$70M Italian-Style Villa With Indoor Pool Is Most Expensive New Listing


A massive, Italian-style villa in Los Angeles just came on the market for $69.95 million. At this sky-high price, the Holmby Hills estate is the week’s most expensive new listing.

Modeled after a Palladian villa, the 31,000-square-foot residence on 1.18 acres might look vaguely familiar. It was reportedly the setting for more than 50 photo, TV, and film shoots. It’s easy to imagine enjoying a Hollywood close-up in this dramatic space.

Built in 1993, the upscale interiors have been reimagined by interior designer Stephen Stone. Notable touches include 27-foot-high ceilings, terrazzo flooring, and a two-story chandelier. 

In addition to six bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, the home has a two-story, wood-paneled library, double living rooms, a billiard room, and spacious formal dining room.

Holmby Hills mansion


Foyer with two-story chandelier


Living room


Indoor pool


3,400-bottle wine room


Then, there’s the Bulthaup kitchen adjoining a family room. And an enormous 2,900-square-foot master suite with dual baths.

The lower level is a world apart, with a home theater, 3,400-bottle wine cellar, full bar, lounge, spa, and indoor pool.

The property last changed hands in 2014 for $19.5 million, according to real estate records. It appeared on the market a year ago for an eye-watering $88 million. With no takers, the asking price was slashed by about 20% and bounced back onto the market this week. Drew Fenton with Hilton & Hyland holds the listing.

Not surprisingly, the home is located on an elite street. The avenue is also the place where you’ll find the former Spelling manor, the 56,000-square-foot spread that was sold to Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone. That compound is on the market for $160 million. 

And practically next door is another similarly sized space. That place on Mapleton was being offered complete with a medical suite and landed on the market a year ago for $69.9 million, topping our most expensive home list at the time. It’s now off the market.

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In Miami, There Are Too Many Condos and Not Enough Foreign Buyers

Scott McIntyre for The Wall Street Journal

After being kidnapped seven years ago, Juerg Degenmann decided to move his family from Venezuela to Miami for increased security. Long a playground for Venezuelan elites, the Florida city seemed like a natural choice, especially since Mr. Degenmann already owned a vacation home there, and he had bought and sold several investment properties in the area.

He and his wife paid $1.85 million in 2013 for a waterfront townhome in Sunny Isles Beach with its own boat dock. He’d always done well with Miami investment properties, so he was unpleasantly surprised when he put the unit on the market for $1.9 million a year ago, and got no offers. Now he’s reduced the price to $1.495 million; it still hasn’t sold. “I will never get the money I paid for it,” he said. “The situation in Miami is tough.”

Miami’s high-end real-estate market has drastically slowed in the past several years, as the Latin American buyers who led a frenzy of postrecession purchases have all but disappeared. South American economies that were roaring in the early years of the decade, including Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, are now facing severe economic distress, which has devalued their currencies and left purchasers from those countries with far less buying power in the U.S.

At the same time, new condos launched just as the owners of older units looked to cash out. There were 691 condo sales in Miami Beach in the first quarter of 2019, down 24 percent from 909 in the first quarter of 2015. During the same period, single family homes sales dropped to 81 from 117. The threat of climate change has had some impact on Miami home buyers’ decisions. A 2018 study showed that the value of single-family homes near sea level in Miami-Dade County rose more slowly than that of homes at higher elevations. But agents said a greater threat to the high-end market is inventory buildup.

“There’s just an abundance of inventory,” said Alexandra Peters, Mr. Degenmann’s agent. “There’s so much frustration. It’s hard to move properties.”

Juerg Degenmann bought this townhome in Sunny Isles Beach after moving to Miami from Venezuela.
Juerg Degenmann bought this townhome in Sunny Isles Beach after moving to Miami from Venezuela.

Alexia Fodere for The Wall Street Journal

Sellers are hoping wealthy buyers from high-tax states like New York and California, will fill the void. But so far, domestic buyers haven’t offset the loss of international capital, say agents.

“There’s been a lot written about New Yorkers flocking to Miami,” said real-estate agent Mark Zilbert. “They’re flocking here and looking, but not necessarily buying anything.”

Miami’s high-end real-estate market, more so than that of other major U.S. cities, is dependent on out-of-town buyers, especially foreign nationals. The Miami metropolitan area, home to about 6.1 million people, has been a magnet for Latin Americans, starting with Cuban refugees in the late 1950s.

“For Latin American people, Miami is like a hub,” said Giannina Gonnet, 44, who moved to Miami 10 years ago from her native Uruguay.

