What you do when apartment hunting online, and what a lot of people do, I imagine, is you plug in your preferred neighborhood/price range/amenities/etc., and then out pops a long list of results that you further refine by imagining a very specific and very fictionalized narrative involving a version of yourself that isn’t necessarily true right now but could be true if you lived in apartment X. No, you’ve never wielded a wrench for any longer than the time it takes to pass it to your dad, but why couldn’t you fix a fixer-upper? Or be the kind of person to share one bathroom with six other roommates? Or live with a Ukrainian family that’s gone for five months out of the year, but whose kids you’re expected to babysit as per your new rental agreement?
Tuesday night, the Santa Monica (CA) City Council unanimously passed one of the most restrictive laws in the nation on short-term rentals. The ordinance (which strengthens and enforces laws already on the books) explicitly bans vacation rentals – rentals of 30 days or less where the primary occupant of the home or apartment is not present – while legalizing and taxing “home-sharing” – i.e. renting a couch, spare room or backyard cottage - providing at least one of the primary residents lives on-site throughout the stay. Santa Monica (pop. 92K) receives over 7 million visitors annually; Salvador Valles, the city's acting chief administrative officer for Planning and Community Development, estimates the number of available listings on home-share sites would go from 1700 to 300. The ordinance goes into effect June 15. [more inside]
With interest rates at an all time low (and likely to increase later this year), the spring home selling season should see plenty of new real estate listings. Many of those listings will feature terrible real estate photos (which has been covered before). It's amazing how good photography can make the difference in selling a house in 8 days versus 8 months. But with the rise of photo apps comes the worst thing to happen to property listing photos: bad HDR real estate photography.
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) has announced that he will resign from Congress. He has been recently been in the news for alleged ethics violations including a Downton Abbey office redecoration he didn't pay for, sketchy real estate deals, claiming 170,000 miles in reimbursement on a personal vehicle that he later sold with 80,000 miles on the odometer, and much much more! [more inside]
How Parks and Recreation Took Aim at Silicon Valley (Laura Hudson at Wired):
"Over the course of the season, Leslie remarks on how the character of the town has morphed since the arrival of Gryzzl, with juice bars, yoga studios, and pet hotels popping up across Pawnee. “Everything has changed. This town is going to be unrecognizable in 10 years,” she says wistfully. One episode revolves entirely around trying to save their perennial waffle hangout J.J.’s Diner; thanks to the surging housing market, the property has been bought out by a perfume magnate who plans to flip it for profit.[more inside]
"If that sounds reminiscent of the housing crisis that’s currently plaguing San Francisco—and displacing large numbers of long-time residents—it should. Rental prices in the tech hub city are currently in the highest the nation, with the median price of a one-bedroom apartment hovering at more than $3,400 a month. Meanwhile, local establishments like the Lexington Club (the J.J.’s Diner of lesbian bars) are getting sold to new owners."
Treading Water by Laura Parker [National Geographic]
Phil Stoddard, in his third term as mayor of South Miami, is one of the few politicians willing to talk about when that time might come... He drew a graph with three lines that show population, property values, and sea level all rising. Then abruptly, population growth and property values plummet. “Something is going to upset the applecart,” he says. “A hurricane, a flood, another foot of sea rise, the loss of freshwater. People are going to stop coming here and bail.”[more inside]
They Say Art Is Dead in New York. They're Wrong. – Alan Feuer, NYT (December 2014):
Somehow, in the last few years, it has become an article of faith that New York has lost its artistic spirit, that the city's long run as a capital of culture is over. After all (or so the argument goes), foreign oligarchs and hedge-fund traders have bought up all the real estate, chased away the artists and turned the bohemia that once ran east from Chumley's clear across the Williamsburg Bridge into a soulless playground of money.
Last year, the foremost proponent of this doomsday theory was the rock star David Byrne, who complained in The Guardian that artists, as a species, had been priced out of New York. This year, others joined him. The novelist Zadie Smith lamented in October, in The New York Review of Books, that the city's avant-garde had all but disappeared. The musician Moby wrote a comparable essay in February, describing how creative types are fleeing New York and referring to his former home, accurately but narrowly, as "the city of money." Just a couple of weeks ago, Robert Elmes, the founder of the Galápagos Art Space in Brooklyn, declared the indigenous "creative ecosystem" was in crisis — so, naturally, he was moving to Detroit.
