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The latest news on Real Estate from Business Insider

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    A Portuguese team has crafted a sleek pre-fabricated house that takes just three days to construct, from laying the foundation to moving in the furniture. The 860-square-foot structure is a marvel of minimal contemporary design, made with reinforced concrete, wood, slate, and glass and designed to be a simple, speedy solution to housing demands. Architect Samuel Gonçalves of the SAAS studio is behind the project.

    "It's an evolutionary system," the design firm explains. Each section of the home (or "Gomo") is built as an individual module, then transported to the construction site on a truck bed and offloaded for final assembly. Before even leaving the factory, though, the module is fully decked out with all the interior and exterior components it needs. That includes furnishings, insulation systems, water and electricity installations, and even the fixed furniture pieces. Stick the pieces together on-site, and there you go: instant house.

    See more of the house's design, below.

    SEE ALSO: 10 of the most extravagant Airbnbs you can still book for the Super Bowl

    DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's lifestyle page on Facebook!

    The different modules, or "Gomos", are all constructed and pre-finished in the factory.

    When pieced together, the modules create a simple, streamlined house of adaptable design.

    The construction can be completed in just three days, including laying the foundation.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Japan stimulus

    Amidst signs that the tepid rebound in prices is stalling, China’s central bank has announced further measures designed to support its housing market.

    Overnight the PBOC said that it will allow lenders to cut the minimum mortgage down payment for first-home buyers from 25% to 20%, taking the required level to the lowest level ever.

    Alongside the sweetener delivered to first-time buyers, the PBOC also lowered the minimum down payment for those looking to purchase a second home, dropping the rate by 10 percentage points to 30%.

    “The eased requirements will be for buyers in areas without the purchase restrictions that are applied in some of the biggest metropolitan areas such as Beijing and Shanghai,” the bank said in a statement.

    The relaxed restrictions on home purchases, in conjunction with six interest rate cuts delivered by the bank since November 2014, is the latest attempt to clear mounting stockpiles of unsold property in smaller Chinese cities, something that has pressure property prices and led to a sharp slowdown in the nation’s construction sector.

    As the chart from CBA reveals below, property prices in smaller Chinese cities have grossly under performed those in larger cities over the past year.

    CBA China house price change by tier dec 2015

    By median value, house prices rose by 1.4% in large tier one cities in December, outpacing a gain of 0.3% for smaller tier two cities and flat growth in smaller tier three and four cities.

    “This is clearly in line with the ‘destocking’ theme in the property market,” Zhou Hao, an analyst with Commerzbank AG in Singapore told Bloomberg. “We believe that the relaxation of mortgage policy will somewhat help accelerate the destocking process in the lower-tier cities.”

    According to data recently released by the China’s National Bureau of Statistics, unsold home inventories across the nation hit a record 686.3 million square meters as at the end of October, up 17.8% on the levels of a year earlier.

    The chart below from Deutsche Bank reveals the ballooning level of unsold housing inventorywithin the nation over the past two years.

    China unsold property inventory DB Jan 2016

    The growing property glut has also created tough conditions for Chinese property developers.

    According to the state-run People’s Daily newspaper, 15 Chinese real estate companies projected a loss for 2015, accounting for nearly 30% of developers that have already released their preliminary earnings reports.

    Alongside the 15 firms that reported an operating loss, 23 indicated that their profitability had declined compared to a year earlier.

    The deterioration in profitability followed a sharp deceleration in Chinese real estate investment in 2015. It grew by just 1%, well below the 10.5% pace seen a year earlier. 

    While some believe that the relaxation of rules will help clear mounting inventories, not everyone shares that view. 

    “Most of the home glut, which the government aims to clear, is in small cities. But buyers in small cities don’t typically use high mortgage leverage,” Du Jinsong, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Credit Suisse Group told Bloomberg.

    You can read more here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    In the spirit of Fat Tuesday excess, we ranked America’s most sinful cities and their saintly counterparts. We crafted our list by using the seven deadly sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and vanity, or pride.

    For each sin we looked at the characteristics. For instance, for lust we measured how many adult entertainment venues a city had per resident, and for sloth, we used surveys about exercise. Finally, we aggregated the data from all sins to create our top list of sin cities and saintly sanctuaries.

    So, whether you want to indulge in forbidden pleasures or do good and avoid temptation, we crunched the numbers for you. Here's where you are most and least likely to be in good company, either indulging or avoiding the seven deadly sins.

    unnamed (4)

    New Orleans still reigns as king of Mardi Gras. With nearly three times the national rate of adult entertainment establishments and twice the number gambling establishments per household, it scores highly in lust and greed.

    Additionally, above average rates of smoking, binge- and heavy-drinking and obesity, as well as high incidents of violent crime make the Crescent City a great place for those looking to explore gluttony and wrath.

    Provo-Orem, and Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, on the other hand, are the places to be if you want nothing to do with pre-Ash Wednesday festivities. People in these cities were more likely to have reported doing some exercise recently.

