When he's not stumping for the Republican presidential nomination or making decrees on "The Celebrity Apprentice," Donald Trump still works in real estate -- and he just made a killing on a Manhattan apartment.
Trump sold the nearly 6,200-square-foot dwelling on the 24th floor of his 32-story Trump Park Avenue tower for $21 million, the Wall Street Journal reports. He listed it in 2013 for $35 million and cut the price twice, settling on $24.995 million earlier this month. (However, Trump purchased the entire building in 2001 for $115 million, the Journal reported, and since has converted it into 120 luxury condo units.)
Trump never lived in the just-sold apartment, listing agent Michelle Griffith of Trump International Realty told the Journal. She also said Trump rejected an offer to rent the place for $80,000 a month.
A private elevator leads to the five-bedroom, 7.5-bath space, which boasts high ceilings and lots of windows. Luxurious details include Italian brass doorknobs, custom moldings and a kitchen with marble floors and counter tops.
The master suite features two bathrooms, two walk-in closets and a study.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.83 percent, down 8 basis points from the same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate moved lower throughout the week before settling at that rate Tuesday.
"Mortgage rates fell last week to their lowest level since early June," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "There is potential for increased rate volatility this week as markets look to Wednesday's Federal Open Market Committee statement and Thursday's GDP report. Rates could move back up if the data are stronger than expected."
It's a common bit of retirement advice: Downsize your housing after the kids leave the nest to cut costs. Interestingly, though, many baby boomers have no intentions of downsizing. Nearly two-thirds of boomers surveyed in 2013 by The Demand Institute -- a nonprofit owned by Nielsen -- plan to "age in place" rather than move. Of those who do plan to move, nearly half said they plan to increase the size of their home or pay more for a comparably sized home.
Many people assume that downsizing housing saves money. But does it really?
It can, especially if you're able to cash in on the equity you've built up. But there are a lot of factors that can actually result in higher housing costs once you downsize.
"What we always recommend is to consult with a financial planner to see what your monthly expenses are now and what the expenses may be where you're thinking of moving," says Jeff Stone, a seniors real estate specialist in a Port Washington, New York.
Stone points out that the term downsizing can be, well, a bit of downer.
"Rightsizing, to me, is a better word," he says.
Here's a look at several areas to consider before moving later in life.
When you move for a job, you might get a relocation package from your employer or load the moving truck with help from a couple of able-bodied friends. But when you move during retirement, you bear those costs, which can be considerable if you're moving a long distance and need to hire professional movers.
"Sometimes with the cost of moving furniture, especially if you're going a longer distance, it can be more feasible to buy new furniture," says Mario Minotti, a partner at Minotti Group Wealth Advisors in Chicago. (Minotti's clients are mainly retirees and pre-retirees, so he has talked through the pros and cons of downsizing with several of them.)
Beyond the cost of physically transporting your belongings, you'll also pay transaction costs on selling an existing home and buying a new one.
"If [a home is] listed with a broker, you pay their commission and will also be paying your attorney fees, closing costs and so forth," Stone says. Many boomers also choose to rent, which comes with a different set of costs.
Many boomers have amassed -- and grown attached to -- large collections of antiques and other mementos over the course of their lives.
"There's china sets, a lot of antiques and family things that they want to preserve," Minotti says. "A lot of male clients have accumulated a couple of cars, and they're excited that they're going to be able to enjoy them [in retirement], but parking spots can be expensive."
Or, in some cases, "their kids had a bunch of their childhood stuff that they want to preserve for their grandkids," he adds.
One option, if you don't have space for these items, is renting a storage unit. But it doesn't come cheap, especially if you want secure, climate-controlled storage for antiques. The average asking rent for a 10-by-10-foot, climate-controlled storage unit in the U.S. was $151 per month during the fourth quarter last year, according to the Self Storage Association.
