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The latest news on Real Estate from Business Insider
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    • The price of a typical Canadian home climbed to a new high in March, reaching a benchmark of $652,400.
    • However, home sales in Toronto are falling. 
    • Real estate prices continue to rise but they're climbing at a slower rate. 


    Canadian real estate prices have spiked to a new high. Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) numbers show prices across the country ripped higher in March. Despite the good news for sellers, gains are tapering at an alarming rate.

    The Price Of A Typical Home In Canada Has Never Been Higher

    The price of an aggregate benchmark (a.k.a. typical) home, made a huge single month leap in March. The benchmark reached $652,400 across Canada, a 1.14% increase from the month before. That represents a 4.6% increase compared to the same month last year. The benchmark is now printing an all-time high, beating the previous record set last July. Remember, this is an aggregate benchmark, which includes condos as well. Not just detached homes.

    Canadian Real Estate

    Canadian Real Estate Price Gains Are Rapidly Decelerating

    The increase has a few caveats worth noting, one of the most interesting being price deceleration. The annual increase of 4.6% is a huge gain, but it’s the lowest increase since December 2013. People should also note how quickly this trend is tapering. The rate of growth has declined 74.78% over the past 11 months. The gain is very large, but the pace at which they’re declining should be read as a sign of caution.

    Canadian benchmark

    But… Toronto Real Estate Prices Are Falling

    We know, Toronto’s composite prices are falling, how can the rest of the country be increasing? The aggregate benchmark price is a weighted index of cities by regions, and Toronto sales are declining very quickly. Toronto sales represented 21.3% of sales in the country last year, and only 16.5% of sales this year. Smaller regions are seeing sales rise, and prices with them. This brings up the floor of prices across the country, as lower priced homes in far off regions disappear. Too wordy? Lower priced markets (like Edmonton) climbed last month, meaning the cheapest homes in the average are rising.

    Canadian Real Estate Sales

    National prices aren’t all that useful for homebuyers looking for local pricing. Just because home prices are falling in Toronto, doesn’t mean you give a damn in Calgary. However, rising prices across the country, likely mean Toronto and Vancouver’s buyer exuberance has spread to other regions. When even Edmonton is at risk of overbuilding, but seeing prices climb – we’re seeing a national exuberance problem getting worse.




    SEE ALSO: Stocks drift after US manufacturing data disappoints

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    pittsburgh pennsylvania

    • More than 80% of millennials say buying a home is a priority for them.
    • Homeownership is more attainable in some cities than others, especially if you're a first-time buyer.
    • Texas is home to six of the top-20 best cities to buy your first home, while Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, took the No. 1 spot.


    Home prices are up and supply is down across the US, but buying a house isn't as tough as it may seem. You just have to know where to look.

    More than 80% of millennials say becoming a homeowner is a priority for them, according to NerdWallet's latest homebuyer report. Many are considering it "the next step in my life" and plan to buy within the next five years.

    Affordable real estate is hard to come by in America's coastal cities. Migrating to the Midwest or the South is a smart bet if you're looking to put down roots at an affordable cost.

    That's evidenced by SmartAsset's annual list of the best places for first-time homebuyers. SmartAsset gathered housing data for 64 metros (the US cities with a population over 300,000) related to securing a loan, the value of the average home, stability of the housing market, and affordability.

    Each city was ranked in seven categories, and then given an average score. We narrowed down the list to feature the cities with a total score of 55 or higher, out of a possible 100. 

    Below, check out the top 17 best places for first-time homebuyers.

    SEE ALSO: Forget San Francisco and New York: These are the 19 best places to live where the typical home costs less than $260,000 and monthly rent is under $1,000

    DON'T MISS: Millennials love this new housing community in a forgotten stretch of California thanks to its ultrafast internet and dirt-cheap home prices

    17. Raleigh, North Carolina

    Loan funding rate: 76%

    Value per square foot: $128.67

    Median listing price: $347,248

    16. Corpus Christi, Texas

    Loan funding rate: 67%

    Value per square foot: $90.33

    Median listing price: $209,900

    15. Denver, Colorado

    Loan funding rate: 76%

    Value per square foot: $322.33

    Median listing price: $485,000

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    warren buffett

    • Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, the investment conglomerate's residential real-estate brokerage business, is now the second-largest in the US.
    • While many of Warren Buffett's portfolio companies aren't associated with the Berkshire moniker, the firm's real-estate business is named in order to spread its brand.

    Berkshire Hathaway can now add a new designation to its ever-expanding list of qualifications: America's second-largest residential real-estate brokerage.

    The massive, Warren Buffett-helmed investment conglomerate moved into second place for 2017, according to a Wall Street Journal report. At the end of last year, the franchise network for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices included over 365 franchisees in over 1,500 brokerage offices, employing more than 48,000 real estate agents, according to a filing.

    The growth is reflective of the firm's efforts to make the Berkshire Hathaway name more recognizable across the US. It's worth noting that while the company has historically retained the original names of portfolio companies, the Berkshire moniker is front and center for the brokerage business. That might explain why you've been seeing it on an increasing number of signs around your neighborhood.

    On a financial basis, Berkshire's real-estate segment reported earnings of $220 million last year, a slight decline from the previous year. However, the company's full-year sales surged by 23% on a year-over-year basis, according to its annual report.

    One of the most formative events in the history of the HomeServices business came in October 2012, when it acquired a 66.7% interest on one of the largest residential real-estate brokerage franchises in the US.

    Berkshire's home brokerage business will be just one of many businesses discussed at the firm's annual shareholder meeting, which is scheduled for May 5. Stay tuned to Business Insider on Saturday for updates from the event.

    Read the full Wall Street Journal story here.

    SEE ALSO: 'Earnings are not all that matter' — A Wall Street chief strategist breaks down the story he says the market is ignoring

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Leonard Steinberg Compass

    • Uber and Lyft are affecting the real estate market.
    • In late 2017 luxury real estate broker, Leonard Steinberg, told Business Insider that the ride-hailing services are changing where wealthy people buy homes in the New York City. 
    • A report released this week from MetLife Inc.'s asset-management business confirmed that the premium cost of apartments near public transit has begun to decline due to services such as Uber and Lyft.   

    Since 2001, Leonard Steinberg, real estate broker and a president at Compass, has been selling homes to New York City's richest residents.

