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Millennials buying cheap old homes to escape pandemic cages

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Millennials buying cheap old homes to escape pandemic cages

NORWICH, Conn. – American millennials with budget constraints are breaking out of their pandemic coops to find affordable dream homes in far-flung places.

For funeral home director Kate Reinhart, from Utah, that dream is an octagonal Victorian that recalls the macabre Addams Family mansion seen in cartoons, films and a TV series.

It helped that her scientist husband Cameron found his first job near Norwich, Connecticut, a town with one of the largest concentrations of 18th- and early 19th-century houses in New England.

For just $85,000 the couple bought the 1885 house replete with stained glass, artisanal light fixtures and winding banisters. They plan to put some $100,000 into a massive renovation.

“I do feel like we appreciate it more now during the pandemic to have more space to ourselves,” Kate said. “People are more self-conscious about being on top of each other in tiny apartment buildings. In New York City, people are fleeing to here.”

The trend is clear from visits to CheapOldHouses, a website founded by Elizabeth Finkelstein in 2016 to promote the purchase and preservation of historical houses.

Followers of the site’s Instagram account have steadily doubled every week since U.S. pandemic lockdowns began in March, to about 20,000, she said. About 42% are aged 25-34, and about 75% are women.

“The mantra of real estate has always been ‘location, location, location.’ For the first time that’s being flipped a little bit on its head,” Finkelstein said. “We are living in a time when people are willing to kind of take risks, maybe risks that they’ve been wanting to take their whole life.”

Homes on CheapOldHouses.com tend to be in the U.S. Midwest, South and Rust Belt, where many sell for less than $100,000. Houses that cost more in North America, Europe and elsewhere are also listed in Finkelstein’s monthly newsletter.

“We feature homes people can realistically buy, but also use their hands on as opposed to sitting in a cubicle all day long,” she said.

A net 70,000 people left the New York metropolitan region in 2020, resulting in roughly $34 billion in lost income, estimated Unacast, a location analytics provider.

More millennials may leave big cities even after the pandemic is over, Finkelstein said.

“With so many offices going remote, people have more opportunity to just say, ‘maybe I don’t need to be paying more than half my income in rent. And I can, I can take that leap.’”

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Grindr founder Joel Simkhai buys Gramercy penthouse

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Grindr founder Joel Simkhai buys Gramercy penthouse

There will be plenty of room to entertain at this newly sold Gramercy Park penthouse, which graces the top of The Tower, at 215 E. 19th St.

We hear the buyer is Grindr founder Joel Simkhai, who sold his hook-up app in 2018 for around $245 million.

The unit was asking $29.5 million — and had been on the market a mere 30 days.

The 7,000-square-foot behemoth comes with five bedrooms, 6½ bathrooms and a sprawling 5,680-square-foot private, landscaped roof terrace with panoramic city views.

There’s also a full outdoor kitchen, with a gas barbeque grill, a wet bar, a fireplace, ipe wood decking, a lounge and room for a plunge pool.

Inside, the home features a great room with 18-foot ceilings and glass windows, and an open chef’s kitchen.

Building amenities include the Gramercy Club, which features a gym, spa, pool, residents’ lounge, dining room, children’s playroom and a “tween” room. (Good luck with that one, if left unsupervised!)

Last year, Simkhai listed his LA home, at 7100 La Presa Dr. above the Sunset Strip in the Outpost Estates, for $9.95 million. (He had bought it for $10.5 million in 2017).

The dating app tech-entrepreneur then bought a bigger home for $13 million in the Hollywood Hills, according to Variety. 

The penthouse’s listing broker, Douglas Elliman’s Richard Steinberg, declined to comment. 

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‘Ned Ryerson’ of ‘Groundhog Day’ lands a historic townhouse in Brooklyn

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'Ned Ryerson' of 'Groundhog Day' lands a historic townhouse in Brooklyn

Someone sure has a sense of humor.

A Brooklyn Heights landmarked townhouse at 109 State St. first went on the market last June for $5.75 million. It just closed for $4.25 million, according to city property records.