Another option is to sell, donate or give to relatives. Unless you have items that are in demand, don't count on making big bucks or getting younger relatives excited about decades-old furniture (a notable exception being college-bound or recently graduated grandchildren furnishing a place on a budget).
An item may provide "a memory but doesn't provide value to someone else," says Chris Abts, president and founder of Cornerstone Retirement Group in Reno, Nevada. "We find many times those just don't have much in the way of value."
Many boomers also lack the energy or discipline for a serious declutter, which has spawned an entire of industry of senior move managers and organizers for hire. "The key would be to downsize the things you've accumulated while you have energy, while you're healthy," Abts says.
You want to keep your home safe from thieves, but you don't want to spend a fortune doing so because, frankly, you don't have a fortune worth stealing.
Technology has significantly brought down the cost of home security systems and home surveillance cameras, many of which you can install yourself. But there are also many low-tech solutions that cost little or nothing that will keep your home safer from intruders.
"Most burglars are just opportunists," says Martin Holloway, owner of Hollotec.com. A security expert who teaches lock-picking and specialized entry techniques to law enforcement and the military, Holloway says burglars are going to "find the easy house."
A professionally installed security system can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, plus $30 or so a month for monitoring. But in the last decade, dozens of do-it-yourself alarm systems have come on the market, some with monitoring options and others that send alerts to you via email or text so you can decide whether to call police. Even a rudimentary system is likely to make a loud noise when an intruder enters the house, and sometimes that's all it takes to scare away a burglar.
"Some of them are almost plug and play," says Holloway, who has a $60 security camera that he installed himself at his home. "I can control it with an app on my phone, and it's great." For a simple DIY security system, you can install cameras inside or outside your house, with a hard drive or cloud storage that collects the video footage so there is something you can review after a break-in.
Neal Scott, an Internet marketing consultant for security companies, cautions homeowners who go the DIY route to make sure they know what they're doing and install the system properly. He says homeowners should also ensure the system includes sensors for doors and windows.
One factor to consider is your insurance company may not grant a discount on your homeowners insurance if the system is not professionally installed, and some municipalities may require installers to be licensed. Good tech support is important, too.
"A technology problem with your smartphone is not a big deal, but a technology program with your security system is," Scott says. And the newest technology may not yet be tested, he warns.
"There an awful lot of time and experience that's gone into professional home security devices," says Scott, who has been working in the security system field since he started at his father's company at age 15. "I'm a proponent of going professional."
Security system or not, cameras or not, there are also free or cheap low-tech solutions that can be surprisingly effective against thieves. Here are seven free or low-cost ways to protect your home:
Use your deadbolt lock. The basic lock on your doorknob isn't really very good, Holloway says. "Many knob locks can be defeated by simply grabbing the knob with, at most, a pipe wrench or with, at the least, two hands and twisting hard," he says. "The internal locking mechanism shears and the door can be opened, and this can all happen in a matter of seconds. This is an old burglar trick." Deadbolts are harder to defeat, and a cheap deadbolt is as good as an expensive one. "The lock isn't going to break, but it's the doorjamb and the wood around the door that's going to break," Holloway says.
Protect your garage door. Garage doors have a pull cord that can be used to open them if the power is out. A burglar can stick a coat hanger down the top of a garage door, latch onto the cord and "unlock" the door. To keep that from happening, Holloway advises placing a zip tie through the piece from which the cord is hanging, which will make it almost impossible for a thief to open it from the outside with a coat hanger.
Secure sliding glass doors. Many older doors are easy to open from the outside. Use a broom handle lying on its side on the track to prevent the door from being opened.
Make sure your home is well-lighted outside. Motion detector lights are inexpensive and an easy way to illuminate anyone who approaches the house. "In all the years I was a cop, I don't think I worked a single case where a burglar kicked in a front door," says Alex Bracke, a police officer turned real estate agent in Northern Virginia. "The reason for that is because the front door is commonly the most visible part of the house, and if there's anything would-be burglars don't want, it's to be visible."