    They also have no gambling establishments and a population that claims to donate to charitable causes at more than twice the national rate, making them the least greedy cities in the comparison.

    Where You Can Be Vain Without Shame
    If vanity or pride is your vice of choice, head to the Golden State, where all of the top five cites in this category can be found. Orange County, Calif. tops the list with more than four times the national number of plastic surgeon offices per household.

    Los Angeles is a close second, with 3.3 times the national number of plastic surgeon offices per household. Both cities also have around twice as many beauty and tanning salons as the national per household rate. Other cities cracking the top ten most prideful are Austin and Salt Lake City.

    They have your narcissistic needs covered with above average rates of beauty salons, tanning salons and plastic surgeon offices.

    unnamed (6)

    Where You Can Sloth Around All Day
    Sloths, take note (hands free, of course); McAllen, Texas, has the highest percentage of people who report doing no exercise over a 30-day period at 36.6% compared with 23% nationally.

    Boulder and Fort Collins, Colo., report the lowest proportion of residents who don’t exercise at 9.2% and 12.4%, respectively.

    unnamed (7)

    Where Greed Is Good
    Lastly for the greedy among us, Billings, Mont., offers more than 54 times the national average number of casinos per household, shooting it to the top of our list.

    Of the other top 10 cities, in addition to having plenty of casinos, Atlantic City residents claimed the lowest amount of charitable contributions on their itemized tax filings in 2013, keeping them high on our greedy list.

    You won’t find a single race track or casino in Provo, on the hand, and residents claim to donate nearly 10 percent of their income to charitable causes, making them the least greedy in our comparison.

    unnamed (8)

    To find out where are America's most sinful and saintly places to live are for indulging in each of the seven deadly sins, check out the full report and methodology here.

    SEE ALSO: Being within a mile of Whole Foods or Trader Joe's will make your house more valuable

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A 21-year-old who looks exactly like Taylor Swift shut down the people who body-shamed her

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    ukrainian village

    If you're in the market for a home, you may want to consider Ukrainian Village — a subdued Chicago neighborhood adorned with brick and stone housing from the late 19th century.

    Real estate website Redfin, which releases an annual list of the hottest neighborhoods nationwide, recently named it 2016's hottest neighborhood.

    What makes this spot so great?

    We asked Steve Meyer, a Redfin real estate agent located in Chicago.

    "While surrounded by better-known neighbors, Ukrainian Village is becoming a destination in its own right," Meyer tells Business Insider. "It has significant architecture, including some beautiful Ukrainian Orthodox churches. The main strip, Chicago Avenue, is also developing commercially — it's becoming popular for its nightlife and restaurant scene, and that wasn't the case five years ago."

    Some of the popular restaurants and bars Meyer mentions include Lockdown Bar and Grill, Black Dog Gelato, and Bar Deville.

    Untitled 2The "better-known neighbors" that Meyer's refers to are Wicker Park and Bucktown, two of Chicago's fastest growing neighborhoods over the past decade. Ukrainian Village is also close to the West Loop, an area that gained traction when Google decided to build a new campus there.

    While Ukrainian Village is competing with these hot spots, it's generally more affordable and not as densely populated, Meyer says, which gives it a leg up.

    The 2015 median sales price for homes in the neighborhood was $472,000, and houses are typically on the market for 22 days, Redfin found.

    Another major appeal of the neighborhood is its character and charm, which homebuyers are starting to prioritize more and more, Redfin noted in its report.

    Much of Ukrainian Village is landmarked, which is why so many late 19th century brick flats and workers' cottages have been preserved.

    Untitled 3"You'll find a lot of all-brick buildings where there are two residences, one on top of the other," explains Meyer. "This architectural style takes advantage of Chicago's long, narrow lots, and has become iconic not just for Ukrainian Village, but for the entire city.

    "Because of the historical designation, developers in the area mostly choose to gut the interior of these buildings to create a single family home. This strategy can have a strong return on investment while maintaining the historic façade of the neighborhood."

    Interested in learning more? Check out Ukrainian Village real estate trends and more listings on Redfin.

    SEE ALSO: Real-estate experts say these will be the 10 hottest US neighborhoods in 2016

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We tried the ‘Elon Musk food challenge' and lived off $2 a day for a month

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    432 park ave

    432 Park, the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere, saw its first officially recorded sale in January, when a 35th-floor apartment changed hands for $18 million.

    But now, as Curbed NY reports, that very same unit has come onto the rental market, priced at an astounding $60,000 per month.

    Situated just south of Central Park, the 96-story building was designed by architect Rafael Viñoly with CIM Group and Macklowe Properties. It has an unbeatable view and a whole host of amenities: private restaurant, outdoor garden, indoor swimming pool, billiards room, and more.

    The apartment now up for rent is a three-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot corner unit with two master bedrooms and a private elevator. And those views.