In the early 2000s, as the city shifted from a low-rise beach town into a hotbed of condo development, buyers from Latin America bought up condos in cash, viewing Miami real estate as a safe haven for their savings. The market imploded after the 2008 real-estate crash, but Latin American buyers returned as the market recovered, joined by European and American buyers.

“In 2011 to 2013, everybody in Europe and Latin America was looking in Miami to buy a second home,” said Ms. Gonnet, who bought several investment condos during that time period.

But since 2015, the number of international buyers has shrunk. Miami real-estate agent Brett Harris said five years ago, 80% of his clients were international buyers; today only 20% are.

The decrease in demand collided with a wave of new-development condos coming on to the market, especially in markets like Brickell and Sunny Isles Beach. Roughly 20,000 new construction units have been built or planned in the Miami area since the last downturn, according to the ISG World 2019 Miami report.

Sunny Isles Beach is estimated to have about 17 years worth of inventory of condos priced at $5 million and up.
Sunny Isles Beach is estimated to have about 17 years worth of inventory of condos priced at $5 million and up.

Alexia Fodere for The Wall Street Journal

Meanwhile, a strong dollar incentivizes international buyers to sell the units they already own, even at below-market prices. The result is a glut of condos for sale, both new and resale. In December 2018, there were 3,663 condo listings for sale in the greater downtown Miami area—more than double the 1,591 for sale in December of 2013, according to an Integra Realty Resources report. Sunny Isles, where new buildings include the 53-story Jade Signature, the Porsche Design Tower and the Turnberry Ocean Club, is estimated to have about 17 years of inventory of condos priced at $5 million and up.

Gustavo Mendonça, 40, is from Brazil and moved to Miami in 2011. He bought six condos in Miami as investments, but now has only two, one of which he’s struggling to sell: a Sunny Isles Beach condo he bought in 2015 for $690,000. It’s listed for $639,000.

With so many options, buyers feel no urgency, said Mr. Zilbert. “The compelling drive to buy buy buy has disappeared,” he said. “It used to be I could list anything and I’d have five to 10 showings a week. In some cases, I’m getting one showing a month.”

Buyers have their choice of units and can negotiate discounts. Wanda Bell, a Toronto-area native, closed a few months ago on a three-bedroom condo at Merrick Manor, a new construction building in Coral Gables. She was able to negotiate “a very good deal,” paying $819,990 for roughly 1,200 square feet with a terrace. It had been priced at $839,990. The building has sold about 65% of its 227 units since presales started in 2013.

Wanda Bell closed a few months ago on a three-bedroom condo at Merrick Manor, a newly completed condominium in Coral Gables.
Wanda Bell closed a few months ago on a three-bedroom condo at Merrick Manor, a newly completed condominium in Coral Gables.

Alexia Fodere for The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Gonnet said she searched for three years before settling on Brickell Flatiron, where she is in contract to buy two units. “I had a lot of options to evaluate,” she said.

Faced with the slowdown, a number of condo projects have been canceled or put on hold. “The worst thing we can do is put additional pressure on the market,” said developer Edgardo Defortuna of Fortune International Group. He’s postponing construction on some company projects, including one in Sunny Isles Beach where condo sales were due to start last year.

Other developers are working to lure more domestic buyers. The sales team at Paramount Miami Worldcenter is planning two to three sales trips a month to the northeast, Paramount developer Daniel Kodsi said; two years ago, those trips were to Latin America and other countries.

Northeasterners and others buying today in Miami tend to be the ultrawealthy, according to real-estate appraiser Jonathan Miller. Many are eschewing condos for large houses, which they believe offer better value in Miami than they would up north.

As a result, high-end single-family homes are a bright spot in the Miami market. The median price of a single-family home in the Miami Beach area was $1.65 million in the first quarter of 2019, up nearly 18% from $1.4 million in first quarter 2018. The inventory dropped to 783 from 805 in 2018. There were 497 single-family homes on the market in the first quarter of 2015.

High-end houses that had been on the market for years are being sold, albeit at reduced prices. In March, Steven Lempera, former president of Illinois-based Future Environmental, paid $25.5 million at auction for a Coral Gables estate that had been listed for $68 million. In June, former Formula One driver and developer Eddie Irvine sold a Hibiscus Island mansion in Miami Beach for $27.75 million that had been listed for $30 million in 2016. Earlier this year, a new Miami record was set when a mansion on Indian Creek Island sold for just under $50 million to an undisclosed buyer.

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Illinois ‘Empire’ of Lucious Lyon Is This Week’s Most Popular Home


A magnificent lakefront mansion in Illinois that’s served as the home of music mogul Lucious Lyon in the show “Empire” is this week’s most popular home.

