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Elon Musk Buys Out the Neighbors

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Elon Musk, the high-profile billionaire who has placed bold bets on driverless cars and space flights, is known for his over-the-top antics: He appeared in a Los Angeles court earlier this week, telling a jury that a Twitter message he sent suggesting a Thai cave rescuer was a pedophile wasn’t meant to connote the word’s dictionary definition and was in response to what he viewed as an unprovoked attack.

But when it comes to his personal real estate, Mr. Musk uses the same strategy adopted by a number of the mega-wealthy: buy up the neighborhood.

Over the last seven years, Mr. Musk and limited-liability companies tied to him have amassed a cluster of six houses on two streets in the “lower” and “mid” areas of the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, a celebrity-filled, leafy enclave near the Hotel Bel-Air.

Those buys—plus a grand, 100-year-old estate in Northern California near the headquarters of Tesla, the electric car concern he heads—means Mr. Musk or LLCs with ties to him have spent around $100 million on seven properties. He didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In 2012, after three years of renting it, Mr. Musk bought a 20,248-square-foot white stucco Colonial mansion, according to Brian Ades, a real-estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty who represented Mr. Musk in his purchase of the Los Angeles home. Limited-liability companies with ties to Mr. Musk own two other houses on that same street, records show, including a ranch house once owned by actor Gene Wilder. The ranch was turned into a private school, other records show; in an interview on BTV (Beijing Television) published on YouTube, Mr. Musk said he created the school for his five sons.

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In 2015 came additional purchases that shifted to an adjacent street up a steep canyon. Duck Duck Goose, a limited-liability company that shares its addresses with the Musk Foundation and the headquarters of SpaceX, the rocket company where Mr. Musk is CEO, bought a modest ranch house for $4.3 million. A year later, another LLC tied to Mr. Musk bought a large, unfinished, white contemporary three doors down, and then, a little more than two years later, a different LLC also registered to the SpaceX headquarters address snagged a white brick Colonial next to that. All three houses sit on a cul-de-sac of five homes, making neighbors wonder whether Mr. Musk—or SpaceX—is trying to take over the whole end of the street.

The buy-out-the-neighbors approach is a familiar one among the mega wealthy, including tech billionaires. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg paid more than $50 million for five homes in Palo Alto, Calif., while the Mercer Island, Wash., compound of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen comprised 13 different adjoining lots and included eight houses.

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A number of Mr. Musk’s purchases appear to be appreciating. Prices have grown in the neighborhood since his first purchase, with record sales prices in recent months, says Sally Forster Jones, executive director of luxury estates at real-estate firm Compass. One real-estate agent believes the homes are to accommodate employees and associates of Mr. Musk’s various businesses, while some neighbors said they think he wants to build a tunnel connecting his properties on the two different roads.

In December 2018, Mr. Musk mortgaged five of his homes (four in Los Angeles, one in Northern California) to Morgan Stanley Private Bank for a total of $61.3 million, according to recorded deeds.

Here is a rundown of Mr. Musk’s portfolio:

Los Angeles 

  • Purchased in May 2002 for $5.4285 million.
  • Sold in March 2011 for $6.453 million
  • 6,500 square feet, four bedrooms, six bathrooms

Elon Musk bought this house in Bel-Air when he was married to Justine Musk, whom he met while attending Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. In her blog, which is filled with tales of clubbing, celebrities and parties, Ms. Musk said the house took two years to find, and the couple stayed at the Mondrian and the Hotel Bel-Air on house-hunting trips. She said neighbor Joe Francis, founder of the raunchy video series Girls Gone Wild, attended parties at their home and is “eccentric, charming when he wants to be.” “We hung out constantly,” said Mr. Francis, who confirmed that he lived next door.

After Ms. Musk received the house in the divorce, she wrote in her blog that her financial adviser and business manager told her she had to sell it and “fire half your domestic staff.” She sold it in 2011 for $6.453 million to George McCabe, the founder of a Boston-based investment firm, or as Ms. Musk described it in her blog, to “nice young man from the east coast who plans to use it as a second home.” Ms. Musk didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Los Angeles

  • Purchased in December 2012 for $17 million.
  • Estimated current value: $22.3 million per Zillow
  • 20,248 square feet, seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms

The Elon Musk Revocable Trust bought this mansion from Mitchell Julis, co-founder of hedge fund Canyon Capital Advisors, according to public records. The 1.7-acre property overlooks Bel-Air Country Club, according to the listing, and includes a lighted tennis court, five garages, a pool and spa, gym and guest quarters. The house, resembling a French country estate, has a wine cellar that holds 1,000 bottles of wine and a two-story library.

The purchase was later transferred to an LLC called Callisto that is linked to Mr. Musk. Mr. Musk’s decision to buy multiple houses was “motivated by utility,” since he has a big family and staff and puts up a lot of visitors, said Mr. Ades, the real-estate agent. He added that Mr. Musk was “ahead of his time,” since the real-estate prices in that part of Bel-Air have skyrocketed. According to the L.A. Department of Building and Safety records, in 2014 Mr. Musk put in new French doors in the master suite, remodeled the master closet and bathroom and remodeled the kitchen.

Los Angeles

  • Purchased in October 2013 for $6.75 million.
  • Estimated Current Value: $7.8 million per Zillow
  • 2,756 square feet, three bedrooms, three bathrooms

The Elon Musk Revocable Trust bought this house for $6.75 million, considerably less than its original listing price of $7.995 million, records show. The three-bedroom ranch house with a guest cottage, right above the Bel-Air Country Club, was once owned by Mr. Wilder, who bought it in 1976 for $314,000. It was later transferred to an LLC associated with Mr. Musk.

Ad Astra, the school Mr. Musk started for his five sons (a pair of twins and a set of triplets), was registered at this address, though the school’s address has since been switched to a building partially leased by SpaceX in Hawthorne, Calif., about 17 miles away. According to the admissions page on its website, the school, founded in 2014, is for students between 8 and 14 years old and is focused on problem solving, ethical thinking and collaboration. For admissions for this school year, applicants had to solve problems, such as picking one of 11 planets for a new home for humans, or deciding who is to blame for the death of a lake from pollution.

Los Angeles

  • Purchased in July 2015 for $20 million.
  • Estimated Current Value: $20 million per Zillow
  • 7,026 square feet, six bedrooms, eight bathrooms

Originally built in 1954, this house was altered in 2009, according to public records. It sold for $1.825 million in 1998 and then for $2.49 million in 2002 before an LLC called Camellia Ranch bought it in 2015 for $20 million. The mailing address for Camellia Ranch is SpaceX’s headquarters, and it shares a P.O. box with Excession LLC, Mr. Musk’s family office. Jared Birchall, who works for Mr. Musk, is listed as an authorized signatory.

Hillsborough

  • Purchased in June 2017 for $23.364 million.
  • Estimated Current Value: $27.2 million per Zillow
  • 16,000 square feet, 10 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms

Known as de Guigne Court, this 100-year-old mansion sits on 47.4 acres and has bay views, a pool, hiking trails and a ballroom. When the property was first marketed in 2013, its seller Christian de Guigne IV, 78, had made any sale contingent on him retaining a life estate in the property, which would give him exclusive use of it during his lifetime. The estate was then taken off the market, then put back on with the contingency removed.

Located on a leafy hilltop roughly 20 minutes south of San Francisco and north of Silicon Valley, the property has been in the same family for 150 years. Mr. de Guigne’s grandparents built the approximately 16,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style home; the family said it was designed by San Francisco architects Bliss & Faville (who also designed the St. Francis Hotel) around 1912. The main house includes a ballroom, a flower-arranging room, five bedrooms, seven full baths and two half baths. A staff wing has six bedrooms and three baths. A pavilion with 18th-century Chinese wallpaper overlooks the pool.

