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How to find the perfect real estate agent, in 4 steps

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house suburb

So you've decided to buy a home — congratulations! The first step? Linking up with a real estate agent. Ideally, it's someone who can get you a good deal on your dream home and make the process enjoyable.

"People want to find an agent or broker who's honest and trustworthy, because it's likely the largest purchase they're going to make in their life," Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research and communications at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), told Business Insider.

Below, Lautz shares four important tips for finding the perfect real estate agent.

1. Narrow down the neighborhood(s) you want to live in

Knowing what part of town you want to live in can help immensely with your agent search, and ultimately, your home search, Lautz says. The more specific you can be in what you're looking for, the better chance you have of finding someone whose experience in a particular market aligns with your desires.

2. Ask friends or family for referrals

According to NAR's 2016 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers report, 42% of buyers used an agent referred to them by friends, neighbors, or relatives. For first-time buyers specifically, 52% relied on referrals.

Lautz says a referral from someone you trust can go a long way and eliminate time spent vetting someone on your own.

3. Figure out their level of experience

If you're considering an agent who was referred to you, you can easily vet their experience and reputation by asking their previous client about the pros and cons of working with them. For first-time homebuyers, Lautz said, it's a good idea to find someone who is willing to "show you the ropes," since the homebuying process can be complicated and overwhelming at times.

An agent should also be thorough, she said. "Make sure there is someone with you who can see the big things — like, the kitchen is nice, but maybe the roof is leaking," Lautz said. In other words, you want to make sure your agent is detailed and upstanding, not simply trying to close the deal or take advantage of your inexperience.

4. Determine whether they're a realtor

Of course, you'll want an agent who's working in your best interest. "Many agents pride themselves on being community experts, posting on blogs and on social media," Lautz said.

While that's one way to assess their standing in the industry, she continued, the best way to determine whether an agent is on your side is to ask if they're whether they belong to the National Association of Realtors, the largest group of real estate professionals in the country with more than 1.2 million members. Agents who belong to NAR have "realtor" status and are bound by a code of ethics, says Lautz.

SEE ALSO: 7 pieces of homebuying advice you can't afford to ignore

DON'T MISS: A realtor who works with first-time homebuyers reveals a common mistake millennials make when they're house shopping

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 4 lottery winners who lost it all

We went to Costco's food court — it was one of the best fast food experiences we've ever had

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Costco Food 7

Costco is the holy grail of bulk buying, the cathedral of wholesale. But it's not all about 10-pound jars of peanut butter.

A stop at Costco's humble food court — after walking miles around the cavernous warehouse — is a shameless reward for buying enough paper towels to fill your entire car trunk.

The food court is simple yet esteemed by Costco diehards. Amazingly, it's one of the biggest pizza chains in the US, and nationwide it sells roughly 100 million hot dogs a year, at extremely low prices.

After several readers expressed their unwaveringly high regard for Costco's hot dogs and pizza, we took a trip to the retail giant's Brooklyn location to discover all its revered food-court glories — and it totally exceeded our expectations.

 Marina Nazario contributed reporting on a previous version of this article.

SEE ALSO: How to order the right way at Chick-fil-A

ALSO READ: There are only 3 McDonald's locations in the US that serve pizza — here's what it's like to visit

The food court at Costco doesn't offer the most varied selection — but it's cheap, quick, and provides a nice treat for customers after a long day of shopping.



We ordered one of each item on the menu, excluding the salad, smoothies, and ice cream — those are pretty uninteresting, run-of-the-mill items that are hard to get wrong.



We did not expect the servings to be so enormous and dirt cheap. This entire selection costs just over $25. Let's delve in and go through the choices.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Inside the Wall Street charity day where celebrities and star athletes pretend to be traders

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676317310Trading firm BTIG hosted its 15th annual Commissions for Charity Day on Tuesday, inviting nearly 80 all-star athletes, models, actors, journalists, politicians, fashion designers, and business leaders to its trading floors.

"Since 2003, BTIG Charity Day has helped support important non-profit organizations around the world," Scott Kovalik, co-founder and CEO of BTIG, said in a press release. "We are very grateful to our celebrity guests, clients, and employees that help us improve the lives of others year after year."

This year, with the help of Bill Clinton, Mark Cuban, Shaquille O'Neal, and many more, the firm raised $4 million to donate to hundreds of charities.   

