Having a less-than-stellar credit score, a lot of debt, or not enough cash for a down payment has traditionally been a major hurdle for aspiring home buyers trying to get a mortgage.
Mortgage lenders are increasingly taking another look at slightly more risky applicants and those who have been denied loans in the past, according to a recent piece by syndicated housing columnist Kenneth R. Harney. That’s worrying some observers, because it was bad mortgages that plunged the country into a financial crisis more than a decade ago.
Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and U.S. Department of Agriculture are also doling out loans that are a little more risky than the ones they had been granting since the financial crash. Borrowers can score an FHA loan with just 3% down, while both the VA and USDA offer mortgages with no down payment.
That’s great news for wannabe homeowners who would have been sidelined otherwise.
“With high prices, it’s more expensive to buy a house now than in the last seven years,” says realtor.com®’s chief economist, Danielle Hale. The national median home list price reached a high of $300,000 in March. “It’s great to see lenders are trying to help more people.”
More borrowers carrying just a bit more debt are now being approved for loans at CIBM Mortgage in Indianapolis, says lender Dan Frommeyer. The lender’s change comes in response to rising mortgage interest rates as well as high housing prices.
“Every time the rate goes up, there’s a reduction in people who can afford to buy a house,” Frommeyer says.
Folks applying for loans still need to have credit scores of 670 or 680 for FHA, VA, and USDA loans, he says. Those seeking conventional loans, which can be backed by Fannie and Freddie, typically need scores of 700 and above.
To put the risk into perspective, there’s just a 3% risk that a borrower will default on a Fannie or Freddie loan, according to the Urban Institute. It was over 7% in 2007.
“It’s a little more risk from a very, very low base of risk,” says Laurie Goodman, co-director of the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center.
She’s not worried that the ever-so-slight loosening of loan requirements will lead to mass defaults and waves of foreclosures like what happened after the bubble burst.
“It’s still too hard to get a mortgage [as] mortgages tend to be reserved for those with very good credit,” says Goodman, adding that there’s plenty of room to safely expand the pool of borrowers.
That may soothe those worried about a repeat of the housing collapse.
“Even though it’s a little bit less strict, it’s still much stricter than it was before the bust,” Hale says.
Quite a few homes have landed on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to notable past residents. Others make the list because of a legendary builder. Whatever the reason, each home on the register has been deemed worthy of preservation and protection—in the national interest.
Created in 1966, the National Register now includes more than 92,000 properties that are part of the fabric of the country’s shared heritage. Owners of such a special property must agree to certain limitations on how much of the structure can be changed, in order to preserve its historic value. Purchasing one means owning a piece of, and place in, American history.
If you’d like to be a steward of one of these historic residences, several are available as we speak. To aid your hunt, we’ve pinpointed nine homes on the National Register you can buy right now. Take a look, and step back in time—and into one of these lovely abodes.
Price: $409,000 Historic record: Built in 1893 by James T. Adams for his son, Charles, this Queen Anne Victorian has been lovingly preserved. From the wood accents to the foyer and grand staircase, every aspect of the four-bedroom home has been carefully maintained. Recent updates include a new kitchen with copper farm sink and double oven. In the backyard, 5,000 brick pavers were removed from the basement and repurposed to build new walkways and a patio.
Price: $1,600,000 Historic record: This landmark in the heart of Old Town Tustin was built in 1881 by San Francisco builder David Hewes with old-growth redwood and handmade, square-cut iron nails. Sitting on a half-acre with a semicircular driveway, the home creates a fantastic first impression. The formal entry, 12-foot ceilings, and original windows are perfect for those who appreciate history and tradition. The interiors have been updated where appropriate, including a remodeled kitchen with custom cabinets, a caterer’s service porch, and a wine cellar.
Price: $575,000 Historic record: Built in 1890, this home in west Tennessee sits on almost a full acre filled with mature trees. Updates to the four-bedroom home include a detached three-car garage with a studio apartment. Interiors still feature original heart pine flooring throughout, and the large front porch looks like an inviting place to spend a spring day.
Watch: The Oldest House for Sale in America Is One for the History Books
Price: $675,000 Historic record: Built in 1889 for Kansas City Mayor George Shelley, this Italianate-Queen Anne home sits on more than a third of an acre in the heart of Hyde Park. Original features include leaded art glass, cherry and oak mantels, custom woodwork, brass hardware, and pocket doors. The five-bedroom home boasts 10.5-foot ceilings with rewired antique chandeliers and has a new roof.
Price: $1,200,000 Historic record: Built in 1803, this grand home outside Cincinnati is known as the James Baxter house. The six-bedroom main residence sits on a manicured 2.6-acre lot and measures more than 6,200 square feet. The interiors feature original walnut and cherry moldings and hardwood floors. For family and friends, there’s a five-room guesthouse also on the property.
Price: $1,950,000 Historic record: Known in the area simply as “The Mansion,” this home built in 1874 is currently used as an office building. The six-bedroom, 9,000-square-foot building sits on just over an acre, which also holds a 2,100-square-foot building that could be a rental property. The main house is seriously formal and designed to impress, with marble floors, ornate fireplaces, and custom woodwork throughout.
Price: $499,900 Historic record: Known as the Frank B. Whiting home, this impressive residence features historic charm on the outside and cool modern style inside. Located on Doty Island in Lake Winnebago, the five-bedroom, three-story home sits on more than an acre.
