Top 10 Affordable Lake Towns, 2019: Splashy Waterfront Retreats for Cheap!

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With all due respect to ocean lovers, there’s something unique and mysteriously seductive about lakeside living. The serenity. The fresh water. Those amazing docks! The buoyant boating and tipsy tubing. The pronounced lack of great whites and squishy jellyfish. And—get ready for it—the relative affordability.

Because you don’t need to be a gazillionaire to afford a home in a bona fide lake town—you just need to know where to look. And that’s why the data team at realtor.com® set out on its annual warm-weather crusade to find the best affordable lake towns in America. These are the places with plenty of well-priced homes, and plenty of cool stuff to do on and off the water.

Choices, choices. Do you shell out more for a home on a bigger body of water, maybe even one of the Great Lakes, for the ne plus ultra in fishing and water sports?  Do you search out those tourist destinations jampacked with seafood joints and family-friendly entertainment to optimize rental income? Or do you opt for a quieter, lower-profile, cheaper vibe?

“Buyers should consider how will they personally use the house,” says eXp Realty broker and vacation home expert Holly Mabery, based in Sedona, AZ. “Is it for their family or rental income? How will they use the lake? What kinds of activities do they enjoy? Is the property and lake accessible year-round?

“Second homes and vacation homes are extremely personal. What do they love to do?”

To come up with our ranking,* we looked at realtor.com listings that mentioned phrases such as “lake view” and “lake house” in more than 900 U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan areas. Each had to have at least 50 listings over a 12-month period; each had 150,000 households or less and median home prices under $450,000. Finally, we measured the percentage of vacation homes and of dining, drinking, and outdoor activity establishments. Because at some point you need to get out of the water. Right?

So where can you score an affordable waterfront oasis you can call your own? Let’s dive in!

Top affordable lake towns of 2019

Tony Frenzel

1. Branson, MO

Median home list price: $205,900**

A six-bedroom home on Table Rock lake in Branson, MO

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News flash: Branson is more than just Silver Dollar City theme park, the Dolly Parton’s Stampede (um, Goggle it), and live country music. No this Midwestern vacation mecca also has lots and lots of lakes.

There’s popular Table Rock Lake and all of its 43,000 acres practically begging for boaters, paddleboarders, and water skiers. And Lake Taneycomo is a top pick for trout fishers thanks to its clean, cool waters.

Vacationers can pick up single-family homes right on Table Rock Lake for anywhere from about $350,000 to more than $600,000, says local real estate agent Lacey Sanders of Keller Williams Tri-Lakes.

This log-style, six-bedroom, three-bathroom home on the lake with a wrap-around deck is going for $345,500.

Buyers on a budget can get a fixer-upper on the water for about $175,000, she says. Or they can look at one-bedroom condos on Lake Taneycomo, a quieter, less-traveled locale, that run around $120,000.

Many of Sanders’ clients are boomers purchasing summer homes that will turn into their future retirement homes.

“A lot [of buyers here] are people gearing toward retirement,” she adds.

2. East Stroudsburg, PA

Median home list price: $187,000

Lakefront home in Pocono Pines, PA

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East Stroudsburg is nestled in the Poconos, long a popular vacation destination for folks hoping to escape New York City and Philadelphia. The region, in Eastern Pennsylvania between the struggling Rust Belt cities of Allentown and Scranton, is treasured for its many lakes, ski resorts, quaint, historic towns, and water parks, as well as its chill “Dirty Dancing” vibe (even if that movie classic actually took place in the Catskills).

The area’s real estate market got a boost in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New York City and the Jersey shore. More folks felt safer buying a vacation home on a lake in the Poconos than on the ocean, says local real estate agent Jennifer Ace of Re/Max of the Poconos.

Many buyers are purchasing homes they can both vacation in and rent out on sites such as Airbnb when they’re not using the property.

“They can make a good profit here,” says Ace.