SEE ALSO: The largest private-equity firm in the world opened a more casual, amenity-filled office for its tech team — take a look inside

BTIG cofounder Steven Starker was there to greet all the star guests as they walked through the door, including actress Jenny McCarthy.



Former President Bill Clinton stopped in for the day.



MLB star Alex Rodriguez was on the phone taking calls.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the Apple Watch helped him lose 30 pounds (AAPL)

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Apple CEO Tim Cook holding an Apple Watch

Apple CEO Tim Cook said during an interview on CNBC on Wednesday that the Apple Watch helped him lose weight.

"You know, the watch has been an incredible move into health, in the wellness and fitness piece," Cook told CNBC's Jim Cramer.

"For you, too?" Cramer asked. 

"Yes, for me too. I've lost 30 pounds— partly to my watch," Cook said. 

Cook has always been a fit and slim guy. He wakes up at 4am every morning to hit the gym.

But Apple is lately keen to emphasize the health and fitness aspects of its wearable gadget. 

Late last year, Apple refocused the marketing for the Apple Watch around health and fitness, and Apple said last quarter that the sales of its smartwatch had doubled since the year-ago quarter. 

And there are rumors that the Apple Watch might go even farther into the medical world, possibly with a built-in glucose monitor.

Here's how Cook explained how the Apple Watch helped him personally lose weight:

Because it motivates you, and it constantly gives you feedback, it constantly gives you rewards. And this makes a difference over time. And I'm getting calls and letters from so many people where the watch has made a difference in their life. And this is why we are in business. We're in business to help people achieve their objectives, to empower them to do great things. 

You can't argue with results. "You're looking good," Cramer told Cook. 

SEE ALSO: Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'How can we get more people to do advanced manufacturing in the United States?'

Join the conversation about this story »

7 ways to tell whether someone is cheating on you

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couple kissing comforting

Ever worry that your significant other isn't being entirely truthful?

First of all, there's a good chance you're right — it's perfectly normal to lie on occasion.

But if you're worried that your partner's fibbing extends into the important stuff, like happiness or fidelity, you might be wondering how to catch them in a lie.

Unfortunately, science can't tell you if your partner is sleeping around, but there are ways to spot when someone — especially a significant other — is being deceptive.

Here are seven ways to tell if your partner might be keeping something important from you.

SEE ALSO: Psychologist says these 2 patterns of behavior are the most common signs that a couple is going to divorce

READ MORE: 5 things that happen to couples who've been together a long time

Ask a friend.

Other people — strangers, even — have an uncanny ability to detect when something's not right in someone else's relationship.

BYU psychologists tested this idea by having couples draw an object together, with one participant blindfolded and the other one giving instructions on what to draw. The whole thing was videotaped. Before they started, the scientists had the couples answer a few questions about their relationship in private, including whether or not they'd ever cheated. 

Then, the researchers had a group of strangers watch the footage and guess which couples included a partner who'd ever cheated. The volunteers were surprisingly accurate.

Although preliminary, the research suggests that, simply by watching a couple doing something that requires working together, an outside observer may be able to detect infidelity or unhappiness.

"People make remarkably accurate judgments about others in a variety of situations after just a brief exposure to their behavior," the researchers wrote in the study.



Mull it over while doing something else.

When people are given time to process another person's actions subconsciously, they seem to get better at telling truth from deceit.

In 2013, a team of psychologists had a panel of student judges watch people give testimony and decide if they'd lied or told the truth. One group of students was given time to think before they made a decision — but were made to think about something other than the case they were assessing. Those students were better at figuring out whether the person they were judging had been deceitful.

"These findings suggest that the human mind is not unfit to distinguish between truth and deception," the researchers wrote in the study, "but that this ability resides in previously overlooked processes."



Listen carefully to the words they use.

For a recent study, University of Texas at Austin psychology professor James W. Pennebaker looked at data he and his colleague Diane Berry gathered from a text analysis program. They found some specific patterns of language that were helpful at predicting when someone was avoiding the truth.

Liars, they found, tended to use fewer of the following three types of words:

  • First person words, like "I," "me," or "my"
  • Cognitive words, like "realize" or "think"
  • Exclusive words, like "but" or "except"

But they tended to use more of the following types of words:

  • Negative emotion words, like "hate," "anger," or "enemy"
  • Motion verbs, like "walk" or "move"


See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The richest 1% of New York City residents are living in multimillion-dollar Frankenmansions

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85 to 89 Jane St. factory

When an apartment or penthouse isn't big enough for wealthy New Yorkers, they get creative.

