The hard copy is finally out for Unique Homes Luxury Magazine. It's their 40th anniversary so I am giddy they interviewed me for this special ginormous issue. You can find me on the last page called "In Closing". Here's a read-able copy I had posted earlier.
I just want to take a moment and reflect on a marvelous 2011 at Habitat For Hermanity. Traffic has tripled since last year! (It seems I finally found the right mix of humor, celebrity design & housing.) I am super flattered for all the media attention & speaking opportunities that have come my way. But most of all, I am so thankful for you all who visit my little corner of the universe for their dose of Hermanity.
My resolution next year is to find the right TV project. What's yours?
Mo'nique does Beyonce!
*** I've been a fan of Mo'niques since her stand-up days to The Parkers to her talk show! But the sweet smell of success ain't all rosy, in fact it's down right smelly. She is suing her landlord because her $22,000/mo rented house reeks of dog poop.
***While other young starlets blow their Benajamin's on clothes, cars & parties, Selena Gomez spent her 1st Hollywood paycheck more wisely. She paid her family's rent! Kids, take a lesson!
***Von Dutch tycoon (of mid 2000's trucker cap fame) lists his LA house for $6.9M. Gee, that's a lot of caps.
***Curbed rounds up the Best & Worst Celebrity Sales of 2011. Like the general population, some did good and for others, it was a bloodbath!
Quick, everyone who is in a delayed escrow now, bust out with your iPhone and make a music video! Trust me, it will work. Just ask these clever and musically talented buyers who were waiting FOREVER for their loan to close on their new place. Despite high credit scores & perfect buyer profile, Bank of America kept stalling and stalling on closing their loan. So, at their wits end,this couple made a little music video (more like a video plea) to get BofA to take action...and guess what? It went viral and Bofa followed thru!
Watch & find out! Thank you once again to my friends at KODAK for the fantabulous prize. My fans appreciate all your support and I love using my Hero Printer! Here is a special link KODAK gave me specifically for my fans: www.kodak.com/go/redeal.
For my next contest, follow me on www.twitter.com/hermanity and bookmark my Giveaway page. Happy New Year!!
Call me a hater, but I am not sure how I feel about this. The Out NYC is a self proclaimed gay hotel that just launched. It boasts 105 rooms, 70,000 sq ft & 11,000 nightclub called XL & much more. It's sleek and all (if you are into that template modern steel look), but conceptually it feels like a throwback to another era of identity politics. It's 2012. This would have been revolutionary in the 1990's, but now it just seems like chasing the "gay dollar." I suppose it will appeal to certain factions. On the other hand, maybe I am just a latent homophobe!
Kids never cease to amaze me! Check out this insightful little girl who rants and rails against how toy marketers are sexist! Girlfriend breaks it down better than any Media/Business/Women's Studies professor I ever had!
You know, children are more sensitive to design & color than we give them credit for. For all you new parents out there, better think twice before genderizing your new baby's room with pink or blue....you'll never hear the end of it, if they are anything like Riley (you should be so lucky!) Stick with yellow.
This is to die for...literally! I've recently discovered via Jezebel fellow videoblogger Caitlin Doughty of Order of the Good Death. Not unlike myself, this L.A. mortician brings a breath of fresh air to her profession. So funny, self deprecating, smart and accessible. Check out her video series "Ask A Mortician." Muah!
In this video, she takes a stab (haha!) at being a real estate agent, giving a tour of Hollywood homes belonging to dearly departed stars from Michael Jackson to Marilyn Monroe. If I ever drop dead, I'd love Caitlin to embalm me. That way, I can chit chat with her. (Hey, stranger things have happened!).
There are special considerations when selling a condo! When you are hocking your goodies out there, a lot of it is preparation (H). Watch my latest video for eHow.com.
Real estate agent review sites (Don't roll your eyes!). I know, I know. They are indeed a dime a dozen, but one site has been getting a lot of attention this year. Mountain of Agents has stood out from the crowd due to their clean design, video capability, iPhone app, and perhaps most of all because its founders are not real estate agents, but consumers who got scarred working with the wrong agent.
Real estate guru & my gal pal Maya Paveza vouched, "Mountain Of Agents allows me to be present in a “for consumer, by consumer” environment that they are more likely to trust." Really? So I set out to see what all the fuss was about. (I'm nosy like that). I grill Mountain of Agent's creator Michael Becker about how he got burned, if there are any limitations to the site, and what he has to say to his critics.
Founder & Nice Guy Michael Becker
Hermanity: Your site says, "Mountain of Agents was born out of the founders' frustration around the home buying/selling experience." What exactly happened to you that you don't want to happen to other buyers/sellers?! Inquiring minds want to know!
Becker: Like most people, we used a real estate agent that was referred to us by a close friend. We made the mistake of not researching the agent first. From the start it was clear that we were not a priority. Ignoring our phone calls and dropping the ball on buyer inquiries quickly became a nasty habit. We watched the neighborhood prices plummet as the months passed, and missed out on being able to pull the trigger on a few properties we really loved.