Make it look as if you're home. Lights, radio and TVs on timers create the illusion that someone is home when you're gone on vacation. Get a neighbor to pick up mail and newspapers when you're away.
Make it painful for thieves to climb in your ground-floor windows. "A window is the most vulnerable part of your house," Holloway says, reminding homeowners that keeping windows locked also is important. A thief who has to climb into a bed of thorns may be deterred. He suggests planting these three plants that grow in most parts of the U.S.: Pyracantha, also known as "firethorn," European holly, which has very sharp leaves, and voodoo rose. Homeowners who live in tropical areas can plant Bougainvillea.
Make it easy for people to see potential entry points. You want to have easily "inspectable space," says Joshua Godknecht, a sensitive compartmented information facility design specialist for AdamoSecurity.com, which designs and builds secure rooms for the government. "Most people have lots of overgrown plants or hedges to provide privacy, but trimming hedges and arranging your landscape so that it creates a single, very visible path to your front door, and only your front door, is practically free and ensures that no one could take advantage of the hidden places near your home."
You may remember Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard standing on these front steps. The brownstone featured prominently in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" has sold for $7.4 million after most recently being listed for $8 million.
"Any time they had a street scene, the house was featured," said Asher Alcobi of Peter*Ashe Real Estate, the Manhattan home's exclusive broker. "The signature olive green doors are still the same."
The 1961 romantic comedy was filmed in a studio for the interior shots, including the famous party scene with Mickey Rooney's character, Mr. Yunioshi. But 169 E. 71st St. continues to garner interest as the place Miss Holly Golightly made her debut in The Big City.
"The house is on the tourist tour of the Upper East Side," Alcobi said.
The 3,800-square-foot brownstone boasts four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a sweeping staircase and an enclosed greenhouse.
It's split into an upper and lower duplex. Upstairs, two bedroom suites have their own renovated baths. There's also a sunny living room with a wood-burning fireplace, a renovated kitchen and laundry room. Downstairs, a garden apartment with a separate entrance has a front library, powder room and a large bedroom and full bath.
The house was renovated in the mid 1980s and again in the late '90s. It was last listed in 2011 before finding a buyer for $5.975 million in April 2012.
An earlier version of this story was published on Oct. 29, 2014.
Whether you're looking to sell or stay put, you'll save money on these home improvement projects.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to remodeling and upgrading your house, and deciding where to put your precious dollars can be tough. Many of these remodeling decisions can be made based on whether or not you're planning to stay in your home long term.
Let's take a look at the places where a $10,000 investment in your home can go the furthest.
If You're Planning to Sell Within 2 Years
It's important to remember that there's not always a direct relationship between exactly how much you put into a specific renovation project and exactly how much you get out of it.
If you consider home improvements item by item, you'll likely conclude that undertaking almost any individual home improvement prior to the sale of your home is a losing proposition. However, when you add small improvements together with vision and creativity, you create an overall house improvement and a big return on your investment. The whole package is far more valuable than the sum of its parts!
Top 6 Target Projects
A $10,000 investment is not going to get you a full kitchen makeover and leave enough extra cash to make many other upgrades. Instead, think about upgrading tired old appliances. Cabinet resurfacing and upgrading the countertops can be very affordable and give a big splash. One word of caution: Make sure you don't overspend for your neighborhood. Know your market.
2. Master bath.
Again, here in the master bath, $10,000 will not go very far, but you can create a wow effect. Consider upgrading the shower to a frameless glass shower enclosure, adding new fixtures, and maybe a new vanity and countertops.
Repaint the interior of your home and keep it neutral with soft earth tones. Then make sure you pick up some fantastic pillows and accessories to add punches of color.
4. New carpet.
No homebuyer wants to walk barefoot across your tired, old, stained, dirty, worn-out carpet. When you replace the existing carpet, go with a neutral shade.