Price: $1,849,000 Historic record: Called Aufenthalt, this lavish home was built in 1881. Designed by architect Clarence S. Luce, it served as the summer home for Letitia B. Sargent. With seven bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, a large yard and a prime location, this property—with approval from the zoning board—has serious potential as a bed-and-breakfast. The current owner recently completed an extensive interior and exterior renovation, making it a move-in ready historic gem.
Price: $795,000 Historic record: Built in 1882, this Charleston single-style (long and shallow) home sits on nearly a full acre in a prestigious historic district under a canopy of centuries-old trees. The four-bedroom home boasts double piazzas, original heart pine floors, large windows with original glass, and five fireplaces. The entire affair is gated with a picture-perfect white picket fence.
Donald Trump Jr. may keep a fairly low profile compared with his president dad, but Donald Trump‘s oldest son did recently make headlines for almost turning down a posh vacation mansion in the Hamptons.
The reason? According to the New York Post, the house lacked a secure room to store his guns.
After hearing about Trump Jr.’s dilemma, we couldn’t help but wonder if he was the only home shopper who prioritizes such a home feature—and apparently he’s got plenty of company!
We dug through our listings and found more than 400 homes currently on the market that tout a gun room.
Wherever you stand on the firearms debate, gun rooms raise plenty of questions. If you’re selling a home with a gun room, should you mention it? If you’re buying a place with a gun room, are there safety concerns? Here’s everything you need to know.
Should you mention a gun room in the listing?
Although gun rooms are a bit of a niche item, “when potential buyers read that a house has a gun room, they will likely not have a neutral reaction,” says Eric Vaughn, a real estate agent with Upchurch Realty, in Athens, GA.
AmandaGraham, a Washington, DC–based real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty, agrees that some buyers might have mixed feelings upon seeing pictures of a gun room in a listing.
“The popularity [of a gun room] varies by location,” she says. “For instance, home buyers in New York [City] most likely would not see this as desirable, versus a home buyer in Idaho.”
Despite this, Graham suggests including a gun room in the listing since potential buyers will find out about it when they eventually tour the home.
“After all, this could end up being a desirable feature,” she says.
What safety features does a gun room require?
A gun room isn’t just any room with a few lockers for gun storage. Most are constructed below ground, in a vault or basement.
Teris Pantazes, co-founder of home preparation service Settle Rite, notes that most gun rooms have specific safety features, such as the following:
A fortified door with heavy-duty locks
Lockable display cabinets
For extra safety, some gun room doors include a deadbolt that locks with a key from the outside but can also be turned on the inside—so no one accidentally gets trapped inside, says Jordan Barkin, a real estate agent with Harry Norman Realtors in Atlanta.
Barkin also notes that careful owners of gun rooms will install LED bulbs and a switch both inside and outside the vault, so nobody gets stuck fumbling around in the dark.
A gun room’s impact on resale
Given the niche market of a gun room, how will one affect a home’s resale value?
“Most people will see a gun room as a potential waste of space,” says Lior Rachmany, CEO of Dumbo Moving + Storage. “Even people who have one or two guns wouldn’t usually dedicate an entire room for their guns.”
Rachmany adds that since potential homeowners like to imagine themselves in their future home, a gun room can be an instant turnoff for some.
“Gun rooms are big statements, so be prepared that it can hinder you selling your home,” he warns.
But if you’re OK with a smaller pool of buyers, there is a plus side: “These rooms could attract gun collectors,” he says.
How to list a home with a gun room
When listing a home that includes a gun room, first and foremost mention the room’s safety features. And while including a gun room in your listing photos is fine, all firearms should be removed from your home before your first open house.
“I highly recommend removing all guns from the premise and storing them off-site,” Pantazes says. “Even if there’s a locked area [in your home] that is part of your amenity list, I would recommend clearing it of weapons and ammunition and leaving in an unlocked position so any potential buyers might be able to look inside and visualize their own firearms.”
In fact, Pantazes even suggests advertising the room as either a gun/safety room or a secure storage room for valuables.
“I would include the word ‘gun’ but not make it the sole focus,” he says.
Vaughn agrees that rebranding the room might help reel buyers in.
“It can be included as ‘secure storage closet’ or something similar,” he says. “This description is less likely to leave viewers who couldn’t care less about a gun room thinking, ‘Well, what would I do with that?’”
As we all know, home decor trends come and go, often so fast that it can be hard to follow what’s in and what’s decidedly out.
Luckily for us, online retailer Wayfair has been keeping track. The home goods company shared with us its list of the top-selling home goods so far in April—and while most of the items are stylish yet standard home decor fare (bar stools, rugs, TV stands, and the like), some of the most popular items made us scratch our heads.
Now, let’s be clear: These items aren’t necessarily weird—but it’s kind of weird that they’re selling like hotcakes. Or hey, maybe we’re wrong. You tell us. Here are some of America’s top-selling home decor items that made us do a double take.
Top-selling item: Hand-painted Talavera tile
The hand-painted design on this decorative Talavera tile ($17.27) offers intricate variations of green, blue, yellow, and red, and each tile is fired twice at high temperatures for extra durability.
KimberlyWhite, senior director of design services at Vacasa, predicts that this style will be wildly popular this summer.
“Print, patterns, and saturated colors are huge right now, and what I love about this tile is that there are enough hues for this piece to fit in nicely with many different palettes and styles,” she says.
Agreed! We won’t deny that we love this vibrant look. But this tile’s bright colors scream “warm weather,” which is a bit of a head-scratcher for Alaska. Plus, since each individual tile costs $17, using them to remodel a space can get very expensive, very quickly. Alaskans, what are you doing with these tiles?
