J.Lo takes on role as real estate agent

Picturing Jennifer Lopez as a real estate agent is admittedly a bit of a stretch. But as a "matronly" one? Apparently so, according to several celebrity websites commenting on her character’s costume (some used the word "frumpy") during the recent filming of "Parker," a thriller in which "J.Lo" portrays a real estate agent who partners with a thief who steals from the wealthy. Photos of the actress on the set show her clad in what to most mere mortals would appear to be simple business attire — a long-sleeved, tailored blouse and A-line skirt.

J.Lo takes on role as real estate agent

Picturing Jennifer Lopez as a real estate agent is admittedly a bit of a stretch. But as a "matronly" one? Apparently so, according to several celebrity websites commenting on her character’s costume (some used the word "frumpy") during the recent filming of "Parker," a thriller in which "J.Lo" portrays a real estate agent who partners with a thief who steals from the wealthy. Photos of the actress on the set show her clad in what to most mere mortals would appear to be simple business attire — a long-sleeved, tailored blouse and A-line skirt.

In other celebrity real estate news:

  • Donald Trump waged a long battle with locals — and won — over building a golf resort and residential complex in Scotland. Apparently, the war continues in another form, as a noted architecture critic — Andy MacMillan, professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Glasgow — decried the plans as "gross" and "not worthy of Disneyland," the New York Post reported.
  • Now that Oprah Winfrey — or at least her long-running talk show — has bid adieu to Chicago, the show’s production team is heading off with her to California and selling their Chicago homes. One of them, listed for $2.5 million, was bought by Rosie O’Donnell, who will host a talk show that’s broadcast from Winfrey’s Harpo studios, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago magazine reported that she bought the house furnished.

A toast to creative marketing

Not so long ago, anxious home sellers were dangling free cars or big-screen TVs to attract buyers. But that’s just so post-Bubble. Now, the motivated seller needs to be a little more creative. Or maybe just offer liquor.

  • In Glenview, Ill., if you were to buy the townhouse of Melanie Gravdal, a tavern across the street called Grandpa’s Place will cover your bar tab up to $1,000, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The homeowner said showings of the house increased after real estate agent Missy Jerfita posted fliers in the bar that touted the offer.
  • Or in Vancouver, Canada, you’d get $1,000 worth of beer as a closing gift if you were to buy either of two homes listed by agent Robyn Moser of MaxWell South Star Realty, according to the Vancouver Sun.
  • Teetotalers need not feel left out: Brendan McGlynn, an agent in County Donegal, Ireland, is offering a twofer: Buy an attached home in Letterkenny for about $134,000 — and get the adjoining home for free, according to the Irish Times.

Semantics alert

As "Pottery Barn décor" passes into listings-language antiquity, "farm chic" appears to be emerging as a variety of for-sale shorthand. The term refers to property that adjoins an organic farm, vineyard or other rural setting — a fantasy lifestyle that the Wall Street Journal says appeals to homebuyers who have environmental concerns or nostalgia for a simpler life. The Journal reported that’s the marketing mojo behind Bundoran Farm, a 2,300-acre development set amid apple orchards and cattle pastures outside Charlottesville, Va. It’s a consumer trend ("agriculture is the new golf," one source said), that’s rooted in a growing distaste for prototypical suburban sprawl, the Journal said.

Neighborly relations

A man and woman in Harbor Springs, Mich., have been charged with repeatedly entering a bank-owned home and planting crickets, feces, dead raccoons and squirrels, and other substances throughout.

A real estate agent showing the home found a "pungent odor" emanating from a furnace duct that was later determined to have been caused by a substance that deer hunters use to conceal their scent, according to the Petoskey News in Michigan. Area police had placed the home under video surveillance before making the arrests, the newspaper said.

It reported that the woman lives next door to the foreclosed property, which is listed for sale for $350,000; the man owns a business on the other side. The newspaper said the two had complained about listing signs on the property and that several signs had disappeared from the house; it also quoted police as saying the two committed the acts out of boredom and as a joke. They have pleaded not guilty to several charges, which include third-degree home invasion and conspiracy to commit third-degree home invasion, both felonies; they will have court dates in mid-October, the newspaper said.

International buyers "gobbling up" U.S. real estate

International buyers of residential properties are an increasing presence in U.S. markets, according to numerous reports.

They’re a big driver in a slightly revived luxury market across the country, according to Barron’s. Although Russians, Indians and Europeans continue to have a strong presence, Chinese and Brazilians are the newest on the scene, it said. Wealthy Chinese investors are looking for a place to put their money, while the Brazilians are enjoying a surge in the exchange rate and are here looking for "mega-homes," according to the report, which quoted one executive at Halstead Properties in New York: "They’re gobbling up New York, Miami and Nevada."

Also on the international front:

  • In Phoenix, it’s the Australians, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, which sees an influx of Aussie professionals and real estate investors in their 30s and 40s. The publication also said Canadians, Israelis, Italians and Chinese are buying properties in the Phoenix area.
  • And if there aren’t enough international buyers already here, why not recruit some? Prudential Douglas Elliman Florida in September dispatched four agents to attend luxe events in Rome, Monaco and Tel Aviv and extol the virtues of the Miami market to potential buyers, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
  • Coldwell Banker has introduced the First Time Buyer Resource Center portal at ColdwellBanker.com. The resource center includes videos, articles and tools to answer questions and guide buyers through the home-search process, the company said.
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