By the time an LLC tied to Mr. Musk bought the house for $23.364 million in 2017, it was a third of its original $100 million price. The only permit recorded since Mr. Musk bought the house was in October 2018, for removing and replacing kitchen cabinets. Greg Goumas, with Sotheby’s International, says the house was in its “original condition” when it sold and was in need of significant modernization.

Brentwood

  • Purchased by an LLC tied to then-wife Talulah Riley in August 2014 for $3.695 million.
  • Sold in August 2019 for $3.925 million
  • 3,000 square feet, four bedrooms, four bathrooms

In August 2014, a year after Mr. Musk married Ms. Riley (an actress who appeared in the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice) for the second time, an LLC tied to her bought this house for $3.695 million, according to records. Built in 1959, the four-bedroom, white, mid-century modern home has floor-to-ceiling windows that curve around a crescent-shaped saltwater pool and ocean views, according to the listing. The couple later divorced.

The house went on sale in February 2019 for $4.5 million and sold in August 2019 for $3.925 million.

Los Angeles

  • Purchased in July 2015 for $4.3 million.
  • Estimated Current Value: $4.9 million per Zillow
  • 2,963 square feet, four bedrooms, four bathrooms

On a recent late Sunday morning, the grounds of this half stucco, half stone, one-level white house looked unkempt, with a scruffy, bush-filled front yard, a stained glass window, a clay rabbit and dead plants in pots by the front door. Seven large trash bins sat outside the garage, a common sight, according to neighbors, who also said that last February the house was lit up with pink lights for Valentine’s Day. Neighbors said there appeared to be people at the home sometimes, but it didn’t appear anyone was living there full-time.

Duck Duck Goose, an LLC with ties to Mr. Musk, paid 10% above the original asking price, according to public records. Photos from the 2015 sales listing show a brick patio and a grassy back yard overlooking the canyons, rooms with pink walls, floral wallpaper and blue floral wall-to-wall carpets, and a wood-paneled living room.

Los Angeles

  • Purchased in September 2016 for $24.25 million.
  • Estimated Current Value: $27.3 million per Zillow
  • 9,309 square feet, six bedrooms, seven bathrooms

An LLC tied to Mr. Musk bought this contemporary made up of geometric masses, one with two-story glass windows. It sits behind a frosted glass wall. Neighbors said the property is frequently the site of construction, which started in 2011; the L.A. Department of Building and Safety has pages and pages of permitting record documents associated with the property, including one for a residential elevator and another for a fire-sprinkler system.

Los Angeles

  • Purchased in January 2019 for $6.4 million.
  • Estimated Current Value: $4.2 million per Zillow
  • 3,943 square feet, four bedrooms, three bathrooms

The 1958 Frankel Family Trust sold this home to Wyoming Steel LLC for $6.4 million on Jan. 15, 2019, records show. The address for Wyoming Steel is shared with SpaceX’s headquarters. The home is a two-story, white brick Colonial house, with shutters, a pool and a brick front walkway lined by a white picket fence.

By: Nancy Keates

Source: https://www.wsj.com/news/author/nancy-keates

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Elon Musk | The Rich Life | Forbes 23.7 Billion Dollar Net Worth SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/2z9TmzZ JOIN AS A MEMBER: https://bit.ly/2MgeEDC Support The Channel on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mccrudden SHOP MERCH @ https://www.michaelmccrudden.com/ When you’re rich like Elon Musk (Tesla and Space x) you don’t just buy a house in Bel Air, you buy up a neighborhood. After securing his first Bel Air address in 2012 for a cool $17 Million he went ahead and bought up all the neighboring mansions scooping up a total of 6 properties to a sum of $80 Million dollars. #elonmusk #cybertruck #therichlife #michaelmccrudden #tesla #networth #forbes

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2020 Real Estate Outlook: Expert Predictions For Mortgage Rates, Home Prices, Tech And More

The 2019 housing market has been one of low rates, high demand and limited supply—particularly on the lower-priced end of the market.

Will 2020 be more of the same? According to experts, yes and no.

We spoke to six mortgage, real estate, and housing professionals. Here’s what they say is in store for the year to come:

Mortgage rates will stay low—or maybe go lower.

Mortgage rates currently sit at 3.75%, according to Freddie Mac’s most recent numbers—nearly a 1% difference from the monthly average a year ago. The drop in rates caused a surge in refinancing over the last few months, and purchase activity ticked up as well.

Today In: Business

According to Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at title insurance and settlement services provider First American, there’s “emerging consensus” that rates will remain low next year—likely somewhere between 3.7% and 3.9%, she says.

Forecasts from Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association back this up, both predicting 2020 rates within this range. Fannie Mae actually predicts rates will clock in even lower, vacillating between 3.5% and 3.6% throughout the year.

Sean Hundtofte, chief economist for online mortgage lender Better.com, says that thanks to these continued low rates, refinancing should remain a popular choice in the new year. And for homebuyers, he says, they’ll “be able to afford more house than they would have otherwise.”

Prices will keep on rising.

Home prices will continue their climb upward, according to experts, largely thanks to tight inventory and high demand.

According to the latest home price forecast from property data firm CoreLogic, home prices should tick up by 5.6% by next September—up from the just 3.5% jump we saw this year.

As Daryl Fairweather, chief economist for real estate brokerage Redfin, explains, “Right now we aren’t seeing a ton of new listings. Without more listings coming on the market, there will be more competition starting off in early 2020 and that will lead to more price pressure.”

The problem will be worse on the lower end of the price spectrum. According to Ralph DeFranco, chief economist for mortgage insurer Arch MI, entry-level home prices will rise higher than incomes next year—and disappointing construction numbers will only compound the issue.

“Low interest rates and a shortage of starter homes will continue to push up prices,” DeFranco said. “This is especially the case for lower price points, since builders have tended to focus on more expensive, higher-profit houses and less on replenishing low inventories of entry-level homes.”

It seems the price growth may continue beyond 2020, too. Data from Arch MI shows the chance of home price declines at a mere 11% for the next two years. There are currently no states or metro markets projected to see prices declines in that period.

Inventory will be tight.

Housing inventory is going to remain limited for much of 2020, experts say. And interest rates and record-high homeownership tenures are a big part of the problem.

According to recent data from Redfin, the average homeowner is staying in their home 13 years—up from just eight years in 2010. In some cities, homeownership tenures are as high as 23 years.

As Kushi explains, “You can’t buy what’s not for sale.”

“While historically low rates increase buying power and make it more likely for potential buyers to attain their homeownership dream, they also increase the risk of a long-run housing supply shortage, which we predict will continue through 2020 and possibly intensify,” Kushi says. “As first-time buyers lock-in these historically amazing rates and existing owners refinance—in droves in recent months, everyone will stay put and not sell. Where’s the incentive?”

There’s a chance that increasing construction may offer some relief in the inventory department. Last month’s residential construction report from the Census Bureau saw building permits and housing starts both increase over the year. At the same time. builder confidence was at a 20-month high, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Still, it may not be enough to meet the needs of today’s buyers, Kushi says.

“As for building new homes, builders have a reason to be cautiously optimistic, given pent up demand stemming from a strong economy, lower mortgage rates and continued wage growth,” she says. “However, building pace still lags behind historical standards, and it will likely take months before we can begin building at a pace that will support the demand.”

Millennials will keep up their homebuying streak, while Boomers hold up inventory.

Data from Realtor.com shows Millennials made up a whopping 46% of all mortgage originations in September—up from 43% one year prior. Meanwhile, shares of Baby Boomer and Gen X mortgage activity declined.

It’s no wonder, either. Millennials rank homeownership as one of their top goals in life—higher than even marrying or having kids—and with interest rates low and incomes up, it’s the right time to buy a home for many.

