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The latest news on Real Estate from Business Insider

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    panoramic interests micropads 1120

    A real estate developer wants to help end the street-living epidemic in San Francisco by converting shipping container-like modules into sleek new micro-apartments where the homeless can live.

    There are some 6,500 homeless people living in San Francisco, which has the second highest homeless population in the US. Some surveys suggest that figure should be doubled.

    The city has long run out of beds to house them — a reality that cued Panoramic Interests, which specializes in high-density apartments and student housing, to get into housing for the homeless. The developer wants to get people off the streets and into buildings that offer 160-square-foot, move-in-ready containers stacked on top of each other.

    panoramic interests micropads 1173

    Panoramic Interests housing homeless MicroPad

    Business Insider recently toured a prototype module, called a MicroPad, outside the developer's San Francisco office. It was small, but contained all the basic necessities.

    A full kitchen includes a food prep area, fridge, stovetop, and microwave oven. The storage bed and armoire provide ample space for stashing belongings during the day, while the desk features shelves for personal goods. Wall outlets run aplenty.

    panoramic interests micropads 1131

    The Bay Area is home to dozens of shelters, but most of them lack private bathrooms.

    Patrick Kennedy, owner of Panoramic Interests, explains that the close quarters found in the average homeless shelter creates tension between residents. The micro-apartments, in contrast, may prevent conflict by offering a modicum of privacy.

    panoramic interests micropads 1160

    Kennedy says that the apartment's aren't actual shipping containers, though they arrive in the Port of Oakland atop a container ship. The MicroPads are taller, include steel reinforcements around the openings, and have a sealing that prevents pests and water from getting in.

    panoramic interests micropads 1177

    For its first building, the company has its sights set on a parking lot where it wants to build a four-story residence. The installation process may take between four and eight months, which is about a year less than conventionally built apartment construction would take.

    But it needs a buyer first. Kennedy hopes to lease the micro-apartments to the city for $1,000 each. Alternatively, a private group might want to develop the residence as housing for the homeless. Whoever buys will pick tenants and decide how long they can stay.

    Panoramic Interests aims to shelter 10,000 homeless Californians over the next three years.

    SEE ALSO: One of the biggest cities in the US wants to put homeless people in tiny houses

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This cop played hopscotch with a homeless girl after getting called to investigate a suspicious vehicle

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    condemned house do not enter

    At the end of 2015, certified financial planner Alan Moore shared his 11 best pieces of financial advice with Business Insider.

    Among them: Don't buy a home.

    "I spend more time talking young people out of buying houses than pretty much anything else with clients," the cofounder of XY Planning Network wrote. "Now, I know it's the American Dream and I know that we've been told that buying a home is cheaper in the long run than renting — but honestly, it’s not always true."

    He puts forth the following reasons:

    It's illiquid. You end up with all of your money in your house, an asset that's tough to sell and expensive to deal with.

    It's immobile."Whenever you want to chase a new job opportunity (or you get laid off and you need to downsize), or you want to move to a different state or life takes an unexpected turn in some way, homeownership tends to tie us down quite a bit," he wrote.

    "Homeownership is a good way to really screw up your finances," he wrote.

    Moore isn't the only one in the rent-don't-buy camp. "Buying a house is for suckers," declared self-made millionaire Grant Cardone on Entrepreneur, arguing that a home isn't an investment because it doesn't pay you every month. A home does the exact opposite, and "nothing is a good deal if you have to feed it constantly."

    Author James Altucher wrote that he'd never own a home again, citing the money-absorbing purchase process, taxes, a constant need for maintenance, and lack of flexibility. Certified financial planner Sophia Bera wrote on LearnVest about buying a house at age 21 that lost significant value with the housing market crash, and said she considers it a mistake.

    So Moore, who wrote that he generally recommends renting as long as possible, isn't alone. However, there is one caveat to his rule: "not buying a home does not apply to investment property. If investment real estate is something you want to get into, it’s certainly an option, but you should consult with a financial planner first to map out the best plan of action for your investment."

    The truth is that everyone's financial situation is different, and the decision whether to buy or rent a home has a considerable emotional component. If you're considering it, take a look at smart questions to ask before you buy, and read a financial professional's advice on how to be unfailingly logical about your choice.

    SEE ALSO: I’m a financial planner, and here are the 11 best pieces of advice I can give you about money

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: JAMES ALTUCHER: This is why owning a home is financial suicide

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    6sq ft west 57th street

    Back in September, there were murmurs that the Feil Organization had plans to convert a 57th Street office building into residences. As it turns out, Billionaires' Row will indeed soon find itself with another 34 high-end condos in tow. As Yimby first reports, plans were filed last week to convert a 14-story, 1907 commercial tower at 140 West 57th Street into a mixed-use property that would keep an existing grocery story at its base, but transform the building’s upper 12 floors into 70,885 square feet of upscale living space.

    Goldstein, Hill & West appear to have been tasked with the design, and the permits filed by the architecture firm reveal that the redevelopment would include amenities on its second floor, sizable 2,000-plus-square-foot units, and the construction of two additional floors to make way for a pair of penthouses with private terraces.

    As 6sqft previously reported, the existing 57th Street tower was erected in 1907 as a live-work space for artists during a period when Central Park South was known for its creatives, not its upper crust residents. As such, the building boasts unique double-height windows that fill the spaces with northern light. And because the building was landmarked in 1999 after it was converted into offices, this distinctive feature is likely to remain unchanged.

    The building is also notably located directly across from One57, home of the city's priciest condo, as well as a number of units that recently sold at dramatic discounts (though at least one resident remains confident in his investment). With the market softening, we’re left wondering what exactly Feil has planned to make this project stand out amongst the city’s ample luxury stock. Feil bought the building from Harry Macklowe in 2009 for $59 million.

    [Via Yimby]

    SEE ALSO: The 19 most expensive homes for sale in the US right now

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The real estate tricks billionaires use to sell their penthouses faster and for more money

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    Starter home

    If young families in New England can't find a starter home to buy, this landlord might be partly to blame.

