It doesn’t matter if you’re owning or renting, buying or selling, or still sitting on the sidelines waiting to join the game. Just about everyone wants to know what’s going on in the housing market.
Because it’s a moving target. While plummeting prices can be a boon for buyers, they can throw sellers into a panic—and, in a worst-case scenario, plunge the world into a recession, as we saw when the housing bubble burst a decade ago. Meanwhile, a lack of new housing coming onto the market can lead to price spikes for both buyers and renters.
That current dearth of new construction is exacerbating a national housing shortage and leading to an increase in prices, according to the recently released annual State of the Nation’s Housing report from the Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
“The major takeaway is that the housing market is strong,” says Daniel McCue, senior research associate at the center. But “there’s a housing shortage brought on by several years of low levels of homebuilding. It’s led to increased competition, which has driven up home prices. And it’s led to [a lack of] housing affordability.”
Here are six key findings from the report.
1. Homeownership rate is rising again
Over the past two years, homeownership has been rising again, hitting 64.4% of U.S. households in 2018. The rate rose 0.5% from the previous year, resulting in an additional 1.6 million households who closed on properties.
That’s fantastic news. The homeownership rate had plummeted during the financial crisis as scores of foreclosures swept through the country. Now it’s back up to what it was from about 1985 through 1995, according to McCue.
“Homeownership had declined a lot,” he says. “So [for many buyers] it was finally having the money and the income to make this happen.”
The bump was primarily thanks to more millennials and young Gen Xers flooding the market. An additional 1.1 million of them closed on properties from 2016 to 2018.
“You have a bigger group of young adults getting older and reaching the ages where they are getting married, having children, and reaching the prime first-time home buyer [point],” McCue says.
The boost in homeownership was in spite of record-high home prices in many parts of the country and rising mortgage interest rates.
In 2012, the monthly median home payment was only $1,176, after adjusting for inflation, according to the report. But just six years later, it had jumped almost 51%, to $1,775 a month.
“The fact that homeownership is rising despite all of the affordability challenges that buyers are facing reflects how important homeownership is to the American dream,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com®.
2. Fewer folks are renting
Simple math: If the number of homeowners is rising, it means that the number of renters is falling. The number of households renting the roofs over their heads fell by 110,000, to 43.2 million, from 2017 through 2018. That’s in stark contrast to the previous 12 years, when the number of tenants grew by nearly 850,000 households annually.
Increasing rents, going up 3.6% annually in 2018 compared with 3.8% in 2017, may have something to do with it.
“Rents are high and rising,” says Hale. But homeownership tends to be more of a fixed cost as folks know what their monthly mortgage will be. “Renters tend to pay more of their income toward housing than homeowners do.”
But here’s another shift: Renters are becoming wealthier. About a quarter of them now have household incomes of $75,000 or more. That means many are choosing not to become homeowners even though they could afford to do so.
But more middle-class renters, earning between $45,000 and $75,000 a year, are becoming cost-burdened. The percentage of these folks spending more than 30% of their income (which is considered the max folks should pay for housing) shot up from 13% in 2001 to 25% in 2018, according to McCue.
3. The rate of new home construction is slowing
Even with record demand from prospective buyers, the rate of home construction slowed in 2018. Yes, the number of new, completed homes was up 2.8%, to 1.18 million units, from 2017 to 2018, but that growth rate is actually the lowest since 2012, when the recovery from the Great Recession kicked in.
“We’re eight years into the recovery, and we’re still only 75% back to normal rates of home building,” says McCue.
He blames the lack of building to increasing land prices, cumbersome local regulations, and a construction labor shortage that make building more difficult and expensive.
Still, building was more prevalent in some parts of the country than others. For example, home construction starts were up 7% in the West, where the population is growing, and 5% in the South, where land is more plentiful and cheap. But they fell just under 1% in the expensive Northeast, where there’s not as much land available to build on, and dropped 4% in the Midwest.
“Some of that is simply a reflection where people are moving,” says Hale.
4. Homes are getting bigger and less affordable
Most first-time buyers don’t want—and can’t afford—a megamansion. They’re seeking smaller, more affordable single-family houses. But builders aren’t putting them up.
Just 22% of single-family homes clocked in at under 1,800 square feet, according to the report. That’s compared with 32% from 1999 through 2011.
That’s because it’s simply more profitable to put up bigger, more luxurious abodes and sell them for higher prices.
“It’s difficult for builders to build modest-sized, more affordable homes,” says McCue. But “there’s plenty of demand out there for these [homes].”
5. Home sales are slipping
The lack of homes, the rising prices, and the crazy competition may be why the number of home sales is falling. After years of a white-hot, frenzied real estate market, 5.3 million existing (i.e., previously lived-in) residences were sold in 2018. That’s compared with 5.5 million in 2017.
“Home sales declined mainly at the end of 2018, when mortgage interest rates increased,” says McCue. Even the slightest interest rate increase can add quite a bit to a monthly mortgage payment.
But there are now more homes available for sale, even though they tend to be on the more expensive side. The number of homes for sale priced at under $200,000 has dropped, while more properties going for $750,000 or more are coming onto the market, says Hale.
“The biggest increase in inventory is in expensive homes for sale, where demand is the weakest,” she says.
6. Home price growth is also slowing
Buyers shouldn’t get too excited. Home prices aren’t coming down—they’re just not increasing at such a fast pace. Home price appreciation went from 6.5% at the beginning of 2018 to just 4.6% at the end of the year, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.
The median home list price is $310,000, according to realtor.com.
“Home prices have gotten so high in so many areas that it was just unsustainable to keep rising at the rates that they had,” says McCue. “Home prices have far outpaced rises in income over the last five years.”
Trump Tower may be the only losing real estate bet in New York City.
