In the face of development, some steadfast souls refuse to budge.

Narita Airport Farms, Tokyo
Narita Airport Farms, Tokyo

The fate of the late Edith Macefield's Seattle house—sandwiched in the middle of a shopping mall—is uncertain. (David Ryder/Reuters)

Everyone loves an underdog story—and real estate holdouts, such as Edith Macefield’s house in Seattle, are revered examples. Macefield was an elderly resident who refused to sell to developers who wanted to build a shopping mall where her home stood; they ended up constructing the mall around three sides of the house.

Meanwhile, China’s construction boom has given rise to “nail houses,” homes that remain in the middle of construction sites, roads, and new housing developments after their owners rebuff government efforts to remove them.  

Macefield died in 2008, and it’s unclear what will become of her home. In China, nail house owners often ultimately vacate, particularly because authorities have the power to cut off their electricity and water.

But some holdouts seem to hang on.