    As a small-time real estate investor, she swoops in and buys would-be starter homes before families can and turns them into rentals.

    She says she feels badly about it … but she also feels she has to do it, for her own security, and because tax laws nudge her that way.

    As a single mother, she and her son live in a condo while she bets long on land, and being a landlord is the only path she sees to financial security.

    "It is a dog-eat-dog world out there," she told me.

    At, we've chronicled the disappearance of the inexpensive starter home, and the frustration that's causing first-time homebuyers around the country. Smaller, cheaper, older single-family homes — and homes in foreclosure — are being snapped up by investors and turned into rentals around the country. According to RealtyTrac, about one-third of all three-bedroom homes purchased in the past year weren't bought by people who live in them. They were mostly bought to be turned into rentals.

    That's made life harder for families just starting out, and some believe making America a land of renters instead of owners threatens the very fabric of what makes a community.

    So who's doing the buying? Recently, I got some unexpected insight in the form of reader feedback.

    "Regarding your starter home article, I found it lacking," the reader wrote. "Sure, there may be fewer starter homes available, but why? You seem to blame institutional investors gobbling them up. But why are they doing that?"

    You probably guessed that in the next paragraph, she answered her own question.

    "Small-time investors are gobbling them up one by one. I live in a condo with my son. But I own a three-bedroom starter home as a rental — I bought it because it was a good deal, in a good school system," she said.

    So I called the woman to hear her side of the story. She agreed to talk with me on condition of anonymity, lest that interfere with tenant relations.

    Her main point: Sure, some landlords gobbling up small single-family homes are big corporations looking to squeeze out quarterly profits in this newly lucrative part of the housing market. But not all of them. Some are small-time, hustling homebuyers trying to make money and save for retirement the old-fashioned way: owning land.

    A good investment?

    "I'm just trying to take care of myself and my family," said the landlord. "Employers don't take care of people anymore. My father has three pensions, and my parents used to say to me in the '80s, ‘Get a job with a pension.' Well, there weren't many then, and there aren't any now."

    There aren't many good answers to retirement savings, either. Savings accounts and CDs offer paltry interest rates. Stock market investments come with serious risks. But this New England landlord, who began buying properties about 15 years ago, found if she could suss out the right deal, rent payments could cover the loan payments she makes.

    "I do feel bad, somewhat, that I usurped a starter home potentially from a young family," she said. "There is some ambivalence … The one I feel bad about is my most recent one, which I had under contract three days after the sign went up and one day after it hit the MLS … It is in a cute neighborhood only two blocks [from] a terrific elementary school." 

    She has bought and sold 14 properties. She's doing well but hardly rolling in cash. By the time repairs and other surprises pencil out, she insists on being in the black with every property – but not much in the black. When she closed on her first rental in 2002, she cleared about $100 in the black every month. Now, that property generates $700 per month. Her others range from $400 to $1,000 per month.

    But she figures her future is fairly secure. As a very rough calculation, were all her mortgages paid off, she'd be generating about $16,500 in monthly income. And that figure is probably conservative.

    "Cash flow tends to increase over the years — rents tend to increase faster than property taxes and other expenses," she said.

    An edge on first-time home buyers

    Why do small investors like her have a leg up on first-time buyers? That's easy. The woman described the transaction she completed just a couple of weeks ago to acquire a new single-family home.

    As a "strong buyer" who could promise a quick, hassle-free closing, her offer easily beat out families looking to buy the same home. The bank knows her and her financial situation; she knows properties well enough that she feels comfortable waiving inspections if she needs. The implications of that aren't lost on her.

    "I said to the seller, I wouldn't pick it apart in the inspection. I already had my financing in place. There's no way a first-time home buyer would be comfortable, or advised, to do that," she said. "I don't know what to say. I guess it's a bit dog eat dog."

    Why did she feel like she had to buy the property? The landlord says that federal and state tax laws encourage people who own property to buy more property. If she sold a property, she'd have to pay capital gains taxes … unless she used the proceeds to buy another property. Ironically, she can't use profits from a property sale to pay off her debt, for example, without facing a big tax bill. So instead, she and her small-time investor friends are starting to hoard property.

    Debt … or taxes 

    "I really would have liked to sell an investment property — or two or three — and use the profit to pay off student loans, invest for my son's college, pay off other debt, renovate my 30-year-old kitchen in which the cabinets are literally falling apart, or most of all, pay cash for a single-family house to live in. But I can't, due to the tax laws," she said. "Tax laws are designed to keep investors invested. If I do a 1031 exchange and reinvest, I don't pay the taxes and just ‘park' my money in another building, that generates some cash flow."

    The landlord began paying attention to the housing market in her late 20s after struggling to find a satisfying career. The germ of an idea for buying properties came from a bit of observation-driven jealousy.

    "It occurred to me one day as I saw my landlord walking around my apartment … that he did not have to hold down a real job," she said. "And then it occurred to me that I was, bit by it, buying that place for him."

    She didn't act on the feeling until her late 30s, however.

    "The real catalyst was when I became self-employed. I was single, 38, [with] no real retirement savings, and I realized I've got no backup other than my brains. Luckily, I like real estate and I like old houses." She also had a law degree and could handle the details of real estate transactions on her own.

    When a friend called to ask for legal help with a real estate transaction, she bought the property and rented it right away. She was hooked.

    The costs of being a landlord

    "People think landlords are just rich and they provide housing for free," she said. "Tenants have no idea how much things cost … things like taxes, repairs … They don't realize when they say, ‘Hey, can you send someone over, the oven's not working,' I'm looking at a bill of $95 just for the guy to show up, and at least another $50 for time and materials on top of that. A broken screen, minimum $25; re-sanding floors, $2,000; changing locks, $150."

    For one of the "starter" homes she owns, she had to spend heavily before she got her first rent check.

