A prime location overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park. A prestigious address with the likes of George Soros as a neighbor. A 7,000-square-foot apartment with 15 rooms, 11-foot-high ceilings, and a private elevator.
A place with such features practically sells itself, right? Well, there is another not-so-small detail: the price.
When it landed on the market in April 2016, the luxury apartment in the prewar building at 1060 Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side was priced at $65 million. Designed by architect J.E.R. Carpenter and constructed in 1929, the building currently offers white-glove service.
With no buyer committing to the 10th-floor, six-bedroom, six-bathroom condo at that high price, co-listing agents Jenny Lenz and Dolly Lenzhave drastically cut the price to $38 million, reigniting interest in the luxe home.
“We already have a lot of interest,” says Dolly Lenz. “It will be sold this summer.”
However, even with financing in place, a potential buyer will require approval from the building’s co-op board.
Lenz explains the reasoning for the price drop with the recent sale of actress Demi Moore‘s New York City penthouse after a few years on the market.
“She started out at $75 million and ended up at $45 million,” Lenz explains. “One number is a nice idea and maybe could work—and the other is the number that actually does.”
It seems $38 million has a better chance of bringing in buyers, and the luxe unit—which was home to former U.S. Ambassador Bruce Gelb for some 50 years—certainly makes a statement.
The layout boasts a double living room, elegant library, and formal dining room, all with unobstructed views of Central Park, the reservoir, and the city skyline. Unusual city features such as four wood-burning fireplaces also grace the home.
But the location is truly the draw. “It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to be that high up,” says Lenz. After all, there’s no worry that a developer will pave over the park and block your sight lines.
In fact, the large-pane windows that overlook Central Park are city landmarked, Lenz adds.
The building’s amenities include a full-service staff and a new, state-of-the-art gym. The units, however, don’t come with a garage or any outdoor space such as a terrace.
But if you want outdoor space, just head out to the acres of parkland steps from your fancy front door.
“Property Brothers: Buying & Selling” stars Jonathan and Drew Scott know plenty about how to survive and thrive in a seller’s market—in which sellers have the upper hand because buyer demand is high and bidding wars are sparked.
“Nobody likes bidding wars when they’re the buyer, but everybody likes them when they’re the seller,” says Jonathan. So true, my friend!
In the latest episode, titled “A Bidding War of Their Own,” clients SiobhanandDavid see their seller’s market as a mixed blessing, because they want to both sell their current home and buy another nearby. The couple, who have two young daughters, want to move up into a detached home with more space in the same New York City neighborhood, but they lost in the bidding process. So they ask the Scott brothers to help.
Contractor Jonathan promises to help them renovate their home to appeal to buyers. Meanwhile, Drew vows to help them master the cunning craft of winning a new home they’ll adore. Here’s how it’s done.
To sell in a seller’s market, don’t renovate too much
Because buyers in a seller’s market are more forgiving than most, “you want to be careful,” says Jonathan. “You want to do just enough to raise the value of the home, but you don’t want to put more money in than you have to.”
Some of the rooms in the family’s small home will be fine with simple cosmetic fixes.
Finish the basement
David, it turns out, is quite handy and has done quite a bit of work on the house, finishing the basement and adding a bathroom to boot. Jonathan is impressed when he sees the quality of work David has done.
“Finishing the basement and adding a bathroom adds a lot of value,” he says.
Don’t get too attached
The drawback of David having done so much work on the house is that he doesn’t want to relinquish renovation control to Jonathan. He’s especially invested in his dark oak staircase, doors, and trim—and he doesn’t want Jonathan to paint any of it. He prefers an authentic look to Jonathan’s plan of making the home look fresher, lighter, and brighter.
“He’s fighting for what his own taste is as though he’s staying in the house,” Jonathan explains. “It’s simple economics: The more people you appeal to, the better price you’re going to get.”
In the end, Siobhan persuades her husband to concede, saying, “Maybe you’re too attached. It’s just a building.”
Expose brick to add character
David also shows Jonathan an area of the house with exposed brick. He suggests Jonathan expose the brick on the stairway wall as well, and Jonathan agrees that it would add character to the home. Maybe they could save money if David did the work himself?
He’s all too willing. “Let’s get dirty!” David says.
A tiny kitchen island is better than none
This home, like so many in this neighborhood, shares a wall with its neighbor, so it has a long, narrow floor plan. By making the kitchen counters along the walls narrow (only 18 inches wide), Jonathan is able to fit in a small island.