Recent reporting from Bloomberg shows that since President Donald Trump took office, most of the units in Trump Tower have sold at a loss—several for a loss of more than 20%. For comparison, Bloomberg’s accounting showed that for all of Manhattan, only 0.23% of homes have sold for a loss over the past two years.
Polarizing politics and an around-the-clock phalanx of security ringing the property have put a damper on the desirability of a Trump Tower address on Fifth Avenue.
We dove into the listings and found eight properties up for sale right now in the 58-story building. And we didn’t even count the $3.66 million unit on the market recently seized from convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
While these eight units are a small sample size, some of them have been on the market for years, and many of them have undergone a number of price reductions in the effort to find an elusive buyer. Let’s survey the pricing carnage…
Unit 61L: This three-bedroom condo sold to its current owner in September 2013 for $14.3 million, or $5,699 per square foot. It then popped back on the market in February 2018 for a rather ambitious $18 million. In January 2019, the price underwent a dramatic 30% cut, to $12.5 million. This month, the unit shed yet another $2.5 million—representing a $4.3 million loss from its original purchase price six years ago.
Unit 32A: This two-bedroom, 1,500-square foot unit in Trump Tower was purchased by its current owner in 2006 for $2.3 million. It hit the market right after Trump’s inauguration in February 2017 for $4.25 million, or $2,935 per square foot. By May 2017, the price was reduced to $4 million. Now, after a total of eight price changes, it’s currently sitting on the market for $2.84 million, or $1,923 per square foot.
Unit 37D: Initially listed in March 2016 for $3.25 million, this one-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom, 1,000-square-foot unit has lingered on the market for over three years. When it debuted, the price per square foot on the place was $4,976. Now, four price cuts later, the empty unit has lost more than half its value and sits at $2,105 per square foot.
Unit 42BC: These two units have been on the market since October 2016, right before the president’s election. They’re marketed as an opportunity to be combined into one grand residence and were originally listed for $8,500,000 and $3,132 per square foot. After 2.5 years on the market and four price cuts, the offering currently stands at $2,395 per square foot.
Unit 58CD: Renovated to combine two units into one, this 2,250-square-foot spread originally landed on the market for $11.5 million in October 2017. At that price, the oversized residence cost $5,442 per square foot. A year and a half later, the “masterpiece of design and artful living” has had its price cut by 1.5 million bucks.
Unit 32C: At only $1,996 per square foot, this is the most budget-friendly option on the market in the tower. Listed in December 2018, this one-bedroom unit is “priced to move,” according to the listing details.
Unit 57L: This three-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot condo was designed by Juan Pablo Molyneux, offering it a little designer prestige. It initially came to market in 2015 for $18 million, or $7,171 per square foot. But that was then. Four years later, the condo is still on the market—now at half its original asking price.
Being on “House Hunters” was so nice, Elizabeth and Jeff Newcamp did it twice.
The filming process was riddled with exaggerations, posturing and phony recreations, as Elizabeth wrote in a Slate piece published Thursday with the headline, “What It’s Actually Like to Be on House Hunters.”
The Navarre, Fla.-based couple, who have three sons, first appeared on the HGTV cult-favorite show’s international edition in January 2017, when they were expatriates in the Netherlands’ canal-filled town of Delft. Meanwhile, the search for their Florida home airs on Thursday.
Elizabeth detailed how much they got paid ($1,500 for “House Hunters International,” $500 for “House Hunters”), how producers encouraged the couple to play up their arguing and how, both times, they had already bought the homes they ultimately “chose” on television. In the Netherlands episode, they’d been living in the house they picked for a year. In the Florida one, they’d already closed on the chosen house.
Even as Elizabeth lifted the curtain to take viewers behind the scenes of the popular show, she and her husband Jeff enjoyed the experience and still love the show. “I really can’t stress enough how fun ‘House Hunters’ is,” she wrote in an email to The Post. “Who doesn’t love seeing inside homes around the world!”
An HGTV rep issued the following statement on Thursday: “HGTV has brought viewers enjoyment with ‘House Hunters’ for 20 years and we hope they will continue to enjoy the series, not only for the entertainment value, but also for the practical home buying and selling knowledge that they gain from the viewing experience. ‘House Hunters’ is about the journey to find a perfect home. The people you see in the series are real people who have searched for, negotiated and paid for a home with their own money. They move in and make it their own. We simply shorten a very lengthy process for television.”
“You should absolutely enjoy House Hunters. I still do,” Elizabeth writes. “Don’t worry about how these people with these jobs afford these houses. Enjoy the real estate and enjoy the fake arguments. But like everything you see on TV, you shouldn’t take it at face value.”
Here are all of the little secrets behind production of the Newcamps’ “House Hunters” episodes revealed in Elizabeth’s article:
The selection process for “House Hunters International” consisted of a written application, emailed iPhone footage and a Skype interview with the casting director “focusing on how we might be in conflict while looking for a house.” Even after the Newcamps had been chosen to be on air, it took months before the 5-day-long shoot was scheduled.
The filming was arranged by location, not chronology, so the crew had to constantly remind them what verb tense to use as if the house-hunting process were unfolding in real time. Elizabeth writes: “One day we would film seeing the town of Delft ‘for the first time,’ and the next day we were all moved into our house as though we had lived there for a few months.” (They had, in fact, lived there for a year already.)