    "I put about $14,000 into renovations. Not the fun stuff like a new kitchen but the ugly stuff, like new wiring and fixing a roof and a wall, and fixing the porch and the windows," she said. "I had budgeted about $6,000, but then the state electrical inspector — because it's now a rental, and is subject to safety ordinances — required the house to be completely rewired — a shock to me and to the electrician who had inspected the house for me."

    And while repair costs eat into the monthly income her properties generate, she knows the real estate creates a far more secure future for herself and her son.

    "A lot of people expect someone to take care of them. A company, a spouse," she said. "Becoming a landlord got me out of the ‘work at a job and hope and pray that what the employers pay is enough to live on and save for retirement and maybe take a vacation,'" she said. "I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities I have had and the wealth I have built. I just wanted you to know a bit of what might really be going on … as I see the issue with my small-time real estate investor friends … they can't stop buying or they will get taxed so much that it is unworkable."

    Remember, buying (or selling) a home can affect your credit. You can see where you currently stand by viewing two of your scores, updated each month, for free on

    More from

    SEE ALSO: Why a starter home is one of the worst mistakes a new homebuyer can make

    DON'T MISS: A financial planner reveals the smartest thing to do before buying a house

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Obama Post White House

    It's not the White House, but it'll do.

    The Obamas settled on a post-Pennsylvania Avenue house to call home after the president leaves office at the end of this year, according to Politico. They will lease the home until their younger daughter, Sasha, finishes high school.

    The home was listed for sale at $5.3 million before going off the market in May.

    Though it's smaller than their current, more famous abode, it's still a lavish residence in a desirable area of the nation's capital. It was built in 1928, with 8,200 square feet and nine bedrooms.

    It's being leased to the Obamas by Joe Lockhart, former President Bill Clinton's White House press secretary.

    SEE ALSO: A 30-year-old cofounder of 2 billion-dollar companies reportedly bought San Francisco's most expensive home

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

    The Obamas are trading white for brick at their newly leased mansion in the Kalorama section of DC.

    It's completely gated and private, though it sits close to the road.

    The gated driveway has plenty of space for Secret Service vehicles.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The World residential yacht

    The INSIDER Summary

    • Cruise ships are increasingly selling residences aboard.
    • Most residents use these condos as second homes and stay on the ship for a few months at a time, renting them out for the rest of the year.

    For anyone who has ever struggled with the idea of spending their savings buying a home or using it all to travel the world, condo cruises present a perfect solution.

    These floating communities are increasingly popular modes of fulfilling travel fantasies — without having to leave the comforts of home. Plus, every home is oceanfront.

    The World, a luxury ocean liner, calls itself a "residential yacht" and is the most famous ocean residence, as well as the largest and oldest, having set sail in 2002. And, according to our research, it seems to be the only active one right now. 

    However, the idea of a permanent home at sea seems to be picking up.

    The World will soon be joined by The Utopia, a 200-unit condo cruise ship that will be almost twice the size of The World, built to the tune of around $1.1 billion, as well as The Marquette, which will have 185 residences navigating 5,500 miles of rivers and 1,100 miles of Intracoastal Waterways in the US year-round. Apartments on the Marquette range in cost from $327k to $1.2 million.

    The Marquette floor plan

    Recently, Crystal Cruises announced three new cruise ships that will have up to 48 private residences for sale for Fall 2019, ranging in size from 600 square feet to a whopping to 4,000. While prices aren't available yet, they were quoted as being in the multi millions, and the ship compared to New York's uber luxe Baccarat hotel. 

    The Marquette residential cruise ship renderingOn the luxurious World, which has 165 residences ranging from studio apartments to three bedrooms, as well as a six bedroom penthouse suite, apartments start at $1 million and reach up to $13 million. Then there's the hefty annual ownership charge (for maintenance, operations, crew compensation, and food and drinks), which, depending on the size of the apartment, can be another 10% or more of the purchase price.

    However, residents of this "community-at-sea" collectively own the ship, and can thus choose their own itinerary along with the captain. This year, The World will have stopped at 104 ports in 30 countries, covering around 41,000 nautical miles.

    Residents have kayaked among icebergs, visited native tribes in Papua New Guinea, tracked polar bears in the Russian Arctic, and gone scuba diving in St. Barths. In 2012, The World became the largest passenger ship to make it through the Northwest Passage, a sea route through the Arctic. Kayaking Alaska Icebergs

    Units on The World range from studios to three bedrooms, and each unit features a kitchen (there's a grocery shop onboard, as well as plenty of port calls in which to stock up), spacious living and dining areas, en-suite bathrooms for every bedroom, and multiple verandas depending on your apartment size. 

    The luxury ship has a 7,000-square-foot spa and gym, a jogging track, two pools, a tennis court, golf facilities including a golf simulator, putting green and driving range, as well as four restaurants, a deli, a grill, five bars, a tea room, and private chefs for hire. Like a floating village, the ship also features an art gallery, movie theater, florist, grocery market, library, chapel and medical center, and a constant stream of activities like lectures and plays, classes in cooking, arts and crafts and dance, and nightly entertainment. There's also a concierge that's able to organize hard-to-get reservations and access to exclusive events around the world, like private dinners Michelin-starred restaurants.

    While the average age aboard The World is 64, a solid 35% is under 50. Most residents use these condos as second homes, and stay on the ship for a few months at a time, renting them out for the rest of the year.

    Apartment on The World residential yacht/interior

    Basically, living on a condo cruise ship means avoiding the usual travel hassles — packing, unpacking, lost luggage, customs, etc. Plus, it means traveling with a pretty international set of neighbors; families on The World hail from 19 different countries, and the crew of 260 from 40 different countries. Residents have two to five day stops at each port, and can join or leave the ship at any point, as itineraries are usually set two years in advance.

    The only alternative to this kind of lifestyle is buying a yacht, which makes buying a condo on a cruise ship look like a steal.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    denver neighborhood houses autumn

    How much does it take to buy a home?