    Steinberg has over $3 billion in transactions under his belt. His largest sale to date was on a Tribeca townhouse that sold for $43 million. In 2009, he worked on the $32 million deal for Dolce & Gabbana designer Domenico Dolce's 11th Avenue penthouse.

    Last year we spent a day with Steinberg, and when we asked what New York City neighborhood was currently the most popular among buyers, he had a surprising answer.

    "Buyers have become more and more neighborhood agnostic than at any other time in history," he said. "[A buyer] will look at an apartment in SoHo, Hudson Yards, Upper East Side, and Tribeca."

    The reason? Steinberg accredits ride-hailing apps such as Uber, Lyft, and Juno for this shift in mindset.

    "Today, in our Uber-tech world — I [can be] in the back of a car with my iPhone, and I'm not losing out on anything. That has changed [commutes] dramatically. Your commute time is not lost productivity," he said.

    "Time is the last luxury. If you can not lose time, you can live in many places," he said.

    A new report released by  MetLife Inc.'s asset-management business and reported by Bloomberg, confirms Steinberg's inkling.

    "People are already willing to pay slightly less than they were before for the same level of transit access, because they now have this complementary transit system," Adam Ruggiero, head of real estate research at MetLife Investment Management told Bloomberg.

    The report found, for example, that apartments in San Francisco that previously had a 20% premium because of their vicinity to public transportation are down by about 5% since Uber's launch.    

    SEE ALSO: The most extravagant request fulfilled by a luxury concierge service that caters to millionaires and billionaires

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    NOW WATCH: Uber created a fake 'city' to test out its self-driving cars

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    A for sale sign is posted in front of a home as interest rates for home loans climbed to nearly 4% in the wake of the election of Donald Trump to be the U.S. president on November 17, 2016 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that concerns over President-elect Donald Trump's proposed spending and tax cuts are causing the mortgage rates to rise. (Photo by )

    • Mortgage rates are rising quickly, hitting 2011 levels. 
    • The average mortgage rate is heading to 5% in the near future while the Fed continues its rate-hike path. 
    • At the same time, demand for mortgages remain strong. 

    Wow, this was fast. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances – $453,100 or less with 20% down) jumped to 4.80% for the week ending April 27, from 4.73% in the prior week, and from 4.66% two weeks ago, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported this morning (chart via Trading Economics):


    Mortgage Interest Rates

    At 4.80%, the average 30-year fixed rate is now equal to the highest rate since September 2013. And the last time, the rate was higher than 4.80% was in 2011 (chart via Trading Economics):

    Interest Rate for 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgages

    That date with 2011 has already happened:

    • The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA jumped 10 basis points in the week, to 4.81%, the highest since July 2011.
    • The average interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages jumped 8 basis points in the week, to 4.21%, the highest since February 2011.

    “Points” – the upfront fees, such as origination fees, that are usually rolled into the mortgage balance – rose 4 basis points during the week to 0.53% of the mortgage balance (mortgages with 20% down), after having already risen 3 basis points to 0.49% in the prior week.

    The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) obtains this data from weekly surveys of over 75% of all US retail residential mortgage applications handled by mortgage bankers, commercial banks, and thrifts.

    The MBA’s measure of the average mortgage rate is headed for 5% in the near future and to 5.5% later in the year. The Fed is on its rate-hike path, which pushes up shorter-term yields, and longer-term yields are following with delays and in wild spasms. The Fed is also unwinding QE, which puts pressure on long-term yields. It has eased into the QE Unwind, starting last October, just like it gradually tapered QE out of existence. But the QE Unwind is picking up speed. The US Treasury yield, currently near 3%, is setting up for the next spasm higher. This will push the 30-year fixed rate to 5%.

    At 5.2%, the average mortgage rate will hit the highest level since 2010; 5.5% would take it to the highest level since 2008.

    The big difference between 2010 and now, and between 2008 and now, is that home prices have skyrocketed since then in many markets – by over 50% in some markets, such as Denver, Dallas, or the five-county San Francisco Bay Area, for example, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. In other markets, increases have been in the 25% to 40% range. This worked because mortgage rates zigzagged lower over those years, thus keeping mortgage payments on these higher priced homes within reach for enough people. But that ride is ending.

    For now, demand for mortgages continues, as homebuyers are trying to make deals before rates rise even further. The MBA’s Purchase Index, which tracks the number of mortgages taken out to purchase a home (as opposed to refis) increased 5% compared to the same week a year ago – after last week’s 11% increase.

    A 5% mortgage rate will trim off some homebuyers at the margin but is unlikely to derail demand at this point. The real pain for homebuyers, and the housing market, will likely start closer to 6%. While 6% is still a historically low 30-year fixed-rate, home prices are historically high, and the equation has changed. It’s unlikely to get to 6% in 2018, but next year is a candidate.

    In terms of rents, the housing market is veering off in all kinds of directions. In Chicago, asking rents have collapsed by 30%. In New York City, they’re swooning. But they’re soaring in Southern California. And the US average hides all the drama on the ground.

    SEE ALSO: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is now the 2nd-biggest real-estate broker in the US

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    nice house front door

    • The shrinking middle class is creating more demand for rentals. 
    • The median price point is rarely sought after by buyers now. 
    • There's also more demand for high-end homes. 

    The widening gap in income distribution trends in the US has significant implications for home buying activity and homeownership. The shrinking size of the American middle class (those who make between two-thirds and double the median US household income*) has resulted in:

    • More rental demand
    • More demand for homes at the highest and lowest price points
    • Less demand for median-priced homes

    Among households headed by those under age 65, middle-income households plunged from 57% of American households in 1970 to only 45% today—a decline of 12%. (Though today’s 45% is up slightly from an average of 43% over the previous seven years.) The result has been a:

    • 7% increase in the percentage of households who earn more than double the US median income, from 12% in 1970 to 19% in 2016
    • 4% increase in the percentage of households who earn less than 80% of the US median income, from 31% in 1970 to 35% in 2016.

    Screen Shot 2018 05 03 at 3.18.46 PM

    What do these income trends mean for housing?

