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By Laura Vecsey
Supermodel-turned-powerhouse host Heidi Klum is selling the Brentwood Estates home she bought out of foreclosure in 2010 with her ex-husband, Seal.
The Mediterranean-style villa was done over in Klum style and includes 8 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and more than 12,300 square feet. The 8.5-acre estate is just off Mandeville Canyon in one of L.A.’s most prestigious neighborhoods, hence the list price: $25 million.
The “Project Runway” host bought the place for $14.2 million, but then threw some major cash in to make it her own little piece of heaven.
The spread includes a motor court with a fountain, an infinity-edge pool and spa, a koi pond, a formal rose garden, a rolling lawn for golf putting and driving, a children’s playhouse and slide, ocean views and “secret gardens.”
Inside, the dining room was imported from Paris, where it was a private dining room in a hotel. The previous owner reconstructed it in the home. In the library, there is an ornate wooden bookcase that came from Napoleon’s French country home.
Golfing ‘Housewife’ Kyle Richards Scores Swinging Abode
“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kyle Richards and her husband, luxury real estate agent Mauricio Umansky, recently paid $2.35 million for a La Quinta getaway.
The luxurious vacation home has 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms and overlooks the 9th fairway of a golf course, with a mountain view beyond the cascading pool. Most important: The home is studded with 10 TVs, 28 speakers and 6 control pads – plenty of ways to watch episodes of her reality TV show.
This Hollywood Listing’s Got Legs
Betty Grable continues to be a brand name in Tinseltown as one of the big stars of the silver screen in the golden era of moviemaking. Now the star’s former home at 1280 Canyon Rd. in Bel-Air is on the market for $13.295 million.
Grable moved in after the home was built in 1937, the same year she married actor Jackie Coogan. Soon after, the couple appeared in “Million Dollar Legs” and Grable became an American icon, thanks to her pinup popularity during World War II.
After Grable moved out in the late 1940s, the home went on to be owned by a couple of celebrities, including Jaclyn Smith from “Charlie’s Angels” and Stephen Stills, of Crosby, Stills & Nash.
The home is now owned by L.A. entertainment lawyer, Schuyler Moore, according to property records for the 6-bedroom, 7-bathroom home.
By Laura Vecsey
Jane Fonda Parting with Santa Fe Ranch
Actress and activist Jane Fonda is ready to part with her 2,000-acre New Mexico spread called Forked Lightning Ranch outside of Santa Fe. She has listed the home for sale for $19.5 million.
Fonda bought the ranch in 2000, around the time she separated for good from her ex-husband and CNN founder Ted Turner. He is the largest private owner of land in the nation, so it’s apparent that Turner’s love of Western lands rubbed off on Fonda. But now Fonda says she doesn’t have time to visit anymore, even though it was her sanctuary.
Before choosing the location for the house she built on the land, Fonda said she spent two years fly-fishing, hiking, camping and horseback riding to learn everything about the property and its sunrises, sunsets, views and weather patterns.
The main home is almost 10,000 square feet, and there’s also a guesthouse and stable.
Former Disney Estate Sells
The Carolwood estate in L.A.’s coveted Holmby Hills neighborhood once owned by Walt Disney has sold for $74 million.
The home was once listed for as much by $90 million and offered by the high-end brokerage to the stars, The Agency. But even at the final sale price, it was still the fourth most expensive home sale in the United States so far this year.
Carolwood measures 35,000 square feet and has 8 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms. The seller was investor Gabriel Brener, who co-owns the Houston Dynamo soccer club.
Sinatra’s New York, New York Pad For Sale
Frank Sinatra’s “glittering grotto” in the sky is for sale in New York City. Of course, it has been completely renovated since they days when the place served as party central for Sinatra & company.
Located in The Edgewater, a white-glove building on a cul-de-sac overlooking the East River at 530 East 72nd Street in the Lenox Hill section of Manhattan, the apartment was a party pad for the Rat Pack and other high-society figures, including regulars like Mia Farrow, President Kennedy and Sammy Davis, Jr.
The residence – nicknamed the “glittering grotto” by Andy Warhol –
had been listed for as high as $5.595 million, but its current list price is now $4.995 million.
The 3,200-square-foot residence has 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and two wraparound terraces. The master suite upstairs includes a wet bar, and the master bedroom is elevated.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.03 percent, down from 4.06 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 4.08 percent for the majority of the week, before dropping modestly to the current rate on Tuesday morning.
“Last week, mortgage rates remained stable as the Federal Open Market Committee’s policy statement contained few surprises,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “With little anticipated economic news this week, we expect rates will remain steady, similar to the pattern they’ve held for the past few weeks.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.0 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.79 percent.
By Laura Vecsey
Fan Buys Whitney Houston’s NJ Estate
Whitney Houston’s home has finally found an owner who feels the heat for property’s unique past. Well, maybe not the “Being Bobby Brown” part, but all the success Houston did enjoy before she succumbed to addiction.
Emergency room physician Matthew Krauthamer may have been in second grade when Houston’s first big hit took the radio airwaves by storm back in 1987, but he became an enduring fan of the entertainer, who died of a drug overdose in 2012. He just paid $1.5 million for Houston’s mansion, which sits on 5 acres and has been vacant for years.
Krauthamer, 33, has had time to admire the property, since he has lived just a few doors down in the same neighborhood. He said he intends to restore the 1980s home to its original form and live in the place: Not a bad idea, considering its privacy, the pool house, Jacuzzi and other features.