Unfortunately, they face an uphill battle. As Kushi explains, “Looking ahead, Millennials may be entering a tougher housing market in 2020. A limited supply environment, combined with growing demand and increased competition for homes, is accelerating home price growth once again.”

The Baby Boomer generation is part of the challenge for this younger cohort, as many are choosing to age in place—keeping more homes off the market than ever before.

In fact, a recent study from Freddie Mac shows that if today’s older adults—those born between 1931 and 1959—behaved like earlier generations, then an additional 1.6 million homes would have hit the market by the end of the last year.

As Kushi puts it, “The fate of Millennial homebuying to close out 2019 and into 2020 will depend on two factors: if there is anything for them to buy, and whether rising purchasing power stemming from increasing income and historically low mortgage rates can continue to outpace house price appreciation.”

The suburbs will be a big draw thanks to Millennial demand.

As home prices skyrocket, cash-strapped Millennials are looking toward more affordable places to put down roots—namely smaller, suburban towns on the outskirts of major metros.

The trend has led to an uptick in “Hipsturbia” communities—live-work-play neighborhoods that blend the safety and affordability of the suburbs with the transit, walkability and 24-hour amenities of big cities.

Melissa Gomez, an agent with ERA Top Service Realty in New York, has seen the trend in action.

“Being based in the boroughs of NYC, I see Hipsturbia happening every day,” she said. “As cities like New York become increasingly expensive, younger people and families are looking for more bang for their buck with real estate, schooling and everything in between. And slowly but surely, it is breathing new life into small towns outside of major urban hubs.”

The Urban Land Institute recently named Histurbia as one of its top real estate trends to watch in 2020.

As the report explains, “If the live-work-play formula could revive inner cities a quarter-century ago, there is no reason to think that it will not work in suburbs with the right bones and the will to succeed.”

The industry will continue to digitize. 

The mortgage and real estate spheres have been moving away from their manual, paper-laden processes in recent years, and 2020 will only see that trend expand further—especially as more tech-savvy Millennials enter the market.

As Hundtofte explains, “In 2020, we’ll continue to see Millennials growing their share of the mortgage market, which in turn, will serve as a catalyst to lenders to continue to rapidly innovate their technology offerings to meet the expectations of an audience more accustomed to an Amazon, Venmo-like experience.”

Though plenty of tech offerings already exist—from e-signing and e-notary software to fully-digital mortgage applications, automated income verification and more—Hundtofte says we’ll probably see these solutions start teaming up in the new year.

“Rather than compete with each other, we’ll see companies combining technologies across the board, from startups partnering with startups to startups partnering with legacy institutions,” he says.

Aaron Block, the co-founder of MetaProp—a venture capital fund focusing solely on real estate technology—says to keep an eye on the Airbnb and WeWork brands specifically in this regard.

On WeWork’s recent IPO blunder, Block says, “One major positive outcome of this year’s ‘DiePO’ is the plethora of ‘proptech’ innovation talent hitting the street. Some exciting new companies are being formed as we speak.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a freelance writer and journalist from Houston, covering real estate, mortgage and finance topics. See my current work in Forbes, The Motley Fool, The Balance, Bankrate and The Simple Dollar. Past gigs: The Dallas Morning News, NBC, Radio Disney and PBS.

Source: 2020 Real Estate Outlook: Expert Predictions For Mortgage Rates, Home Prices, Tech And More

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China Now Has An Answer To Its Housing Crisis – It’s Called Rent

In 2005, when I first began living in China, rent was incredibly low—as in, $100 per month for a two bedroom apartment near Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. This wasn’t just due to the fact that everything was cheaper back then or a lack of adjusting for inflation, but relative to the general price points of other goods and services, rent in China was startlingly cheap. There was simply a lack of demand for rental properties and it would have been a stretch to even call the rental market nascent–it hardly even existed. While manual migrant workers were renting out bunks in dormitories and rooms in suburban villages, the movement of educated, white collar workers to China’s big cities had yet to shift into high gear, there was an absolute glut of new housing being brought onto the market, and the cost of purchasing a home was relatively affordable–not to mention the fact that there was an acute amount of social pressure to own a home and having to rent was almost pitiable.

Today, the housing scene in China is very different. With a sizable portion of the population priced out of the market in key areas as well as a population that has grown accustom to being geographically agile and moving from city to city for the best opportunities, renting has started to lose its taboo status—and there are even signs of it starting to be seen as modern, fiscally strategic, and perhaps even a little chic.

In many parts of China, the housing market has topped out and stabilized, the construction boom has been curbed, and there is a growing suspicion among the young generation that going into long-term debt to pay an overinflated price for a house that statistically will be ready to demolition around the same time they have it paid off may not be the best of life decisions. Renting is now a viable option for China’s younger generation and has become an industry that’s now set to boom.

The real estate boom period

Today In: Asia

When we discuss China’s real estate boom period (circa 2005-2016) we have to keep in mind that home ownership was still a relatively new phenomenon. In a rather under-appreciated economic revolution, China’s real estate market was reborn in 1998, when the central government began breaking up workers units and privatizing housing. During this period, people were suddenly given the right to sell or rent out their homes, and China obtained one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world. But, as with most things in China, there was a deeper story behind the numbers, as in this era people were basically given their homes for extremely low prices.

“For my parent’s generation, they don’t even think about renting,” Cody Chao, a 20-something medical student from Suzhou, explained. “Besides, housing wasn’t that much of a financial issue. I know my dad got the place that I’m at right now at a very reasonable price—like, a crazy cheap price.”

However, these new economic privileges–not to mention a building boom unlike anything the world has seen before–set the stage for China’s well documented real estate feeding frenzy of the early 2010s. New social expectations were put in motion: in order to be considered viable for marriage a young couple would need to be able to lay claim to their own home. This pressure meant that upwards of 30% of new home purchases in China were being carried out due to an impending marriage—or, as was so often the case, parents buying a home for their child’s future marriage. According to Mark Tanner, the director of the Shanghai-based consumer research firm China Skinny, around 90% of Chinese first-time home buyers are supported by their families.

The Real Reasons The Chinese Love Throwing Money Into The Housing Market

Forbes Wade Shepard “It’s like part of the wedding deal,” Chao explained. “You get a house and then you start your own family. Once you have a house, a decent car, an okay job, then we can sit down, get a latte at Starbucks, and see what you are as a person. It’s more of a trade rather than a romance.”

Crazy cost of housing

However, this “wedding trade” is now feeling the ripples of financial reality, as the cost of housing in China’s economic epicenters is making some people accept long-term renting as a viable option.

“Housing affordability versus salary in China is the most out of whack in the world,” Tanner pointed out, “and almost all salary earners would struggle to buy a house with their wages, which is making more young Chinese who want to stay in the big cities realize that they are unlikely to ever buy a house there. Some will buy a home in their home town, and rent in the big city.”

How People In China Afford Their Outrageously Expensive Homes

Forbes Wade Shepard Property prices in China have become some of the most expensive in the world, having more than quadrupled since 2000. By early 2018, the average price-to-income ratio for a house in one of China’s top cities was a startling 34.9 years—meaning that it would take nearly 35 years of an average salary to pay for an average home. Even while China’s middle class continues to grow, the rising cost of housing has doubled that of disposable income. Compounding this issues is that not only are housing prices rising to unaffordable heights, but larger down payments are being required and mortgage interest rates are going up, making buying a home seem more and more like a far off dream for the average Chinese millennial.

Meanwhile, rent is still very affordable. For example, as of June 2018, the average monthly cost of a mortgage in China’s top cities was 16,000 yuan per month, while the average rent was less than half that at 7,000 yuan, according to a JLL report.