    • More rental demand and downward pressure on homeownership. With 35% of working-age households earning less than 2/3 of the US median income, compared to 31% in 1970, a lower percentage of households are able to qualify to purchase a home, and thus more will rent.
    • More demand for lower-priced homes. The lowest-priced homes in the market have even more demand. In most markets, the months of supply and days on market of the lowest-priced homes are extremely low.
    • Less demand for median-priced homes. The shrinking middle class (down 12% in share of households and 22% in share of aggregate income) creates less demand in the middle of the market.
    • More high-end home demand. With a larger share of households having more than double the median income and a rising share who are buying later in life due to delays in marriage and having children, a rising percentage of households are buying a more expensive than usual first-time home. In our experience, this isn’t showing up in the very highest price points, but rather for homes priced up to 50% higher than the median home price in a market. Home builders in particular have benefitted from this demand, selling higher-density new homes in great locations to first-time buyers.

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    san francisco

    • The US housing market is tough for buyers right now — low supply has led to high demand and an increase in prices.
    • Nationally, home prices rose by 7% from March 2017 to March 2018.
    • But incomes haven't increased at the same rate, leading to overvaluation in some of the country's biggest housing markets, including Los Angeles, New York City, Denver, and Houston.


    The US housing market is something of a seller's paradise right now.

    Aging millennials are itching to become homeowners, but the supply of starter homes is at a historic low. Only 20% of the 1.2 million homes on the market are entry-level, according to Zillow, compared to 51% of for-sale homes priced in the most expensive tier.

    In turn, prices are appreciating rapidly and incomes aren't keeping pace. This leads to an overvalued market, meaning prices are above sustainable levels — and affordability is shot. The homes that do sell go quickly and often above asking price.

    "What sets overvalued markets apart from others is that home prices are very high in relation to the income of local residents," chief economist for CoreLogic, Dr. Frank Nothaft, told Business Insider. To return to balance, he said, "home-price growth has to slow, perhaps even stagnate or dip."

    But for now, mini-housing bubbles are forming in cities all over the US, which could coincide to form a national bubble like the one we saw in 2006 before the housing market crash.

    There's a sign of relief on the horizon, though. Mortgage interest rates are expected to rise in the next few months and demand — and thus home prices — will probably slow down, Nothaft said. But if you're shopping for a home now, you're likely to buy at a higher price than the place is worth in the long-term.

    "Many home buyers probably are concerned if they are overpaying for a home. Getting an appraisal is one way to get validation that the home is worth what buyers think it is," Nothaft said, adding that an appraisal is necessary whether you're in an over-, under-, or fairly-valued market to ensure you're getting your money's worth.

    CoreLogic analyzed the 50 biggest markets by housing stock and found that 50% were overvalued, 36% were at value, and 14% were undervalued. Las Vegas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Houston, and Washington, DC, are the country's top overvalued markets, where home prices are 10% higher than a sustainable level.

    San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, by contrast, are fairly valued at their current levels. All of these cities have been in the same position since at least September, and they're all experiencing steady price increases. 

    Nationally, home prices rose 7% from March 2017 to March 2018, according to CoreLogic's Home Price Insights report. The median home for sale in the US is listed at $268,500, higher than peak levels in 2006 before home prices took a nose dive and the housing bubble eventually burst.

    SEE ALSO: Los Angeles just took a big step toward regulating Airbnb stays — here's what new short-term rental laws could mean for hosts and travelers

    DON'T MISS: Many millennials are itching to become homeowners — here are the 17 best cities to put down roots

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    burned out house san jose

    • The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most expensive housing markets in America.
    • Case in point: A fire-ravaged home in San Jose, California, has sold well over asking for $938,000. The home will need to be demolished.


    It's no secret that buying a home for under $1 million in the San Francisco Bay Area is a nearly impossible task. Case in point: Somebody has paid over $900,000 for a burned-out home.

    The one-story, single-family house at 1375 Bird Avenue in San Jose, California, was ravaged by fire two years ago. In photos, the structure appears dilapidated and held together with plywood.

    According to real-estate site Redfin and the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the home sold for $938,000 in April — more than $130,000 over the listing price of $799,000.

    Listing agent Holly Barr of Sereno Group told the San Francisco Chronicle the price was fair based on the cost of local housing and the lot's potential. The home sits on a 5,800-square-foot lot and is located less than a 10-minute drive from downtown San Jose, where Google plans to build a new campus.

    According to Barr, the seller took the highest of six bids. The lucky buyer is paying all cash.

    Prospective buyers needed to harness their imagination to see its potential. The home's listing on Redfin stipulated: "The property was badly burned 2 years ago. You cannot see the inside."

    Built in 1976, 1375 Bird Avenue suffered heavy burns after a garage explosion in 2015. Flames engulfed the home, leaving three residents and a dog displaced. The cause of the fire was unknown.

    A screenshot from Google Street View shows the quaint home in 2015.

    burned out house san jose california

    In 2018, it doesn't have quite the same curb appeal.

    As the cost of living in San Francisco rises, people are migrating south in search of affordable housing. Nine of the 10 hottest neighborhoods in the US are located in San Jose, according to Redfin. The site based the ranking on increases in internet traffic to listings in a neighborhood.

    The median home sale price in San Jose reached $1.1 million in December, up 32% year over year. Homes typically sell for 113% of the listing price and receive all-cash offers.

    SEE ALSO: All the crazy things happening in San Francisco because of its out-of-control housing prices

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    Airbnb business traveler

    • Buying a rental property is a good way to earn passive income and build wealth.
    • Some American real estate investors prefer to keep their portfolio local, but you can also earn money as a landlord if buy rental property abroad.
    • The three best countries to buy rental property outside the US are the Philippines, UAE, and Costa Rica.

    Buying a rental property is a wise way to earn passive income.

    As a landlord, you're getting paid to own something, rather than paying to own it. The mortgage is often covered by rental income from tenants, and if you play your cards right you'll profit after covering insurance, taxes, and maintenance costs.

    But while some American real estate investors prefer to keep their portfolio local, others may want to take their business international.

    For its latest study, GOBankingRates found the best countries to buy investment property based on the potential return on investment. GOBankingRates turned to Global Property Guide to source the following three data points for more than two dozen countries:

    • Average monthly rent for a 1,292 square-foot home.
    • Rental income tax rate, assuming a monthly rental income of $1,500.
    • Average rental yield, or the amount that a landlord can expect as return on an investment before taxes, maintenance fees, and other costs (expressed as a percentage).