“Even though it’s not a very big island and it’s pretty narrow, it’s still adding a lot more function, a lot more prep space, and that’s a huge value-add,” Jonathan says.
Low furniture makes a room look bigger
The master bedroom is small—and the bed overwhelms the room because it’s so high. Jonathan jokingly asks petite Siobhan if she needs a Sherpa to climb it. He notes that there’s an easy fix to make the room look bigger: a lighter coat of paint, a lower bed, and minimal, low-profile furniture.
To start a bidding war, price your home low
That might be contrary to common sense, but Drew advises the couple to list their newly renovated home “just under market value.”
He explains: “Because then people look around at all the comparable-priced homes, and all of a sudden they say, ‘Wow! We get all this?'” They become very invested, and a bidding frenzy frequently ensues.
The couple are hoping to get at least $700,000 for their home, but Drew suggests they list it for $680,000. They reluctantly agree—and are so glad they do once buyers see their newly renovated home and swoon. They receive multiple offers and accept the highest, at $750,000.
To buy in a seller’s market, make a ‘bully offer’
Drew also finds the family a new home of their dreams, and it’s valued in the high $800,000s, which is actually under their $910,000 budget. But here’s the thing: It’s not on the market yet. The owner plans to list it the very next day. Drew explains that if David and Siobhan make a high-enough offer, or a “bully offer,” the owner won’t have to go to the hassle of listing it, and the couple will get the house without a bidding war.
Drew suggests they come in strong at $950,000. And lo and behold, their offer is accepted. They are thrilled to see that, in this case, being a “bully” pays off.
How it works: Every flush releases jets of water so strong, they pressure-wash the sides. And for more stubborn “stickage” (just use your imagination on what this industry term means), you can press a button on the control panel for a 10-minute “deep cleaning” cycle, which fills the bowl with water, along with cleaner released from a cartridge. This toilet’s surface is also covered in an antimicrobial glaze that inhibits the growth of bacteria, and the rim design eliminates that cavity under the rim that usually hides dirt.
Does it work? Haynes gives this model a thumbs-up in part because it barely costs more than a regular toilet and it has an “easy installation and control panel.” She adds, “It performs really well.”
Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive: According to one review on Lowe’s, “I was a bit skeptical at first, thinking I would still have to clean it every once in a while.” Yet “so far … the self cleaner has taken care of everything.”
Another enthusiastic fan agrees: “I’ve moved the toilet brush out to the garage, and I’m sure it knows the garbage can is nearby. We’ll see what happens.”
On the Lowe’s website at least, 86% of customers were impressed enough to recommend it, and about half gave it five stars.
But not all are dazzled. “I might as well just pour cleaning solution into the bowl and it would be just as good if not better,” says another reviewer. “After the deep clean cycle finished, there was still stuff on the back of the bowl that wasn’t removed from regular flushing.”
So, you might not want to toss your toilet brush just yet.
How it works: The magic starts the moment the lid goes up and the bowl is misted with water to help keep waste from sticking to the surface. Then when you flush, two powerful jets send a veritable cyclone of water swirling around the bowl, scrubbing the surface with pressure from the water (using only 1.28 gallons).
Then, while water drains from the bowl, the surface is sprayed with electrolyzed water, which contains charged ions that attach like magnets to dirt particles, thus changing their charge so the dirt is repelled from the surface. All that, just by sending a harmless electrical charge through water—no harsh chemicals necessary.
A final perk: A deodorizing system allows you to disassociate yourself from the task for which the toilet was created.
Does it work? Customers say once you try the Neorest there’s no going back to ordinary toilets.
“Prepare to be ruined for life,” says a reviewer named jfisherm.
AmznAddict adds, “If this thing existed on Game of Thrones, no one would care about the Iron Throne, they would be going to war over this baby.”
The problem, of course, is the price. As Business Insider notes, “the Toto is indeed a throne fit for a king or queen.”
For fans of the bidet:
If you are a fan of the bidet—which sends a strategically targeted spout of water to clean you up—you might dig Kohler’s Veil “Intelligent” toilet ($3,375).
How it works: Although it boasts the same tech as the Toto—UV light and electrolyzed water—these features clean only the bidet faucet rather than the whole bowl. Still, as CNET points out, this feature means “less icky manual cleanup.”
