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The latest news on Real Estate from Business Insider

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    calvin klein meadow lane

    After five years of construction, designer Calvin Klein's minimalist mansion in Southampton, NY is nearly complete.

    The home, on a 10-acre oceanfront lot on Meadow Lane, cost some $75 million to build, including the price of the land. 

    The New York Times Jacob Bernstein delved into the property in this weekend's Sunday Styles section. The entire piece is worth a read, but here are some of the juiciest tidbits about the house, which has been the talk of the Hamptons all summer:

    • Klein gut-renovated the original home on the property, then tore it down entirely and began building from scratch.

    • Before starting construction, the designer built a life-sized mock-up of the project out of plywood, costing an estimated $350,000.

    • He's been through three different architects in five years.

    • Klein is extremely hands-on. "As [friends] tell it, he is here six days a week, sometimes for several hours at a time. He talks about the house nonstop," Bernstein writes. "He has personally vetted and approved every floorboard and object inside, even designed much of the furniture himself when he thought there was nothing out there that quite met his exacting design standards."

    • He gets frequent construction photos and updates from his friend Aby Rosen, the well-known real estate developer who lives next door.

    • Klein designed every room with sliding glass doors "so that anywhere he is can essentially become an outdoor space."

    • The guest wing connects to the main home via an underground passageway. And another nearby building will be used as a screening room.

    Photo above courtesy of Jeff Cully/EEFAS.

    Read the full article at The New York Times >

    SEE ALSO: Meet The Fabulously Rich And Famous Residents Of Southampton

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Alec Baldwin Hilaria Thomas

    New dad and former “30 Rock” star Alec Baldwin has developed a reputation for warring with the paparazzi who camp outside his East Village apartment — but it seems they haven’t dulled his enthusiasm for his posh digs.

    In fact, Baldwin has purchased yet another condominium unit at the Devonshire building at 28 East 10th Street for $75,000 over its asking price, according to public records filed with the city today.

    The hot-tempered Emmy Award winner paid $2.25 million for the one-bedroom, one-bathroom pad, which is on the eighth floor of the prewar Emory Roth-designed building.

    Baldwin and his yoga instructor wife, Hilaria Baldwin, already own several units at the trendy property, which was converted by the Cheshire Group in 2009. Before their marriage, Baldwin shelled out $11.7 million for the penthouse in 2011, which had three bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms and a master bedroom suite that took up an entire wing of the condo. Then, last year, an adjacent unit was purchased under Hilaria’s name for $1.21 million. The latest unit does not appear to connect with the main apartment.

    It’s possible that the couple may use the new apartment as a home for their nanny. They welcomed a new baby, named Carmen Gabriela, earlier this month. Baldwin’s spokesperson declined to comment.

    The apartment belonged to Johan Lundgren, a travel company executive. The deal, which appears to have closed in June despite having just hit public records, was brokered on behalf of the seller by Douglas Elliman’s John Gomes, Fredrik Eklund and Kajsa Ringlow Hutton, according to StreetEasy.

    The Elliman team declined to comment on the sale. Lundgren could not be reached.

    More from The Real Deal:

    1. Meet the Gen Xers taking over NYC real estate 
    2. “Rock stars of real estate” glam up for Details party: PHOTOS
    3. Mayoral candidates get candid

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    matrix agent smith ge

    Buying or selling a home? You’re about to make one of life’s biggest and most important financial transactions, and you don’t want to go through it alone.

    A good real estate agent can make all the difference. They will no the market backwards and forwards. They will have a network of contracts to help you through the transaction (e.g., contractors to get your home ready for sale, bankers to help you get the best mortgage rates), and they will be excellent negotiators. If you work with an inexperienced or ineffective agent, however, the outcome can be as disappointing as the process.

    The key is to choose a real estate agent who will have your best interests at heart and who will work hard to get you the best deal possible. Here are eight tips to ensure you find an agent who will do exactly that:

    1. Get Referrals

    Most real estate agents find work primarily through referrals. If they do a good job, their customers tell other homebuyers and sellers about them, and they get more work.

    You’ll have better luck finding a great agent if you ask for referrals from friends and family members. Asking around is especially important if you’re new to an area.

    2. Check Angie’s List

    If you don’t know anyone who has recently worked with a real estate agent, or if you want more information on recommended agents, check Angie’s List. While you can look at reviews on other websites, such as Yahoo! or Google Business, the reviews on Angie’s List are generally accepted as reputable.

    You have to pay for an Angie’s List subscription, but it isn’t expensive. And if you find the perfect agent, or avoid a terrible one, the cost will be well worth your while. Plus, you might want to use Angie’s List to find movers, home repair specialists and more during your move and as you settle in.

    3. Do Your Research

    Regardless of what your friends and Angie’s List listings say, it’s still important to conduct some independent research on a potential real estate agent.

    For one thing, you want to ensure that the agent is up-to-date on all licensing requirements.

    It’s also a good idea to choose a Realtor, which is someone who is a member of theNational Association of Realtors. This organization ensures that its members follow a strict code of ethics and that they stay up-to-date on the world of real estate with ongoing activities and education.

