Real Estate News
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After 'The Intern,' New York Still Suits Anne Hathaway

2016-02-05 06:00:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes
John Salangsang/Invision/APActress Anne Hathaway, soon to be performing in a one-woman off-Broadway show, has a new place to stay in the city.



By Natalie Wise

A classic New York co-op penthouse now belongs to pregnant Hollywood star Anne Hathaway and her actor-producer husband, Adam Shulman. The 1,200-square-foot space cost the couple $2.55 million, but its storied New York legacy is a big part of that price.



The five-unit mansion was built in 1904 by the Clark family, the real estate magnates who built The Dakota a few decades earlier. As one of the last private mansions built on the Upper West Side, this unit is a piece of history.

But there is great potential for the future, too: It seems the co-op board will entertain selling air rights for expansion. Perhaps Hathaway has expansion on her mind, but she may simply want a place to call home while she stars in the premiere of her own one-woman off-Broadway play, opening this spring.

Despite being small, the space manages to live large with two bedrooms and two bathrooms -- perfect for the new baby coming soon.

There are, of course, a few perks to being the penthouse: skylights in the bedrooms and kitchen, and 18-foot ceilings. Spring should be lovely here for Hathaway, who can enjoy two planting balconies and a private full terrace for sunbathing or entertaining.

A sweeping iron staircase can lead to the penthouse, but when you're the last stop on the elevator, the staircase is mainly for show. The most unique feature in the space might well be the bathroom -- a vibrant, contemporary space in shades of gray, blue and orange.

While it seems Hathaway will be staying in this apartment during her time in New York, in the past she has kept apartments merely to store her massive wardrobe. But that proved a tough sell when she was ready to move on.





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Mortgage Rates Fall Further, Hitting 3.50%

2016-02-02 16:41:00

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing
ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.


By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.50 percent Tuesday, down 11 basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell throughout the week, reaching 3.47 percent on Sunday before rising slightly.

"Mortgage rates fell last week, touching their lowest levels since mid-2013 before edging slightly higher on Monday," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "This week, markets will look toward Friday's monthly jobs report and should move upward if the data exceeds expectations."

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.72 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.73 percent.

Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

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Estate of Late Comedian Robin Williams Finally Has Sold

2016-01-30 06:00:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling

Zillow The 639-acre property was on the market for as much as $35 million before Williams' death in 2014.


By Melissa Allison

The Napa Valley estate that beloved funnyman Robin Williams built in 2003 and tried to sell before his untimely death in 2014 has finally sold for $18.1 million.

Williams initially asked $35 million for the 639-acre vineyard property, whose 20,000-square-foot main home he dubbed Villa Sorriso, or Villa of Smiles. The home has been on and off the market since 2012, with multiple price cuts.

Inspired by the Palladian architectural style of the 1700s, the villa boasts five bedrooms, eight baths, a library, pool room, elevator, and a luxurious screening room worthy of an Oscar and Golden Globe winner.

Examples of the home's elite craftsmanship include an imported Portuguese limestone exterior and continue inside with gold leaf and verdigris ceilings in the library and master suite, oak panels with mother-of-pearl inlays, and mosaic glass tile rotundas.

Villa Sorriso offers climate-controlled wine cellars and a viewing tower for taking in the acreage and its spring-fed pond, tennis court, hiking trails, horse barn, olive orchard and vineyards.

Antique European stone terraces overlook the grounds, which include a 65-foot infinity edge swimming pool with a wading pool and spa. There's also a 3,200-square-foot guest house.

The listing agents were Joyce Rey and Cyd Greer of Coldwell Banker Previews International. The buyers are French winemakers from Chateau Pontet-Canet, according to The Wall Street Journal.





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Mortgage Rates Remain Low Despite Economic Uncertainty

2016-01-27 06:00:00

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing
ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.


By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans rose slightly this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.61 percent, up two basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 3.63 percent on Friday and hovered there before retreating.

"Despite minor fluctuations, mortgage rates were roughly flat last week, holding near nine-month lows," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "We expect more volatility this week with important GDP [gross domestic product] data on Friday and, more significantly, a Fed meeting mid-week which should provide the first read on the Central Bank's reaction to recent financial turmoil."

The 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.81 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, or adjustable-rate mortgages, the rate was 2.77 percent.