    Mortgage site has updated its estimate of how much annual income a household would need to buy a home in major metropolitan areas in the US, according to third-quarter 2016 data.

    In Q3, mortgage rates fell across the board for the second quarter in a row, which offset small increases in home prices in all but four major markets, making it more affordable to buy a home in the majority of major US cities.

    However, a shortage of homes on the market means that if mortgage rates were to rise, buyers would find themselves in an expensive, tight spot. looked at median home prices from the National Association of Realtors. It took into account interest rates for common 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and property taxes and insurance costs to figure out how much money it would take to pay a median-priced home's mortgage, taxes, and insurance in each city, and how much you'd have to earn to afford it. emphasizes that this is only the base cost of owning a home, without taking into account maintenance and other incidentals.

    The site also calculated how it would change the salary needed to buy a home if a buyer were to put 10% down instead of the recommended 20%. No matter where you are, putting down less makes things more expensive — you can visit to see both numbers.

    Salaries are listed from lowest to highest needed and are rounded to the nearest $500.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how much you need to earn to live comfortably in 15 major US cities while still saving money

    19. San Antonio

    Population: 1,409,000

    Median home price: $212,300

    Monthly mortgage payment: $1,127

    Salary needed to buy: $48,500

    18. Orlando

    Population: 255,483

    Median home price: $229,900

    Monthly mortgage payment: $1,162

    Salary needed to buy: $50,000

    17. Minneapolis

    Population: 407,207

    Median home price: $240,300

    Monthly mortgage payment: $1,181

    Salary needed to buy: $50,500

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    trump place

    Three Trump Place buildings on the Upper West Side are changing their names to 140, 160 and 180 Riverside Boulevard this week, according to an email from landlord Equity Residential.

    "The purpose of this change is to assume a neutral building identity that appeals to current and future tenants," Equity Residential's senior regional manager Mary Pawlisa wrote in an email to tenants, which was reviewed by The Real Deal. "Using the street address for the building name is popular practice in NYC, and our well-known Riverside address makes it easy for visitors to locate the building."

    In October, residents at 160 Riverside Boulevard launched a petition to "dump the Trump name," which quickly collected 241 signatures, according to a report.

    It wasn't immediately clear whether the two remaining Trump Place buildings, the condominiums at 200 and 220 Riverside Boulevard, would also change their name. Residents at 220 Riverside had petitioned for a name change.

    The name change highlights concerns that Donald Trump’s divisive political platform could impact his real estate brand. In October, the Trump Organization decided to drop the Trump name from a new line of hotels.

    SEE ALSO: An anti-Trump movement is calling for the boycott of these 32 brands

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    san francisco
    Both home prices and financial markets took a big dive during the Great Recession—late 2007 to mid 2009. Since then,
    we’ve argued that the housing market has led the economy out of the recession, with home prices up in September nationally by 43 percent since January 2010. It seems like we all know one seemingly smart, savvy, or simply lucky person who bought a home right at the bottom of the market and has since sold it for a lot more money or has built up a large amount of equity very quickly. And those of us who didn’t have the same great timing wonder how much our money could have grown had we invested our money similarly. But was a home really the best place to put your money six years ago? Would your savvy homeowner friends have been better off parking their money in a typical stock market portfolio instead?

    Redfin partnered with FutureAdvisor, an investment advisory firm, to determine the performance of both the median home purchase and the median financial portfolio since the recession in 24 metro areas. Using data from FutureAdvisor, Redfin calculated the median profit people made on a stock market investment portfolio from January 2010 to May 2016, and compared it with the median housing-price appreciation in each of the metros reviewed.

    In 20 out of the 24 metros, the median financial portfolio fetched a higher rate of return than the rate the median home rose in value. Miami (73.3%) and Northern California, including San Jose (74.7%), San Francisco (72.7%), and Oakland (67.6%)—were the exceptions. These places continue to be popular for real estate investors, though Miami and San Francisco have both shown signs of softening lately.

    stock vs real estate 1

    Other metros, such as Philadelphia (11% home price change) and Baltimore (11.4% home price change), have not recovered as strongly, and their residents would have earned more investing in stocks than in the housing market in 2010.

    Most variation in the performance of the average financial portfolio has more to do with local age demographics and risk tolerance. For example, stock investors in parts of the Pacific Northwest, such as Tacoma, WA (69.7% portfolio return), fared well through the recovery. Part of this may be explained by there being younger and more risk-tolerant investors working in highly paid tech industries in those areas.

    What is striking about this analysis is that from 2010 to 2016, the overall growth has been relatively strong for both real estate and stocks. However, the percentage of Americans who have invested in the stock market this year is near record lows (just 52 percent) since Gallup began tracking this two decades ago. Similarly, homeownership sits at record lows at just over 62 percent, according to the latest Census data.

    “There are pros and cons to any investment, but real estate is unique in that it offers the advantage of forced savings through the monthly mortgage payment,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. The fact that homeowners build equity just by paying their mortgages every month enforces a savings discipline on consumers that is absent in stocks. For this reason, real estate historically has served as the primary engine of wealth creation, particularly for the middle class.”

    What Matters in Housing Appreciation?

    Everyone knows that in real estate it’s all about location, location, location—as the above shows. But, as we dug into the data on home-price appreciation for various areas, we discovered two other important factors that affected appreciation: property type and timing.  

    Similar to how investors choose which sectors to buy company stock in, such as technology or health care, homebuyers must choose what type of property to buy. One main difference, though, is that for financial investments, diversification of stock across sectors helps reduce risk, while maintaining high returns. Yet, without buying multiple homes across the country, a typical homebuyer cannot diversify in this way.

    In most metros, multi-family properties, condos and co-ops appreciated the most. Single-family properties appreciated more than condo units in only three metros—Tacoma, Washington, Raleigh, North Carolina and Durham, North Carolina.

    stock vs real estate 2

    With any investment, the “buy low, sell high” mantra emphasizes that timing is everything. While correctly timing the purchase or sale of stocks is difficult to do, timing the purchase of a home is a bit more predictable due to the regular seasonality of competition in the housing market.

