Real Estate Trivia

Need a break from studying? Then it's time for real estate trivia!

Ian Henchy

Ian Henchy

Need a break from studying the Massachusetts Real Estate licensing exam, but want to keep your general attention focused on real estate? Then it's time for real estate trivia!

Though these fun RE facts might not help you very much on your exam, (okay- they totally won't help you at all with the exam), these interesting real estate facts are fun tidbits to drop into convseration. Half of this fun real estate trivia is about Boston, and the other half is about properties scattered all over the globe.

10 Fun Real Estate Facts

Let's start off with the local flavor:

1.) The narrowest apartment in Boston, known as the "Skinny House," is located on Hull Street in Boston's North End. Originally built as a spite house shortly after the Civil War, this truly weird real estate oddity is still occupied today. At its widest point, the Skinny House is only 10.4 feet wide, and the narrowest point in the building is a mere 6.2 feet of real estate! It's so small that it doesn't have a front door: access to the apartment can only be gained through a side door in an adjacent alley. Funny though it may seem, Zillow estimates that the property is worth over $750,000.

2.) The tallest building in Boston is the John Hancock Tower at 790 feet. This is probably one of the better known of our real estate fun facts. But, what you may not know, is that if we considered the tip of the Prudential Tower antenna to be its highest point, it would edge out the John Hancock Tower by over 100 feet at a massive 907 feet tall. (The official measured height of the Prudential Tower itself is 749 feet.)

But don't get too cocky, Prudential Tower. The proposal for a new development where the Winthrop Square Garage currently resides would make take the record for the second highest Boston skyscraper when it is completed. The development's tallest proposed tower would reach a staggering 780 feet, though several other proposals suggesting a more modest 750 foot tower.

3.) A historic Civil War era fort, Fort Warren, resides on one of Boston's Harbor islands. It can be visited during the summer months. Originally built to defend Boston Harbor during the Civil War, Fort Warren later became a prison for captured Confederates. Located on beautiful George's Island, the fort was restored and opened to the public in 1961. It's just a quick ferry ride from Boston, Hingham or Hull, and is well worth the trip. I was totally unaware that Boston's Harbor islands even existed for my first seven years here, which is why I chose to include this bit of real estate fun on the list! The ferry will transport you between several of the harbor islands on the same day for a few extra dollars, so be sure to visit Spectacle Island while you're on the harbor for one of the most breathtaking views of Boston out there.

(Bonus fun fact: For the best view of the Boston skyline from land, try Robbins Farm Park in Arlington. You will not be disappointed. If you make the trip on a cloudy day and the view isn't up to par, there is still a colossal slide which will take you from the parking lot all the way down to a playground. It makes a great consolation prize!)

4.) The first woman convicted of being a "witch" in Puritan Colonial Boston was hanged at what is now East Berkeley at Washington Street in the South End. Though the "witch trials" are often associated with Salem, Massachusetts, the first woman to be tried and hanged was a Bostonian. Although no sign of the old town gate or the gallows themselves was preserved past the early 20th century, there is a bar called "The Gallows" nearby at 1395 Washington Street. It's a great place to hang out.

5.) The oldest standing african american church is located at 8 Smith Court in Beacon Hill. You could pass by the African Meeting House without ever realizing the massive historical significance this piece of real estate holds. Founded by New Hampshire preacher Thomas Paul in 1805, the church would later become the site where William Lloyd Garrison founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Presidential candidate and famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass also recruited troops for Massachusetts regiments here during the Civil War. Today, the building houses the Museum of African-American History.

Now that we've learned five facts about real estate in Boston, let's learn some fun real estate facts from around the globe:

6.) The oldest house built in the UK pre-dates Stonehenge by more than 6,000 years! Recently uncovered by archaeologists, the oldest wooden house discovered in the UK was built some time around 8,500BC! This discovery fundamentally changed archaeologists' estimates about the first settlers's return to Britain after the last ice age.

7.) The new world's tallest building - overtaking Dubai's Burj Khalifa - will be Saudi Arabia's 1km tall Kingdom Tower. If you were impressed by Boston's 790 foot Hancock Tower, the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia will really blow you away. The skyscraper - set to be completed by 2018 - will reach a staggering 1km in height! This monolith will be a full 558 feet taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is currently the world's tallest building. This cloud-penetrating monolith will contain a hotel and offices, but will mainly be comprised of residences for those people brave enough to live above the clouds. As someone who is not very comfortable with heights, I'll take a pass!

8.) Bran Castle - where Vlad the Impaler was briefly imprisoned - recently came on the market for a cool $66 million in 2014. Ever wanted to live in total isolation in a creepy castle? Your big chance came in 2014 when Bran Castle in Transylvania was listed for sale! Though known colloquially as "Dracula's Castle", neither a vampire nor his inspiration - Vlad the Impaler- actually lived in this property for a meaningful amount of time. Vlad the Impaler was briefly imprisoned here at one point, but that is about as far as the mythology goes. Regardless, I'm not sure how many buyers would be in the market for this historic property, given the price-tag was rumored to be $66 million.

9.) Monaco, located along the French Riviera, has the highest property prices in the world. For $1,000,000, you can buy a measly 15 square meters of property in Monaco. Luckily there is no restriction placed upon foreigners who want to purchase property in this French city-state, so go ahead and purchase that million dollar shack you've had your eye on!

And last, but certainly not least…

10.) Built to resemble a palace like Versailles, Chateau Louis XIV was the most expensive home ever sold at $301 million. This strange piece of property reportedly took 200 years to build, thereby ensuring that the original developer would never see the fruits of his labor. The property includes such wild amenities as a full aquarium, a meditation room, a full cinema, a 3000 bottle wine cellar, and a nightclub. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were reportedly considering the estate for the site of their wedding, but ultimately opted for another venue. Though there are properties currently listed for more than Chateau Louis XIV, it still holds the title of "most expensive property ever sold."

I hope you have enjoyed your study break! This trivia falls under the umbrella of "real estate agent facts that no one really needs to know," but you never know when they'll come in handy. Now, time to get back to studying!

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