Check Zillow for rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

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It's Not Just Space: 16 Reasons it's Time for a New Place

2016-01-25 06:00:00

Filed under: Buying, MyNextMove
Shutterstock/andersphoto


By Jen Juneau

Take a deep breath and ask yourself: Has the time come to relocate?

Moving isn't anyone's favorite thing to do. Aside from the physical process of shifting everything you own into a new space and/or paying people to do so, there are many other factors to consider, such as budget, location, and (perhaps most importantly) your sanity. But the challenges are worth the struggle if you've reached the point where relocation truly is best for you.

If you're on the fence about moving, start 2016 by perusing these 16 signs that it's time to take the plunge and start a new house search.

1. One word: money.

Yes, it's an obvious point, but examining expenses is a task that shouldn't be overlooked when you're considering a move. Sure, you might be able to upgrade your current home to fit your future needs -- but will you see a return on investment when it's time to sell? Now is the time to examine your finances and figure out if you should continue to save some cash to boost your down payment or explore financing for that upgraded master bathroom you've been dying to take on.

2. You've outgrown your storage space.

There's only so much Pinterest-surfing you can do for inspiration on reorganizing your kitchen and clearing out the clutter before you start to realize that your current space isn't working for you anymore. If more cabinets will make your life easier, so be it. It's up to you whether that means a remodel or a new kitchen in a new house.

3. Your family is expanding.

If you're adding a couple of kids and/or pets to your brood, upgrading your home is a logical next step. Aside from needing more space, aspects you may have overlooked before -- like A-rated school districts and that sweet neighborhood park -- may be suddenly appealing. Don't have kids? This rule still applies, since buying a house in a great school district is a big plus when it's time to sell.

4. The kids/roommates are gone.

In the opposite vein, don't waste money on space you don't need. If it's just you and your honey now, why not downsize to a smaller house or studio apartment to save not only on your mortgage but also on utilities, repairs, cleaning time, and more?

5. Your neighborhood is on the decline.

If the crime rates in your neighborhood are headed in the wrong direction, it might be a good idea to move -- quickly -- before it gets even harder to rent or sell your place to someone else. There's no shame in wanting to make your nest in a home where you feel safe and secure.

6. You have a dream your current place won't support.

Whether you envision a home dressed to the nines with luxurious upgrades or one with an extra room you can dedicate to home brewing (hey, whatever floats your boat), it might be a sign that you're ready to move on.

7. Your city isn't as appealing to future buyers as it once was.

Every trendy city has its moment. If yours is one of those whose popularity is steadily declining, selling now rather than later could save you a lot of cash (and heartache) down the line.

8. It would cost you less to move than to keep repairing your current place.

It can be hard to admit when it's time to throw in the towel on repairs, especially if you've put a lot of hard DIY work into your beloved abode. But it might be time to take a step back and think about how nice it would be on your stress levels and wallet if you could start fresh.

9. You've started cooking at home more (or less).

If you never have time to cook anymore -- and don't see that trend slowing down any time soon -- downsizing to a home with a smaller (or less fancy) kitchen could be worth the cost of moving. On the flip side, if a lifestyle change means you're at home more (and spending more time honing your knife skills), a larger, upgraded kitchen could be a great thing to focus on during your home search.

10. Your kids have stopped inviting their friends over.

Is your kid always like, "BRB, Mom, I'm going to Johnny's," but Johnny never comes to hang out at your place? Sounds silly, but it might be time to face the fact that since it has more room to roam, Johnny's house is just a more comfortable hangout spot (or his fridge is extremely well-stocked). If your kids seem hesitant to invite friends over because there is nowhere to play or no space to work on that group project together, you might want to rethink your housing priorities and start the house search (and bump a refinished basement or big backyard to the top of your list).

11. You're intimidated by the thought of rising interest rates.

If you bought your current house when interest rates were at their rock bottom and before housing prices started to rise, you might be reluctant to give up that amazingly low mortgage payment -- even if you really need a square footage upgrade. And while it's true that even a small increase in mortgage rates can have an impact on your bottom line, the reality is that you can't control all the factors. So if you've outgrown or just aren't happy with your current home, there's no reason not to at least explore your options. You might be surprised at what you can afford if you've built up enough equity in your current home.

12. You've been putting off moving for a while.

Similarly, if you've been meaning to put your house on the market but have a lot of work to do to prep your home for sale -- or are just dreading the home-selling process -- now is the time. While interest rates aren't rising too rapidly, they are rising. So if you've been waiting for the push to get started, this might be it.

