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AOL Real Estate - Blog

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    Kristina Kovalenko's condo in New York

    Kristina Kovalenko, princess of the tiny Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria (don't worry, it's not just you; we've never heard of it either), sure knows how to live like royalty in America. She's just put her posh New York City condo on the market, and it's worth every penny of the $8 million asking price.

    Kristina Kovalenko, Michael NouriWell, Kovalenko hopes it is, anyway, because she bought the glam pad for only $4.2 million in 2009 -- so she'd be turning quite the profit, The New York Observer reported. The location doesn't hurt the inflated price: Kovalenko's "palace" is just a half-block from Central Park, a coveted locale that all New Yorkers would kill for.

    Let's go inside, shall we? Though Kovalenko (pictured at left with actor Michael Nouri) bought the home as a four-bedroom condo, she transformed one of the bedrooms into a walk-in closet (collective sigh and hurling of jealousy-fueled insults). The gigantic, "dramatic" living room off a gallery entry foyer gets astounding view of Manhattan. The master bedroom has a gas fireplace and marble en suite bathroom. Juliet balconies adorn the outside of the home. There's a chef's kitchen, hardwood floors, barrel vaulted ceilings, and the home is steps away from NYC's famous Lincoln Center.

    We can't talk about this anymore, it hurts us. Natalia Gavrilov of Douglas Elliman Real Estate has the listing.

    Find even more fabulous homes for sale in New York, N.Y., or search listings in your area.

    %Gallery-176311%

    See more Houses of the Day on AOL Real Estate.

    Got a tip for House of the Day? Know of an exceptional or unusual property currently listed for sale? Please email krisanne.alcantara@huffingtonpost.com with your suggestions and be sure to include links to listing details and photos. (Due to the volume of response, we unfortunately are unable to reply to each submission.)

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Find homes for rent in your area.

    See celebrity real estate.


    Inside Look: Sinatra Interview

     

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    Selling apartments in New York City has gotta be one of the hardest jobs in the world, but that's no excuse for false advertising. Sorry, let us rephrase: deceptive descriptions so far off the mark that they're almost laughable. We'll explain.

    The word "cavernous" can and should be used to describe huge McMansions with rooms that you could get lost in -- gaping, spacious rooms that could swallow you up like, well, a cave. The word, however, is not to be used to describe 800-square-foot apartments in Brooklyn.

    Sure, we'll take the "plethora of natural sunlight" that will "blind you," as the listing promises. We're down for the "breathtaking summer sunset" views from the "huge master bedroom fit for a king and queen." But "cavernous" living room? That's pretty much the entire apartment. (That's not an invite to call it a "cavernous apartment.") To be fair, our buddies at Curbed concede that, maybe, "in some ways it's like a cave because caves are very small?"

    Think that was deceptive? How about a "country DREAM home" that's actually a decrepit old shed in the middle of nowhere? That and more listing fails here.

    See also:
    Williston, N.D., Oil Boom Means Rents as High as New York City's

    Landlord From Hell Bans Pork, Long Showers, Overnight Guests

    Lee Harvey Oswald's Dallas Apartment Demolished

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find homes for rent in your area.
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

    Top Tiny Apartments You Won't Believe

     

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    Ashton Kutcher's bachelor pad

    Rumor has it that Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher are eyeing a move to Chicago together. And it's not that we don't wish the lovebirds well -- but let's be honest, relationships are unpredictable. So, Ashton, just in case you need a Plan B, your former Los Angeles bachelor pad is back on the market.

    The former "That '70s Show" star was living the single life in the gorgeous four-bedroom Craftsman contemporary before shacking up with (soon-to-be ex-wife) Demi Moore. During his time there, Kutcher and his father renovated the whole place. But he sold the home in June 2011 after Moore stole his heart.