Producers really played up the couple’s preferences, especially when they conflicted. “In ‘House Hunters International’ I mentioned that I wanted a bathtub, something that is nearly impossible to find in the Netherlands. At the producers’ urging, I soon became all about the bathtub,” Elizabeth writes. “I hopped into available tubs to try them out and lamented through entire house tours about how I would live, with three kids no less, without a bathtub. I was pregnant, after all, and that tub was a necessity.” Jeff, for his part, enjoyed Delft’s quaint canals, and the show ended up emphasizing his preference to live near or on one. The edited version of the episode that ran, in fact, so focused on these wish-list items that Elizabeth was endearingly identified as “Crazy Bathtub Lady” by a viewer she met in an airport and Jeff was vilified on Twitter for not being more accommodating to his pregnant wife.
Jeff and Elizabeth were allowed to listen to each others’ interviews, but only in spots where the person being filmed couldn’t see. “This helped us recognize how the other was going to be portrayed, and to lean in to it all,” she writes. “At each house you film the ‘throw your partner under the bus’ interview. This is where you act like your partner is crazypants. Again, a good sense of humor is key here. Everything I said in my interviews was based on a grain of truth, but in a real house hunting situation I would never phrase it that way.”
Hilariously, the Delft real estate agent in their episode was a fake. “I was surprised how even the littlest details could be fictionalized,” Elizabeth writes. “When they couldn’t find a local real estate agent, the ‘House Hunters International’ producers needed a Dutch person who was willing to be on camera for $500 as our ‘relocation expert.’ Our neighbor and friend Michael, who actually works in IT, was happy to oblige. In the episode, I hinted at the absurdity of the whole situation when Michael mentioned that he lived near a house we were looking at. ‘Oh, so we could be neighbors,’ I exclaimed, while biking to tour our actual house, down the street from his … where my children were playing with his daughter, under the supervision of his wife.”
The other two houses the Newcamps toured with their fake “relocation agent” were not even on the market, just listed for rent on Airbnb. The third house is the one they already owned and had been living in for months.
To shoot the house they “chose,” a company had to temporarily move out their possessions. “We woke up early one morning and watched all our belongings from any room that would be filmed for the show get loaded into a moving truck,” she writes. “The truck was then driven around for a few hours while we shot the segments in which we toured the house.” Elizabeth also borrowed bedding to differentiate the bedrooms.
Sometimes, producers had to deal with an item that couldn’t be relocated. “The play set in the backyard was too big to move, so the cameraperson stood in front of it and shot us, in a different part of the yard, speculating about how much our kids would love playing on the lawn,” Elizabeth writes. “That afternoon … we changed clothes, moved over to the play set, and played with our children while the cameraperson filmed the ‘after’ shots.”
Even non-house-hunting scenes were staged. “In one of my favorite shots, we pretended to purchase a heavy bakfiets cargo bicycle for the first time, and I rode off, over a bridge, pregnant, with the children nicely tucked in,” Elizabeth writes. “In reality, my first terrifying ride had been a year before, crisscrossing the road to stay up and stalling halfway up the bridge. My ‘first ride’ on TV, though, was effortless.”
The Newcamps didn’t care about the moments that were exaggerated or posed. After all, it was a fun experience. So when they moved back to the US, the Newcamps applied to be on domestic “House Hunters” “We loved getting a little peek at the world of entertainment,” Elizabeth writes. “Plus, we walked away with a video snapshot of this one moment of our lives.”
Off-camera, Jeff looked at 60 homes in Florida while Elizabeth camped out at her parents’ place in Atlanta with the kids.
After they closed on a house, the crew immediately arrived to shoot. “Hurricane Michael hit during the search. We found a house after the evacuation order was lifted. We signed papers and got the keys to our new home on a Friday,” she writes. “That Monday, the film crew filmed us touring our brand-new empty house. We also shot some footage of the family at our hotel on Navarre Beach, pretending we had been living there through the extensive house search.”
Unlike in the “International” episode, the Newcamps’ actual realtor was on air (for free), and the houses they toured for the show (after they had already closed on the one they picked) were actually on the market for sale.
Just like in the “International” episode, the producers played up the couple’s conflicts. In Florida, it was Jeff “not being satisfied with any house and all the little home-repair problems he finds” versus Elizabeth advocating “to just find a house, any house!” She also ramped up her insistence on “indoor and outdoor play space” for the kids. “Again these reflect real discussions we had,” she writes, “but conducted in extremes for the benefit of the show.”
The Newcamps’ episode, “Nitpicking in Navarre, Florida” airs Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on HGTV.
Living in a rental can dampen your design options. With unchangeable fixtures and cabinets, bland paint colors, and the threat of losing your security deposit if you make changes, a lot of renters suppress their personal style and settle for builder-grade basic.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. By getting creative with your furniture and accessories, you can have a colorful and inviting home without sacrificing your deposit or infuriating your landlord.
Wall to wall
Many homeowners paint the walls as a relatively easy way to bring color to a space. But landlords and property managers often forbid changing a rental’s interior paint color.
Think beyond paint, and you’ll discover a multitude of ways to dress up your walls without touching a paintbrush. The key is to think big.
Find large-scale art pieces that speak to your style and feature punchy colors. Collect snapshots in ombre frames of your favorite hue (instead of traditional black or white) and assemble a gallery wall.
Have an artistic streak? Paint a mural on a large piece of canvas and tack it over an entire wall.
For the less artistically inclined, removable wallpaper or decals in bright shades and eye-catching designs provide an instant pick-me-up. You can also cover entire walls or awkward spaces with a pretty patterned curtain or piece of fabric for a cozy bohemian vibe.
Punch it up
Rentals often come with outdated cabinets, fixtures, and flooring that can’t be altered. Beige, brown and off-white are the norm for these spaces, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it restrict your style.
Add visual interest and draw attention by bringing in splashy pieces of furniture and decor. Look for pieces in your favorite color or choose a theme, like sunny yellow and coral, to drown out the drab.
Vibrant painted wood chairs can give your dining space some zing. Or purchase a couch or chair in a daring tone like emerald or sapphire.
