Filmmaker Michael Moore’s Michigan Mansion on the Market for $5.2M

ISl67cirb405gr0000000000Michael Moore’s most recent vacation home just hit the market. For those of you who haven’t heard the name in a while, Michael Moore is most commonly known for his outspoken opinions and the filmmaking of Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11.

Following the divorce of his wife, Kathleen Glynn, the ex-duo finally got through the legal proceedings and listed the property at $5.2 million. The vast size of this home gave it the name “Michigan Mansion.”

The glorious structure sits along the perimeter of the Torch Lake in northwestern Michigan. The body of this mansion encompasses 11,058-square-feet, and features rustic timber ceilings, a massive stone fireplace, a gym, a guest cottage and a dock.

What To Do When You Have Multiple Offers

multiple offersIf buyer demand has outstripped the supply of houses in your neighborhood, then you might just find yourself in the enviable position of beating buyers back with a stick. But having multiple offers on your property also comes with some stress you may not expect. Which offer should you accept, and how do you even start evaluating them?

Here are some tips for how to proceed.

The highest offer isn’t always best. Occasionally, you run into buyers who will bid way over asking price just to keep the seller from accepting another offer too quickly. Of course, they usually don’t plan to pay that much for your property. They may back out after giving your house a closer look-over, or try to haggle the price down after the inspection comes back.

If one of your offers is significantly higher than the others, keep in mind that it may be too good to be true.

Use multiple offers to your advantage. Having more than one offer puts you in a great position. Just communicating your situation to your potential buyers (through your agents, of course), can increase interest in those who bid on the higher end and lead less serious offers to drop off, all with minimal effort on your part.

Remember that there are plenty of reasons an offer might fall through. Even if an offer seems perfect, there’s no guarantee that it will go through. It’s not uncommon for buyers to back out if the appraisal comes back too low, since they may not be able to get the financing they need from a lender. They may even back out for reasons that have nothing to do with money.

Before you accept an offer, do your due diligence. Make sure your buyers have been pre-approved by a lender, so you know that their credit and work history check out.

Know what a good buyer looks like. Determining the most interested buyer—and the thus one most likely to pay the asking price and make it to the closing table—is always important. An ideal buyer will have viewed your home multiple times and have expressed their interest to either you or your agent, and their offer won’t be significantly under your asking price.

Manhattan developer Zeckendorf confident $130M penthouse will sell

The address 520 Park Ave. is still mostly a hole in the ground, but the sales office is now open for business and redefining the luxury price point in New York City. Luxury condominium prices already hit a record this year, according to several reports released Thursday on the Manhattan market. This as more units go up, but global financial markets fall.

“Everything concerns me, but, very funny, we think we’ve seen more Chinese buyers in the last 60 days than ever before,” said William Lie Zeckendorf, the developer behind 520 Park. “I think, frankly, what’s unsettled China has made the U.S. that much more appealing.”

A rendering of 520 Park Avenue, New York.

The 54-story tower is another team effort by Zeckendorf and architect Robert A.M. Stern; they collaborated on 15 Central Park West, which opened in 2008. A now legendary celebrity magnet, its units originally sold for a collective $2 billion, but some owners have already sold for three times their original investment.

The tower at 520 Park, which is on track to be completed in 2018, will house 33 full-floor units with five duplex penthouses. The basic units will be 5,100 square feet with 360 degree views, some better than others depending on the floor. They will start at $30 million.

The crown jewel will be a 12,400-square-foot penthouse with an additional 1,700 square feet of outdoor space. It is listed at $130 million, which Zeckendorf revealed last year but said is still the right price.

“Probably more likely now than ever. We are seeing more and more interest in New York City from across the world, we’re also seeing record-breaking prices being paid by New Yorkers,” said Zeckendorf, who claims that the majority of his buyers are still from the tri-state area.

Manhattan’s luxury market, which is defined as the upper 10 percent of all co-op and condos, saw a median sale price of $5,499,365 in the third quarter of this year, up 10 percent from a year ago, according to Jonathan Miller of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, in a report for Douglas Elliman, a real estate firm. Meanwhile, listing inventory was down 9 percent, putting more pressure on prices.

In the new development market, the price per square foot reached a record, up nearly 17 percent from a year ago, and sales surged 61 percent.