The 5-bedroom, 6-bathroom home at 22 N Gate Rd in Mendham, N.J., sprawls a generous 13,607 square feet. It has languished on and off the market since 2009, only to be sold in February to an investment company that paid $999,900. The house had been listed for as much as $1.75 million at one point.
Winning? Charlie Sheen Lists in L.A.
Charlie Sheen is looking to dump a 1989 contemporary in the Westlake Village neighborhood just a year after the actor bought the place for $1.6 million.
The new price for the 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom home at 1896 Smokey Ridge Ave. is $1.695 million. That includes hardwood floors, custom granite kitchen and an infinity pool with views of the city.
Reports also indicate that Sheen has sold his Mulholland Estates home, which he bought last summer from producer Mike Medavoy.
"Friends" Star Selling Modern Home
Matthew Perry’s Malibu beach house has gotten a new slew of sleek furniture, just in time to help the TV star sell during a boom time in the Los Angeles housing market.
Perry has relisted his home at 3556 Sweetwater Mesa Rd for $12.5 million. The 4-bedroom, 6-bath home overlooking the Malibu pier had been listed for $13.5 million for about five months from 2011 to 2012.
This is just the latest real estate deal Perry is looking to make. In the past few years, he has sold other modern properties in Hollywood Hills and West Hollywood, and has also bought a new home on the Sunset Strip.
Lenny Kravitz Might Wonder: Is It Going to Go Developers Way?
Lenny Kravtiz may have hit it big as a rocker, but he’s long been working the investment and real estate game. But what does Kravitz make of a builder’s proposal to turn his childhood home in Brooklyn into a 6-unit apartment building?
The developer, who bought the building in December for $565,000, has appealed a ruling that went against his plan, so there’s still a chance the historic home at 368 Throop Ave in Brooklyn’s Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood could get an extreme makeover.
The building belonged to Kravitz’s grandparents, but a young Lenny spent weekends there until he was 10, when his family moved to Los Angeles, where his actor-mother co-starred in “The Jeffersons.”
By Laura Vecsey
Former Gov. Romney Sells Massachusetts Condo
So long, Massachusetts?
Mitt Romney, the former governor of the Bay State, and his wife, Ann, have parted company with their adopted home state. According to reports, the couple has sold their Belmont condo for $1.2 million.
The home served as the couple’s home base during Romney’s failed presidential run in 2012, and with much larger compounds in New Hampshire, Utah and California, it’s not as if the Romneys needed another place to hang their hats.
According to the Boston Globe, the Romneys bought Unit 65 in the Woodlands at Belmont Hill development about four years ago for $895,000. They had owned another Boston area home for 20 years before selling that place for $3.5 million several years ago.
A Very Miniature Dollywood in Hollywood for Sale
Dolly Parton is hitting the road to support her new album, “Blue Smoke,” but she first had to trim her real estate holdings. The darling of country music has listed her little ol’ gated adobe-style home in West Hollywood for $1.39 million.
While it’s no comparison to Dolly’s theme-park grand place back in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., the two-bedroom, two-bathroom home is stuffed with country decor. Parton bought the 1,091-square-foot adode in 2007 for $1.2 million.
Classic Beauty: Hepburn’s Connecticut Estate Gets Price Cut
Katharine Hepburn’s former beach house in Connecticut is back on the market for $14.8 million. That’s a far cry from the original $28 million once sought for the handsome residence in Old Saybrook.
According to listing notes, the place has also undergone a total renovation, which was overseen by New York builder Frank Sciame, who also restored such grand New York City gems like the Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Guggenheim Museum.
The 6-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom home is a grand 8,300 square feet and sits on a 1.5-acre parcel overlooking Long Island Sound, including its own stretch of beach.
The home has been in the Hepburn family’s possession for years, and the great actress lived there until her death in 2003.
Megan Fox & Family Need More Room
Hollywood couple Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green have listed their Mediterranean home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. The 4-bedroom, 5-bath home is on the market for $3.995 million.
The home has views of downtown L.A., Long Beach, Century City and the ocean, plus a swimming pool and lots of outdoor patio and yard space.
The couple styled it with bold wallpapers, Spanish tile and antique lighting. They also updated with technology, adding projection screens, a sound system and video camera surveillance.
Green, best known for playing David Silver on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” has a son from a previous relationship. Green and Fox, of “Transformers” fame, also have a 2-year-old and a new baby.
By Laura Vecsey
‘Winter White House’ Wows in Palm Beach
Once the winter home for John F. and Jackie Kennedy, the 15,000-square-foot mansion has hit the market after an impressive makeover that has apparently translated into a whopping price tag of $38.5 million.
According to Curbed, the Kennedy family last sold the “Winter White House” in 1995 to investment bank CEO John K. Castle for $4.9M. The 1920s Mediterranean revival mansion looks ready for its close-up, courtesy of a $6 million renovation.
With 11 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, the home was built in 1925 by architect Addison Mizner for department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker. Curbed reports that John F.'s dad Joseph P. Kennedy “bought the place in 1933 for $120K.”
While the history of the place continues to unfold, and the renovations have spruced it up to new, glamorous heights, one thing about the property remains the same, regardless of how many Kennedy’s slept there: Sweeping, direct ocean views.