In recent years, several have combined multiple townhouses or building floors to create supersized homes — or Frankenmansions, as New York magazine's S. Jhoanna Robledo calls them.

To construct these Frankenmansions, some prospective buyers purchase multiple buildings at once, while others approach their neighbors to offer multimillion-dollar buyouts. (In either scenario, they need the city's approval before combining properties.)

Check out these 12 Manhattan Frankenmansions owned by big names — including Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker — outlined below in red.

SEE ALSO: 7 billion-dollar mega-projects that will transform New York City by 2035

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Frankenmansion is nearly complete.

Bloomberg has bought five of the six apartment units in the building next to his 7,500-square-foot townhouse over the last three decades. After connecting four units in 2009, he grew his home to 12,500 square feet, according to the New York Post. The buildings are steps from Central Park.



A $19.8 million pair of townhouses is currently on the market.

The Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an NYC-based convent of nuns, acquired the townhome on the right in 1948. Four years later, the group bought the one next door and connected them via a doorway on each floor.

Throughout the years, the order has rented some of the complex's 25 bedrooms to other congregations or young women in need. But the Frankenmansion may soon find a new owner — the 15,600-square-foot space went on the market in 2016 for $19.8 million, according to The New York Times.



Sarah Jessica Parker lives in a pair of twin townhouses worth $34.5 million.

The star of "Sex and the City" snatched the two brick townhouses above from the nonprofit United Methodist Women, then fused them. The organization listed the pair of buildings (which were not connected) for $44 million in 2016, but Parker paid $34.5 million, according to The Real Deal.

The 13,900-square-foot mansion includes nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a 2,100-square-foot private garden, and five floors.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's how much it costs to get a haircut around the world

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If you're planning to get a haircut soon, Zurich might not be the place to do it.

Deutsche Bank analysts collected data on the prices of various services for a recent report to clients. Among them, they included how much it costs men to get a "standard" haircut in the expat areas of different cities around the world.

Haircuts are most expensive in Zurich, Switzerland ($62.00), Oslo, Norway ($48.10), and Copenhagen, Denmark ($45.10). On the flip side, they are the least expensive in three Indian cities: New Delhi ($3.10), Bangalore ($4.50), and Mumbai ($4.50).

Out of American cities, San Francisco saw the highest rates at $30.40.

Check out the full list below.

cost of mens haircuts

SEE ALSO: An Ivy League professor explains chaos theory, the prisoner's dilemma, and why math isn't really boring

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This man spent 6 weeks working undercover in an iPhone factory in China — here's what it was like

What a legal drug that kills more Americans than heroin does to your mind and body

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Despite being legal with a doctor's prescription, opioid painkillers can come with serious health risks.

The drugs belong to a larger class of drugs known as opioids, which includes legal, lab-produced drugs like oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine as well as illegal drugs like heroin. Since they slow breathing and act on the same brain systems as heroin, opioid painkillers carry serious risks, from overdose to, in rarer cases, addiction.

BI Graphics_What drugs do to your body and brain_Opioids

SEE ALSO: What a legal drug that kills more Americans than heroin does to your body and brain

DON'T MISS: There's a medical problem that marijuana might be able to help that no one is talking about

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: America's heroin epidemic has produced a heartbreaking side effect

The 25 most expensive weekend getaways in the world

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Oslo, Norway

When it comes time to recharge your batteries, a weekend getaway can do wonders. Taking a quick trip will cost you significantly more in certain cities around the world, however.

As part of their annual survey of global prices, Deutsche Bank analysts just released a report on the world's most expensive weekend getaways.

To come up with the ranking, they combined the cost of two nights at a five-star hotel, two pub meals for two, two restaurant dinners for two, car rentals for two days, two pints of beer, four liters of soft drinks or water, and the purchase of a pair of jeans and sports shoes. The combined prices were converted to US dollars. 

Here's where a weekend trip will cost you the most. 

SEE ALSO: Here's how much it costs to get a haircut around the world

25. Jakarta, Indonesia

Cost: $1,270

Year-over-year change: N/A



24. Prague, Czech Republic

Cost: $1,335

Year-over-year change: N/A



23. Melbourne, Australia

Cost: $1,366

Year-over-year change: 13%



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Soylent has raised another $50 million to change how we eat — here are 31 quotes that show its founder's distinctive worldview

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Soylent Rob Rhinehart

Food-replacement startup Soylent had a wild 2016.