Despite its notoriety, the huge home has bounced on and off the market for nearly six years. While it was no secret that the place served as a backdrop for the prime-time soap, the home’s owner didn’t originally want the show mentioned in any of the marketing for the sale.

However, the owner has had a change of heart, and is allowing the home’s current listing agents to play up the “Empire” connection. The renewed marketing push (plus a hefty $3 million price cut) helped propel the home to the top of the charts.

Besides Lucious Lyon’s den, this week’s most clicked homes include an Italianate estate in Kentucky, a seriously cool round house in West Virginia with views of three states, and a Florida waterfront home that was once the winter home of the baseball legend Babe Ruth.

While we can’t say that every home is a home run, we do invite you to take a swing through all of this week’s most popular properties…

10. 151 Duncan Ave, Paris, KY 

Price: $248,000

Why it’s here: This historic Italianate estate was built in 1870, and it’s the first time since 1877 that the half-acre property has been on the market. Surrounded by mature trees and gorgeous landscaping, the five-bedroom home is filled with ornate, hard-carved woodwork and built-ins. It’s showing a few signs of age, so it’s being sold as is.

Paris, KY



9. 1251 N. 86th St, Wauwatosa, WI

Price: $645,000

Why it’s here: With style to spare, this classic Art Deco home from the 1930s radiates timeless cool. Highlights of the two-bedroom residence include the living-room bar, upgraded bathrooms, custom display shelves, and a lush backyard with a pond and views of a nature reserve.

Wauwatosa, WI



8. 2 Moses Little Dr, Windham, ME 

Price: $489,000

Why it’s here: From the exterior, this happy yellow Victorian gives off plenty of vintage vibes. However, the home known as “Moses Little Farm” was custom-built in 1996. The four-bedroom residence features a sun-filled kitchen and sun room, finished basement with bathroom, a large kitchen, and a master suite with fireplace. Outdoors, the acre-plus lot includes a pool, mature trees, and rolling lawns.

Windham, ME



7. 10084 Gavers Rd, Hanoverton, OH

Price: $247,000

Why it’s here: Built in 1973 and updated throughout with custom touches, this rustic-chic family home is perfect for a buyer looking for a twist on rough-hewn style. The 3-acre property includes a 40-foot by 50-foot workshop building, custom gardens, a brick patio, fire pit, and covered entertainment area. Indoors, the rustic aesthetic is reinforced with oak hardwood floors, custom wood paneling, and custom wood cabinets.

Hanoverton, OH



6. 211 Sunset Dr N, St. Petersburg, FL 

Price: $2,199,000

Why it’s here: Once the winter retreat of the baseball great Babe Ruth, this five-bedroom waterfront Italian villa was built in 1928. It has undergone an extensive, $2 million, three-year restoration, which maintains its original charm while bringing it up to date. We love the wine cellar and the covered dock, now retrofitted with dual jet-ski lifts.

St. Petersburg, FL



5. 337 E 16th St, Crawford, TX 

Price: $400,000

Why it’s here: The “Little Shack on the Prairie” was renovated in 2017 by Chip and Joanna Gaines on season four of “Fixer Upper.” It was originally a falling-down cabin, but the Magnolia mavens fixed the place up for “Fixer Upper” executive producer Michael Matsumoto and his wife, Jessie. The result is a masterpiece, a four-bedroom industrial farmhouse tailor-made for relaxed family living.

Crawford, TX



4. 40 S. Lafayette St, Mayesville, SC

Price: $599,500

Why it’s here: Built in 1895, this Beaux-Arts style home features ornate columns, hand-carved moldings, and frosted glass. Everything within the 5,700-square-foot residence has been lovingly restored. The main house is ringed by balconies and porches and basks in lush grounds featuring magnolia trees, flowering crepe myrtles, a pool, and an antebellum cabin restored as a guest cottage.

Mayesville, SC



3. 13541 Mardi Gras Ln, Frisco, TX

Price: $739,999

Why it’s here: Built in 2014, this five-bedroom home is being sold by the original owner. Standout features include high ceilings, a gourmet kitchen, a Juliet balcony, hardwood floors, a media room, and a second bedroom suite ideal for long-term guests. The home also includes a three-car garage and custom landscaping.