The rationale is now sinking in that for many of China’s younger generation buying a house prior to marriage may actually be fiscally irresponsible, and “nude weddings”—where neither party owns a home—are not only becoming more common but are starting to seem like a good idea.

“For any new family to buy property is impossible for someone who has just started their career. It’s just impossible,” Chao lamented. “Like, a house in Pudong will cost whatever I’m going to make for the rest of my life.”

To make matters even more difficult for China’s prospective young home buyers is that in most of China’s first- and second-tier cities there are strict home purchasing restrictions. These were originally designed to curb the ongoing mass migration to the country’s economic epicenters as well as to provide local governments with a more robust set of levers to control the housing market and stave off the very real possibility of bubbles and crashes. The impact on the ground is that if you’re from, say, Chengdu, and you move to Shanghai for work, you can’t just jump right in and buy a house like you can in the U.S. or Europe. You must first be able to show a lengthy (currently 5 years) work and tax paying record in the city before you are permitted to enter the housing market–regardless if you can afford it or not. Therefore, migrants to China’s top-tier cities must endure what amounts to an extended period of rental purgatory before they can even think about becoming a homeowner.

What Bubble? How China Stays In Control Of Its Wild Housing Market

Forbes Wade Shepard “If you look at a city like Shanghai, for example, of the 25 million population, just 11 million living there are Shanghainese, who own the vast majority of the residential real estate,” Tanner explained. “You’ve now got domestic migrants who have been living there 10+ years who have made their life there and are wanting to stay for both job opportunities and the general excitement of the cities.”

The new generation

China currently has around 400 million millennials who are entering the country’s labor and housing markets with a different set of life experiences and outlooks than their parents and grandparents. China’s young generation, the first to grow up into a relatively prosperous country, also face a different set of fiscal realities than their predecessors.

“I grew up free of worry of being starved, of being cold, of being without a home,” Chao explained.

China’s young and educated generation is typically geographically mobile, many have studied or worked abroad, and have become comfortable living and working in a city far from where they grew up. Millennials make up 43% of China’s urban migrants, according to a Chinese government survey. These new migrants often grew up in urban areas, were educated in urban areas, and now want to seize the opportunities of some of China’s most prosperous cities, and are growing more and more comfortable with renting as they do so.

Another social factor that’s impacting China’s rental market is that the millennial generation is getting married and having children later in life. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the average age for a couple to get married and have a child in 1991 was 23.7 and 24.2 years, respectively. Last year, the average age to marry was 27.8 years old and the average age to have a child was nearly 30. JLL found that this delay in family planning has delayed home purchases, with more young Chinese willing to rent for a far longer duration of time than their predecessors.

The rise of renting

Over 200 million people in China are now renting their homes, and this may just be the beginning of a sector that’s going to explode in the coming years. While China’s rental market is currently valued by Jones Lang LaSalle at more than one trillion yuan ($140 billion), renting still only makes up a mere 2% of the housing market.

The Chinese government is very aware of the economic potential and the social necessity of the rental market, and in 2017 launched a new initiative pragmatically dubbed “Focus on Both the Rental and Sales Housing Markets,” which set out to develop the country’s fledgling rental sector. A wave of policies were unleashed to build more rental properties and to provide incentives, such as tax breaks, for property owners who rent out their unused homes as well as renters themselves. Beijing, for example, announced in 2017 that a third of the new housing units that would come online over the next five years would solely be for renters. Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Wuxi, the local government decided to permit renters to apply for residency, which would give them access to the city’s education, health, and other social services—previously, they had to own a home of at least 60 square meters.

The stage is now set for China to create a dynamic rental market, and the country’s big companies have likewise responded. Tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent, and JD.com are making big investments in the rental sector, as are major real estate developers like Country Garden, Vanke, and Dalian Wanda. Apartment booking apps are also popping up and attracting large amounts of investment. Ziroom, for example, is China’s equivalent of Airbnb with a twist, as they predominately deal in long-term rentals. Last January, they brought in $621 million in financing, with backing from Tencent, Warburg Pincus, Sequoia Capital, and Sunac, and is now valued in the ballpark of $3 billion. By 2030, China’s rental market is expected to quadruple in value to 4.2 trillion yuan ($588 billion), as the country braces for a new economic sector to boom.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a perpetually traveling writer who focuses on new cities (ghost cities), the New Silk Road, and international e-commerce as seen from the ground. I am the author of “Ghost Cities of China: The Story of Cities Without People in the World’s Most Populated Country,” a book which chronicles the two and a half years I spent in China’s under-populated new cities. For the past three years I have been traveling up and down the various corridors of the ‘New Silk Road’ or Belt and Road doing research for a book which should be out in 2018. I have been featured in, interviewed by, or appeared on CNBC Squawk Box, CBC The Current, Forbes.com, VICE, NPR Morning Edition, and BBC World

Source: China Now Has An Answer To Its Housing Crisis – It’s Called Rent

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First 500 people get 2 months free of Skillshare: https://skl.sh/polymatter11 Patreon: https://patreon.com/polymatter Twitter: https://twitter.com/polymatters Pins & T-Shirts: https://standard.tv/collections/polym… Reddit: https://reddit.com/r/PolyMatter Discord: https://discord.gg/polymatter China’s housing bubble has left 50 million homes empty and put its government between a rock and a hard place. This includes a paid sponsored promotion which had no part in the writing, editing, or production of the rest of the video. Music by Epidemic Sound: http://epidemicsound.com California Flag image from: Vecteezy.com Provinces map: China with Provinces – Single Color by FreeVectorMaps.com Full list of sources: https://pastebin.com/FPVU9SaG

Investors Are Pouring Billions Into Proptech Here’s Who’s Getting It

The real estate business is finally getting renovated, as a new wave of startups build property-technology platforms that improve or simplify the complicated process of buying, selling, renting, or owning a home. And VCs have been more than willing to open their checkbooks: Since 2013, annual investment in U.S. proptech companies has grown at a rate five times that of investment in all U.S. businesses. In 2019, investment in U.S. proptech is on pace to exceed $10 billion. Here’s where some of this year’s money has gone.

$370 million

Compass hosts real estate listings on an easy-to-use online platform. It also provides tools for agents, including real-time pricing, marketing software, and automated multiplatform listings, leaving more time for face-to-face meetings with clients.

$300 million

Opendoor buys homes directly from sellers in exchange for cash, which helps them afford down payments on their new digs. The company holds DIY open houses that allow almost anybody with a smartphone to tour a home–without an agent–between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

$160 million

Better, a direct lender, allows homebuyers to quickly get a mortgage via a simple online application. Plus, no commissions and no fees mean borrowers pay only interest.

$170 million

Nextdoor keeps people up-to-date on events in their neighborhood. The social network also helps neighbors find babysitters and pet sitters, swap safety tips, and, of course, gossip.

$200 million

Clutter packs, stores, and moves its customers’ belongings­–and lets them track their inventory online. A forthcoming feature will help customers decide what to move, sell, or donate with a few clicks.

$300 million

Lemonade’s app lets homeowners and renters buy insurance against life’s lemons, such as losses from fire, water damage, and theft.

By: By Kevin J. RyanStaff writer, Inc. @wheresKR

 

Source: Investors Are Pouring Billions Into Proptech. Here’s Who’s Getting It

37K subscribers
Read the full report here: https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/news-and-eve… Will we soon be able to buy a house with the click of a button? A new report released by Saïd Business School, University of Oxford takes an expansive look at property technology (PropTech), and its findings detail the dramatic changes facing the real estate industry. The 95-page report was written by Andrew Baum, Visiting Professor of Management Practice at Oxford Saïd and real estate industry veteran, using data from PropTech venture capital firm PiLabs and interviews from over 50 real estate professionals.