In a bid to go mainstream, the company launched new products like "Coffiest," its coffee-flavored version, and the "Soylent Bar," its first solid-food product.

But it also had to deal with the fallout from some of its products making consumers violently ill. Soylent ended up temporarily halting some sales.

But 2017 appears to be off to a good start, as Soylent just snagged a $50 million Series B financing round led by GV (formerly Google Ventures). That brings its total funding to $74.5 million.

More than the money, however, the new funding affirms that Soylent's big backers still believe in the company's vision of the future. Soylent founder Rob Rhinehart, more than perhaps any other founder in the tech world, lives the dream he preaches with Soylent. 

Before formally launching the food-replacement product, he used his own body to experiment with the recipe. He tinkered with different doses and types of nutrients, sometimes hurting himself in the process. Rhinehart truly believes in hacking food to make something affordable, easy, and sustainable. And he has a very distinct vision of the future of food.

We previously put together 31 quotes from Rhinehart that show his view of the world and the future. If you are on his side, they are inspiring and logical. If you are not, they may sound wacky.

SEE ALSO: $8,000 A MONTH: The 15 highest paying tech internships in the US

On nature: "People have this belief that just because something is natural it’s good. The natural state of man is ignorant, and starving, and cold."

Source.



On grocery stores: "I have not set foot in a grocery store in years. Nevermore will I bumble through endless confusing aisles like a pack-donkey searching for feed while the smell of rotting flesh fills my nostrils and fluorescent lights sear my eyeballs and sappy love songs torture my ears."

Source.

 



On foodies: "Everyone’s like, ‘The natural, organic way is the best.’ And it sounded a lot like fundamentalist Christianity."

Source.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

16 stunning photos of China's insanely stressful college entrance exam process

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china_test3

At the beginning of June, millions of Chinese high school students will take the National College Entrance Exam, also called gaokao or "the big test." In 2016, 9.4 million students sat for the test.

Notoriously stressful, the big test has sparked harsh criticism for its high-stakes nature. It's considered a prerequisite to get into college that puts an incredible amount of pressure on students and has even been linked to student suicide.

This intense pressure spurs some students to cheat, and police are on hand at test sites to catch and detain cheaters. 

Keep reading to see  how intense China's national exams are for students and families.

SEE ALSO: Here's the one big problem with China's supposedly amazing schools

Students put an incredible amount of preparation before the exam. In fact, some schools have been criticized for producing "robots" who study 15 hours per day for gaokao. Here, a student takes a must needed study break.



These students took oxygen while studying chemistry at a hospital in Suining.



Students begin studying for the exam far in advance of high school. Here, middle school students study for the gaokao.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Starbucks' Frappuccino Happy Hour starts Friday with a new drink that's 'better' than the Unicorn — and baristas are dreading it (SBUX)

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Midnight_Mint_Mocha_Frappuccino

Baristas who hated the Unicorn Frappuccino are about to enter a new stressful cycle as Starbucks launches its annual Frappuccino Happy Hour promotion.

On Tuesday, Starbucks said its Frappuccino Happy Hour would start Friday and last until May 14.

During the promotion, the coffee chain will sell half-priced Frappuccinos from 3 to 6 p.m. to encourage customers to purchase the icy, blended drinks as the weather warms up.

"Frappuccino Happy Hour is going to be a huge home run this year," Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a call with investors last Thursday. "We're going to bring at least one entirely new drink into Happy Hour this year that is going to be as good as Unicorn or better. And we've extended our hours this year on some other tactical things to really make sure that Happy Hour is set up for success."

It's so pretty looks like a liquid peppermint patty to me. 🤗😍 #starbucksaddict #midnightmintmocha #starbucks #fraps4life

A post shared by Robert Fry III (@fryguy330) on May 2, 2017 at 6:06am PDT on

The new flavor is the Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino, a layered drink made with extra-dark cocoa, mint sugar crystals, and whipped cream. Starbucks said in a statement that it drew inspiration from the "dark foods trend" — foods like black macarons and charcoal ice cream going viral on Instagram.

I don't always go to Starbucks, but when I do it's for summer Frappuccino flavors🍦

A post shared by Shelby Ann (@cloverandfig) on May 3, 2017 at 2:00pm PDT on

The popular S'mores Frappuccino also returning this year. 