Frisco, TX



2. 1426 Springbook Dr, Kenova, WV

Price: $599,900

Why it’s here: A little weird in West Virginia? This one-of-a-kind round house—complete with curved doors and round kitchen—was built in 1964 and has been lovingly maintained. The 6,000-square-foot home includes a custom-designed rain shower, two fireplaces, inlaid wood and tile floors, and a patio above the garage for stargazing. The 15-acre lot offers plenty of privacy, as well as views of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Kenova, WV



1. 45 Lakeview Ln, Barrington Hills, IL

Price: $9,500,000

Why it’s here: After lingering on the market for nearly six years, this megamansion received a recent round of attention after the owner agreed to disclose that it’s the house used in the hit show “Empire.” Now that the listing agents are free to market it as the home of the series’ protagonist, Lucious Lyon (played by Terrence Howard), they want to leverage the fact that the show is ending, as a way to spur buyer interest.

In 2013, the asking price for the mansion was $15.9 million, a figure that’s fluctuated a number of times over the years. It was last on the market in early 2018 for $12.5 million.

The 17,500-square-foot mansion sits on 8.5 private acres and it’s exactly the kind of place a mogul like Lyon would own. The estate offers a new home theater, billiard-room, full bar kitchen, pool, and easy lake access.

Barrington Hills, IL


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Why Tenants and Owners Believe Renting Is More Affordable Than Buying a Home


It’s no surprise that renters believe leasing a home is more affordable than buying one outright. But increasingly, more homeowners are coming to the same conclusion.

More than 82% of tenants think renting is cheaper than purchasing a home, according to a recent Freddie Mac report. That’s the highest it’s been since the government-sponsored enterprise, which backs mortgages, created the survey in 2016. Meanwhile, 17% of homeowners now feel the same way. That may be a much smaller portion, but it’s a significant jump compared with about 10% nearly a year earlier.

Freddie Mac teamed up with Harris Insights & Analytics to survey more than 4,000 adults in April to come up with its findings.

“This change is surprising given that the costs of financing a home have actually declined in many parts of the country in the last year,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com®. According to the company’s data, 74 of the 100 largest U.S. metros saw lower costs in May.

She acknowledged, though, that for most people, it’s not the monthly mortgage payments that are an issue, but the upfront cash required to buy a home. And it’s not just those struggling to make ends meet who have difficulty with that. About 72% of middle-income renters said coming up with a down payment and closing costs was an obstacle they faced in buying a home; in fact, 39% of them said it was a major hurdle.

“Affordability remains the essential factor when it comes to determining whether to rent or purchase a home,” David Brickman, president and incoming CEO of Freddie Mac, said in a statement. “The cost of housing is having a significant impact on households of every age, size, and location.”


Watch: 6 Apartment Upgrades That Will Jeopardize Your Security Deposit


The challenge of coming up with cash

So just how much are people trying to pony up for a down payment and closing costs?

Nationally, the median list price of a home is $310,000, up a steep 7% from the previous year. A 20% down payment—which ensures that buyers don’t have to pay costly private mortgage insurance—is a whopping $62,000 on that amount. Then tack on closing costs, which run 2% to 7% of the purchase price of a home, and you’re looking at an additional $6,200 to $21,700.

Millennials and younger Generation Xers are often having the hardest time coming up with that cash. Many are also juggling high child care costs and paying off their student loans in addition to saving.

And these days, the rent isn’t cheap, either. Nationally, the median rent was $1,185 for a two-bedroom apartment as of June 1, according to Apartment List. That’s up 1.5% from last year.

As a result, more than half of renters and homeowners are making changes to control their costs, even moving to less expensive housing.

“While we tend to focus primarily on wages not keeping up with house prices and misperceptions of down payments, we should also recognize that for many millennials and Gen Xers, the basic cost of living has gone up,” Brickman said. “Given these challenges, it’s not surprising that more than one-third of survey respondents believe ownership is becoming less accessible.”

The post Why Tenants and Owners Believe Renting Is More Affordable Than Buying a Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Look at What a Few Billion Can Buy: The 10 Most Expensive Homes on the Market


It’s a tough time to be an agent on a listing with a nine-digit asking price. Megamansions with price tags over $100 million haven’t exactly been setting the market aflame.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a glut of spec mansions in SoCal and even printed the dreaded b-word—as in bubble. Every home wants to be the one, the record-setter, the high achiever, but what happens when no one in your teeny-tiny pool of fabulously wealthy buyers wants to make the hundred-million-dollar leap?

We surveyed the landscape of the 10 priciest properties currently available in the United States and found that the prices of over half of them have had their prices cut in an attempt to goose a high-net-worth buyer into coughing up oodles of cash.

In fact, the most expensive home in the country had its price cut by 20% this week and still managed to come out on top in our tally of the priciest places.

For a full look at what’s available to buyers with limitless funds at their disposal, simply scroll on down …

1. 875 Nimes Rd, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $195,000,000
Behind the Benjamins: This Bel Air mansion tops the list, despite this week’s 20% price cut. Known as the Chartwell Estate, the home of the late Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio made a splashy debut on the public market last November with a prodigious $245 million price tag.