Top-selling item: Onion grass spray
It’s no secret that Chip and Joanna Gaines have popularized the modern farmhouse trend, and the right accessories can channel that aesthetic. And while this onion grass ($18), which is just under 2 feet high, can be an easy way to incorporate the “Fixer Upper” couple’s signature outdoor elements into your home, it’s far too pricey for being, well, a piece of grass.
Wayfair suggests adding it as a filler piece for floral arrangements or using it in bunches to create a dramatic and rustic look. However, at $18 a pop—and given that you would need a multitude of onion spray grass to make a fashionable bundle—this would cost a fortune.
These cowboy boot bottle openers ($33.24) are cute, but we would never have imagined them being so popular as to rank at the top of the best-selling list. Perhaps somebody scooped up a bunch as wedding favors at a country-themed ceremony—or a shotgun wedding?
A-plus for kitsch, but B-minus for practicality: The openers are made of antique brass—meaning you should think twice before getting them wet when you crack that cold beer.
Top-selling item: Orange pendant light
While orange home decor might be having a moment (it’s easily a cousin to 2019’s Color of the Year, Coral), adding these bright pendant lights ($99) to your home could spark a serious reaction from guests or potential buyers, says Rebekah Clark, owner of Decorating Dens Interiors at Clark Team Designs.
“With orange, you either love it or you hate it,” Clark says.
White agrees that the pendant, with its vibrant color, is a surprise at the top of Wayfair’s list.
“This orange is highly saturated and typically not a perfect fit for everyone and every space,” she says.
But we’re betting the buyers of this box didn’t check the materials first. This tissue holder is made from wicker, which can attract mildew if exposed to water (i.e., in your bathroom). In this case, a plastic tissue box is a better choice.
Top-selling item: Butterfly-patterned teacup and saucer set
This nature-inspired teacup and saucer set ($47.94) might be a green thumb’s dream, but we’re having a hard time imagining throngs of New Mexicans being on board with this aesthetic.
Both the cup and saucer feature a silver trim, a sage green band, and a colorful butterfly print on top of greenery. To top it off, the words “butterflies,” “flowers,” and “garden” are repeated behind the print.
We can’t help but feel like we’ve seen this look before—in Grandma’s kitchen.
Marriott InternationalInc. is starting a new home-rental business, aiming to take on Airbnb Inc. and other home-sharing companies in one of the lodging industry’s hottest segments.
The Bethesda, Md.-based company could unveil details for the plan’s first phase as early as next month, according to people familiar with the matter.
Marriott is the world’s biggest hotel operator with about 1.3 million guest rooms globally, according to data tracker STR Inc. Now, the company is poised to be the first major hotel company to create a U.S. home-rental platform. It follows a pilot program in Europe and marks the next step in the company’s plans to go global with the business, these people said.
Marriott, which owns the Sheraton, W Hotels, and Ritz-Carlton brands, would allow home-rental guests to earn and redeem loyalty points as they do when booking a stay at any other Marriott property, said the people familiar with the program.
Other big U.S. hotel operators, including Hilton Worldwide HoldingsInc. and Hyatt HotelsCorp., also have been exploring or studying the home-rental business, some of the people said. Some hotel executives, who had long dismissed Airbnb and Expedia GroupInc.’s HomeAway as competitors, now believe they are growing in part at the expense of hotel companies, especially with leisure travelers and large families.
At the same time, Airbnb has been moving aggressively into the traditional hospitality business. Airbnb said last month it was acquiring Hotel Tonight Inc., a company that culls inventory from hotels and offers discounted rooms. It also recently invested in the Indian hotel-booking company Oyo Hotels & Homes.
Airbnb has the largest home-rental platform with nearly 5 million accommodations globally, according to data tracker AirDNA and based on listings with at least one booking in a month. Airbnb’s website puts the figure at more than 6 million, based on active listings.
The San Francisco startup is expected to pursue an initial public offering next year, bankers say, and some hotel-industry executives say that prospect is driving a convergence between home-rental companies and hotel operators. Airbnb is looking to diversify its offerings before going public, while hotel companies want a piece of the home-rental business before an IPO helps Airbnb solidify its position.
The promise of new competition in its core business comes as Airbnb already faces heightened scrutiny from city governments that say some Airbnb hosts have turned their homes into illegal hotels.
New York City passed a law last year that would have required Airbnb and other home-sharing services to disclose to the city detailed listing information, although a federal judge in Manhattan blocked it as too broad. Airbnb has said the law protected the hotel industry while trampling on hosts’ rights.
Marriott would have to abide by any other city restrictions on short-term rentals, but people familiar with the company’s thinking say executives decided the home-rental market was too big an opportunity to pass up.
“It’s clear that the home sharing phenomenon is here to stay, and hotel companies want to make sure they get their piece of this pie,” said Ryan Meliker, an industry professional who has worked as a hotel investor and a Wall Street lodging analyst.
Entering the home-sharing business isn’t without risk. The big hotel operators work primarily on management or franchise basis these days, licensing their brands to hotel owners. By offering apartment rentals, they risk alienating their hotel partners by creating new competition.
Maintaining the brands’ same fire and safety requirements in apartment buildings has been another challenge. Hotels often have stricter standards than many apartment buildings. Fire stairwells in some residential buildings are too narrow to meet the hotel operators code, which would eliminate certain buildings.
