Phil Collins Buys J.Lo’s Former Paradise in Miami Beach

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling

Lou Novick via ZillowThe property features 200 feet of Biscayne Bay waterfront along with views of the lights of Miami.

By Melissa Allison

Phil Collins just snagged a slice of tropical paradise that once belonged to Jennifer Lopez. The $33 million deal was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Built in 1929, the Mediterranean-style estate in Miami Beach includes 200 feet of waterfront on Biscayne Bay. The home measures 12,153 square feet and boasts seven bedrooms, 9.5 baths, and views of the Miami skyline.

J.Lo sold the home in 2005 to businessman Mark Gainor, who told the Journal he spent three years renovating it. Against all odds, he removed the roof and reconfigured the second floor, including creating a roughly 1,000-square-foot master suite.

He kept the exterior’s charming villa style, but remade the inside for contemporary living with an elevator, a giant wine cellar, custom walk-in closets and a three-car garage.

Built for privacy and entertainment, the gated, 1.2-acre spread features a royal palm forest, a pool and spa, a summer kitchen and a cabana, plus a large new dock with a boat lift and double jet-ski lift.

The listing agent for the sale to Collins was Nelson Gonzalez of EWM Realty International, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate.


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8 Reasons Not to Set a Home Price High

Filed under: Buying, Selling

McKevin Shaughnessy/GettySetting a listing price too high above market value in hopes of getting a higher sales price for your home can backfire.

By Laura Agadoni

One goal when you’re selling your house is to get as much money as possible. It can be tempting to overprice. There’s always a chance you might score big. Right?

Technically, yes. But that doesn’t mean testing the market by setting your home’s price above what the house is worth is a good strategy. In fact, there are many reasons not to test the market this way.

1. You won’t get offers (but your neighbors might).

It’s great to be a good neighbor, but unintentionally sacrificing your sale to help your neighbors sell their homes might be going a bit far.

When you price too high, you’re “helping sell the other homes in the neighborhood that have listed for less,” says Brad Chandler, a Virginia real estate agent.

After seeing your high-priced home, buyers may be eager to get the better-value house nearby — even if they liked your home better.

2. You lose credibility.

Buyers are savvy. They’ve usually done the research and have a ballpark idea of what homes in your neighborhood are worth. When you price too high, people might decide not to even look at your property.

3. Not everyone likes to play “Let’s Make a Deal.”

A common reason sellers price high is that it leaves room for negotiation. The problem with this tactic? If buyers overlook your house because it’s out of their budget, there will be no one to negotiate with.

“While some buyers might enjoy the negotiation process, a solid buyer respects and appreciates a home priced just right,” says real estate broker Denise Panza.

4. You’re turning people into “yes men.”

Some sellers who price high are given false hope by agents who are uncomfortable telling their clients the truth.

“Beware of ‘sign agents,'” says Jerry Grodesky, an Illinois real estate broker. What’s a sign agent? Some agents may agree to any price you want just to get their sign on your lawn.

Roh Habibi, star of the TV show “Million Dollar Listing San Francisco,” says that some agents like the prestige of having a high-priced listing associated with their name.

Instead of listing at the inflated price, Habibi says, he gets sellers to “come to realistic expectations of what the home will likely sell for.”

5. You squander the early days.

Sellers are in the driver’s seat the first 30 days a house is on the market. The listing is still new, so you have buyers’ attention.

The ideal scenario is that you price to sell in the first two weeks, says David Feldberg, a California real estate broker. That way, you stand to get multiple offers.

“When you price a home too high, you waste some of the time [during which] you have the most leverage with any potential buyer,” says Feldberg.

6. Your house gets stale.

If your house is on the market longer than 30 days, buyers will start wondering whether something’s wrong with it.

“Real estate agents refer to this as a stale home,” says Texas real estate agent Sissy Lappin, co-founder of She adds, “When you price your home too high, all you’re doing is putting blood in the water for the sharks who will wait until you lower your price.”

And here’s the real problem: When you do drop the price, you often get less for your house than if you offered a realistic price from the start. California real estate agent Drew Nelson explains that the longer a house sits on the market “translates directly to a larger discount from list price to ultimate sales price.”

7. People won’t even see your listing.

People generally set up search parameters by price when looking online for a home.

Let’s say your house is worth $319,000, but you’re asking $330,000. You won’t capture buyers who search for houses within the $300,000 to $325,000 range.

“But if the house were priced properly, it would show up in the buyer’s search results,” says Troy Balakhan, a Florida real estate agent.