    Now the current owners are selling the house for $2.585 million, Zillow reported. If Kutcher doesn't want it, anyone else would. A three-tiered cascading waterfall with pool and spa bring luxury to the terraced backyard. Inside the 3,404-square-foot home is an open floor plan with high ceilings, huge windows and glass sliding doors leading to an outside oasis. And the home has one of the best bonus features we've ever heard of: a two-story wine tower that can hold 210 bottles of bubbly. We'll drink to that! See the listing for more details.

    Find more homes for sale in Los Angeles, or search listings in your area.

    %Gallery-176479%
    See more Houses of the Day on AOL Real Estate.

    Got a tip for House of the Day? Know of an exceptional or unusual property currently listed for sale? Please email krisanne.alcantara@huffingtonpost.com with your suggestions and be sure to include links to listing details and photos. (Due to the volume of response, we unfortunately are unable to reply to each submission.)

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Find homes for rent in your area.

    See celebrity real estate.

    Ashton Kutcher & Mila Kunis Moving Out Of Hollywood

     

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    Medical transcriber Vicki Tetreault's Charlotte, N.C., home is special to her -- but she never imagined how much it would be to everyone else. As fate would have it, her house would become one of the most recognizable in the country, gracing millions of television screens as Nicholas Brody's house on Showtime's "Homeland."

    Tetreault was approached by the show's production company after it had "looked at 40 houses" in the area, according to Charlotte TV station WCNC. I chose Tetreault's home because it was one story, so the production crew wouldn't have to "lug cameras up stairs."

    In order to film the first season, the production company completely re-did the home's interiors. This included replacing the wallpaper, adding light fixtures, repainting Tetreault's kitchen and switching out all of Tetreault's furniture. (The furniture is put back in its place after filming each season.) The shooting itself is so involved, admitted Tetreault, that she is forced to stay at her brother's home to keep out of the crew's way. (In the video below, see some behind-the-scenes shots of the house during filming.)



    The commotion doesn't end when the filming stops, either: Tetreault said that "Homeland" fans continually come up to the home to snap pictures. (See more photos of the "Homeland" home at WCNC.com.)

    When asked if she'd ever taken pictures with "Homeland" stars Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, Tetreault said that she's met them but has never asked for photos.

    "I hate to be too much of a tourist, you know," she told WCNC.

    We're suckers for homes in TV and film. Among our favorites are Mary Tyler Moore's home in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and the house featured in the Kirk Douglas film "Strangers When We Meet." We also got the backstory on one of the most famous (and scariest) homes in America -- the house in "A Nightmare on Elm Street." You won't believe how it has changed over the years.

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find homes for sale in your area.
    Find foreclosures in your area.

    See celebrity real estate.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

     

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    Johnsie Walsh rented Barack Obama's this apartment.

    We know that President Obama was a very good roommate. Now we're hearing from his former landlady, Johnsie Walsh, that he was also a very good tenant!

    He rented a very "plain Jane" and "meager" one-bedroom pad in Johnsie Walsh's Stanton Park, D.C., apartment building. At the time, Obama was just a senator, and though he could afford a pricier place due to his lucrative book deals, his former landlady said that Obama just had "simple needs" and was happy to live at at the humble 227 Sixth Street NE.

    "It was just a meager space in a convenient location," Walsh told Urban Turf. "I really respect people who have money or status or both and can live a minimal existence like he did."

    Though she does have copies of rent checks signed by Michelle Obama, she never met the president, Walsh admitted, although she had been inside his apartment once due to a smoke scare in the building. (Walsh recalls seeing a "very tastefully decorated" apartment with a "nice sleigh bed").

    According to President Obama's former college roommate, Phil Boerner, Obama was an incredibly clean and organized person to live with. Boerner, in an "Inside Look" interview with AOL Real Estate, also said that living with Obama was very easy. (See the video below.)

    "He did his share of the cooking and cleaning and shopping," Boerner said in the August 2012 interview. "He was very neat and tidy!"

    (Lucky Michelle!)


    Inside Look: A Presidential Pad


    More on AOL Real Estate:
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    Find
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    See celebrity real estate.