13. You just don't jibe with your neighborhood anymore.

Still living in your old college town? Is the nearest grocery store (what feels like) a thousand miles away? Ask yourself whether your current living situation fits your lifestyle. If the answer is "no," it's time to figure out what you want in a neighborhood and move forward.

14. Your office commute is the bane of your existence.

Commuting to and from the office can take hours out of your week. Just think, you could be doing much more important things -- such as binge-watching Netflix (or just not wasting huge amounts of gas and time in hours of stop-and-go traffic). Whether you're starting a new job or keeping your current one, moving closer to work has a lot of benefits.

15. Things are getting serious with that special someone.

Having a new love doesn't necessarily mean it's suddenly time to pack up and move in. But purchasing a new place together can be spatially, emotionally, and financially rewarding.

16. A fresh start sounds like just the ticket.

Sometimes, life deals us cards akin to flashing neon signs saying, "GO FORTH AND START ANEW." If you feel that tug in your heart and are in a place financially to do it, don't hesitate. You only live once, and life's too short not to experience it fully.

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30-Year Mortgage Rates Continue to Trend Lower

2016-01-20 11:39:00

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing
ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.


By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.59 percent, down nine basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell throughout the week, reaching 3.56 percent on Monday before rising slightly.

"Mortgage rates fell last week to their lowest levels since last April on the heels of falling oil prices and continued global turmoil surrounding growth worries in China," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "With little U.S. economic data on the docket this week, more 'flight-to-quality' should dominate headlines until markets find a bottom."

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.79 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, or adjustable-rate mortgages, the rate was 2.66 percent.

Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

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How to Get Your Home Organized

2016-01-13 18:02:00

Filed under: How To, Lifestyle
Shutterstock



By Kendal Perez

Amid the typical New Year's resolutions, getting organized is an oft-promised, seldom-achieved goal that plagues busy parents, office workers, college students and everyone in between. Clutter and a messy environment are proven causes of distraction and increased stress levels, both of which prohibit creativity and productivity. Despite our best efforts, staying organized is a big challenge when life gets hectic and tossing our belongings wherever they fall trumps storing them where they belong (assuming they have a designated home at all).

Those seeking a more streamlined lifestyle this year are likely influenced by the rise of the minimalist movement, the allure of tiny houses and the surprising popularity of such texts as Marie Kondo's bestseller, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." These trends are not simply strategies for enhanced organization; they're lifestyles that espouse a more intentional approach to living. Underlying the need to be organized, after all, is a desire for more control.

"Organizing is about making decisions," says Alison Kero, owner of ACK Organizing in New York City, adding that it's ultimately about wanting the best for yourself. Consider these steps toward a more organized and intentional life in 2016:

Toss or Donate



Decluttering is a natural first step in getting organized, but experts agree tossing things you don't want isn't just about making space for more stuff. "It's more about becoming aware of what you're choosing to bring into your life and making a decision to keep it or let it go based on what's best for you and what you really like," Kero says. Practically speaking, it's best to group like items together before you start purging so you can easily identify duplicates and keep your favorites.

"Start by doing an initial sort," says Sandra Schustack, owner of Clear Your Space East in Manhattan and New York Chapter Board Director for the National Association of Professional Organizers. "Only keep what you use and love; the rest is taking up precious space."

The idea of your space being "precious" or valuable is key to keeping sentimentality from sabotaging this process. "If you don't love it, need it, or use it, then it doesn't deserve a place in your home," says Janet Bernstein, Certified Professional Organizer and owner of The Organizing Professionals, LLC, in Philadelphia. "I keep my clients focused on this mantra as we're decluttering," she says. "It speeds up the process when you're forced to categorize your possessions in this way."

















Experts also note that getting organized takes time, so don't expect overnight results. Remove items room by room, starting with the area that bothers you most. That way, you can carry the sense of accomplishment you feel in tackling that room to others throughout your space.

Find a Home for Everything

Putting back items you've decided to keep is not as simple as tossing them into a storage container. In fact, rows of clear plastic bins with expertly-applied labels simply disguise chaos as order, and don't provide for long-term organization.

"The reason so many people find it hard to stay organized is that they do it once, dismantle it when they need something stored at the bottom of the bin, and then don't have the energy to put it all back together again," says Holly Rollins, minimalist and blogger at HollyLaurel.com. Instead, determine the proper home for items based on when and where you need them, so access and storage are both intuitive and practical. Moreover, continue the "like with like" grouping strategy you employed during the decluttering process so you always know where to find (and store) batteries, light bulbs and even important documents.