Six months later, we made the tough call and fired our agent. We then began our online research, and were shocked at how difficult it was to find any reputable, objective information on real estate agents in our area. Most of the resources were cluttered, unusable and completely biased. After lots of research, we did eventually find a stellar agent who knew the area well, was trustworthy and had our best interests at heart. He sold our old property and got us into a new one—dare I say—almost painlessly. We thought to ourselves, “Was this how it was supposed to be the first time around?” After the dust settled and we were in our new home, it still troubled me that there were no simple, un-biased resources out there for consumers. I asked myself, “What could have made this process easier for us?” I then set out to design, develop and launch the Mountain of Agents directory as an objective resource for consumers to find, research and rate local realestate agents.
Clients see Agent Maya Paveza's ratings!
Hermanity: Consumers search for agents by zip code on the site. Right now the number of agents is manageable but one day when thousands and thousands of agents (knock on wood) are signed up on your site, how will a consumer filter out the possibly hundreds of realtors that pop up in their zip code? Can they search by language or speciality?
Becker: Adding additional features and filters is a great idea and we’ll address those modifications as the need arises. In the meantime, real estate agents can future-proof their listing from getting lost in the—ahem—mountain of agents on the site by reserving the zip codes they market to. You’ll get a persistent featured listing in one of the top two spots in search results no matter how many agents are listed in your area.
Clients Connect via Facebook
Hermanity: Your site directly addresses agents: "We know how you feel about real estate agent rating sites, so we keep it positive." What is your response to haters who say there is no way for a consumer to share a non-positive experience about an agent on your site?
Becker: The way I look at it, agents with a poor track record or shoddy
history probably aren’t going to join a site where they can be openly rated. There are plenty of other forums for expressing your experiences in a written format, so I didn’t see a need to create another Internet bash fest.
I know how agents feel about real estate rating sites, so I wanted to make sure that our ratings system would only allow positive, cumulative feedback. The more positive ratings you obtain in each of the six categories, the more likely it is that a consumer will contact you. This way, the only negative aspect of getting rated is not having as many positive ratings as your local competitors.
For more Q&A with Mountain of Agents, click Read More ===>
***Brittany Murphy's mom says Brittany's house killed her! She alledges toxic mold took the lives of her daughter & son-in-law. Unfortch she can not sue the builder because she waived her rights in a settlement. Always be wary when you get pressure to settle fast, be it from attorneys, insurance companies or real estate agents!
***California may be a no fault divorce state, but you know Kobe Bryant is at fault! He got booted outta his swank Newport Beach home & he relinquished his mega-mansion to his wife Vanessa. I dunno why people are so shocked. I mean come on, another athlete cheats, another divorce. At this point, it's a cliche!
***Ameica's favorite lesbian Ellen Degeneres sells her $49m house & buys Brad Pitt's $12m Malibu pad. Downsizing! sign of the times...
Madonna as Marie Antoinette
*** R. Kelly has tossed his Chicago "Chocolate Factory" on the market for $1.59M. Let's hope this 6 bedroom mansion flies off the shelf. "I believe I can fly...."
***Realtors spend $500,000 to stage the nation's priciest foreclosure. This 20,000 sq ft San Francisco penthouse condo sits atop the St. Regis Luxury Tower. Just sold for $28M! With a potential $2.1M commission, just chalk the $500k to advertising expenses. It's like spending $50 on flyers, for the rest of us plebeian real estate agents.
***"Marie Antoinette's favorite airline!" That's the best line from this article: Bankrupt American Airlines retains $30M townhouse for its top execs. "Let Them Eat Cake" No doubt Marie is the original queen of "The 1%"!
A landlord is evicting a tenant for being over $50,000 late in rent and re-painting the walls (forbidden by lease). Honestly, I have little sympathy for this landlord. If you know a tenant has historically been a trouble maker, why would you be surprised s/he would act differently in your rental? It's Courtney Love for heaven's sake! Drugs, rehab, money drama, daughter emancipated herself. Duh, she's a live wire. And you let her live in your hoity-toity $8M historical NYC residence.
If she were anyone else, this landlord would not have rented it out. I suspect landlord got blinded by having a "celebrity" tenant. But, celebs are people too!
Every time this year, expect to see Xmas trees pitted against each other! Those poor things! Not only do we ax them at the root & ferret them way from their forest friends, but we imprison them in our Febrezed living rooms & dangle dangerous sharp inanimate objects off their limp limbs, strangle them with flammable mini-lights & suffocate them with faux pine l'eau de parfum! What's worse is we make fake & real trees mortal enemies! Haven't they suffered enough! Let's just forego the tree entirely. Just don't tell the National Christmas Tree Association (yes one exists). Incidentally, you can earn $100,000 investing in a Christmas tree farm! Amen!
Mrs. Jay-Z purchased the 190 sq ft room in 2002 for almost half a million clams. Equipped with a 1/2 bath, it was probably just a changing room for her after frolicking on the beach. A starlet can't let the paparazzi snap pix of her with seaweed in hair, sand up the coochie, and extensions all nappy!