    SEE ALSO: Go inside a bonkers $195 million Florida mansion that's the second-most expensive home for sale in the US

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    432 Park contains 104 apartments, starting at $7 million a pop.

    Source: Business Insider

    The view from 432 Park just can't be beat, as it rises above all other buildings in the city.

    Here's a photo of the interior of the corner unit in question, located on the 35th floor. This is the first time we've seen actual images (not just renderings) from within the building.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    oprah seamair

    Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is apparently doubling down on her real estate empire. She recently picked up a $28.85 million 23-acre property in the heart of Montecito, a ritzy seaside town just south of Santa Barbara, California. She already happens to own an $85 million estate a few miles away.

    The new property — called Seamair Farm — is a sprawling, ranch-style setup with full equestrian facilities. There's an avocado orchard, a fish pond, a pool, and a large, flat lawn. In fact, the property is one of the largest estates in Montecito.

     The OWN magnate is on something of a buying spree; she just snagged a $14 million Telluride home in December, too.

    Check out her new California digs, below.

    SEE ALSO: Go inside a bonkers $195 million Florida mansion that's the second-most expensive home for sale in the US

    DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's lifestyle page on Facebook!

    The 23-acre Montecito hideaway is just a few miles away from the Pacific coast and the picturesque city of Santa Barbara.

    Seamair Farm boasts fully equipped horse facilities, including a paddock and stables.

    The simple, single-level ranch-style house was designed by renowned California architect Cliff May, who is remembered for popularizing the ranch style in the 1930s. It's a 4,750-square-foot four-bedroom with four fireplaces.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    There are few buildings more iconic in New York City than the classic brownstone, a type of building that emerged in the 1830s, when a new urban middle class of New Yorkers sought a home that looked fancier than brick and was more durable than wood.

    Brownstone, which is a type of sandstone that gets its dark brown color from high concentrations of iron, was readily available from New Jersey and Connecticut quarries, making it a convenient option for new construction. The stone shipped easily to New York via barges, and then the rest is history. Today, it’s “an iconic and beautiful type of home in New York,” said Brown Harris Stevens broker Lee Solomon. It’s also one of the most expensive.

    Besides the $1 million or more you’ll fork over for a brownstone, as with most older buildings, they also come with their own set of quirks and unexpected expenses. We spoke to Solomon, who has represented many Brooklyn brownstone properties; Angela Tiffin, the author of theBrownstone Cyclone blog, which chronicles her own brownstone renovation; and Ben Herzog, principal at the brownstone-savvy firm Ben Herzog Architecture, about the hidden costs buyers should know about ahead of time.

    SEE ALSO: Real-estate experts say these will be the 10 hottest US neighborhoods in 2016

    The basics

    Though it may seem obvious, a brownstone is, yes, a house, and as such, the costs attendant to owning one are far more than what co-op and condo buyers inherit. For starters, there are utilities—electricity, heat, water, snow and garbage removal, the works. Basically, anything to do with keeping your home up and running falls on your shoulders.

    “With condos or co-ops, your monthly costs are clear,” says Solomon. “With brownstones, the costs are not on paper, but you need a reserve if something comes up.” This could be anything from a $200 to a $5,000 extra cost, she says. (Some brownstone owners recommend a reserve of as much as $10,000.) As for utilities, it’ll depend on your brownstone’s energy efficiency, your personal usage, and if there are tenants occupying other floors. Last year Tiffin and her husband averaged about $110/month for oil, $30/month for water, $17/month for gas, and $150/month for electric on their two-family brownstone. They pay the full oil and water bills, and split gas and electricity with their downstairs rental tenants. 

    Facade maintenance

    A brownstone is nothing without its facade. And although they sure look lovely, “brownstone is a horrible building material,” says Herzog. It's porous and flakes easily due to environmental factors like moisture. If the stone starts deteriorating, it’s better to take care of it immediately rather than wait until the entire facade needs to be replaced. Brownstone specialists can repair areas of the facade by cleaning, patching or replacing the stone. A full-on facade replacement for a three or four-story townhouse can cost anywhere from $70,000 up to six figures, according to Herzog.

    Although brownstones were repaired with actual brownstone (often brown sandstone quarried from Connecticut) for many decades, today most are repaired with brown cement-based masonry. You’ll need an expert with brownstone experience to choose the proper color. If there are intricate architectural details carved into the facade, the expert will have to sculpt those back into the proper shape, too—brownstones with lots of intricate details are going to be more expensive to restore, Herzog says.

    Facade maintenance is more than just brownstone upkeep. “Re-brownstoning” the stoop of the home costs about $15,000, he says. Also, custom cast-iron work can be “really, really expensive”—several thousands of dollars to repair short sections, or to find matching, custom-made newels, balustrades and rails.