Keep Functionality in Mind

Most experts agree storage containers are worthy investments, but purchasing these items before deciding how they'll be used is a waste of money. "I see far too many potential clients purchase organizing products believing these items will solve their clutter woes," Bernstein says. "What they don't realize is they're putting the cart before the horse."

Placing all your cosmetics in a decorative box under your bathroom cabinet may be tidy, but it's neither functional nor sustainable. Since you use these items frequently, they will likely end up strewn about drawers and countertops more often than tucked behind cabinet doors. Instead, organize your makeup by type within the top drawer of your vanity for easy access. "Get some shallow square and rectangular trays from the dollar store," suggests Alison Warner, owner of Prepped to Organize, LLC, in Chester County, Pennsylvania. "Stick Velcro tabs on the bottom of each tray to adhere them to the drawer. No more rolling items every time you open the drawer!"

This strategy can be applied elsewhere in your home, including the "junk" drawer in your kitchen or the utility cabinet in your garage. The trick is to organize spaces well enough that replacing items once you've used them becomes habit.

Maintain Organization

It doesn't matter how organized you become; the moment you start to accumulate more stuff, you'll be surrounded by the very clutter you sought to eliminate in the first place. Before you buy anything new, remember the criterion you used during the decluttering phase. "Keep only what you use, what you love, and what you need," Rollins says. "If you make and keep this promise to yourself, you'll never have organization problems again."



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Mortgage Rates Fall Below 3.7%

2016-01-12 16:35:00

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing
ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.


By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed home loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.68 percent, down 13 basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell steadily until Friday, then hovered around the current rate for the rest of the week.

"Mortgage rates fell last week despite strong U.S. economic data as investors sought safe assets in the wake of stock market turmoil in Asia," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "With rates near their lowest levels since late October, we expect rates to move cautiously upward this week."

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.87 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, or adjustable-rate mortgages, the rate was 2.97 percent.

Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

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How to Avoid a War with the Neighbors

2016-01-10 11:56:00

Filed under: Buying, How To
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By Devon Thorsby

A disagreement between neighbors can escalate quickly. One minute you're mowing your lawn, the next you're plotting revenge on the homeowner next to you for parking his car on your freshly cut grass.

"You hear about neighbors chasing each other down with spades and all sorts of weird things," notes Nick Hall, director of the Dispute Resolution Center of Harris County, Texas, which offers mediation for civil disputes, including neighborhood problems.

It doesn't serve you well to pick a fight with the people who live on the properties surrounding yours, and especially not when you've just moved in. But it can be all too easy to start off on the wrong foot with a neighbor, and it can haunt you for years to come. (Another strategy: Check out the neighbors before you buy the house.)

While you don't have to be the next Lucy and Ethel, you and your neighbors should be able to get along amicably enough to avoid major disagreements when it comes to what you each do with your properties. Follow a few simple guidelines to get on your neighbor's good side from the start.

Introduce Yourself

You're not required to bring a casserole, but a knock on the door and friendly handshake will go a long way. It's harder for your neighbors to make assumptions about you when you approach them with a friendly greeting -- and it's not as easy for them to hate you when they think you're just so darn sweet.

"Don't have the first contact with your neighbors be when you need something, or when you have a complaint," says Stuart Watson, a staff mediator at Resolutions Northwest, a center for dispute resolution in Portland, Oregon. "Build some kind of relationship first, so that when you do want to remodel your garage into a spare rec room ... you're not coming up to somebody you don't know with demands."

If you're moving into a community with a homeowners association or other kind of neighborhood group, Hall says it's a good idea to attend the first meeting you can and start the relationships early. You can even go as far as offering to organize a community event. "Everyone likes potlucks, so why not do a block party or a street party and invite everyone?" Hall says.

Know the Rules

Everyone wants to think they're right, but before you do anything to your property, be sure you're following the neighborhood or municipal rules when it comes to construction, noise and other hot buttons for cranky neighbors.

Reading up on the community's regulations should happen even before you buy the property, says Brad Aldrich, senior attorney at Aldrich Legal Services in Plymouth, Michigan, who specializes in real estate law, among other areas. Especially if the home you're buying is part of a homeowners or condo association, be sure any construction or landscaping you do on your property doesn't put you in the wrong.