    However, licensing shouldn’t be the only thing you’re concerned about. You’ll also want to choose an experienced Realtor who has closed on many properties and is an expert in the area where you are buying or selling. In many cases, an agent’s expertise is with a specific sub-division.

    4. Meet Agents Out and About

    Obviously, you shouldn’t choose a real estate agent before you meet him or her in person. But the best way to meet an agent isn’t to schedule a sit-down office visit. Instead, you want to meet them in their world.

    When you’re interested in hiring a particular agent, track down some of his or her current listings and find an open house where they are likely to be. Head to that open house, even if you aren’t interested in the property, and watch the agent in action.

    Home sellers will get an idea of how well an agent can sell a home and interact with potential buyers. Homebuyers will be able to meet a potential agent in a low-pressure environment.

    5. Check for Web Savvy

    These days, most agents have a website, and many of them use the site to gain business. But that doesn’t mean they know how to use the web effectively to market a home.

    As more and more homebuyers shop around online before setting foot at an open house, online marketing is increasingly important. Be sure your agent, or at least the team she works with, can get word out about your home online.

    6. Don’t Get Passed to an Assistant

    You may think that hiring a busy, go-get-’em agent is a good idea. And it can be. These types will often market harder, dig up more homes to show you, and generally do a great job.

    They can also be too busy to deal with you person to person. Most agents can handle about six or seven clients at once. If the one you’re interested in is juggling a dozen clients, you’re likely to get passed to an assistant, or have your phone calls go unanswered for days at a time.

    7. Ask a Lot of Questions

    Questions will help you get a feel for an agent’s strengths and weaknesses. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, for instance, talk to the agent about how many first-time homebuyers he’s worked with recently.

    Ask questions about the marketing process if you’re selling your home and about how many homes you can expect to see if you’re a buyer. If you’re a buyer, talk to the agent about your budget and ask questions about the local area. First-time homebuyers should talk to potential real estate agents about closing and other specifics to ensure the agent is prepared to walk them through the process step by step.

    The goal isn’t to give a potential agent the third degree. It’s to ensure that the particular agent is a good fit for your needs and that he or she understands the local real estate market, something important for both sellers and buyers.

    8. Get Recommendations from the Agent

    Finally, many agents will be able to recommend mortgage brokers, insurance companies, contractors and other home buying and selling personnel. The ideal agent is well-connected but won’t push you toward any particular choice. And she certainly won’t accept a commission for selling the services of these other companies, either.



    Join the conversation about this story »

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    forest hills, queens, new york

    Closing out a summer of consistently high rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn, tenants are seeking greener pastures, literally. The lush, relatively suburban streets of Queens saw a huge spurt in interest in August, execs from top brokerages told The Real Deal.

    “Inquiries for Queens rentals have jumped 38 percent in August over July,” said Mark Menendez, director of rentals at Douglas Elliman, citing figures not disclosed publicly. “The number one requested neighborhood is Forest Hills.”

    Manhattan rents have continued to hold steady, averaging $3,434 per month in August, $8 less per month than in July, when the average was $3,442 a month, according to Citi Habitats’ monthly rental market report, which uses data from the firm’s own transactions, released today.

    According to Elliman’s monthly market report, also released today, the median monthly price tag for a Manhattan apartment was $3,150, down 1.8 percent year-over-year from $3,095. Coldwell Banker AC Lawrence had a much higher figure — $3,588 per month, up 2.6 percent from $3,498 in July. (Year-over-year figures were not provided in the Coldwell report.) None of the brokerages track rents in Queens.

    “Pricing has been what it’s been all year – flat,” said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. And while August should be busy in Manhattan, “vacancy has been creeping up,” Malin said. The figure grew slightly to 1.31 percent, from 1.19 percent in July, per Citi Habitats’ figures.

    elliman chart333

    “I think it’s because pricing has pushed people to outer boroughs, or to purchasing,” Malin said.

    He said he expects renters to see prices begin to cave and landlords begin to offer incentives in some rentals in the fall.

    Menendez was less pessimistic, but admitted that “pressure on the market has been consistent.”

    However, one segment was seeing drastic price jumps, he said. Studios in Lower Manhattan saw median rents grow to $2,907 per month, up 10.8 percent from $2,623 the previous month, and 6.3 percent from $2,734 year-over-year. “[Almost] $3,000 for a studio Downtown is a big number,” Menendez said.

    In Brooklyn, the median rent was $2,850 a month, up 4.6 percent year-over-year from $2,724, according to Elliman’s report. The number of new rental deals signed in Brooklyn — 81 — was also a 200 percent increase year-over-year from 27.

    More from The Real Deal:

    1. Meet the Gen Xers taking over NYC real estate 
    2. Brooklyn waterfront site trades for sky-high $92M 
    3. Russian scheme used NYC buildings to launder $230M: Feds

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    huguette clark Connecticut homeEditor's note: This review of "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune" appeared in the September issue of The Real Deal. This is an excerpt; you can read the full review here.

    To some who knew the late copper heiress Huguette Clark, she was an oddball recluse who wasted her last decades in a hospital room, while her spread at 907 Fifth Avenue — a trio of co-ops spanning 42 rooms — sat as an empty, haunted museum of antique dolls.

