Congratulations to our good friend and client Dr. Thomas Yue for his feature in The Wall Street Journal's article, "Hardcore Home Collectors." Featured in the story are Dr. Yue's homes on Oahu's beautiful North Shore, the Waimea Point Residence and the Waimea Three Tables Residence. Dr. Yue also talks about his two most recent purchases in the highly anticipated Ward Village Anaha towers.
Read the full article, with Dr. Yue's section in bold, below or online here:
"Hardcore Home Collectors"
By Katy McLaughlin, Aug. 18, 2016 9:30 a.m. ET
Self-diagnosed house addicts like Ben Stein are a rare category of buyers who acquire homes out of a love of real estate rather than a practical need
Some people collect wine or paintings. Others like stamps or model trains. Then there’s Ben Stein, a writer, actor and economist, and his wife, Alexandra Denman: They collect homes.
The couple owns 13. They’ve got a house in Beverly Hills and one in Malibu, plus two West Hollywood condominiums. Then there are two Washington, D.C., apartments, a house in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and a condo to boot. And there are others.
Though an economist by trade, Mr. Stein said his investments—none of which are rented out—don’t represent a cagey financial plan. Instead, it’s a syndrome: “I would say I’m a house addict,” Mr. Stein joked.
Self-diagnosed house addicts are a rare category of property buyers who acquire homes not necessarily to rent them out, flip them or because they need a place to stay. They do it for the thrill of the purchase and the fantasy a new home can inspire. In some cases, multiple home buyers come out on top financially. In other cases, their proclivity for property has dismal financial consequences.
Many well-off Americans own more than one home: The 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances from the Federal Reserve showed that just under 40% of respondents in the top 10 percentile of income owned at least one second home. World-wide, people with at least $30 million in assets have an average of 2.9 properties, according to a report published last year by global research firm Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty. The world’s 2,479 billionaires have an average of four homes apiece.
True house collectors easily blow past the averages.
Robby Browne, a real-estate agent with Corcoran Group in Manhattan, owns four apartments in a building on Central Park West, and one unit in another park-side building one block away. He is currently shedding a West Village apartment, which is on the market for $5.35 million, only to buy another one, which is in contract for $6.5 million. He also spent roughly $1.5 million building a house in Bridgehampton, N.Y., near the beach.
Some of Mr. Browne’s acquisitions have been very lucrative, while others demonstrate that passion, not profit, is the guiding force. Comparable units to one he owns on Central Park West currently sell for about three times what he paid for it, and he makes $18,000 a month renting it out, he said.
His four apartments in one building seem less logical: He lives in one, uses another for guests, and has two small units—under 100 square feet each—that he uses for storage, he said.
The West Village apartments represent his long-held ambition to move downtown—“but in the end I can never bring myself to,” said Mr. Browne. After realizing he couldn’t face the move, he leased the unit he is selling. He still hasn’t decided if he’ll move into or rent out the new one.
Mr. Browne said he has almost always made money on the 22 properties he has bought and sold over the past 30 years, though not as much as he would have if he’d invested in gentrifying parts of Brooklyn or Queens.