"Forget bothering your neighbor -- if you wanted to put in a pool, but for whatever reason your local homeowners association didn't allow pools ... you're not going to be able to put one in," Aldrich says.

Being familiar with regulations and local ordinances, like setback requirements from the property line for any structures, could help you know if your neighbor is infringing on the rules as well.

"We get a lot of people call in and say, 'I've never owned a home before, and I don't know if my neighbor is doing something wrong,'" Aldrich says, adding that familiarity with regulations can help you avoid speculation, so any issues are based on fact and written rules or laws.

Let Them Know of Any Changes

Whether you're planning to redo the landscaping or put an addition on the back of your home, it's a courtesy to give your neighbors advance warning of any construction on your property.

Renee Bove, a staff mediator with Watson at Resolutions Northwest, says many of the neighbor disputes that come to mediation reach a heightened level simply because one person didn't communicate well with the other. "Oftentimes, it's just a simple misunderstanding that somebody had a pretty good intention that kind of backfired and had a negative impact. And they don't talk about it, so it takes a life of its own," Bove says.

For example, warning that you plan to put up a tall fence because your dog can jump high will probably go over better than erecting a privacy fence without any notice.

If it Would Bother You, Don't Do It

The rule of treating others the way you want to be treated still applies as a homeowner. If you keep your neighbors in mind when you make decisions, you're far less likely to tick them off.

An example: You don't want excess water runoff on your property, so don't assume your neighbor will think any differently if you direct your drain pipes at his foundation. Yet, Aldrich says water runoff is a common cause of neighbor disputes.

"If the natural topography of the land is that water runs off into an adjacent property, that's really not the other property owner's fault -- it's just the way the land is," Aldrich says. "But if that property owner were to put in a sump pump and then route the water line to where it dumps directly on the neighbor's property, well then, that is an act of the one property owner where it does negatively impact the neighbor," Aldrich says.

In Portland, Bove says a growing topic of dispute involves using a home for Airbnb stays, whether it's the whole house or individual rooms. The new home rental trend "just brings a lot more traffic and new people into a neighborhood that can be disconcerting for other neighbors," Bove explains.

It can be useful to have a conversation with your neighbors before listing your home for rent, and, ensure you are not infringing on any laws, guidelines or regulations.

Count to 10

Being a good neighbor doesn't mean you have to let everyone walk all over you (or your land). If you believe your neighbor is encroaching on your property or your ability to live peacefully, you shouldn't have to suffer.

But keep in mind, people have a tendency to dig in their heels when they feel their property is being threatened, so it's best to tread lightly when addressing issues.

"If you give someone a ticket, or if you go to court or to trial of some kind, you're going to make even bigger enemies of the neighbors," Hall says. "And yet, [you're] going to have to continue living together in the same neighborhood."

Bove uses the example of a homeowner parking a few inches in front of a neighbor's driveway during a personal emergency. Seeing the car blocking part of the driveway, but not knowing why, the neighbor assumes it is an intentional slight.

"They just didn't take a moment to come from a place of curiosity: 'Hey, I noticed your car was in my driveway a little bit. What was happening for you?'" Bove says.

In the event you simply can't resolve a problem on your own, mediation is often an effective way to ensure both parties are heard, and put some rules down without taking it all the way to court.

Watson estimates mediation through Resolutions Northwest resolves about 80 percent of the disputes brought to them, with a solution made that day. But the number of parties that come out of mediation feeling it was a positive experience is even higher, he says. "Even in those more rare times when they don't come to some kind of agreement, it was helpful for them to be able to have a discussion and to feel their concerns were heard."  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Sylvester Stallone's Stylish Desert Home Back on the Market

2016-01-07 06:00:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling

Zillow


By Laura Vecsey


AP/Dennis Van TineSylvester Stallone


Sylvester Stallone and wife Jennifer Flavin may be walking a lot of red carpets soon, thanks to Stallone's Golden Globe-nominated role in the movie "Creed." But they still want to walk away from their California desert retreat.

Listed in November 2014 and removed in July 2015, the La Quinta home is back on the market, this time for $4.2 million, the New York Post reports.

The Hollywood couple bought the Mediterranean-style villa in 2010 for $4.5 million.

This is one home where the "Rocky" creator doesn't plan to stash any of the trophies he brings home this awards season.

The listing agent is Josh Reef of the Hurwitz James Company.



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