So far, the Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino hasn't had the instant Instagram success of the wildly popular Unicorn Frappuccino — though the Frappuccino Hour Hour promotion is likely to boost sales.


While Frappuccino lovers will rejoice at the news, many Starbucks baristas likely will be less than thrilled with the extended happy hour, new drink, and emphasis on the time-intensive Frappuccino.

If you're a Starbucks employee with a story to tell, email ktaylor@businessinsider.com.

Last year, the Starbucks blog Barista Life published an article titled "A Barista's Worst Nightmare: Frappuccino Happy Hour."

"You can begin to see the horror in their eyes," Haley Hinds wrote, recalling her coworkers' faces in the moments before "Frappy Hour." "Although they try to make it look like it's easy, I think deep down, no matter how many times you have been through this, you are truly never prepared for what is coming."

Starbucks baristas are already using social media to prepare themselves for the hectic promotion.

The success of the Unicorn Frappuccino and more new drinks on the menu could lead to more customers than in years past. While that would be great news for Starbucks' sales, it means baristas could be cranking out even more messy and difficult-to-make beverages.

One barista has a solution that would encourage Starbucks to keep baristas happy while increasing Frappuccino sales.

"New idea, with every Frappuccino promotion Starbucks does partners get payed time & half for it. How about it?" said Twitter user @SeagullDan_.

Starbucks has long pledged to work to improve employees' lives, with benefits such as free college tuition and an emphasis on baristas being "connected to something bigger." With baristas' angst in the era of the Unicorn Frappuccino, perhaps it's time for those perks to include a "Frappy Hour" bonus.

SEE ALSO: The Unicorn Frappuccino infuriated baristas — but it was one of Starbucks' best decisions in a long time

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Everything you need to know about Echo Look — Amazon's new device that will judge the way you dress

Comcast nearly invested millions in the doomed Fyre Festival's parent company

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Fyre

In the days leading up to the disastrous Fyre Festival — where hundreds of would-be partiers were stranded on an island in the Bahamas without food or shelter after being promised a music festival — Comcast elected not to fund its parent company, Fyre Media, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source.

Comcast was interested in funding Fyre, an on-demand booking app for celebrities. But a due diligence review revealed the app itself wasn't technically sophisticated enough to fund, and Fyre failed to turn over financial documents in a timely manner. 

Comcast also concluded the company's namesake festival was headed on a disastrous course, and likely wouldn't have a positive outcome, according to Bloomberg. (They were correct).

According to the Bloomberg report, Fyre founder Billy McFarland told employees Comcast invested $20 million in the app company  but a Comcast employee said it never invested anything. Negotiations between the two did get far enough for Comcast's venture arm to submit a term sheet.

The deal between Comcast and Fyre was called off just days before the doomed festival.

SEE ALSO: The organizers of the doomed Fyre Festival are now facing a $100 million lawsuit

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Scott Galloway: The big 4 have created enormous wealth by tapping into our most basic instincts

The 50 best taco joints in America, ranked

If you're making mint juleps for this weekend's Kentucky Derby, here's the best way to mix the legendary cocktail

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mint julep

Walker Percy was a great, cosmopolitan southern novelist and essayist who died in 1990.

Born in Alabama, he lived much of his life in Covington, a town near New Orleans.

That's pretty far from Kentucky and the annual Run for the Roses, which takes place on Saturday at the magnificent Churchill Downs racetrack.

But the signature drink of the Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, is the mint julep. And Walker Percy knew mint juleps.

A julep is actually a pretty simple variation on the basic whiskey cocktail. We're talking about Kentucky here, so the whiskey of choice is Bourbon.

Typically, some sugar and mint is muddled at the bottom of a glass, and then in goes the ice and the booze. Cool, sweetened Bourbon, a good bit of it. A couple of these on a warm day and you're feeling no pain.

There is a more refined and meditative way to consume a mint julep, requiring a bit more time than it takes a pack of three-year-old Thoroughbreds to traverse a mile-and-a-quarter.

As it turns out, the recipe for the more elegant and literary julep comes from Percy, who won the National Book Award for his very first novel, "The Moviegoer," and who for a generation of readers defined a post-William Faulkner variety of thoughtful southern writing. I first encountered Percy's recipe back in the 1980s, when I picked up a collection of his essays, "Signposts in a Strange Land."

Walker Percy

It's simplicity itself, although you have to be patient for the alchemy of bourbon, ice, sugar, and mint to occur. And mind you, this is a Bourbon drinker's mint julep — there isn't enough sugar in it to take the edge off the liquor. In fact, it comes from Percy's short 1975 essay "Bourbon."