Blockbuster Listing for Spielberg’s Vacant Land in Hamptons
In Hollywood, Steven Spielberg is a creative force behind some of the film industry’s biggest movies. On Long Island – not so much.
In 2008, the mighty director purchased a 3.3-acre waterfront parcel in East Hampton for $20 million. The property at 94 Apaquogue Rd. sported a traditional-styled 1900s-era home – which Spielberg promptly had demolished.
But if the idea had been to replace the home with something far more fitting for an entertainment industry titan, it did not happen. Now the lot has been listed for sale for $24.5 million.
But don’t worry about whether Spielberg has a place to crash when he’s hanging with the rich and famous in the tony enclave. Word is he’s got two other properties in the area.
By Laura Vecsey
Let Him Ride! Dre Moving Up, Again
It’s a long way from Compton, but then again, music industry mogul and rap kingpin Dr. Dre has been living large ever since he and Snoop Dogg were extolling the virtues of rolling in their 6-4s and sipping on gin and juice.
Now it appears the Los Angeles native will be moving into the house that Tom built. Tom Brady, that is.
According to reports, Dre has agreed to buy the mega-mansion built by the Patriots star and his Brazilian model wife, Gisele Bundchen for $40 million. The 20,000-square-foot estate in Brentwood, CA was featured in an
Architectural Digest photo spread after they completed construction back in 2011, but with homes in New York, Boston and around the globe, the couple decided to give up the custom estate they built for a reported $50 million.
The Old World-inspired imported limestone mansion on four acres is a truly palatial retreat, with reclaimed cobblestones in the motor court, waterfalls and ponds, and views of the Pacific Ocean. It has five bedrooms and nine bathrooms, and is built for “large-scale entertaining.”
We believe when it comes large-scale, Dre’s got that covered.
Mad Deal for This Home Far From Madison Ave
January Jones, aka Betty Francis on the hit series “Mad Men,” has listed her Los Feliz Mediterranean for $1.495 million.
The remodeled abode carries a formal and contemporary style after she purchased the house for $1 million in 2009, and then undertook a mondo kitchen remodel.
The 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 2,200-square-foot home at 4969 Ambrose Ave in Los Angeles is no longer a fixer: Jones added a Carrara marble island and a big stainless steel sink.
The Real ‘Scarface’ Home Hits the Santa Barbara Market
The 1906 mansion where Al Pacino was featured in a role where he went absolutely nuts with drugs and power is for sale in the oceanside town of Santa Barbara. The California coastal manse’s list price is a Hollywood-esque real $35 million.
The Mediterranean estate is a stunner, and not only because of the immortal scene in “Scarface” where Pacino hoists his machine gun and shouts: "Say hello to my little friend!"
Despite its film history past, the 4-bedroom, 9-bathroom Roman palace-like home was designed by architect Bertram Goodhue. Its name, "El Fureidis," means "Tropical Paradise," according to the listing. The grand property includes a 10-acre lot and a unique pool complete with water fountains.
According to records, the “Scarface” mansion last sold for just $6.23 million in 2009, and in 2012 was listed for rent for $30,000 a month.
By Laura Vecsey
Changes for Nicole Richie
Nicole Richie and her musician husband Joel Madden have listed the Spanish colonial owned by Madden since before their wedding in 2010. The couple’s restored 1930s home in Glendale, Calif., is listed for $1.875 million.
The 4-bedroom, 4-bath is almost 5,000 square feet and is replete with thick crown moldings, beamed ceilings, an arched entryway and a custom-tiled fireplace.
With two kids and busy schedules (he’s the front man for pop-punk band Good Charlotte; she’s got a show called #CandidlyNicole) the couple is taking some time to make a move.
She’s a ‘Belieber’: Selena Gomez Thinks Her Home Will Fetch $3.495M
Selena Gomez, the singer-actress and off-and-on girlfriend of Justin Bieber, has listed her 6,000-plus square-foot home in Tarzana, Calif.
Completely redecorated, Gomez stripped out the plaid and farmhouse décor and instead tricked the place out in a very modern modality. The six-bedroom, eight-bath gated home sits on a full acre, with lots of outdoor amenities, including a pool, full basketball court, Bocce Ball court, pergola and even an orchard.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.05 percent, down from 4.10 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate declined early last week to 4.03 percent, where rates hovered for the majority of the week before rising slightly to the current rate on Monday.
“Rates dropped last week, and briefly dipped below 4 percent for the first time since October, as expectations rose that the European Central Bank will ease monetary policy to stimulate growth,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “With little domestic news scheduled for release this week, market observers will look abroad for news that could push rates back into the 3 percent range.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.06 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.77 percent.
By Laura Vecsey
Nothing But Net for This Sweet Penthouse
Marv Albert has hoisted his $16.5 million apartment on the white-hot Manhattan real estate market.
The longtime sports broadcaster has been dubbed the Voice of the Knicks, Nets and the NBA, but the 72-year-old New York native is now looking for a swish of a sale on his penthouse situated right near Lincoln Center and Central Park.
According to records, Albert bought the 3,500-square-foot condo for $2.93 way back in 1996. In addition to a generous indoor floor plan, which includes two master suites, the perk of this place is the expansive, 1,500-square-foot terrace, giving the residence a huge outdoor entertainment space.
It’s a long way from Mayberry, Opie!
Ron Howard, the former child star-turned-Academy-Award-winning-director, saw his road to stardom and economic glory lead him, his wife and family to an amazing estate in Armonk, N.Y., about an hour north of New York City and close to tony Greenwich, Conn.
