MONEY home prices

Real Estate In This NYC Neighborhood Is Worth More Than All of New Hampshire’s

Brownstones on the Upper East Side, New York City.
Patti McConville—Alamy Brownstones on the Upper East Side, New York City

And a bunch of other states' too.

New Yorkers are known for their not-so-subtle indifference to the rest of country. Just think of that famous cartoon, where beyond the Hudson River, a featureless expanse fades into the the Pacific Ocean and a distant sliver marked Japan.

When you view the country through the lens of real estate values, New Yorkers’ view seems crazily close to the mark, at least according to data compiled by Metrocosm, a website run by real estate researcher and New Yorker (of course) Max Galka.

According to Galka’s calculations, New York City’s 305 square miles, which amount to less than one one-thousandth of the nation’s land mass, are valued at about $1.5 trillion, 5% of the $33 trillion value of the entire nation’s real estate.

Looked at another way, only three states beside New York State itself—California, Florida, and Texas— have total real estate values higher than Gotham’s.

The Upper East Side, essentially a handful of tony blocks adjacent to Central Park, is itself worth about $96.5 billion, according to Galka, more than several states including New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The Upper West Side, home of the famous Dakota apartment building (where John Lennon lived and Rosemary’s Baby was set), is worth more than all the real estate in either of the actual Dakotas.

Overall, Manhattan real estate is worth about $733 billion, in line with all the properties in Ohio, Michigan, and Georgia.

MONEY home construction

The New Green Building Trend is Bricks of Cannabis. Really.

Rainer Nowotny, managing director of the company Hemp fibre Uckermark eG, presents bricks made of clay and hemp in Prenzlau, Germany, July 24, 2013.
Bernd Settnik—dpa/AP Images Hemp, which can be mixed with lime and water to make "hempcrete" blocks, has been used for decades as a building material in Europe.

Builders are using cannabis "not in joints but between joists."

The jokes about homes “going up in smoke” are inevitable.

But the truth is that one of the reasons the cannabis-based building material called hempcrete is gaining acceptance in home construction is that it’s entirely fireproof. As a recent New York Times story reported, hempcrete has been used as a building material in Europe for decades, and lately it’s been incorporated in more homes and offices in the U.S. A small group of hemp entrepreneurs envisions a time very soon when hempcrete will be totally mainstream.

Hempcrete is made with the wood-like interior part of a Cannabis plant, which resemble the look and feel of balsa chips. They’re combined with lime and water, and the resulting material is a block that provides terrific natural insulation, while still being flexible, breathable, and, as mentioned already, fireproof.

And there’s no need to worry about teenage hooligans ripping out your insulation to smoke it. Hempcrete contains an almost imperceptible amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that gets you high.

MONEY real estate

Home Prices Continue to Rise, But For How Long?

aerial view of subdivision
David Sucsy

Home prices rose 6.3% in May, but higher interest rates loom.

More good news for those of us looking to sell homes.

Home prices climbed 6.3% in May, marking the 39th consecutive month of year-over-year gains, according to a report by CoreLogic. Prices in 10 states, including New York and Texas, plus Washington DC, hit 40-year highs.

But for owners and would-be sellers, the silver cloud has a gray lining. The rate at which prices are rising, which topped 10% in 2013, has begun to slow. Moreover, a key factor driving May’s growth, according to CoreLogic was 30-year mortgage rates, which remained below 4% during throughout the first half of the year. Low mortgage rates tend to push up home prices by making it possible for buyers to borrow more. Conversely, even a small increase in rates can add hundreds of dollars to a monthly mortgage bill.

A potential problem: Last week Freddie Mac reported 30-year mortgage rates had climbed above that threshold to 4.08%. Freddie’s chief economist, Sean Becketti, recently said that much of the recent surge in home prices was the result of buyers trying to act before they climbed even further. That’s likely to happen soon, since the Federal Reserve, which as been holding rates low since the recession has said it plans to begin slowly ratcheting them up as soon as September.

Just how big can the effect be? Real estate analyst HouseCanary recently estimated that if mortgage rates reached 6%, a third of millennials—key first-time home buyers—wouldn’t be able to afford a home at today’s rates.

For the next twelve months, CoreLogic expects a more modest increase in home prices — a gain of 5.1%. But others have sounded less optimistic.