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    Gun permits might affect home values

    The Journal News' gun map highlighting the names and addresses of gun permit owners across New York's Westchester and Rockland Counties is not only calling into question the safety of those homeowners, but it has also sparked concerns regarding its effect on real estate values in such "gun-concentrated" areas. According to Realtors across the country, the knowledge that a neighborhood is populated heavily with gun permit holders may cause househunters to think twice about buying in that area.

    New York-based Realtor Jason Saft predicts the hesitation will come predominantly from house hunters with families. According to Saft, in high-security, low-crime locales like New York City, owning firearms for self-protection purposes is non-essential -- a fact that might have concerned house hunters questioning their potential neighbors' reasons for ownership.

    "It might not matter as much if you're single, or a couple, or you don't have kids. But if you have three children, for example, you probably wouldn't want to buy a house in a neighborhood where there are a number of registered gun owners," Saft told AOL Real Estate. "It just puts thoughts you don't want to think in your head."

    His sentiments are echoed by Yonkers-based Realtor Gladys Molina. Molina added that the greater issue is not so much the presence of gun permit holders in any given neighborhood, but the level of concentration.

    Across Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties, for example, there are approximately 44,000 individuals with gun licenses. That's one out of every 23 adults, a figure that most likely isn't a deal breaker for the average house hunter. But consider the snapshot of one short section of Bronx River Road in Yonkers. The Journal News' interactive map reveals that there are 14 registered gun permit holders between the addresses of 755 Bronx River Road and 840 Bronx River Road. This figure may give house hunters pause.

    "One or two gun owners in a small area, I could let go," Molina told AOL Real Estate. "But 14 gun owners in one small area? Personally, even I would have to think twice about living there. I would worry about my safety."

    According to Denver-based Realtor Dave Ness, this could potentially translate into a decline in real estate values in such neighborhoods. The value of homes for sale in areas with a high proportion of gun permit holders, Ness said, might plummet if the neighborhood were stigmatized as a "gun-concentrated" area.

    But this still remains highly unlikely, Ness concedes: As of now, unless buyers actively seek that information through Freedom of Information requests (which they can do only if the state has a gun registry), the number of gun owners in a particular neighborhood or street remains largely unknown. And according to Ness, many house hunters won't take the steps to find out if their future neighbors might own guns.

    "If a law was passed whereby real estate agents were required to disclose to buyers how many gun owners there were on a particular street or in a particular area, then it would likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy -- producing fear in the buyer," Ness told AOL Real Estate. "That would more than likely drive values lower, or slow the rate of sales."

    Read more from AOL's series, "Guns in America":
    Murder by Numbers: Digging Into the Data of America's Gun Culture
    Guns-To-Work Laws Proliferate, Despite Mass Shootings and Employer Opposition
    Why Batman Doesn't Use Firearms

    Follow @AOLGunsInUSA for more coverage of the hot-button issue of gun control.

    When Parents Disagree About Guns In The Home



    See also:
    Houston Homeowner Pulls Gun on Utility Worker
    Alleged Foreclosure Scammer Dies in Shootout With Police

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.
    See celebrity real estate.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

     

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    Barry Bonds Beverly HIlls home

    If there was a Hall of Fame for real estate, Barry Bonds' Beverly Hills home would be the winner. (Good for him, since Bonds himself was denied entry to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.) The record-setting MVP has put his enormous 17,100-square-foot mansion on the market for $25 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. And it's one of the most amazing things we've ever seen.

    Barry BondsInteresting timing, too. Bonds is due in court in less than a month to appeal his obstruction of justice conviction from his doping trial. He was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest, which has been stayed pending his appeal. But should he lose, why wouldn't he want to spend his sentence in his massive, luxurious home? We'd serve life in it.

    The colossal estate is a home run: The seven-bedroom, 13-bathroom home sits on 1.85 acres and boasts a music room, theater, wine room, gym, spa and elevator. There's also a pool, a basketball court, a guesthouse and a six-car garage for all his fancy whips. Oh, those boys and their toys.