But with the kids grown, and now 60 years old, Howard says it’s time to sell the family spread. The man known as Opie (The Andy Griffith Show) and Richie Cunningham (Happy Days) has listed the home at a staggering $27.5 million.
Howard and his wife, Cheryl, raised their family on this lakefront, country estate set on Converse Lake. The home has 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, a two-story library and office, a 14-seat movie theater, a gym, yoga studio and an indoor pool modeled after the pool in Howard’s hit movie, “Cocoon.”
The estate also includes a two-bedroom guest cottage, an indoor tennis and basketball complex, an observatory silo, barns, paddocks, a pond and waterfall, greenhouses and formal gardens.
By Laura Vecsey
Meryl’s Choice: Grand Dame of Film Selling in L.A.
Easy come, easy go for Meryl Streep. The Academy Award winner has listed the sleek Los Angeles modern home she bought last February. The plot twist? At a $6.75 million list price, Streep is seeking $2.25 million more than she paid for the 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom, 3,500-square-foot place last year. It comes with all the same furnishings Streep acquired with the property in Feb. 2013. There’s only one direction from the most decorated American actress: No open houses.
Eat, Pray, Sell
Author Elizabeth Gilbert, whose “Eat, Pray, Love” memoir was a bestseller and hit movie, is selling her 1869 Italianate Victorian in Frenchtown, N.J.
Luckily, Gilbert’s writing skills have come in handy: She has penned her own listing description and is selling the place For Sale By Owner. The 4-bedroom, 3-bath residence is on the market for $999,000, and features a wine cellar, 1,400-square-foot library and gardens galore.
Reggie Bush Rushing for a Sale
Now that he’s in Detroit playing for the Lions, NFL running back Reggie Bush is making a big push to sell his Hollywood Hills home. The list price is $6 million for the modern abode that features a penthouse master suite, roof deck and pool.
The former University of Southern California star, who brought on a monstrous scandal at his alma mater, has had his place at 1501 Vistaview Terrace redecorated in order to attract a buyer.
By Laura Vecsey
A Memorable ‘Homer’ For Yankees’ Great Yogi Berra
With the passing of his beloved wife, Carmen, this past March, Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra has decided to sell the Montclair, N.J., home the happy couple shared and made the center of their large family’s world for 40 years.
And if there’s any doubt that the home belongs to Yogi, the $888,000 list price says it all for the Yankee legend who wore jersey No. 8.
Their home at 19 Highland Ave in Montclair is a traditional colonial that boasts a three-story spiral staircase that caught Carmen’s eye back in 1974 when they purchased the home.
Like the MLB legend, the 1902 home is full of surprises. There’s a double-sided wood-burning fireplace, beautiful wood paneling, a tiny closet-sized darkroom on the third floor, an artist’s studio, views of New York City and a little covered porch off to the side.
Carmen Berra died March 7 as the result of a stroke, and the couple had been living in a nearby retirement home. But with Yogi’s wife of 65 years now gone, and with his 89th birthday coming on May 12, the family has decided to part ways with the 6-bedroom, 3.25-bathroom home.
Ellen Page Turns a Corner in LA
“Juno” star and activist Ellen Page has listed her Studio City home for $1.05 million. The move comes a month after Page bought a sensational Hollywood Hills mid-century modern for $1.7 million that had been owned and redecorated by tennis champion Venus Williams.
Page, 27, bought the 1,499-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath home at 11283 Canton Dr. for $885,000 in 2011. The Cape Cod has been updated with lots of windows, beamed ceilings and a pool.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.16 percent, down from 4.19 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate peaked at 4.22 percent last Tuesday before plummeting Wednesday afternoon to 4.14 percent, where rates continued to hover for the remainder of the week.
“Last week, rates dipped to the lowest level in seven weeks as weaker-than-expected home sales and continued concerns over geo-political stability in Ukraine kept downward pressure on rates,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, we expect more volatility as both the mid-week Federal Open Market Committee announcement and Friday’s jobs report have the potential to move markets.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.15 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.81 percent.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages rose this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.19 percent, up from 4.14 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate steadily increased last week, peaking at 4.26 percent on Monday before dropping to the current rate this morning.
“Last week, rates rose slightly on improving unemployment and manufacturing data,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, fewer significant economic reports are slated for release, and markets are more likely to be swayed by the geo-political situation in Ukraine, which could affect rates.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.18 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.78 percent.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell over the past week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.14 percent, down from 4.20 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate plummeted on Wednesday from 4.24 percent to 4.12 percent, where rates have continued to hover into this week.
“Last week, rates dropped to their lowest levels in six weeks as investors shifted out of stocks and into safer assets, like U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, there is a full slate of economic reports scheduled for release, with the potential to nudge rates up.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.15 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.80 percent.
By Natalie Wise
With our country’s fast pace of life and technology-saturated culture, reading can often take a back seat to work, schedules packed with extracurricular activities and social media. But a new report states that residents of some cities are more literate than others, engaging their reading skills more often.
The report determined that reading culture is defined by how residents use their reading skills, not by how their reading skills test. For instance, the percentage of adults with college degrees, newspaper circulation, use of library resources, and the number of bookstores are all important factors in determining how literate a city is.
The city most interested in reading is Washington, D.C., for the fourth year running. The city features a high level of educational attainment and tech-savvy readers who enjoy using mobile devices to read.