Does it work? Its self-cleaning abilities are limited and the toilet bowl will still need to be scrubbed. However, the bidet feature does add a hygiene edge not seen in the above models. In other words, you’ll end up cleaner, which is nice in its own right.
Plus, sensors detect when you get up and will flush for you and shut the lid. All of which adds up to hands-free waste management.
As one Amazon reviewer points out, “I don’t even flush the dang thing anymore nor ever touch the lid.”
Located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, this waterside retreat in Crystal Bay, NV, is the most expensive listing in the Tahoe area. Listed for $75 million, Crystal Pointe is on the market for the first time since it was built in 1997.
Tahoe’s “epic lakefront masterpiece” brings “uber-luxury” to the area market, says listing agent Shari Purcello-Chase of Chase International.
“It’s the first one of the next generation,” she says. “These are properties that have been built over the years, but they’ve never been for sale before.”
Part of the home’s stratospheric price boils down to logistics. High-end vacation homes like this one take time and money to build. For example, building materials for the beach house were brought in by helicopter and barge and it took years to receive proper permits, according to the agent.
Those show-stopping lake views through the massive windows of the great room also add many zeroes to the price tag. The sellers, who bought the land in 1994, have decided to downsize, according to the agent.
In addition to the 16,232 square feet of living space, the 5.14-acre property adjoins forest service land and offers 525 feet of lakefront.
In addition to the main and beach houses, there’s an attached guest house and a caretaker’s apartment.
Totaling eight bedrooms and more than 10 bathrooms, the property also boasts 13 fireplaces, a 10-seat theater with a 14-foot screen, and a 1,687-bottle wine cellar.
To access the home, there’s a gated drive, entry pavilion, and two funiculars (a cross between an outdoor elevator and an escalator). You can enjoy the view as the funicular transports you from the garage to the main house. Or you could take the stairs, but c’mon!
“Once you go through the gates, you’re in your own peaceful, harmonious seclusion, and yet you’re very close to all the Lake Tahoe amenities,” Purcello-Chase says.
The property is surrounded by “magical” gardens, ponds, waterfalls, and level lawns.” To enjoy them, you’ll need to conjure up a major bankroll.
SPRING HILL, Tenn.—When real-estate agent Don Nugent listed a three-bedroom, two-bath house here on Jo Ann Drive, offers came immediately, including a $208,000 one from a couple with a young child looking for their first home.
A competing bid was too attractive to pass up. American Homes 4 Rent,a public company that had been scooping up homes in the neighborhood, offered the same amount—but all cash, no inspection required.
Twelve hours after the house went on the market in April, the Agoura Hills, Calif.-based real-estate investment trust signed a contract. About a month later, it put the house back on the market, this time for rent, for $1,575 a month.
A new breed of homeowners has arrived in this middle-class suburb of Nashville and in many other communities around the country: big investment firms in the business of offering single-family homes for rent. Their appearance has shaken up sales and rental markets and, in some neighborhoods, sparked rent increases.
On Jo Anne Drive alone, American Homes 4 Rent owns seven homes, property records indicate. In all of Spring Hill, four firms—American Homes, Colony Starwood Homes, Progress Residential and Streetlane Homes—own nearly 700 houses, according to tax rolls. That amounts to about 5% of all the houses in town, a 2016 census indicates, and roughly three-quarters of those available for rent, according to Lisa Wurth, president of the local Realtors’ association.
Those four companies and others like them have become big landlords in other Nashville suburbs, and in neighborhoods outside Atlanta, Phoenix and a couple dozen other metropolitan areas. All told, big investors have spent some $40 billion buying about 200,000 houses, renovating them and building rental-management businesses, estimates real-estate research firm Green Street Advisors LLC. Still, they own less than 2% of all U.S. rental homes, according to Green Street.
The buying spree amounts to a huge bet that the homeownership rate, which currently is hovering around a five-decade low, will stay low and that rents will continue to rise. The investors also are wagering that many people no longer see owning a home as an essential part of the American dream.
“The rental stigma has really subsided,” says Michael Cook, operations chief at closely held Streetlane Homes, which owns about 4,000 houses. “People are realizing that houses are not necessarily the best places to store wealth.”
For many years, the rental-home business was dominated by small businesses and mom-and-pop investors, most of whom owned just a property or two. Big investment firms concentrated on other real-estate sectors—apartment buildings, office towers, shopping centers and warehouses—reasoning that single-family homes were too difficult to acquire en masse and unwieldy to manage and maintain.
