Editor’s note: The following is a collection of real estate news items and information from around the globe. Got an item for us to consider? Email it to us with the subject: "roundabout." UPDATE: Information about the Pakistan compound where Osama bin Laden was located has been updated based on new news accounts.
Bin Laden’s hiding place: a $1 million compound
Unquestionably, the most interesting piece of real estate on the entire planet today is the "mansion" compound where Osama bin Laden was found.
As the New York Times reported, "It was hardly the spartan cave in the mountains that many had envisioned as bin Laden’s hiding place. Rather, it was a mansion on the outskirts of the town’s center, set on an imposing hilltop and ringed by 12-foot-high concrete walls topped with barbed wire.
"The property was valued at $1 million, but it had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection," the Times wrote. "American officials believed that the compound, built in 2005, was designed for the specific purpose of hiding bin Laden."
The Los Angeles Times has published a graphic showing property details, as well as satellite images from before and after the compound was built.
The Associated Press reported that a doctor, Qazi Mahfooz Ul Haq, sold the land in 2005 where the compound was built, and The Telegraph reports that the contractor who allegedly built the complex, named in reports as Gul Muhammad, has been arrested near Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The man listed as the buyer of the property may have been killed in the U.S. raid, AP also reported. There is a photo of the compound (other photos in this Telegraph report), and a Guardian article discusses bin Laden’s family background in building and architecture.
Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index … the opera
Recently, the folks at National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered" found themselves wishing they could show their audience, in the form of a graph, the recent history of America’s home prices. But radio, of course, can’t do much with the visual medium of graphs and charts.
So they converted the data into musical notes and gave it to a singer at the Julliard School in New York to perform in operatic fashion.
Add this to the insults to the American way of life that the housing bust has caused: It’s made it harder for some people to post bail.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that bail bondsmen in areas where large numbers of homes have underwater mortgages have turned their backs on their longstanding practice of accepting homes as collateral. Some, instead, have opted for long-term payment plans for incarcerated types whose houses are no longer desirable markers.
"I’ve got better luck winning the lottery than I would finding someone with a home up for collateral that actually has value to it," a Modesto, Calif., bondsman told the Journal.
Money just ain’t what it used to be in Aspen, Colo.: The super-rich homeowners who dominated the chi-chi ski capital in recent years lost a bundle in the recession and are unlikely to maintain their role in Aspen’s future.
That’s according to a former demographer for the Colorado state government, who told local officials they ought to be courting more tourists and retirees and to stop depending on the financial elite.
The demographer, Jim Westkott, suggested that some local mansions of 10,000 square feet or more eventually might be converted into duplexes, co-ops or assisted-living facilities as baby boomers begin to retire, according to an Associated Press report.
Real estate agent scores a bullseye
A Franklin, Tenn., real estate agent won $100,000 on the History Channel’s "Top Shot" reality show by besting 15 competitors in the use of weapons that ranged from sniper rifles and .44 Magnums to tomahawks and blow guns.
Chris Reed, who described himself as "country boy from the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta" is a seasoned competitor, according to the Tennessean newspaper: He was runner-up in Field & Stream magazine’s 2009 Total Outdoorsman Challenge and has won numerous state and national championships in archery and long rifle events.
A nasty calling card
Police have arrested a Northwood, N.H., demolition contractor in connection with the illegal dumping of multiple truckloads of burned debris onto the driveway of a local real estate company.
Police charged the man with one count of felony criminal mischief for dumping the charred wood and debris in front of a local Keller Williams Real Estate office; a police representative didn’t offer a reason for the deed, according to the Concord Monitor newspaper.
Bugged by bedbugs
A Chicago condo board is suing the resident of a North Side high-rise because it claims she is being uncooperative in its efforts to eradicate more than 500 bedbugs in her unit, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. The suit said her failure to cooperate has hampered efforts to keep the bugs from finding their way to other residences in the building.
A parting of the ways
More than 120 agents and brokers are listed as supporters of Real Estate Professionals for a Better Wisconsin, which is protesting the Wisconsin Association of Realtors’ backing of Gov. Scott Walker and its donation of $150,0000 to his campaign, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Walker has been at the center of the state’s highly controversial efforts to cut its budget, including the cutting of state jobs and limiting collective bargaining for state employees.
"We are petitioning the WRA to stop endorsing individual political candidates, focusing instead on educating the public about issues affecting our industry and where the candidates stand on them," reads a statement on the group’s site.
The international report
A three-story penthouse in London’s Knightsbridge neighborhood has been sold for about $221 million — and it’s a fixer-upper. The new owner bought the unit with bare walls and no amenities and is expected to spend up to $100 million to finish it, according to the Telegraph newspaper.
A government survey in Ireland estimates that more than 2,800 "ghost estates" haunted the country at the end of 2010.
The Sunday Business Post reports that "ghost estates" are developments that have been bought but not completed as a result of the nation’s enormous economic downturn. This amounts to 40,000 unoccupied properties in various stages of construction, with 58,000 more approved but not yet built.