Don’t have a ton of cash to spend? Go DIY. Find furniture with good bones at your local thrift shop or garage sale, and give it a makeover. Use spray paint for smaller decor pieces and latex or chalk paint for dressers and side tables.
Add extra flair with stenciled details and paint-dipped legs. Line the backs of bookshelves with decorative paper, and temporarily replace boring kitchen and bathroom pulls and knobs with vibrant versions.
Soft goods, bold tones
Textiles in assorted colors will be your best friends for dressing up your outdated or dull apartment. Start with an inviting rug in a rich jewel tone or a trendy overdyed hue. And stay away from traditional white and beige curtains – instead, opt for a bright color or lively pattern.
The same goes for bedding. White may be a traditional go-to for duvet covers, but in the case of a blah apartment, pick a print or hue that will make your bedroom an energizing getaway or relaxing retreat. If you’re looking for a calm feel, search for a bed set in cool indigo, lavender or sage. Want to make it upbeat instead? Try poppy colors like coral, tangerine or sunflower.
Fun throw pillows and blankets will spice up your bed, couch, lounge chairs and more. Keep the color trend going into the bathroom and kitchen by choosing pretty hand towels and bathmats.
Make it yours
By punching up the walls with custom artwork, bringing in attention-grabbing furniture, and using pretty textiles to boost the style factor, you can have a colorfully custom home without ever touching a drop of paint.
The key is moderation and intention. Stick with a few favorite shades and mix it up by using variations of those hues instead of pulling in every color in the rainbow. Choose a few important focal points to infuse with color and let the rest blend in.
You’ll be happier for the design boost, and your landlord will be glad you haven’t made any big changes. That’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
As jubilant pride celebrations take place across the nation, major cities are rolling out the welcome mat with rainbow flags flying proudly from streetlights. This is the big one: the 50th anniversary of the gay rights movement. But just because the largest metros may be the most visibly gay-friendly, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best places for members of the community to put down roots.
In fact, New York City, the very birthplace of the gay movement, didn’t even crack realtor.com®’s ranking of the top 10 cities for LGBTQ folks. (Extra inclusive version: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, allied.) Instead, some smaller, sometimes overlooked cities topped our list of the best places for the gay community to live and party in. Surprise!
OK, San Francisco is still No. 1. But there are ever-expanding options: places where same-sex couples are a hefty portion of the population, and local government has strong anti-discriminatory laws and policies in place. And there are often areas in these cities that have become epicenters for LGBTQ social and residential life.
Who are the people in your “gayborhood”?
These areas, once dubbed “gay ghettos,” were often originally more run-down or off-the-radar neighborhoods where it was cheap to buy a home or open a business, and where pioneers could create places where they were free to be themselves without harassment. And over time, many of these neighborhoods have become hip, sought-after enclaves with trendy restaurants, expensive boutiques, and real estate prices to match.
“The LGBTQ community will identify a town or neighborhood, will turn it into a safe haven for themselves,” says David Siroty, spokesman for the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals. “Then businesses and beautification will follow. Over time, the neighborhood improves and it becomes popular with everybody.
“They’re looking for a lot of the same things that anyone would look for: walkability, entertainment, and culture,” he adds. “But they’re also looking for safety and areas where they can live without discrimination.”
That’s because despite the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, only 20 states have enacted explicit protections from housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Freedom for All Americans, an LGBTQ rights advocacy group.
“Discrimination happens every day to LGBTQ people who are simply trying to go about their lives and do something as basic as invest in an apartment or a new home,” says Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans.
To come up with our ranking,* realtor.com looked at cities with at least 50,000 households, of which at least 0.5% were headed by same-sex partners, according to U.S. Census info. We looked at each city’s score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, which measures how inclusive its laws and services are for the gay community. We factored in numbers of gay bars and Meetup groups per 10,000 households, and made sure that each place on our list has an annual pride parade or festival.
So why didn’t world-famous gay meccas such as New York City, Los Angeles, or Miami make our list? Although they have high numbers of same-sex couples, they represented a smaller percentage of those huge cities’ overall populations.
So what are the most fabulously gay-friendly places to live?
San Francisco might just be the gay-friendliest city on the planet. The city’s main gay district, the Castro, has become an internationally recognized tourist hot spot, with Instagram-friendly rainbows painted on the street. Crowds line up at the Castro Theatre for drag shows, arthouse flicks, and singalongs to classics like “Grease.”
It’s the kind of neighborhood where you can find a pair of backless leather chaps, pop into a home goods boutique, and then meet up with friends for an over-priced cappuccino or glass of wine.
The Castro is filled with multistory, century-old Victorian and Edwardian homes. Most have been divided into two- and three-bedroom condos that fetch between $1.2 million and $1.8 million or more, says local real estate agent Kevin Ho of Vanguard Properties.
It’s rare for these homes in the neighborhood to come onto the market that aren’t subdivided into units. A full house typically has three to four bedrooms and two to three bathrooms. They start at $2 million and go way up from there.
“Gay neighborhoods tend to be better maintained because there’s more of an emphasis on curb appeal and aesthetics,” says Ho, who lives and works in the Castro. “It’s a really fun neighborhood that draws a lot of people from a lot of different places.”
Atlanta is known for having one of the largest gay populations in the South, drawing folks from smaller, less welcoming communities who are excited to arrive in the “Hollywood of the South.”
The gay community revolves around the intersection of Piedmont Avenue NE and 10th Street NE in midtown, where the best bars are located, including nearby Blakes, a hopping neighborhood place that’s been around for the past 30 years. But like many gayborhoods on our list, homes here aren’t cheap.
Housing is a mix of brick ranches and two-story, older homes that have been renovated near Piedmont Park, says local real estate broker Tim Hur of Point Honors Realtors.