That all began to change during the financial crisis a decade ago. Swaths of suburbia were sold on courthouse steps after millions of Americans defaulted on mortgages. Veteran real-estate investors raced to buy tens of thousands of deeply discounted houses, often sight unseen. The big buyers included investors Thomas Barrack Jr. and Barry Sternlicht —who later merged their rental-home holdings to create Colony Starwood— Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest private-equity firm, and self-storage magnate B. Wayne Hughes, who is behind American Homes.
On the first Tuesday of each month during the crisis, investors sent bidders to foreclosure auctions around Atlanta, where the foreclosure rate exceeded 3% in 2011, according to real-estate analytics firm CoreLogicInc. They toted duffels stuffed with millions of dollars in cashier’s checks made out in various denominations so they wouldn’t have to interrupt their buying sprees with trips to the bank, according to people who participated in the auctions.
Similar scenes played out in Phoenix, where the foreclosure rate hit 5% in late 2010, and in Las Vegas, where it nearly reached 10%.
The bulk-buying brought blighted properties back to life and helped speed the recovery of some of the regions hardest hit by the housing crisis. Executives at the investment firms say they offer homes in good school districts to families that may not be able to buy in those neighborhoods because of damaged credit and tighter postcrisis lending standards.
On a call with investors earlier this year, Mr. Mullen said Progress was betting that much of the middle class will have to rent if it wants to maintain the suburban lifestyle of the past. He said Progress offers “aspirational living experience” to tenants he described as typically about 38 years old and married, with a child or two, annual income of about $88,000, less-than-stellar FICO credit scores of 665 and $45,000 of debt. “Our residents are quite a ways away from being able to purchase a home,” he said.
Home prices in many markets are nearing their 2006 peaks, prompting some investors who bought homes during the downturn to flip them at a profit. But the big buy-to-rent investors are hanging on to their properties and looking to grow.
With fewer foreclosure properties available to buy, those firms have devised other ways to accumulate homes, including buying out rivals, building homes themselves, and buying properties one-by-one on the open market. They are focusing on places where they have gained scale through early foreclosure purchases, or around booming cities such as Nashville, Denver and Seattle.
With family renters in mind, they rarely consider anything smaller than a three-bedroom. They prefer easy-to-maintain newer homes in entry-level price ranges and in neighborhoods governed by homeowners associations, which can help look after their properties. They often outfit their homes with the same appliances, fixtures and flooring so that their maintenance crews have parts on hand when they make house calls.
They have deep pockets and are dispassionate buyers, paying with cash and never fussing over the carpet or paint color.
Spring Hill is about an hour’s drive south of downtown Nashville. It has attracted investors for the same reasons families flock there. It boasts top-rated schools and has been adding jobs at one of the fastest clips in the country.
General MotorsCo. kick-started the town’s growth in 1990 when it opened a vast plant for its now-defunct Saturn brand. The population has grown from about 1,500 back then to some 36,000 today, with subdivisions covering what had once been farmland.
American Homes arrived in 2012, the year after it was founded by Mr. Hughes, now 83 years old, who made billions in the self-storage business, and David Singelyn, who is the company’s chief executive. Mr. Hughes told one of his earliest investors, Alaska’s state oil fund, that he imagined the sort of tenants he wanted—families with school-age children—and then went looking for suitable houses in good school districts.
Nashville’s foreclosure rate never exceeded 2%, so American Homes approached a local builder, John Maher, who had been renting unsold homes in his subdivisions. The company bought about 50 homes from him and later paid about $10 million for 42 rental homes in the area from local landlord Bruce McNeilage and his partners. Then it enlisted local brokers to find more.
Colony Starwood and Progress followed. The proliferation of rental homes spooked owners in some neighborhoods. A few subdivisions voted on whether cap the number of homes that could be rented, but the proposals failed.
“People want to sell their homes to the highest bidder, no matter who it is, and they want to be able to rent their home,” says Jamie Shipley, president of the Wakefield Homeowners Association, which governs a subdivision in which 11% of the homes are owned by institutional investors.
Soon after American Homes closed its deal with Mr. McNeilage, the local landlord, it increased rents on some of the properties by hundreds of dollars a month, according to Mr. McNeilage and some of his former tenants. “People who were on month-to-month leases got a real rude awakening,” he says.
American Homes, which owns more than 48,000 houses nationwide, controls nearly half of Spring Hill’s rental homes, leaving aggrieved renters limited choices. “If you want to be in that subdivision and have your kids go to that elementary school, you have to deal with them,” Mr. McNeilage says.