5. Curb appeal.
This is a low-cost no-brainer. Trim up the hedges, give the grass some TLC, plant some flowers, and give the front door a fresh coat of paint in a wonderful accent color. Create a strong first impression by adding shiny new house numbers and maybe even a new mailbox. Finally, add in some wonderful outdoor lighting, and presto!
6. Push the inside out.
f there's an existing room that looks out to the backyard, push it out! Replace existing windows with French doors and build a small deck. You've just increased the "size" of that room -- and added value to the house for very little money.
If You're Planning to Stay in Your House
If selling isn't in the cards for you and your family, you can still consider all of the tips above. You'll enjoy living in an upgraded house, especially if you're staying put. Additionally, think about these projects for long-term payback.
1. Heating and air system upgrades.
New heating and air systems will actually reduce your monthly utility bills over time and are a great investment.
2. Going solar.
In sunny climates, investing in solar technology can increase the value of your home and reduce your monthly and yearly utility costs.
Sometimes, there's a house. Well, it's the house for its time and place. It fits right in there. And that's this house, in the California coastal retreat of Montecito.
Actor Jeff Bridges -- beloved as The Dude in "The Big Lebowski" and an Oscar winner for his role in "Crazy Heart" -- and his wife, Susan, are ready to pass the five-bedroom, 5.5-bath house to a new owner after raising their daughters there and finding a smaller place nearby.
The couple bought the 19-acre spread in 1994 from musician Kenny Loggins, and they're handling its sale (asking price: $29.5 million) like true Hollywood royalty: Right up front.
Listing photos include a shot of personal pictures and memorabilia, and Susan gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which she shared her husband's love of the property's aloe trees and his "fort," "a quiet spot with a hammock, swings and benches, where he occasionally makes pottery."
The 9,593-square-foot home, listed by Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby's International Realty, resembles a hilltop estate in Tuscany, but with views of the Pacific Ocean.
An antique stone fireplace anchors the sunken living room, which features oak floors, an exposed-beam ceiling and a grand terrace. It adjoins a dining room with antique terra-cotta pavers, beyond which is a fireplace with banquette seating.
The kitchen opens onto a dining terrace and abuts a spacious family room with a cathedral ceiling. The library was built with rough-sawn beams from centuries-old East Coast bridges. It's surrounded by an open-air walkway, and beyond that is a secret hedged garden.
Next to the master suite, which includes a Juliet balcony and a sitting area with a limestone fireplace, is a stairwell that leads to a tower room with a fireplace, deck and views in all directions.
Outside, a stream cascades into a pond-shaped pool next to an elevated deck and fireplace -- an outdoor living area serviced by its own kitchen, bath and changing rooms.
The estate also boasts walking trails to a nearby hot spring, two guest houses, plus a narrow footbridge that crosses a stream to reach a home theater and recording studio. Below it is a playhouse Bridges built for his children.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed home loans rose this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.95 percent, up 7 basis points from the same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose late in the week, then hovered around 3.98 percent before dipping to the current rate.
"Mortgage rates increased late last week as fears of a Greek euro exit and a Chinese stock market collapse eased," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "We expect less volatility this week with markets focusing more on domestic news, especially Fed Chair Janet Yellen's Congressional testimony."
Brown grass, dead shrubs, puny gardens -- they're an eyesore for sure. But keeping your yard in pristine shape can be quite a burden, especially in the summer heat, when drought conditions are rampant.
Here are seven tips to keep your yard looking its best, without wasting water.
1. Be sprinkler savvy.
Your automatic sprinkler can be a huge help when it comes to keeping your yard looking its best, but it can also be a huge water -- and money -- waster.
First, make sure your sprinklers are watering your lawn, not the driveway or road, and frequently check the system for leaks. Consider installing rain and/or moisture sensors that will turn sprinklers off if it's raining or if the ground is already saturated.
2. Water when it matters.
Water your lawn only in the morning. In the heat of the day, that water will touch the surface and then quickly evaporate -- leaving you with less than ideal results.