These three-bedroom, two-bath homes go for around $800,000 to $900,000. There are also plenty of newer, high-rise condo buildings that have gone up in the past two decades.
“You can [still] probably find a decent one-bedroom condo for $250,000,” says Hur.
This walkable neighborhood is located in a central spot in sprawling Atlanta. It’s near the Georgia Institute of Technology and Piedmont Park, where the annual pride festival is held.
“There’s a lot of things to do. There’s public transportation, plenty of restaurants, and bars,” says Hur. And in this neighborhood, “people don’t have to worry about who they are.”
St. Petersburg’s inclusion on this list may come as a surprise—it’s definitely not Miami or Fort Lauderdale. But this vacationer and retiree paradise boasts a high percentage of same-sex couples and gay bars, and received a rare perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s index.
Last year, Mayor Rick Kriseman declared March 31 Transgender Day of Visibility. The city’s gay pride parade, Florida’s largest, culminates in fireworks over the waterfront downtown. There’s also no shortage of quaint, gay-owned bed-and-breakfasts, including one aptly named GayStPete House, for those who plan to make a weekend out of it.
St. Petersburg is one of the most affordable cities on our list for home buyers. And while there isn’t one main gayborhood, there are several go-to areas. The Grand Central District, which hosts that annual parade, is an urban village just west of downtown that’s home to art galleries, antiques stores, and an LGBTQ Welcome Center. Housing is a mix of older, one- and two-story homes and newly constructed modern-style homes and condos.
Another gay-friendly neighborhood is Broadwater, a secluded community near beaches and restaurants. It sits on the Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserve. Broadwater’s three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes start in the low- to mid-$300,000s.
From its gay rodeo to well-known queer film festival, the Mile High City has long been known as an LGBTQ oasis in the West.
The heart of Denver’s LGBTQ set is Capitol Hill. The funky, pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly neighborhood is filled with old churches, haunted mansions (or so we hear), and plenty of condos. But unlike some other hot cities on our list (ahem, San Francisco), buyers here can still get a condo at a reasonable price—one-bedroom units start around $200,000. There are also plenty of high-rise apartment buildings, as well as more modest walk-up complexes.
The city’s trendy River North Arts District is also popular with the gay crowd. The former industrial hood is now home to Tracks Nightclub, one of the city’s most popular gay clubs, along with former warehouses and factories transformed into brewpubs, art galleries, and buzzy, new restaurants.
(Note: The baker who reused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony because it violated his religious beliefs is based nearby in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker, Jack Phillips, last June.)
Capitol Hill is also the moniker of Seattle’s local gayborhood, a lively place with rainbow-painted crosswalks and plenty of gay-owned brunch spots, bookstores, and secondhand shops.
Living in the trendy district isn’t cheap, but there are deals to be found. Condos may be the best bet for those on a tight budget as the complexes have proliferated throughout the community, with units starting in the high-$200,000s. Standalone homes are much harder to find and begin in the $800,000s. This two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom house with a rooftop deck can be yours for $824,000.
The neighborhood is within walking distance of Wildrose, the city’s oldest lesbian bar, founded in the mid-1980s. No need to call an Uber! More intrepid partygoers may opt for The Cuff Seattle, a local leather bar.
Not interested in the bar scene? Seattle claims to be home to the world’s largest queer-identified men’s and women’s choruses in the world.
Portland doesn’t have one main gay hub. And that’s just fine with many members of the local LGBTQ community. After all, this is one of the nation’s most progressive cities.
Hot spots include the Santé Bar, which offers show tune singalongs and a piano cabaret, and the Local Lounge, which serves up the ever-popular LGBT (a lettuce, guacamole, bacon, and tomato sandwich).
The hippy-fabulous Hawthorne District is popular with lesbians and feminists. The strip, which runs down Hawthorne Boulevard, eschews big chain stores in favor of mom-and-pop coffee shops, secondhand stores, and food trucks galore.
“There really isn’t one lesbian or one gay neighborhood in Portland,” says local real estate agent Deb Counts-Tabor at Portlandia Properties, who works with many members of the LGBTQ community. “There are gay flags all over the city, and it’s wonderful.”
These days some of her clients are looking for quarter-acre lots with a house in the city limits that they can turn into farmland!
“They’re buying a house with double lots and turning them into little urban, organic farms,” says Counts-Tabor. “And that’s Portland.”
Minneapolis is a lot more progressive than many folks on the coasts realize. The city held its first LGBTQ march in 1972 in Loring Park. In 2011, it was named the “Gayest U.S. City” by The Advocate. And same-sex marriage was legalized in Minnesota in 2013—two years before the U.S. Supreme Court made it legal nationally.
When it comes to housing, gays often head to the artsy Lyn Lake neighborhood, where there are plenty of queer-owned businesses and some good bike trails. One popular spot is the Bryant-Lake Bowl & Theater, where folks can bowl, eat, imbibe alcoholic concoctions, and catch a movie or live cabaret show.
Condos here start in the mid-$200,000s. There are also a few single-family and multiunit homes in the area, which can start in the mid-$300,000 range. There are also lots of rentals in the area, ranging from small duplexes to brand-new complexes. The Murals of LynLake offers units with a sweet rooftop terrace for $1,675 to $2,500 a month.
When looking for a gay-friendly spot to buy a home, St. Louis isn’t likely the first (or second, third, or forth) city to come to mind. But it turns out this Midwestern metro boasts several lively gay-friendly neighborhoods. And the Grove is the place to be once the sun sets for those who like to see and be seen.
The main strip of Manchester Avenue is filled with buzzy gay bars and clubs, like Just John’s, with show tunes every Sunday followed by a dance party, or Rehab Bar & Grill, the kind of place where everyone truly knows your name.