    Each metric was assigned a score, and the three scores were then combined for each country to form an overall score, which determined the final ranking. The higher the score, the higher the potential income for property owners.

    The final list is dominated by several European and South American countries. Remember that before you decide to buy property in a foreign country, it's important to understand the laws and tax codes that go along with it. Or better yet, consult a professional.

    Below, find out the best countries to buy rental property and make money as a landlord.

    Are you a US resident who owns rental property in a foreign country and earns a profit? Would you like to share your story? Email

    SEE ALSO: Forget San Francisco and New York: These are the 19 best places to live where the typical home costs less than $260,000 and monthly rent is under $1,000

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    25. Turkey

    Rental yield: 3.62%

    Effective rental income tax: 21.94%

    Monthly rent: $1,128

    24. Latvia

    Rental yield: 3.8%

    Effective rental income tax: 17.25%

    Monthly rent: $1,074

    23. Portugal

    Rental yield: 5.45%

    Effective rental income tax: 26.44%

    Monthly rent: $1,939

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • The Prime Global Cities Index rose 4.8% over the 12 months through March.
    • Seoul ranked number one on the index, with luxury house prices soaring 25%.
    • But in some cities, prices of high-end houses are falling quickly. 

    Prices boil over in some cities and hot air hisses out of others.

    So how is the luxury housing market doing in the top cities around the world, as they’re facing “significant risks ahead in the form of rising debt, inflation, and greater housing market regulation?”

    Knight Frank’s Prime Global Cities Index rose 4.8% over the 12 months through March, compared to a year earlier. But the index averaged out the drama playing out on the ground: In some cities, luxury  prices skyrocketed, and in other cities prices dropped sharply.

    Seoul ranked number one on the index, with luxury house prices soaring 25% over the 12 months through March. Over the past six months alone, prices soared 20%, despite efforts by authorities to tamp down on these price surges, according to Knight Frank:

    Across a large part of the city new macro prudential measures, including new taxes for owners of multiple properties and tighter lending restrictions, are cooling growth, but the prime area of Gangnam is still seeing strong speculative activity.

    The ranking of the cities in the index is figured not in terms of absolute prices, but in terms of price growth. The index considers “luxury” those sales whose prices are in the top 5% in that market, except in US cities, where the index uses the “High Tier” index from Case Shiller, and in Tokyo where home sales over ¥100 million are deemed luxury.

    The top two US cities are San Francisco and Los Angeles, ranked in 8th and 11th place respectively with price growth rates of 9% and 8% for the past 12 months. Luxury prices are barely ticking up in Miami and are stalling in New York.

    Though overall home prices in Sydney and Melbourne are now down from a year ago, according to CoreLogic, as hot air is hissing out of their historic housing bubbles, prices at the luxury end of the market still increased 8.7% and 8.3% respectively – “with supply constraints supporting prime prices.” These price surges put both cities in the top ten.

    The opposite is happening in super-bubble city Vancouver, where the lower end of the market (condos) is still seeing significant price increases, while the luxury market has just now begun to deflate, with prices down 7.6% over the past six month.

    London’s famed oligarch-driven luxury housing boom is wheezing, with prices down 1.1% over the past 12 months, which is a terrible embarrassment. Knight Frank is looking for the silver lining: “In London, while the market remains sensitive to political events there is a sense of (relative) stability being restored.”

    At the bottom of the list of 43 top cities is Stockholm, where luxury house prices dropped 8.4% over the past 12 months, with price drops accelerating: over the past six months along, prices have fallen 9%.

    The table below shows the top 43 cities, ranked by changes in luxury home prices. The bottom 11 cities have experienced price declines over the past 12 months. The list also shows price changes over the past six and three months.

    Screen Shot 2018 05 11 at 12.38.20 PM

    Screen Shot 2018 05 11 at 12.39.51 PM

    Knight Frank obtained the data from its global network except for Tokyo (Ken Corporation); New York (StreetEasy); Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco (S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller); Tel Aviv (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics); Berlin and Frankfurt (Immobilienscout); Stockholm (Svensk Maklarstatistik); Toronto (Real Estate Board of Toronto); Vancouver (Vancouver Real Estate Board); Zurich and Geneva (Wüest Partner). Price changes are calculated in local currency.

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    • Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have lived in a $5.5 million Washington, DC home since early 2017.
    • They reportedly rent it from Chilean billionaire Andrónico Luksic for $15,000 a month.
    • They're now looking for a larger place, according to Politico.

    Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have lived in a $5.5 million home in the Kalorama section of Washington, DC, since early 2017.

    Now, they're looking for a new home, according to a report in Politico.

    "They are actively looking because they're unhappy with the place they're in," an insider told the site.

    The couple is reportedly looking for a home larger than the 7,000-square-foot one they currently live in and have already toured at least one property. They're looking to live in Kalorama or Georgetown, Politico reports.

    They're renting their current house from billionaire Andrónico Luksic, who bought it for $5.5 million through a shell company in December 2016. The Chilean national is renting the home to the family for a sum of $15,000 a month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    Luksic is also the owner of a mining conglomerate — Antofagasta PLC and its subsidiary, Twin Metals Minnesota LLC — which is feuding with the US government over a mineral deposit worth billions of dollars.

    Kalorama is the same neighborhood where the Obama family lives. The relatively small area is popular with politicians and DC insiders for its seclusion and privacy.

    Photos via a Zillow listing.

    SEE ALSO: See inside the $5.3 million Washington, DC home of the Obama family

    The home was designed by architect Waddy Wood and built in 1923.

    It was recently given a full renovation.

    The home does not have much of a front yard, which is common for the neighborhood. It's close to the street, but the front door sits high with double steps leading up.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Chicago The Loop

    • Chicago boasts some of America's best restaurants, theaters, and public art.
    • The city's downtown financial district is known as The Loop, and includes one of the most expensive real estate markets in the city.
    • The Loop's zipcode 60603 had an average home sale price of $577,500 in 2017.

    Chicago's financial district in the downtown area isn't just filled with skyscrapers and office buildings such as the Chicago Stock Exchange — the area known as The Loop is also one of the more bustling and lively areas of the city.

    With easy access to Millennium and Grant Park, plenty of theaters, and incredible restaurants, The Loop boasts the city's most expensive residential real estate. For the months of May through August of 2017 Trulia reported that the average sales price of a home in the 60603 zip code was $577,500 — the highest average in the city.