“The sky is the limit. I was once asked could we exceed a hundred million and I think we can keep on going up,” said Wendy Sarasohn, a real estate agent with Brown Harris Stevens in Manhattan, adding, “My prime buyers are from the metropolitan tri-state area, California and then international buyers.”

Kitchen display at the newly opened sales center for 520 Park Avenue, New York.

Kitchen display at the newly opened sales center for 520 Park Avenue, New York.

The tower at 520 Park, which is actually on East 60th St. between Madison and Park avenues (Zeckendorf paid tens of millions of dollars to Christ Church on the corner of Park and 60th for air rights and its address), is one of several luxury condominium towers now under construction in midtown Manhattan. While prices have softened somewhat for less expensive, older Manhattan apartments, the high end, at least, according to Zeckendorf, is not faltering.

“Supply is low, demand is high, and the question becomes, on the new development side, what will that do to the overall market? Given the size of our market, I’m not convinced one, two, three, four, five thousand more units is going to impact the overall market, it might impact the submarkets,” said Zeckendorf.

He also said his building is unique in being the only new luxury addition to the Upper East Side, which has seen some of its historic appeal bow to trendier downtown neighborhoods.

Wooing millennials to buy condos Really tiny condos

As more millennials graduate into better paying jobs, marriage and parenthood, real estate developers are doing all they can to entice this renter-nation generation in home ownership.

That means making urban homes more affordable, which means making them smaller. The tiny house movement may still be something of a novelty on home-remodeling TV shows, but in downtown Washington, D.C., as in other major cities, the tiny condo movement is moving quickly into the mainstream.

Workers put the finishing touches on the Adams Morgan condo project in Washington, D.C.

Workers put the finishing touches on the Adams Morgan condo project in Washington, D.C.

“They definitely notice it’s smaller, so it is an explanation; it takes a little bit of an adjustment,” said Chris Ballard, principal at McWilliams/Ballard, a marketing firm. Ballard works with the Peterson Cos., the developer of Ontario 17, a new condominium building in D.C.’s young and vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood.

The condominium building, whose exterior is still getting finishing touches, is about 70 percent sold. While its penthouse units went the fastest, its tiny studios, barely bigger than 300 square feet, are getting serious millennial attention — especially with a price point of just $275,000, about half the neighborhood’s median price, according to Long and Foster Real Estate.

“Things are getting smaller, and people are starting to understand,” said Laina Lee, one of the sales managers at Ontario 17. “About 80 percent of all our buyers, including our studios and our one-bedrooms, have all been first-time homebuyers.”

First-time homebuyers have been very slow to come back to the housing market post recession. They are still barely about a third of home buyers, when historically they make up more than 40 percent.

Studio model unit has Murphy-style bed wall unit to show how to maximize 372 square feet, furnishing unit not included in $280,00 price.

Studio model unit has Murphy-style bed wall unit to show how to maximize 372 square feet, furnishing unit not included in $280,00 price.

Rising faster than inflation, home prices shot up by 4.7 percent nationally in July from a year ago, according to a report released Tuesday from S&P/Case-Shiller.

“A slower rate of price gains is needed in order to make buying a home a more competitive option to renting,” wrote Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst with the Lindsey Group, in response to the price report.

Young buyers have been forced to rent, but historically high rents prevent them from saving for a large enough down payment.

“We’re definitely getting a consumer that’s priced out of the market,” said Ballard. “They look at older resales, and now they get to come and look at something that is brand new, and so that’s a great difference, when you’re comparing a 1970s build, older-type condominium with something that’s brand new with all new fit and finish.”

The building has a rooftop sundeck and modern lobby, and most units have a small terrace, but it’s the add-on amenities in the teeny studio models that attract the most attention. Of course, the bed pulls out of the wall, but a dining table pulls down from a hanging picture frame as well. A sofa is built in to the bottom of the bed and stores the bedding. Kitchen appliances are all high-end, but they are slightly smaller than normal. The refrigerator is by Blomberg, a German company that is making a mint off the new trend in slimmer appliances.

Ballard claims that it is cheaper to buy at the Ontario than rent in D.C.’s red-hot apartment market. The vast majority of new development in the past five years in the multifamily sector has been on the rental side. Very few condominiums are going up, but the popularity of the tiny trend could change that.

