A newspaper that fact checked a dubious real estate report, a female empowerment lesson that is better than “Barbie” and a wristwatch inspired by a legendary hotel. From the wild and woolly world of real estate, here are the hits and misses for this week.
Hit: News Coverage Done Correctly. Praise is given to Florida’s Palm Beach Daily News for being the rare news organization that bothers to get its facts straight. Ahead of former President Donald Trump’s arraignment in Atlanta, a British tabloid reported on a Zillow listing that claimed Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach was sold on Aug. 4 for $422 million. The tabloid speculated the buyer was the former presidents’ son, Donald Trump Jr. Rather than rerun the story, the Palm Beach Daily News did its own research through property records and state business findings but could not locate anything to confirm the alleged sale. In the wake of these facts, Zillow quietly deleted the information about a sale from its website and the tabloid quickly rewrote its coverage. For the record, the Trump property is still owned by Mar-a-Lago Club Inc., which acquired the estate in 1995 for $12 million. That organization is headed by Donald Trump Jr., who assumed corporate leadership three days after his father was inaugurated in January 2017.
Miss: The Young Buyers. A Zillow data report from earlier this week found half of all homebuyers are purchasing their first home, up from 45% last year and 37% two years ago. Nearly half of first-time buyers are millennials (49%), while Gen Z adults account for nearly one-quarter (27%) of the property purchasers. While it should be encouraging to see so many younger people pursuing homeownership, this situation is a Miss rather than a Hit because it is happening by default and not design. Zillow’s senior population scientist Manny Garcia observed, “High mortgage rates and a shortage of inventory is keeping would-be repeat buyers in their current homes. A greater relative share of first-time buyers is filling the gap, and they’re competing against each other for the limited number of affordable starter homes on the market.”
Hit: A Story That’s Better Than “Barbie”. This summer, it feels like “Barbie” is everywhere you look – even on the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) blog. But NAR isn’t promoting the Margot Robbie romp. Instead, blogger Dina Cheney offers an invigorating reminder that you don’t need a pink-hued movie to appreciate female empowerment – Cheney highlights how the real estate profession has enabled women to succeed and prosper in the business world. “The 2023 NAR Member Profile shows that 62% of all NAR members are female, and that’s far from a recent phenomenon,” Cheney writes. “Since 1978, women have surpassed men as a percentage of NAR’s total membership.” Now, when is Hollywood going to make a Margot Robbie movie about success female real estate brokers?
Miss: Burning Down the House (Not): President Biden was pried out of his second vacation in a month – this time, at the $18 million Lake Tahoe estate of a Democratic Party donor – to make a four-hour visit to Maui, two weeks after a wildfire devastated the historic town of Lahaina and left 115 confirmed dead and nearly 400 unaccounted for. Biden sought to evoke a personal bond with the tragedy’s survivors by recalling a fire at his Delaware home in 2004, claiming, “I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat” while adding that firefighters “ran into flames to save my wife, to save my family. Not a joke.” No, not a joke – and not the truth, either. An Associated Press report covering the 2004 incident referred to it only as “small fire that was contained to the kitchen,” with the local fire chief adding it was put out in 20 minutes without any great threat to human life. Biden’s wife and cat were never in harm’s way – nor was the Corvette, unless Biden was in the habit of parking his car in the kitchen.
Hit: The Wright Time. The timepiece manufacturer Bulova has a unique new wristwatch that celebrates the centennial of the opening of the fabled Tokyo Imperial Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The company’s new limited-edition watch – there are only 1,000 pieces being created – features the geometric peacock detail that permeated the hotel’s distinctive Maya Revival architecture style. The hotel gained international attention for withstanding much of the brunt of the devastating Tokyo earthquake on Sept. 1, 2023, that destroyed large sections of the Japanese capital. While Wright’s hotel was demolished in 1967 – it suffered damage during World War II and was later replaced with a much larger property – it retains a legendary status in architecture history. The new watch is featured in the photo at the top of this article and it is part of Bulova’s Frank Lloyd Wright collection, which offers timepieces inspired by his masterful designs.