Now $50 million cheaper, the property that served as the setting for “The Beverly Hillbillies” still awaits a buyer with a bottomless bank account. Will the price slice help move a buyer to make a record-breaking move? After all, back in 2017, Mansion Global reported that the massive 10-acre spread was available for an astronomical $350 million, but only if a buyer inquired. Stay tuned!

875 Nimes Road



2. 67 Beverly Park Ct, Beverly Hills, CA

Price: $165,000,000
Behind the Benjamins: Located in the ultra-exclusive gated enclave of Beverly Park, this massive 9-acre compound comes with its own private street. The two-parcel lot holds a 20,000-square-foot main house, a 5,000-square foot guesthouse, and assorted other structures. Known as Villa Firenze, the property has been on the market for over a year with no tweaks to the asking price.

67 Beverly Park Court



3. 594 S. Mapleton Dr, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $160,000,000
Behind the Benjamins: Formerly Spelling Manor and now marketed simply as “The Manor,” this 56,000-square foot behemoth has lingered on the market for nearly three years. It’s owned by Formula 1 heiress Petra Ecclestone, and the price on the iconic mansion was $200 million back in 2016. A price cut in June 2018 took the price down to $175 million, and another $15 million price slice last month brought it to its current ask.

594 S Mapleton Drive



4. 924 Bel Air Rd, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $150,000,000
Behind the Benjamins: We sense a running theme! This thoroughly modern Bel-Air mansion known as “Billionaire” has also had to scale back its big-dollar aspirations. Once the most expensive listing in the United States, the 38,000-square-foot home came to market in January 2017 with a massive $250 million price tag. At the time, the listing agent told us, “If you have the money, it’s worth every penny.”

The price was subsequently chopped down to $188 million in April 2018 and then cut to $150 million early this year. Now $100 million cheaper, the place must really be worth the big bucks.

924 Bel Air Road



5. 2000 S. Ocean Blvd, Manalapan, FL

Price: $137,500,000
Behind the Benjamins: Gemini has had a star-crossed time on the market. It was once the most expensive property in the country, with a list price of $195 million.

It’s since been surpassed by the megamansions of SoCal and had its price cut a couple of times. In early 2017, the price was chopped down to $165 million and reduced even further later that year to the current price. Close to Palm Beach, the 15-acre spread offers both ocean and lake frontage.

2000 S. Ocean Blvd.



6. 2571 Wallingford Dr, Beverly Hills, CA

Price: $135,000,000
Behind the Benjamins: This spectacular spec mansion made its entrance on the market last summer, and the price hasn’t budged since. According to the Wall Street Journal, the home originally on the property was built to resemble Le Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s private château in Versailles. Setting aside the troubling theme of unbridled excess, we do love the mansion’s indoor sports facility, with a sport court, cardio gym, and boxing ring.

2571 Wallingford Drive



7. Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA

Price: $125,000,000
Behind the Benjamins: This oceanfront estate owned by NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer landed on the market in January, and we’re still waiting for a buyer to float in. Designed by legendary architect Charles Gwathmey, the home hopes to break the Los Angeles County sale record set by a $110 million Malibu sale in early 2018.

Pacific Coast Highway



8. 19 Great Island Rd, Darien, CT

Price: $120,000,000
Behind the Benjamins: Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Clichés aside, this gorgeous island compound was once the second-most expensive home in the entire country. At the time, it was on the market for a whopping $175 million. A year ago, the ask was cut by a whopping 31% to the present price.

19 Great Island Road



9. 14000 Calle Real, Goleta, CA

Price: $110,000,000
Behind the Benjamins: A fairly new entry to the list, this 3,500-acre ranch near Santa Barbara sailed onto the market in late February. Known as El Rancho Tajiguas, the huge swath of acreage comes with two brand-new villas located on opposite ends of the property. For the billionaire on the go, each villa comes with its own helipad.

14000 Calle Real



10. 1341 S. Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL

Price: $109,500,000
Behind the Benjamins: Sitting on a stretch of Palm Beach appropriately dubbed “Billionaires’ Row,” this mansion, known as Pietra Mare, came on the market in October 2018. It’s just a half-mile south of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, and was marketed privately for a year at $105 million before going public with a slightly higher asking price.

1341 S. Ocean Blvd.


The post Look at What a Few Billion Can Buy: The 10 Most Expensive Homes on the Market appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Your Zestimate is now smarter – and more accurate

The Zestimate is now more accurate than ever, thanks to new technology that identifies and values home improvements you’ve made based on photos. Plus, we now incorporate even more data into Zestimates for homes on the market, and we update those Zestimates in real time. That’s in addition to the millions of data points that the Zestimate’s complex machine learning models examine for more than 100 million homes across the country.