You need excellent Bourbon whiskey; rye or Scotch will not do. Put half an inch of sugar in the bottom of glass and merely dampen it with water. Next, very quickly — and here is the trick in the procedure — crush your ice, actually powder it, preferably in a towel with a wooden mallet, so quickly that it remains dry, and, slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside of the glass, cram the ice right to the brim, packing it with your hand. Finally, fill the glass, which apparently has no room left for anything else, with Bourbon, the older the better, and grate a bit of nutmeg on the top. The glass will frost immediately. Then settle back in your chair for half an hour of cumulative bliss.

I love that last line! Cumulative bliss! Sounds pretty good to me. I think I'll be making Percy's mint julep this weekend — as I have quite a few times before.

SEE ALSO: 9 simple and classic cocktails every adult should know how to make

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: You have to break codes to get cocktails at this spy-themed bar

The most expensive home for sale in every state

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$250 million bel air house

Homes across America continue to list for eye-popping prices. 

America's most expensive home is currently a 38,000-square-foot spec home in Bel Air. Listed for $250 million, it also comes outfitted with furniture, but it's far from standard: think decommissioned decorative helicopters, gigantic Leica camera sculptures, and velvet-roped lounge areas.

In Connecticut, you can buy "Great Island" for $175 million. 

Our friends at Trulia have helped us compile a list of the most expensive homes currently for sale in every state, plus Washington, DC. They're listed here alphabetically by state.

From a Dallas estate with its own helipad to a historic Hamptons mansion, these homes are certain to suit the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

SEE ALSO: Celine Dion has finally found a buyer for her lavish Florida mansion that has gotten $34 million in price chops since 2013

ALABAMA: The White Oak Valley Plantation is a five-bedroom hunting lodge in Jemison. The more than 2,800-acre property has two lakes and a barn.

Price: $11.9 million



ALASKA: Located on what was once a gold mining site in the late 1890s, this five-acre property offers direct access to the water for fishing and boating. It has five bedrooms across 4,322 square feet of space.

Price: $3.9 million



ARIZONA: This seven-bedroom home on Mummy Mountain Road in Paradise Valley has a whole slew of amenities: a professional recording studio, private poker room, pool with water slide, and an enormous walk-in closet. It reportedly belongs to baseball Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.

Price: $19.995 million

Source: AZ Central



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

7 essential rules for umbrella etiquette every man should follow

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umbrella manThough many men have now switched to the flimsy, collapsible, disposable umbrella, there was a time when a sturdy, pricey umbrella was as much of a gentleman's status symbol as Gucci loafers.

And at that time, there was an etiquette associated with these accessories that has been forgotten in our transition to the disposable.

So spring, the rainiest season of the year in much of the US, is the perfect time for a reminder.

As Angus Kidman of Lifehacker Australia reminds us, umbrellas expand our personal space and the room we take up on the sidewalk. Most of umbrella etiquette revolves around this fact.

But there's more to it than that.

  • Choose an umbrella size that fits yourframe, Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick of The Etiquette School of New York says. Too small an umbrella, and you're going to look ridiculous. Too big, and you're just going to look obnoxious taking up that much space on the sidewalk.
  • Wait until you're outside on the sidewalk, then open your umbrella. This may go without saying: It's rude to open an umbrella and accidentally hit someone. For the same reason, it's also rude to open it indoors – which has nothing to do with luck. 
  • When approaching someone shorter than you, it is customary to raise your umbrella so they can pass. If you're about the same height, the person with the larger umbrella should raise theirs. Getting a little wet is better than poking someone in the eye with your umbrella.
  • If you're walking with someone, regardless of gender, try to share your rain-shielding coverage. Don't be a jerk.
  • As soon as you enter a building, close your umbrella and put it in the nearest umbrella receptacle or plastic bag. Be mindful of placing your wet umbrella on seats and definitely don't shake it out indoors or on public transportation. You may not be wet, but your umbrella certainly is, and it's creating a nuisance. Additionally, watch where your collapsed umbrella is dripping.
  • When holding a dry umbrella, try not to stick it under your arm horizontally. As Napier-Fitzpatrick says, "Don't tuck it horizontally with the ends sticking out ready to stab someone." Above all, remember that an umbrella is a similar shape to a weapon and should be held with its point down as much as possible.
  • When leaving, take your umbrella. Don't take "the one you wish was yours instead," Kidman said.

