American of Italian descent has house for sale

Enjoy Joe Pitzo's charming, verge-of-tears tour of a house he recently inherited. Vertical video is surely the least of his NSFW sins. Now, it's true that one can never be sure anyone is who they say they are on the internet, but as a man of Italian descent, I do recommend a home inspector who has a nice ground-penetrating radar. We all cope in different ways. Read the rest

You could live in Grey Gardens

For $20 million, you could live in Grey Gardens, the East Hampton, NY home that starred with lovable eccentrics Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale and her mother Edith "Big Edie" Ewing Bouvier Beale in the incredible 1975 documentary "Grey Gardens." (Watch the whole thing below!) Current owner Sally Quinn, the journalist and Washington socialite, bought the home from Little Edie for $220,000 in 1979 and restored it from its astoundingly squalorific state scene in the film. From the New York Times:

On a recent afternoon, Sally Quinn walked through Grey Gardens, her fabled summer home, one that has been the subject of both a documentary film and a Broadway musical, and passed by a glass menagerie of tiny kittens. The figurines had once belonged to Edith Bouvier Beale, better known as Little Edie, a woman of many cats, who for years lived in the house with her mother, known as Big Edie. Both were former socialites and relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Restoring the home was not for the faint of heart, but Ms. Quinn was undeterred. In fact, she was smitten.

“‘It’s yours,’” Ms. Quinn recalled Little Edie saying to her. “She did a little pirouette in the hall and said, ‘All it needs is a coat of paint.’”

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Luxury nuclear bunkers in Kansas

Larry Hall is developing luxury nuclear bunkers underground at an old nuclear missile site in Kansas. Hall says the Survival Condos, starting at $1.5 million, are "nuclear-hardened bunkers that are engineered… to accommodate not just your physical protection but your mental wellbeing as well." From BBC News:

Mr Hall says he has spent millions on providing the complex with every possible feature to keep residents safe both now and for an indefinite period, should a catastrophic event occur.

These include air and water filtration systems, a range of energy sources (including wind power), and the capacity to grow plants and breed fish for food supplies. Armed guards patrol the entrance.

There are many other features too, such as a cinema, swimming pool, surgery, golf range, and even a rock climbing wall. "It's like a miniature cruise ship," says Mr Hall.

He believes that luxury touches like these could help to explain a development that may seem a little surprising.

At first, he says, clients saw owning an apartment as "like life insurance", just something to be used in case of an emergency. But now some purchasers have come to regard their apartments as second homes, making regular use of them for weekends or longer breaks.

"Everyone comments on how well they sleep here," he adds.

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China's capital controls are working, and that's bursting the global real-estate bubble

More news on the Chinese crackdown on money-laundering and its impact on the global property bubble: the controls the Chinese government has put on "capital outflows" (taking money out of China) are actually working, and there's been a mass exodus of Chinese property buyers from the market, with many abandoning six-figure down payments because they can't smuggle enough money out of the country to make the installment payments. Read the rest

Snow White's cottage for sale

Built in 1982, this 4 bedroom, 4.5 bath home based on Snow White's cottage is for sale in Olalla, Washington. It's 2,800 square-feet on 7.52 acres and listed at $925,000. From Realtor.com:

There's not a square corner anywhere. Each door was hand built with extensive iron work. Wood beams were hand carved, stained glass windows are everywhere, and the walls appear to more like a magical cave. Perfect for a B & B or a wedding business.

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For sale: one 19th century Quebec village, slightly fake, $2.8M

Canadiana Village is an hour north of Montreal and sports 45 buildings that are intended to recreate rural Quebec life in the 19th century (though only one is habitable); and once served as a destination for school groups and film-crews. Now it's for sale for CAD$2.8M. Read the rest

Office space for happy mutants in San Francisco's Mission District

My dear friend Bruce Tomb -- accomplished architect and creator of Maria del Camino, a "flying" art-car made from a 59 El Camino and a tank -- is renting out office space in his building in the middle of San Francisco's Mission District. Read the rest

Inside a Martian house on Earth

For a year, six people lived inside a small dome on the desolate side of a volcano on Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The aim of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) was to approximate life on Mars (albeit with much more surface gravity). This week, the team stepped out of the dome and National Geographic's Nadia Drake took a tour:

Inside the 1,200-square-foot habitat, they dealt with a 20-minute communications delay, limited water supplies, and a few strict house rules. But as we saw on a recent tour, this habitat is the lap of luxury for Martian hopefuls. And if this two-story house were on the earthbound market, it would be a total steal, considering that room, board, and utilities are all free....