A rain gauge can help you track how much water your yard is getting - about an inch of water per week is all it really needs. During especially dry times, it's best to just leave the yard alone. Yes, it will brown, but it will be dormant and bounce back once it gets cooler, saving loads and loads of water.
3. Use a drip system.
For the ease of a sprinkler system but with far less waste, opt for a drip-irrigation system. With this type of system, a hose riddled with tiny holes is placed throughout your yard, allowing small amounts of water to seep directly into the ground over long periods -- exactly what your yard needs to thrive.
4. Collect rainwater.
Stock up on water when you can to use around your yard and garden. Turn gutters into your own personal watering system by directing them into much-needed areas in your yard. Or, install a rain barrel to collect the runoff from your gutters.
Check local laws first, as there may be restrictions on water collection.
5. Adjust your lawn mower.
No matter how unruly your yard looks, don't mow it down as low as it will go. Set your lawn mower blade a bit higher than usual, or at least 3 inches. Longer blades of grass shade each other, reducing some evaporation. Longer blades also mean longer roots, so the grass can reach water deeper than it normally would.
6. Use mulch.
A fresh layer of mulch around shrubs and trees will hold nutrients and moisture much longer than plain old dirt. Go green and make a compost of food and lawn waste to add to the mix. You'll see that your trees and plants will need less water than before.
7. Opt for natural beauty.
Cut out the need for watering outdoors altogether by removing your grass. You can replace most of it with porous paving stones, which allow water to soak through to the ground.
You will want some plants in your yard to help absorb the rain and prevent runoff, however. The best plants to choose, as well as the easiest to care for, are those native to the region. If you live in a dry, drought-prone area, a xeriscaped yard might include desert shrubs and cactuses, but there are many colorful drought-tolerant plants. You'll find that these plants will thrive without excessive watering.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.88 percent, down 5 basis points from the same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 3.97 percent on Wednesday and hovered there throughout the holiday weekend, then fell to the current rate early this week.
"Mortgage rates jumped last Wednesday after Greece defaulted on its international debts, then fell early this week due to continued Greek instability, turmoil in Chinese stock markets, and unexpectedly strong global oil supplies," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "Uncertainty over Greece's future will continue to dominate headlines this week, but economic news elsewhere suggests interest rates will remain lower for longer."
Mortgage rates hit a 2015 high when the national average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 4.08 percent earlier this week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey. That's lower than the U.S. average at this time last year (4.12 percent), but home loan pricing -- rates, loans and fees -- 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 percent, 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 percent rate to 6 percent would be no 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 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) or running up balances on your credit cards.
If you're planning to buy 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 (you can start by getting your free credit report summary on Credit.com) -- and take the time to figure out how much home you can afford. You'll want to make the home-buying process as simple and surprise-free as possible.
UPDATE: Late comedian Joan Rivers' glitzy New York home has sold for its asking price of $28 million to unnamed "Middle East royalty," CNBC reports.
ORIGINAL POST 2/9/2015: Can we talk real estate? Joan Rivers' Versailles-esque condo on Manhattan's Upper East Side has hit the market for $28 million.
Rivers, who received a posthumous Grammy award earlier this year (see the video about daughter Melissa's acceptance below) lived in high style in the palatial penthouse just off Fifth Avenue at 1 E. 62nd Street. She used to quip it was a condo fit for Marie Antoinette -- if Antoinette were a rich New Yorker.
Rivers' 11-room condo incorporates the top three floors of a seven-story, Gilded Age mansion built in 1903. The building was converted to condos in the 1930s.
It's a palace that was fit for the Queen of Comedy, who died in September after undergoing what was expected to be a routine endoscopy. The 5,100-square-foot home features a Louis XIV-inspired ballroom/music room with Greek columns, 23-foot ceilings painted with clouds, gilded antique paneling, and crystal chandeliers. The music room, which doubles as a dining room, features three French doors opening onto a south-facing terrace.
