Inside Real Estate - January 3rd, 2020

Inside Real Estate (Jan 3rd, 2020)

Guarding against RE scams / Inside Dr. Phil's unusual house / Housing-crisis solutions

Subscribe | View in browser

1. One way to guard against real estate scams is to use a virtual private network (VPN) "to encrypt the traffic from your machine to a secure exit point," the New York Times advises. Since access to VPNs can get pricey, another option is to connect to a hot spot rather than using a public network when conducting real estate transactions digitally. According to FBI data, more than $69 million was lost to online cons between January 2019 and October 2019. If you suspect you've been affected, the Times says to contact your bank immediately. - NEW YORK TIMES

2. It's a buyer's market in Manhattan, according to new data. Newly imposed taxes last year hit the market hard, forcing homeowners to cut prices drastically. Now the average price-per-square-foot in Manhattan fell to $1,333 in the last quarter of 2019. That's a five-year low, real-estate tech company Compass reports. The majority of those sales were of fewer but larger dwellings when compared to previous years. - BUSINESS INSIDER

3. A man in Bartow, Florida, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for attempting to steal a $219,000 home by taking and filing a signed deed without signing loan documents. Stanley Livingston — who represented himself in court — said he thought the seller, Starlight Homes Florida, had already been paid. Instead of signing the home-loan agreement, he instead reportedly grabbed the deed and ran to his truck, with agents chasing behind him. The judge voided the deed Upton Livingston’s conviction. The home has been returned to Starlight Homes Florida. - ASSOCIATED PRESS

4. The housing crisis in the U.S. will only worsen with a decreasing inventory and every-rising home prices. That’s according to the Washington Post, which explains that the percent of vacant homes — which might be available to home shoppers — has hit a 35-year low. The outlet blames increased construction costs and stricter zoning restrictions. The solution, it claims, is a combination of rent controls and new policies that cut building costs, which can translate to more affordable home prices. - WASHINGTON POST

5. Dr. Phil's on-the-market house is drawing attention for its bizarrely decorated interior. The 6,170-square-foot house is outfitted with a large collection of guns mounted on a dining room wall and a foyer with a large bar and staircase decorated with an antler-like bannister. Other oddities: neon-lit built-ins, a blue billiard room with candelabra pendant and a checkered rotunda. The Los Angeles home, listed at $5.75 million, was purchased by a family trust tied to Phillip McGraw — Dr. Phil — and a family representative claims the TV-famous therapist has never lived there. - LOS ANGELES TIMES

6. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' home loan changes this week went into effect. Under the 2019 Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, veterans who are home shopping will not require a down payment on home loans, regardless of the loan's size. The act also includes removes a loan limit for some Native American Veterans. The VA will impose a temporary increase in its funding fee from 0.15 to 0.30 percent. - SAN ANTONIO BUSINESS JOURNAL

7. The New York Post revealed its own fun version of the Golden Brick Awards for the best and worst of the decade in developments. The "developer of the decade," the Post said, is Larry Silverstein. He's credited with rebuilding a large swath of the World Trade Center after 9/11. Despite its rough year, WeWork still edged out other co-working companies in obtaining the most square footage in the city. Other mentions included the U.S. and China trade feud's impact on domestic real estate and the biggest property purchases by tech companies including Amazon, Apple and Netflix. - NEW YORK POST

8. More people could be buying tiny homes in 2020. Fast Company points out that some cities are incentivizing tiny home living and some companies are making them more affordable and automating their rapid construction. There's even a startup — Rent the Backyard — that will erect a free tiny house in your backyard by handling the permitting and construction. The catch to homeowners to lease it out? They have to share rental income with the company. - FAST COMPANY

9. Some real estate investors are seeking properties in Singapore according to a report from accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The city-state's positioning as a prime property prospect in 2020 is unusual since its market slumped to the No. 21 spot in 2017. Its rebound is now astounding some investors who are eyeing parcels there. - CNBC (video)

10. Bruce Willis just sold his rural New York property for $7.66 million. The Westchester County estate hit the market in early 2019 at nearly $13 million but didn't sell until the end of the year and at a 41-percent price reduction. Willis reportedly paid $9 million for the house in 2014. While its sale posed a loss for the actors, the 22-acre parcel was the most expensive home to sell in Westchester, New York, in 2019. - WALL STREET JOURNAL

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.

Copyright © 2020, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
767 Bryant St. #203
San Francisco, CA 94107

Did someone forward this email to you? Head over to to get your very own free subscription!

You received this email because you subscribed to Inside Real Estate. Click here to unsubscribe from Inside Real Estate list or manage your subscriptions.

Subscribe to Inside Real Estate