Marriott’s successful pilot rental program in Europe is expected to serve as a model for the U.S. initiative, say people familiar with the matter. The hotel company joined with Hostmaker, a London-based home-rental management company, to offer home-sharing stays at 340 properties in Paris, Rome, Lisbon and London. Marriott is working with one or more property management firms in the U.S., some of these people said.
Marriott found that guests tended to stay more than twice the typical hotel length, and the rentals appealed to customers who wanted more space and kitchen and laundry facilities. The European homes included a 24-hour support line and an in-person check-in at the property through Hostmaker, Marriott has said.
Other global hospitality brands have also dabbled in the home-rental business, but without much to show for it. Hyatt took a minority stake in onefinestay, a company that enables travelers to rent upscale private homes.
Accor, the giant Paris-based hotel company, acquired onefinestay in 2016 but noted in an October 2018 press release that the unit had turned in a “negative performance.” An Accor spokeswoman said the company is “continuing its work to turn onefinestay around, primarily through rationalization programs,” and that it was introducing new home collections.
Hyatt also took a stake in Oasis Collections and incorporated the home-rental firm’s listings into its distribution system and loyalty program. After the rental-management company Vacasa LLC bought Oasis last year, Hyatt said it was ending its affiliation with Oasis.
Airbnb, meanwhile, is courting business travelers. It developed a unit aimed at corporate travelers that Airbnb says has attracted 400,000 companies, and it is leading a $160 million funding round for Lyric, a luxury-rental startup that caters to business travelers by offering hotel services such as room cleaning and 24-hour customer support.
Referring to any new competitors in the apartment-rental business, Airbnb’s head of policy and communications Chris Lehane offered this: “We welcome them to the party and wish them bon voyage.”
Marriott’s foray into the home-rental business shows how far the hotel industry has come in recognizing the threat to its business from Airbnb.
Even with much of the hospitality industry now embracing the home-rental business, many key players remain ambivalent, including Hilton chief executive officer Chris Nassetta. “We really view home sharing as a different business,” he said in a statement, adding, “we may think differently in the future.”
Turn your backyard into a cozy camp spot by making your own fire pit. This DIY project is easy to complete, and you’ll be making s’mores around the fire in no time.
Before you begin building, consult your local fire code to see if fire pits are allowed in your city and, if so, how far away the fire pit has to be from a structure.
Then, gather your supplies:
Bricks for the fire pit wall
Twine or string
When purchasing bricks for the fire pit wall, go for something sturdy like retaining wall bricks or concrete pavers. Some home improvement stores even carry bricks specifically designed for fire pits. Use a layer of firebricks, which have a higher heat resistance, on the inner layer of the fire pit as an extra safety measure.
Now that you have all your supplies and you’ve checked your local fire code, you’re ready to build!
1. Create a circle
Pick a spot for your fire pit (ensuring that it is located a safe distance from any structures, bushes or trees) and insert a stake in the ground where the center of the pit will be.
Tie one end of the string or twine to the stake and measure how wide you want your circle to be.
Typically, a fire pit has a diameter of about 4-5 feet. Cut the string and tie the other end to the handle of a trowel. With the string or twine taut, drag the sharp end of the trowel around in a circle, creating a line in the grass.
2. Shovel out the grass
Using a large shovel, dig out the grass inside the circle.
For safety purposes, the hole for a fire pit should be about 6-12 inches deep. Be sure to call 811 before you start digging to ensure there are no utility lines buried under the spot you’ve chosen.
3. Tamp down the dirt
If you don’t have a tamp, you can just use the bottom of your shovel.
4. Make sure the circle is level
Get down on the ground with your level to ensure that the surface is ready for the bricks. Keep making small adjustments until it’s completely level.
5. Add gravel
Put a pretty thick layer of gravel in the fire pit (at least a couple of inches). Spread the gravel around evenly.
6. Arrange the bricks
After you’ve spread the gravel around, arrange your bricks in a circle and stack them in layers until the fire pit wall is at least 12 inches tall.
For extra safety, you have the option to put an inner layer of firebricks. Though you don’t need to use mortar if the bricks are heavy enough to make a sturdy stack, you can use an outdoor fire-resistant mortar between the bricks for extra stability.
7. Relax and enjoy!
Gather a couple of Adirondack chairs, some firewood, a few friends and campfire treats to get full use out of your new fire pit.
A near-record number of college graduates are set to walk across that long stage to pick up their degrees and kick off their lives in earnest. But this first wave of Gen Z grads—most born after (gulp) 1996—face some unprecedented challenges on their hops, skips, and jumps to adulthood. It’s a classic good news, bad news story. The good: a supercharged economy with low unemployment. The bad: boundary-breaking levels of student debt, monthly rents, and real estate prices. Yikes!
Choices, choices. Where to start out? Many of the places with the brightest career trajectories, highest-paying jobs, and liveliest social scenes are the same exact places where struggling 20-somethings are going to have to scrape together a small fortune for rent—let alone buying a home. That doesn’t leave much for, um, life. Meanwhile, many cities offering cheap housing also have some of the grimmest professional (and romantic) prospects.
So what’s a new newly minted college grad to do? Realtor.com®’s studious data team found the best cities for new degree-holders that offer just the right mixture of housing affordability, career opportunities, and great dating scenes. Hey, success is lonely without someone to share it with.
“As graduates consider where they should move for that first job, they need to consider if that place has a good level of real affordability,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research for Meyers Research, a real estate and construction data firm. And more and more, that may well mean passing on ultrapricey cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in favor of smaller cities that offer a primo combination of diversified career growth and achievable lifestyles.