    Interior upgrades and changes

    Brownstones are old buildings. That means most buyers look to renovate or upgrade them upon moving in, but even more than the typical reno, these projects can be a minefield of unexpected costs. Changes will also require an inspection by the Department of Buildings: “The DOB is [going to go] around your old house, looking at every detail that is not up to code because it was never renovated, and all the things you have to change,” Tiffin says. A significant cost, she and her husband found, would be the expediter—the middle-man that files changes with the Department of Buildings. The expediter’s cost varies depending on how much work needs to be done with the DOB; Tiffin and her husband spent about $9,000.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    axa equitable building calpers

    Calpers has purchased a New York office tower for $1.9 billion, in one of the biggest real estate investments in its history, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported on Tuesday.

    Calpers confirmed to Reuters that it had purchased 787 Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan but did not disclose the purchase price.

    The purchase of the 50-story AXA Equitable Center comes as the largest U.S. pension focuses on buying real estate that already generated revenue rather than speculative development deals, the paper said.

    The deal amounts to 7 percent of Calpers' real estate portfolio, it reported.

    (Reporting by Robin Respaut and Sruthi Shankar; editing by Rodney Joyce)

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    For $84.5 million, you could be the proud owner of an opulent Manhattan townhouse located just half a block from Central Park.

    The Beaux-Arts-style mansion is fitted to the nines with everything you might wish for, including a plunge pool, a red Hermés leather-covered billiards room, and a special closet just for your furs. 

    Owned since 2007 by real-estate developer Keith Rubenstein of Somerset Partners, it's been extensively remodeled and decorated at the direction of designer William T. Georgis.

    The original architect of the building, built in 1903, was John H. Duncan, the mind behind Grant's Tomb.

    Listed with Adam Modlin of The Modlin Group, it's currently the fourth-most-expensive listing in New York City.

    Inside, you'll find six bedrooms, six floors, and 15,000 square feet of prime Manhattan property.

    SEE ALSO: You can live in the Western Hemisphere's tallest apartment building for just $60,000 a month

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    Located at 8 East 62nd Street, the townhouse is in a prime Upper East Side location: half a block from Central Park, and just a few blocks north of the famous Bergdorf Goodman department store and all of 5th Avenue's luxury shopping.

    The decor within is unapologetically lavish. An original mosaic floor and ornate fireplace outfit the entrance hall.

    The modern kitchen has marble counters and a wood-burning fireplace to keep things cozy.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Flint Michigan

    The housing market may be fairly strong, but some cities have a lot of properties sitting empty.

    According to RealtyTrac, a real-estate research firm, 1.6% of the 84 million residential properties in the US are empty.

    While this is a decrease from last year, some markets are running well over double the national average.

    We've gone over RealtyTrac's data and found the 12 housing markets that have a vacancy rate of at least 3%.

    Nearly all of the markets are in the Midwest or the South, with Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan having two apiece.

    Check out the list below along with the raw number of vacant homes in each market and the total number of residential properties.

    12. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana

    Number of Vacant Homes: 18,142

    Total Residential Properties: 613,440

    Vacancy Rate: 3.0%


    Source: RealtyTrac

    11. South Bend-Mishawaka, Indiana-Michigan

    Number of Vacant Homes: 3,304

    Total Residential Properties: 106,192

    Vacancy Rate: 3.1%


    Source: RealtyTrac

    10. Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama

    Number of Vacant Homes: 10,909

    Total Residential Properties: 342,922

    Vacancy Rate: 3.2%


    Source: RealtyTrac

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Latch smart lockWe’re used to buying smart home devices for our own personal use, but this new kind of smart lock won’t be available to individual consumers.

    Instead, Latch is making its first smart door lock available to real estate developers, so that apartments will come fully equipped with the high-tech entry system. Because Latch is a smart lock, there are no keys required; the lock is operated by passcode and smartphone integrations.

    For most city-dwellers and apartment-renters, installing your own high-tech smart lock is out of the question, because your landlord needs to be able to access your apartment, too. That’s why Latch is targeting luxury apartment buildings in order to give tenants access to the lock through their standard rental agreement. Latch is even going so far as to discourage renters from passing out keys, unless a tenant insists. Latch can open with a traditional key, but its creators stress the passcode as the primary operation for locking and locking the door. Tenants will be able to issue temporary passcodes to visitors like dog-walkers and family members. And as with other smart locks, Latch features setting options that will unlock the door as soon as your smart phone is within range.

    Some of the obvious concerns with Latch-equipped apartments have to do with privacy and security. Theoretically, building owners and managers would be able to access Latch’s detailed logs of door activity, including each time a specific Latch device is opened or closed. Owners of large apartment buildings have the benefit of a sort of attendance log in case incidents or emergencies take place, but renters have little choice about the tracking of their presence within Latch apartments. Latch door locks also feature hidden cameras, which building staff are more likely to have access to than tenants.