    Distant family members, meanwhile, saw her as an incapacitated dupe at the mercy of bloodsucking money managers and caregivers.

    Those caregivers, however, considered her the quick-witted benefactress who willingly cut them checks for tens of thousands of dollars.

    Not surprisingly, her 2011 death at age 104 sparked a court battle over her $308 million estate.

    But who was Huguette, really? That’s the question Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of Huguette’s cousins, seek to answer in “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune,” which will be published this month.

    An ambitious and clearly written account of Huguette’s life, “Empty Mansions” offers meticulous details on her finances, appraisals of her personality from her closest confidantes, laughably specific descriptions of her opulent homes and even — courtesy of phone calls she exchanged with Clark Newell — scraps of conversation in her own voice.

    And yet, “Empty Mansions” fails to solve the puzzle of Huguette Clark. Disappointingly, the motivations of the cloistered scion remain as elusive as ever.

    To Dedman and Clark Newell’s credit, they avoid the trap of other historical writers who reconstruct the thoughts of their long-dead subjects. When they have people to interview — a bevy of living Clark descendants or Huguette’s nurse, Hadassah Peri, who received almost $32 million from her elderly charge — the pages jump with life. Unfortunately, the first half of the book, which focuses on the early years of Huguette’s father, W.A. Clark — a frontiersman who made his fortune in banking and copper — is dry.

    Indeed, “Empty Mansions” is at its best when investigating the nooks and crannies of Huguette’s personality, and weighing whether she was a victim or not. (The authors seem to come down in favor of her aides, noting that almost none of her extended family members visited her.)

    In many ways, “Empty Mansions” portrays Clark as a normal person, despite frequent speculation that she must have been mentally ill. For one, she was extremely generous — possessed of “a fairy tale checkbook, one that was refilled whenever it ran out of magic beans,” the authors note. “The woman was an eccentric of the first order,” her doctor, Henry Singman, told the authors. “[But] I didn’t think her behavior was that of one suffering from a psychiatric illness.”

    Continue reading at The Real Deal >

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    donald trump family kids eric ivanka

    Donald Trump isn’t losing any sleep over choosing which of his three oldest children will inherit his real estate empire: They all are. The brazen mogul-reality star intends for Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric – their mother is Ivana –  take over different aspects of the Trump Organization.

    “My kids are treated very equally,” Trump, infamous for his bluster, told the Wall Street Journal. “I think, and I hope, for their own sake, that they’ll be able to get along…It’s not a deal where there’s going to be one person succeeding me.”

    Ivanka, for example, has been the lead negotiator on many of the company’s biggest deals, such as the $150 million acquisition of the Doral golf resort in Miami and the $48 million debt buy at the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Big brother Donald Jr., is drawn toward leasing; Eric, the youngest of the three, is all about construction.

    Trump’s decision to have more than one heir would be unusual in an industry where ordinarily only one child is tapped or steps up to run a family’s business. Notable examples include Douglas Durst, who took over for father Seymour, and Bill Rudin, who succeeded father Lewis.

    “In real estate it’s usually one person,” William Zabel, a founding partner of the law firm Schulte Roth & Zabel, told the Journal. “You have to give one of them the mantle and hope that it works.”

    A handful of dynasties, such as the mighty Feil Organization, are going through succession battles; others, such as Rockrose Development and TF Cornerstone, made the decision to split to avoid a family feud. Trump,too, acknowledged the potential for tension, telling the newspaper that “succession is usually a disaster, whether it’s because of jealousy or something else.” [WSJ]

    More from The Real Deal:

    1. Meet the Gen Xers taking over NYC real estate
    2. Hedge funder lists UES pad bought for $4.5M over ask
    3. East Williamsburg corner lot hits market for $18M 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    ruling class

    They’re young, they’re tech-savvy, and some even wear sweatshirts and trendy retro-style sneakers to the office.

    No, we’re not talking about the newest batch of Silicon Alley CEOs. Meet real estate’s new ruling class: The 30- and 40-something executives who have recently taken over operations at New York City development firms, hotel companies, investment banks and real estate brokerages.

    While many of these heavy hitters — including the Related Company’s Jeff Blau, Forest City Ratner’s MaryAnne Gilmartin, Silverstein Properties’ Marty Burger and Tishman Speyer’s Rob Speyer — have been in the industry for years, a slew of their venerable predecessors have recently retired, opening up the top jobs at their respective firms in an unprecedented, industry-wide changing of the guard.

    These new leaders are collectively overhauling some long-followed industry norms, and reinvigorating a market sector known for embracing the status quo.

    “This is not really an industry known for being innovative,” said Gilmartin, 49, who became CEO of Forest City Ratner in April.

    And even though most have been groomed by their predecessors for leadership positions, this new generation brings a fresh perspective that is impacting not only their own companies, but the New York real estate industry as a whole, sources said. For example: These younger moguls are more likely to have MBAs than their predecessors, to invest in neighborhoods that their companies have previously ignored, to go after global financing and to keep their companies at the forefront of technology.

    “They’re all coming up at once,” said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban planning at New York University. “They have energy, they have know-how, and they want to have an impact. They don’t just want to sit back and collect rent receipts like some people before them.”

    Family tree

    Real estate is well-known for its family ties, so it’s not surprising that several members of this next generation of company leaders are taking over for their parents.