Here’s the rundown of what’s new.

‘Seeing’ your home features

We can evaluate photos of a home to, in a sense, “see” and value the home features you’re most proud of. Think of the bathroom you remodeled, the new quartz countertops in your kitchen or the beautifully landscaped backyard. Those features now factor directly into your home’s Zestimate, making it the first time the Zestimate can understand not just a home’s facts and figures, like number of bathrooms or bedrooms, but also its quality and curb appeal.

We heard from homeowners over the years that when it comes time to sell, they want to make sure all the work they’ve put toward upgrading it is reflected in its Zestimate. Yet before recent advances in technology, there was no way for computers to look at photos of a home and get the same information that people do. The Zestimate now incorporates advanced technologies that make this possible.

Homeowners can claim their home on Zillow to edit, add or remove photos at any time in just a few simple clicks.

Listing info added in real time

On homes listed for sale, the Zestimate now incorporates data from the home’s listing itself – including listing price and how long it has been on the market – in its calculations. These factors provide important insight into a homeowner and agent’s listing strategy and what the homeowner believes their home is worth, both key variables in how much a home ultimately sells for.

To top it off, Zestimates on for-sale homes update with new information in real time. That means home shoppers get an up-to-the-second snapshot of what’s going on in the local housing market. When the Zestimate launched in 2006, it was updated monthly, so this is a big leap forward as both buyers and sellers navigate dynamic and ever-changing housing markets.

The results of all these upgrades? The Zestimate’s error rate on homes listed for sale is now less than 2%, meaning half of all Zestimates fall within 2% of the home’s eventual sale price.

Just as you look for new ways to refresh your home, we’re always working to improve the Zestimate. This most recent Zestimate refresh is another milestone along that journey, all to provide a more accurate look at the value of the place you call home.

I Declare! Georgia Mansion That Inspired ‘Gone With the Wind’ Movie Is Up for Sale


Fans of “Gone With the Wind” gone wild! At least, that’s what we expect might happen once news catches on that one of the homes that inspired this epic award-winning 1939 film has gone up for auction—and for a potential pittance, with a starting bid of $1 million.

The mansion, called Twelve Oaks, was built in 1836 in Covington, GA. Then, nearly a hundred years later, “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell saw a photo of this home in the Atlanta Journal. At the time, her best-seller was being made into a movie, so she sent the news clipping to the movie producers, who ended up using it as the inspiration for the home of Ashley Wilkes.

Gone With the Wind Mansion
The newspaper clipping “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell sent to movie producer David Selznick


Wilkes, you might recall, is the man who becomes the obsession of Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, who checks out his amazing digs in the movie’s opening scenes and then spends most of her young life foolishly pursuing Wilkes. Alas, America’s Civil War throws a wrench in those plans when this plantation gets burned to the ground. War is hell.

So was this home ‘Gone With the Wind’? Not quite

But never fear—since the movie was filmed on set in Hollywood, the actual Twelve Oaks was not burned to a crisp. But that’s not to say that this mansion maintained its good looks through the decades, either.

At some point after inspiring the film “Gone With the Wind,” Twelve Oaks fell into disrepair. By the time its current owners, John and Nicole Munn, first saw the place in 2011 and purchased it for $486,000, it had turned into an antebellum dump.

Gone With the Wind Mansion
Twelve Oaks bed-and-breakfast suite


“There were boarded-up windows. There were at least 30 busted windows we replaced. There was water damage on every floor,” Nicole told WSB-TV in Atlanta. “One of the porches was being held up by one last nail that hadn’t rusted away. It was in really bad shape.”

It took a few million dollars and countless days of restoration to get it into the award-winning shape it enjoys today. Currently, Twelve Oaks is an eight-unit bed-and-breakfast that, just last year, was added to Southern Living’s list of Best Inns, TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame, and Georgia Public Broadcasting’s list of Most Romantic Places in Georgia.

It’s also profitable. The eight suites range in price from $199 to $400 per night, and the inn averages 55% to 60% occupancy per year. There’s also the potential to increase the number of suites by converting the innkeeper’s residence to guest rooms, converting the carriage house into guest suites, or by building cottages on the property.

Gone With the Wind Mansion
Elegant suite


There are 12 bedrooms and 12.5 baths, all of them decorated with valuable antiques and reproductions. Rich paneling, wood flooring, and leaded-glass windows can be found throughout.