    The best part? The home has "smart home" technology, making it controllable from the click of an iPad. Bonds reportedly purchased the property back in 2002 for $8.7 million and has since expanded the side of the home by more than 5,500 square feet.

    Mauricio Umansky of The Agency has the listing.

    Find other impressive homes for sale in Beverly Hills, Calif., or search listings in your area.

    %Gallery-176571%
    See more Houses of the Day on AOL Real Estate.

    Got a tip for House of the Day? Know of an exceptional or unusual property currently listed for sale? Please email krisanne.alcantara@huffingtonpost.com with your suggestions and be sure to include links to listing details and photos. (Due to the volume of response, we unfortunately are unable to reply to each submission.)

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Find homes for rent in your area.

    See celebrity real estate.

     

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    David Duchovny, Tea Leoni home

    "Californication" star David Duchovny and his ex-wife, actress Tea Leoni, have listed their gorgeous triplex maisonette in New York's Upper East Side for $9.25 million. And as much as we love the place, it's about time! (The couple split back in 2011.)

    Duchovny and Leoni snapped up the stunning property -- three separate artists' studios that they combined into one living space -- for $6.25 million back in 2008. The sprawling apartment has 13-foot-high ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces, a majestic paneled living room and even a private garden. We love its classic-chic feel, battered antique lounge furniture and those crystal-dripping chandeliers. They may not have gotten along, but Duchovny and Leoni sure knew how to make a pretty home!

    According to our pals at Curbed, Duchovny's now living in a swanky Central Park West bachelor pad of sorts. No word on where Leoni now lives. Melissa Ryan Kaiser and Laurie Silverman of Stribling Properties have the listing.

    Find other star-studded homes for sale in New York or search listings in your area.

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    More on AOL Real Estate:
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    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

     

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    Former Playboy Bunny Holly Madison's bright pink doghouse has put her, well, in the doghouse with her current homeowners' association. Their relationship with the HOA has been so strained over the structure that Madison and her partner, Pasquale Rotella, say that they have decided to sell their Las Vegas home.

    The model and former "Girls Next Door" star, who is pregnant, told Las Vegas Weekly that her neighborhood's HOA has been giving her endless grief over the "human-sized" doghouse that she had constructed in her backyard for her canine companions, Louis, Napoleon and Josephine. Though Madison's contractor had complied with all the HOA's regulations when building the structure -- even matching its architecture to that of the main house -- the HOA has continued to feud with her over it, she said.

    "They keep fining me for having it painted pink," Madison told Las Vegas Weekly of the doghouse, which sits on a bed of pallets. According to Madison, the fines are around $100 a month. "It's a temporary structure, so it's not even under their jurisdiction. That would be like harping on someone over their kids' jungle gym." (We tried as hard as we could to find photos of this pink doghouse, but alas, we were unsuccessful.)

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    Madison said that she is especially irked because, according to her, the structure isn't even visible from the street. "It's possible you could see the roof from the street, but you can't see any of it from the street actually," Madison said. The model says she'll be bringing the doghouse with her to her new residence in another Las Vegas neighborhood. Hope she's cleared it with her new HOA!

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    More on AOL Real Estate:
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    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

    Holly Madison Has Advice for Kate Middleton

     

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    Jay-Z once rapped lyrical about the perks of "all black everything" (from his clothes to his cars to his house), but we think this house got the wrong memo -- or color, rather. With its living room decked out from top to bottom in green (velvet, no less!), this $1.95 million Washington, D.C., home is like nothing we've ever seen.

    Though the listing boasts that it's an "innovative design" that's "right out of a James Bond film" (really?), we think it's one of the craziest houses we've ever laid eyes on. Granted, it's spacious (8,500 square feet) and has an interior elevator and lovely 16-foot-high ceilings, but that green just won't do. Maybe red? Andrea Paro of Redfin has the listing. (And thanks to our friends at Curbed for tipping us off to this wacky home.)