Second on the list is Seattle, which boasts the highest percentage of adults with college degrees (57.7 percent). Thirdly, residents of Minneapolis are avid readers in a city that boasts 41 libraries, a large newspaper circulation and a high concentration of bookstores.
Atlanta (No. 4) and Pittsburgh (No. 5) also have residents who display a high level of reading engagement. Denver (No. 6) boasts high numbers of both weekday and Sunday newspaper readers and their library system is top-notch and well-used.
St. Paul (No. 7), the capital of Minnesota, boasts a high concentration of book stores and is a particular boon for collectors of rare books (and lovers of the reading-and-writing patriarch of the city, Garrison Keillor of “A Prairie Home Companion” fame). Tech-savvy and educated Bostonians helped their city rank No. 8. St. Louis, at No. 9, features high-quality libraries and high magazine circulation numbers.
Last but not least, San Francisco is the No. 10 most literate city. The city ranks second in the number of adults with college degrees (53.6 percent).
By Randi Petrello
Pittsburgh has been named one of the most affordable major metropolitan markets in the world, according to a new report.
The annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey found that the most affordable markets among major metros were all in the United States. Pittsburgh led the list, followed by Detroit, Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Rochester, N.Y. Hong Kong is the least affordable, followed by Vancouver, San Francisco and Sydney.
Among the 360 metropolitan markets surveyed in nine countries, 95 were considered affordable, and 84 of those were in the United States. There were 122 moderately unaffordable markets, 67 seriously unaffordable markets and 76 seriously unaffordable markets.
The survey determined affordability using the “median multiple,” which is found by dividing the median house price by gross annual median household income.
Pittsburgh’s median multiple was 2.3. The survey found the median home price here to be $116,000, and the median household income was $51,400.
Josh Caldwell, president of the Pittsburgh Real Estate Investors Association, said that there are a lot of affordable options here and that it is still a buyers’ market.
“You can get a lot of house for a little money here,” Caldwell said.
The Zillow Home Value Index estimates home values in Pittsburgh at $87,000 up 10.7 percent year-over-year, as of January 31.
Also on the list was Kansas City, Mo., which ranked No. 12 on the major market list. Kansas City had a median multiple of 2.9. The median price for a house there was $162,300 and the median household income was $55,500.
As for affordability in other countries, Ireland had the most affordable housing, followed by the United States and Canada. The least affordable were China, Australia and New Zealand.
The survey found that the smallest houses were found in the most expensive market, Hong Kong, while the biggest houses were found in the United States.
By Randi Petrello
Homes are being flipped faster and for higher profits, according to a recent report.
RealtyTrac’s year-end and Q4 Home Flipping Report found that flips were up 16 percent in 2013. Flips accounted for 4.6 percent of all single-family home sales.
Flips raked in an average gross profit of $58,081 in 2013, up from $45,759 in 2012. The average gross profit in the fourth quarter was $62,761, up from $52,746 in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the report.
In Pittsburgh, the average gross profit for a flip was $57,674, up from $38,475 the year before.
Josh Caldwell, president of the Pittsburgh Real Estate Investors Association, said there are a few different ways to flip houses.
“Some people go for low-end, very cheap houses,” Caldwell said in a written statement. “I like to work in the $200,000-plus areas of town. So there are opportunities all over town, but you have to search for them. The goal of a flip house is to find one with significant upside to it.”
Caldwell said he sees a lot of homes in the Pittsburgh area being flipped, but that not all flippers are doing the same thing.
In the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News area, the average gross profit in 2013 was $91,262, up from $88,581 in 2012. The number of homes flipping here was up 141 percent in 2013, compared to 2012.
The average time to complete a flip was 84 days in 2013, according to the report.
RealtyTrac created the top 15 markets for profitable flipping by narrowing the list to those metros with at least 100 flips in the third quarter and where flipping increased from the previous year, sorted by total gross profit. The report considers a flip as a home that is purchased and sold again within six months.
By Nora Tooher
If you’re looking for a bicycling challenge this spring, try pedaling in Pittsburgh.
Steel City has two of the steepest streets in the nation, according to a graphic listing the “Top 10 U.S. Steepest Streets,” compiled by Fixr for Urban Velo, a bicycling publication.
The steepest street in the country is Waipio Road in Honokaa, Hawaii, a muscle-busting road with a 45-degree incline, rising 800 feet from the historic Waipio Valley to the plateau above in just six-tenths of a mile. Only four-wheel drive vehicles are permitted on the road.
Pittsburgh, located 107 miles southeast of Cuyahoga Falls, is home, however, to the steepest public street in the country – Canton Avenue. With a 37 percent gradient, Canton Avenue is ranked the second-steepest street in the Guinness Book of World Records only because of a miscalculation, which gave that honor to Baldwin Street in New Zealand. It turns out that Baldwin Steep has a mere 35 percent gradient, not the 38 percent gradient originally calculated.
Another Pittsburgh thoroughfare, Dornbush Street, made the list, coming in at No. 8 with a 31.98 percent gradient.
Surprisingly, Los Angeles had four steep streets on the list: Eldred Street, 33 percent gradient; 28th Street between Gaffey and Peck, 33 percent; Baxter Street, 32 percent and Fargo Street, 32 percent.