    At Queens-based Muss Development, for example, 42-year-old Jason Muss is gradually taking over for his 71-year-old dad, Josh. The younger Muss, a company principal, is expanding beyond Queens — where the company recently launched the last phase of Oceana, a 15-building gated Brighton Beach condo complex on the waterfront — and into Manhattan development. One of those Manhattan properties is 181 East 119th Street, a new 90-unit luxury rental building in Harlem.

    And at Rockrose, Justin Elghanayan became president last year, taking over for his father, Henry. The move signaled a new phase for that firm, which split its properties in 2009,when Henry’s brothers — Thomas and Frederick — broke off and formed a new development company, TF Cornerstone.

    Similarly, Rob Speyer joined his father Jerry’s firm, Tishman Speyer, in 1995. He was promoted to co-CEO in 2008 and last summer Speyer was chosen to be chairman of the industry’s most powerful trade organization, the Real Estate Board of New York. Speyer is REBNY’s youngest-ever chairman, replacing powerhouse Mary Ann Tighe, the CBRE Group’s Tri-State chief executive.

    Assuming command of dynasties with entrenched roots in New York comes with a lot of advantages. For starters, many of these companies have established reservoirs of goodwill built up over the years, not to mention amassed wealth, relationships with banks, and access to lawyers who know their way around the zoning process.

    Jed Walentas, 39, who has taken over most of the day-to-day running of Two Trees Management Company from his father, David, noted that it also provides a certain level of freedom.

    “My father grew up with nothing and I grew up with a lot, so there maybe is less pressure for me to make a lot of money,” he said. “But I think when you are well-enough capitalized, and you have the intellectual curiosity, you can explore other kinds of stuff, non-proven ideas.”

    A case in point, he said, is Two Trees’ plans for the former Domino Sugar factory site on the East River in Williamsburg, a stalled project that the firm bought last year for $185 million. (The purchase also expanded the company into another section of Brooklyn from its longtime Dumbo base, the once-industrial neighborhood it helped transform into a vibrant mixed-use community.)

    Also, instead of feeling pressure to squeeze in the maximum number of apartments at the 11-acre mix-used Domino complex, Two Trees is including more parkland, retail and offices, and fewer apartments than the plan from the original developer team, which included the Community Preservation Corporation and the Katan Group.

    Until the Two Trees proposal is approved and construction is underway, Walentas is allowing the development site to be used by the neighborhood for an urban farm, yoga studio and bicycle course, according to published reports.

    In addition, architect Rafael Viñoly’s original design has been radically rethought since Two Trees bought the Domino site. The company hired SHoP Architects, which came up with a bold new look that includes two taller towers with cutaway, doughnut-type openings in their centers.

    “If we weren’t in the position we’re in, we would neverhave made that decision,” said Walentas, noting that he had the luxury of time when it came to his decision to redesign the project.

    Meanwhile, Walentas has broken tradition with his dad in developing the 72-room Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. The project represents a rare foray into hospitality for Two Trees.

    Having a young CEO can create distinct advantages when marketing properties geared towards younger residents, said Justin Elghanayan. His firm is now leasing Linc LIC, a 42-story, 709-unit rental tower in Long Island City, where one-bedrooms average $2,700 a month.

    The building has 25,000 square feet of interior amenity space, which includes squash courts and a screening room, plus three roof decks totaling 25,000 square feet, Elghanayan said. Those amenities were specifically included to attract young renters, he said.

    Many millennial tenants are picky when it comes to restaurants, Elghanayan said. That’s why Elghanayan has taken pains in choosing the right restaurant for a Rockrose-owned site across from Linc. He said that restaurant, which is supposed to open this summer, will be M. Wells Steakhouse, an offshoot of M. Wells, the popular Long Island City diner that closed in 2011, but has since reopened as a cafeteria inside MoMA’s PS1 in the same neighborhood.

    “Henry is more in touch with the general winds of culture, like where is going to be a good neighborhood,” Elghanayan said of his father, who, still runs the company but has turned over more responsibility to Justin. “I am more interested in the particulars of what restaurants to put in.” He noted, however, that both approaches are needed to achieve success.

    And Justin is choosing deal locations as well.

    He’s recently pushed Rockrose further into Washington, D.C. The firm has picked up five office buildings there in the past few years, and is about to close on 2000 L Street NW, an eight-story, 401,000-square-foot office building currently owned by Brookfield Office Properties.

    In addition, under his stewardship, the company is ramping up plans for a massive mixed-use hotel and residential development in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards area on 11th Avenue between West 38th and 39th streets, which could include 520 apartments, he said.

    In order to sell apartments, these young guns are drawing on different skills than their predecessors did, according to Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan, 34, who last January took over as president of residential brokerage Stribling & Associates from her mother, company founder Elizabeth Stribling.

    For example, Stribling-Kivlan is now making social media a bigger priority with features like the recent “7 under $700,000,” which was posted to the company’s Facebook page.

    Of course, there’s downside to family-run businesses. Lawrence Longua, a former professor at New York University and longtime real estate banker, said that a risk with dynasties is that untested kids can come up too quickly.