    Among people who bought a home in 2010, those who bought at the very end of the year, in December, enjoyed the highest home-price appreciation overall at 46 percent since 2010, compared with only 36.8 percent for those who bought in June 2010. This pattern remains true for other years as well. Buying in the winter—when competition is lowest—results in fewer bidding wars and allows you to get a better bargain on the home.

    stock vs real estate 3

    Real estate has been Americans’ number-one choice for long-term investing since 2013, according to a recent Gallup Poll. However, this data should reveal that buying a home for investment purposes may not result in the largest return. So should you sell your home and put everything into the stock market? Probably not. However, people could opt for less expensive homes in favor of more retirement savings. In either case, it is important to remember that past performance for both real estate and financial assets are not indicative of future results.


    For this analysis, Redfin used MLS data on over 730,000 property sales during 2010 across 24 metro areas with the best coverage for our data. We measured price appreciation by using the purchase price in 2010 from county records along with the Redfin Estimate in June 2016 for all home sales and took the median for each metro. We controlled for extreme changes in price and required a minimum sample size of 20 listings for measuring appreciation by property type.

    FutureAdvisor conducted backtesting of user portfolios as of May 18, 2016 by simulating the percentage return using asset class-based returns from the period January 2010 to May 2016. They then took a median percent return of the financial portfolios for each metro area. Backtested results are calculated by the retroactive application of a portfolio on the basis of historical data and based on assumptions integral to the model which may be subject to losses. Backtested performance is developed with the benefit of hindsight and has inherent limitations. Specifically, backtested results do not reflect actual trading or the effect of material economic and market factors on the decision-making process. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Read more about FutureAdvisor’s backtesting performance simulations here.

    SEE ALSO: The end of global extreme poverty is getting closer

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Trump University

    Donald Trump’s lawyers are pushing to delay a class-action suit against him and his defunct for-profit university until after the president-elect is inaugurated on Jan. 20, a move plaintiffs are adamantly trying to block.

    The motion, filed Saturday in San Diego federal court, argues that preparing to testify and appearing in court would distract Mr. Trump from his responsibilities leading up to taking over the presidency, and encourages the court to accept recorded depositions of Trump rather than an actual court appearance.

    "The President-Elect should not be required to stand trial during the next two months while he prepares to assume the Presidency. The time and attention to prepare and testify will take him away from imperative transition work at a critical time," wrote Trump attorneys Daniel Petrocelli, David Marroso, and David Kirman. "We acknowledge plaintiffs have a right to trial of their claims, but their rights will not be abridged if trial were continued to a date after the inauguration to allow the President-Elect to devote all his time and attention to the transition process."

    Former students of the for-profit real estate university allege that Trump University misled and defrauded them, falsely advertising its offerings, and attached hefty price tags. Trump’s attorneys have continuously tried to get the case, or statements, delayed or thrown out of court, but so far, the trial remains slated to begin on Nov. 28.

    Donald Trump Obama

    Concerns about Trump’s readiness to transition to the White House have increasingly emerged since the president-elect met with President Obama last Thursday. As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, Trump and his team seemed initially overwhelmed by what the process would entail.  

    “During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term.

    After meeting with Mr. Trump, the only person to be elected president without having held a government or military position, Mr. Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said.”

    While Trump’s lawyers say that they aren’t proposing postponing the now more than 6-year-old case until after the real estate mogul leaves office, they did cite past instances in which sitting presidents received accommodations from the courts that likely would not fall to other citizens: In 1990, President Ronald Reagan was allowed to give a video deposition in regard to the Iran-Contra-related trial of John Poindexter, who was national security adviser. Six years later, President Bill Clinton was granted a similar option when two of his business partners were put on trial for the Whitewater land deal, Politico reported.

    Earlier this month, Trump’s lawyers sought to bar the use of his campaign trail rhetoric, including tweets, speeches, and advertisements, from entering the courtroom as evidence. Judge Gonzalo Curiel tentatively rejected that bid last week. He also said he may allow a video testimony from Trump, but encouraged the two sides to explore a settlement before resorting to a trial.

    "It would be wise for the plaintiffs, for the defendants, to look closely at trying to resolve this case given all else that’s involved,” Judge Curiel said.

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    30 Park Place Four Seasons 4696Fifteen years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, downtown New York City is making a serious comeback.

    With One World Trade Center as the construction epicenter, development in the neighborhood has soared. Among the projects is the Brookfield Place shopping center, with high-end retail offerings like Burberry and Michael Kors, an Equinox gym, and restaurants like Amada and the stalls of Hudson EatsThe $4 billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub— more commonly known as the Oculus — also doubles as a Westfield shopping center.

    Reaching high above them is 30 Park Place, a luxury condo development built by Silverstein Properties and Robert A.M. Stern Architects to contribute to the revival of the area. It's attached to the new Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, which occupies the bottom third of the building.

    "All around us, downtown has become a model of what is best and most exciting about New York," Larry Silverstein, chairman of Silverstein Properties, said to Business Insider. "Since 2001, the population has tripled, and we are now one of the city's most desirable places to live and raise a family."

    Business Insider had the chance to explore a 78th-floor duplex penthouse that was staged by interior designer Robert Couturier. The nearly 6,000-square-foot unit is on the market for $29.5 million, but that doesn't include the furnishings you'll see here.

    Let's take a look.

    SEE ALSO: Bryan Goldberg, Bustle's CEO and founder, lives in a gorgeous New York loft — take a tour

    DON'T MISS: We got a look inside One57, New York City's most expensive apartment building and the tower that started 'Billionaires' Row'

    From the moment you walk in the private resident's entrance, you feel the elegance of the building. It's connected to the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, which just opened in September.

    Source: Four Seasons

    The unit we toured was 78B, a five-bedroom duplex penthouse on the building's 78th floor. The receiving hall is bright and inviting, with deep blue walls and metallic mirrors that are somehow not overwhelming.