DISCOVER How You Can AUTOMATE FB Video Ads & Get EVERGREEN & CONSISTENT Leads & Sales FAST

Before even running your ad campaign, you first need to learn about the “flows” which are the general game plans. This way, you’re not just giving money to Mark Zuckerberg and then crossing your fingers, hoping and praying that your ads will work. And because some of you might be using the FB ad platform for the first time, I also added the basics such as creating your FB page and Business Manager account inside – plus on how to get access to your partner’s or client’s page/s as well (great if you want to provide this as a service).

I know you already saw this word gazillion times and it might already bore you. But really, if you want to have a very successful ad campaign, you need to do a proper research. Here, I also showed how to “spy” on the currently winning ads so you don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” by having to do the guess work and test a lot of things. All you have to do is copy what is working and apply them in your own ads.

This is actually the secret that gurus are hiding from you. Here, you can learn how to setup automated video ad campaigns for high ticket type of products. And when I say “automate,” I really mean setting things up once then you can go on vacation and the ad will be running for you, giving you results while doing whatever you want!

  • Get FAST results, without having to rely on SEO and crazy algorithm change
  • GROW your social following and widen your reach to attract more people who are VERY interested with your offers
  • Create almost set and forget AUTOMATED campaigns that can give you results in many months to come, even if you’re away.
  • EASILY retarget your video viewers and website visitors to make them come back and grab your offers
  • Become an instant AUTHORITY in your niche by reaching out to your target audience and make them LOVE what you can offer to them 
  • If you want, you can even build your own FB video ad agency, and offer this as a service to business owners! 

Source: Social Video Ads Zoo

Council Post: How To Prepare For The Recession As A Real Estate Investor

It seems like all the talk these days is centered around the inevitable recession. I see an article every day claiming that the end is near. Recently, the yield curve inverted, which many point to as a strong indicator of an oncoming recession. But, there are also many experts who claim the economy is strong. They cite strong growth, spending, development and other indicators to support their theory. No matter which way you lean, it is inevitable that there will be a market correction/recession at some point. It’s impossible to say for sure when or how bad it will be.

As a real estate investor, you want to be prepared for when it does happen. If you think back to the last crash in 2008, the best deals were the years after that. If you had capital, you made a lot of money. It almost didn’t even matter what you bought because prices were so insanely low. What I’ve heard most from investors looking back at it is, “I wish I would’ve bought more properties.”

Even though you can’t predict when it will happen, you can still take steps to get prepared. If you’re prepared, you’ll be able to capitalize. Let’s go over how people will be affected during the recession.

Sellers

In a recession, there will be many more distressed sellers than there are today. Since the last downturn, sellers have been able to refinance or sell if they got in a tight spot because of appreciation. Since prices will be going down, many will not have enough equity to refinance or sell. They’ll have to face foreclosure or a short sale. The sellers who do have equity will want to sell out of fear that they’ll lose their equity if they wait any longer.

Flippers

Many flippers will have exited the market. Prior to the recession actually happening, they’ll notice inventory rising, days on market increasing and their properties selling for less than anticipated. As a result, their margins will tighten. They may lose money or simply not make the return needed to justify the risk. Therefore, there will be far fewer flippers than you see today.

Wholesalers

Many wholesalers will leave the market. Even though there are more distressed sellers, there are fewer sellers with equity. They’ll notice that there aren’t as many flippers to sell to anymore either. The flippers who have weathered the storm will ask for significant discounts in order to do a deal. Wholesalers’ margins will begin to tighten to the point where it doesn’t make sense to spend marketing dollars anymore.

Contractors

Contractors will not have as many job opportunities since there will be fewer people buying and renovating homes. In order to get jobs, they will have to lower their prices to stay busy.

Real Estate Agents

With fewer buyers and sellers in the marketplace, there will be more competition to acquire clients. Real estate agents will have to spend more marketing dollars to attract them or take discounted commissions.

All these people play a vital role in real estate investing. You should ask yourself where you fit in with all of this. What’s the best position to be in?

The answer: become a cash investor.

In today’s market there are a lot of cash investors, but many will be wiped out or scared during the recession. So there will be far less competition in all aspects of real estate investing. The cash investors who do stay in it will own the market during a recession. With cash, you have many options. You can choose to flip homes with little competition. You can buy a bunch of discounted rentals and build your portfolio. Or you can lend the money to operators and have them do all the work for you.

Again, the No. 1 regret people told me they had after the last recession was that they didn’t buy enough homes. It wasn’t that they wish they would’ve wholesaled more homes or sold more homes as an agent. The person actually buying homes is the one who thrives in the recession.

The cash investor will be able to buy directly from all the motivated sellers with less competition. They’ll be able to buy from wholesalers at deeper discounts because there are more deals than money. They’ll be able to get cheaper labor from contractors because they’ll be one of the only sources of consistent work, and agents will work harder to find deals for cash investors because there will be fewer retail clients.

As you prepare for an oncoming recession, the most important thing you can do is become a cash investor. Here are a few ways how:

• If you have properties or assets, consider selling some so that you have more liquidity.

• If you’re a wholesaler or real estate agent, look into raising capital so that you can start buying the deals you find.

• If you’re a flipper, start building more relationships and using more lenders now so a trusting relationship is in place before the recession hits.

We don’t know when the next recession will be, but it doesn’t really matter. You should be preparing as if it could be tomorrow. Figure out how you can become a cash investor, and you will be ready for it.

Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?

Ryan Pineda is the CEO of Homerun Offer.

Source: Council Post: How To Prepare For The Recession As A Real Estate Investor

Lets talk about a potential recession, what might happen, and how you can best prepare – enjoy! Add me on Instagram: GPStephan – Avocado Toast Merch: https://bit.ly/2DhFyo3 GET $50 OFF FOR A LIMITED TIME WITH COUPON CODE: THANKYOU50 The Real Estate Agent Academy: Learn how to start and grow your career as a Real Estate Agent to a Six-Figure Income, how to best build your network of clients, expand into luxury markets, and the exact steps I’ve used to grow my business from $0 to over $125 million in sales: https://goo.gl/UFpi4c Join the private Real Estate Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/there… So first, lets talk about what’s influencing the market and what factors we should be made aware of: The first is rising interest rates: This means that the cost of borrowing money is expected to INCREASE over the next few years. When borrowing gets more expensive, you either need to RAISE prices to keep the profit margins the same – which means things get more expensive to you as the customer. Second, we’ve begun seeing the warning signs of the INVERTED YEILD CURVE – which, according to just about every article out there, the inverted yield curve has historically been associated with a high likelihood of upcoming recession. Third, we have the tariffs and the uncertainty surrounding what may or may not happen. And when it comes to investments, the ONE thing all investors dislike is UNCERTAINTY. When people are UNCERTAIN, they don’t invest, they hold cash…and that causes stock prices to fall. And fourth…we’re seeing a slow down in nearly all markets. Here’s what I think is going to happen… First, I’ve noticed QUITE a lot of what I call “gamblers fallacy.” This is the expectation that the market will drop, JUST because we’ve been in the longest bull market in HISTORY and that means it’s “overdue” and more likely to happen. Second, I believe that a lot of our “Recession Talk” is already SOMEWHAT factored into the price. Think of all the people NOT investing right now because they want to wait for lower prices…that is, in itself, self fulfilling and lowering prices. And third…no one, including myself, knows whats going to happen. No ONE. And fourth, you have so many false news articles designed to APPEAR like credible new sources so they get pumped through Facebook and Blogs for the sole purpose of manipulating you into buying their products. Well here’s the reality: First, NO ONE can predict when a recession will happen. We’ve been seeing these articles since 2013 from people who claim the recession is coming any month now. It’s never ending. You’ll read about this one expert predicting something, then another expert predicting something else, and they keep repeating themselves until eventually, one of them is right. Then they use that credibility of being right ONCE to propel them into the next opportunity. Second, it’s important you PREPARE for a recession in ways you can CONTROL: First, you CAN control whether or not you keep a 3-6 month fund in the event you lose your job or something unexpected comes up. This is absolutely ESSENTIAL for you to do. Second, you CAN control whether or not to have too many outstanding debts that might need to be paid down. If you’re over leveraged, or if you have high interest debt, it’s in your best interest to pay those off to free up cashflow in the event of a downturn. Third, you CAN control how much you spend…if you’re spending is too high, it’s important to cut those back so that you can save more money to invest. And when you DO invest, invest long term. Ideally, these are investments you should plan to keep 10-20 years. For me, I see lower prices as an opportunity. And to alleviate some of these concerns, you don’t need to just drop ALL of your money in the market at once…buy a small amount each and every month. This way, if the price goes down..you’re buying in cheaper and cheaper over time. If it goes up, you’re buying in little bit little…and anytime when it comes to investing, slow and steady wins the race. This isn’t about making an immediate 10% profit in a month…this is about investing for your future in a slow, stable way where you don’t feel stressed whether the market goes up or down. For business or one-on-one real estate investing/real estate agent consulting inquiries, you can reach me at GrahamStephanBusiness@gmail.com My ENTIRE Camera and Recording Equipment: https://www.amazon.com/shop/grahamste… Favorite Credit Cards: Chase Ink 80k Bonus Point Offer – https://www.referyourchasecard.com/21… American Express Platinum – http://refer.amex.us/GRAHASOxHd?XLINK…