House Crazy is a blog about weird and/or beautiful houses, like this "bizarre house-like thing in the [California] desert", this obnoxiously opulent ski chalet or thismagical San Francisco Victorian. There are also interesting articles on crime scene houses like the the House at Hex Hollow and the house where Sharon Tate was murdered.
A tip on a shady deed transfer involving a man who died in 1980 is continuing to uncover many other instances; an on-going nine-part (so far) investigation. [more inside]
So Notch loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly. Hills, that is. Swimmin' pools, movie stars. [more inside]
Unfortunately, introducing children to classic works of literature won’t raise their abysmal test scores.... This is because standardized tests are not based on general knowledge. As I learned in the course of my investigation, they are based on specific knowledge contained in specific sets of books: the textbooks created by the test makers.[more inside]
The Public Advocate for the City of New York has released an interactive map, The NYC Landord Watchlist, which maps the city's most poorly managed buildings. The map uses data from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to list over 6,800 buildings across New York. You can search the map by address and by borough. If you select a property listed on the map you can view the number and type of violations it has received. [via]
CIRCA's "You Should Move to ..." series is a charming exploration of "beautiful, under-the-radar old house towns where big charm can be had for little cost." [more inside]
Need temporary housing? Want to live large for less? Showhomes matches high-end vacant houses for sale with people who have beautiful furniture and need temporary housing. If you are moving from one city to another, are building a home or simply want to live in a beautiful home for a fraction of what it would normally cost, consider becoming a Showhomes Home Manager. You can enjoy a Showhome as if it were yours while it remains on the market for sale. In exchange for keeping it clean and letting buyers view the home, you get dramatically reduced monthly fees.... [more inside]
In his new book Ciphers, German photographer Christopher Gielen (previously) reveals haunting images of our endlessly repetitive development through aerial views of American urban sprawl. [more inside]
The post-war boom gave rise to new concepts of modernity in domestic architecture and, of course, massive suburban development. One such concept was the California ranch-style home, pioneered by Cliff May (1909-1989). Another contemporary architect, Joseph Eichler (1900-1974), had his own vision of modernity in America's new suburbs, but both styles used similar language. At the time, these new designs for living were seen as modern and at the cutting edge of sophistication, but sophistication within reach of the average professional, middle-class family. They were designed to have a practical as well as an aesthetic value. Welcome to mid-century modern. [more inside]
[Special person A] took an [unbelievable number of weeks] paid leave from her job as a performance art archivist and digital [string of four arbitrary letters that suggest a marketing-related acronym] strategist to commit to the search. "It was scary," she whispered, "My apartment was well below market rate at $8,000 a month—how was I going to find what I needed on such a limited budget?"-Mad Libs: New York Times Real Estate Edition
In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class. Here's What $800 in Rent Gets You in 11 Major Cities [more inside]
A $3.5 million estate for sale in Sherwood Oregon, outside of Portland, comes complete with almost 20 acres of land, a media room, a home gym--and its own miniature railroad.
The Museum of Modern Art’s announcement on January 8 that it will indeed tear down Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s American Folk Art Museum building of 1997–2001 felt like hearing that a relative or close friend had finally succumbed to an incurable disease. Even though the outcome had been expected, it was a shock nonetheless."MoMA Loses Face": Martin Filler decries the museum's expansion plan in the NYRB. [more inside]
Crusty real estate blogger Garth Turner begins the year with his rules. He's had a good year: winner of a "top personal finance blog" poll; exposing the shenanigans of Canadian real estate statistics. [previously]
Ryan Mullen was on the run for over 14 years. Then, a professional skip tracer named Michelle Gomez got on the case.
Designer/Artist Phil Jones decided to do something to both honor and play with those ubiquitous real estate ads on bus benches seen in cities by recreating every photo of a realtor with a picture of himself, then pasting it over the originals. It's odd, amazing and Buzzfeed of all people has some followup with the artist.