The condo also includes:
Four bedrooms, 4.5 baths.
Central Park and Manhattan skyline views.
Huge master suite.
Separate two-bedroom guest apartment with living room and kitchen.
In many parts of the country, housing prices gave returned to pre-recession levels. That's good news for sellers, bad news for buyers. But buried within the latest housing data is some good news for everyone -- everyone on Main Street, anyway.
What's an all-cash buyer? Someone -- or something -- with a lot of money. All-cash buyers don't need mortgages. They just show up with a check and buy a home. Generally, they are big investors such as hedge funds and foreign entities, buyers with no intention of living in the homes. They skew the market by soaking up inventory that could be purchased by a young family looking for a first-time home purchase. They also make such buyers look bad. If you were a seller and had two offers -- one all-cash, and one that still required financing to be arranged -- which would you choose?
"As housing transitions from an investor-driven, cash-is-king market to one more dependent on traditional buyers, sales volume has been increasing over the last few months and is on track in 2015 to hit the highest level we've seen since 2006," said RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist.
The out-of-whack housing market has been suffering from a record level of all-cash buyers for the past several years -- well above historical norms, according to mortgage expert Logan Mohtashami. He says the retreat of cash buyers is a positive development.
"This is a positive as total sales are rising with less cash buyers as a part of the market place.... Less cash means more traditional buyers in the system, which means the supply and demand balance is more correlated to Main Street economics," Mohtashami said. "[This year] is trending between 24-27 percent, which is still very high, but this is the first time it's under 30 percent in every report."
Of course, the shrinking number of cash buyers doesn't mean prices are going down. In Manhattan, for example, the average sales price for an apartment just hit a record high -- $1.87 million. And it's not just New York. Home prices in Dallas, Denver, and San Francisco are positively bubble-icious, rising about 10 percent last year, soaring past pre-recession levels.
But with more first-time homebuyers and less inventory, at least the dynamics of home buying might change a bit.
"The competition in the marketplace is ... different," said Craig King, chief operating officer at Chase International brokerage, covering the Nevada markets of Lake Tahoe and Reno. "While inventory is tight, many investors have dropped out of the market and cash deals are not as prevalent as they were. Even in multi-offer situations, much has been equalized. This is great news for first-time buyers."
UPDATE: Comedian Dennis Miller and his wife sold their oceanside California mansion south of Santa Barbara for $19 million -- $3.5 million less than they were asking for the stylish estate.
ORIGINAL POST 1/4/2015: The beach retreat Dennis Miller and wife Carolyn Espley-Miller are listing for $22.5 million has an office -- but the buyers should expect to accomplish very little there, she warned.
"We joke that no work ever gets done, because we're either staring at the view or talking on the phone about how beautiful the view is," Espley-Miller told House Beautiful. "I had such a strong vision of a serene, whitewashed house on the sea. So I just gave the whole place a big dollop of white, from floors to ceiling."
The 6,063-square-foot home has views of the Pacific Ocean and the mountains. It sits a little back from the beach on a half acre along Padaro Lane in Santa Barbara County, with five bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms and 63 feet of beachfront.
"Besides it being right on the sand, the Padaro location is the crème de la crème of beach locations for this area," said Dina Landi, who listed the property at Riskin Associates.
"One of the things that makes that particular house on Padaro Lane special is its very open floor plan, the incredible amount of natural light that comes into the house and the privacy you get" from it being set a little back from the beach, Landi said.
The light extends all the way to the master suite, where the bathroom is "very white and very simple," Espley-Miller told House Beautiful. "I wanted nothing to detract from the incredible view and the light."
Miller, perhaps still best known for his roles on "Saturday Night Live," appeared in the television series "House of Cards" in 2013 and narrated the reality series "Forever Young."
You're almost ready to put your house on the market when you realize it: The neighborhood eyesore is going to pose a problem.
