The Puget Sound area — the main ports of which are Seattle, Bremerton, and Tacoma — is suffering from a housing inventory shortage that is driving up prices. The median price of houses and condos in King County, which encompasses Seattle, was nearly $364,900 in January, 17 percent higher than the previous year, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported. And according to a report by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, there is only a 1.8-month supply of houses and condos for sale in the county, a stark contrast to northeastern Washington, where there is a 50-month supply. Other counties in the Puget Sound area reported similarly low numbers that dip below the four- to six-month supply necessary for a balanced market, industry analysts told the Puget Sound Business Journal.
The fate of two casino proposals lies with whether or not the city of Boston qualifies as a “host community” under Massachusetts’ 2011 casino law. The law says a designated “host community” has the power to either approve or reject casino projects through a neighborhood vote. There are two projects in question proposed for communities just north of Boston. One is a plan from Wynn resorts for a casino in Everett, and the other is for a casino in Revere from Mohegan Sun, the Boston Globe reported. Last month, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh stated that the city is unequivocally a host community, and cited the fact that both casino projects will rely heavily on Boston’s transportation services and other infrastructure. The Massachusetts gambling commission will take about a month to determine whether Boston qualifies, although the mayor questioned the commission’s power to do so. If Boston gains designated host status, the proposed casino projects will actually most likely be voted down according to the Globe. Citizens of Everett and Revere already voted to approve the plans.
Airbnb and VRBO hosts are facing fines and eviction if they’re accused of illegally operating hotels under San Francisco’s ban on all residential rentals of fewer than 30 days. The law resembles New York City’s law against short-term rentals, which states that any permanent residential apartment with three units or more that is rented for fewer than 30 days to transient visitors is considered illegal hotel activity. The San Francisco law bans any residential rental of fewer than 30 days unless the hosts have a conditional-use permit. The law applies to both hosts who own their units and those who rent them, and regardless of whether guests visit frequently or not, SFGate reported. As a result, Airbnb-related evictions are increasing, and the city’s enforcement of the law is becoming more active. San Francisco is among a number of cities that are now forced to rethink laws, as concerns arise out of temporary housing sites like Airbnb and VRBO, which have become increasingly popular. Meanwhile, in an attempt to assuage concerns over illegal-hotel activity in cities like San Francisco and New York City, Airbnb has decided to start collecting hotel taxes from its hosts.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to increase the number of annual visitors to Chicago’s O’Hare airport to 55 million by 2020, and a recent renovation of the airport’s International Terminal is one step toward that goal. The $26 million renovation brought over two dozen new stores and restaurants to the terminal — a marked change from the International Terminal’s previous condition, which a city official called “obsolete,” DNAinfo Chicago reported. “More tourism means more visitors, means more jobs, means more business,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin at the unveiling of the rebuilt Terminal Five. In addition to boosting sales at the airport, the project generated 184 permanent jobs at the new stores and restaurants and 180 construction jobs. Among the newly opened stores is a 10,000-square-foot duty-free shop, a Salvatore Ferragamo store and O’Hare’s first spa.
Elvis Presley’s one-time 5,500-square-foot pad has hit the market for $9.5 million. The King rented the four-bedroom, 5-bath home for a year in 1966, and after marrying Priscilla Presley in 1967, the couple spent their honeymoon there. The Palm Springs estate includes a pool, stage, private garden and tennis court and comes complete with a variety of Elvis memorabilia.
Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster once again put her 6,000-square-foot Hollywood Hills West home on the market for $5.75 million. The “Silence of the Lambs” star listed the four-bedroom, four-bath Spanish-style villa, purchased in 1995, for $6.4 million last spring, but took it off the market during the holiday season.
Oprah Winfrey dropped $10.85 million for 60 acres of land in Mountain Village, an area close to Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado, making it the largest property in the village. Winfrey plans to build a home on the site, though there are restrictions that limit the amount of building on the parcel of land.