Broker Bodega. (SLTumblr, excessive pun warning.)
For Anting New City, China asked for an idealized theme park of a Teutonic village, but instead they got a modern Bauhaus inspired ghost town. Only about 1,000 people live in this Shanghai mega-suburb that was built to be home to 50,000 residents. (via)
I’ve recently joined the ranks of San Francisco landlords who have decided that it’s better to keep an apartment empty than to lease it to tenants. [SLNYT]
Rebecca Solnit on how Silicon Valley corporations are transforming San Francisco: I weathered the dot-com boom of the late 1990s as an observer, but I sold my apartment to a Google engineer last year and ventured out into both the rental market (for the short term) and home buying market (for the long term) with confidence that my long standing in this city and respectable finances would open a path. That confidence got crushed fast. It turned out that the competition for any apartment in San Francisco was so intense that you had to respond to the listings – all on San Francisco-based Craigslist of course, the classifieds website that whittled away newspaper ad revenue nationally – within a few hours of their posting to receive a reply from the landlord or agency. The listings for both rentals and homes for sale often mentioned their proximity to the Google or Apple bus stops. [more inside]
Is San Francisco The Brooklyn To Silicon Valley's Unbuilt Manhattan? Much has been said about how San Francisco should build up and become a new Manhattan. (Previously.) Similarly, much has been said about the utterly boring suburban sprawl that is Silicon Valley. (At least in San Jose.) The Awl's Ken Layne points out that there's a lot of underdeveloped land in between that isn't exactly virgin wilderness- and suggests making more out of it: an entire metropolis, in fact. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic Cities mentions that Redwood City is the neighborhood of the future. [more inside]
Garth Turner, the former politician and now cranky (but funny and more or less accurate) blogger opines on real estate and the economy for 2013.
First the Bubble. Then the Short. Now the Long.
Some neighborhoods in Oakland are as devastated as any of the worst hit regions across America — Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix. Now the morphing of the housing bust and foreclosure epidemic into a lucrative multi-billion dollar opportunity for major investors is also uncannily centered upon Oakland and the greater Bay Area, where companies flush with hedge fund cash are buying up homes by the thousands. The entire sweep of the US housing bubble, financial crisis, and foreclosure wave can therefore be told by looking at persons and companies with intimate links to Oakland and the Bay Area. What follows is one account.
In a few weeks, ground-breaking will begin on the far West Side. The project: Hudson Yards, the largest real-estate development ever undertaken in the city's history, an enormous mini-metropolis whose planning might have left even Robert Moses dumbstruck. - Wendy Goodman [more inside]
Orlando, FL - 10 ac, 90K sq ft, 13 bed, 30 bath, 20 car garage, 3 pools, 2 tennis cts, bowling alley, skating rink - $100M [more inside]
A headline rivalling “Batman to leave Gotham”: “Maupin to leave San Francisco.” But before the Tales of the City author (previously) moves to Santa Fe with his husband, you can pick up Armistead Maupin’s house for a mere $1,198,000. (28 Barbary Lane is not for sale.)
In 2008 the late Robert Fitch, author of "The Assassination of New York", was asked to foretell an Obama presidency before the Harlem Tenants Association:
If we examine more carefully the interests that Obama represents; if we look at his core financial supporters; as well as his inmost circle of advisors, we’ll see that they represent the primary activists in the demolition movement and the primary real estate beneficiaries of this transformation of public housing projects into condos and townhouses: the profitable creep of the Central Business District and elite residential neighborhoods southward; and the shifting of the pile of human misery about three miles further into the South Side and the south suburbs... Obama’s political base comes primarily from Chicago FIRE—the finance, insurance and real estate industry. And the wealthiest families—the Pritzkers, the Crowns and the Levins.
An oddly perky video of a real estate agent showing a real estate columnist around an old bank building and semi-attached house for sale (3:51). The building was offered on eBay, had its listing removed, and then reinstated. The reason for the video and the eBay concern? The bank (but not the house) had previously been rented to a group of serial killers. [more inside]
14 Year Old Buys House in Florida Meet Willow Tufano, age 14: Lady Gaga fan, animal lover, landlord. [more inside]