    Floor-to-ceiling windows and crisp ivory walls greet residents in the formal living room. Rich fabrics and metallic accents complement the room and make it inviting for lounging or entertaining.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Donald Trump’s signature branding was removed from three luxury apartments in Manhattan after about 600 tenants signed an online petition.

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    china housing bubble real estate broker

    Chinese investors are parking an unprecedented amount of cash in residential real estate with an eye on cheaper cities.

    In the first half of 2016, investors bought up an estimated $15 billion worth of overseas real estate — a figure that matches the amount spent in all of 2015, Bloomberg reported. The buying frenzy comes as the Chinese government, faced with a weakening yuan, is trying to curtail money from leaving the country by capping foreign-currency purchases at $50,000 a year. Still, investors have found ways to work around this restriction, like through offshore trading companies.

    Investors are increasingly turning to unconventional locations, like Thailand’s Pattaya Beach and in the U.S., Orlando, Seattle and Houston. The shift comes as prices climb in some of the typical targets for Chinese investors. For example, Hong Kong, once a popular destination, adopted a 30 percent tax on foreign property owners this month. Richard Barkham, a London-based economist for CBRE Group, said similar measures could come to U.S. cities via president-elect Donald Trump.

    Fang Holdings Lt., the most visited property website in the country, predicts that overseas buying on its system will increase 130 percent this year. Chinese buyers spent an estimated $93 billion from 2010 to 2015 in America, according to a report earlier this year by the Asia Society and Rosen Consulting Group.

    Meanwhile, in the New York metro region, Chinese firms have accounted for $6.44 billion in commercial real estate acquisitions in the past year, according to Real Capital Analytics. [Bloomberg] 

    SEE ALSO: JIM ROGERS: Here's how you know when to sell

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    Trump Tower

    Now that Donald Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States, his transition team has to decide what to do about his many businesses. The current plan, as reiterated by Rudy Giuliani on Sunday, is to set up a "blind trust" that will hand over the management of The Trump Organization to his three oldest children, who are all executive vice presidents at the company.

    According to NPR, most US presidents put their investments in a blind trust, using an independent financial adviser free of potential conflicts of interest. But the Trump children are not an independent third-party, meaning their takeover would not technically be "blind."

    Trump's decisions as president-elect so far have done little to separate his children from his political life. Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric are all serving on the executive committee of their father's transition team, which could pose a conflict of interest once he reaches the White House, as they are in a position to help appoint others to roles that could create beneficial policies and conditions for The Trump Organization.

    Here are the major properties and businesses that could present a conflict of interest under the current transition plan. It's important to note that The Trump Organization does not own all of the properties that bear the Trump name. Many just license his name.

    SEE ALSO: Trump broke protocol and went to this expensive former speakeasy — here's what it's like inside

    Residential properties

    - Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago

    - Trump Grande, Sunny Isles, Florida

    - Trump Hollywood, Florida

    - Trump Towers, Sunny Isles, Florida

    - Trump Plaza New Jersey

    - The Estates at Trump National, California

    - 610 Park Avenue, New York

    - Trump Palace, New York

    - Trump Parc, New York

    - Trump Parc East, New York

    - Trump Park Avenue, New York

    - Trump Park Residences, Yorktown, New York

    - Trump Place, New York

    - Trump Plaza, New Rochelle, New York

    - Trump Tower at City Center, Westchester, New York

    - Trump World Tower, New York

    - Trump Parc Stamford, Connecticut

    - Trump Towers, Istanbul, Sisli

    - Trump World, Seoul, South Korea

    - Trump Tower, Century City, Makati, Philippines 

    - Trump Tower Mumbai

    - Trump Towers Pune

    - Trump Tower Punta del Este, Uruguay

    Commercial properties

    - Trump Tower — headquarters of the Trump Organization, Niketown on ground floor

    - The Trump Building at 40 Wall Street

    - 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York

    - 555 California Street, San Francisco

    - Trump Tower, Rio de Janeiro


    Mar-a-Lago is a beach and pool club and spa, with rooms, suites, and cottages spread over 20 acres. The club was the site of both Trump's most recent wedding and Maya Angelou's 80th birthday party, hosted by Oprah Winfrey.

    See what it's like to stay there »

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    Vancouver housing

    Empty homes are a unique Vancouver real estate problem. There’s been so much land speculation in the tiny city, that people are literally just buying homes to have them sit empty – sometimes for years. Actually, sometimes for decades. Consequently, the city has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in North America, and has become one of the least affordable in the world. Not exactly a boasting point.

    So we thought we’d use the power of natural language processing and data science to determine how many homes for resale have been sitting empty. What we found was almost 10% of homes being resold have never been lived in according to the sales listing.

    There’s Plenty Of Land, It’s Just Empty

    There are currently 4,799 homes listed for sale according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), and 463 have never been occupied. This was determined by using voluntarily identifying  language from the listing agents, having said things like “never been occupied” or “never lived in.” A total selling point for most buyers, but likely a point of contention for Millennials and activists.

    Sometimes Real Estate Sits Empty For Years

    People purchase pre-construction and sell once the building is released. That’s pretty normal and not all that surprising. What was surprising is that some of these places have been left empty for years.

    The oldest place the algorithm found was a condo unit built in 1989, but “never lived in.” The listing at 1235 West Broadway, Vancouver is a 1,885 sqft. condo with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and an extensive recent renovation. It’s currently listed with Natasha Marjanovic for $2,698,000. Despite having never been lived in, the owners gave it a pretty modern and slick makeover that would put your occupied home reno to shame.

    That place is slightly unusual, and the majority of them were unoccupied for less than a decade. This condo at 8033 Saba Road in Richmond, BC that “no body lived in [sic]” since 2010 was a little more normal. The 1,320 sqft. unit is another beautiful penthouse with 2 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms. It’s currently listed with Jade Shen for $1,188,000.