San Francisco, known for its hills, has only two streets on the list, Nos. 9 and 10: 22nd Street between Church and Vicksburg, and Filbert Street – two of the steepest navigable streets in the Western Hemisphere, both with a 31.5 percent grade.
Spring Valley, Calif., was the other community to make the list, claiming the sixth spot with Maria Avenue, a street so hilly the list’s authors wondered if the planners who laid out the road had “ever even visited the site.”
For local bicyclists looking for a challenge closer to home, an article in the latest issue of Urban Velo says simply trying to ride a bike in downtown Cleveland is difficult: “Streets, even those cutting through the heart of downtown, are as much as six lanes wide with cars regularly traveling 10 miles per hour over posted speed limits. Cyclists are often left to figure it out for themselves among the pothole-laden asphalt, often without a bike lane to offer even some notion of protection.”
Critical Mass, a local bicycling advocacy group, however, has successfully organized a group bike ride in Cleveland on the last Friday of every month.Full Story
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell last week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.20 percent, down from 4.25 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate peaked on Wednesday at 4.28 percent before falling to 4.20 percent over the weekend.
“Last week mortgage rates dipped after Friday’s job report which, while fairly strong, failed to meet the market’s expectations,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, we expect rates to remain about where they are now, and aren’t anticipating any market-moving surprises with the release of the FOMC’s (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes from the March meeting.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.17 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.86 percent.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell last week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.25 percent, down from 4.27 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate peaked on Wednesday at 4.29 percent before falling to 4.20 percent, where rates hovered for the remainder of the week.
“Rates dropped last week, erasing most of the run-up triggered previously by the Fed’s surprisingly aggressive guidance on plans to increase the Federal Funds Rate,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “We expect rates to remain fairly steady this week, not making any significant movements until after Friday’s jobs report.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.22 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.77 percent.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages rose last week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.27 percent, up from 4.19 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate surged early last week, peaking at 4.33 percent on Thursday before dropping down near 4.28 percent, where rates hovered for the remainder of the week.
“Last week, rates surged after the Federal Reserve suggested it might increase the Federal Funds Rate sooner and more significantly than expected, surprising many market observers who look to this rate for guidance on where mortgage rates are headed,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, we expect rates will inch up further on the momentum of last week’s direction from the Fed and expectations of positive news from economic data scheduled for release.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.22 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.87 percent.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages rose this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.21 percent, up from 4.11 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate steadily rose last week, peaking at 4.27 percent on Monday before dropping slightly to today’s rate.
“Rates rose on Monday to levels not seen since mid-January, as the situation in Ukraine appeared to improve and Friday’s jobs report beat expectations,” said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, we expect rates to remain fairly steady, unless the economic reports being released in the latter half of the week are strong enough to accelerate the gradual upward momentum we saw following last week’s jobs report.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.15 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.74 percent.
By Nora Tooher
Thinking of retiring somewhere great – say, maybe Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas or … Pittsburgh?
That’s right, Pittsburgh made Forbes magazine’s list of the “25 best places to retire in 2014.” And it’s the second year in a row it’s made the list.
For those who hadn’t considered Steel City as a potential retirement haven, the magazine notes that Pittsburgh offers a solid economy, a reasonable cost of living, a typical home price of $130,000, a large number of doctors per capita, and high ranks for volunteering, bicycling and walkability.
On the down side, Pittsburgh has a high crime rate and cold winters.
The majority of communities on Forbes’ list are in warm or moderate locales, but several other colder cities also made the cut, including Fargo, N.D., and Boise, Idaho.
Although weather was one of the factors considered, the main criteria was good retirement value, including the overall cost of living, home prices and the state’s tax climates for retirees.
The final list included communities in 16 states in all four continental time zones. Four states – Texas, Florida, South Carolina and Pennsylvania – have two or more listings.
State College, the home of Penn State, was the other Pennsylvania community on the list. Positives include a good economy, an average home price of $259,000, a low crime rate and a high walkability rate. The cost of living in State College, however, is 5 percent above the national average.
Other communities deemed ideal locales for retirement living – in alphabetical order – were: Abilene, Texas; Auburn, Ala.; Austin, Texas; Bellingham, Wash.; Blacksburg, Va.; Bluffton, S.C.; Boise, Idaho; Bowling Green, Ky.; Brevard, N.C.; Cape Coral, Fla.; Charleston, S.C.; Clemson, S.C.; Fargo, N.D.; Fredericksburg, Texas; Las Cruces, N.M.; Morgantown, W.Va.; Ogden, Utah; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Port St. Lucie, Fla.; and Salt Lake City.
No Ohio communities made the cut.Full Story
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.11 percent, down from 4.18 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate declined steadily last week, dropping to as low as 4.09 percent on Monday before rising slightly to today’s rate.
“Rates drifted downwards last week as geopolitical concerns emerged from the turmoil in Ukraine,” said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, while the jobs report on Friday is typically the dominant market catalyst, we expect rates will remain depressed while the situation in Ukraine remains unsettled.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.08 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.69 percent.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages remained unchanged from last week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.18 percent, the same rate recorded last Tuesday.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate remained stable for the week, hovering between 4.17 and 4.22 percent for the majority of the week.
“Rates were steady last week as uncertain economic data left markets with a fuzzy picture of the health of the economy,” said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, we expect the uncertainty to continue, leaving rates fairly flat.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.17 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.75 percent.