Jack Corrigan, American Homes’ operations chief, says rent increases for tenants renewing leases average 3% to 3.5%, and the company generally restricts larger hikes to new leases. “We try to be very reasonable with all of our tenants,” he says.
When Aaron Waldie moved to Spring Hill for a job in the finance department of a new hospital, he and his wife, Jessica, intended to use profits from selling their California home to buy a new house. Despite offering thousands of dollars above asking prices, the couple lost several bidding wars and settled for a rental owned by Colony Starwood. “It’s a lot more expensive than homeownership,” he said.
To assess how rents sought by Spring Hill’s big four corporate owners compare with the monthly costs of owning the same properties, The Wall Street Journal analyzed information from the companies’ marketing materials and county sales records for 27 homes purchased by the four since the beginning of March. The analysis—which assumed 10% down payments and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, plus taxes and insurance—found the posted rents on those homes averaged 32% more than the monthly ownership cost.
The average rent for 148 single-family homes in Spring Hill owned by the big four landlords was about $1,773 a month, according to online listings since early May viewed by the Journal. Other landlords also have raised rents, local brokers say.
“The rent is crazy,” says Bruce Hull, Spring Hill’s vice mayor and owner of a local home-inspection business. “It hasn’t been that long since you could get a three bedroom, two bath for $1,000 a month.”
At a recent conference in New York, Mr. Singelyn, the American Homes CEO, told investors that the average household income declared by those applying to rent from American Homes had risen to $91,000, from $86,000 a year earlier.
“Their wherewithal to pay rent today as well as pay rent in the future, with increases, is sufficient,” he said. “It’s just up to us to educate tenants on a new way, that there will be annual rent increases. This has been a very passively managed industry for 30, 40 years up until institutional players came in.”
When rents are significantly higher than the cost of ownership, renters tend to become house hunters. Builders who were sidelined during the recession are rushing to catch up to demand. Spring Hill issued more than 1,100 residential building permits for single-family homes since 2015, and over the past year its planning commission has rezoned and subdivided properties to accommodate thousands more, according to municipal records.
David Bowater and his fiancée were priced out of Spring Hill when the rent on their two-bedroom townhouse rose to about $1,100, from $875, over four years. “It’s cheaper to buy at this point,” Mr. Bowater says.
After bidding on six homes, they won the seventh. The house is even deeper into the middle Tennessee countryside and farther from the restaurants where they work. Mr. Bowater says it is costing him about $100 a month more to own the home than he was paying in rent on the townhouse, but that it is far cheaper than it would be to rent a comparable home with a yard.
“We had to make a big offer,” he said. “I just hope the bubble doesn’t burst and our loan goes upside down.”
You couldn’t escape the news even if you tried: After serving nearly nine years of a maximum 33-year sentence for armed robbery, O.J. Simpson has won a parole, and will be a free man as early as October of this year. The Juice is loose! But where will he live?
When the former Buffalo Bills superstar and actor finally leaves his quarters in Nevada’s Lovelock Correction Center, he might just want to pick up where he left off—and look into the former Miami home he lost to foreclosure shortly after going into the clink in 2008.
The completely remodeled four-bedroom, four-bathroom home is on the market for a priced-to-move $1,299,900. It features a pool and porch, a one-bedroom guesthouse, and a basketball court sitting on 1.65 acres.
Simpson, 70, purchased the home in 2000 for $575,000 and lived there with his two children until his conviction on the armed robbery charge involving two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas. He stopped making his mortgage payments in 2010, and the property was foreclosed on. It was sold online in an auction in 2013 for $655,000, according to NBC.
News report have said the home went back on the market this month or that the price was dropped, but it’s been for sale for the same price since November, says Oscar Ramirez, the FB Agents Corp. Realtor® handling the listing. The property was listed for $1,420,000 in August and then relisted for $1,299,900 in November.
The current owner, listed in realtor.com® records as Southern Farmers Int USA Inc., is an investor, he says. The property was purchased and fixed up with the plan of putting it back on the market, says Ramirez.
“It’s all restored,” he says. “The kitchen is all new.”
Even with the price drop, the seller might have a tough time unloading the home given the connection to its notorious former owner—which might help explain why it’s been sitting on the market for seven months, says real estate appraiser Orell Anderson. He valued Nicole Brown Simpson‘s four-bedroom condo in Los Angeles where she was murdered.