    Empty Home Tax

    The City of Vancouver commissioned a study earlier this year, and last week passed a framework for taxing empty homes. The city is looking to collect 1% of the property assessment value, from each of the 10,000+ empty homes they found – plus another 10,000+ from “underused homes.” At first glace, you might think this resulted in a number of properties being listed to avoid having to pay it. Could be, but property listings are down by 25% from last month.

    Since empty homes are self identified, we’re depending on a lot of honesty from homeowners. The penalty if you’re caught is steep, but it can be avoided by “proving” that you have been actively living there. Proof is as simple as having a driver’s license registered to the address. Since people in Shanghai are willing to divorce for the purposes of lowering taxation on property sales, I imagine there’s a good percentage of people in Vancouver probably willing to register a driver’s license or two to falsely declare residency. It’s a nice plan in theory, but one designed to please voters over any practical application.

    Unfortunately this is the first time this data has been tracked by anyone, so it’s hard to determine if this is higher than usual or just inline. Over the next few months, we’ll begin tracking this to see if it increases or decreases over time.

    SEE ALSO: The best way to invest in China right now

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    houston texas

    Home prices are increasing as the holiday season approaches, but some states are seeing larger gains than others.

    US home prices rose 6.3% in September compared to the same month a year ago, according to the latest figures from CoreLogic. Home values also increased month over month by 1.1%, the company found.

    "Home-equity wealth has doubled during the last five years to $13 trillion, largely because of the recovery in home prices," said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. "Nationwide during the past year, the average gain in housing wealth was about $11,000 per homeowner, but with wide geographic variation."

    Overall, prices fell in only two states — Alaska and Connecticut — while a dozen states recorded price increases that outpaced the national average. Here they are:

    SEE ALSO: The most expensive housing market in every state

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    12. Tennessee

    6.4% increase in home prices year-over-year

    The number of homes sales jumped 9.7% in Middle Tennessee in October compared to a year ago, while the number of sales in the Memphis area rose 12%.

    11. Nevada

    6.4% increase in home prices year-over-year

    Home sales rose 5.5% from a year ago in the state’s biggest city, Las Vegas. Single-family home purchases increased 6.7% and condominiums and townhomes rose 6.1% year over year.

    10. New York

    6.5% increase in home prices year-over-year

    Home sales in the Empire jumped 11% in the first three quarters of 2016 versus the same period a year ago. Third-quarter sales edged up 2.8% year over year, while September sales rose a modest 2.1%.

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    Screen Shot 2016 04 13 at 8.26.06 AM

    It turns out homebuyers are really into barn doors.  

    When Zillow looked at design features that sell homes at the best price and with the shortest listing time, that feature topped the list. 

    Anything craftsman-style, like rectangular farmhouse sinks, also got homes off the market at a premium. 

    Zillow Digs screened over 2 million listings for homes sold between January 2014 and March 2016 and looked for the keywords that had the best effect on how much more than the expected price and how much faster they sold.  

    Here are the top 15 design features:

    Outdoor kitchen

    Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 3.7%

    How many days faster than expected the home sells: 19

    Most common metro: Tampa, Florida

    Tankless water heater

    Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4%

    How many days faster than expected the home sells: 43

    Most common metro: Los Angeles, California


    Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%

    How many days faster than expected the home sells: 46

    Most common metro: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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    shreveport, louisiana

    Sometimes, the rent is too darn high. In fact, the number of households in the United States spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent is on the rise, according to a report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. The report points to a rental housing affordability crisis.

    But there are still some places in the U.S. with affordable housing. GOBankingRates looked at cities throughout the country, big and small, and found 20 with rents averaging $1,000 per month or less. Then, it factored in possible mortgage payments should a renter decide to buy in the future, plus the town’s walkability and its number of kid-friendly parks to rank those affordable cities.

    If you're looking for a great place to live where you can get more for your money, consider a move to one of these places where rents are $1,000 or less.

    SEE ALSO: What the median rent in New York City buys you in 25 big US cities

    20. New Bern, N.C.

    Median rent price: $1,000
    Monthly mortgage payment: $873
    Walkability score: 28
    Kid-friendly parks: 14

    A major port and trading center during the late 18th and 19th centuries, New Bern, N.C., is steeped in history. In addition to having formerly held the title of North Carolina’s first permanent capital, New Bern is home to another historic marker: It was one of the first cities in the South to fall to Union forces during the Civil War.

    Because of its historic significance, this city is perfect for Civil War buffs. Southern gentlefolk can also enjoy its many restaurants and arts and entertainment venues.

    19. Rock Hill, S.C.

    Median rent price: $1,000
    Monthly mortgage payment: $840
    Walkability score: 29
    Kid-friendly parks: 88

    Photographers and contemplative types will love the natural elements of Rock Hill, S.C. Find tranquility in the city’s Glencairn Garden, which offers open green space and waterways with idyllic bridges. People looking for more thrills can visit Carowinds, a roller coaster park in nearby Fort Mill.

    18. Tallahassee, Fla.

    Median rent price: $990
    Monthly mortgage payment: $873
    Walkability score: 32
    Kid-friendly parks: 55

    Tallahassee, Fla., offers plenty of outdoor activities and fun for the family. But the town also hosts the Swamp Stomp Music Festival in July, which is billed as “an acoustic music lover’s dream.” The festival features folk, blues, contemporary and other genres, plus games, ziplining and other activities.

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    house garden summer

    Before you make an offer on a house, it pays to ask a handful of questions. While the answers might scare you off or make you rethink your bid, they could make you feel more confident that you're making the right move on the right house.

    As you prepare for buying a home, here are 7 questions to ask before you make the offer.

    SEE ALSO: Here's the salary you have to earn to buy a home in 19 major US cities

    What is this property worth in today's market?

    For ethical reasons, agents can't tell you how much to offer, says C.D. "Chip" Boring, broker/owner of Re/Max Realty Plus in Sebring, Florida. Instead of asking directly how much the home is worth, you ask indirectly, by seeking information about comparable sales, or "comps."