Gone With the Wind Mansion


There are a whopping 12 fireplaces in total, plus a beautifully designed kitchen that can be used for either public catering or private family dining.

Gone With the Wind Mansion


Outside, the 3-acre grounds include manicured gardens, a lovely pool next to a chandelier-lit gazebo, and a carriage house that can accommodate four cars. All of this, and a location that’s only four blocks from the historic Covington Town square.

Gone With the Wind Mansion
Pool and cabana


Not just a bed-and-breakfast

But there are other uses forTwelve Oaks beyond a B&B.

“This would make a magnificent home, a lucrative business, or both,” says Dewey Jacobs of Target Auctions, which is handling the sale. “Operating permits are already in place for a B&B, an events venue, and a historic tourist site. And the property receives movie and tourist contracts each year. So this could be a huge opportunity for someone.”

Gone With the Wind Mansion
Twelve Oaks decked out for an event


As a matter of fact, “Gone With the Wind” is not the only production in Twelve Oaks’ history. Many films, TV shows, and commercials have been shot there, including “Life of the Party,” “Vacation,” “Cannonball Run,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and the “Vampire Diaries.”

Gone With the Wind Mansion
The mansion has been used in many movies.


History buffs will note that this gorgeous home was built well before the Civil War broke out in 1861. And they might be wondering: How was this Twelve Oaks inspiration spared the same scorched-earth treatment from Gen. Sherman’s Army that its namesake suffered in the film?

There are two theories: The first is that Sherman didn’t burn any homes in Covington because he had a friend who grew up in the area. The second is that either Sherman or a top officer in his army had a thing for a lady who lived in the house.

Why sell now?

So after putting so much money and time into this meticulous restoration, why are the owners parting with it?

“Health issues and other factors have convinced them it’s time to move on,” explains Jacobs.

“We feel we have accomplished what we set out to do and are ready to start a new adventure,” says Nicole. “This was a dream of mine, and we feel we’ve achieved it beyond our imaginations.”

Gone With the Wind Mansion
Balcony overlooking the grounds


“Somebody is going to get a great deal,” Jacobs says. “This is one of the premier antebellum mansions in the country, and it’s never been on the market before.”

When asked what he expects it to sell for, he says he’s not sure because a home of this scale has no comps.

“It depends on the buyer’s purpose for it,” he concludes.

Online bidding begins on July 4, with final live bids to take place on July 25. More details are available at TargetAuction.com.

The post I Declare! Georgia Mansion That Inspired ‘Gone With the Wind’ Movie Is Up for Sale appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

There’s a Huge Gap Between What Home Buyers Want and What’s for Sale

Home for sale in San Francisco

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you’re looking to buy a home, you may want to prepare yourself for disappointment.

A new study from Realtor.com found that there is a large gap between the home price buyers are looking for and the listed prices. Half of today’s home shoppers want to purchase a property for under $288,000, the study found, based on an analysis of Realtor.com home-search data. That’s 9.1%, or $27,000, below the median price of homes currently on the market.

Closing that gap won’t come easily. Realtor.com estimated that roughly 94,000 homes priced between $100,000 and $340,000 would need to be put up for sale to achieve equilibrium. However, that would represent a 15% increase in the number of listings in this price range – homes priced above $750,000 is currently where inventory is growing the most, and even then there are only 11% more homes for sale in that price tier.

The largest discrepancy between what buyers want and what’s on the market, per the study, is in Cincinnati, where the median list price ($275,045) is nearly 22% higher than the median closing price ($215,000). The study used closing prices as a proxy for what buyers are looking for, since these were homes that they were willing to purchase. Houston had the second largest discrepancy, followed by Minneapolis and Indianapolis.

(Realtor.com is operated by News Corp subsidiary Move Inc., and MarketWatch is a unit of Dow Jones, which is also a subsidiary of News Corp.)

Realtor.com’s report also pointed to April data from the National Association of Realtors, which showed that the median sales price of homes sold two months ago ($267,000) was 15% below the price of all the homes available for purchase.

“The price differences between what buyers are searching for, closing on, and what’s available on the market demonstrates just how big the gap is for entry-level home buyers,” Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, said in the report.

“Entry-level homes continue to be difficult to come by as the inventory composition shifts more and more toward higher priced homes,” Hale said. “This is causing smaller and more affordable homes to appreciate rapidly, resulting in a mismatch between what buyers are able to spend and what sellers expect to receive.”

Hale argued that this gap explains why the rate of home sales is down 4% year-over-year. Making matters worse, the low inventory of entry-level homes has caused their prices to rise 3.5 times faster than mid- to large-sized homes.