O.J. Simpson, of course, was acquitted of the savage slaying of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman which occurred in1994. He was later found liable for their deaths at a civil trial and ordered to pay the families a $33.5 million judgment, of which little has been recovered,
All the extra exposure surrounding Simpson is “detrimental”, says Anderson, president of Strategic Property Analytics in Laguna Beach, CA.
“There’s nothing wrong with the house,” he says. But “there is a stigma associated with O.J. Simpson given his controversial history.”
If your home gets damaged by a flood, falling tree, or other random accident, you’ll want to know how to file a home insurance claim. Homeowners insurance can help you cover the costs of repairs, providing some much-needed financial relief. But before you file that claim, you’ll want to know the process (and the consequences) so you can plan accordingly. Here’s what you need to know about filing home insurance claims.
How much will I get paid?
While it depends on your particular policy, typically insurance companies will cover anything over your deductible, says Penny Gusner, a consumer analyst for Insure.com. For example, if your deductible is $2,000, and the damage is going to cost $50,000 to repair, you’ll pay the $2,000 and you’ll receive the remaining $48,000. Whatever your deductible, you won’t be able to file your claim until you’ve paid that first.
Are there consequences to filing a claim?
If you file a lot of claims, this might spur your home insurer to raise your rates or cancel your policy once it’s up for renewal.
“You’ll look like a risk,” says Gusner. “Depending on how large the claim is and how many you’ve had, your insurer may ‘nonrenew’ you for the next period.”
However, assuming you’ve been careful about how often you file claims, your policy shouldn’t change drastically.
“It’s unlikely that your policy would be canceled,” says Gusner. When in doubt, ask your agent whether or not it’s worth doing in the long run, and how it could affect your policy.
Should I file a claim for minor repairs?
Even if your repairs surpass your deductible, that doesn’t mean you should definitely file, because it could prompt your insurer to raise rates.
As a general rule of thumb, “if you can afford the cost of repairs, it’s best to pay out of pocket,” says Gusner. “I would advise paying out of pocket for anything up to $1,000 over your deductible.”
Should I document the damage?
For starters, keep in mind that it’s good for everyone if you can stop more damage from occurring, so handle emergencies yourself as soon as possible.
“If a window is broken, and rain is pouring in the house, cover it up,” says Gusner. Before you clean up, however, you’ll want to take some photos as proof of the damage. From there, you’ll want to inform your insurer as soon as you can.
What is ‘proof of loss’ and how does it apply to filing a claim?
A proof of loss form is a sworn statement by you, the policyholder, to your insurance company regarding your loss and/or damages.
“Typically, it includes pertinent information like where and when the loss took place and the amount you are claiming,” Gusner explains. “You’re basically giving concise details about your claim and how the damage was done.”
A proof of loss form is important to getting your claim processed quickly and efficiently, and it usually accompanies other supporting documents such as receipts.
After I file a claim, how long does it take to get paid?
The laws vary by state regarding how quickly a payout must occur.
“Typically, the insurer must approve or deny a claim within 10 to 15 days,” says Gusner. But some states allow up to 60 days—and others just stipulate “within a reasonable time.”
Once the claim is approved and an amount is agreed on, payment is usually due within 30 to 45 days. This means that, in theory, it should take about 60 days from the time you file your claim to receive your payout.
Is there anything I can do to speed things up?
The more organized you are—with documents, photos, and receipts at the ready—the easier you make the jobs of insurance agents, and the faster your claim will get processed.
“Have a list of everything you want to show the claims adjuster,” Gusner advises. “Get detailed estimates from contractors, especially if you’re making a claim after something disastrous, during a time when a lot of other people will likely to be filing claims.”
Filing in person can also help speed up the process.
“Having someone show up in person puts a face with the name, and tends to make an agent more willing to pursue and check on the claim,” Gusner adds.
Sam Yagan, co-founder of the dating website OkCupid, has entered into a relationship with a house in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. The internet entrepreneur paid $3 million for a 7,500-square-foot brick beauty on a tree-lined street.
Listed by Tim Zielonka of Redfin, the spacious property features six bedrooms and 10 baths, plenty of room for Yagan and his wife, Jessica Droste Yagan.
Built in 1929, the three-story home contains original details, including leaded-glass windows, built-in bookshelves, arched doorways, and built-in buffets. A nice perk for the city, the detached two-car garage is also perfect for Chicago’s bone-chilling winter weather.