Certainly there is no shortage of folks about to make these decisions. At 3.9 million strong, the 2019 class will be the second-largest ever, according to the U.S. Department of Education. For those keeping track, that’s about 1 million associate’s degrees, 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees, 780,000 master’s degrees, and 182,000 doctorate, medical, and law degrees. Phew! The number of undergrads has risen 17.5% in the past decade.
To find out where they should all go, we looked at the following metrics for the 100 largest metropolitan areas* in the country:
Median income for households aged 25 to 34; incomes for residents with a bachelor’s degree
Five-year wage growth
Percentage of college grads, percentage of singles
Median one-bedroom apartment rents
Median home prices
Housing affordability (median mortgage vs. take-home pay, for 25- to 34-year-olds)**
Number of venues for nightlife, bars, gyms, karaoke, sports bars, and social clubs on Yelp
So, before all those caps get thrown in the air, let’s look at these best markets for those with brand-new diplomas. It’s our graduation gift!
Median list price: $330,000 Unemployment rate: 2.4% 5-year wage growth: 21.1%
Home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and its more than 40,000 students, Madison has a thriving nightlife and music scene, a surprisingly strong job market, and a reasonable cost of living.
“If you look at a lot of Midwestern industrial cities, their companies aren’t growing much,” says Wisconsin-based career coach Bill McGinnis of Exponential Careers. But in Madison, there are “a lot of start-ups and older companies growing very fast.”
Indeed, SwanLeap, a Madison-based business bringing artificial intelligence to logistics, was named the fastest-growing company in the nation last year by Inc. Magazine.
While Madison’s home prices are a bit above the $300,000 national median, bargains abound. Twenty-somethings with good jobs can score a condo for around $200,000 near downtown.
And it’s not too hard to meet a mate in the city known for its brewhouses.
“Madison has a lot of young residents, which makes finding friends and relationships much easier,” McGinnis says.
Median list price: $360,000 Unemployment rate: 3% 5-year wage growth: 24.2%
It’s not surprising that new grads are flocking en masse to the capital of Texas—it’s an infinitely more affordable tech hub than Silicon Valley, and has way better music and tacos to boot.
Prices within the city limits are high, at a median $545,100. So younger buyers typically head to the surrounding suburbs or nearby, smaller cities. One hot spot is Manor, 20 minutes from downtown. A recently built three-bedroom, one-story home is going for $230,000. The lower price point explains why realtor.com named Manor one of the fastest-growing suburbs.
It’s worth noting, though, that the recent building boom in the area has helped bring down prices. Median home prices in the metro dropped 2.4% year over year.
“Austin is a very outdoor-friendly destination, and I think that’s a huge driver for recent grads,” says Brad Pauly, a local broker with Pauly Presley Realty. “All those green spaces, trails, lakes, and natural pools are very appealing.”
But what makes it a truly kick-ass place for singles? There’s “culture here as well as fantastic beer and food scenes. It’s very easy to mingle,” Pauly says.
Median list price: $250,000 Unemployment rate: 3.8% 5-year wage growth: 18.7%
The hottest housing market in the nation isn’t on the East or West Coast—it’s the capital of Ohio. And thanks to a surge in young professionals moving to the city in America’s heartland, the popularity of walkable neighborhoods near downtown has exploded. These include German Village, known for its brick cottages, or Grandview Heights, with charming homes built in the ’30s and ’40s.
“Microbreweries are popping up everywhere in these neighborhoods—they’ve become cool places to eat and grab a drink,” says Lee Ritchie, a real estate agent at Re/Max Metro Plus.
Columbus sees a lot of grads from Ohio State University who decide to stick around. But it also attracts professionals who work at Fortune 500 companies such as Nationwide Mutual Insurance, and L Brands (Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works).
Median list price: $219,100 Unemployment rate: 3.5% 5-year wage growth: 18.9%
It’s common for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh students to head to Pennsylvania’s state capital after graduation. Harrisburg has tons of good government, political, and lobbying jobs.
But Harrisburg’s biggest draw is affordability. With rent and home prices so low, the median $68,500 household income of millennials here can stretch a great deal. Buyers can easily find older homes in need of some work for under $150,000. Those looking for new construction can try Mayberry, a growing subdivision where new Craftsman-style homes start around $300,000.
Extracurriculars? Try joining the popular running groups that jog through the 229-acre Wildwood Park near downtown.
Median list price: $295,100 Unemployment rate: 2.9% 5-year wage growth: 21%
Grand Rapids’ rep as Beer City USA has helped it to attract millennials who might have otherwise headed to larger Midwestern cities.
“A lot of kids may think Chicago or New York are the best places for them, but when they start drilling down the numbers, they realize they won’t be able to afford much,” says Trisha Cornelius, a real estate agent with Keller Williams. “Grand Rapids is a hidden gem where they can get a good job, pay little rent, and have all those big-city amenities.”
For weekend fun, folks head to the Pyramid Scheme, a pub and music venue in the Heartside Neighborhood which hosts bands and events like Yoga Mondays. Another great place to meet people is the Watersview Rooftop Bar—offering, as the name suggests, a sweet combo of awesome views of the river and tasty cocktails.
Many younger residents rent lofts in converted warehouses or new apartment buildings near downtown which go for $800 to $1,400. When they’re ready to buy, they can get find deals such as this remodeled, four-bedroom home with a front porch for just $175,000. But they had better not wait too long: Earlier this year realtor.com named Grand Rapids the top market poised to skyrocket in 2019.