But according to public records, “the buyer” is listed as “Ned Ryerson, LLC.” Ned, for any non-Bill Murray aficionados — if they exist — is the annoying insurance salesman in the COVID-appropriate film, “Groundhog Day,” which had become a sort of rallying cry for many during the worst days of lockdown.

The true buyer it turns out is none other than Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of CollegeHumor.com.

He is currently the head of global creative strategy at Facebook — and the ex-husband of actress Allison Williams.

The 25-foot-wide, three-story corner townhouse is 4,600 square feet. It is currently operating as a five-family home and comes with nine bedrooms and five bathrooms — but is ripe to revert to its former 19th-century single family mansion status.

The home features oak floors, original marble decorative mantels, woodburning fireplaces and plastered recessed doorways. There’s also a private garden  and terrace.

Listing broker Angie Boudourakis, of Daniel Gale Assoc., declined to comment. 

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Real Estate

Best celebrity homes at Golden Globes 2021: Bill Murray wins

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Kate Hudson House

Awards season is offering a rare glimpse into stars’ lives this year — or at least into their living rooms.

The Golden Globes ceremony is usually held at the Beverly Hilton hotel, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, only Amy Poehler hosted on location on Sunday for the 2021 ceremony while co-host Tina Fey held down the fort from the Rainbow Room in New York City.

Other stars called in from their living rooms, hotels and even friends’ houses — like Jason Bateman, who streamed from BFF Jennifer Aniston’s home.

Check out a few of the top celebrity houses as seen on Zoom. Judging by fans’ reactions, Bill Murray’s house wins for the best background.

Bill Murray

Near Los Angeles

Bill Murray stole the evening in a tropical Hawaiian button down, martini in hand, with what appears to be the Los Angeles skyline behind him. A large tree and a green lawn stretch away from a windowed wall at his back.
A large tree and a green lawn stretch away from a windowed wall at Murray’s back.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Bill Murray stole the evening in a tropical Hawaiian button-down shirt, martini in hand, with what appears to be the Los Angeles skyline behind him. A large tree and a green lawn stretch away from a windowed wall at his back.

Fans wanted to know more about the sprawling property in the background, but that remains a mystery. Property records only show that the 70-year-old “On the Rocks” actor owns homes in Malibu and Valley Center, south of Los Angeles. Neither of these properties appears to have views of Los Angeles, though.

Jason Bateman

Jennifer Aniston’s Bel Air, California, house

Jason Bateman was nominated for best performance by an actor in a television series, drama.
Jason Bateman was nominated for best performance by an actor in a television drama series.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Jason Bateman was nominated for best performance by an actor in a television drama series — and he videoed into the Golden Globes from his pal Jennifer Aniston’s house, her Instagram Story shows.

Aniston’s library has dark brown built-in wooden shelves with recessed lighting featuring books and knickknacks in a curated red-colored palette.

Aniston bought the 8,500-square-foot house in 2011.
Aniston bought the 8,500-square-foot house in 2011.
realtor.com

From behind a ring light, Bateman’s laptop is visible resting on a stack of books atop a gorgeous round wood table. He sits on Aniston’s tufted chairs, and underneath his feet is a faded blue-and-white Anastasia rug.

Jennifer Aniston, 51, lives in the $21 million Bel Air mansion where she married her ex-husband Justin Theroux, 49, in 2015.
Jennifer Aniston, 52, lives in the $21 million Bel Air mansion where she married her ex-husband Justin Theroux, 49, in 2015.
realtor.com

Also on the table is a floral arrangement and Aniston’s own family pictures, including photos of her parents and one of her dogs. Aniston’s library also has a Lindsey Adelman branching bubble chandelier, a Robert Motherwell painting and a Jean Royère polar bear sofa, according to an Architectural Digest report.

 Her home is designed with warm wood, stone and bronze.
Her home is designed with warm wood, stone and bronze.
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Aniston’s InstaStory also shows her boyfriend Will Speck using a paint-by-number frog painting canvas as a bounce card for the 52-year-old “Ozark” star and his two daughters, Francesca, 14, and Maple, 9. Speck, Aniston and Bateman are known for their collaboration on Paramount’s 2016 film “Office Christmas Party.”

