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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

Read the rest

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

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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

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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!

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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

Read the rest

Price cut on 'Silence Of The Lambs' House

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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

Live in your very own haunted mental asylum

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For $1.5 million, you can be the proud new owner of Westland, Michigan's Eloise Complex, a building that started in 1839 as a poorhouse and has served as a tuberculosis ward and insane asylum before closing in 1984. During the Great Depression, it had as many as 10,000 residents. Oh, did I mention that it's haunted?

The main five-story building is 150,000 square feet wile the site contains a 19th century fire station, decommissioned power plant, and two maintenance building. Bonus, it backs up to an eighteen hole championship golf course!

Here's the real estate listing.

"Own a former mental asylum" (MLive)

"Haunted Former Mental Asylum For Sale in Michigan" (Mysterious Universe)

Read the rest

What's on the menu at the Eloi Plantation subdivision?

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I suppose that the "Eloi" in the Eloi Plantation subivision in Lafayette, LA is a reference to the French name, and not the post-human species of weak and foolish sybarites whom the Morlocks consume for food in HG Wells's classic novel "The Time Machine." Read the rest

Things to add to your building lobby's CCTV warning

Someone in JWZ's building put up a "THIS BUILDING IS MONITORED BY CLOSED-CIRCUIT CAMERAS" sign in the lobby where only the residents and their guests go, so he's been updating it with messages like "FEAR THE UNKNOWN - MONSTERS ARE REAL." Read the rest

Buy Buffalo Bill's home from Silence of the Lambs

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Buffalo Bill's home from Silence of the Lambs is for sale in Perryopolis, PA. The four-bedroom home is listed at $300k but sadly doesn't actually have a pit in the basement, so it will have to find somewhere else to rub the lotion on its skin. Read the rest

For sale: massive ranch larger than NYC and Los Angeles combined

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The Waggoner ranch, covering six counties in Texas, is the largest ranch within a single fence in the United States. For $175 million, it can be yours. Read the rest

Live in Frank Sinatra's 1960s mountain hideout, now for sale

For just under $4 million you can live in Frank Sinatra's Villa Maggio, a five acre home on a mountain above California's Palm Desert. Read the rest

Bilbo Baggins' Hobbit hole would cost $14m if it were in the Shires of England

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A U.K. realtor valued the subterranean residence at £8.5m (~$14m), on the assumption that it is situated in Worcestershire, the county J.R.R. Tolkien supposedly had in mind when creating the homeland for his doughty, half-height, very well-to-do hero.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

The Metro's experts value Winterfell at $200m, though. It's a stark reminder of the wealth of the aristocracy. Read the rest

Rent a camping tent in someone's backyard near Google X for $46/night

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Need a place to stay near Google X in Mountain View? John Potter is renting out a 9' x 7' Coleman tent in his backyard on Airbnb for $46/night. You're allowed one shower per day and can eat inside too.

"It kind of is (outrageous)," Potter told CBS SF Bay Area. "But maybe they should build more affordable housing in Mountain View."

"Tent in garden next to google x" (Airbnb) Read the rest

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