After years of huge price appreciation, Nashville home list prices are beginning to fall, dropping 1.5% year over year. That’s music to the ears of buyers. Condos with balconies can go for under $250,000. Plus, there are still a few single-family homes around $300,000 on the market.
The city also has plenty of good-paying jobs. Amazon announced in November it would bring 5,000 corporate jobs averaging $150,000 salaries to Nashville.
And folks who tie the knot here don’t have to travel far for the festivities: Nashville has become a mecca for bachelorette parties.
Median list price: $180,000 Unemployment rate: 4.3% 5-year wage growth: 15.9%
The tech companies that have moved into the old factories and warehouses lining the Allegheny River are attracting young engineers to the Steel City. Pittsburgh has offices for big companies like Uber, Facebook, and Google—as well as fast-growing start-ups like Duolingo, an online language learning service.
“We have a big influx of people from Long Island and the rest of the New York City area,” says Bobby West, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker. “They can no longer afford to buy homes around their friends and family there.”
Young grads often get apartments in Lawrenceville, a former working-class neighborhood that’s been transformed into a hipster enclave full of new breweries and cafes. Once they get sick of shelling out around $1,500 per month on an apartment there, they might head to a community like Brighton Heights, around 15 minutes from downtown, where they can find three-bedroom, ’50s ranches for under $150,000.
“Pittsburgh is not a McMansion city. Our homes are usually [built] pre-1950s,” says West. “They are popular with first-time home buyers who want something charming.”
Median list price: $210,300 Unemployment rate: 3.8% 5-year wage growth: 17.9%
St. Louis is hard at work revitalizing its downtown, a project it’s dubbed the Downtown Next 2020 plan. It includes deep dives into the renovation of historic neighborhoods (Garment District, you’re next) and even improving landscaping across the area. And it’s already paying off as more local grads from schools like Washington University and Webster University are putting down roots.
Ands there’s plenty of fun things to do here. A great way to meet locals is through the communal love of the St. Louis Cardinals—expressed either in Busch Stadium or one of the many, many beer bars that’ll be showing the game. What else would you expect from the hometown of sudsy juggernaut Anheuser-Busch?
Median list price: $475,100 Unemployment rate: 3.3% 5-year wage growth: 24.7%
Between the many hiking, kayaking, and skiing opportunities in the mountains, the legal recreational weed, and the high-flying start-up scene, the Mile High City is an aspirational landing spot for many recent grads. But its popularity has also driven up real estate prices.
“The starter home range is the minimum of $300,000 to $500,000. You can’t find anything under that right now,” Ryan Penn, associate broker at 360dwellings Real Estate in Denver, tells realtor.com.
Someone aged 25 to 34 would need to plunk down one-third of their income on a median-priced home on the market. That’s higher than the other places on the ranking and a little more than the rule of thumb advising folks not to spend more than 28% of their monthly income before taxes on housing. But it’s still lower than Seattle, San Francisco, and many other big cities in the West. And this market is still seeing some of the biggest pay increases in the nation.
Median list price: $359,600 Unemployment rate: 2.9% 5-year wage growth: 27.7%
This town has a great food scene that punches way above its weight. Bon Appétit named Portland—the one in Maine, not Oregon—the Restaurant City of the Year. Give some of the credit to the Roman (thin crust) pizza, Jewish-style delis, seafood joints, and excellent craft breweries.
The city also has a strong job market that keeps getting stronger. In fact, incomes grew more here over the past five years than any other market on our ranking.
“There’s a lot going on in Portland, a lot of energy and a lot of buzz. We see a lot of people moving in from other cities and bringing ideas with them,” says Jeremy Lock, a broker with Portside Real Estate Group.
That cool factor makes for a good dating scene. A local favorite is Flask Lounge, a bar that has karaoke, DJs, and comedy nights.
When we last saw the Avengers at the end of “Infinity War,” only a handful remained alive. The rest had been vaporized when the evil Thanos snapped his Infinity Gauntlet–clad fingers and wiped out half of all living creatures in the universe. Ultrasad trombones!
That left just a few heroes to somehow right this terrible wrong and bring most everyone back to life (we hope).
While Iron Man, Hulk, and Black Widow are trying to figure it all out (and while the rest of us are waiting for the first available showing of “Avengers: Endgame” this weekend), we thought it would be fun to find the perfect lairs for our resourceful heroes where they can plot their futures in comfort.
With half of Earth’s residents out of commission, prices might not be an issue, but we’ve included them anyway. But thanks for dealing with that whole intergalactic genocide thing, guys!
Price: $999,000 Plot summary: What could be more red, white, and blue than this classic Colonial, built in the 1940s when Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) was at his prefrozen prime? Like Cap himself, the four-bedroom, 3.5-bath home is not too flashy, but it does have all of the modern conveniences that he’s finally gotten used to in the 21st century—including a huge, half-finished basement where he could set up a gym, to keep in shape the old-fashioned way. Plus, the ultimate soldier should feel at home in Annapolis, home to 11 military bases.
Price: $6,490,000 Plot summary: The fabulously wealthy genius/industrialist Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), would settle for nothing less than a uber-deluxe smart home with all of the latest technology. Since his last home was so viciously destroyed, we thought this gorgeous nine-bedroom, 9.5-bath palace in Florida might serve as consolation. It’s outfitted with state-of-the-art technology, and with 20 security cameras and floor-to-ceiling impact windows, no one’s going to attack this place. But it’s no bunker—we can just imagine Stark’s better half, Pepper Potts, gliding effortlessly through its lavish rooms with 24-foot ceilings.