8. The house won’t appraise at the high price.If you’re selling to buyers who are getting a mortgage — in other words, most buyers — the lender will need an appraisal.

“If comparable home sales over the last six months and current market conditions don’t support your sales price, then your buyer won’t get the mortgage,” explains Lawrence Sanek, a Florida real estate agent.


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Rates Fall to 3.93% After Briefly Breaking 4% Barrier

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing

ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.93 percent, down 3 basis points from the same time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 4.01 percent last week before falling and then hovering around the current rate for the rest of the week.

“Rates retreated from their nine-month highs late last week as a new round of concerns emerged about Greece exiting the eurozone,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “This week there is the potential for a big rate move as markets focus on Wednesday’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting and a resolution of Greek debt negotiation, two forces that could push rates in opposite directions.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed rate was 3.05 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.93 percent.

Check Zillow Mortgages for trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.


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Mortgage Rates Jump Higher, Approaching 4%

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing

ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans rose this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.96 percent, up 18 basis points from the same time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 3.98 percent Friday, then hovered there before settling at the current rate on Tuesday.

“Rates jumped sharply last week — first on the heels of news that the European Central Bank’s bond buying program may end sooner than expected, then an exceptionally strong U.S. jobs report,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “We expect less volatility in this data-light week.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.09 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 3.01 percent.

Check Zillow Mortgages for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to figure monthly payments at the current rates.


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What a $1 Million Home Looks Like

Filed under: Buying, Lifestyle, Selling

ZillowThis six-bedroom home in the Buckhead area of Atlanta listed for $995,000 and has 5,300 square feet of living space.

By Sharona Ott

Television shows like “Million Dollar Listing” display some of the hottest listings in Los Angeles and New York, but what will a cool million buy around the rest of the country?

Plenty of noteworthy million-dollar homes for sale can be found outside of these two metropolises. Whether your taste leans toward modern marvels, restored historics, or opulent Mediterraneans, these million-dollar listings will give you a thrill.


4251 Perry St.
For sale: $950,000


Built in 2015, this four-bedroom, three-bath modern home is perfect for those looking for the hottest architectural trends of the moment.

See more homes listed in Denver.


3060 SW 4th Avenue
For sale: $999,500


Surrounded by lush foliage, this three-bedroom, 3.5-bath Mediterranean home feels like a European villa and is equipped with a coveted modern interior.

See more Miami homes for sale.


6405 Royal Lane
For sale: $975,000


This five-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom brick home is waiting for you to make it your castle — complete with an extravagant iron staircase, soaring ceilings, and landscaped backyard with a pool and spa.

See more homes listed in Dallas.


6245 Chatham Drive South
For sale: $998,000


If the luxurious interior and the lush exterior of this midcentury modern home are not enough, the views of Lake Washington, Mount Rainier and the city will win your heart.

See more Seattle homes for sale.


2215 Pillsbury Ave S
For sale: $999,900


Built by famed Minneapolis-based architect Harry Wild Jones, this three-story colonial revival is a gem, boasting modern updates and an in-ground pool.

See more homes for sale in Minneapolis.


5011 N Oakley Ave.
For sale: $999,000


This newly constructed four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home brings comfort to city living with an enormous high-end kitchen and a spacious back deck.

See more homes for sale in Chicago.


2914 Wyngate Drive NW
For sale: $995,000


Perched on almost an acre of land, this six-bedroom, five-bath estate evokes the essence of a bygone era, with a spiral staircase, elegant crown molding, and a tranquil sunroom.

See more Atlanta homes for sale.


2260 NE 30th Avenue
For sale: $989,000


This lovely five-bedroom, three-bath Tudor home is loaded with unique architectural details, including arches and mahogany woodwork.

See more homes listed in Portland.


5100 Piper Glen Drive
For sale: $999,000


The special features of this five-bedroom, 6.75-bathroom brick home include a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and a guest apartment with elevator access to all floors.

See more homes listed in Charlotte.

San Jose

1669 Curtner Avenue
For sale: $964,900


This three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home has a private courtyard entrance that leads to a completely remodeled interior with an open floor plan, with updates such as a large gourmet kitchen with high-end appliances.

See more homes for sale in San Jose.


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After the Bust: Retired and Still Saddled With a Mortgage

Filed under: Economy, Financing, Refinancing

Andrey Popov/GettyAbout 30 percent of homeowners 65 and older were paying a mortgage in 2013, up from 22 percent in 2001.

By Paul Wiseman
AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Al and Saundra Karp have found an unconventional way to raise money and help save their Miami-area home from foreclosure: They’re lining up gigs for their family jazz band.