    Find more tasteful homes for sale in Washington, D.C., or search listings in your area.

    %Gallery-176666%
    See more Houses of the Day on AOL Real Estate.

    Got a tip for House of the Day? Know of an exceptional or unusual property currently listed for sale? Please email krisanne.alcantara@huffingtonpost.com with your suggestions and be sure to include links to listing details and photos. (Due to the volume of response, we unfortunately are unable to reply to each submission.)

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find foreclosures in your area.
    Find homes for rent in your area.

    See celebrity real estate.

     

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    If you keep a firearm in your home, there are a number of precautions you can take to ensure its proper storage and safety -- particularly if you have children in the house. (Also because guns stolen from homes is a big problem these days.) It's essential to know how to securely store your weapon while also having ease of access, should you ever need to use it. In our gallery below, we've outlined some key safety measures to consider.

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    Read more on AOL's series, "Guns in America":
    Guns at Home: Do Firearms Permits Lower Property Values?
    Murder by Numbers: Digging Into the Data of America's Gun Culture
    Why Batman Doesn't Use Guns

    Follow @AOLGunsInUSA for more coverage of the hot-button issue of gun control.

     

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    Let's face it: It's our guilty pleasure to watch Judge Judy reprimand litigants like they were kindergarteners on her eponymous television show. So immensely popular is the "Judge Judy" courtroom "reality" show that Judy Sheindlin was able to afford a $6.7 million Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City -- which she's now listed for a much heftier $9 million. (Come on, Judy. As if you don't make enough money.)

    We have to admit that when we first laid eyes on the television judge's 3,000-square-foot apartment, we were floored. We expected something sharp, no-nonsense, a little severe -- a reflection of her on-air persona. Instead, Sheindlin's apartment is shockingly cheerful: sun-splashed living spaces, striped cream walls, graceful statues, soft pastel hues and florals -- almost classically feminine decor. Oh, Judge Judy, you're full of surprises, aren't you?

    Deborah Grubman and David Dubin of Corcoran have the listing.

    Make your ruling on other homes for sale New York, or search listings in your area.

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    More on AOL Real Estate:
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    Anna Nicole Smith home

    Anna Nicole Smith's one-time lover, Howard K. Stern, has sold her home in Studio City, Calif., Zillow reported. UPDATE -- 1:50 p.m. EST -- Stern had the home on the market for $1.75 million, but it reportedly sold for $1.3 million.

    Anna Nicole Smith Stern completed the deal along with Larry Birkhead, the biological father of Smith's daughter, Danielynn. Birkhead and Danielynn moved into the house after Smith's untimely death in 2007 and had been living in the home up until a year ago, Birkhead told us. In April 2011, Stern got a court order to transfer the home under his name, and he put the home on the market.

    NBCLosAngeles.com reports that the buyer is "Rouzbeh Zoka, trustee of the Rouzbeh Zoka 2012 revocable trust. The trust has deposited $39,000 as part of the purchase price." The proceeds of the home, however, go to Danielynn, since she's the beneficiary of Smith's estate.

    The Mediterranean-style two-story home features wrap-around balconies with a generous pool deck that overlooks the city lights of Studio City. The 4,700-square-foot home's interior has a dramatic entryway that showcases a giant painting of the late model. There's five bedrooms and 5.5 baths, wood and marble floors throughout, a living room with dual fireplaces and an open area on the bottom level for a gym.

    Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that there was a feud between Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead around the sale of the home. We heard from Birkhead, who said that he helped orchestrate the deal with Stern and works with him on matters associated with Anna Nicole Smith's estate.

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    Anna Nicole Smith's Daughter Dannielynn New GUESS Kids Model
    More on AOL Real Estate:
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    Deborah Messing home

    We'd give anything to be Debra Messing's "Will." (Everyone knows a girl's gay BFF gets first dibs on her mansion when it goes up for sale! Right?) And trust us, if Messing wanted to unload her recently listed 6,410-square-foot Bel Air home in Los Angeles on us, we'd take it off her hands in half a second!

