Inside Real Estate - February 5th, 2020 |

Inside Real Estate (Feb 5th, 2020)

Macy's closing 125 stores / Hottest U.S. neighborhoods / $100M Malibu home

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1. On Tuesday, Macy's announced that it would be closing at least 125 stores and cutting 2,000 jobs over the next three years. While the retailer has previously shutdown 100 locations, this time, stores will close in "lower tier" malls. This is because of the shift in how many younger Americans shop — primarily online — calls for warehouse space instead of retail shops. How this will impact the commercial real estate industry, in the long run, is still unknown; experts believe more chain closings are on the horizon. As of late November,  the company had 636 Macy's stores, 38 Bloomingdale's locations, 19 Bloomingdale's Outlet stores, and 171 Bluemercury locations. It will test out two new concepts: Macy's Backstage is for those who enjoy T.J. Maxx; the other is Market by Macy's, which wills sell local goods and foods. - WALL STREET JOURNAL

2. Half of the hottest neighborhoods in the U.S. are in the southeast: Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. That's according to Redfin, which just released its 2020 "watch list" of areas to survey in the near future. To cull this list, the brokerage rounded up the "neighborhoods with the greatest year-over-year growth in listing page views on" The top five in the nation, respectively, are Willowsford in Ashburn, Virginia; Bal Harbour in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Wildwood in Charlotte, North Carolina; West Arvada, Colorado; Waverly Hills in Arlington, Virginia. Relative affordability is another trend noted in this report; seven of the 10 top neighborhoods had a median list price of under $500,000. - REDFIN

3. A new report from a New York City mayoral commission pushes for tax reforms across the five boroughs. The NYC Advisory Commission On Property Tax Reform is calling for tax redistribution that would decrease what low- and moderate-income homeowners pay and shift that to affluent communities. Currently, single-family homes are taxed according to their sales value. The tax on one- to three-family homes have been capped, which keeps their appraisals low even when the market values increase, so some homeowners end up paying the same in property taxes despite the value of their homes. - FORBES

4. Trump Plaza condominium in West Palm Beach, Florida will keep the "Trump Plaza" signage off of its twin towers. Residents voted 178-20 not to re-install the sign that had been in place for decades. The landslide vote included ballots from more than 90 percent of its tenants. President Trump "has had nothing to do with the property since 1991," but his "Winter Whitehouse" Mar-a-Lago can be seen from this building. - PALM BEACH POST

5. A sprawling estate just hit the market in Malibu. Listed at $100 million and known as "Case No. 2," the 10,000-square-foot Southern California mansion features a 132-foot infinity swimming pool that sits atop the house's gym. Slated for an early 2021 completion, the residence was designed by billionaire developer Scott Gillen, who spent 17 years in the filmmaking industry prior to creating a collection of high-end Malibu houses. He said: "Designing a house is like three-dimensional camera work. Each window and each room is a shot, a frame, that has a tremendous effect on the aesthetics, the value, the style, and the vibe of how the house is perceived." - MANSION GLOBAL

6. Wages have not kept pace with the rise in rental rates for some major American cities. That's due, in part, to an increase in middle-income renters. Developers see a spike in rental interest among the top budget ranges and have been accommodating to those families by adding custom craftsmanship, tech upgrades, etc. That's left a shortage of new housing for low-income families and rent increases for the middle class: "One in four renters now spend more than half their incomes on housing." - MARKETWATCH

7. Religious groups and churches are teaming up with cities to convert unused land into affordable housing. Some U.S. cities, including San Antonio — where there’s a housing crisis — will offer assistance to religious entities that provide their properties to the program. Some properties will require remodels to accommodate people; others will start from groundbreaking. Leilah Powell, executive director of San Antonio’s chapter of the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) San Antonio, said: “We’re working with groups who can launch right into pre-development, or those that just have land and an idea.” - CURBED

8. A prominent real estate developer just sold his South Florida mansion for $13.6 million. Myron Miller's 7,368-square-foot main house totaled $1,845 per square foot upon closing. The home was designed by the venerable Palm Beach architect John Volk, who's known for his restoration of The Breakers and his vision behind the Royal Poinciana Plaza. This residential space sits on more than an acre of land and includes a two-bedroom guest house, tennis court, and swimming pool blocks from the beach. - THE REAL DEAL

9. Tech-centric real estate startup Homie reported a $23 million Series B funding round. The 3-year-old business aims to facilitate the home buying process by replacing the broker commission-based approach. The company uses a fixed-fee system of $1,500 for sellers and rebates for buyers. This approach comes at a time when the National Association of Realtors is attempting to eliminate pocket listings — which are never entered into the Multiple Listing Service — since those violate fair-housing ordinances and also hide Realtor commissions. When agents’ commissions aren’t transparent, there’s a higher possibility that they could be swaying buyers toward pricier properties. - DESERET NEWS 

10. A $26.5 million Los Angeles property features a remarkable, 5,000-square-foot Star Wars-themed basement. The entertainment space — and the attached house — is being listed by The Agency's Arvin Haddad, Emil Hartoonian, and Mauricio Umansky. The Star Wars mecca houses space-vehicle replicas, dozens of life-size figures and even an illuminated theater where Chewbacca carries an injured C-3PO, a tableau from "The Empire Strikes Back." Guests arrive at the basement entrance — a makeshift Tatooine — by elevator and are greeted by countless artifacts, references and design elements inspired by Star Wars. The rest of the house, however, is sleek and modern, with nods to Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. - REALTOR (video)

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.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, staff writer at Inside.

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