12 Insane (But Completely True) Real Estate Facts and Events

by | BiggerPockets.com

Most of us are familiar with the business of house flipping, being a landlord, and wholesaling real estate—but most of us don’t think much about the major role real estate has played in much of the world’s history and cultural events.

There are some CRAZY things that have happened (and continue to happen) in the real estate business.

Don’t believe me? Check out some of these fun facts below, and you’ll see what I mean!

12 Insane (But Completely True) Real Estate Facts and Events

1. When the Eiffel Tower was constructed, the designer included a secret apartment for himself at the very top.

Fact via Atlas Obscura / Image via Unsplash


Related: 5 Unconventional (& Possibly Crazy) Tips for Real Estate Investing Success

2. Mark Zuckerberg purchased four houses next to his home in Palo Alto and leased them back to the families that lived there. He did it to avoid the houses from being marketed as “next door to Mark Zuckerberg.”

Fact via The Mercury News / Image via Flickr

3. Monica’s apartment from the hit TV show Friends is estimated to be worth $3.5 million.

Fact via Friends.Wikia / Image via Unsplash

4. Since the Empire State Building was opened during the Great Depression, much of its space initially went unrented. As a result, many New Yorkers referred to the building as the “Empty State Building.”

Fact via Wikipedia / Image via Unsplash

5. In Tunisia, Africa, you can book an overnight stay in Luke Skywalker’s boyhood home for only $10.

Fact via BuzzBuzzHome / Image via Wikimedia

6. Adolf Hitler once owned a Hollywood mansion that he never stepped foot in.

Fact via LA Weekly / Image via Unsplash


Related: 6 Insane Landlording Stories That Prove the Importance of Tenant Screening

7. Despite its free market image, all the land in Singapore is owned by the government, and 85% of housing is provided by a government-owned housing corporation.

Fact via HuffPost / Image via Unsplash

8. MS The World is the largest privately owned residential yacht on earth. It has 165 private residences and is constantly traveling around the world.

Fact via Wikipedia / Image via Unsplash

9. Mike Ilitch (owner of Little Caesars and the Detroit Tigers) quietly paid Rosa Park’s rent for more than a decade after she was robbed in her home and forced to move to a safer, but more expensive part of Detroit.

Fact via Sports Business Daily / Image via Wikimedia

10. In Japan, most houses depreciate in value. Half of all houses are demolished within 38 years, and there is virtually no market for pre-owned homes. Per capita, there are nearly four times as many architects and more than twice as many construction workers in Japan as the United States.

Fact via Freakonomics / Image via Unsplash

11. In several major cities like London, Toronto, New York, and elsewhere around the world, there are entire buildings and developments that exist solely for the purpose of hiding vent shafts, utilities, cell phone towers, railways, and simply to give off the “illusion of occupation.”

Fact via Web Urbanist / Image via Unsplash

12. From 1908-1940, Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold about 70,000-75,000 mail-order houses. They arrived as a kit and came with most modern conveniences (some of them still exist today).

Fact via Sears Archives / Image via Unsplash

Do you know of any other fascinating real estate facts or events?

Take a minute and share them with us in the comments below!

About Author

Seth Williams

Seth Williams (@retipsterseth , G+) is an experienced land investor, commercial real estate banker and residential income property owner. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog providing real world guidance for part time real estate investors.

10 Comments

  1. Bernie Neyer

    #12 – I live in a Sears house and in fact, a lot of houses in Chanute, KS, and the surrounding area, are early 20th Century worker housing and either a Sears house or built from those plans. Some have called them 4 Square, because there were only 4 rooms. Two were bedrooms, one the kitchen and one the living room. a lot of times, they’d shed a room on the back that would be the kitchen with what was the kitchen becoming a dining room. My house actually has that shedded kitchen and then a gabled addition covering it up, circa about the ’40s.

    My house would have been considered upscale because they built a parlor on the front. There were actually two front doors and normally, when visiting someone, you would go to the parlor door as that was where they entertained guests. The living room was where the owners lived.

    Early on, people still had to go out to the back yard to use the restroom, or out house as they called it and probably didn’t even have running water.. The owners would put in a gas space heater in the room, along with what was called a John Sink, or some called a dry sink, and rent the room out.

    Here is a number 13. The iconic LED sign on Time Square is actually mounted on an empty building. There are no occupants and the building is used solely used for advertising. I actually read that someplace recently.

    • Seth Williams

      Thanks for sharing Bernie! Wow, it must be cool to live in a piece of history like a SEARS house!

      I realize the world has changed quite a bit, but I wonder if such a product would still be well-accepted in the market today? With the housing shortages in some markets, it seems like it could be a decent way to meet the demand in a less costly way.

  2. Sarah W.

    This was a very interesting article! The first I heard about the Sears houses in a box was going on a little tour in Southport, NC (where the movie Safe Haven was filmed) and there is a Sears house still standing. I would have never guessed!

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