Sure, we know some people might view any attempts to hide an eyesore from view as being underhanded, sneaky, and designed to fool unsuspecting buyers. They might envision unscrupulous sellers and agents who keep their fingers crossed, just hoping no one spots the eyesore next door.
If you feel that way, by all means, point out the junkyard behind you that's worthy of "American Pickers," the yard next door that looks more like a prairie than a lawn, or the bail bonds sign spray-painted on the wall across the street.
For the rest of us, here are five ways to resolve these eyesore neighbor issues so would-be buyers won't be scared off. And who knows? Maybe if you tackle these unsavory sights, you'll decide not to sell your home after all.
1. Ask your neighbor to fix the problem.
This solution can be tricky. There's really no easy way to tell someone that his or her house is the neighborhood eyesore. But there are some methods that might help.
"Just writing a friendly note (dropped off with a bottle of wine or another small gift) can sometimes do the trick," says Ross Anthony, a San Diego real estate agent.
It also can't hurt to mention to your neighbor that the more your home sells for, the more his or her home will be worth.
2. Be neighborly.
You know how people can become desensitized to certain smells? ("How did you know I had a cat?") Well, people can become so accustomed to the condition of their house that they don't notice when it looks run-down.
This sometimes happens with elderly homeowners: Either they haven't realized the condition of their home or they simply can't manage the upkeep. You might think a condo or townhouse situation might better suit your overwhelmed neighbor, but steer clear of that suggestion.
Instead, offer to spruce up the house yourself. "If it is an elderly person, I offer to help," says Sarah Bentley Pearson, an Atlanta real estate agent.
But it's not just elderly neighbors with houses that could benefit from a little TLC -- just think of all the work you did to get your house in selling shape.
Alexander Ruggie of 911 Restoration in Los Angeles says that if the next-door neighbor has a poor paint job, a wobbly fence, or a caved-in garage, there's no reason you can't offer to help fix the problem. "Most people would be surprised how much they can convince people to do when they offer to help do it."
3. Notify your HOA.
If you live in a community with a homeowners association (HOA), let it know about the unkempt house near you. One of the main reasons HOAs exist is to prevent homes in the neighborhood from becoming eyesores that could drive down the value of other homes.
Your HOA might send a letter to the offending neighbor warning him or her to fix the problem or face fines. Or the HOA might take care of the problem and then bill the homeowner.
4. Call the city.
If your neighbor won't mow his or her lawn, get rid of the junk outside, or let you help tidy up, you can always call your local government.
"If there is a really bad problem, like the grass is a foot tall and there are junk cars on the front lawn, your neighbors are probably in violation of local codes and can be forced to clean up," says John Z. Wetmore, producer of the TV show "Perils for Pedestrians."
Do this well in advance of putting your house on the market. The city could give your neighbor up to 90 days to meet housing codes.
Wetmore also suggests that you "walk around the block and pick up any litter along the public streets and sidewalks."
If the house is a bank-owned foreclosure, find out which bank owns the property by checking county title records. Insist the bank maintain the property.
5. Plant view-blocking trees or install a fence.
It might be worth the investment to block an unsavory view. If you plant trees, choose ones that are at least six feet tall to give you an immediate sense of privacy. Privacy fences should also be six feet high.
If your neighbors are noisy, putting in a small water feature can drown out the racket.
"You only have one first impression," says Anthony, the San Diego real estate agent. "You want potential buyers to fall in love with your home before writing it off due to an unkempt neighboring property."
The couple and their children reportedly never lived in the 6,800-square-foot home, which is 25 feet wide and has six bedrooms and seven -- count 'em, seven -- fireplaces.
There are twin fireplaces on the "parlor" floor, a marble fireplace near the kitchen, a Victorian fireplace in a guest suite and a stone fireplace -- plus a hand-carved stone tub -- in the master suite. Photos indicate a couple more fireplaces in bedrooms.
The ground floor opens onto a split-level, landscaped garden that is also visible from a Juliet balcony off the second floor, and the master suite boasts a large, private terrace.