The busy strip fell into decline after its heyday in the ’50s, but has slowly staged a comeback. Now, it’s trending up, up, up, says local real estate agent Fabian Trujillo of Coldwell Banker Gundaker.
Cool boutiques have been moving into vacant storefronts, and the Grove’s older, single-family homes are being rehabbed.
Most of the housing stock is single- and two-family homes and low-rise condo buildings. Buyers can snag two- and three-bedroom homes in the neighborhood in the $200,000 to $250,000 price range. Anything priced over that takes longer to sell.
“I know Missouri is a red state, but I don’t feel that in the Grove. I truly feel accepted,” says Trujillo, who identifies as gay and spends most of his weekends in the neighborhood. “It’s a great place to go hang out with friends.”
There isn’t really a gay hub in Providence, a city of less than 200,000 people. But bars serving the community are located downtown—as well as throughout the city. It turns out, the state capital of Rhode Island is a pretty accepting place. The artsy, college town is home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Housing here is also creative, running the gamut from sprawling eight-bedroom houses popular with college students to a dead mall repurposed into micro-apartments. In 2013, the Arcade Providence, the nation’s first shopping mall built in 1828, was turned into 48 affordable units, ranging from 225 to 800 square feet. There are also plenty of more traditional three- and four-bedroom homes for sale starting in the $200,000 range.
There’s no central gay neighborhood here—instead, the state capital of Texas is one big, gay-friendly mecca. What else would you expect from a funky, college town whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird”?
“You’ll find gay, lesbian, and transgender people everywhere,” says real estate agent Charles Runnels of Realty Austin. His gay clients buy throughout the city and suburbs.
But many of the gay bars are clustered downtown, in the Warehouse District. The neighborhood is filled with mid- to high-rise condo buildings, many of which went up in the past decade. One-bedroom units in the amenity-filled buildings start at $350,000.
There are single-family homes downtown as well, but there are far fewer of them. And costs are high and getting higher: They start between $2.5 million and $3 million.
The beauty of Austin is folks don’t need to pay quite so much or live in just one neighborhood to enjoy queer culture. The city has a LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an international drag festival, and several gay pride parades, including Queerbomb, an anti-corporate alternative to the main celebration. And Match.com named the city the seventh best in the nation for lesbians in 2015.
* Data is from the U.S. Census Bureau, Human Rights Campaign, Yelp, and Meetup. Rankings were limited to just one per state for geographic diversity.
** Prices are only for the city (not including surrounding suburbs and smaller urban areas) as of May 1.
It’s easier than ever to create an outdoor oasis that’s an extension of your home, and this summer’s biggest trend is creating a backyard space that is as comfortable as your indoor one. Design styles like bright and bold boho and Scandinavian minimalism are heading outside, according to our 2019 Outdoor Living Trends Report.
“The lines have been blurred between what’s indoor-only and what you can use outside, which means it’s never been easier to create an outdoor space that’s cohesive with your indoor design,” says Kerrie Kelly, design expert and founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.
Here’s her rundown of this year’s five hottest outdoor trends:
1. Mixed materials
This summer, design elements that were once considered indoor use only – brass, rope, textured upholstery and webbing – are combining in new, unexpected ways for outdoor spaces. Chandeliers, soft rugs and cozy floor cushions are now popular for outside, and new fabric options now include outdoor-safe velvets, leathers and nubby chenilles.
2. Minimalism to the max
Scandinavian minimalist design is now showing up in outdoor furnishings. Lounge chairs, love seats and bistro tables are trending this summer in lightweight, powder-coated aluminum. Finish the look with neutrals like black, white and gray, or mix-and-match with a natural material like teak.
3. Some like it hot
This summer it’s all about elevated outdoor spaces that feel as stylish, comfortable and functional as interiors – with all the amenities. Fire features and outdoor kitchens continue to be extremely popular, providing a sense of “indoor cozy.” Beyond adding ambiance, Zillow research found home listings mentioning outdoor kitchens and outdoor fireplaces sold for significantly more than expected.
4. Pops of color
Splashes of bold color are brightening up neutral upholstered furnishings. This summer’s top color trend of citrus-bright oranges, reds, yellows and pinks are lively and vibrant outside. Think about adding a touch of Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, or play with newly trending emerald green in your accessories.
5. Go green outside
Eco-conscious landscaping, outdoor furnishings and fixtures have gained traction this year. Living walls make a design statement and reduce your carbon footprint, and solar-powered LED accent lights provide upgraded illumination without complex wiring or tricky installation. When it comes time to sell, listings mentioning outdoor lighting were associated with homes selling for 19% more than expected.
Outdoor trends to leave behind in 2019
Matching patio sets
With more options than ever, there’s no need to rely on matching patio sets for a pulled-together look. Instead, curated, eclectic outdoor spaces continue to rise in popularity. Own a patio set? Add mix-and-match, multi-patterned outdoor pillows, a textured ottoman and a vintage rattan side table for a unique look.
Weathered barnwood dining tables and industrial metal chairs are getting a 2019 makeover with a sleeker combination of teak and aluminum. Take your existing farm table and give it an upgrade with a set of bright, cheery mesh aluminum dining chairs.
This week’s most popular home on realtor.com® is for lavender lovers everywhere. Clicks poured in for a colorful ranch home in northeast Ohio decorated completely in shades of purple.
Listing agent Shelly Chavez explained that the owner is a bit of a local celebrity, known for dressing head-to-toe in purple. The owner extended her passion to her home, decking out every room in shades of plum, grape, and violet.
Now the home’s owner is headed to assisted living, and the listing is attracting oodles of interest. “Everything is purple, even the phones and TV,” says Chavez.