Shared rooftop terrace overlooks the Washington Monument, which is "great for Fourth of July fireworks," says sales manager Laina Lee.

Shared rooftop terrace overlooks the Washington Monument, which is “great for Fourth of July fireworks,” says sales manager Laina Lee.

“We spent a lot of time trying to plan it, it was actually harder to sell that product on paper than it is now,” noted Ballard. “There was a lot of concern, people say 380 square feet, that’s so small and then you get in there and a lot of times people say, this is bigger than I thought. We built out the closet so it’s doubling hanging, we use every single square foot, there’s not a lot of wasted space.”

The building also doesn’t have as many amenities as some of the more expensive buildings downtown. No pool. No fitness center. But no sky-high condo fee, either. It is all about keeping the price down and the sales up. The larger units at the penthouse level are still less than a million dollars, and they sold the fastest, mostly to downsizing baby boomers.

Pending home sales fell 1.4% in August

Rising home prices and a tight supply of homes for sale are keeping buyers at bay.

A monthly index measuring signed contracts to buy existing homes, so-called pending home sales, fell 1.4 percent in August compared to July, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Expectations had been for a slight increase.

While sales are still 6.1 percent higher than one year ago, the annual gains are shrinking.

Sale Pending real estate home prices

“Pending sales have leveled off since mid-summer, with buyers being bounded by rising prices and few available and affordable properties within their budget,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. “Even with existing-housing supply barely budging all summer and no relief coming from new construction, contract activity is still higher than earlier this year and a year ago.”

Home prices in July were 5.3 percent higher than July of 2014 and are now just 5.5 percent below their peak from June of 2006, according to a new report from Black Knight Financial Services. After rising through most of the spring, mortgage rates came down slightly in August, but not enough to entice more buyers into the competitive market. The potential for higher rates is just one of several concerns Realtors now cite.

“The possibility of a government shutdown and any ongoing instability in the equity markets could cause some households to put off buying for the time being,” wrote Yun in a release. “Furthermore, adapting to the changes being implemented next month in the mortgage closing process could delay some sales.”

Starting October 3, new government regulations will require lenders to disclose more documents to borrowers regarding new loan applications. While the regulations have already been delayed in order to give lenders more time to comply, there is still concern that the new rules will delay or even scuttle some sales. Some lenders are counseling potential buyers to extend their rate locks, even if it costs extra money, to protect themselves against possible delays.

Buyers, however, are more likely to be thwarted by the higher prices, which are supported by such tight inventory. Closed sales of existing homes in August fell a sharper-than-expected 4.8 percent in August from July, with Realtors again blaming a lack of homes for sale.

Realtors predict the national median existing-home to increase 5.8 percent in 2015 to $220,300. Yun forecasts total existing-home sales this year to increase 7 percent to around 5.28 million, about 25 percent below the prior peak set in 2005 (7.08 million).

Regionally, pending home sales in the Northeast fell 5.6 percent for the month but are 8.9 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest sales fell 0.4 percent monthly and are up 6.5 percent from a year ago. In the South sales 2.2 percent monthly and are 4.1 percent above last August. In the West sales rose 1.8 percent monthly and are 7.6 percent higher than one year ago.

Bulls Guard Jimmy Butler Nails Chicago Townhouse for $4.3M

Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls

Long after the heyday of Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls superstars are still treated like royalty in the Windy City. Latest proof: Bulls’ elite guard Jimmy Butler, who just purchased this stylish townhouse in city’s hot River North area for $4.3 million.

Butler has become an impact player with the Bulls ever since being drafted from Marquette University in 2011. Last year, he was selected for the NBA All-Star team and named the league’s most improved player.

Butler comes a long way from his teenage years, some of which he spent homeless in his native Texas. He signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Bulls in July, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, which also broke the story of his townhouse deal.

Butler’s new living room

Butler's new living room

Butler’s new place, built in 2008, has 10,000 square feet of living space over four floors, three outdoor terraces, an elevator, and a 750-bottle wine cellar.

The home was listed for $4.6 million on Sept. 8, and the sale closed Sept. 15. The seller, reports Crain’s, was Greg Mutz, CEO of apartment development company AMLI Residential. Mutz had paid roughly $3.4 million for the home when it was built in 2008, Crain’s says. Randy McGhee was the listing agent for the property.