    We recently toured the neighborhood to see what 60603 has to offer. Between its rich history — including a 120 year old restaurant and easy access to public works of art — we can see why it's so popular.  

    SEE ALSO: I tried one of the most famous hot dogs in Chicago and it was delicious — but I made one huge mistake while ordering

    Chicago's first elevated train car was built in 1892 — and a loop of elevated train cars were built and completed in the downtown area by 1897. This line of transportation gave the neighborhood its nickname: The Loop.

    One of the driving factors of the higher average sale price of homes in the neighborhood is the The Legacy at Millennium Park tower. The luxury condo tower is 72-stories and is located at 60 East Monroe St.

    Source: Property Shark

    The 60603 zip code extends from The Art Institute of Chicago down six blocks to Wells St. The Institute boasts works from Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    old people housing debt

    • Millennial demand for homes is rising. 
    • The number of baby boomers increased more than 30% in the last 30 years to more tha 75 million.
    • 85% of surveyed baby boomers said they don't plan to sell their homes.

    Baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – have steered economic trends for decades and have the highest rate of homeownership in the country, approximately 80 percent. Now, as the oldest members of the generation edge into their 70s, they are deciding to stay in their homes. According to a housing shortage survey, boomers have the least interest in selling their home. Approximately 85 percent of baby boomers surveyed indicated they are not planning to sell their home in the next year. The main reason, according to the survey, is that their current home meets the needs of their family.

    “Aging in place” is not a foreign concept to the housing market. However, the housing market has never experienced an increase in the population of 55 to 74 year olds of this magnitude. In the last 30 years, this population increased more than 30 percent. This may pose an issue for housing affordability as a tight housing market continues to get tighter, driving up prices.

    “With baby boomers living longer and staying in their homes, and the housing market facing a housing shortage, the need for new construction is more important than ever.”

    It’s no secret that millennial demand for housing continues to rise. There were 83.1 million millennials born between 1982 and 2000, and many are now looking to enter the housing market. There are 75.4 million baby boomers, and many indicate they have no intention of selling their homes. So, when it comes to housing, millennials would benefit from boomers selling their homes and adding more supply to the market, but that appears unlikely.

    Consider that the share of baby boomer homeowner households has stayed fairly constant. In 2000, the share of baby boomer homeowners was 43.5 percent. In 2010, that number fell slightly to 42 percent, and has since stayed at 41 percent. But, are there markets where the share of baby boomer homeowners is declining, possibly signaling an uptick in future housing supply?

    Using the top 50 largest cities from the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey, we identified cities with the largest decreases in the share of homeowners that are baby boomers between 2010 and 2017.

    The top 5 cities where baby boomer homeownership decreased the most from 2010 to 2017:

    1.) Salt Lake City, Utah

    2.) Raleigh, NC

    3.) Hartford, CT

    4.) Washington, DC

    5.) San Jose, CA

    Salt Lake City, the market with the largest drop, experienced a 12.9 percent fall in baby boomer homeownership. The bottom five markets’ share of baby boomer homeowners fell an average of 10.7 percent in 2017 from 2010.

    The top 5 cities where baby boomer homeownership increased the most from 2010 to 2017:

    1.) Seattle, Washington

    2.) Orlando, FL

    3.) Jacksonville, FL

    4.) Charlotte, NC

    5.) Miami, FL

    In the top market, Seattle, baby boomer homeownership increased from 26.3 percent in 2010 to 39.0 percent in 2017. The top five markets experienced an average increase of 10.1 percent in baby boomer homeownership in the seven-year period.

    Screen Shot 2018 05 15 at 1.43.29 PM

    The chart below shows the annual percent change in the share of baby boomer homeowners for the most recent data, 2016 to 2017. Interestingly, among the top 50 markets, 21 show increasing homeownership for baby boomers.

    Screen Shot 2018 05 15 at 1.44.33 PM

    In 2017, there were approximately 36 million baby boomer homeowner households in the United States, which is 6 percent more than in 2000. As a point of reference, the silent generation had 24 million homeowner households when they were the age of the oldest baby boomer. That’s a difference of 12 million homeowner households. With baby boomers living longer and staying in their homes, and the housing market facing a housing shortage, the need for new construction is more important than ever.

    Odeta Kushi contributed to this article.

    SEE ALSO: Bank of America lays out the scenario for the next big selloff — and it hinges on one key thing

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    iPad Tower James Law 1

    • Hong Kong architect James Law is developing The Pad tower that looks like an iPod and is full of technology that adapts to the environment.
    • Law compares the architecture of the Dubai building to Iron Man's suit of armor in that it enhances the capabilities of those who live in it.
    • Law's approach to modern architecture that takes technology and the environment into design is what he calls "cybertecture."


    Hong Kong architect James Law is nearing completing on the construction of a building whose design was inspired by an iPod and is filled with so much technology that he likens it to Iron Man's suit of armor. 

    The building, known as The Pad. and once called the iPad Tower, has been under construction in Dubai's Business Bay since 2006. After more than a decade of work, the building is set to open later this year. 

    The building is the culmination of Law's architectural approach, which he says aims to fuse technology, software, and architecture to create structures that are more responsive to the needs and desires of people today.

    Architecture "used to just be about the concrete, steel, and the glass, and the shape of a building. But now I think we're living in a world where those materials are just the basic materials," Law said. "There are now new materials like technology, smart material, bytes of content, and interactivity."

    Law's design for The Pad, which mimics the shape of an iPod tilted in a docking station, won an international competition in which he beat out renowned architects Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster.

    The 24-story tower contains 231 "intelligent" apartments that include a virtual reality projection wall that changes locations, a bathroom that analyzes residents' health in real time and displays reports on the mirror, and RFID tags instead of keys for apartments.

    "You are selling more than just space," Law said. "You are selling the infinite possibilities of participating with all our technology in that space." 

    Law compared the building's ability to augment the lives of its inhabitants to the armor that comic book hero Iron Man wears. 

    "In this sense, once you put this armor on, you have extra capabilities and extra possibilities about how you can experience life," Law said. Like the Iron Man armor, he added, the apartments are "able to adapt to the environment."