    The former "Will & Grace" star and current leading lady of "Smash" has thrown her luxe digs on the market for $11.995 million. And as much as we'd like to have it, we're sure its long history of switching celebrity hands will continue. According to Zillow, Messing scored the home from Renee Zellweger in 2003. And one reason this home might be good for another celeb owner, E! suggests, is its uber-privacy, with trees surrounding the whole property.

    It gets better inside: The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home has a private master bedroom with his and hers baths and two more bedroom suites upstairs. There's an additional wing with guestrooms and offices, and outside, there's a pool and cabana. We wish we could get a better look inside, but as many celebrities do, there's only one listing photo of the home available, to maintain privacy. But hey, you can look inside plenty of other celebrities' outrageous homes in the gallery below.

    See the listing for more details.

    Find other homes for sale in Los Angeles, or search listings in your area.

    %Gallery-173108%
    More on AOL Real Estate:
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    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

    2013 Golden Globes: Debra Messing

     

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    There are lots of crappy situations you can run into when you're living in multi-unit housing. Loud neighbors in the apartment next door can keep you up at night or, if they're smokers, you might breathe secondhand smoke wafting in from their place. But we can't think of anything crappier -- literally -- than your apartment filling up with raw sewage.

    That's what Jocelyn Shepherd is dealing with. When she moved into her Atlanta apartment, she was immediately hit with several problems. The first was an issue with running water. When that was seemingly fixed, an even worse problem arose: Feces began to seep from the toilet and sink -- and even from the walls and floors of her home, Shepherd told WXIA-TV in Atlanta. Shepherd's home is so flooded with human waste that it even runs into her neighbor's apartment.


    WARNING: The images and video below may be disturbing to some people.


    Raw sewage in Jocelyn Shepherd's apartment

    "My bathroom is just full of everybody's feces. The tub, filled with feces. There's mildew, mold coming down the wall," Shepherd said.

    Shepherd (pictured below) lives in the apartment with her fiance and three children, one of whom is only 3 months old. The situation has forced the children to stay with family and friends, but Shepherd has stayed put. She hasn't paid rent since November because of the unsanitary living conditions. According to WXIA, the building's property manager said that she stopped trying to fix the problem in Shepherd's apartment once Shepherd stopped paying rent.

    Jocelyn Shepherd has raw sewage in her apartment.
    "They don't even want to come in and see what's wrong," Shepherd said.

    This raises the question: Doesn't Shepherd's landlord have to fix this problem? All tenants of apartment buildings have the right to a habitable living space, and landlords are required by law to fix problems that affect habitability -- many of which could be violations of building and housing codes. Landlords who don't comply by keeping their property habitable can face law enforcement action, including fines and/or jail time. Depending on state law, tenants who find themselves in a situation like Shepherd's have the right to withhold rent until the problem is fixed, or even end a lease agreement and move out without paying the full term of the agreement.

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    For Shepherd, her family was recently offered a temporary place to stay, but she says that they have no money for a permanent home. They have no furniture, either: Everything they had was saturated by sewage.

    The City of Atlanta told WXIA that it has done "all that it can." Code enforcement officers cited the property owner three times in 2011, and have issued a brand new batch of citations for the sewage and other building safety issues.



    See also:
    Black Ice: Are You Responsible for Keeping It Off Your Property?

    Landlord From Hell Bans Pork, Long Showers, Overnight Guests
    Landlord Spied With Hidden Cameras on Renters, Lawsuit Claims

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find out how to
    calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    Find
    foreclosures in your area.
    See celebrity real estate.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

     

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    Mexican Family Turns Rock Formation Into Home



    We've all heard the expression, "Have you been living under a rock?!" But there are very few people who can genuinely respond: "I have." Benito Hernandez, of Coahulla, Mexico, is one of them. For more than 30 years, he, his wife and their seven children have been living under a 130-foot-diameter rock. The rock acts as the roof of their sun-dried-brick home, located in the remote desert town of San Jose de Piedras, about 50 miles from the Texas border.