“I’m worried about it,” Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin, a real-estate brokerage recently told the Wall Street Journal. “The rates have been so low for so long that trying to persuade anyone that 4% or 4.5% is still a bargain may not be easy to do.”

 

 

MONEY home improvement

10 Ways to Avoid a Kitchen Remodeling Disaster

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Erin Lester—Getty Images

Read this before you do any serious damage.

When it comes to making magic happen during a kitchen remodel, there are oodles of options you can cook up. Which means there is a lot that can go wrong.

Before you take the hammer to your old kitchen, read these 10 tips to avoid getting burned on a kitchen remodel.

1. Don’t overspend

Consider the market and decide whether a low-, medium-, or high-end kitchen remodel makes the most sense. Costs can run the gamut from $2,000 for a simple paint-and-hardware upgrade to $50,000 if you’re installing expensive countertops and luxury appliances.

Evaluate neighborhood comps to keep from overspending (or underspending). You may not get your investment back installing travertine in your tiny starter, and let’s face it, you’ll never see Formica in a high-end home. So check out for-sale properties in your area before shelling out for high-end upgrades.

2. Avoid an identity crisis

Don’t try to remodel a ’50s ranch-style kitchen into a contemporary cooking space. All homes, however humble, are built in a certain architectural style. Work with it, not against it. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much money and time on a complete overhaul, and you’ll likely end up with a kitchen that looks out of place.

3. Keep the plumbing where it is

Moving water and gas lines to reconfigure sinks, ovens, stoves, or dishwashers is extremely costly, especially in older homes. So keep any pipe-connected elements where they are — and keep some extra cash in your pocket.

4. Watch out for the wrong floor plan

If you do have the budget to rearrange appliances, make sure to keep your floor plan in mind. Does it follow the natural triangular traffic pattern between the refrigerator, stove, and sink? Is the dishwasher next to the sink? It should be. Otherwise, you create a mess every time you walk across the room with a dripping dish in your hand.

5. Don’t trash existing cabinets

If your old cabinets are quality wood and still in good working order, you’re in luck. This is one of the first things to check when sizing up a pre-remodel kitchen, since cabinet frames are the most expensive component of the entire space.

It’s quite simple to give salvageable cabinets a face-lift. Three common ways to repurpose cabinets include: adding new doors and drawer fronts, relaminating fronts and sides, or repainting.

6. Never DIY spray paint

Have the cabinets cleaned and lightly sanded, then hire a professional painter to spray them. Don’t try to DIY this one; a couple of cans of spray paint from the hardware store just won’t do the trick. A professional spray job can make ugly cabinets look factory-new. You can’t get the same look by painting or rolling the cabinets yourself.

7. Don’t scrimp on new hardware

Home remodeling superstores carry a great selection of door hardware. Choose knobs and pulls that complement your architectural style, and don’t cut corners. It’s like a nice piece of jewelry — an added touch that makes the whole outfit (or room) work.

Don’t forget to remove and replace any old, painted-over hinges with shiny new ones. It may be time-consuming, but it’s very inexpensive, and it makes a huge difference.

8. Take advantage of free advice

Check out large home improvement centers for free, computer-based design services that help lay out your kitchen. Their professionals are at the leading edge of today’s decorating trends, and their services include one-on-one client assistance as well as in-home consultations, complete project management, and installation services.

9. Don’t mismatch appliances

When buying new fridges, ranges, and dishwashers, stick with the same brand. Fortunately, appliance manufacturers have begun creating good-looking, low-priced lines with matching sets — giving your kitchen a designer look for much less. With a little research and some smart shopping, you can find affordable appliances that look very high-end.

10. Don’t forget to budget for sinks and fixtures

Get the best possible faucet, one with a pullout spray attachment or a gooseneck with detachable head. It’s a necessity — and the difference between good and great is only $50 to $75. Stick to one consistent fixture finish since mixed finishes can look patchwork.

More From Trulia:

MONEY home financing

These Home Buyers Will Be Hit the Hardest by Rising Interest Rates

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Getty Images

If mortgage rates hit 6%, a third of this group wouldn't be able to afford homes as they’re currently listed.

Mortgage rates hit a 2015 high when the national average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 4.08% earlier this week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. That’s lower than where the U.S. average was at this time last year (4.12%), but home loan pricing (rates, loans and fees, taken together) has been on the rise for most of 2015, pushing homeownership out of reach for many Americans, as the cost of a mortgage creeps up.