The sale is a monumental blood bath, but don't feel to bad for her. The woman is worth jillions. Net worth easily upwards of $300 million. What's a $355k loss? Pennies in the bucket for the likes of her
Gawker spotlights homeowners around the globe who've gone straight up bonkers with their Xmas lights. Couple thoughts swirling in my noggin:
Finally some good news for T.O.! After a failed public spectacle to impress scouts and a slew of bad PR over money troubles & baby-mama drama, Terrell Owens at last got a break. His Dallas condo narrowly escapes foreclosure. He bought it for $1.95M and sold it to a lucky shortsale buyer for $1.6M.
You're probably wondering, "Herman, what the heck do you know about baseball!?" and you are right. I don't know buttons from beans about sports (except rythmic gymnastics & synchronchized swimming). But Terrell used to live in my hometown Fremont. I was at his house once for a Nike photoshoot. Despite the rumors that he was a diva, he was actually a nice guy.
Good luck, TO!
I'm wildly impresed by Ice Cube's video about celebrated Eames architechts for Pacific Standard Time. It may seem like an odd pairing between hi-brow and low-brow. But hey, aside from being beautifully post-modern, it actually is authentic because before rapping, Ice Cube studied architectural drafting! He not only disects the Eames' work but the video is also an homage (or defense) of Los Angeles, often stereotypes as plastic and fake.
Trust me when I say there is a notorious rivalry between both camps: NorCal as the free loving hippie granola crowd and SoCal as the superficial vapid crowd. Living in both SF and LA, I feel like bi-racial kid. I can see both sides. But why all the hateration?! I believe you find your niche wherever you go. If you wanna be crunchy or hipster in LA, then live in Silver Lake/Echo Park. If you wanna be Ken & Barbie in SF, live in the Marina district. Just find your flock! They exist in both places, for reals.
"Who are these people who gotta problem with LA? Maybe they just mad they don't live here." - Ice Cube
What with the job market so tough and the ever increasing cost of living, how do you kids afford to buy a home? It's darn near impossible, unless you scrimp and save through your 20's (who wants to live off Top Ramen?), or live w/ parents to save on rent (Social/sex life tanks!) or if you're a trust fund baby (Jealous!).
CNN Money spotlights 5 scenarios where parents help kids buy homes, ranging from paying out right in cash to lending money to their kids interest free. I've noticed this trend in the market, especially in more pricey areas like San Francisco, whose average sales prices is near $700k.
Do you think this is a function of Baby Boomer spoiling adults kids? Or wise investment decision for their kids?
I couldn't have said this better myself! Grahma Hill's talk for Ted.com really sums up the way I'm trying to lead my life. Pare everything down. There was a time when I bought recklessly and for the wrong reasons...but really, all that did was increase my bills and make me unhappy. How many $150 T-shirts does a guy really need?! After all, a cotton T is a cotton T! As long as I look like a million bucks in it, who cares if it's H&M or GUCCI. So, I do my best to live sparsely, be efficient and nimble.
Not to sound like some Pinko, but the way we are living our lives for the last few decades is going to be the end of us. More debt & more stress. What is the point of endless accumulation of useless stuff & the constant commericial consumption. Even in real estate, the idea you have to keep trading up to bigger and better house every few years is just not sustainable.
I'm not saying you all can live in the 420 sq ft pad featured in the video (although I would love to! so cool) but let's edit down our lives, our space or consumption. You'll be so much at peace...Trust me, I've been there!
Happy Friday Guys! I have a treat for you: A casting notice for a brand new HGTV Show. The producers at Johlt (Dina's Party, Curb Appeal, Color Splash & more) asked me to spread the word. If you are a fun outgoing homebuyer with 20% downpayment aggressively looking to close escrow anytime from now til Spring 2012 in the San Francisco East Bay, please apply! Tell 'em Hermanity sent ya!
For more info & submission instructions about this exciting chance, click Read More below.
Did you know 1 in 5 real estate contracts get cancelled due to appraisals?! I'm in a deal now where the purchase price is $550k, but the appraiser used 300k and 800k comps. Seems like there is no rhyme or reason! There are indeed some fine appraisers out there who take there job seriously. However, I'm noticing a new crop of lazy appraisers who breeze in fast and crank out lackidasical reports, which wreck utter havoc on sellers, buyers, agents, loan brokers, etc! They do a sloppy job and leave it to us to clean up their mess! But do they care? Heck, no. They got paid and have moved on to another house. No skin off their back! AGBeat quotes Mike Evans, the
Click Read More to see Video Transcript
There is something super eerie about these shiny new buildings in China. They are vacant! Hundreds of them! What is up with these ghost towns?
The Chinese government is dead set on buttressing GDP growth. Like Gillum Tullock said in the video, "it's not the quantity of GDP but the quality of GDP that matters. Essentially, they are building stuff for which there is no demand."
China's obsession with big infrastructure projects is modern equivalent of building the pyramids. True dat!
Such a shame that 64 million apartments sit empty. How can anyone afford anything when new condos go for $70k-100k and the average national salary is $6,000? Just foreign investors and rich peeps. Mark my words, I predict an OCCUPY CHINA!
My NYC friend Rebecca just snapped this hilarious pic for me. I just can't stop giggling!
What do you guys think of agents who do this? Egomaniacs? Or savvy marketers?
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