODAY
6. Hong Kong officials hope to quell ongoing protests by offering a new housing policy. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s proposed initiatives include allowing first-time buyers to borrow big loans: up to 90 percent of a property's price, which translates to a 10-percent home down payment. She will also seek to implement a two-pronged land measure where the government can seize land to use for housing and will work with companies to develop farmland into public projects. Hong Kong is currently the world’s most expensive place to buy a home with an average property price of $1.24 million. - CNBC
7. Procuring a certificate of eligibility for a home loan from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs is faster when military veterans ask VA-approved lenders to obtain the loans for them. Personal finance site NerdWallet suggests filing an application at the VA’s eBenefits portal or completing a request for Certificate of Eligibility form and mailing it to a regional loan center. Military veterans need the DD Form 214, and service members require a "statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant or personnel officer.” - NERDWALLET
8. Grand Rapids, Michigan, is debuting its $9.3 million affordable housing development. Garfield Park Lofts is a 36-unit building which features rents priced between $450 to $900 per month for two-bedroom units. According to city officials, this is the first “new commercial construction in the Southeast Side neighborhood in nearly three decades.” The state of Michigan made its development possible through low-income housing tax credits. While it’s not expected to be complete until sometime in 2020, it’s already been leased up. - MLIVE MICHIGAN
9. Market snapshot: A 5,800-square-foot home estate situated on half an acre in Chicago’s Kenilworth area just sold for 30 percent less than its sales price from 15 years ago, an odd transaction given this neighborhood’s typical home-price appreciation. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Greg and Mary Shearson purchased the home for $3.9 million in 2004 and sold it for just $2.75 million earlier this week. They decided to sell at a big loss since Greg Shearson moved to Nashville to take on the role of CEO at eastern medicine manufacturer Ancient Nutrition. - CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS
10. Big-flip opportunity: A mansion in upstate is on the market for $199,000 — including its 16-acre parcel. According to New York Upstate reporter Ngoc Huynh, the 4,390 square-foot, seven-bedroom house has already been prepared for rehabilitation work, since the previous owners “stripped the main house down to the studs,” while maintaining several of its original finishes. In addition to the main house is a 700-square-foot carriage house that can be converted into a rentable property. - NEW YORK UPSTATE
Written and curated by Darla Guillen Gilthorpe. Darla writes for the Houston Chronicle, where she was part of its 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist staff. She was previously an editor at Vox Media site Eater and has had bylines in Elle Decor, SFGate and various other outlets. Follow her on Twitter here.
Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).