The cliche of 20-somethings taking up refuge in their parents' basements is a now tired way to describe millennials. Unfortunately, it became a stereotype because it's true. Millennials have been known to graduate college, quit work or just opt out of adult life and scurry back to the nest.
But for every millennial who ran home to mommy and daddy, there is a set of parents who allowed a grown child to linger in a state of arrested development without consequence. Which begs the question, what is a loving parent to do?
Charge the kid rent, of course.
Before boomers and millennials alike end up in a blind rage, understand that extolling a little tough love is exactly the way parents can lead a stray millennial back to the expressway toward adulthood.
The Return Home Trend
There is no shame in needing to head back home for some time to figure out the next steps. A lot has changed in how the world works. Not that long ago, it was standard that many young men and women would graduate from college and get married just a few months later.
Today, few millennials are leaving college and heading straight down the aisle. Plus, the job market was slow moving for those who graduated four to eight years ago. And let's not forget to mention the massive student loan burden. So a precedent was set that those who elected not to leap into graduate school or who were struggling to find employment would return home -- for a little while.
A little while sometimes turned into years. And hordes of graduating millennials each May still return home (even though the job market has warmed up again).
This phenomenon has been aided by parents willing to let their children take up residence at home and return to a life of mom and dad cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and fulfilling other parts of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Living at home is just easy.
Why Millennials Need to Cough Up Rent
Just because living at home is easy doesn't mean it should be free. The easier the lifestyle, the harder it will be for a child to feel motivated to strike out on his or her own and learn the life skills necessary to survive outside the protective bosom of mom and dad.
This is why millennials living at home need to pay rent.
The demand for rent means the millennial needs to get a job -- even if the job is stocking shelves at the grocery store or whipping up drinks at Starbucks. Keeping idle hands busy and dealing with obnoxious customers in exchange for a paycheck barely above minimum wage will help motivate young millennials to find a career and put that degree to good use.
Paying rent will also force a child living at home to learn how to budget for paying student loans, going out with friends and purchasing whatever they consider necessities. This assumes parents aren't back on the allowance bandwagon and subsidizing the child's stay at Resort de Mom and Dad.
Asking for rent from a child doesn't mean it needs to be at market value. You don't need to charge the same amount he or she would pay to live in an apartment in your town. About $100 or $150 a month would do just fine.
What to Do with the Money
The money a child contributes to rent could go toward paying household bills. If you use this method, be sure to share with your child how you are spending his or her money. It will help rationalize the need to pay rent if your child sees their money is helping to pay off the mortgage, pad the grocery budget that dropped since he or she went off to college or pay off a parent PLUS loan taken out to help him or her through college.
Parents who don't feel the need to use the money collected from a child can quietly create a "parental 401(k)." This will force a child to save money without him or her knowing it. When it comes time for the child to move out, parents can present the nest egg in the form of a check, or deposit it into a bank account. If parents are feeling really generous, they can provide a percentage match like an employer would. This is a great way to plant a seed to encourage a child to put money in an employer-sponsored retirement plan once he or she starts a job.
Alternatives to Charging Rent
Many parents have trouble with the idea of charging their child rent. It doesn't feel right. That's fine, but it doesn't mean your nesting millennial should get off without contributing to the family pot.
Instead of asking for an upfront monthly fee, you could require a child to buy the family groceries or put money toward one of the monthly bills such as water, electric or cable. Or you could just return to the glories days of the chore wheel.
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.93 percent Tuesday, down 2 basis points from the same time last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 4.03 percent Friday and remained there through the weekend, then dropped to 3.88 percent Monday before returning to the current rate.
"After moving higher on Friday, rates fell as markets absorbed the shock of Greece's decision to close its banks leading up to a referendum on its debt negotiations," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "Greece will likely dominate financial headlines again this week, but Thursday's early jobs report could move markets if lenders don't clock out early for the Fourth of July holiday."