Price: $1,799,000 Plot summary: This lovely, lofty home may not be a palace in Asgard, but it’s a lot less drafty. And Thor (Chris Hemsworth) should feel comfortable in the spacious, masculine rooms with multiple fireplaces. There are wide hallways, in case any of that hammer-throwing gets out of hand. But most to the Asgardian’s liking would be the giant game room, with its custom bar that comes with a beer tap—this god does love his grog.
Price: $1,800,000 Plot summary: Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) spends most of her time racing from planet to planet, but this would be the perfect pied-à-terre for her on Earth. The 48-foot observatory—equipped with a world-class, half-meter, robotic telescope—allows her to keep an eye on the rest of the universe. The modern yet rustic interior is also a great place to kick back and relax, if an all-powerful, immortal superhero ever gets the weekend off.
Price: $1,395,000 Plot summary: This home built in 1976, with its generous headroom and close proximity to the prestigious University of California–Berkeley, suits both Hulk and his alter ego, Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Banner will find no shortage of intellectual companionship nearby, and maybe could even snag some lab space. The Hulk won’t find many fussy details to impede his raging in the clean, open-concept living areas, and the vaulted ceilings and flexible floor plan give the big guy plenty of breathing room.
Bonus: The interior is neutral, and won’t clash with green.
Price: $829,000 Plot summary: Like Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) herself, this two-bedroom, two-bath home is sleek, sensual, and private. Elegant but simple, it has a bit of a woodsy, Zen vibe. Plus, it’s conveniently close to the prospective digs of her good buddy the Hulk. You know, just in case the big guy needs a calming influence.
Price: $1,825,000 Plot summary: This 70-acre property not only allows sulky Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to be isolated and self-sufficient, it also includes two archery/shooting ranges, one indoors and one out. As the only Avenger (as far as we know) with a family, Hawkeye should appreciate the playground as well as the tennis courts. Inside, there’s 11,378 square feet of living space, including a great room where Hawkeye can host a rousing Avengers reunion, should the happy occasion arise.
Price: $310,000 Plot summary: OK, we know Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a normal-size guy who can both shrink himself to molecular proportions and blow himself up to a massive size. Because, physics! But we just couldn’t resist finding a tiny home for his humble self, where he’ll feel much more comfortable the next time he returns from the Quantum Realm. This sweet 384-footer with one bedroom and one bath won’t give him much worry about much upkeep.
Price: $6,450,000 Plot summary: Poor Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) lost almost everyone in his Guardians of the Galaxy family, but his spaceship is still intact, and he’ll need a place to land it. Yes, he’s a genetically modified raccoon, but dude needs some room to roam. Where better than this exclusive compound south of Miami that has direct access to a private landing strip and an air-conditioned, customized hangar that can accommodate up to 20 cars—or one big space cruiser?
In 2015, a self-described artist and nomad named Jeremiah Kaylor moved into one of San Francisco’s most notable homes: a roughly 18,000-square-foot sandstone replica of Le Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles. “It was beautiful, but it was falling apart,” he says.
Mr. Kaylor squatted in the palatial home illegally, for free, for months, selling off any art and accessories he could find before being arrested for burglary and grand theft, among other charges. He called the property his “thug mansion,” after a 2Pac song in which the rapper talked about a paradise in the sky to which he wanted to escape.
It was a notable low point for one of San Francisco’s most iconic—and notorious—homes, one whose wild past mirrors the city’s dramatic history. Located in the posh Presidio Heights neighborhood, the palace-like home was built at a time the city aspired to be the “Paris of the West”, only to be damaged soon after by the famed 1906 earthquake. It was snapped up by a high-profile technology executive made wealthy by the dot-com boom, only to be abandoned and left to ruin (and to Mr. Kaylor) when that executive went broke in the years after the financial crisis.
Now, at a time when tech is again resurgent, the home—sleekly renovated—is coming on the market asking $30 million. Its seller is Ron Jankov. A technology executive who made a fortune selling a startup to Broadcom, Mr. Jankov, 60, works in the Bay Area as a venture capitalist and “dabbles” in real estate.
Mr. Jankov said he’s decided to sell because the home is too large. “No one wants me to sell it,” he said. “But I get lost just walking around it.”
The property dates back to the turn of the century, right around the time former Mayor James D. Phelan had launched his plan to remake San Francisco into an “ideal city” in the image of Paris or Vienna, connecting the business and residential districts with tree-lined boulevards. Built by wool merchant Marcus Koshland, according to the Victorian Alliance of San Francisco, the home is a near carbon-copy of Le Petit Trianon, which was built for France’s Louis XV and was later presented to Marie Antoinette. The Koshlands celebrated the completion of the building with a Marie Antoinette-themed costume ball, according to the alliance.
During the 1906 earthquake, the home’s four exterior columns and the roof’s balustrade collapsed onto the porch. A photo taken from the period shows debris being loaded onto a horse-drawn cart.
In 2007, Halsey Minor, a dot-com boom wunderkind who co-founded software giant Salesforce and media company CNET, bought the house for $18 million. Mr. Minor tapped Michael Smith, the designer behind the renovation of the White House under President Barack Obama, to spearhead a redo.
Then the financial crisis hit. “When the bottom fell out of the economy, I was sitting on a house that made no sense,” Mr. Minor said, noting that banks didn’t want to finance a mansion renovation. “The timing for me couldn’t have been worse.”
He left the house empty, and deteriorating, for many years. By 2010, local skaters had broken in, using the staircases as ramps. Mr. Kaylor found the back door unlocked, moved in and lived there, on and off, for months. He said he took $300,000 worth of art owned by Mr. Minor, who was living in Los Angeles, and sold it.