For example, if mortgage rates hit 6%, a third of millennials (people younger than 35 years old) wouldn’t be able to afford homes as they’re currently listed, according to an analysis by HouseCanary, a housing-data analytics company. Given that millennials make up more than a quarter of the population, their ability to buy homes will weigh heavily on the performance of the housing market, which has been driven by the baby boomers for decades.

Why do interest rates have such a huge impact on home affordability? Mortgages are huge loans, so a seemingly small shift in interest rates can change a borrower’s monthly payment by hundreds of dollars (though going from the current 4.08% rate to 6% is in no way a small shift). Timing plays an important role in a borrower’s ability to buy a house, but there’s a lot more to home affordability than the economic factors. A consumer’s credit standing will significantly impact the rate he or she qualifies for on a home loan, as does that consumer’s outstanding debt obligations and down payment on the property.

As much as potential homebuyers should monitor mortgage rates before applying for a loan, preparing to enter the mortgage process requires much more planning. In the months and years leading up to when you want to buy a home, prioritize paying down your debt and improving your credit score, in addition to avoiding unnecessary damage to your credit, like applying for new credit (that will slightly ding your score for a short time period) and running up balances on your credit cards.

If you’re planning on buying a home soon, give your credit a thorough review to see if there’s anything that needs your attention before applying for a home loan and take the time to figure out how much home you can afford. You’ll want to make the homebuying process as simple and surprise-free as possible.

More From Credit.com:

MONEY home financing

When an Adjustable Rate Mortgage Makes Sense

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Chris Ryan—Getty Images

Depending on your situation, an ARM can help you take advantage of several years of low mortgage payments.

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) typically offers a lower initial interest rate than a traditional 30-year fixed loan. You will often hear them expressed as five-year, seven-year or ten-year ARMs; that means that you will have the same rate for that specific amount of time. A five-year ARM means the rate is fixed for the first five years, and so on.

After the fixed-rate period expires, the rate will adjust up or down for the remainder of the 30-year loan, depending on market conditions and the LIBOR index. But the good news is there are caps to keep your mortgage payment under control. An initial cap is the maximum amount the rate can adjust after the fixed period. The periodic cap limits increases from one adjustment period to the next. The lifetime cap puts a limit on how much the rate can increase over the life of the loan.

However, once the fixed period expires, it’s common for folks to refinance their loan to continue enjoying a low monthly payment.

But when does it make sense to get such a loan? What are the situations that make getting an ARM a good financial move? Here are five scenarios where you might consider an ARM so you can accomplish other life or financial goals.

  • First-Time Home Buyer – You might be single or recently married and want to get a place of your own. You consider this your beginner house and do not intend on staying longer than five to seven years.
  • Going to Move in a Few Years – You anticipate moving before the fixed period of the ARM expires and plan to make use of the lower payment to accomplish other things in the meantime – perhaps even saving for a down payment on a new home. But, in the event you do not find a new place before the rate adjusts, you are financially prepared to handle a payment fluctuation.
  • Never in One Location for Long – You have a career that makes it difficult to put down roots. For example, you might be an athlete, serve in the Armed Forces or work in another field that requires frequent relocation.
  • Facing an Empty Nest – Your kids have gone off to college or moved out on their own. You might want to downsize or move to a different location. An ARM can help save extra money for a down payment on a home that is a more suitable size.
  • Ready for Retirement – If you are planning to retire soon and part of that plan includes wanting to either relocate, refinance or pay off the remainder of your mortgage, having a low monthly payment until that decision is made sounds good.

Depending on your situation, an ARM can help you take advantage of several years of low mortgage payments, allowing you to do more with your money. Be sure to have an honest discussion with your home loan lender about your financial goals to see if an ARM makes the most sense for you.

More From MoneyTips:

MONEY Housing Market

How to Find the Perfect First Apartment

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Tom Merton—Getty Images

Everything you need to know, from credit checks to pet fees.

You know what makes for a great “my first apartment” story? Grim memories of late-night arguments with your landlord, lost security deposits, the heat that never worked and countless other grisly memories of that hole-in-the-wall you lived in at 23.

What’s not so great? Actually living in that first apartment.