    Some say a lack of experience may have played a role inRob Speyer’s push for his company to buy Stuyvesant Town in 2006 for a record-setting $5.4 billion. He reportedly took the reins on that deal instead of his father.

    Tishman Speyer, which paired with other investors in the deal, was unable to cover its debt service because it couldn’t charge high enough rents at the middle-income complex. When Tishman tried to crack down on what it claimed were illegal rentals, tenants pushed back aggressively. Tishman Speyer, which did not return a call for comment, eventually lost the building.

    “Was it Rob Speyer’s fault 100 percent? No,” Longua said. “But it astounded me that a family whose individuals are so rooted in New York real estate would not be more sensitive to the politics of Stuy Town.”

    Not Just Blood: Continue reading at The Real Deal >>

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Fairfax family is putting its heritage-listed, harbourfront Point Piper mansion ‘Elaine’ up for sale in what is expected to be the biggest ever residential real estate listing in Australia.

    The Australian reports that the 6900-square-metre property covers six titles and is nearly three times the size of nearby Altona, which sold for a record $53 million in May.

    Elaine was built in 1863 and bought by Geoffrey Fairfax in 1891. It is located on 550 New South Head Road, right next to Lady Fairfax’s property, ‘Fairwater,’ in Sydney Harbour.

    Real estate agent Ken Jacobs said his firm was working with Christie’s International Real Estate on a global marketing strategy that will launch in months.

    “This will be the largest and most significant sale in Australia; there are no comparable sales to work from,” he told Business Insider.

    “We are about to embark on a global campaign. [Elaine] will certainly have significant global appeal, as well as local appeal.”

    The Australian reported in 2009 that John Fairfax mortgaged Elaine in the wake of the global financial crisis. The property was estimated to be worth between $30 million and $40 million at the time.

    Elaine is currently tenanted.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    fist bump

    What do you do if you really want to buy real estate now but don’t have the scratch? One option is to buy a house with a friend.

    I can see the logic in that. It could make it easier to come up with the down payment and/ or the monthly mortgage payments. Plus (you tell yourself) it will be so much fun to jointly own property with your “bestus buddy.” It’ll be a regular project!

    While there certainly are benefits, my experience tells me that when “amigos” buy property together they usually don’t stay “compadres” very long. As a result, I’m against the arrangement generally speaking. You’ll see why in a minute.

    But if you are planning on going forward with this idea anyway, let’s talk about how to buy property with a friend with the least possible risk to you or to them. Here are all the issues you will face – and a few suggestions on how to deal with them.

    Getting a Loan

    It’s hard to get a loan from a bank these days and that’s especially true if you are buying the house with your chum. That’s because the lender looks at each of your credit records and makes the loan based on the worst credit score between you. Some people team up with another person specifically because they have a bad credit score. They can’t qualify for a mortgage on their own and need someone with a better score that can put the ball in the basket.

    Sadly, this tactic has some serious snags. As I said, the bank looks at the lowest credit score between you when they decide to grant the mortgage or not. If one of you can’t qualify for a loan, the only way to get the loan is for that person to stay off the deed and mortgage.

    This maneuver might help you buy the house but it will lead to host of other problems down the road. And it puts the person with a bad credit score who isn’t on the deed at a huge disadvantage. It’s far better if you and your investing partner both have good credit scores.

    Taking Title

    The term “taking title” refers to how you are going to own this property. Most unrelated people who buy property together take title as “tenants in common”. This allows each owner to will their percentage ownership to whoever they want should they die.

    If they take title to the home as “joint tenants” the entire property will pass to the surviving partner when one passes away. For married couples, that might be fine but this doesn’t usually work for friends.  What if you and Sheila buy a home together.  She certainly doesn’t want her share to automatically go to you and you don’t want your share to automatically go to her should either one of you pass away.  But there are still problems with the tenant in common tactic.

    If you and Mary Jo buy a property under that arrangement, she might want her cousin Pete (who just got out of the penitentiary) to inherit her share of the house and move in should she pass away. Awkward.

    An LLC might offer better protection for you both.

    The Agreement

    Once you agree on how you are going to take title to the real estate, you next want to figure out who is going to do what and who is going to get what and when. Real estate is a very long term investment and circumstances change. That’s why you must have a written agreement that spells out the rights and duties of each participant for as many contingencies as you can think of. Here are a few of the items your agreement should cover:

    Who owns what?

    Your agreement needs to spell out the percentage ownership. Unless it does so, the courts will consider you both 50-50 partners if you buy the property as tenants in common.

    Who gets what?

    One of the benefits owning real estate is the tax deduction generated by the mortgage. Only one of you can claim that deduction. Who is it going to be? If you get the tax break, is your partner going to be compensated? How?

    Who pays for what?

    Do you know what it really costs to maintain a home? Outside of the daily supplies you’ll need like soap and light bulbs, there are annual expenses and non-recurring repairs that come up. Who pays for these items? What happens if one of the partners doesn’t have the money to fix the roof (during rainy season)? Work that out now and make sure it’s part of your agreement.

    Who gets to do what?

    Can your co-owner throw a shin-dig on a Tuesday night? Are you allowed to practice your sumo wrestling techniques with your pal Kato at 5 A.M. on Sunday morning? What about more mundane issues like pets and smoking? How about sub-letting? Can either party sub-let their space to someone else? Hammer these things out before you sign on the dotted line.