They enjoy performing. But it isn’t exactly how Al, an 86-year-old Korean War vet, or Saundra, 76, had expected to spend their retirement.

Of all the financial threats facing Americans of retirement age — outliving savings, falling for scams, paying for long-term care — housing isn’t supposed to be one. But after a home-price collapse, the worst recession since the 1930s and some calamitous decisions to turn homes into cash machines, millions of them are straining to make house payments.

The consequences can be severe. Retirees who use retirement money to pay housing costs can face disaster if their health deteriorates or their savings run short. They’re more likely to need help from the government, charities or their children. Or they must keep working deep into retirement.

“It’s a big problem coming off the housing bubble,” says Cary Sternberg, who advises seniors on housing issues in The Villages, a Florida retirement community. “A growing number of seniors are struggling with what to do about their home and their mortgage and their retirement.”

The baby boom generation was already facing a retirement crunch: Over the past two decades, employers have largely eliminated traditional pensions, forcing workers to manage their retirement savings. Many boomers didn’t save enough, invested badly or raided their retirement accounts.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office for Older Americans says 30 percent of homeowners 65 and older (6.5 million people) were paying a mortgage in 2013, up from 22 percent in 2001. Federal Reserve numbers show the share of people 75 and older carrying home loans jumped from 8 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2011.

What’s more, the median mortgage held by Americans 65 and older has more than doubled since 2001 — to $88,000 from $43,400, the financial protection bureau says.

In markets hit hardest by the housing bust, a substantial share of older Americans are stuck with mortgages that exceed their home’s value. In Atlanta, it’s 23 percent of homeowners 50 and older, according to the real-estate research firm Zillow. In Las Vegas, it’s 26 percent.

In the worst cases, hundreds of thousands of older Americans have lost homes to foreclosure. A 2012 study by the AARP found that 1.5 million Americans 50 and older lost homes between 2007 and 2011.

In mid-2010, Tod Lindner lost his oceanfront home in California’s Marin County. He ran into trouble after the finance company that employed him was acquired and the new owners refused to pay him fees he contended he was owed.

Lindner had bought the house for $330,000 in the late 1980s. But he’d refinanced to pull out money to invest, swelling the mortgage to $680,000. Lindner tried to work out a modified mortgage, but his bank foreclosed instead. He and his wife sought bankruptcy protection, rented an apartment and slashed their spending.

“At age 70, I just started working for another company” in banking, Lindner says. “My plan would have been to retire.”

Seniors fell into housing trouble in varying ways. Some lost jobs. Some overpaid for homes during the housing boom, thinking they could cash in later.

Prices crashed instead.

Some made unwise decisions to refinance mortgages and pull cash out of their homes to meet unexpected costs, help their children or embark on spending sprees.

Jim, 67, and LaRue Carnes, 63, moved to Sacramento, California, in 1978 and bought a house for $54,000. For 33 years, Jim worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. They refinanced their mortgage several times and pulled money out of the house and took on higher mortgage payments. “Foolishly, like so many Americans, we used the house as a bank,” LaRue says.

In 2011, Jim was laid off, and the couple fell behind on mortgage payments. Three times, they dipped into retirement savings to fend off foreclosure. Eventually, with a $25,000 grant from a state program, Keep Your Home California, they negotiated a new mortgage they could afford.

Still, they’re still struggling. Once a month, they eat free breakfast at a church, bringing home bagels and fruit. They “never thought we would be partaking of such,” LaRue says.

The Karps, the Florida couple with the family jazz band, bought their three-bedroom home in North Miami Beach, Florida, for $77,000 in 1980. They refinanced, partly to pay down credit-card debt, and their mortgage swelled to $288,000.

Al kept working as a tax accountant into his late 70s. But Alzheimer’s disease forced him into retirement.

The couple is getting by on about $2,500 a month in Social Security and Veterans Administration benefits, plus food stamps and help from their two sons. They stopped paying the mortgage and are fighting foreclosure in court.

To ease the stress and earn some cash, they perform old musical standards as the Karp Family — Saundra on vocals, Al on sax, son Larry on keyboards.

“I’m trying desperately to stay here,” Saundra says. As for Al: “He thinks the mortgage is paid. He hasn’t got a clue.”


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Stephen Curry vs. LeBron: Who Has the Real ‘Home’ Advantage?

Filed under: Celebrity Homes

ASSOCIATED PRESSCleveland’s LeBron James, left, already has won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat. Stephen Curry is seeking his first.