If you’re a recent college grad and looking for your first place, you might not be clear on all the steps you need to take to line up an awesome apartment. This guide will walk you through what you need to do to snag your dream space and avoid those nightmare apartment scenarios.

Decide what apartment features really matter

Before you dive headfirst into apartment hunting, create a list of everything you want. This may include particular neighborhoods, number of bedrooms, size of square footage and certain amenities. Lee Williams, a New York City real estate agent, suggests organizing and prioritizing your list into three key areas:

  • Must-haves
  • Nice to have, but can do without
  • Dream apartment features

“Have a list. That way you’ll know when you’re ready to compromise and how your budget translates when you go out to experience a new space,” Williams says.

Pro tip: Depending on what city you’re looking in, consider neighborhoods that are slightly off the beaten path, or just outside of trendier areas. You might get more square footage for your money. Use a site like WalkScore to explore communities and find out what amenities are in walking distance.

Timing is everything in real estate

Start looking according to when you want to move in. Most move-in dates are on the first of the month, but some landlords may prefer or be willing to swing a midmonth start date.

“Anywhere from May through the end of August is the busiest season for rentals,” says Tanya Mahmood, chief operating officer and executive vice president of RLTY NYC. “It’s crucial to start looking a month in advance because you could run into the problem of showing up and not having an apartment in time to start a new job.” She adds not to look too far ahead because there will be fewer apartments available more than a month before your planned move-in date.

Pro tip: Don’t automatically assume you can move in a few days before your lease start date without incurring costs. Talk to your landlord before you book a moving truck or recruit friends to help. Also, since moving companies tend to be busiest on the first of the month, make your reservations as soon as possible to secure a spot if you’re moving at that time.

Make sure you can afford your rent … and everything else

You might have your first salary, but you don’t want to be working just to pay rent. Typically, landlords are looking for an annual income ratio to be 40 or 50 times the monthly rent (40 times monthly rent should equal 30% of your income). To make apartment living more affordable, consider bringing roommates into the equation. Some landlords will let roommates combine salaries to meet the income ratio, but not always.

When you’re looking for a place, don’t forget to factor additional living expenses into your budget. This could include monthly expenses for:

  • Utilities (gas, heat, electric)
  • Parking
  • Storage
  • Internet and/or cable
  • Pet fees
  • Building fees (water, trash, maintenance)

When you apply for the apartment, you may have to pay a processing or credit check fee. And don’t forget the security deposit, which is typically one month’s rent or less. You might also have to pay your first and last month’s rent upfront.

Your landlord might require renters insurance. This insurance protects your possessions in case of an emergency or catastrophe and provides liability coverage for personal injury or property loss. Even if your landlord doesn’t require renters insurance, it’s a good thing to have.

Pro tip: Your landlord will want a complete picture of your financial health when you apply. “Get one of the free credit reports you’re entitled to each year so you’re not surprised when a landlord runs your credit,” suggests Ravi Dehar, growth lead at Cozy.co, a service for landlords and tenants to screen applicants and pay rent. You can check your credit report through each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

When you might need a guarantor

If you have no credit history, apartment history or have just started working, a landlord might require a guarantor, also called a co-signer, on your lease. A guarantor’s role is to take on your financial obligations if for some reason you can’t. Most guarantors for recent grads are parents. Landlords will require guarantors’ income to be 80 times the monthly rent, to ensure they can pay for their own bills as well as yours if you can’t afford your rent.

Pro tip: Make sure you have your guarantor in tow or at least have his or her documentation ready when you’re applying.

Start your search and watch out for these red flags

If you’re strapped for cash, then going online is the way to go. For most, that means an apartment hunting site such as PadMapper and the ubiquitous source for the online search, your local Craigslist. Melanie Siben, a New York City real estate agent, suggests maintaining a healthy level of suspicion throughout your online search. “Not all apartments are what they seem and not all are real,” she adds. These are all red flags:

  • Too good to be true usually is. If an apartment is listed in a great neighborhood, with large square footage, lots of amenities and all at a cheap price, it’s probably a fake. Compare similar apartments in the area.
  • Extremely high fees paid upfront. “Sometimes you’ll be asked to pay everything including the security deposit and finders fee upfront before you have any lease or even seen the apartment,” Siben says.
  • Landlord doesn’t ask for your credit score and other necessary background materials. “Every landlord wants to verify you’re gainfully employed and that you don’t have a criminal history,” Siben says.
  • When you’re getting too much pressure to hurry up, sign and pay. “You can tell when someone wants a quick buck,” Siben says.
  • A listing says, “I’m out of the country, but…” The landlord or his agent isn’t available to show you the apartment until after you send the money. “You need to see the apartment before you give any money,” Siben says. “If that’s not an option, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable agent or company.”

