Inside Real Estate - January 20th, 2020

Inside Real Estate (Jan 20th, 2020)

Homebuying budget pitfalls to avoid / NYC real-estate market slowing / Celeb home transactions

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1. The market value of New York City real estate climbed "at the slowest pace" in the past six years, new data shows. Gains ticked upwards by 3.6 percent generally, while commercial land saw a 2.4 percent increase. Assessors are warning people about this market dampening in spite of city property-tax bill spikes — which are slated to grow by another 6.7 percent. Based on current tax rates, the "average tax on a condominium was due to rise to $20,045" in Manhattan. - WALL STREET JOURNAL

2. The “Moms 4 Housing” group in Oakland, California, announced on Monday that they will be buying the house from which they were evicted. The group of women had staged a demonstration by squatting in a vacant west Oakland house, which is owned by an investment group, Wedgewood. They said they wanted to draw attention to the homelessness in the area, which persisted despite available properties, like the one in which they stayed. They were arrested for refusing to leave. Mayor Libby Schaaf said his office helped both parties reach an agreement. The women — who’d been on the brink of homelessness — will purchase the property from Wedgewood through the Oakland Community Land Trust. - KRON 4 

3. Speaking of Oakland … activists in the city gathered over MLK weekend to build 11 shelters — tiny homes— for the “Right To Exist Curbside Community.” The initiative aims to help an alarmingly increasing rate of homelessness in the area. By Sunday, at least three 8-by-12 dwellings were complete. Roughly 100 volunteers were assembled and $8,000 raised for the project, which will continue through Monday. - KTVU

4. Actor John Barrymore’s "Bella Vista" Spanish-style mansion in Los Angeles is on the market, complete with an opium den. The 6,976-square-foot house, listed at $16.995 million, has two guest houses, two apartments, a cigar lounge, and a veranda with access to the infamous den, which is connected to Barrymore's bedroom by a hand-carved ladder. Much of its original charm, including hand-painted ceiling and tile, still remains on the compound. - WKRC

5. The preservation of homes in historic districts is beginning to clash with clean-energy priorities in the U.S. Some homeowners who are vying for solar-panel permits in strictly regulated neighborhoods are facing pushback. In addition, some local officials who've been tasked with protecting the architectural integrity of older buildings don’t always allow for some green-building upgrades. One solar-panel applicant — Steven Preister — argued that environmental issues supersede aesthetic concerns: "My main concern right now is if we do not change and loosen these standards, will the District be habitable in 100 years?” - WASHINGTON POST

6. Real estate investors who are considering leasing out properties for short-term vacation rentals should learn the landlord-tenant laws set by the state. That's according to advice from U.S. News & World Report, which explains that "many municipalities have put a stranglehold on short-term rentals.” Some cities can decide when rentals can be leased out, for how long and what permits are necessary to hang up your shingle. Also, keep in mind that elected officials can change the rules at any time. - US NEWS & WORLD REPORT

7. Experts advise that homebuyers avoid some common budget traps when it comes to house shopping. Veteran real estate broker Mary Hunt says it's important to know what you can spend without basing numbers on lender data, which may push you into overspending. She also says that the minimum you should put down on a property is 20 percent. If you don't have that money, she says, hold off on buying until you do. Another common mistake is assuming a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the best route: Hunt suggests considering a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage to avoid overpaying in interest. - THE INDEPENDENT

8. Steve “The Franchise” Francis is selling his lavish Houston mansion for a new 5,300-square-foot property in the suburbs. Built in 2002, the French chateau-style estate welcomes guests with a grand two-story foyer illuminated by a crystal chandelier. The master suite boasts an opulent spa-like bath flanked by stone columns. The bedroom opens up to a second-floor balcony that overlooks the grounds and its tree-lined perimeter. Outside, an expansive, covered summer kitchen is adjacent to a dedicated sports court and swimming pool with a spa. - HOUSTON CHRONICLE

9. A real estate listings website just generated a list of the most commonly used words in home listings. Point2 Homes studied more than a million listings from July. (The summer is typically the busiest time of the year for home buying and selling.) It found that key phrases varied by the price segment: For homes under $250,000, nods to home improvements like “new roof” and “move-in ready” were most popular. For houses between $250,000 and $499,999, upgraded amenities like “covered patio” and “dual sinks” reign supreme. And for the luxury market, the location and extras like a “gourmet kitchen” were most frequently used. - BUSINESS INSIDER

10. Actor Jason Statham and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley just sold their two-story modern Malibu home for $18.5 million. The recently renovated beachfront property — which spans 3,909 square feet — features an expansive deck, guest house with private kitchen, four bedrooms and an expansive master suite. The residence hit the market in October for just under $20 million. - LA TIMES

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.

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