Real Estate Investing 2.0: Unique New Approach Goes Beyond Crowdfunding

A combination of legislative reform and advances in cloud-based digital technologies has made crowdfunding a reality in real estate investing, but it has done little to overcome other barriers to entry. Now, a new business model is taking things to the next level.

While companies like RealtyMogul and Fundrise used crowdfunding to make real estate investing more financially accessible, many investors still consider it too daunting a prospect to venture into. Crowdfunding marketplaces require individual participants to choose the ideal investment and assume most of the risk themselves, and many people are simply not comfortable doing that.

Recognizing those barriers, entrepreneur Eran Roth came up with a plan to take real estate investing to the next level. Iintoo, the company he founded, is built around a REIMCO (real estate investment management company) business model and only offers deals that have gone through a rigorous vetting process based on a data-driven methodology. It actively manages those deals through their entire lifespan (typically 36 months), and underwrites every project on a firm commitment basis, so it has real skin in the game.

Active management makes a difference

The active management component is one of the most significant differentiators between iintoo and crowdfunding marketplaces, Roth stresses. “We had a student housing project in Georgia where the developer passed away suddenly. Foreclosure typically follows in a case like that, but given our hands-on model, our team traveled to the site, helped find a new developer, and made sure the bank would continue working with us. In a marketplace model where the platform is hands-off, the investors would simply have lost their money, but that property ended up returning a 20.82% yield to iintoo’s investors when we exited.”

While all investments, including iintoo’s involve risk, iintoo has come up with a unique way to address investors’ concerns about risk, with a program called epiic (Equity Investment Protection Community*). Epiic offers investors two kinds of protection against loss of principal. The first is a social community pool funded by a small percentage of each initial investment. The second is a $150 million insurance policy underwritten by Everest Re Group, one of the largest reinsurance companies in the world.

Focused on deals lasting 18 to 36 months, epiic provides a seamless and easy investment option for  investors looking to make one contribution into a diversified, risk-mitigated real-estate fund. There are risks associated with investing and principal loss is possible. Certain restrictions and limitations apply.

“Initially, I learned of iintoo’s platform through a friend. It seemed like a new way to invest in real estate,” says investor William Raff. “The more I learned about iintoo, and especially its equity protection, the more interested I became. Since then, I’ve invested in a number of geographically diverse residential properties in the U.S., including student housing and multifamily apartments. iintoo’s expertise lies in this area, and it provides an easy-to-use platform that enables individuals to efficiently access these investments.”

Diversification

Financial strategists have long recommended alternative investments such as real estate to increase portfolio diversification and potentially boost returns. Accredited investors ($200K individual/$300K joint annual income or $1M household net worth) can now access this market through iintoo with a minimum investment of $25,000. Average historical annual returns on iintoo’s full-cycle investments have averaged 16.63%* since the company’s launch four years ago.

Becoming an iintoo member is easy. It’s free to join, and there’s no commitment. Simply go to www.iintoo.com and sign up. Within a matter of minutes, you’ll be opening the door on an investment world once available only to the world’s elite.

This is an advertisement for iintoo.com. Securities offered through Dalmore Group LLC, a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA/SIPC.

The testimonials contained in this article may not be representative of the experience of other customers. The testimonial is no guarantee of future performance or success.

This is not an offer to buy, sell or trade securities.   Investments are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee, and may lose value.

*When we refer to “Equity Protection” we are referring to an arrangement between an affiliate of Everest Re Group, Ltd. (“Everest Re”) and iintoo epiic GP LLC, the general partner of each covered issuer (“Covered Issuer”), pursuant to which the latter promises that, even in the event the underlying project is not profitable or records a loss, the investor in the Covered Issuer shall receive a specified amount equal to the original principal investment he/she/it provided (less other amounts already received by such individual investor during the course of the investment).

Equity Protection has significant limitations, including, but not limited to, repayments for losses in the Covered Issuer are only made up to a maximum amount of funds available from the retention account and the policy, repayments are on a first come, first serve basis, and risk is pooled across Covered Issuers subject to the same retention account and policy. Iintoo epiic GP LLC, and not the investors, is party to the policy with Everest Re. As a result, investors have no direct legal rights under the policy. In addition, beyond use of the Equity Protection proceeds from the retention account and the policy, neither iintoo epiic GP LLC nor the Covered Issuer has any obligations to indemnify investors for losses.

For more information, please see “Business of the Company-;Equity Protection” and “Risk Factors-;Risks related to the Equity Protection” in any of our issuers’ private placement memoranda.** The exit annual yield is equal to the ratio between the total profits from the equity investment (before tax) and the total raise (amount invested by iintoo’s equity investors in the project) divided by the investment term.