SEE ALSO: Here's what every guy can learn from the best-dressed man at the Met Gala

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Scott Galloway on the biggest thing in tech in 2017: Amazon could eliminate the existence of brands with voice technology

This is the biggest mistake you're making when ordering wine at a restaurant

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glass of wine alcohol drink

It can be intimidating to order wine at a nice restaurant.

Crémant d'Alsace. Tintilla. Côte-Rôtie.

If you're like me, these names mean nothing. They look fancy, and that's about all I know. If I'm at a restaurant, my eyes are likely to gloss over these names and be drawn instead to the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Malbec, or the Pinot Noir.

I'm certainly not alone.

It turns out restaurants know that people are more likely to order the familiar wines and take advantage of our insecurities, according to Bianca Bosker, author of the best-selling book "Cork Dork."

Bosker left a job as a journalist a few years ago to join an elite class of wine experts known as sommeliers. She chronicles her epic and often tormenting quest in her book, which is full of tidbits about how the mysterious world of wine works. (Full disclosure: I worked with Bosker when I was an editor at The Huffington Post.)

According to Bosker, who worked as a "cellar rat" at New York's L'Apicio restaurant, you'll pay a so-called "gimme tax" when ordering wines that look more approachable.

"Savvy beverage directors levied a 'gimme tax' on glasses of brand-name grapes like Chardonnay and Malbec," she writes. "They could charge more because most drinkers see a familiar grape, go on autopilot, and think, Give it to me; I don’t care what it costs."

"'Cabernet' was somm-speak for 'easy money,'" she continues, referring to the "golden rule" of sommeliers: "You can't make margin on s--- people don't know."

This blew my mind. Not only do I overpay for the most familiar wines, I also probably overlook good deals on wines no one has ever heard of, according to Bosker. 

She offers some advice on how to avoid paying this premium.

"When I went out to eat, I started steering clear of the classic crowd pleasers," she writes. "For a shot at drinking great wine for good value, I stuck to whatever looked unfamiliar and vaguely intimidating — say, a Mondeuse Noire from the Savoie in France."

SEE ALSO: These are the secret codes that restaurants use to refer to their high-roller guests

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NOW WATCH: Know these terms to sound like a wine expert

Here's how often you should wash and dry clean everything in your closet

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Doing laundry stinks, but it's a necessary part of adult life. Fortunately, not every piece of clothing we wear needs to be washed or dry cleaned immediately after we're done with it.

Sure, things like t-shirts, socks, and underwear should go in the wash after each use. But other staples like coats, jeans, and sweaters can last a lot longer than you might imagine.

If you've been wondering when to clean everything in your closet, this guide is for you.

When to wash clothes2

SEE ALSO: 7 essential rules for umbrella etiquette every man should follow

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NOW WATCH: A cleaning expert reveals her 3-step method for cleaning your entire home quickly

Surreal photos of China's failed 'city of the future'

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Ordos China Architecture 6580

The once flush-with-cash town of Ordos, China, has been called the world's largest ghost town.

In the early 2000s, a coal-mining boom led local government to throw money at urban development there, in the hopes of creating a new epicenter of culture, economy, and politics.

Ordos New Town, also known as Kangbashi, would hold 1 million residents and be known for its massive abstract architecture projects, residential towers, and state-of-the-art sports venues. (Developers later scaled back the concept-city to accommodate 300,000 residents.)

But high property taxes and poor construction deterred people from settling in Ordos. In 2016, some 100,000 people lived and worked there — leaving the city two-thirds empty.

"The whole city feels like a post-apocalyptic space station straight out of a science fiction movie," says photographer Raphael Olivier, who captured the city in a series titled, "Ordos - A Failed Utopia."

Olivier shared some of his spectacular images with us. You can check out more on his website.

SEE ALSO: These 7 charts show what life will be like in the year 2300

Located in the remote province of Inner Mongolia, Ordos sits on one-sixth of China's coal reserves — making it an attractive center for development.

Source: The Huffington Post



In the late '90s and early 2000s, private mining companies got the rights to dig into those deposits. The influx of new business generated lots of tax revenue.

Source: The New York Times



"The local government decided to build this overly ambitious city from scratch," Olivier tells Business Insider. In 2005, it began investing hundreds of millions into real estate and infrastructure.

Source: The Huffington Post



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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