    So far, Latch has raised a total of $16 million in funding to bring its first smart lock to market. Much of that funding came from real estate partners who have invested in Latch in order to secure early or exclusive access rights to the system. Two buildings in Manhattan are already slated to implement Latch in the 435 units shared between them. In the future, Latch is considering marketing its product to individual consumers, although that’s not a part of their early business model. When Latch does make it to market for building-wide installation, its cost is expected to land somewhere in the $1,000 range.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    house sold sign

    House hunting can be frustrating.

    Trying to find the right neighborhood, number of bedrooms and price can be difficult. This process can be especially difficult if there simply aren't a lot of places available.

    According to RealtyTrac, a real estate research firm, there are some cities "running out of room."

    There cities are squeezed for supply, and running under the national average of 1.6% of residential properties vacant.

    We've combed through RealtyTrac data and identified the 12 housing markets in which less than 0.5% of all properties are empty.

    Nearly half of these markets are in California's red hot housing market, where rents and prices are skyrocketing and supply can't keep up with demand.

    Check out the full list below.

    12. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA

    Vacant Properties: 496

    Total Residential Properties: 113,633

    Vacancy Rate: 0.4%

    11. York-Hanover, PA

    Vacant Properties: 629

    Total Residential Properties: 145,070

    Vacancy Rate: 0.4%

    10. Madison, WI

    Vacant Properties: 769

    Total Residential Properties: 190,913

    Vacancy Rate: 0.4%

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    In the 10 years since Zillow rose from a twinkle in co-founders Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink’s eyes to an online real estate powerhouse, home-loving celebrities have been powering through some real estate of their own.

    These are the the celebrities who have bought and sold the most in the last decade. 

    SEE ALSO: Oprah just bought another Southern California home for nearly $29 million

    Oprah Winfrey

    America’s favorite billionaire owns homes all over the country, from Chicago to Nashville to Hawaii. She’s even bought a 2-bedroom in a small Indiana town where she once owned a whole farm.

    Recently, the television mogul paid $14 million for a high-tech mansion in the box-canyon ski town of Telluride — complete with a seven-person hot tub and a “wine mine” — and $28.85 million at a recent auction for this sprawling horse farm in Montecito.

    Ellen DeGeneres

    Beloved comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres has been buying copious numbers of homes since before she married Portia de Rossi. “I’ve never bought to sell. I always say: ‘This is it. I’m never moving.’ People laugh at me now,” she told The New York Times.

    DeGeneres bought this Malibu home from fellow house-flipper Brad Pitt.

    She also spent $26.5 million on an acreage in Montecito with ocean views.

    A couple of years ago, she went on a streak of owning homes for just 6 months each, including the famed Brody House in Los Angeles.


    Nicolas Cage

    “Other people own beachfront property; I have ghost-front property,” actor Nicolas Cage said of owning the most haunted mansion in New Orleans, the Lalaurie House.

    Not that he limits himself to ghosts. Among the dozen-plus places he’s called home over the past decade are a castle in Bath, England, and a castle-looking home in Rhode Island, which he sold at a 60 percent loss.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    san francisco row houses

    You hear of the occasional Airbnb guest refusing to leave a rental.

    But what happens when that guest is a neighbor you've been feuding with for years?

    The San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Said uncovered what the paper labeled "the most bizarre, outrageous Airbnb feud story you'll ever read."

    And it is.

    A San Francisco woman, Michelle Huang, was the landlord of a two-bedroom apartment in a "tenancy-in-common" building.

    Such properties aren't like condos where everyone owns a unit privately. Instead, the people living in a unit split ownership of the entire building, with the size of their stakes based on the size of the unit they live in. All of their names go on the building title.

    Another neighbor and co-owner of the building, Sandeep Hingorani, lives in the top-floor studio — and for the past 10 months he has also rented Huang's unit, despite her not wanting him to live there.

    The problems started when an Airbnb user, "Jim Tako," asked to rent Huang's apartment.

    The labyrinth of Airbnb regulations in San Francisco makes it harder to rent out your entire home for less than 30 days, so Huang — as many landlords have done — switched her Airbnb rentals so they'd last longer than one month.

    "Tako" rented the unit for 60 days in April and May 2015.

    Then a lawyer showed up and told Huang that the guest was asserting his tenant's right to convert the stay into a month-by-month rental — another byproduct of the city's tenant laws.

    That guest turned out to be Hingorani, the neighbor from the top floor, who had been fighting with Huang for years. He described Huang and her boyfriend as "bullies" to the San Francisco Chronicle.

    The city's rent board ruled in favor of Hingorani to stay, although it didn't comment on how Hingorani, his mother, and a friend came to stay in the unit in the first place, since it was supposed to be rented to a person with a totally different name.

    Now the three, who have lived in the unit for the past 10 months, have given notice that they're leaving — but they're saying that Huang basically forced them out by shutting off the electricity and making repairs without warning. The court battle is still ongoing between the parties.

    As one uninvolved neighbor who owns a piece of the building told the Chronicle, "It's a pox on both their houses."