By Randi Petrello
The majority of the healthiest housing markets are out west, according to a new report. However, Pittsburgh managed to make its way onto the top 10.
Zillow’s new Market Health Index is a scale to measure the current health of an area’s housing market relative to similar markets throughout the United States. The index uses 10 measures to calculate housing market health, including how long homes stay on the market, the number of foreclosures, sale prices, delinquencies, negative equity, as well as the financial health of homeowners.
The top 10 healthiest markets among large metro areas in October were San Jose, Calif.; San Francisco; Los Angeles; San Diego; Denver; Pittsburgh; Portland; New York; and Sacramento.
Pittsburgh earned a 7.4 on the scale for October, while San Jose earned a 9, meaning the region is healthier than 90 percent of all comparable markets tracked by Zillow.
“Pittsburgh is doing quite well, and we have a lot of things going for us that are helping,” said Josh Caldwell, president of the Pittsburgh Real Estate Investors Association. “The gas and oil industry is helping us by driving a lot of growth in the property market. A lot of educated people are coming to the area and they’re helping the economy, as well as the housing market.”
The home value index in Pittsburgh was $111,400 for the month of October, up 1.8 percent year over year. There was 1.1 home foreclosure per every 10,000 in the area.
“Because we don’t have those booms and busts here, it is nearly impossible to be underwater,” Caldwell said.
The index tracks more than 450 metropolitan areas, 900 counties and 10,900 ZIP codes.
As for the future of Pittsburgh’s housing market, Caldwell said he expects it to stay at a steady growth pace.
“Compared to other regions, I’m pretty rosy about our area,” Caldwell said.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages rose again this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.18 percent, up from 4.14 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered between 4.17 and 4.21 percent for the majority of the week, spiking to 4.27 percent on Wednesday before dropping back down to 4.18 percent on Thursday.
“Last week, rates rose briefly when comments by Janet Yellen, the new Federal Reserve Chair, ended speculation that the Fed might delay the winding down of its stimulus program due to recent weak economic data,” said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow. “During this holiday-shortened week with limited economic data scheduled for release, we expect rates will continue to follow the gradual upward path of the past two weeks.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.14 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.71 percent.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages rose this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace 4.14 percent, up from 4.09 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose early last week before leveling off near 4.13 percent on Friday.
“Rates were essentially unchanged last week despite a weaker than expected jobs report,” said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow. “Although this week marks Janet Yellen’s first congressional testimony as the new Federal Reserve Chair, we expect rates will remain fairly flat.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.13 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.80 percent.
Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.09 percent, down from 4.18 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate steadily declined last week, dropping to as low as 4.07 percent on Monday before rising to the current rate this morning.
“Recent weakness in emerging markets helped push rates down last week to 10-week lows as investors turned toward more reliable assets like mortgage-backed securities,” said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow. “If Friday’s jobs report is strong enough, it has the potential to pause a downward slide in rates and offset emerging market concerns.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.10 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.72 percent.
By Randi Petrello
Pittsburgh may have its fair share of bars, but the women here know how to manage their alcohol intake.
A recent report from Sharecare, a health and wellness website, named Pittsburgh among the top 10 cities in America that drink the least, for women. The city was No. 6 on the list, which was topped by Minneapolis and accompanied by Boston; Milwaukee; Rochester, N.Y.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; New York; Philadelphia and Chicago.
The report said that drinking in moderation – no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men – could help lower your risk for heart disease.
Buffalo, N.Y., is the top city where men drink the least.
The heaviest drinkers in America can be found in several Tennessee cities, according to the list. Memphis was No. 1 for women, Knoxville was No. 4 for women and No. 1 for men, and Nashville came in at No. 10 for the men’s list.
The list was compiled using data from a sample of 250,000 RealAge Test respondents, which determines the biological age of one’s body based on health status and habits.
Another recent report from Infogroup Targeting Solutions found that Pittsburgh had the most bars per capita in the country. There are 11.8 bars per 10,000 people here.
Cris Hoel, an area lawyer, told the Pittsburgh Business Times that population loss is one major reason for Pittsburgh’s high number of bars per capita.
“At the time when liquor licenses were being doled out there were a lot more people around here,” Hoel said.
That report also found that Pittsburgh has second-highest amount of pizza places per capita. There are 9.9 pizza joints in the area per 10,000 people. There was no mention if Pittsburgh residents know how to manage their pizza intake, however.
By Randi Petrello
A Pittsburgh suburb has been named one of the best places for affordable homes, according to a recent report.
CNNMoney’s list named 25 towns where residents’ incomes go the furthest and homes cost less than $100,000 on average. Among those cities was Monroeville, Pa., located less than 15 miles from Pittsburgh, at No. 22.
The small town, with just 28,000 residents, was noted for its big city feel. The median home price there was $120,000, according to the report. Median family income, meanwhile, is $72,122.
The median sale price in Monroeville was $119,600, according to the most recent Zillow data. That’s up 3.8 percent from the year before.
Josh Caldwell, president of the Pittsburgh Real Estate Investors Association, said that, while it may not be the most affordable neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Monroeville is in reach for many homebuyers. Caldwell said he has seen quite a few deals in that area.
“One of the great things is that you can get a lot of house for a little money here,” Caldwell said about the Pittsburgh area.
Altamonte Springs, Fla., ranked No. 1 on the list. The median home price there is $67,000, and median family income is $63,642.