A corner sitting room is encased in walls made of multipane windows. And the open-concept kitchen and dining area are suited for entertaining.
Like with online dating, patience is key for finding the right partner: This house was initially listed for $3.2 million and stayed on the market for just over two years.
The professional matchmaker sold the dating site for $50 million in 2011 and went on to run Match.com. He’s currently the CEO of ShopRunner.com and made Time’s list of its 100 most influential people in 2013. Not bad for a 40-year-old.
Fun fact: To date, the most famous residents of the South Side, where the Hyde Park neighborhood is located, are former PresidentBarack Obama and Michelle Obama. In 2005, the Obamas paid $1.65 million for a home in Kenwood, an area adjacent to Hyde Park.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave—and a very cluttered cave, at that—you’ve likely heard of Marie Kondo. This Japanese organizing consultant’s first book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has sold over 5 million copies worldwide since its release in 2014. It’s inspired people across America to purge their closets of everything that did not, as she says, “spark joy.” Time magazine even dubbed her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Think about that for a moment—an organizer!
So I gave her methods a try—and quickly realized that while her approach might work for some, it seems downright dumb to me.
Maybe it’s the fact that she encourages people to talk to their old socks, thanking them for their service before tossing them in the trash. Or the fact that she wrote a follow-up best-seller outlining how to fold clothes so they’re “happy.” Whatever the reason, I’m here to say that Kondo’s approach is definitely not for everyone—and I don’t think I’m alone. Here’s why I hate Kondo (and why, deep down, you probably do too).
1. Not everything in life can—or should—’spark joy’
Kondo’s method has a number of components, but the main thing that she is known for is holding up every item and asking if it sparks joy. If so, the joy-sparking object stays. If not, off it goes.
Let’s unpack that “sparking joy” thing a bit. I have a lot of T-shirts. Do they spark joy? Not really. But when I need to get dressed to go to the park on a Tuesday, they do just fine.
Every now and then I will pull out something that I’ve had for forever and put it on. And out of the blue someone will admire it. I feel like saying, “This old thing?”—but I don’t. I smile and say thanks, and then I feel a spark of joy—because I was able to elicit a compliment for a pair of pants that I rescued from my neighbor’s Goodwill bag or a 10-year-old dress I had first worn to a 30th birthday party and was bringing back for a 40th celebration—yes, that happened. So who’s to say what sparks of joy might lie in the future?
Final nail in the coffin for the concept of relentless purging? Mom jeans. If those can come back in style, anything can.
2. I don’t have time to maintain this ridiculous system
I know there must be people who have oodles of time to neatly fold and put away laundry, and some might even find it soothing. But, alas, I am not one of them. The people in my house are lucky to have clean clothes, and they are more likely to be shoved in a drawer than lovingly folded.
Please, watch Kondo videos and tell me if you could do this while you were on a conference call or simultaneously checking homework and making dinner.
And yet, Kondo dares to term this method “effortless.” Yowza. Throwing my yoga pants and T-shirt on a shelf so I can quickly grab them later is what I call “effortless.”
3. I could never get the kids on board
I can just hear the guffaws (or sobs of panic) if I asked my three boys to determine which of their action figures sparked joy, and then toss the rest. Or their baseball cards. Or, let’s face it, the rocks they collected from the front yard or the toys that came with their fast-food burger.
To kids, everything sparks joy. Given that Kondo gave birth to her first child in early 2016, this reality is probably sinking in as I write this. According to interviews, she admits, “since my child was born, we have a lot more things.” Apparently, though, her daughter is “still not at the age where she’s scattering things about.” Just you wait!
Furthermore, I can quickly see this becoming a valid excuse for getting rid of those items they don’t really want, like shirts with collars, or raincoats.
“Sorry, Mom, this tie didn’t spark joy. It’s outta here.”
4. Someday someone is going to need it
I have an art cupboard filled with colored pencils, crayons, paints, stamps, stickers, etc. My kids have never been too into crafts, but I bought the requisite googly eyes, glue sticks, and so on—all that stuff that prepared moms have on hand.
And there they sit in the cupboard, until someone announces they have a project due the next day. I bet you anything Kondo would have to make a midnight run to the 24-hour Office Depot. Not me. Joy is sparked when I can reveal the contents of my art cupboard to the little slacker who gave me no warning.