    From the outside, the home itself is barely discernible. The rock hovers, mushroom-like, over the tiny home. Inside, the dwelling is humble: a low rock ceiling, dirt floors, simple wood furnishings. The family supports itself by harvesting a variety of local desert plants, cooking on a wood-burning stove and drawing water from a nearby spring.

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    Despite the primitive conditions and harsh winters, the Hernandez family wouldn't have it any other way: They spent 20 years fighting to gain title to the land they live on. Many might wonder: Why? Hernandez says that it all started with a childhood dream. "I started coming here when I was 8 years old [to visit the candellila fields]," Hernandez told the BBC. "And I liked it. And I had to keep coming."

    Living under a rock in the Mexican desert might be a little extreme, but it's hardly the strangest living situation we've heard of. There's the couple who turned a school bus into a home -- a totally rent- and mortgage-free one at that. Then there's the underground missile silo home we visited in upstate New York. Our favorites, though, might be the totally off-the-grid communities around the globe that we discovered in our "Off the Grid" series.

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    microstudio

    Unless you're in college, the prospect of living in a tiny, 325-square-foot apartment probably sounds like a nightmare. But according to a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, this living situation could be the future for many single city-dwellers.

    MCNY's latest exhibit, "Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers," explores the future of housing in dense urban areas such as New York City. Through the exhibition of innovative new housing models, provided by architects affiliated with the Citizens Housing Planning Council and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's adAPT NYC program, ideas surrounding the changing demographic of cities and a need for greater efficiency were explored.

    CHPC research, for example, has shown that almost half of New York City's population is comprised of single adults. But this is not reflected in the housing options and needs available to city dwellers: Only 1.5 percent of New York City's rental housing stock is made up of studios or one-bedroom apartments ready for occupancy, said Sarah Watson, senior policy analyst at CHPC. This has caused the rampant growth of illegal living situations.

    "Currently, laws in New York City are still based on the demographics and living arrangements of the 1960s," said Watson. "We need to move forward."

    Moving forward could take the physical form of a 325-square-foot "microstudio" apartment with transformable furniture. (See the gallery below.) Though apartments under 400 square feet are illegal in most of the city, Mayor Bloomberg is currently exploring ways in which such micro-units could be tested in New York City.

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    See also:
    A House That's Only 1-Square Meter
    Tiny Houses, Big Trend

    5 Tiny Home Models Hint at Future of Urban Housing

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    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
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    The Cities of the Future

     

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    A clink of the glass to @discovercrc and @PronghornClub for proving that the great state of Oregon has some serious real estate chops. They're our crowned champions of this week's #housepornthurs contest, submitting this astounding contemporary gem in Bend, Ore. (We'd also like to give a shout-out to runner-up @PartnersTrust for giving it a good shot with this beautiful Bel Air estate. Better luck next time!)

    The wonderful Oregon home -- "an architectural marvel," as the listing calls it -- is completely custom-made. Its exposed timber frame makes it look like a grand lodge regally rising above the mountainside treetops. Sprawling across 5,280 square feet, the home has three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and a three-car garage.

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    Our favorite part of the home is the gorgeous stone fireplace, a centerpiece of the home. Grab your family or a group of friends and cozy up. This is the sweetest home, sweet home. Pronghorn Residential has the listing.

    Find other homes for sale in Bend, Ore., or search listings in your area.

    The #housepornthurs contest is a weekly Twitter conversation hosted by @aolrealestate. Tweet listings every Thursday to AOL Real Estate with the hashtag #housepornthurs for a chance to have one of your submissions featured as a House of the Day the following week.

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    Real Estate Market Recovery?