Itching for some entertainment? The living room has a bookshelf full of Russian language guides, DVDs, astronaut jigsaw puzzles, and board games, which are perfect for a wild night on the mountain with your five favorite roommates. There’s also a virtual reality setup where you can explore 30 different environments, in addition to creating your own personal getaway.

Finally, Wi-Fi is already installed. Although there’s that pesky 20-minute delay, you can send emails, texts, and video messages, completely Comcast-free.

"Take a Look Inside a House Meant for Mars" (Nat Geo)

photos above and below by Nadia Drake

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Foreign influence: how a Chinese businessman funneled $1.3M to Jeb Bush's campaign

Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen -- Chinese nationals who live in Singapore -- own a global property speculation and development empire whose US branch is called American Pacific International Capital Inc. They followed a recipe set out in a memo by Charlie Spies, a top Republican lawyer, in order to funnel $1.3M to Jeb Bush's PAC, then Tang offered a reporter for the Intercept $200,000 not to mention that he had been investigated for smuggling, tax evasion and bribery by the Chinese government. Read the rest

Silicon Valley banks offer tech giants' new hires 100% mortgages on 24 hours' notice

What to do if you've just signed up to work in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the world, with almost all of your net worth tied up in illiquid shares in your employer's company? Just ask a Silicon Valley bank for a 100% mortgage, which they'll cheerfully supply on 24 hours' notice, with all the "white-glove service" trappings you could ask for. Read the rest

NYC's sloppy records gave $59.2M in tax breaks to dead people

New York's elderly people qualify for the Senior Citizen Homeowners' Exemption and the Enhanced School Tax Relief Exemption, but the city's Finance Department is supposed to solicit confirmations of eligibility every two years to make sure that the people receiving the tax-breaks are still alive -- a duty the department failed to perform for a solid decade, costing the city nearly $60M in lost revenue. Read the rest

To understand the Trump campaign, study real-estate developer hustle

Thomas H Crown's Twitter rant about the Trump campaign compares it to the real-estate developer playbook, which is based on inveigling others into putting up all the capital for a high-risk venture that is sold on the basis of the developer's confidence and force of personality. Read the rest

Amityville Horror house for sale again

The world's most famous haunted house, 108 Ocean Avenue (formerly 112 Ocean Avenue), in Amityville, New York is on the market again. This is the Dutch Colonial home where in 1974 Ronald DeFeo, Jr. killed six family members and, four years later, George and Kathy Lutz and their children reported that they were terrorized by evil demons. Their story became the basis for the Jay Anson's 1977 book The Amityville Horror, director Stuart Rosenberg's 1979 film adaptation, and a slew of crappy sequels that followed.

Listed at $850,000, the five bedroom, 3.5 bath home on the Amityville River includes a large boat house and slip.

According to the realtors, "There've been four owners since the murders, and none of them ran out of the house screaming, and there were no strange experiences [such as murder.]"

If I bought it, the first thing I'd do is reinstall the demonic pig'e eye windows.

(via Curbed)

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The last time there were this many unsold $100M+ homes on the market, the world economy imploded

Depending on how much credence you give to "whisper listings," there are between 27 and 50 $100,000,000+ houses on the market; last year, only two houses in that bracket sold worldwide. Read the rest

Research: increased resident participation in city planning produces extreme wealth segregation

Urban planning advocates like Jane Jacobs argued that people who live in neighborhoods should be active in the planning decisions around their homes. Read the rest

Banksy painting comes with free house!

If you purchase Banksy's "Spy Booth" mural for $300,000, you get a three-bedroom Victorian home in Cheltenham, England for free! The house, in dire need of renovation, features the Banksy artwork on an outside wall. It's now fenced in as the mural was defaced in 2014 and then restored.

From the New York Post:

The mural was painted in the wake of — and apparently in support of — Edward Snowden’s leak of National Security Agency documents, which revealed startling information about global surveillance.

But why is “Spy Booth” located in this English town, and not, say, in Washington, DC? Because Cheltenham is home to the UK Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s intelligence and security agency, which actually uses this artwork on its website.

Property listing: Fairview Road, Fairview, Cheltenham, GL52

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Price cut on 'Silence Of The Lambs' House

On the market for some time, the house of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs has been cut in price by $50,000. More than an hour out of town, the four-bedroom home has another serious flaw: there's only one bathroom.

If the hose doesn't even reach the basement, how do they expect to find a buyer? Read the rest

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