    An agent should arm you with plenty of comparables -- prices of similar, nearby homes that have been sold recently -- along with high and low ranges for a particular property, Boring says.

    Your agent can tell you how long homes are staying on the market, and the percentage of the asking price sellers are getting, says Dick Gaylord, past president of the National Association of Realtors and broker with Re/Max Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, California. This information tells you how hot the market is where you are looking, he says.

    Also ask how long the property has been on the market. If it's been languishing for months with nary an offer, it could be a slow market or it could be overpriced, says Robert Irwin, author of "Tips and Traps When Negotiating Real Estate."

    RATE SEARCH: Get prequalified for a mortgage today.

    How flexible is the seller on the asking price?

    If you insult the seller with a lowball offer, you could lose your shot at the house. To avoid offending the homeowner, ask the seller's agent how firm the seller is on price, Irwin says. You can have this conversation directly with the seller's agent or have your agent ask the question.

    Keeping it in terms of "how flexible are they on the price?" instead of "how much less will they take?" allows you to feel out the situation without offending the seller, Irwin says.

    Not every seller will be willing to bargain, so if your strategy is to make lowball offers, plan to make "offers on several properties before you connect with a seller who will deal," Irwin says.

    A question that often goes hand in hand: Is the seller willing to help with the closing costs?

    On foreclosed homes, a seller's contribution to closing costs "certainly is common with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because they want to sell their properties," Gaylord says. "And sellers who have equity in their property and want to help are helping."

    RATE SEARCH: Shop today for an FHA loan.

    What's wrong with this house?

    "One of the things that's happening now is every house is in 'perfect condition,'" Irwin says. "The sellers really want to get rid of the properties, so they're failing to disclose any real problems."

    Take the direct approach, he says. Ask: "Is there a problem with this house?"

    Irwin recommends reminding sellers that with inspections and disclosures, chances are you'll find any problems. "So if the sellers just get it out in the open, they'll avoid wasting your time and theirs," he says.

    Some sellers' agents recommend a home inspection before putting the home on the market, Boring says. If one has been done, ask to read it.

    Some states, such as Texas, mandate disclosure forms in which sellers have to reveal any issues or problems with the house, says James Foltz, who recently bought a home there.

    In his case, the disclosure not only provided information, but it also started a dialogue with the seller. Foltz learned that there had been a problem and that it had been fixed. In the end, Foltz says, "It wasn't that big a deal." 

    RATE SEARCH: Ready to shop for a mortgage? Find the best deal today.

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    Happy Couple on Date at Restaurant

    Having a full down payment ready to go can help you get the mortgage you want, secure a better interest rate, make your offer on a property more appealing to sellers, and avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI) costs.

    But there's just one problem: Saving for a down payment can feel like an impossible goal, since 20% of the typical home's purchase price is a large sum of money!

    Don't let panic set in. Recognize you have lots of options to save up the cash you need to buy that home for sale in Houston, Texas. After all, your home-buying goal is just one part of your life. Sacrificing the quality of your days in every other area just to funnel as much cash as possible to this single financial goal isn't sustainable.

    So, instead of going to extremes, look at small actions that carry a big impact. Think of saving for your down payment as a marathon, not a sprint — and you'll find you can work toward your goal and still enjoy the life you're living by using these tips.

    1. Cut back expenses without cutting out services

    Cutting costs is the obvious place to start when you want to save for a down payment. When you eliminate an expense, you can move that money over to your savings. Look at the costs in your budget you know you wouldn't miss — and cut them today. This may not account for much, and that's okay. You don't need to cancel every subscription and service to save.

    Next, look at what bills you're not willing to give up. Then call those providers and explain you can no longer afford to pay your current rate. Ask what the options are. Can they provide discounts? Rate reductions? Is there another service tier with fewer bells and whistles that still covers your needs but costs less?

    If that doesn't work, start shopping around for better rates. Can you switch cellphone carriers or insurance companies? Will another service provider give you a discount or incentive to leave their competitor and become a new customer?

    2. Match your savings to your discretionary spending

    This savings hack can help you inch toward your goal while also helping you spend mindfully. Here's how it works: Every time you go shopping or spend money on something you want, look at the total amount of your purchase. Then transfer the same amount from your checking to your savings.

    For every discretionary purchase you make — which means things you buy because you want them but don't need them — make a matching contribution to your down payment savings fund. This effectively doubles your purchase price since double the amount leaves your checking account.

    What's the point? This trick forces you to use and think about your money differently and prioritize your spending in a new way. If you have less cash to use (since you contributed more to savings), you'll need to make more conscientious choices about what's really important to you.

    small house front porch

    3. Change your home-buying timeline

    Saving for a $50,000 down payment in one year is a lot harder than saving $50,000 over three years. If you want to buy a home but enjoying life today is still essential, play with your timeline. There's no rule that you have to buy a house right now. It's about what's important to you. If you can think more long term, you can accomplish your savings goal and live your best life while you do it.

    Here's an easy way to figure out what your savings goal deadline should be. Look at how much money you need to save for a down payment. Let's say your goal is to save that aforementioned $50,000 in cash for a new house. Now look at how much money you're willing to save each month without doing anything too drastic to your budget.

    Take your goal amount and divide it by the amount you can save each month. If you can save $1,000 per month and want to reach $50,000, it will take you 50 months to do so (or a little over four years).

    There are many tactics you can apply to boost this monthly amount, like investing your cash instead of putting it in a savings account. (This does come with risk, and it's possible you could lose money instead of earning a return. Talk to a financial adviser to help you evaluate your investment options.) You can also cut expenses more dramatically to save more.

    But if you're interested in maintaining your current lifestyle without making huge sacrifices or major changes, consider these actions. You can still save for your down payment and enjoy your life today.

    SEE ALSO: The 12 key differences between buying and renting a home, in one chart

    DON'T MISS: The No. 1 sign you can't afford to buy a home

    Join the conversation about this story »

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