The post There’s a Huge Gap Between What Home Buyers Want and What’s for Sale appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

3 Most Mind-Boggling Housing Turf Wars Ever—and What They Can Teach Us All


Welcome to turf wars! No, it’s not the latest reality TV show—it’s just a way to describe two (or more) parties insisting that a particular piece of property is their own.

Turf wars are as old as the hills, and the existence of people who could lay claim to them. And they’re at the center of some surprisingly fascinating stories of wealth, greed, and pettiness. It seems that no property is too small to inspire a bitter rivalry—including one about the size of a floor lamp—that could go unresolved for decades.

As proof, check out some of the strangest turf tales below, and the lessons we can all learn from them to avoid the same ugly fate.

1. The smallest land grab ever

In Manhattan on the corner of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue lies a 500-square-inch piece of private property in the shape of a triangle.

The backstory: In 1910, the city demolished a building owned by David Hess to build a subway, but the surveyors missed this small patch in their measurements. Later on, once this error was discovered, the city asked the Hesses to donate it, but the family refused.

For good measure, the family laid a mosaic reading, “Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes.”

Per the New York Times, it’s “one of the smallest pieces left in private ownership as a result of the cutting through a few years ago of the Seventh Avenue extension. It has been assessed on the tax books for $100.”

In 1938 the family sold this parcel to the cigar shop a few feet behind it for $1,000.

The Hess estate


Lesson learned: Land survey mistakes—or not bothering with a survey at all—can cost you big-time!

“If there’s any question about who owns what, it’s better to be safe than sorry and get a good survey done,” says David Reiss, a law professor at the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School.

On a more human level, we can learn this: “Spite is about as powerful as an immovable object,” says Reiss. “If you try to dislodge it, you will in all likelihood lose.”

2. Keep your water away from mine!

In Minnesota’s Otter Tail County, a seething feud between homeowners on two neighboring bodies of water—West McDonald Lake and Hoffman Lake—has boiled for decades. The source of the fight: Should Hoffman Lake be allowed to flow into West McDonald Lake, currently separated by 2 feet of sandy soil?

Team Hoffman Lake, whose residents are represented by Sheila Eklund, says it simply wants the excess water that’s eroding its shorelines to dissipate into lower-level West McDonald Lake. But the homeowners around Team West McDonald Lake are adamant that their crystal-clear waters not be polluted by Hoffman Lake, which is more of a “swamp” as their representative Todd Yackley described it in the Star Tribune.

In the 1970s, someone (no one seems to know who) blasted a channel through the lakes with dynamite, which was quickly plugged back up. The bitter battle is now being settled by the court, although if the water in Hoffman Lake keeps rising, it might just spill over into West McDonald Lake anyway, making all of this a moot point.

turf wars
Will these two lakes remain separate for life?

Google Maps

Lesson learned: Land wars aren’t just about land—water counts, too. Rumor has it some people were removing stones between the lakes, a big no-no.

“Homeowners shouldn’t take matters into their own hands, especially when bodies of water are part of the equation,” says Paul Sian, a real estate expert in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. “There are many environmental laws in place to control waterways.”

3. Won’t you not be my neighbor?

In summer 1991, private investor Jeffrey Horvitz—rumored to be worth billions—bought 1.2 acres of private beach on Massachusetts’ famed Gold Coast for around $1.8 million. He apparently placed an extremely high value on his privacy. So when land developer Evan Wile bought the adjoining plot a year later with the hopes of building his dream house there, Horvitz was so irked, he vowed to foil Wile’s attempts to build anything on his property at all.

Horvitz’s first filed a lawsuit questioning the validity of an easement that cut through his own property onto Wile’s land—the developer’s only access to his plot. That tied up Wile’s building plans for five years, but Wile eventually retained his easement, got his construction permit, then, perhaps as a form of revenge, lined up piles of scrap metal and port-a-potties along his property line, right near Horvitz’s swimming pool, infringing on this area’s view and fresh air.

Yet Horvitz continued fighting, and although Wile eventually gave up on building his dream house there, he didn’t throw in the towel. Since both men clearly had axes to grind, money to burn, and no intention of ever backing down, this battle has raged for decades to this very day, earning the moniker in the Boston Globe of “rich versus richer.”

An added irony? Both oceanfront properties have a view of Great Misery Island.

Evan Wile’s empty lot next to Jeffrey Hortvitz’s house

Google Maps

Lesson learned: “This is a classic case of people not backing down from a land fight due to access to plenty of money,” says Sian. “While the land is desirable, at what point does continuing to spend money to fight an ongoing legal battle make sense?”

Sometimes it’s better to cut one’s losses and build a dream home you can actually live in.

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