Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Country-music superstar couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw can finally just breathe — a bit.
They’ve sold a sliver of the 753-acre estate outside Nashville that they put on the market last year for $20 million, and are relisting the remaining 623 acres as two separate parcels for a total of $18.5 million.
The larger parcel, listed at $10 million, features a renovated log home — the “Samuel Morton House” from 1800 — with 3 bedrooms and 4 baths, as well as a 12-stall barn.
The smaller adjacent property, about 270 acres after the sale, includes the Antebellum-style “Beachwood Hall” built in 1856 and in need of renovation. The land also has two caretaker homes and a guest cabin, said listing agent Steve Fridrich of Fridrich Clark Realty.
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Weeks after reports circulated about Beyoncé and Jay Z “obviously winning” a bidding war for a 22,300-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion, they’ve been bested by Swedish billionaire Markus “Notch” Persson.
He bid $70 million, same as they reportedly did, but his bid was cash and without contingencies.
The sale, which closed in just six days, is the most ever paid for a home in Beverly Hills, according to a press release from the John Aaroe Group, whose agents Sally Forster Jones and Katia De Los Reyes represented Persson. “Cases of Dom Perignon were part of the deal,” the release says.
Persson can afford that sort of thing now. Earlier this year, he and his co-founders sold Mojang, the company that owns the sandbox gaming franchise “Minecraft,” to Microsoft for $2.5 billion.
His new 8-bedroom, 15-bathroom spread sits on a promontory in the high-end Trousdale Estates neighborhood and offers sweeping views from downtown Los Angeles to Malibu Beach — including from a bathtub. The home has a car showroom, a screening room, vodka and tequila bars and a candy room.
The home has an automated 54-foot curved glass door in the living room that opens onto an infinity pool with iPad-controlled fountains. It came furnished, including a replica of James Dean’s motorcycle, and an 18-foot onyx dining room table that seats 24 and includes place settings by Roberto Cavalli that cost $3,700 each.
And for the final touch of luxury, each bathroom is equipped with a $5,600 Toto Neorest toilet.
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Amy De La Hunt, a writer and editor in St. Louis, gathered mountains of documentation last year to apply for a mortgage as a self-employed borrower.
She had several years of tax filings and contracts to establish a track record for her income. Then, midway through the process of buying a home in suburban Crestwood, she started a full-time job.
“Once I had only one pay stub from my full-time employer, then everything was like magic,” De La Hunt said. “It opened my eyes to how much easier it is.”
For all the benefits that being self-employed imparts, getting a mortgage is not among them.
Self-employed borrowers receive six loan quotes for every 10 received by people pulling down W-2s, according to a Zillow Mortgages analysis.
Lower credit scores are one of the primary factors, according to the analysis, which used a database that logs nearly 2 million loan requests a month.
Among self-employed workers, 47 percent have self-reported credit scores below 720, compared with 23 percent among those who are not self-employed. That’s despite the fact that self-employed borrowers report household incomes that are 81 percent higher and make larger down payments than those who are not self-employed.
Business vs. personal debt
The lower credit scores might not always be a reflection of a self-employed borrower’s ability to pay, said Staci Titsworth, regional mortgage sales manager for PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh.
Some business owners take out car loans and open credit card accounts in their own names, even though these are strictly for company use. That boosts the business owners’ debt volume, which can count against their credit score, Titsworth said.
Lenders can sort through situations like this, but it takes paperwork — on top of copious filings already required of self-employed borrowers (two years of personal tax returns with all schedules attached, plus two years of business tax returns for each business).
Loyal customers with a solid history of making loan payments are often incredulous at how much paperwork is required — and how inflexible the rules are, Titsworth said.
“It can be overwhelming for someone who’s successfully self-employed, who owns all these businesses and is a loyal bank customer, to hear us say we’re missing this one schedule from 2013. They’re like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” she said.
Some people will respond, “You can see I have enough cash to pay for this house; isn’t that good enough? And we have to say, ‘No, we need that paperwork,’” she added.
Keep calm gather documents
The good news is that, at the other end, it’s entirely possible for many people who are self-employed to qualify for a mortgage.
“A lot of people think artists can’t ever buy homes, or that if you’re self-employed, you can’t buy a home — but we’re here and we each have our own studio and a weekend house,” said Linda Hesh, an artist in Hollin Hills, VA, who lives in a mid-century modern home with her husband, hand engraver Eric Margry.
They’ve been through the home financing and refinancing process many times. They found at the start that lenders wanted a larger down payment from them than from people who weren’t self-employed.
And then there’s the paperwork.
“You just have to do it; it’s going to be a lot of pages,” Hesh said.
She recommends finding a real estate agent who’s comfortable working with self-employed borrowers, because “they can be really helpful.”
So can staying calm, she said.
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If you’re considering selling your home in 2015, you should know that a lot has probably changed in the real estate market since you last sold. Knowing what works today — and resolving to put the tips and advice of the past to rest — will help you sell your home quickly and for top dollar.
1) Appeal to mobile buyers
Today nearly all home searches begin on a smartphone or tablet — not on the Web, and not using the newspaper.