    Here's what life is like inside The Pad:

    SEE ALSO: A Hong Kong architect thinks 'tube homes' made from concrete pipes can be a solution to the world's housing crisis

    DON'T MISS: An architecture expert reveals 19 of the ugliest McMansions in America

    The Pad is due to be opened later this year after a decade of work. The building is tilted at a 6.5 degree angle to mimic an iPod in a dock. It is the culmination of Law's "Cybertecture" philosophy to architecture.

    "Some bricks are the old clay bricks and the concrete bricks, and then there are the new bricks, which are technology, the new bricks of new ideas, new strategies, new forms, new models, new typologies," Law said.

    The Pad has 231 "intelligent" apartments with various features that enhance the capabilities of those who live in it, including health monitoring, air filters, and virtual reality walls. Law believes that in the future residents will be able to add features to their apartments in the way one downloads apps from Apple's App Store.



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    Jared Kushner

    • Kushner Companies is closing in on a major deal with a company tied to the government of Qatar to save its financially imperiled Manhattan tower. 
    • If the bailout is finalized, it will likely raise concerns about Jared Kushner's work as the White House lead on Middle East policy. 
    • This comes amid reports that the president's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, solicited $1 million from the government of Qatar in 2016 for access and insight into the Trump administration. 

    Jared and Charles Kushner's $1.8 billion purchase in 2007 of 666 Fifth Avenue, a 41-story tower in midtown Manhattan, has long been ridiculed in New York real estate circles as a reckless move.  

    Indeed, the office building has faced financial struggles for years — today it brings in only half of its annual mortgage fees and 30% of its space is empty, according to The New York Times.

    But Kushner Companies — the real estate firm owned by Jared, the president's son-in-law and top White House adviser, and his father Charles — are closing in on a game-changing bailout from a company whose second-largest shareholder is the government of Qatar, The Times reported Thursday.

    The company, Brookfield Properties, has worked hand-in-hand with the Gulf country's sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, on several major US building projects, including Manhattan West, a retail and residential complex currently under construction. 

    Jared Kushner meets with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani

    Jared, who remains a stakeholder in his family business despite leaving it to work in the White House (where he leads Middle East policy), lost his top-secret security clearance in February amid concerns that he is vulnerable to foreign influence as a result of his business dealings.  

    If this deal is finalized, it will likely raise new concerns about Jared's potential conflicts of interest. 

    The midtown tower attracted attention in late 2016, when the Kushners neared a different deal with a Chinese insurance company and a Qatar billionaire. That deal fell apart amid criticism of Jared's dual political and business roles.

    Brookfield plans to take control of the building's operation, and will spend hundreds of millions of dollars renovating it. 

    This comes amid multiple reports that the president's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, solicited $1 million from the government of Qatar in late 2016 for access and insight into President Donald Trump's administration.

    (Multiple companies, including AT&T, Novartis, and a financial firm with ties to a Russian oligarch, have confirmed recent reports that they paid Cohen hundreds of thousands of dollars for insight into the Trump administration). 

    Cohen is currently under investigation by both special counsel Robert Mueller and the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. 

    SEE ALSO: Scaramucci reached out to publicist who set up Trump Tower meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer

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    single family home for sale

    • The cost per square foot for homes can vary drastically from city to city.
    • You can get a lot more space in Dallas or Chicago than in New York or the Bay Area.
    • To compare home size across housing markets, real estate listing site Trulia pulled listings in the $500,000 range for the 25 biggest US metros.

    Space is hard to come by in some of America's most popular housing markets.

    Homebuyers in New York, for instance, are paying over $1,000 per square foot right now, while buyers in Detroit and Chicago are paying closer to $400 per square foot.

    To find out how home sizes compare across America, we asked Trulia to gather listings in the $500,000 range for the country's largest metro areas by population.

    Below, check out how much square footage buyers get for homes priced between $499,000 and $525,000 in 25 popular cities, ordered from lowest to highest cost per square foot.

    SEE ALSO: Half of the biggest housing markets in the US are overvalued — and it could spell trouble for homebuyers

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    Orlando, Florida

    Listing price: $500,000

    Square feet: 3,609

    Price per square foot: $139

    Fort Worth, Texas

    Listing price: $499,999

    Square feet: 2,975

    Price per square foot: $168

    Phoenix, Arizona

    Listing price: $495,000

    Square feet: 2,748

    Price per square foot: $180

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    how much does it cost to live in NYC

    • The cost of living in Manhattan is more than double the US average.
    • The NYC cost of living is so high partly due to its exorbitant housing market — the average rent for a Manhattan apartment is $3,667.
    • RENTCafé broke down the average rent for different Manhattan neighborhoods, and we ranked them from most to least affordable, from SoHo to the East Village.

    City life comes with a lot of dollar signs — especially in Manhattan.

    The cost of living in New York City is at least 68% higher than the US average, according to SmartAsset. If you think that's a lot, the cost of living in Manhattan specifically is more than double the national average.

    At the center of it all is New York City's high-cost housing market. Asking rents in New York City increased by 33% from December 2009 to June 2017 at roughly 3.9% a year, reports StreetEasy.

    And while the NYC rental market has seen declining prices this year, the average rent for an apartment in Manhattan remains exorbitant at $3,667 — a 10% decrease compared to $4,085 the previous year. To put things in perspective, that's only a few hundred dollars shy of the typical US worker's average monthly income of $3,895.

    That number is even more shocking considering that the average size for a Manhattan apartment is only 703 square feet.

    Even then, some neighborhoods in Manhattan are notoriously more expensive than others. Rent in Battery Park City, for example, is 52% higher than the Manhattan average.

    average rent for apartment manhattan

    To highlight such differences, RENTCafé broke down the average rent in Manhattan neighborhoods for all rentals, one-bedroom apartments, and two-bedroom apartments. Using this data, we narrowed down the top 28 Manhattan neighborhoods according to the largest number of rental units overall (in apartment communities of 50 units or larger), which was provided by Yardi Matrix.

    Scroll through below to see which Manhattan neighborhoods have the highest average rent, ranked from the least expensive to the most, from SoHo to the Upper East Side.