    Who wears the pants?

    Somebody has to be the final arbiter when hard decisions need to be made. Let’s say your carpets haven’t been replaced since Saturday Night Fever was first released. You want new carpets but your co-owner wants to put in hardwood floors. Who makes the final call? You might decide to use a neutral third-party to break that tie. Discuss it between yourselves and with the third party now before the party starts.

    Who gets to refinance?

    Either party to a tenant in common could take a loan based on their interest in the property. But that means both are stuck with a lien if the person who takes out the loan doesn’t repay it. That stinks…but it’s the way it works.
    One way to protect against this calamity is to buy the place using an LLC. I mentioned this option above. This is a different form of ownership than a tenant in common. This arrangement makes it very hard for one party to mortgage the property without all the other co-owners’ consent.

    Other questions that must be answered.

    • What happens if you one of you wants to cash out?
    • What happens if one of you passes away?
    • What happens if one of you losses her job?
    • What happens if one of you moves?
    • What happens if one of you doesn’t make the payments or fails to keep the house in order?

    If I bought a house with a friend, I’d make if any of the above happened, one partner would have the right to buy the other out. If that wasn’t possible, I’d want the right to sell it and divvy up the profits.

    As you can see, when you buy a property with a friend, there are a myriad of ways to get tangled up. If still want to go ahead, I would absolutely get an attorney to provide guidance on what type of arrangement to use. I’d also use the attorney to draft up the agreement and I’d make sure that the attorney has plenty of experience in such arrangements. There is just too many ways for problems to be created and your best bet is to have a professional put this together for you.

    Do you have any war stories about buying property with a friend? Did anything good come out of it?

    SEE ALSO: Americans Are Rekindling Their Dangerous Love For Credit

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    Judge Judy

    Judy Sheindlin, better known to TV watchers as “Judge Judy,” has picked up a duplex penthouse co-op at 14 Sutton Place South in Midtown East for $8.5 million, according to city property records filed today.

    The four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom unit features two dining rooms, a library and a wine cellar that holds up to 900 bottles. The 14-story, Rosario Candela-designed building near East 56th Street has 93 units and a rooftop terrace.

    The apartment came on the market for $9.75 million in February, listed with Stribling & Associates broker Linda Maloney.

    Seller Paul Shiverick, an associate at New York-based hedge fund Seminole Capital Partners, and his family were looking to downsize, Maloney said.

    Deborah Grubman of the Corcoran Group represented Sheindlin in the sale. She could not be immediately reached for comment.

    Sheindlin and her husband, Gerald, who property records show mainly reside in Naples, Fla., sold a penthouse at the nearby 60 Sutton Place for $2.25 million in 2010. In June, they sold a pied-à-terre co-op at the Sherry-Netherland hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street for $8.5 million, as previously reported.

    More from The Real Deal:

    1. Manhattan’s top 10 priciest homes by square foot: PHOTOS
    2. That was quick! Kushner, CIM score $150M for 200 Lafayette 
    3. Private jets gain traction with NYC’s real estate elite

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    mansion gates drivewayOff-market deals, known as “whisper listings,” have always been a fixture of the high-end market. But now whisper listings are becoming increasingly commonplace at all price points.

    In the past, properties with price tags in the tens of millions would be quietly shopped around, fomenting a mixture of excitement, urgency and exclusivity. Now brokers are using the approach to sell properties that cost below $1 million.

    “Sellers feel cocky. Sellers feel like they have the ball,” Brian Lewis, an associate broker at Halstead Property, told the New York Times. In the last six months, Lewis has taken on seven whisper listings from clients that don’t want to put their homes on the market, but who are willing to hear offers.

    Lewis’ off-market properties include a two-bedroom on the Upper West Side seeking around $1.295 million and a downtown loft asking $12 million. “In an improving economy with no inventory, they have the asset people want.”

    And in a market with such tight inventory that open houses turn into flash mobs, the practice is expected to grow.

    “There’s more of it now than ever before,” said CORE CEO Shaun Osher, who admitted to having at least 50 off-market properties stowed away on his computer. “We as brokers know everything is always for sale at a price.” [NYT]

    More from The Real Deal:

    1. “Gentlemen, start your engines!” NASCAR star buys $14.3M Superior Ink pad 
    2. Kaufman CEO claims he lost $2M in movie swindle
    3. Move over, artisanal pickle shops! National retailers coming to Brooklyn 

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    "Open floor plans" is the newest buzz phrase for wealthy real estate buyers.

    A new survey from real estate franchise Coldwell Banker Previews International and research firm Luxury Institute asked 300 Americans with an annual income of more than $250,000 about their real estate shopping habits. 

    In response to a question about the most important residential amenities, 39% said a home with an open floor plan was more important to them than it was three years ago, and 32% said a fully automated home that they could control via remote or voice activation was more important.

    Of less importance to today's wealthy buyers were tennis courts, safe rooms , and multiple garages:

    real estate buzz words chart

    Here are a few other interesting points from the study:

    • Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed own two or more homes. Only 6% own another home outside of the U.S.

