The world’s richest man talks about real estate, a tenant pulls a fast one on his trusting landlord and a historic theater gets a new lease on life. Looking into the wild and wooly world of real estate, here are our Hits and Misses for this week.
Hit: Mr. Musk Weighs In. Elon Musk seems to have an opinion for everything, ranging from the viability of the Dogecoin cryptocurrency to the stridency of certain progressive politicians. The Tesla chieftain rarely pontificates about real estate, but this week he took to Twitter to issue the observation “Commercial real estate is melting down fast. Home values next.” Musk didn’t bother to engage in any follow-up chat from followers who praised and questioned his comment, but at least he helped bring attention to the tumult facing the real estate markets – and, of course, bring more attention to himself.
Miss: The Tenant from Hell. Do you remember the tune “Consider Yourself at Home” from the musical “Oliver!”? Well, Jay Allen MacDougal seemed to have that ditty as an earworm. The Toronto-based MacDougal rented a home and obtained the identity information of the homeowner. He then successfully imitated the homeowner and successfully applied for a mortgage on the property. He almost got away with his ill-gathered funds, but the Toronto police nabbed him – he’s been charged with five counts of fraud and of laundering the proceeds of his crime. He’s due in court on June 6, and police are investigating to see if he may have committed similar crimes before.
Hit: An Unexpected Housing Investment. Madison Ventures+ (MV+), a private/venture equity firm based in West Palm Beach, Florida, has unveiled M2 Communities, an investment platform focused on manufactured housing communities. The company teamed with San Diego-based Muskoka Capital Partners on this endeavor, which seeks to promote manufactured housing communities as a cost-effective way to expand affordable homeownership opportunities. “Manufactured housing has been somewhat ignored by many sophisticated real estate investors,” said MV+ Chairman and CEO Bryan Gordon, who is focusing the investments in the Southeastern states. This could prove to be very interesting.
Miss: That’s Not How This Works. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (FHLBank Boston) should be getting praise for Lift Up Homeownership, a pilot program providing down payment and closing cost assistance for lower-income first-time homebuyers. The program offers grant funding to customers applying for mortgages that earn up to 120% of the area median income, and buyers will be eligible to receive up to $50,000 through the program. The catch: If you’re White, you are not eligible – this program is only designed for people of color, and the FHLBank Boston justified this reverse-racism by insisting the program is designed to address longstanding into racial inequities in housing across New England. The inconvenient facts that low-income Whites are not responsible for historic redlining or that the Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination based on race somehow didn’t sink in with the program’s planners. Let’s see how this plays out.
Hit: A Historic Theater Returns. The 60-year-old Seattle Cinerama Theater is starting a new chapter as the Seattle International Film Festival acquired the property, which has been closed since the start of the pandemic. The theater opened in 1963, was purchased and restored in the 1990s by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and was being run by Allen’s estate after his 2019 passing. The theater is noted for its giant 70-foot curved screen and is one of a trio of theaters in the world that is designed to show the three-camera Cinerama process that was used on such classics as “This is Cinerama” (1952) and “How the West was Won” (1963). The reopening of the venue is expected later this year.
Photo: Wired Photostream / Flickr Creative Commons