It’s a dream matchup for the NBA, but who wins in the game of real estate? On the basketball court, instant replays may help make the call, but in the real estate arena, there are no rules. And when it comes to professional ballers LeBron James and Stephen Curry, it’s not just an all-out battle in the NBA Finals — it’s also a war for the real estate crown.

In the spirit of competition, we took a look at which hoops star has the more stunning mansion.

For Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, home in California is a luxurious house in the Bay Area suburb of Orinda featuring five bedrooms and 4.5 baths, with a true splash of Spanish flair. Curry reportedly bought the spread in August 2013, dropping $3.1 million on the hot hacienda with a red roof.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ “King James” built a home in his Ohio hometown of Akron so large, he probably needs to whip out his Benz to get from one side to the other. The six-bedroom home, which features eight full baths and six half baths, is the ultimate party pad.

Kitchen: Rustic vs. Transitional

TruliaStephen Curry’s kitchen features a brick fireplace, rustic tile floors, a large island and exposed wood beams.

Curry’s kitchen, above, boasts wood-beamed ceilings, a toasty brick fireplace, and a spacious island where Stephen (or, let’s get real, the family’s private chef) cooks up healthy meals to give the point guard his superpowers on the court. via TruliaThe kitchen in LeBron James’ Akron home is decidedly more modern, with lots of stainless steel and sleek cabinetry.

Meanwhile, James’ stainless steel kitchen, above, is complemented with wood paneling and a circular island with bar stools.

Winner: Curry. His kitchen has more character.

Grounds: Expansive vs. Luxurious via TruliaLeBron James’ estate sits on seven acres, though land is typically far less expensive in Ohio than in California.

Located on almost seven acres, James’ 30,000-square-foot palace, above, is basically a castle plopped in the middle of Ohio. Not only are there several roads leading to the actual estate, but James also has his very own basketball court. And if you take a look at the aerial photos, you’ll notice some sort of garden maze, which every NBA star obviously needs.

TruliaStephen Curry’s Spanish-style California home sits on less than an acre of prime Northern California real estate.

Curry’s property, above, is only .68 acre, which for us normal folk is nothing to sneeze at, but in comparison to James’ palace, it looks about as exciting as a studio apartment.

Winner: James. Because size does matter.

Man Caves: Ritzy vs. Subtle via TruliaLeBron’s man cave has some South Florida style but the married father of three probably lets the kids play in it too.

James takes the cake when it comes to hanging out. He has a pool table and sports activities bar, above, but the room itself is bigger than some actual sports bars. His whole team went over for Thanksgiving last year, which clearly indicates that people are clamoring to get into his pad.

TruliaStephen Curry’s place looks ready for family time with wife Ayesha, daughter Riley and some friends, not nightlife.

Curry’s home isn’t exactly the type for wild parties, but he could certainly have one killer dinner party on that beautiful back patio, above, with its lush landscaping and canopy of trees. You know, in case he’s into that kind of thing.

Winner: James. He’s got the party pad.

Bedrooms: Romantic vs. We Can Only Guess

TruliaCurry’s bedroom has a balcony, another fireplace and more of the Spanish motif present throughout the home.

Curry’s master bedroom has a killer view from the outdoor balcony, and the white fireplace looks great next to the wood-beamed ceilings.

No word on what James’ bedroom looks like, but we imagine there’s some sort of extra-long, circular revolving bed that operates via remote control.

Winner: Curry. Few things could top that view.

Bathrooms: Gilded Luxury vs. Chic Simplicity via TruliaThe master bath is just one of 14 bathrooms in LeBron James’ home, including eight full baths.

James’ master bath, above, is truly the lap of luxury. The spacious tub is extra-deep, and even has additional space around it, which he must love when he decides to sit back in a hot bubble bath.

TruliaThis bathroom in Stephen Curry’s home features a spacious shower with multiple shower heads.

But we’re partial to Curry’s classic bathroom, above, featuring dark hardwood floors and a curved entryway into the giant shower.

Winner: Curry. Just for the shower.

Ultimate champion: If you’re looking for the ultraluxe life, James’ Akron pad is certainly the more gilded of the two. But Curry’s Spanish-style beauty is a winner when it comes to having unique character that doesn’t give off a party vibe.

LeBron James images courtesy of via Trulia.


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Mortgage Rates Remain Flat at 3.78%, But Volatility Likely

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing

ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.78 percent, down 1 basis point from the same time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 3.74 percent for most of the week before rising to the current rate Tuesday.