    SEE ALSO: Inside New York City's hidden neighborhood where Wall Street big shots, celebrities, and billionaire heirs mingle

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    28. Washington Heights

    All rentals: $2,176

    One-bedroom: $1,980

    Two-bedroom: $2,777

    Number of rental units: 1,000–1,500



    27. Roosevelt Island

    All rentals: $3,379

    One-bedroom: $3,211

    Two-bedroom: $3,558

    Number of rental units: 1,200–2,000

    26. East Harlem

    All rentals: $3,412

    One-bedroom: $3,258

    Two-bedroom: $3,471

    Number of rental units: 1,700–2,500

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    • House sizes in America have nearly doubled since the 1960s. 
    • Owning a large home with a wealth of amenities has become intrinsically linked with living the 'American dream.'
    • These homes raise a number of ethical concerns. For example, the upkeep they require is generally facilitated by low-wage laborers. 


    The Conversation

    The United States is facing a housing crisis: Affordable housingis inadequate, while luxury homes abound. Homelessness remains apersistent problemin many areas of the country.

    Despite this, popular culture has often focused on housing as an opportunity for upward mobility: theAmerican Dream wrapped within four walls and a roof. The housing industry has contributed to this belief as it has promoted ideals of "living better." Happiness is marketed asliving with both more space and more amenities.

    As anarchitect and scholarwho examines how we shape buildings and how they shape us,I've examined the trendtoward "more is better" in housing. Opulent housing is promoted as a reward for hard work and diligence, turning housing from a basic necessity into an aspirational product.

    Yet what are the ethical consequences of such aspirational dreams? Is there a point where "more is better" creates an ethical dilemma?

    The better housing craze

    The average single-family home built in the United States in the 1960s or before wasless than 1,500 square feetin size. By 2016, the median size of a new, single-family home sold in theUnited States was 2,422 square feet, almost twice as large.

    Single-family homes built in the 1980s had a median of six rooms. By 2000, themedian number of rooms was seven. What's more, homes built in the 2000s were more likely than earlier models to havemore of all types of spaces: bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, family rooms, dining rooms, dens, recreation rooms, utility rooms and, as the number of cars per family increased, garages.

    Today, homebuilding companiespromote these expanding spaces— large yards, spaces for entertainment, private swimming pools, or even home theaters — as needed for recreation and social events.

    Each home a castle?

    Living better is not only defined as having more space, but also as having more and newer products. Since at least the 1920s, when the "servant crisis" forced the mistress of the house totake on tasksservants had once performed, marketing efforts have suggested that increasing the range of products and amenities in our home will make housework easier and family life more pleasant. The scale of such products has only increased over time.

    In the 1920s, advertising suggested that middle-class women who had once had servants to do their more odious housework could now, with the right cleaners, be able toeasily do the job themselves.

    By the 1950s, advertisements touted coordinated kitchens as allowing women to save time on their housework, so they couldspend more time with their families. More recently, advertisers have presented the house itself as a product that will improve the family's social standing while providing ample space for family activities and togetherness for the parent couple, all the whileremaining easy to maintain. The implication has been that even if our houses get larger, we won't need to spend more effort running them.

    Inmy research, I note that the housework shown — cooking, doing laundry, helping children with their homework — is presented as an opportunity for social engagement or family bonding.

    Advertisements never mentioned that more bathrooms also mean more toilets to scrub, or that having a large yard with a pool for the kids and their friends means hours of upkeep.

    The consequences of living big

    As middle-class houses have grown ever larger, two things have happened.

    First, large houses do take time to maintain. An army of cleaners and other service workers, many of them working for minimal wages, are required to keep the upscale houses in order. In some ways, we have returned to the era of even middle-class households employing low-wage servants, except that today's servants no longer live with their employers, but are deployed by firms thatprovide littlein the way of wages or benefits.

    Second, once-public spaces such as municipal pools or recreational centers, where people from diverse backgrounds used to randomly come together, haveincreasinglybecome privatized, allowing access only tocarefully circumscribed groups.Even spaces that seem public are often exclusively for theuse of limited populations. For example, gated communities sometimes use taxpayer funds — money that by definition should fund projects open to the public — to build amenities such as roads, parks or playgrounds that mayonly be usedby residents of the gated community or their guests.

    Limiting access to amenities has had other consequences as well. An increase in private facilities for the well-off has gone hand in hand with areduction of public facilitiesavailable to all, with a reduced quality of life for many.

    Take swimming pools. Whereas in 1950,only 2,500 U.S. families owned in-ground pools, by 1999 this number had risen to 4 million. At the same time, public municipal pools were often no longer maintained and many were shuttered, leaving low-income people nowhere to swim.

    Mobility opportunities have been affected, too. For example, 65 percent of communities built in the 1960s or earlier had public transportation; by 2005, with an increase in multi-car families,this was only 32.5 percent. A reduction in public transit decreases opportunities for those who do not drive, such as youth, the elderly, or people who cannot afford a car.

    Redefining the paradigm

    "Living better" through purchasing bigger housing with more lavish amenities thus poses several ethical questions.

    In living in the United States, how willing should we be to accept a system in which relatively opulent lifestyles are achievable to the middle class only through low-wage labor by others? And how willing should we be to accept a system in which an increase in amenities purchased by the affluent foreshadows a reduction in those amenities for the financially less endowed?

    Ethically, I believe that the American Dream should not be allowed to devolve into a zero-sum game, in which one person's gain comes at others' loss. A solution could lie in redefining the ideal of "living better." Instead of limiting access to space through its privatization, we could think of publicly accessible spaces and amenities as providing new freedoms though opportunities for engaging with people who are different from us and who might thus stretch our thinking about the world.

    Redefining the American Dream in this way would open us to new and serendipitous experiences, as we break through the walls that surround us.

    SEE ALSO: America is facing a housing shortage — here's why more people aren't selling their homes

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    Jared Kushner

    • Cadre, a real estate startup partly-owned by presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner, is seeking an investment of at least $100 million from a private fund backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
    • Cadre was reportedly approached by SoftBank Vision Fund, a Japanese conglomerate which receives much of its funding from Gulf governments. 
    • Questions have been raised about Kushner and his business dealings with foreign entities.

    A real estate startup partly-owned by presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner is seeking an investment of at least $100 million from a private fund backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    Sources familiar with the plans told Bloomberg a senior executive at Cadre, which was co-founded by Kushner, recently met with representatives of SoftBank Vision Fund, a Japanese conglomerate which receives much of its funding from the Saudi and UAE governments. 

    The technology investment fund claims investors such as Apple, Foxconn, Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison, and Qualcomm. Nearly half of its $100 billion is financed by the Saudi government's Public Investment Fund, Bloomberg said. At least $15 billion has been invested by the UAE sovereign wealth fund. 