    Airbnb, for its part, reminds hosts to always verify who they are renting to: "Unfortunate situations like this are rare and we are always working to improve. We provide tools so that our hosts can review and research their guests before they accept a reservation. You can read a person’s profile, look for their reviews. In addition, both hosts and guests have access to 24/7 service from our Trust and Safety Team," a spokespersono said.

    Read the full story here >>

    SEE ALSO: Inside the class and culture fight that's tearing San Francisco apart

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The 9 most sought-after Airbnb properties

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    alexander team miami

    Welcome to Miami, home of the fabulously beautiful and fabulously wealthy.

    Foreign buyers — many of them anonymous — have poured cash into Miami's real-estate market for years. Think mansions priced at over $20 million, condos pimped out with private rooftop pools, and spec houses with wild extras. Big-name architects like Renzo Piano, Rafael Viñoly, and Zaha Hadid are knee-deep in the Miami property game, turning the city's skyline into a feast of postmodern towers.

    A recent report from RealtyTrac noted that real-estate transactions in South Florida hit a record in 2015, closing 114,002 single-family home and condo sales.

    "It's a buyer's market," luxury real-estate broker Oren Alexander of Douglas Elliman told Business Insider. Alexander and his brother, Tal, are known for listing high-end properties in New York and Miami, including the $50 million penthouse at the top of Manhattan's Plaza Hotel.

    "There's no bigger transfer of wealth than from New York to Miami right now," Alexander said.

    But lately there's been talk of softening markets in New York and Miami. Some have said there has been a slower influx of foreign capital thanks to a weakened Brazilian real and Russian ruble. Meanwhile, stricter regulations on all-cash, anonymous real-estate purchases — a favorite of foreign investors — have been introduced, potentially throwing some cold water on the boom.

    Let Business Insider be your guide to some of the most noteworthy pieces of property in this beach paradise.

    SEE ALSO: Billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin is selling his Miami Beach penthouse and condo for $73 million

    DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's lifestyle page on Facebook!

    This stretch of Florida coast is bursting with high-end properties, from luxury condo developments to celebrity-owned estates. Each neighborhood has its own vibe, whether the urban landscape of downtown or the secluded getaways of Indian Creek.

    Market fluctuations don't change the fact that for many, the convenience and benefits of the Miami area just can't be beat, Alexander says. Celebrities and hedge funders have certainly caught on, fueling the continued development and constant sales.

    Let's start up north, at Sunny Isles Beach. The Ritz-Carlton Residences is a 52-story tower where a 51st-floor penthouse — with its own infinity pool, terrace, and five bedrooms — has already sold for upward of $21 million. About 60% of the other units are also spoken for, though the tower isn't scheduled to be complete until 2018.

    Take a tour »

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Erik Brynjolfsson TED"What do economists think about buying vs renting a house?" originally appeared as a question on Quora. Below we are republishing an answer from Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

    First, the right way to think of your asset portfolio is to include both liabilities and assets.

    Unless you plan to be homeless, you have a huge expected lifetime cost for housing. The neutral position is not to own zero housing, but to own the same amount of housing as you expect to consume. If you don't, you are in effect "shorting" housing and at risk if housing prices go up.

    Second, there's a huge tax benefit to housing which comes from the hidden "dividend" it pays. I'm not talking (just) about the (too) generous mortgage deduction, but rather the fact that you don't have to pay taxes on the implicit rent you earn on your house since its paid to yourself.

    A house generates enormous rental value each month — like a dividend. If you rent it to yourself, you take the money out of one pocket and pay it to the other one, and the IRS doesn't tax that. In contrast, if you earn money some other way and then use that money to pay rent, you probably also have to pay taxes. That can add up.

    Last but not least, owning a house gives you "residual rights of control" to do what you want with it and that kind of ownership creates psychic rewards for many people and it's also a kind of forced savings that can pay off over the long term. You can paint it, remodel, put in a garden, invest in custom appliances, etc.

    Owners also often tend to feel more attached to the community. Most mortgages require you to make a monthly payment and for many people, that ends up being their biggest source of savings. Investing in something that gets better over time is something many humans get a lot of value from, aside from the narrow financial effects.

    Erik Brynjolfsson is a professor at the MIT Sloan School and the director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. His TED talk laid out an optimistic vision for the future of economic growth, which he and Andrew McAfee described further in their best-selling book, "The Second Machine Age." You can keep up with his research via his website or Twitter: @erikbryn.

    SEE ALSO: Real-estate experts say these will be the 10 hottest US neighborhoods in 2016

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    Selling a home doesn’t happen overnight. To maximize your sale price, stand out from the competition and sell quickly, your home needs to go on the market in tip-top condition.

    You only get one chance to make a good first impression in real estate. Once your home’s listing goes live, the days on market start ticking.

    In the Internet age, with access to so much information, buyers will punish a seller whose home has been on the market for many months.  If you can’t make the effort to get your home in it’s best condition, hold off on listing it.