To compile the list, CNN Money used actual sales from county and municipal assessors’ offices. The list used cities with more than 100 home sales in 2012 and where population and job growth were increasing. No more than two towns within a state and no more than one place within a county could qualify to make the cut.
Also on the list was Largo, Md., which ranked No. 14. The small town is about 40 miles away from Baltimore and just 18 miles from Washington, D.C. The town was hit hard by the housing crisis, so there are many home bargains available.
The median home price there is $150,000 and median family income was $95,499. CNNMoney called the town a “suburban hotspot” for those looking to escape D.C. The city is the last stop on the Metro.
By Randi Petrello
The technology sector is once again the main driver for the economies in several metropolitan areas, according to a recent report.
The Milken Institute’s “Best-Performing Cities” ranked Austin, Texas, No. 1, thanks to its booming tech sector. The remaining top five included other tech cities: Provo, Utah; San Francisco; San Jose; and Salt Lake City.
The index ranked the country’s 200 largest metropolitan areas and 179 smaller metros based on job, wage and technology performance. The ranking does not use quality-of-life metrics, such as commute times or housing costs.
Pittsburgh ranked No. 31 on the list of best-performing large cities, up two spots from No. 33 the year before. The city ranked No. 26 for wage growth from 2010 to 2011.
Minoli Ratnatunga, economist at the Milken Institute and one of the report’s co-authors, said the Pittsburgh area has been performing well since the start of the recession. The downside, however, is that the city did not perform as well in the short term, as other metro areas that suffered during the recession are starting to pick back up.
The city is positioned well, with the Marcellus shale industry, engineering, health care and other industries, said Ratnatunga, who is a former Pittsburgh resident.
When it comes to Pittsburgh’s economy, job growth and wage growth are performing well compared to other cities, Ratnatunga said.
The list also highlighted how the U.S. energy sector is growing economies. Nine cities made it into the top 25 as a result of the shale oil and gas industries, including Houston; San Antonio; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Bakersfield, Calif.
Albuquerque, N.M., ranked No. 155 on the list, dropping seven spots from No. 148 the year before. The city was No. 197 for job growth from 2011 to 2012.
“No city stays at the top for a long time,” Ratnatunga said. “Pittsburgh should keep working at all the things that make an economy successful.”
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace 4.18 percent, down from 4.23 percent at this same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate remained stable for the majority of the week, peaking on Wednesday at 4.26 percent before dropping to the current rate over the weekend.
“Last week, rates dipped abruptly after China’s lackluster manufacturing report triggered concerns about the health of the global economy,” said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, markets will look to Wednesday’s Fed announcement about unwinding its stimulus program and Thursday’s GDP numbers as indicators of whether the U.S. economy can continue to improve. Mortgage rates could be affected by either or both.”
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.18 percent and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.80 percent.
Q. What do you think about home warranty for rentals? Best regards. Azhar, San Diego, Calif.
A. I’m glad to see that you are a rental property owner now! I’ve been hearing more and more investors that use home warranties, which is quite a turnaround from a few years ago. I’ll note how these work and a few issues to consider.
A home warranty costs about $350-$500 per year. Many sellers provide a home warranty to a buyer at the sale in hopes that gives the seller a little extra protection in case an appliance or other item breaks. And some home warranty companies do a decent job servicing their policies, but some don’t do a good job. Home warranty companies, unfortunately, are some of the most complained about service providers for unsatisfactory service, but many have good experiences too. You just have to find the good ones!
The main issue to understand is that a home warranty doesn’t cover everything that could go wrong. Like any insurance policy, there are exclusions for some issues, plus there are items like pools or air conditioners that cost extra. Most policy buyers don’t read the policy and just assume, incorrectly, that everything is covered.
So if you are going to buy a policy, make sure you understand what is covered and what is not covered. Due to the relatively low cost, I don’t see any issues with buying a policy for a year and seeing what you experience if you need to make a service call and how good a job the company does on that call. Make sure to fill me in on your experience next year.
Q. We are doing a 1031 exchange and will soon be selling property for about $2,100,000. We want to buy some rentals and thought about Texas, but taxes are insane. So we are considering California. My question to you is do you think buying four to five ready-to-go rental properties is a good idea and where do you think we should be looking, since with the 1031 exchange we have limited time to identify properties. Josh B., North of Los Angeles
A. Make sure to get good legal, accounting and 1031 exchange advice months before you close escrow on what you are selling. Identifying a property within 45 days that you can actually get under contract and buy is very tough. If you are trying to buy five properties, that’s even tougher. You need the buyer of your property to work with you and agree to close escrow once you have all the replacement properties under contract and moving close to closing escrow. Otherwise, good luck completing the exchange.
Regarding buying rental properties, rentals are hard work. If you folks are older, you may not want to deal with rentals. Having a management company might help some, but might not help that much. So make sure you want to be landlords. Also, you should buy properties near where you live. If you have to travel long distances to service the property – even if you have a management company – this can be very disrupting to your life and you might find that the properties are more of a pain than they are worth.
Think it through and make sure the money you will save on taxes from the 1031 exchange is best placed in a relatively risky and high-maintenance asset like rental properties. If it doesn’t make sense, find a better investment choice – which might not be real estate. Good luck!
Leonard Baron, MBA, is America’s Real Estate Professor® and is a real estate investment columnist for Zillow. Find more of his answers to property questions at Mint.com. Email your questions to: Leonard@ProfessorBaron.com