Source: Real Estate Investing 2.0: Unique New Approach Goes Beyond Crowdfunding

Let’s debunk some common myths about real estate investing, and share what it’s ACTUALLY like, no sugar coating – enjoy! Add me on Snapchat / Instagram: GPStephan Jeremy’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnMn… Financial Growth Conference: https://financial-education2.teachabl… Join the private Real Estate Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/there… The Real Estate Agent Academy: Learn how to start and grow your career as a Real Estate Agent to a Six-Figure Income, how to best build your network of clients, expand into luxury markets, and the exact steps I’ve used to grow my business from $0 to over $120 million in sales: https://goo.gl/UFpi4c First expectation: Real estate investing is passive. The reality is that creating the type of rental property to the point where it’s passive income takes a LOT of work. But the work is, at times, still ongoing. Eventually you’ll have a vacancy. Eventually you’ll need to fix things up again. Nothing will last forever. Sure, you can get a property manager who’ll handle much of this for you – but you will need to do SOME work yourself, even if it’s as small as choosing between finishes or approving bids on work. It won’t be an insane amount of work, but it will be something. So yes, real estate CAN be fairly passive…but it’s not passive if you don’t put in the work UPFRONT. Second Expectation: In order to invest in real estate, you need to do the repairs yourself or be a good handyman. The reality is that I can’t do anything besides change a lightbulb. While I do know some landlords who do the work themselves to save the money, this is absolutely not a requirement – and depending on how much your time is worth, it’s often cheaper just to pay someone else to do it the right way. It’s also worth noting that since all these repairs are a write off, you can write off the costs against your income…but, if you do the work YOURSELF, you cannot deduct the cost of YOUR OWN LABOR. Third Expectation: It takes a lot of money to start. The reality is that it often takes 10%-25% down to begin investing in real estate. This COULD be a lot depending on your definition of “ a lot,” and also on your area. Buying a property in Los Angeles would be significantly more expensive than in Kentucky, for instance. Where one person might be able to buy a property for $20,000 down, someone else might need $200,000. Fourth Expectation is that it’s often like the TV shows. The Reality is that it’s NOTHING like what they portray on TV. Oftentimes those TV shows will be loosely scripted around creating drama and creating a show that’s actually interesting enough to watch all the way through. Every episode needs a goal, a problem that arises, a solution to that problem, and then a resolution at the end. The real life problems that come up just aren’t that exciting or interesting. It’s often boring and mundane. The fifth expectation is that you’ll make a lot of money investing in real estate. The reality is that oftentimes one property won’t make you rich. Most mom and pop landlords won’t make a lot early on, but as they scale up, they can earn a significant amount of money from a lot of smaller sources. This is how many landlords start making money, enough to quit their jobs and invest in real estate full time. It’s growing your portfolio over one or two DECADES and accumulating those properties that might make you only $900 a month….but buy one of those every 18 months, and in 15 years you’re making $9000 per MONTH. That’s how most landlords make their money, and make a LOT of it. But the beginning will be slow and frustrating until you begin adding more and more to your portfolio. For business inquiries or one-on-one real estate investing/real estate agent consulting or coaching, you can reach me at GrahamStephanBusiness@gmail.com Suggested reading: The Millionaire Real Estate Agent: http://goo.gl/TPTSVC Your money or your life: https://goo.gl/fmlaJR The Millionaire Real Estate Investor: https://goo.gl/sV9xtl How to Win Friends and Influence People: https://goo.gl/1f3Meq Think and grow rich: https://goo.gl/SSKlyu Awaken the giant within: https://goo.gl/niIAEI The Book on Rental Property Investing: https://goo.gl/qtJqFq Favorite Credit Cards: Chase Sapphire Reserve – https://goo.gl/sT68EC American Express Platinum – https://goo.gl/C9n4e3

As Mortgage-Interest Deduction Vanishes, Housing Market Offers a Shrug

The mortgage-interest deduction, a beloved tax break bound tightly to the American dream of homeownership, once seemed politically invincible. Then it nearly vanished in middle-class neighborhoods across the country, and it appears that hardly anyone noticed.

In places like Plainfield, a southwestern outpost in the area known locally as Chicagoland, the housing market is humming. The people selling and buying homes do not seem to care much that President Trump’s signature tax overhaul effectively, although indirectly, vaporized a longtime source of government support for homeowners and housing prices.

The 2017 law nearly doubled the standard deduction — to $24,000 for a couple filing jointly — on federal income taxes, giving millions of households an incentive to stop claiming itemized deductions.

As a result, far fewer families — and, in particular, far fewer middle-class families — are claiming the itemized deduction for mortgage interest. In 2018, about one in five taxpayers claimed the deduction, Internal Revenue Service statistics show. This year, that number fell to less than one in 10. For families earning less than $100,000, the decline was even more stark.

                                    

The benefit, as it remains, is largely for high earners, and more limited than it once was: The 2017 law capped the maximum value of new mortgage debt eligible for the deduction at $750,000, down from $1 million. There has been no audible public outcry, prompting some people in Washington to propose scrapping the tax break entirely.

If the deduction’s decline should be causing a stir anywhere, it is in towns like Plainfield, where the typical family earns about $100,000 a year and the typical home sells for around $300,000. But housing professionals, home buyers and sellers — and detailed statistics about the housing market — show no signs that the drop in the use of the tax break is weighing on prices or activity.

“From the perspective of selling and trying to buy, I don’t see any evidence of that,” said Paul Forsythe, who teaches physical education and coaches football at a high school.

Mr. Forsythe and his wife, Kylie, are selling their four-bedroom, two-bath home on a quarter-acre lot in one of Plainfield’s older developments, which dates to 1997. They are moving with their two daughters to a nearby suburb, closer to the schools where they work. They have owned homes through the ups and downs of the local housing market, which boomed in the early 2000s and crashed in the midst of the financial crisis.

“Right now,” said Ms. Forsythe, a fourth-grade teacher, “people are excited that the market is finally good again.”

Such reactions challenge a longstanding American political consensus. For decades, the mortgage-interest deduction has been alternately hailed as a linchpin of support for homeownership (by the real estate industry) and reviled as a symbol of tax policy gone awry (by economists). What pretty much everyone agreed on, though, was that it was politically untouchable.

Nearly 30 million tax filers wrote off a collective $273 billion in mortgage interest in 2018. Repealing the deduction, the conventional wisdom presumed, would effectively mean raising taxes on millions of middle-class families spread across every congressional district. And if anyone were tempted to try, an army of real estate brokers, home builders and developers — and their lobbyists — were ready to rush to the deduction’s defense.

Now, critics of the deduction feel emboldened.

“The rejoinder was always, ‘Oh, but you’d never be able to get rid of the mortgage-interest deduction,’ but I certainly wouldn’t say never now,” said William G. Gale, an economist at the Brookings Institution and a former adviser to President George H.W. Bush. “It used to be that this was a middle-class birthright or something like that, but it’s kind of hard to argue that when only 8 percent of households are taking the deduction.”

Kylie and Paul Forsythe outside the Plainfield home they are selling. “People are excited that the market is finally good again,” Ms. Forsythe said.
CreditAlyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Mr. Gale, like most economists on the left and the right, has long argued that the mortgage-interest deduction violated every rule of good policymaking. It was regressive, benefiting wealthy families — who are more likely to own homes, and to have bigger mortgages — more than poorer ones. It distorted the housing market, encouraging Americans to buy the biggest home possible to take maximum advantage of the deduction. Studies repeatedly found that the deduction actually reduced ownership rates by helping to inflate home prices, making homes less affordable to first-time buyers.

But the real estate industry said that scrapping the deduction could undermine the value of what is, for most American families, their most important asset. In the debate over the tax law in 2017, the industry warned that the legislation could cause house prices to fall 10 percent or more in some parts of the country.

Price growth has cooled in many markets, including New York and Seattle, but not nearly as much as the most alarming estimates suggested, and not in a pattern that suggests the loss of the deduction was a primary factor. Places where a large share of middle-class taxpayers took the mortgage-interest deduction, for example, have not seen any meaningful difference in price increases from less-affected areas, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the real estate site Zillow.

Skylar Olsen, an economist at Zillow, said that the slowdown in the housing market probably had little to do with the tax law. Home prices have risen much faster than wages in recent years, creating an affordability crisis in many cities that probably made slower growth in prices inevitable.

“Housing markets were burning so hot at an unsustainable pace and they had to come down,” Ms. Olsen said.

The tax law may have had another impact: It capped deductions for state and local taxes at $10,000, which had a particularly large effect in coastal cities and other places where property taxes and real estate values are both high. Those places did see a slowdown in the growth of home prices after the law took effect, although it is not clear whether the two were linked.

The national real estate industry argues that the two tax changes have together played a role in weakening the housing market.

“Clearly the housing market is underperforming in relation to economic fundamentals of job growth, wage growth and mortgage rates,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Economists like Mr. Yun and Ms. Olsen will probably debate the law’s impact for years. It is possible, and even likely, that sophisticated analyses will eventually conclude that limiting the mortgage-interest deduction did lead to somewhat slower price growth.

But for most home buyers and sellers, those subtle effects will be washed away by forces that have a much bigger impact: changes to mortgage rates, construction costs and supply and demand trends that vary from city to city and from neighborhood to neighborhood.