5. What really sparks joy? Not wasting money
I’m not saying your closets and cupboards should remain overflowing, but neither should they be so bare you’re one day left in a lurch. Consider how little joy you’ll feel, in fact, when you wake up next week and have only four T-shirts—and they’re all in the laundry?
This week’s most popular homes on realtor.com® offer up some true surprises once you peer inside them.
For starters, the top home was shared all over the web thanks to some of the oddest decor choices we’ve ever seen.
From the outside, the Richmond, TX, residence is conventional enough. Indoors, there’s a jarring jumble of artwork, tchotchkes, and … mannequins. Yes, the life-size dolls are visible everywhere, hanging from the ceiling, greeting you in the hallway, sitting at the kitchen island, and even mowing the lawn. Shudder. The home, owned by an artist who lives among her projects, is available for $1,275,000.
This week’s runner-up is a familiar face: The Palazzo di Amore in Beverly Hills, CA, was a staple of our weekly countdown a couple of years ago, when it was priced at $195 million. Now up for sale at a relatively bargain-basement price of $129 million, it’s raising its regal head yet again.
But we truly loved our fourth-place finisher, a home in Omaha, NE, that includes a secret Batman-themed pole right out of the 1960s TV show. Slide down to the Batcave featuring a bar, TV, and Batman decor—all for only $575,000. Ka-pow!
We’re not equipped with a bat pole, but you can simply slide your cursor down the page for the full list of this week’s most popular properties.
Price: $299,900 Why it’s here: A recent $15,000 price cut did the trick for this 48-acre horse farm. Now in pending status, the picturesque property comes with an updated four-bedroom home, nine-stall barn, and newly refurbished workshop.
Price: $100 million Why it’s here: Built on spec, this massive Bel Air mansion is as spectacular as it is expensive. It was last week’s priciest new listing, and has everything a buyer needs for luxe living: 12 bedroom suites, multiple decks, five bars, a two-lane bowling alley, theater, wine cellar, and even a putting green. In the understatement of the year, listing agent Arline Bolin told us, “It is a special house.”
Price: $229,900 Why it’s here: Cute as a button, this three-bedroom house built in 1917 has been thoroughly updated, while maintaining original details, including wood floors, moldings, and tray ceiling. A modern open kitchen with counter seating, new bathrooms, a large deck, and fenced backyard complete the picture.
Price: $539,000 Why it’s here: A sparkling renovation makes this a “Central Gardens gem.” Built in 1910, this three-bedroom home includes a gracious entryway with built-in benches and stairs. A third-floor playroom could be converted into an office or guest room. A modern kitchen opens up to a den, and a large covered deck includes a bench swing perfect for a summer day.
Price: $935,000 Why it’s here: This freshly painted Tudor-style home is move-in ready. Built in 1925, the residence includes a brand-new chef’s kitchen, vaulted first-floor master bedroom, living room with fireplace, and two patios.
Price: $695,000 Why it’s here: A stately brick manor built in 1901, this home comes with many modern perks. Original features include a stained-glass window in the foyer, pine flooring, graceful chandeliers, and fireplaces. A modern kitchen, new baths, and newer windows bring this home into the 21st century.
Price: $575,000 Why it’s here: Caped Crusader fans, this one’s for you! This lovely suburban home with three bedrooms comes with a surprise: a Batman-themed pole behind a secret bookshelf leads to a Batcave—akaman cave—complete with bat signals, a bar, and TV.
Price: $349,000 Why it’s here: Perfect for a growing family, this four-bedroom home comes with a modern kitchen with granite counters and stainless-steel appliances. The property comes with 3 acres of land close to the river, and includes a 700-square-foot apartment with kitchenette and full bath above a workshop.
Price: $129 million Why it’s here: The Palazzo di Amore came back on the market this spring with its price slashed by an eye-popping $66 million and still made our most expensive listing at the time. While not exactly a steal, the glorious property is capturing interest and certainly offers a lot for its money.
“Being on 25 acres, you won’t find this anywhere in the city,” says listing agent Stacy Gottula.
Price: $1,275,000 Why it’s here: This artist’s home has set the web aflame. It’s no wonder! The rooms are stuffed from floor to ceiling with art, paintings, and collectibles. And shockingly, there are mannequins everywhere, walking on the ceiling, watching TV, and standing in the hallway.
“It’s just weird,” says David Thelen, who’s with Keller Williams Premier Realty, who posted the odd listing on his own website but is not affiliated with the home. While the clutter would drive a home stager to drink, the artwork will disappear when the owner sells the house.