If you hire a real estate agent, you can find places that are unlisted and you’ll have someone to do the negotiating for you. The downside is you’ll pay a fee or commission, often up to a full month’s rent or 15% of an entire year’s rent.

Pro tip: To verify a landlord owns the property, you can look up an apartment’s tax records at your local assessor’s office to make sure names match up.

Be prepared to jump on an apartment

Even if you find your dream apartment, it may be someone else’s two-bedroom utopia too.

“It’s extremely competitive for young people. They’re looking for the cheapest, safe place possible and they’ve got tons of competitors. You have to act fast,” Siben says.

Before you visit a place, have everything you might need to lock it down quickly on hand, including:

  • Recent paystubs or a note of employment validating your salary. Your letter must be officially signed and on company letterhead.
    • Recent bank statements and/or a recent tax return
    • Your Social Security number for a credit check
    • Photo identification
    • Vehicle information, including a license plate number, make and model number
    • Your checkbook to pay for application fees and security deposit
    • Contact information for references

If the application asks for a reference from a previous landlord, don’t think you’re out of the running if you’ve never lived on your own. “Landlords have seen everything — they know if you just graduated and just got your first job that you either lived at home or in dorms,” Williams says.

Pro tip: If you’re certain you want an apartment, apply on the spot. If you wait too long, you may miss out.

Comb through fine print

Most landlords will give you a standard lease agreement to sign. But the lease riders, or clauses, are the fine print you should examine the closest.

“It’s like anything else: You need to read the small print,” says Carol Stuckey, account manager at Apartment Locator in Oklahoma City. “You need to know the length of the lease and if you don’t fulfill the lease what the consequences are. In the state of Oklahoma they can charge you the full amount of the lease if you move out early.”

Certain add-ons such as a cleaning fee after you move out are becoming more common, Williams says. He adds, “Some landlords may have had a bad experience with frat guys who moved into a beautiful four-bedroom. They want to make sure the property is returned to a state that it was originally in and so future renters will have a clean environment.”

Before signing the lease, point out any concerns you might have. If you make any verbal agreements at this time, get them in writing.

Pro tip: When you move in, submit a report and take photos of any prior damage. You don’t want to be held responsible for a literal hole in the wall that was already there when you moved in.

Final takeaway

Knowing how to approach finding your first apartment gives you the power to make the best possible decision. You’re going to have pitfalls and plenty of memories to collect along the way — this is still renting, after all. Just remember: The great thing about your first apartment is that it will always be your first.

More from NerdWallet:

MONEY home prices

The Price of US Presidents’ Homes Today

Some would cost a fortune, others not so much.

White picket fences, grassy green front yards, owning your own slice of the pie — when you think about it, the American Dream is all about real estate. This Independence Day, we’re celebrating the places that some of our most influential presidents, from George Washington to Teddy Roosevelt, once called home.

Today, the National Park Service or presidential historical societies manage most of these homes, but when they were owned by our former commanders in chief, these grand estates played host to swanky parties, intimate family celebrations — and no doubt important conversations.

To find out how much these presidential homes would be worth if they hit the market today, Trulia compared these eight stately residences with like-sized homes currently on the market.

Massive amounts of historical significance? Priceless.

Trulia

More From Trulia:

MONEY home buying

7 Amazing Celebrity Homes You Can Buy Right Now

Open house on homes owned by J. Lo, Michael Jordan, and Paula Deen.

What’s your fancy: Berry Gordy’s historic “Motown Mansion” or Ted Turner’s private island off the South Carolina coast? Or perhaps the epic estates formerly owned by Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jordan, and Michael Jackson are more your speed? For the right price—a few million to upwards of $100 million—these homes, and the bragging rights that come along with them, can be yours.