“It plays into the legendary quality of this property that its history encompasses such highs and lows,” said the listing agent, Joel Goodrich of Coldwell Banker.
Mr. Minor filed for personal bankruptcy in 2013. Three years later, Mr. Jankov picked up the home for $12 million in a trustee sale. By then, the home needed to be completely rewired, its plumbing was shot, the roof was leaking, the stucco was peeling and mold had set in. Mr. Jankov embarked on a three-year, multimillion-dollar renovation.
The result is a mix of the original flourishes combined with much more modern sensibilities. The three-story marble atrium and its stained-glass skylight were restored, and a formal dining and family room has barrel-vaulted ceilings with patterned silk insets. A circular entry with marble flooring is punctuated by six classical columns and crowned with a domed ceiling, and a baronial fireplace is framed in Moroccan tile and carved figures.
On the modern end, the Hall of Mirrors-inspired Gilded Age ballroom has been turned into a nightclub, with inset mirrored paneling and a marble-clad bar.
The nine-bedroom property also has multiple sitting rooms, two home offices, a library, a separate guest wing and a two-car indoor garage.
As for Mr. Kaylor, he pleaded guilty to felony charges related to the crimes and served five months in prison. He said his stay at the property was part of an elaborate artistic experiment to test the bounds of the criminal justice system.
Bargain hunter alert! There’s a great Ohio home on the market with a opening bid of just $1. Not surprisingly, the single-buck sensation is this week’s most popular home on realtor.com®.
Built in 1973 and sitting on 5 acres that back up to Glacier Ridge Park, the four-bedroom home is being sold as-is, and includes hardwood floors throughout and a full basement. While it will probably wind up selling for more than the change in your pants pocket, it’s always fun to dream about buying a home for less than the price of a cheeseburger.
For buyers with a few more zeroes in their budget, there are several high-end homes among our most popular places. You clicked all over an opulent beachfront mansion on Maui, a historic Beverly Hills abode being flipped by emerging Southern California real estate baron Adam Levine, and a Japanese-inspired luxury home outside Chicago that’s a work of art all its own.
For family fun in the sun, there’s a historic bungalow just five blocks from Smyrna Beach in Florida and an adorable A-frame cottage in Virginia—with its own jet-ski lift!
We can’t promise you’ll walk away as the winning bidder in Ohio, but we can promise you’ll be thrilled with all of this week’s most popular properties. Simply scroll on down…
Why it’s here: Built in 2000, this eight-bedroom beachfront estate was designed by the famous Hawaiian architect Jeffrey Long. Featuring over 11,000 square feet of living space, the spread includes caretaker’s quarters, an oceanfront pool, yoga pavilion, and exercise room.
Why it’s here: This brand-new, contemporary five-bedroom home outside Los Angeles is filled with designer touches, such as beamed ceilings in the master suite, custom woodwork and brick, and smart home features. Outdoors, the spacious backyard has a barbecue, cabana with bath, pool, and spa.
Why it’s here: Built in 1983, this modern ranch home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and more than 4,200 square feet. Angular and unusual, the house has new paint, flooring, and windows. It sits on a huge 24-acre wooded lot with koi fish ponds and plenty of room to explore.
Why it’s here: It’s not haunted—it only looks that way! Built in 1900 for Bonlee co-founder Isaac Dunlap, the home still has nearly every piece of its original finishes. The four-bedroom home sits on 9 acres with a large pond and outbuildings and is waiting for an intrepid buyer to give it some much-needed love.
Why it’s here: This historic three-bedroom beach house was built in 1915. It presents an intriguing income opportunity, thanks to the attached in-law suite with its own private entrance. Located on nearly half an acre in the Smyrna Beach Historic District, the home still has its original hardwood floors.
Why it’s here: This is the most recent real estate project of rocker Adam Levine and his wife, the model Behati Prinsloo, who have become mansion flippers. Over the past year, Levine, with the help of world-class designers, rehabbed this historic mansion into a modern, Hollywood-cool retreat, and now it’s time to sell—at a tasty profit, of course.
Why it’s here: This two-bedroom, A-frame cottage was built in 1973, and was recently totally remodeled, with hardwood floors and a new spiral staircase to the loft bedroom. It sits on three-quarters of an acre and has a deck, outdoor fireplace, and a stone building for storage.
Why it’s here: Although it looks classic, this custom Colonial with cheery blue shutters was built in 1988. The charming four-bedroom home has undergone several recent updates. It sits on just under a full acre, with a waterfall and gardens, which can be enjoyed from the home’s enclosed porch.
Why it’s here: Dubbed the “Woodgate Estate,” this Japanese-inspired suburban Chicago retreat was built in 1996. It’s stuffed with high-drama features like an indoor pool, kitchen with garden atrium, wine room, conference and studio space, and home spa. The 17,000-square-foot home sits on 26 acres, which include a mile-long manicured walking path, ponds, a meditation deck, tennis court, and gazebo, in addition to Japanese gardens designed by world-renowned master gardener Hoichi Kurisu.
Why it’s here: Because anyone with a buck and a dream can consider moving to Ohio. Heading to auction on May 9, this four-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom, 2,230-square-foot home was built in 1973. Being sold as-is, the property includes a full basement, geothermal heat, a large garage, and more.
But don’t just arrive on site with a single dollar and a smile. The auction winner will owe a $10,000 non-refundable deposit and will be required to sign the real estate papers on the day of the auction. Serious bidders only!