    • The average purchase price for wealthy consumers' most recent residential property was $1.6 million.

    • The most important factor when purchasing a home was by far its location, with 70% of respondents saying it was the most important factor in their last real estate purchase.

    • Younger buyers are driving the luxury real estate market: Forty-three percent of Americans aged 21 to 55 with a household income of $250,000 are considering another residential property in the next year, and spent almost twice the amount on homes than those aged 55+ ($2.1 million compared to $1.1 million).

    Check out the full study here.

    SEE ALSO: Tour The Most Expensive Mansion For Sale In America

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    Screen Shot 2013 09 23 at 5.15.36 PMIt’s one of the most exclusive homes in America, and also one of the most impressive.

    The fortress like entrance to this megahome only helps build anticipation for what lies beyond the front security gates.

    CNBC cameras were granted exclusive access to tour this luxury compound, but for privacy and security reasons, we can’t reveal the owner or the exact location in Los Angeles.

    What we can tell you, will blow your mind. It's a 42,000 square-foot home that includes five buildings, 28 bedrooms, 36 bathrooms and one pretty amazing infinity pool with panoramic views of Los Angeles. And you probably don't ever need to worry about finding a parking spot in the home's 24-car-garage.

    The designer of the house, Sue Firestone, told CNBC that the owner spared no expense.

    "This bathroom alone, I don't even want to guess how many millions of dollars just this bathroom cost," said Firestone. One of the bedrooms has a one-of-a-kind carpet with its own copyright so no one else can replicate the design.

    A representative of the owner tells CNBC the home is used once or twice a year, and while it is not officially for sale, the mysterious owner recently declined an offer of $150 million.

    Go inside this super-secret LA megahome in CNBC's new prime time series"Secret Lives of the Super Rich" premiering Wed., Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET.

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    77 park avenue

    Superintendents of Manhattan condominium buildings have long enjoyed special treatment from Time Warner Cable, in a quid pro quo agreement where the supers get free or discounted cable in exchange for full co-operation with the cable company. But in recent years, Time Warner has moved to put these tacit agreements on paper, and has even asked superintendents to spy on residents.

    Tom Hogan, the longtime superintendent of 77 Park Avenue, had enjoyed a big discount on his cable bill for over a decade, and knew that he was expected to give repair crews access when necessary, call the company when disputes arose and perform many other mundane tasks. But a few months ago, he received his first contract from Time Warner in writing.

    The agreement asked him to spy on condo owners and ensure that no one was stealing cable, he told the New York Times. It also demanded that he allow Time Warner employees into the building to promote new products.

    “I looked at this and I thought, ‘This looks like double dipping,’” Hogan told the Times. He refused to sign the contract, and his cable was promptly cut off.

    Ziggy Chau, a spokesperson for Time Warner Cable told the newspaper the arrangement was commonplace in the industry and served to benefit the customer.

    “The people in these programs, they’re not going to do it for free. We’re building a good relationship,” Chau said.

    But William Rusch, the condo board president at 77 Park Avenue, said that the agreement was “blurring the line of responsibility. You’re an employee of 77 Park Avenue Condominium, yet you’re being asked to do all these things for another entity,” Rusch told the Times. [NYT]

    More from The Real Deal:

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    Gianni Versace Mansion miami ocean drive

    Jordache Enterprises mogul Joe Nakash is considering a plan to convert the former Versace mansion, which it acquired at auction for $41.5 million last week, into a high-end retail location, The Real Deal has learned.

    The revelation follows Nakash’s announcement to reporters on the mansion’s steps following the auction; namely, that his family would seek to license the Versace name to be able to turn the storied property into a Versace hotel.

    Jordache, which acquired the mansion at a Sept. 17 auction through an affiliate called VM South Beach, could use the property as a hotel as an interim move before bringing in a retailer like Apple or Victoria’s Secret, according to Jon Bennett, director of real estate at Nakash Holdings in New York.

    “I think this could be an incredible retail flag location,” Bennett told TRD.

    The Nakash family continues to explore the idea to open up the mansion in combination with their adjacent Hotel Victor, which has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation and now operates under the name Thompson Ocean Drive.

    The firm, in a partnership with New York investor Eli Gindi, beat out rival real estate mogul Donald Trump after his son Eric made a final bid of $41 million.

    The 23,000-square-foot, 10-bedroom mansion at 1116 Ocean Drive, originally known as Casa Casuarina, was first listed for $125 million, but then saw the price drop to $75 million.

    Lyle Stern, president of the Koniver Stern retail brokerage, said converting the mansion into a retail location could work as long as the right kind of tenant was brought to the site, respecting the historical nature of the mansion and the outlying Art Deco district.

    “It all depends on how it is introduced into the building,” he said.

    Residents and tourists pack an Apple store on South Beach’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, Lincoln Road.

    The 1930 mansion was sent to the auction block by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Laurel Isikoff in July after telecom mogul Peter Loftin foreclosed on the debt. The Nakash family were the chief creditors.

    Judge Isikoff approved the sale last week, as TRD previously reported.