Spring and summer is prime time for sales of all manner of homes, including those owned by the rich and famous. And celebrity homes on the market aren’t limited to southern California, but extend to areas such as Long Island, Chicago, Savannah, and even Detroit. Here are 10 of the hottest celebrity properties on the market right now.

  • Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony

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    Evan Joseph Images The Long Island home where Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony used to live is for sale for $9.495 million.

    No fewer than two mansions formerly owned by Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are currently for sale. In addition to $17 million, nine-bedroom estate in the gated California community of Hidden Hills, the former couple’s home on Long Island’s Gold Coast is also on the market. Listed by Dolly Lenz Real Estate, the asking price is $9.495 million. That’s the price after a recent cut—not long ago, it was listed at $12 million.

  • Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony

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    Evan Joseph Images

    Lopez and Anthony lived in the home until announcing their separation in 2011. The compound, which consists of two homes and a total of 10 bedrooms on eight acres, is now listed under the ownership of Anthony, or rather his birth name, Marco Muniz. The main house is a 16-room red-brick mansion built in 1941. The guest cottage is a five-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot Colonial.

  • Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony

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    Evan Joseph Images Home of Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, 3 Country Lane, Brookville, NY. Dolly Lenz Real Estate LLC

    Both Anthony and Lopez are world-famous entertainers, and yes, this place is great for entertaining—and performing. There is an oversized pool and pool pavilion, as well as a tennis court and vast manicured grounds. Inside the main house, there’s a movie theater and a professional-quality recording studio.

  • Michael Jordan

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    Michael Jordan's Illinois home is currently on the market for $14.855 million.

    Appropriately, basketball legend Michael Jordan named his estate Legend Point. His Airness’s attempts to sell the 56,000-square-foot property in Highland Park, a wealthy suburb north of Chicago, are approaching legendary status as well. It was first listed for sale in 2012 for $29 million, which was reduced to $21 million about a year later. In late 2013, the plan called to put the 7.39-acre compound up for auction with a minimum bid of $13 million, but again it failed to sell. In the most recent listing, the estate’s asking price is $14.855 million, or about half of its initial price.

  • Michael Jordan

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    Michael Jordan's compound was designed with all manner of players in mind.

    In the main residence, the living room and family room are both double height—fitting given that Jordan and many of his pals are oversized athletes. For that matter, many of the home’s features were designed with all manner of players in mind. The original doors from the Chicago Playboy Mansion mark the entrance to the “Gentleman’s Retreat” area, where there are card tables, a cigar room, and a wet bar. The home also boasts a wine cellar with space for 500+ bottles, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movie theater, an indoor tennis court, and a golf putting green. Meanwhile, for the ladies, the estate includes a “full-service beauty salon.”

  • Michael Jordan

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    What Jordan estate would be complete without a basketball court? The compound comes with an NBA-quality indoor basketball court with a custom sound system. The backboards are motorized, the flooring is cushioned hardwood, and the Jordan “Jumpman” logo is painted in the center of the court.

  • Paula Deen

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    Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn Known as "Riverbend," the Georgia home of Paula Deen has an asking price of $12.5 million.

    Poised on the Wilmington River with 300 feet of water frontage, the estate known as Riverbend has been described by listing agent Seabolt Brokers as “the most significant offering in Savannah, Ga.” and “truly its own private resort.” Owned by Paula Deen, the TV chef and restaurateur who came under fire for racist comments in 2013, the 5.5-acre property features a 14,500-square-foot main home, two guest cottages, and a 10,000-square-foot barn with three bedrooms and an eight-car garage. Asking price: $12.5 million.

  • Paula Deen

    Deen/Groover Residence
    Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

    In total, the property has 28,000 square feet of living space, including—of course—a gourmet kitchen with commercial grade appliances in the main home. There is also an outdoor kitchen with a trio of grills, a smoker, and four outdoor refrigerators, plus a pool with an outdoor “dive-in theater” for watching movies under the stars.

  • Berry Gordy

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    Deborah Smith—Keller Williams Realty The "Motown Mansion" in Detroit where Motown Records founder Berry Gordy lived for 35 years.

    Billed as the “Motown Mansion” by realtor Keller Williams, this 2.2-acre estate in Detroit features a 10-bedroom, 10,500-square-foot Italian Renaissance main residence, plus an adjoining 4,400-square-foot pool house. Motown Records founder Berry Gordy owned the property from 1967 until 2002, and the likes of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson 5 have been guests. It is listed at $1.295 million.