The tax law also rolled back the mortgage-interest deduction in a way that minimized the chance that taxpayers would notice its absence. Congress did not take away the tax break; it just changed the law in a way that meant fewer people would benefit from it — and buried the change in a much broader overhaul to the tax code.

But while Washington think tanks plot the deduction’s demise, the real estate industry is still hoping to restore it in some form. Mr. Yun of the National Association for Realtors said that as the housing market weakened, pressure would mount for Congress to restore some of the tax advantages that homeownership has historically enjoyed, although not necessarily in the same form.

For now, though, real estate agents and developers do not see the erosion of the mortgage deduction playing much of a role.

Plainfield’s housing market has been shaped by abrupt changes over the past 30 years. In 1990, a tornado leveled parts of town, killing more than two dozen people and forcing a huge rebuilding effort. At the turn of the millennium, the town had fewer than 10,000 residents. It has since quadrupled, with more growth on the way.

During the housing craze of the mid-2000s, developers leveled corn fields and sod farms to make way for cul-de-sacs. When the crisis hit, activity in many of the new subdivisions froze, said Ellen Williams, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Plainfield who has sold homes in the area for nearly two decades. Only in the past few years has construction restarted in earnest.

CreditAlyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Ms. Williams helped the Forsythes buy their home several years ago, when the housing crash still weighed on the market and the couple was underwater on a townhouse that had become too small for their growing family. They rent the townhouse out now, which means that they still itemize their deductions, including for mortgage interest. They said the deduction was not a factor in the sale of their home this summer or in their purchase of a new one.

Ms. Williams said that has been the case across the market. “I don’t know that it’s been a huge enough change yet,” she said. “People worry about Illinois taxes more.”

In the Forsythes’ ZIP code, housing prices are up 2 percent from the last year, according to data from the online real estate brokerage Redfin. Homes are selling quickly, Ms. Williams said, as she gave a quick tour of a recently listed four-bedroom house backing up to a pond in a nearby community. The hardwood floors were well kept, the kitchen hardware dated to the mid-1990s and the home was listed for $267,000.

“There’s not a lot available in this subdivision,” Ms. Williams said, “so I anticipate it selling quickly.”

Jim Tankersley covers economic and tax policy. Over more than a decade covering politics and economics in Washington, he has written extensively about the stagnation of the American middle class and the decline of economic opportunity. @jimtankersley

Ben Casselman writes about economics, with a particular focus on stories involving data. He previously reported for FiveThirtyEight and The Wall Street Journal.

 

Source: As Mortgage-Interest Deduction Vanishes, Housing Market Offers a Shrug – The New York Times

Redfin Reports Better-Than-Expected Earnings As Real Estate Tech Startups Seize Momentum

Better-than-expected second-quarter earnings lifted shares of discount real estate brokerage Redfin in after-hours trading Thursday.

Revenue for the quarter was $197.8 million, up 39% from a year ago, while the company reported a net loss of $12.6 million, compared with income of $3.2 million in the second quarter of 2018. Net loss per share was $0.14. All measures were better than analyst estimates.

“The second quarter is a turning point for our company,” CEO Glenn Kelman said in a statement, pointing to expansion of the company’s mortgage business and “instant-offers,” Redfin’s on-demand home-buying service. “The years of work we’ve invested in each of these businesses are now positioning us to be the first to deliver a complete solution at a national scale for people moving from one home to the next.”

Since 2006, the Seattle-based company has expanded to 90 markets, selling more than 170,000 homes worth upwards of $85 billion with a promise of lower transaction costs. Redfin pegs its market share at 0.94%.

But progress on its loftier goal—to make the whole residential real estate process more consumer friendly through tech—has been slow. Most U.S. housing is bought and sold the same way it has been for decades. Thursday’s better-than-expected report comes as a number of real estate companies new and old are announcing new digital-first services they also claim will remove friction.

The startup Opendoor said earlier Thursday that buyers can now use its app to browse, book self-guided tours and submit bids on any home for sale in Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix and Raleigh-Durham. Opendoor’s primary business so far is high-tech home-flipping. Homeowners sell their homes to the company online, and then Opendoor spruces up the place and tries to quickly resell it. Zillow believes a similar model will make up the majority of its business within five years.

Compass, a direct Redfin competitor in pairing human agents with homegrown software, on Tuesday announced it had raised a $370 million round of funding at a $6.4 billion valuation. (Redfin’s market cap is about $1.6 billion.) Last week, Realogy—parent company for brokerage brands including Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and Sotheby’s International Realty—announced a partnership with Amazon to connect home buyers with agents.

It is not yet clear whether Redfin will come out ahead when, and if, technology manages to really change the makeup of the residential real estate market. Shares have gained 27% so far this year, although the closing price of $17.72 on Thursday was down from a 2019 peak of $23.45.

For the third quarter, Redfin is forecasting revenue between $223 million and $233 million, which would equal year-over-year growth of between 59% and 66%. Net income is expected in the range of $3.4 million to $6.4 million.

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I am a staff writer covering real estate. Come for the outrageous homes, stay for the insights on what gets built and why. Previously I wrote about the future of money including fintech, Millennials and the economy at large, as well as news from the markets.I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where I majored in English and minored in art history but mostly worked at the student newspaper – The Daily Pennsylvanian. You can follow me on Twitter @SamSharf and email me at ssharf@forbes.com.

Source: Redfin Reports Better-Than-Expected Earnings As Real Estate Tech Startups Seize Momentum

Foreign Investment In U.S. Real Estate Plunges

The U.S. housing market has hit another stumbling block, as purchases of homes by foreign buyers dropped a dramatic 36%, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors.

The data comes from an annual survey of residential purchases from international buyers, which found that foreign buyers, led by the Chinese, purchased existing properties with a total value of $77.9 billion from April 2018 through March 2019, compared to properties totaling $121 billion in the preceding 12 months.

Investors from China exited the market most dramatically, with purchases falling 56% to an estimated $13.4 billion worth of residential property.

There are many reasons for the plunge, including less economic growth abroad — growth slowed to 3.6% in 2018 and is on track to slow to 3.3% in 2019 — tighter controls on outside investment by the Chinese government, a stronger U.S. dollar and a low inventory of homes for sale, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist and fellow Forbes.com contributor, who called the magnitude of the decline “quite striking, implying less confidence in owning a property in the U.S.”

Most foreign purchases were in Florida, followed by California, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and Illinois.

While this is bad news for the overall U.S. market, it won’t make a crucial dent in the New York market, as foreign investment hasn’t been part of the market for some time, those in the industry say.

Leonard Steinberg, a broker in New York City with Compass, referred to the recent high-profile Manhattan purchases billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin, who closed on a $233 million penthouse earlier this year, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who recently bought three condos for a combined $80 million.

“The reality of it is the Chinese billionaire or Russian oligarch were a small fraction of the market,” Steinberg says. “Your best foreign buyers are American buyers—just from other parts of the country.”

Svetlana Choi, a broker with Warburg Realty, said there is still foreign investment in New York, just not for ultra-luxury properties.

“While there are still Chinese investing, they would prefer to invest in an apartment building in Flushing that can bring a far larger return, than an empty super expensive apartment in New York City,” Choi says.

Noemi Bitterman, also of Warburg Realty, notes that as the market continues to decline, more investors may come through.

“My feeling is that now is definitely a time to buy because current prices reflect fair market value and not inflated prices as we saw six to 12 months ago,” Bitterman says. “The market has adjusted and prices are where they should be.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’ve been working as a journalist in the New York metro area for more than a decade and have developed a specialization in luxury real estate

Source: Foreign Investment In U.S. Real Estate Plunges

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