    More from The Real Deal:

    1. NYC commercial brokerages miffed about direct $167M deal
    2. The Closing: Robert Lapidus on summering with Jay-Z and growing up a “wise-ass” 
    3. Developers eye deals with churches as land prices rise

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    wahlberg house

    Mark Walhlberg has finally sold his Beverly Hills mansion, which has been on and off the real estate market since 2008.

    It sold for $12.995 million, a million dollars under the asking price at which he last listed it two years ago, according to The Los Angeles Times.

    The home looks like a total paradise, with numerous waterfalls flowing into a freeform pool, a sports court and a putting green.

    Thanks to Richard Horn/Negative Altitude Photography for sharing photos of the property.

    The home sits on 1.7 acres of land

    All photos courtesy of Richard Horn/Negative Altitude Photography

    It has a pool with waterfalls

    All photos courtesy of Richard Horn/Negative Altitude Photography

    And a grotto, just like the Playboy Mansion

    All photos courtesy of Richard Horn/Negative Altitude Photography

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Roman Abramovich fifth avenue new york city penthouse $75 millionRussian billionaire Roman Abramovich is reportedly buying a big chunk of a gorgeous Fifth Avenue mansion, and is on his way to owning the entire building.

    Abramovich is in contract to buy three of the five apartments in the building at 828 Fifth Avenue from the family of late British real estate developer Howard Ronson for $75 million, reports Jennifer Gould Keil at The New York Post. 

    If the deal closes at that price, it would soar past the current $54 million record for a co-op in the city, according to The Real Deal.

    He's also reportedly in talks with other owners in the building to buy out their co-ops as well, and wants to restore the mansion to its former glory, reports Julie Strickland at the New York Observer.

    The late owner Ronson dreamed of buying up all of the building's apartments to recreate the single-family mansion that once stood there. He passed away in 2007, and his family put his holdings in the building on the market for $72 million, which included the penthouse, a triplex, and a duplex apartment.

    The eight-bedroom co-op is an interesting mix of classic and modern with tall ceilings and eight bedrooms. There's even a rooftop terrace that looks out over Central Park.

    The Manhattan townhouse sits directly across from Central Park Zoo.

    It's currently divided up into five units. Abramovich is in contract to buy three.

    He's hoping to buy the other two and create a single-family mansion.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Helicopter Mansion Connecticut

    Ivano Panetti, an investor at private equity firm Mercurio Capital, and his wife Cinzia are selling their Connecticut estate for $3.7 million, says the WSJ.

    And the coolest thing about it — at least in our opinion — is that the property is helicopter landing ready.

    Sure, five bedrooms, a pool, and 8.25 acres straddling the New York/Connecticut border is cool.

    But that just can't match being able to land your wings in your back yard.

    Nicole Steel of Realty Guild Incorporated has the listing.

    Here's the entire estate, birds eye view.

    This is where you park your heli.

    Now that that's out of the way, here's the house/front yard.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    East Sixth HinsdaleA historic building really can take you back in time. And living in one can feel like a trip to a different era.

    Our friends at property search site shared these with us 16 Victorian-style homes, all currently for sale. They were all built before 1900, and have some pretty incredible original details. 

    With features like intricate woodwork, vaulted ceilings, and detached carriage houses, these mansions have something to offer the history nerd in all of us. 

    This Victorian has a handmade door and some modern updates.

    This restored Queen Anne Victorian may date back to 1896, but its modern kitchen, central heating, and plumbing systems make it a practical home for this century. The four-bedroom estate features period wallpaper, heavy doors, and a half-acre yard that's perfect for hosting large gatherings.

    Address: 700 S. Juniper Street, Escondido, Calif.

    Price: $1,399,000

    Explore for hours on this mansion's 10-acre lot.

    This house's six bedrooms feature richly-colored walls and intricate wood detailing. The estate sits on 10 acres of land, complete with a fountain, pond, and custom pool.  

    Address: 310 Ball Park Loop, Denison, Texas

    Price: $1,200,000

    This charming house used to belong to the mayor.

    Built for the first mayor of this small Maryland town, this 1890s estate lies on two lots and includes a 1,600 square foot carriage house now used as a four-car garage. 

    Address: 11018 Kenilworth Ave., Garrett Park, Md.

    Price: $2,195,00

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    dvd depot 8th ave

    Thor Equities has made another grab along Eighth Avenue, paying more than $12 million for a retail condominium between 45th and 46th streets.

    The two-story, 7,000-square-foot retail property at 725 Eighth Avenue includes a basement, ground floor, second level and two mezzanines.

    The seller, 725 Eighth Avenue Realty,  owned the building for more than a decade before putting it on the market for $13 million.

    The building’s current tenant DVD Depot, which has sold adult films from the spot for more than ten years, signifies the area’s changing face. Seedy video show and fast food outlets around the neighborhood are increasingly giving way to trendy, upscale tenants.

    “Eighth Avenue is a very funny street,” Aaron Gavios, chief executive of Square Foot Realty, which represented 725 Eighth Avenue Realty in the building’s sale, told Crain’s. “Porn stores are on their way out and almost gone. Spaces are getting to be priced higher and higher.”

    Previously, Joe Sitt’s Thor spent $65 million on the retail space at the Milford Plaza Hotel at 700 Eighth Avenue.

    A spokesperson for Thor declined to comment to Crain’s.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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