Besides the uniquely colored home, this week’s list is filled with homes built for fun and relaxation. There’s a Pebble Beach mansion with ocean and golf-course views, a fairy-tale stone cottage in Michigan, and an estate in Pennsylvania with a full indoor water park, complete with resort-style pool, kiddie pool, kitchen, changing rooms, and sauna.
While the lilac listing in Ohio takes this week’s top spot, there are plenty of other properties worth a look. Simply scroll on down…
Why it’s here: Built in 1780 and fully renovated, this charming four-bedroom house on a hill offers over 3,200 square feet. The home is surrounded by more than 11 picture-perfect grassy acres filled with stone walls, perennial gardens, and old trees, all within easy commuting distance to Portland.
Why it’s here: Built in 1917, the Herman and Claudia Uihlein residence recently received an extensive update of its nine bedrooms and nearly 14,000 square feet of interior space. The listing touts the home’s “Old World Craftsmanship re-imagined for today’s living.” We’ll tout the over-the-top interior decor that might make a French king say “De trop!”
Why it’s here: Metal heads, unite! This quirky shipping-container home sits on 3 acres out in the country. The spartan one-bedroom accommodations feature in-floor heat, and all new mechanical systems were added in 2017. There’s also a large patio and two-car garage for added convenience.
Price: $190,000 Why it’s here: This cool country home sits on 5 wooded acres and is being sold as is. Built in 1977, there’s a distinctive time-capsule vibe to this swingin’ A-frame. It was built as a family playground and includes studio and performance areas, a sports field, tennis court, horseshoe pit, fire pit, and picnic areas. There’s also a garden, fruit bushes, and a flexible layout, so new owners can create their own retreat.
Price: $699,900 Why it’s here: This farmhouse was custom-built in 2017 and sits in a community tailor-made for aviation enthusiasts, with fly-in and -out privileges. With four bedrooms and more than 2,500 square feet (in addition to 1,200 square feet of covered porches!), there’s plenty of space for the whole family to spread their wings.
Why it’s here: We noted a definite uptick in Pebble Beach properties in the wake of last week’s U.S. Open. This is one of just 31 waterfront properties in Pebble Beach and offers views of both the ocean and golf course. The five-bedroom estate was built in 1991 and sits on more than 2 acres on Pescadero Point. It comes complete with an outdoor kitchen, pool, and guesthouse.
Why it’s here: Dubbed a “resort home” in the listing details, this five-bedroom home sits on nearly 2 acres. There are waterfalls, fountains, an outdoor kitchen, saltwater pool, and a private dock on the Ottawa River where it opens to Lake Erie. The interiors are modern and updated, making this an ideal spot for outdoor fun when the weather gets warm.
Why it’s here: Built from log and stone, this storybook home is ready for a new owner to write a chapter. We love the arches, wood floors, pine ceilings, balconies, and crescent moon window. Plucked from a fairy tale, the house sits on nearly 8 wooded acres on Waubascon Creek. With four bedrooms and more than 2,500 square feet, the property also includes a 690-square-foot guesthouse across the creek. Happily ever after!
Why it’s here: This custom home sits on a 75-acre hilltop lot, with views of the Blue Mountains and beyond. With nearly 11,000 square feet, the home offers plenty of room for entertaining friends and family on a grand scale. Between the main house and the guesthouse is a resort-style indoor pool, along with a kiddie splash pool, diving board, kitchenette, bar, and changing rooms. The property also features a solarium, sauna, billiard-room, and wine cellar.
The 31,000-square-foot lot previously held the home of actor Morey Amsterdam of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” according to the Real Deal. The property was sold in 2012 for $4.9 million and a new structure rose in its place in 2016, built and developed by DIJ Group. An entity named Drew Adventures LLC purchased it in 2016 for $22.5 million. And now it’s back on the market.
If you dig the home’s decor, we have great news: The property “can be sold completely furnished,” according to listing agent Jade Mills.
“The traditional elegance in a contemporary home gives a modern look with Ralph Lauren warmth and feel,” Mills adds.
The 8,417-square-foot home has six beds and 6.5 baths. The open floor plan seamlessly merges the indoor and outdoor spaces.
The dramatic floating entrance and pivot door open to a main gallery that connects the public rooms.
Designed for entertaining on a large scale, the living room has disappearing walls of glass, which open to the outdoor living room and infinity pool.
There’s also a formal dining room, state-of-the-art kitchen, catering kitchen, family room with a wine display, and screening room.
The master suite features city views, walk-in closets, and a bath with a free-standing tub. Four additional bedroom suites all feature walls of glass that open to the grounds. Staff quarters round out the final bed and bath.
The mansion’s location is tough to top, Mills says. “Desirable lower Trousdale … makes it convenient to drop down into the city, but it’s also perfect for entertaining with privacy and has the most spectacular views.”
Frank Lloyd Wright fans hoping to own one of their idol’s architectural wonders now have their chance: A home he designed in Glen Ridge, NJ, has just come on the market for $1.2 million—and what a home it is!
Built in 1951, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,800-square-foot house features a hexagonal floor plan where the angle of nearly every corner is either 60 or 120 degrees. There’s nary a conventional right angle in sight! The living room, perhaps its most stunning room, is a triangle.
Called the Stuart Richardson house after the actuary who commissioned it, this house is designed in Wright’s Usonian style, which is meant to reflect the surrounding landscape. While the home is unique, wouldn’t all of those crazy angles present some challenges in terms of flow, and even fitting in furniture?
“Purchasing a unique property such as this is a rare opportunity to own a piece of architectural history,” says Tracy McLaughlin of The Agency in California’s Marin County. “However, one of the main challenges of living in a house with few right angles is that rooms are unusual shapes and therefore the interior spaces can be difficult to organize for a family to live and work in.”