  • Berry Gordy

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    G. Greg Wells Photography—Keller Williams Realty

    The property is said to have undergone a significant restoration over the past decade, with much of the original architecture and design preserved intact. The current owner, Detroit lawyer Cynthia Reaves, said that she acquired the property after writing a letter to Gordy pleading with him to sell her the home. “I told him about my love of the city of Detroit, my love of old homes, the fact that I had grown up in this neighborhood. And that I really felt that a home like this deserved to be part of the community,” Reaves told a local news program earlier this year. “I remember growing up across the street as a kid and saw all the wonderful parties that he would host here. The red carpet would go around the block. The stars would come out and walk around on the red carpet to the parties. And I remember seeing the Jackson 5 here trying to play golf in his backyard.”

  • Denise Richards

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    courtesy Douglas Elliman and Re/Max Olson & Associates Denise Richards' home in Hidden Hills, Calif., is listed at $7.749 million.

    Let’s cut right to the chase: This place has its own doggie hotel! Owned by Denise Richards, the actress and ex-wife of Charlie Sheen, this six-bedroom, 1.1-acre property in the Hidden Hills gated community in southern California features an onyx fireplace, cathedral ceilings, and two pools, including a grotto, waterfall, and “beach” entryway. But anyone who looks at the home will be talking about the pet hotel—a private kennel custom-made for allowing dogs to feel right at home. It’s being listed by The Altman Brothers for $7.749 million.

  • Denise Richards

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    courtesy Douglas Elliman and Re/Max Olson & Associates

    This home is made for dog lovers and foodies alike. In addition to the pet hotel, there is a wine tasting room with temperature-controlled walls for keeping bottles chilled at just the right degree. The kitchen is gourmet and fully state of the art, complete with a pizza oven and large windows overlooking lush manicured lawns and greenery.

  • Michael Jackson

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    Jim Bartsch The estate once known as Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch is on the market for $100 million.

    Currently dubbed the “Sycamore Valley Ranch,” this epic 2,700-acre estate in Los Olivos, Calif., 40 miles outside Santa Barbara, is world famous as the “Neverland Ranch” long owned by Michael Jackson. The asking price is a cool $100 million, according to Hilton & Hyland and Sotheby’s, which share a joint listing of the property. The main residence is a 12,500-square-foot building in French-Normandy style, and there are a total of 22 buildings on the grounds, including three guest homes and a 5,500-square-foot movie theater with a stage.

  • Michael Jackson

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    Jim Bartsch

    Jackson sold the property in 2008, when he was in dire financial circumstances. When he lived there, Neverland boasted amusement park rides and a zoo’s worth of animals, including giraffes, orangutans, baboons, and an elephant. The animals and rides are gone now, though the private railroad tracks and train station that Jackson used to entertain guests remain.

  • Michael Jackson

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    Jim Bartsch

    Jackson purchased the estate in 1987, and over the years it was used for a wide range of events, including Elizabeth Taylor’s 1991 wedding (her seventh), the World’s Children Congress, and numerous fundraising gatherings. And yes, this is where Jackson allegedly abused children: When he was facing child molestation charges in the mid-’00s, prosecutors said Jackson used Neverland as a lure for children.

  • Ted Turner

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    courtesy Plantaion Services Inc. The main residence on St. Phillips Island, Ted Turner's private retreat off the coast of South Carolina.

    For a mere $23.777 million, you can be the owner of an entire private island—specifically, St. Phillips Island, a 4,680-acre retreat outside of historic Beaufort, S.C., reached only by boat. The listing from realty company Plantation Services states that media mogul Ted Turner purchased the island—now a Registered Natural Landmark—in 1979. The property comes with two residences, and an agreement with The Nature Conservancy stipulates that the owner may add up to 10 more residences on the island, which has its own water and power supply.

  • Ted Turner

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    courtesy Plantaion Services Inc.

    “The Turner family and their friends have enjoyed sailing, fishing and entertaining here for thirty-five years,” the listing description notes of the island, which is a short sail away from Hilton Head. Among the 4,680 acres that fall into the domain of St. Phillips Island, more than 1,000 acres are categorized as “Upland,” or firm ground, and 70 acres are sandy beaches.

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