    Prepping the home rarely happens in one weekend. It takes time and thoughtful planning. If you intend to sell your home this spring, here are a few steps you need to take now.



    It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on a property inspection, but you need to know about your home’s condition. If there are issues — big or small — you need to address, it is better to know about them early so you can either remedy them prior to going to market or account for them with a lower listing price.

    The last thing you want is for the buyer to uncover flaws once they are under contract. You will get stuck paying more under those circumstances than it would cost you to address the issues now.


    As you prepare to sell, think of your home as an investment and start to see it through the eyes of potential buyers and the market. When you’re trying to sell your home, the less-is-more approach applies.

    Put away big furniture and personal items. Store or put away all the things you won’t be using until you move into your new home. In the kitchen, make space in the cabinets for items you will need to use daily, but will want to put away for showings.



    It’s common for sellers to make cosmetic improvements before they list. Kitchens and bathrooms sell your home. Plan to have the bathroom grout cleaned and have some parts of the house painted to give it a fresh look.

    Consider cleaning rugs, refinishing hardwood floors or painting kitchen cabinets. If you plan to list in the spring, you likely have a good local real estate agent on your side by now. Get their advice and ask for referrals to do the work. There are lots of inexpensive contractors who can help spruce up your home quickly.


    Today’s buyers have research in their DNA and will investigate all they can. Check with your local building department and ensure there are no outstanding issues with your home.

    Verify that property records reflect your home accurately, and prepare to remedy any discrepancy. Make sure your title report is clean, and talk about potential disclosure items with your agent. Banks won’t lend if there are outstanding issues, and you don’t want to jump through hoops at the eleventh hour. Researching now will keep you one step ahead of the buyers.

    The sale of your home is likely one of your biggest financial transactions. Get a real estate agent on your team early, and make a list of all the tasks you need to complete before listing this spring. Now is the time to have those discussions. Smart planning and a good strategy will ensure a quick, painless and profitable home sale.


    SEE ALSO: 9 home improvements you should always negotiate

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    Man Doing Yard Work

    Should you own a home? Unless you have 20 million bucks in the bank, in cash, you have no business buying a house.

    People think the only way to save money is to buy a house. Suzy Orman thinks you have no way to earn any real money for yourself, so she advises you to buy a house as the only way to get your money. You will get your home paid off when you are old. Who wants to wait until they are old to have money?

    A home is not an investment because it doesn't pay you every month. In fact, you have to pay it every month.

    That's why a house is not an asset, it's a liability. Nothing is a good deal if you have to feed it constantly.

    People ask, "Why would you pay rent when you could buy?" Because you can't leave. Who wants to go to jail for 30 years? You can be mobile and nimble if you rent. Mobility is a great thing in today's world. Why settle down? Invest the money in yourself or your business. Your money needs to be free!

    I have been investing in multi-family real estate for over 25 years. If you want a great opportunity to create income for yourself, realize that America is becoming a nation of renters.

    How many reasons do you need to buy multi-family real estate? Apartments offer high cash yield, build equity, give tax advantages and let you use leverage. A $400,000 purchase can be bought with 25% of the price allowing you to leverage $100,000 to control four times the value in physical property. Stocks or gold can't touch that!

    The house, much like a college education, has been fed to you as the American dream. Really, it's a middle class myth perpetuated by outdated thinking, politicians and mass media. Buying a house may have worked for previous generations but old ways of doing things aren't viable in 2016. We are not in the 1950s, things have changed and people refuse to adjust.

    A house is not an investment.

    I want to give you three tips to making true investments.

    1. Invest in yourself

    I do a weekly talk show called Young Hustlers where I talk to millennials about all things money, career and sales. I always emphasize the need to invest in yourself, no matter what your age. When I was 25 I made a $3,000 investment to buy a sales program for the purpose of becoming better at my job. Becoming a better you will never fail you.

    Related: How to Live Rent-Free While Building Your Business

    smile smiling millennial

    2. Focus on income

    Whether you have a house or not is irrelevant to how well you are or, will be, financially. So many people are concentrated on savings but their real problem is they just don't make enough money. I encourage the millennials on my Young Hustlers show to spend their energy on this one thing — getting their incomes up high enough where they can actually make a real investment.

    Related: Don't Make These 2 Mistakes With Your Cash On Hand

    3. Invest in something that pays you

    Only after you have enough income can you start to think about investing. As I mentioned earlier, buying a home to live in is not going to pay you. Whether it be multi-family real estate or something else, a true investment will not cost you money. There are so many real estate agents out there giving false information. A home needs to be fed, it won't feed you.

    If you start investing in yourself, focus on growing your income. Put that growing income into an investment that will pay you, then you will be living like the rich do, not like the middle class.

    Most Americans have been made to believe the myth that getting rich is almost impossible or not important. If you look at the world you will see that the only group of people that are safe are the rich. The rich didn't get rich "buying a house."