“Furniture layout could be challenging,” agrees Ellie Mroz, interior designer at Ellie Mroz Design. “Most of your furniture and cabinetry will have to be fully custom to fit your unique corner angles.”
One of the hardest rooms to navigate, according to one agent, would be the bedroom, a relatively small room with a massive mattress that would need to be maneuvered around with care.
“Furnishing a bedroom without those precious right angles will make a space feel cramped and awkward to navigate unless the dimensions of the room are larger than one would find in a traditional right-angled home design,” warns Christopher Totaro of Warburg Realty.
Yet certain areas might actually benefit from a hexagonal floor plan.
“One area where a lack of right angles can be an enhancement is in the kitchen,” Totaro continues. “The fundamental design component to a kitchen is called the kitchen work triangle, so by minimizing or eliminating the right angles, a more efficient workspace is created.”
Robin Kencel of Compass Real Estate notes that this is a situation where investing in an interior designer is well worth it to help buyers understand how the rooms may be furnished.
“Some furniture pieces, such as curved or back-to-back sofas, custom-built as a single piece, are quite effective and inviting in these types of rooms,” says Kencel.
Spatial challenges aside, people acquire these kinds of homes for the historical and architectural significance more than the practicality, notes Cara Ameer, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Florida, who refers to it as an “emotional purchase.”
“Buying a home by a famed architect is like acquiring a piece of art, and Frank Lloyd Wright is no exception,” Ameer says. “As such, there are definitely trade-offs with practicality when it comes to owning a piece of art that happens to be a home. The fact that the home does not have many right angles is just something that a buyer will have to not only accept, but will need to embrace when buying this home.”
Well, that was quick! After purchasing a luxury condo in Manhattan’s controversial 432 Park Avenue a little over a year ago, mercurial A-list couple Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez have turned around and sold it in what seems like a New York minute—for what could be a $2 million profit!
It’s not uncommon for high-priced, high-rise apartments in New York City to languish on the market for months—sometimes even years. So heads spun when it was reported recently that the three-bedroom, 4.5-bath condo they bought for $15,316,000 in February 2018 had just gone under contract, after being listed at $17.5 million.
It doesn’t sound like they were unhappy with living in the tallest residential building in the world. A source told Page Six that they love the building, which features such amenities as a 75-foot indoor swimming pool, screening rooms, performance venues, a massage room, and a swanky billiard room. They’ve reportedly used the gym, and the boardroom for meetings.
However, the celeb couple apparently found that their 4,003-square-foot pad, which takes over half a floor, was just too small when their four kids are all together—each has two children from previous marriages.
Potential buyers interested in the 96-floor building might have additional concerns, including the following:
It sways as much as 60 centimeters, which can cause motion sickness in the sensitive.
Some people say it looks like a trash can; it was, in fact, inspired by a $225 waste receptacle designed by Josef Hoffmann.
It’s a bit lonely! Sources say many of the unit owners are foreign and rarely there.
Those factors make this quick sale even more amazing. How they did it is anyone’s guess, but we talked to some New York real estate experts who made a few cogent observations.
“When someone is as famous as J. Lo and A-Rod, people who can afford to buy their place may feel that the success and love shared in their home will rub off on them,” says Noemi Bitterman of Warburg Realty. “It’s natural to desire the love and success they share as a couple, so if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford it, why not?”
This purchase could also have been a slick business move.
“What we don’t know is if they were enticed by the developer to buy into this building and lend their celebrity status to help amp up interest and perceived value in the building,” Florida real estate agent Cara Ameer points out.
Wendy Arriz, also of Warburg Realty, believes the quick turnaround could have more to do with the nature of the unit itself.
“This is basically an entry-level price point for the 432 Park as the higher, more expensive units had the killer, unobstructed view,” she says. “There is an old saying about how it is best to own the least expensive home on the nicest block. And it doesn’t hurt that it had a celebrity pedigree.”
But we may not want to be so quick singing the deal’s praises, especially if Martin Eiden of the sports and entertainment division at Compass Real Estate is correct.
“We actually do not know what the contract price is,” he says. “It could be less [or far less] than the asking price … as is the case most of the time.”
He breaks down the deal this way: Closing and other costs when the couple purchased the property:
1% mansion tax = $153,100
1.825% state and city transfer taxes = $279,407
Decorating and customization (estimate) = $300,000–$1,000,000
Fees for selling:
Brokers fee: 6% of $17,000,000 = $1,020,000
1.825% state and city transfer taxes = $310,250
So if they bought it for $15,316,000, they would have to sell it at roughly $17,380,000 just to break even.
“I’m willing to bet they lost money,” Eiden says.
After all, a high-profile celebrity attachment is no guarantee of a quick sale. No one knows this better than J. Lo, who has been trying to sell another New York property for several years. She’s had her posh penthouse, a two-floor unit on the fifth and sixth floors of the historic Whitman Mansion, on and off the market since 2017, at prices ranging from $26,950,000 to its current listing price of $24,990,000.
At 6,540 square feet, it’s apparently not big enough for the combined family either, even though it has four bedrooms, six baths, two half-baths, and 3,000 square feet of outdoor space.
One thing is certain: These A-listers are not letting any turf grow under their feet when it comes to making even more multimillion-dollar real estate deals. The New York Post reports that they’re on their way to finding a considerably bigger abode. They’ve recently taken a long look at an ultraluxe penthouse in the Puck Building in SoHo, which offers 7,241 square feet of interior space and 5,158 square feet of outdoor space.
That ought to be plenty of room for Team J-Ro. The current asking price is $42.5 million, but these savvy investors never pay list price, especially since this unit has been on and off the market since 2015, and was originally listed at $66 million.