“Rates were largely flat last week, but we don’t expect this recent stability to continue,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “Rates should be more volatile this week as markets watch developments in Greece and Friday’s jobs report.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.93 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.80 percent.

Check Zillow Mortgages for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments.


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How to Invest in Real Estate Without Buying Property

Filed under: Economy, Investing

Anthony Rosenberg/GettyReal Estate Investment Trusts are a way to invest in real estate without having a mortgage or managing property.

By Kira Brecht

Concerns about the potential impact of higher interest rates have sent real estate investment trusts on a roller coaster ride this year, after chalking up double-digit gains in 2014. Despite their recent fickle behavior, however, this asset class belongs in the diversified portfolios of long-term investors, experts say. What’s more, the volatility could provide a buying opportunity.

A REIT is simply a company that owns or finances income-producing real estate. Most REITs are traded on major stock exchanges, and investors can purchase a share of the REIT just as they would any other stock. One major draw of REITs is that they provide investors with a regular income stream, as they typically pay out their taxable income as dividends to shareholders.

In the low interest-rate environment that has prevailed in recent years, income investors have turned to REITs to generate potentially higher rates of return than more traditional income-generating investments, such as Treasury bills or certificates of deposit. In 2014, the FTSE NAREIT All Equity REITs Index gained an eye-popping 28 percent. But so far this year through May 28, the index is down 0.32 percent, erasing an 8.8 percent gain in January.

“REITs are about the only game in town if you are looking for strong yield,” says Brad Case, senior vice president at the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, an industry association group. Even compared with stocks, the dividend yield for equity REITs is favorable at 3.61 percent, versus a 2 percent dividend yield on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index through April 30.

This spring, REIT shares sold off amid concerns over whether an increase in interest rates will hurt REIT prices, Case says, adding that it’s a common misconception that REITs perform like bonds. Real estate is a separate asset class from stocks and bonds, and investing in REITs offers an opportunity to diversify your portfolio with exposure to the real estate sector.

Here are three reasons to consider adding REITs to your portfolio.

REITs typically perform well when interest rates are going up. “With bonds, when interest rates go up, bond values go down. But for REITs, when interest rates go up because the economy is strengthening, you have higher rent growth and higher occupancy rates, which means higher income from buying real estate,” Case says.

Looking back over the previous 16 periods of rising interest rates, Case notes that REIT returns were “positive in 12 of those periods and strongly positive in nine of 12.” He highlights the June 2005-June 2006 period as a time when interest rates were rising in response to a growing economy. From June 2, 2005, to June 26, 2006, 10-year Treasury yields climbed from 3.89 percent to 5.25 percent, while REITs gained 20.7 percent during that period.

REITs complement a well-diversified portfolio. “Long-term investors seeking to construct and maintain a well-diversified portfolio should invest in REITs to gain exposure to an important asset class that is otherwise difficult to access,” says Michael Knott, managing director of Green Street Advisors, a Newport Beach, California, real estate research and advisory firm. “REITs are the best way to achieve real estate-like returns and the benefits of diversification to one’s portfolio.”

For investors who don’t have exposure to real estate, now may be a good time to consider adding an allocation, Knott says. He recommends a target of 5 percent to 15 percent for most investors.

“Despite the recent volatility, REIT valuations are more attractive than earlier in the year,” wrote Mark Litzerman, co-head of real estate strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in a May research report. “Investors may want to consider taking advantage of potential opportunities to add to underweighted portfolios.”


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A New Look, a New Life and a New Home for Caitlyn Jenner

Filed under: Celebrity Homes

ZillowThe four-bedroom, four-bath home has panoramic ocean and mountain views, plus 11 acres of hilltop privacy.

By Melissa Allison

The Jenner formerly known as Bruce — now Caitlyn has taken a page from her daughters and bought her own Southern California pad.

AFP/Getty ImagesJenner posed for Annie Leibovitz and cover of Vanity Fair.

The former Olympian — and former spouse to Kardashian matriarch Kris — dropped more than $3.5 million on an 11-acre spread in Malibu with 360-degree views of the ocean, mountains and canyons, as first reported by Variety.

The four-bedroom, four-bath home sounds plenty cozy, with radiant-heated floors plus multiple fireplaces, inside and out. There’s a covered patio, swimming pool and spa, and a downstairs area that could be used as a gym, office or guest quarters.

Jenner’s teenage daughters, Kendall and Kylie, reportedly also have spent millions in recent months on their own homes in the Los Angeles area.

Brant Didden of 4 Malibu Real Estate represented both buyer and seller.


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