    According to the report, Cadre officials said Kushner doesn't play an active role in the business, and sources close to the discussions said Softbank approached Cadre with investment plans. 

    Still, Kushner reportedly has stakes in the parent company that owns Cadre, valued between $5 million and $25 million, according to his updated financial disclosure last year.

    The discussions are especially sensitive as Kushner's and his family's business dealings with foreign entities have been called into question. 

    Kushner Companies took out four loans from Israel's largest bank, Bank Hapoalim, which is currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice.

    Kushner himself has a close personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and has been instrumental in securing deals between the US and Saudi Arabia. He reportedly leaked classified information to the Saudi crown prince, who is said to have secretly boasted about having Kushner under his control.

    In March, House Democrats called for an FBI probe into Kushner's personal ties to the Saudi royalty. Officials from several other countries, including China, have also bragged about having influence over Kushner.

    Kushner Companies has also been linked to troubled Chinese insurance fund AnbangSpecial counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating contact between Kushner and foreign investors, particularly his links to Anbang.

    SEE ALSO: Top Trump fundraisers who sought to negotiate $1 billion in business deals with Middle East princes called Jared Kushner a 'Clown Prince'

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    • Paula Pant and her husband had a combined income of $63,000 when they bought their first property together in Atlanta.
    • They used the rent paid by the occupants to cover the mortgage, and spent a year saving up for their next home. 
    • Now, they own a condo in Las Vegas, a triplex building in Atlanta, and four single family homes.
    • They redecorated the properties themselves and proceeded to rent them out. Last year they earned $125,618 in rent.

    When Paula Pant was 27 years old, she and her future husband Will were paying $400 a month for a single bedroom in a triplex apartment building in Atlanta, sharing a kitchen and bathroom with three other roommates they'd met on Craigslist. Finally, they decided to buy a place of their own, taking about a year cobble together the down payment.

    But a starter home was not in their future.

    Instead, they paid $225,000 for the apartment building across the street, which was almost identical to the one where they were already living. When they moved in, their roommates came too. The rent the couple collected was enough to cover their housing costs, allowing them to live for free.

    "A lot of our friends were living in places with granite countertops," says Pant. "All we were thinking about was being as frugal as possible."

    Seven years later the move has paid off. Pant (now 34) and Will (now 38), no longer live in that first apartment building. But they still own the three units — along with five other properties they've bought along the way.

    Pant, who came to the U.S. from Kathmandu in Nepal as an infant, says the properties provide her with enough extra income that she's been willing to forego the security of a 9-to-5 job and pursue passion projects like her blog and podcast.

    "I don't have a sister who lives in the U.S. whose couch I can sleep on. I don't have grandparents or uncles," she says. "For me knowing there's a safety net is really important."

    With home prices in many cities at or near record highs, the idea of becoming a homeowner — much less a landlord — can seem beyond the grasp of many millennials. Indeed, home ownership for those in their 20s and 30s is lower than it's been in decades.

    But Pant's example shows, with careful decision and, of course, some real sacrifices owning a home (or a few homes) can be an attainable goal.

    Skip cable — and expensive cities

    Pant and her husband were lucky to graduate from college with little in the way of debt. They both went to state schools and worked various jobs to help defray the cost. But they also had a thrifty lifestyle. When they bought their first home, she was working as a freelance writer, while her husband had a regular 9-to-5 job at a transportation company. Together they earned $63,000. In addition to paying just $400 in rent, Pant says she drove a 15-year-old car, skipped cable, and rarely spent on items like clothes.

    It also helped that they lived in Atlanta, where the median home price is $205,000, about $40,000 less than the U.S. median. With their roommates now covering the mortgage of their first home, Pant says it took a year of saving (and getting up the nerve) to buy their second home for just $21,000.

    The property was in foreclosure and in an unfamiliar section of the city where foreclosures were common at the time. Paul says she spent hours in the neighborhood, walking the streets and eating fried pickles at a local fast-food shop, until she was comfortable with the location.

    Once the couple bought it, they spent their weekends fixing it up. While Will had acquired some home repair skills working construction jobs in college, the couple mostly figured it out as they went, watching YouTube videos to pick up tips. It wasn't always easy.

    "Every weekend from Friday afternoon until late Sunday we spent at the property," Pant says. "I remember feeling like my 20s were slipping away. I wanted to have a weekend."

    Eventually, the work paid off. In addition to the original triplex, Pant and her husband own four single-family homes and a condo in Las Vegas where they now live. While the couple pays a management property company to oversee a few of the properties, others they take care of themselves with the help of a long-time contractor. Some weeks, Pant says, she spends little or no time managing the buildings, other weeks it's just short of a full-time job.

    Pant discuses her finances in detail on her blog. Last year, she says the rental properties brought in $125,618. After expenses like mortgages and taxes, she and her husband were left with $43,200 to supplement her husband's salary and her earnings as a blogger and podcast host. Despite the occasional indulgence (she recently bought a car), Pant says she and her husband save as much of that as they can, hoping to expand their real estate mini-empire.

    Forget the Joneses

    Pant's parents came to the U.S. with little but their suitcases. While many of her adult friends grew up in leafy suburbs surrounded by stores like Starbucks and Panera Bread, Pant lived in a less affluent neighborhood with gas stations and mom-and-pop shops.

    When it came time to buy her own home, Pant says the lack of pretension became an unlikely advantage. "I felt at home in the neighborhoods where my friends who grew up in Starbucks neighborhoods might not have felt at home," she says.

    Her background has also made her cautious about a potential trap that ensnares many other ambitious real estate investors: debt. While Pant and her husband do have modest mortgages on several properties, they prefer to pay in cash. While borrowing more aggressively might have allowed them to expand more quickly, it would also add risk – and a lot of stress. Pant says that would negate the reason she wanted to own them in the first place: to be financially secure enough ditch a nine-to-five job.

    "Nepalese immigrant culture is very debt averse," she says. "Sometimes I look back a few years and think, 'If we had borrowed as much as we could then, just imagine how much we would have now.' But we have enough. To have a financial safety net without anxiety – to me, it was worth it."

    SEE ALSO: Being a wedding guest is expensive — here's how to save money when you have multiple to attend

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