Bateman videoed into the Golden Globes from his pal Jennifer Aniston’s house.
Bateman videoed into the Golden Globes from his pal Jennifer Aniston’s house.
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Aniston, 51, bought her $21 million, 500-square-foot Bel Air house in 2011. It has Asian-inspired pocket gardens, terraces, city and ocean views and an outdoor pool. Her home is designed with warm wood, stone and bronze, according to the listing.

Kate Hudson

Pacific Palisades home

Kate Hudson's home is right next to her childhood home in Pacific Palisades.
Kate Hudson’s home is right next to her childhood home in Pacific Palisades.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Hudson, 41, was nominated for best actress, motion picture comedy or musical, for her role in Sia’s controversial film “Music.”

Even though Rosamund Pike won the award for her performance in “I Care A Lot,” it was Hudson’s couch that stole the stage.

Hudson appears to be streaming from her 6,431-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Hudson appeared to be streaming from her 6,431-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The gorgeous embroidered couch features red and gold tree branches, birds and flowers.

Hudson’s mother Goldie Hawn, 75, and at least a dozen other friends and family piled onto the couch with her during the ceremony.

Green velvet curtains hang in the background, and a projector screen hangs off-camera, so Hudson can watch the ceremony.

Hudson, 41, was nominated for best actress, motion picture comedy or musical, for her role in Sia’s controversial film “Music.”

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Kate Hudson House

Hudson appears to be streaming from her 6,431-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

realtor.com

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Hudson appears to have streamed from her 6,431-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Hudson’s home is right next to the house she grew up in with her mother. The Country English-style home has a garden, a pool, a playhouse and canyon views, according to the Realtor.com listing.

Anya-Taylor Joy

Los Angeles hotel

Anya famously “doesn’t have a home,” and actually shot from a hotel room.
Anya famously “doesn’t have a home,” and actually shot from a hotel room.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Anya Taylor-Joy won best actress in a limited series, TV movie, for her hit Netflix TV show “Queen’s Gambit.”

But Taylor-Joy famously “doesn’t have a home,” and actually shot from an unspecified hotel room in Los Angeles, where she is shooting a new David O. Russell film. Her fiancé Eoin Macken also lives in Los Angeles.

Photos from her stylist’s Instagram reveal that it is an old-Hollywood-style hotel with art deco green patterned carpeting and ornate wrought iron handrails. Huge red marble pillars topped with decorative gold capitals flank a curtained-off stage, and super-tall windows and ceiling-high mirrors stretch up to high vaulted ceilings.

Inside the dimly-lit hotel room, Taylor-Joy sat on a white couch with a houndstooth pillow. Behind her was an art deco mirror surrounded by a four-layered wooden frame.

A grey table with a criss-cross fabric front holds a simple table lamp with a semi-clear base and a white shade. A large leafy plant stretched into Taylor-Joy’s shot along with a bouquet of white roses. Behind the white wall seen on camera is a dark brown wall.

Tiffany, which supplied Taylor-Joy’s jewelry, also gave glimpses into the hotel room, showing Los Angeles skyline views on a balcony or rooftop terrace.

Simone Ledward

Los Angeles home

Ledward's gold dress perfectly matched flecks of gold in the decor.
Simone Ledward’s gold dress perfectly matched flecks of gold in the decor.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Simone Ledward, the wife of the late Chadwick Boseman, accepted an award for best actor in a motion picture, drama on his behalf. The 43-year-old “Black Panther” star died of colon cancer in August.

She sat on a white crushed velvet couch with a white pillow patterned with soft florals. Three modern paintings with gold frames hung behind her, perfectly matching her gold dress. Next to her sat a blacktop wooden table with a black-and-gold lamp, photos show.

Ledward is originally from Los Angeles, and the pair lived there together until Boseman passed away this summer. It is not clear if she joined the awards ceremony from her own house or somewhere else. 

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