    Blame them, hate them, resent them, but they are safe and everyone else is at risk. They will be able to survive inflation, housing busts, tight credit, high unemployment rates and whatever else is thrown at them. They have investments that pay them.

    The middle class idea of just "being comfortable" is a risky venture in 2016. If your hope is in a house, you will be disappointed. I'm all for education, but how many people have gone to college and into massive debt and found themselves unemployed? How many of them are paying that debt back for 10, 20 and 30 years?

    Don't get caught in the idea that a house is your ticket to wealth. A house, along with a college education, has been fed to this country as the way to financial prosperity. It may have been true in the past, but today it's all a myth.

    Related: Is Life Insurance a Good Investment?

    SEE ALSO: This flowchart could help you decide whether to buy or rent a home

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    Ready to play fantasy real estate? Let's take a jaunt around the world to check out the most expensive homes you can buy in 30 different countries, from Argentina to the U.A.E. 

    Point2Homes, an international real estate listings database, compiled a list of the priciest properties in far-flung locations across the globe. From a full-scale palace in Morocco to a seaside getaway in Greece, these mansions don't come cheap — but they will wow your houseguests. 

    Take a look, below.

    SEE ALSO: Go inside a bonkers $195 million Florida mansion that's the second-most expensive home for sale in the US

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    ARGENTINA: This 11-bedroom Spanish colonial style villa on a 400-acre farm outside of Buenos Aires is a fully-realized estate, with tennis court, pool, and even a nine-hole golf course — not to mention the livestock — all for $10 million.

    AUSTRALIA: For $21 million, this private, contemporary waterfront mansion in Perth has five bedrooms and a full floor dedicated to entertaining.

    BAHAMAS: This $45 million Harbour Island getaway is the complete setup: two sets of 400-foot private beachfront, 10+ bedrooms spread across multiple villas, and all the amenities you could dream up for a tropical paradise.

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    houses housing homes toronto canada

    Sometimes a team can accomplish far more than a group of lone individuals. For example, cyclists in the Tour de France take turns riding at the front of their group, decreasing the wind for those behind them. Wolves hunt in packs to take down animals 20 times their size. And for those of us who were children of the '90s, we all remember Ducks Fly Together.

    Related: 8 Ways Real Estate Is Your Smartest Investment

    This brings up another team that can accomplish amazing things — not a team of people, but a team of benefits which, when combined, can help you achieve your greatest financial goals. Specifically, I want to talk about real estate.

    I'm a real estate investor, and I firmly believe that real estate is the best traditional investment on Planet Earth today. However, just because you buy a piece of real estate doesn't mean you're going to make money.

    As I explain in "The Book on Rental Property Investing," big wealth is built through real estate investing by capitalizing on something I call "the four wealth generators of real estate." Alone, each of these benefits can help you make more money, but together they'll make you rich.

    SEE ALSO: Real-estate experts say these will be the 10 hottest US neighborhoods in 2016

    1. Cash flow

    Cash flow is the extra profit left over after all of the expenses have been paid on a property. For example, if my rental property produced $2,000 in income and my expenses came to $1,700, my cash flow would be $300 that month.

    Now, I know a lot of you are saying, "Three hundred dollars is not going to make me a millionaire."

    Probably not. But remember, we are just talking about one of the wealth generators. There are still three more to go!

    Additionally, that $300 might be from just one property. If I owned ten similar units with the same cash flow, that's $3,000 per month. If I owned 100 units, that's $30,000 per month. This cash flow can go a long way toward helping you quit your job — or helping you save for a future big purchase, or retire wealthier.

    2. Appreciation

    When I talk about appreciation, I am not referring to how much I like you (though I do appreciate you!). I'm referring to the natural rise in value that real estate experiences. For example, if you purchased a property for $200,000 ten years ago, and today that property is worth $300,000, the appreciation made you $100,000 richer!

    Of course, appreciation doesn't cause values to increase every year (consider 2007!). However, historically, real estate prices have appreciated over the long term. So, again, appreciation alone is not likely going to make you a millionaire, which is why I don't recommend that people purchase bad deals hoping that appreciation bails of them out.

    However, appreciation is combined with the other "members" of the wealth generation team, powerful stuff can happen.

    Related: 6 Advantages of Real Estate Investing for Savvy Entrepreneurs

    3. The loan pay-down

    When you purchase a rental property with a mortgage, each month you make a payment to the lender. That payment includes two parts: principal and interest. Interest is the profit for the lender, but the principal is money you are paying down the loan with.

    For example, if you purchased a house five years ago for $100,000 and obtained a $80,000 mortgage (we’ll say it was a 30-year mortgage with a 5 percent fixed rate), today you would owe only $74,000. Ten years from now, you would owe only $65,000. This means that every year your equity increased (equity is the difference between what a property is worth and what is owed on it), you'd gain value, as long as the property value didn't drop.

    Of course, if you paid all-cash for a property and didn't obtain a loan, you would forfeit this wealth generator. This is something only you can decide.

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