     

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    We've been talking about guns in America over the last week, and we know that the debate over gun control can get very heated. But let's leave aside for a moment the question of whether gun permits in a neighborhood help or hurt property values and instead take a look at the real estate itself. Here are properties that both pro- and anti-gun forces might at least agree are impressive (or intimidating). Thanks to our friends at Estately for tipping us off to this smokin' real estate!

    Newtown Square, Penn.



    This $16.95 million home has a basement shooting range. Thanks to the unique requirements and building permits necessary to build an indoor shooting range, you won't happen upon these homes very often. But if you're hell-bent on blowing off some steam during television commercials, maybe it's worth it.

    Rutledge, Ga.



    If all the red tape is stopping you from building a shooting range in your own home, then building one outside your home is probably the next best thing. See this $925,000 home in Rutledge, for example. All you need is some wide open space for a professional-looking rifle range with bullet-stops and target-holders.

    Mitchells, Va.



    If shotguns are more your thing, then this $149,000 property with its own backyard skeet shooting range may be the home for you. (For those not in the know, skeet shooting is when marksmen aim at clay disks automatically flung into the air at high speed from fixed stations.) It doesn't take as much effort to build as a full-fledged rifle range; in fact, "traps" -- the devices that launch the disks -- can be bought as-is (and online!).

    Chadwick, Ill.



    If archery is more up your alley, then how about this $275,000 home with an indoor archery range? It also comes with $40,000 in retail inventory and displays.

    See more on AOL's series, "Guns in America":
    Will Hollywood Cut Back on Gun Violence After Sandy Hook?
    Teachers and Guns: An Educator Explains Why She Learned to Shoot
    One Solution to the Gun Problem: Enforce the Whole Second Amendment

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    Transformer apartment in SoHo

    We've seen the way New Yorkers cram their stuff into tiny shoebox apartments (325 square feet, anyone?) and call it "shabby chic," but we've found a cooler way to maximize your space.
    This apartment in New York City's SoHo neighborhood may only be 420 square feet -- but you'd never know it, thanks to its innovative "Transformer"-style features.

    Its transforming elements include multiple Murphy beds, a retractable home office, ample floor-to-ceiling storage space, a moving wall that splits the apartment into two spaces, and a "disappearing" dining room and kitchen. Designed by architects Catalin Sandu and Arian Iancu and built by LifeEdited, the "Transformer" apartment makes such efficient and clever use of space that it can even seat a dinner party for 12. It also boasts a home theater and a privacy-phone room! (How many 1,000-square-foot apartments do you know that have those?!).

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    "You're buying a 400-square-foot apartment, but it's got the functionality of 700 square feet," LifeEdited's Graham Hill told AOL Real Estate. Hill currently calls the space his home. "I love that it's nice and bright, and that in each iteration -- living, dining, office, master bedroom, guest bedroom -- it works so well. Pretty cool to have a sit-down dinner for 10 in a 420-square-foot apartment!"

    Though Hill originally bought the space for $280,000 in 2010, and spent "around the same amount" renovating it, Hill is confident that in the future, costs for a similar apartment and custom furnishings can be brought down significantly. According to Hill, LifeEdited's aim is to create space-efficient apartments that are affordable for the average New Yorker.

    This "living large in small spaces" trend is not just happening in dense, busy New York: people across the country are trying their hand at downsizing. California couple Richard and Rachel Lane have been living in a converted school bus for four years -- complete with kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, lounge area and even a movie room on the vehicle's "second story." Like Hill's SoHo home, its livability is achieved by using custom, hand-made furniture altered to fit the bus. Plus, it sleeps 10!




    See also:
    NYC's 'Microstudio': Is 325 Square Feet the Future of Housing for City Dwellers?
    A House That's Only 1-Square Meter
    5 Tiny Model Homes Hint at Future of Urban Housing

    More on AOL Real Estate:
    Find homes for rent in your area.
    Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
    Find
    homes for sale in your area.
    See celebrity real estate.

    Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

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