If you want to get the right kind of buyer activity on your home, you need to make sure that you optimize your listing and your photos for mobile devices. If you use the tips and tricks of a generation past, you may miss out on today’s generation of buyers.
2) Be ready to separate your “home” from your “investment”
Many sellers make the mistake of letting their emotions get the best of them. Selling a home is not like selling a used car — it holds memories and occupies a special place in your heart.
When it comes time to sell, however, it’s important to realize that your home is also an investment. Being able to change your homeowner hat to your investor hat is crucial.
If you are too sentimentally attached to your home, you may reject a good price or fail to negotiate with a serious buyer. Don’t let your emotions sabotage your sale.
3) Don’t list your home until you’re serious about selling
Many homeowners think they’re ready to sell, but they haven’t fully gone through the emotional process of the decision. Do you have a place to go if you sell? Have you fully cleaned and de-cluttered your home? Have you taken your agent’s advice on staging and pricing?
Many sellers list their home before they are truly ready to sell, only to shoot themselves in the foot by overpricing it or not presenting it to the market in its best possible light.
4) Don’t hire just any agent
The agent you used to purchase the home 15 years ago may seem like the logical choice for listing your home this time around. But are they really the best option?
With access to so much information online and so much at stake, sellers should talk to a few agents before committing. Get a referral from someone who recently sold, and use online resources to research agents’ sales activity and expertise.
The right agent makes all the difference and if you have any doubt about an agent’s abilities, hold off on establishing a relationship.
5) Make the best impression online
Nothing frustrates an active and aggressive buyer more than getting an email or mobile notification alert for a new property listing only to get to the listing and not see any photos.
Buyer first impressions today are on the Internet. If you list your home without complete information — including photos, description and accurate data — not only will you turn them off, but they may simply not come back later.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
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Although $400,000 falls below the median home value in some places (Boston, Miami and San Diego), it’s more than twice the national median of $177,600, according to the Zillow Home Value Index.
That means $400,000 will get you better-than-average digs in many areas.
Here’s a sampling of what’s possible based on current listings.
5042 Blendon Ravine Ct, Columbus, OH
For sale: $399,000
This retreat-like home on 0.43 acres measures almost 5,000 square feet with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths and a mother-in-law suite. It includes hardwood floors, has a 3-car garage and backs onto a park.
Check out more listings in Columbus.
1889 Goodpaster Way, Lexington, KY
For sale: $395,000
In the heart of bluegrass country, less than $400,000 reels in this 2,822-square-foot home custom built in 2007 with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, including a 6-foot bathtub and an oversized shower. An outdoor patio sits under a pergola with pastoral views of grazing horses.
See what else is for sale in Lexington.
Las Vegas, NV
145 Honors Course Dr, Las Vegas, NV
For sale: $395,000
In Las Vegas, where the median home value is $178,600 — almost precisely the national median — $400,000 buys a lot of house. This one measures 3,065 square feet, has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and is near a golf club.
See other homes for sale in Las Vegas.
Photo: Ben Benhadj of Simply Vegas Real Estate
Kansas City, MO
601 W 112th St, Kansas City, MO
For sale: $394,000
This 3,849-square-foot home in suburban Kansas City has 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, a circle driveway and hardwood floors.
Check out more Kansas City listings.
Photo: Keller Williams Realty Partners
New Orleans, LA
639 Gallier St, New Orleans, LA
For sale: $399,900
This historic Victorian has 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and measures 2,120 square feet. It includes hardwood floors, multiple fireplaces, a clawfoot tub and a fenced yard.
Explore other homes for sale in New Orleans.
1432 W Elmdale Ave Apt 1W, Chicago, IL
For sale: $399,900
The nation’s Second City offers diverse urban living options, including apartments the size of some houses for $400,000. This 2,400-square-foot place has hardwood floors, bay windows and 2 newly remodeled bathrooms. A master suite includes a walk-in closet, a spa bath with dual sinks and a large shower — all just a 10-minute walk to Lake Michigan.
See other homes for sale in Chicago.
St. Petersburg, FL
2158 Bayou Grande Blvd NE, St Petersburg, FL
For sale: $399,900
Even closer to the water — and warmer water — is this 3-bedroom, 3-bath home in St. Petersburg, FL. It has a swimming pool, an enclosed porch and a master suite with a jetted tub.
Check out more homes for sale in St. Petersburg.
3536 Siggelkow Rd, McFarland, WI
For sale: $399,900
Just outside Wisconsin’s state capital, this renovated 1938 home measuring 3,414 square feet sits on a half-acre. It has hardwood and tile floors, a large sun room, attic playroom and a master suite with a spiral staircase to a deck.
See more homes for sale in Madison.
822 N Eugene St, Greensboro, NC
For sale: $395,000
Built in 1938, this 2,160-square-foot home has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. It’s an easy walk to a ballpark, restaurants, galleries and the theater.
Explore more listings in Greensboro.
10385 W Rockwood St, Boise, ID
For sale: $399,500
Boise offers spacious living at this price point, with 4,373 square feet including 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and a nearly half-acre lot with a swimming pool.
Check out more Boise listings.
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