A movie legend’s home saved from demolition (for now), a new TV series inspired by an Instagram page and a greater understanding of pain caused from housing costs. From the wild and woolly world of real estate, here are the hits and misses for this week.
Hit: Saving a Tragic Location. Last week’s news of a demolition permit request by the new owner of the Los Angeles property that was the final home of Marilyn Monroe created a massive outrage among the fans of the iconic movie star, who was found dead at the site of a barbiturate overdose in August 1962. This week, Los Angeles Councilmember Traci Park spearheaded a unanimous council vote to review whether the property qualifies as a historic and cultural monument, while the city’s Department of Building and Safety said intended to revoke the demolition permits. Despite its significance in Monroe’s legacy, the property has been never open to the public. Glory of the Snow Trust LLC, which recently acquired the property for $8.35 million, has never explained its plans for the site, and perhaps better communications by the owner could provide a clear idea of what the property’s future could become.
Miss: Bad News for Credit Unions. Within the mortgage space, credit unions have tried for years to grow their market share. This week, the credit unions hit a major pothole when TransUnion released a data study that found mortgage originations by credit unions during the third quarter were down by 60% year-over-year. While mortgage origination activity is down across the board, this figure is especially acute for a sector that made impressive gains over the years to become recognized as a go-to source for home buyers.
Hit: An Unlikely Source for a TV Show. One of the most amusing stories of the week involved HGTV’s decision to create a nine-episode series based on the Instagram account Zillow Gone Wild, which highlights some of the most eccentric and astonishing properties listed for sale. In each episode, three bizarre homes for sale will be explored, along with the stories behind the structures and their respective owners. The Instagram account has more than 1.8 million followers, and HGTV is obviously hoping that this loyal audience will follow the concept to their cable network.
Miss: Don’t Blame Marcia. HGTV could certainly use a new hit, as one of its latest endeavors resulted in a money-losing flop. The Wall Street Journal reported on the Los Angeles house that was used as the establishing exterior for the residence of “The Brady Bunch” – HGTV bought the property for $3.5 million in 2018 and created a TV show called “A Very Brady Renovation” where the interior was remodeled to look exactly like the set of the early 1970s TV series. The network listed home for sale in May for $5.5 million, but it sold for $3.2 million. The buyer, a “Brady Bunch” named fan Tina Trahan, is a collector unusual houses who plans to use it for fundraising events. But Trahan complained that HGTV was charging too much for the sale because the home lacked modern appliances or conveniences, quipping, “No one is going in there to make pork chops and applesauce in that kitchen.”
Miss: A Problem That is Not Going Away. The candidates for the 2024 presidential campaign talking about the state of the housing market, but Americans are becoming increasingly vocal. A new Quinnipiac University poll found roughly one-third of Americans citing housing costs as the economic issue that worries them the most – only the price of gas and consumer goods is a greater source of concern. Broken down among demographics, the percentage of those citing housing costs as a primary worry was higher among Democrats (49%) versus Republicans (20%) and independents (40%), while even greater apprehension was found among respondents between the ages of 18 to 34 – 55% of that group named housing as their biggest economic issue. Wouldn’t it be interesting if housing was among the issues raised in the Sept. 27 GOP debate?
Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at [email protected].