Despite the area’s low price tag, the best locations aren’t exactly cheap. Lakefront homes typically run between $900,000 and $1.4 million, says Ace. But buyers can get a smaller, single-family home in a lake community like Lake Naomi or Timber Trails in the town of Pocono Pines starting at around $120,000. There are also plenty of condos and townhomes on Pinecrest Lake, best known for its campgrounds.

3. Port Clinton, OH

Median home list price: $259,900

Lake houses near Port Clinton, OH

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Northern Ohio probably isn’t on most vacationers’ bucket lists. But maybe Port Clinton should be. Situated on a peninsula jutting into the western edge of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, Port Clinton is a charming, small town filled with quiet bays, lovely beaches, and nearby islands just begging to be explored.

The town, between Cleveland and Toledo, is aimed at tourists with a plethora of entertainment. There’s the African Safari Wildlife Park, a 100-acre, drive-through park with bison, giraffes, and zebras (oh my). Townies and vacationers alike dig browsing the locally owned antiques stores or cracking open a 2-pound lobster at one of the many waterfront eateries.

Unlike many of the other towns on our list, there are plenty of affordably priced condos, some right on the lake. This furnished, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo with a community pool is on the market for $149,995. Those looking for three-bedroom, three-bathroom, single-family houses can snag them right on the water starting in the low $300,000s.

There’s no shortage of true showstoppers, too, like this four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom beauty with both lake and bay views and a two-story fireplace for $1,495,000.

4. Jamestown, NY (Chautauqua County)

Median home list price: $59,900

Home on the Chadakoin River in Jamestown, NY

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Jamestown, an upstate town about an hour and a half southwest of Buffalo, near Lake Erie, is known for its beautiful lakes, its too-good-to-be-true low home prices—and its comedy. Wait, what? True enough. This hometown of grande dame Lucille Ball hosts the National Comedy Center, an interactive humor museum, and throws the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival each August. Past big-name performers include Jerry SeinfeldAmy Schumer, and Jay Leno.

OK, back to the lakes. Jamestown sits on the tip of the 17-mile Lake Chautauqua; it’s also close to Lake Eerie, one of the Finger Lakes, and several smaller bodies of water. All are quite beautiful.

“The lakes are the largest tourism draws to the region,” says Megan Arnone, spokeswoman for the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau. They’re “recognized destinations for fishing, boating, and great swimming beaches.”

Those who’d like to stay year-round can score great real estate bargains with the area’s many older, single-family homes. This two-bedroom, two-bathroom house may not look like much from the outside—but it comes with 110 feet of private shoreline, all for $290,000. There are also plenty of homes on Chadakoin River, such as this two-bedroom, one-bathroom house for $219,000.

5. Alexandria, MN

Median home list price: $288,900

Small lakefront home in Alexandria, MN

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It wouldn’t be a lake town list without Minnesota—aka the Land of 10,000 Lakes, even though that number is actually closer to 12,000. There are about 300 lakes alone in Douglas County, where the summer resort town of Alexandria is located. The town itself is flanked on several sides by water—meaning there’s no shortage of lakefront homes for sale.

The town is also big on personality. At the end of Broadway stands a 28-foot-tall Viking emblazoned with “Alexandria, Birthplace of America.” It’s referring to the (hotly contested) state legend that Vikings came to the area in 1362—more than a century before explorer Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas.

The historic downtown, done up in old Western style, is filled with antiques stores and cafes. There’s good hiking in nearby Lake Carlos State Park, and even a local NASCAR track, the Viking Speedway.

While the waterfront housing stock is predominantly single-family homes, there’s also an assortment of townhomes and condos available for reasonable prices. Bargain hunters who don’t mind cramped quarters can pick up this 440-square-foot house on Lake Andrew for $111,900.

6. Clearlake, CA

Median home list price: $219,900

Clearlake, CA

Barbara Rich/Getty Images

Surprised to see exorbitantly expensive California make it onto our list? Well, the town of Clearlake has had its struggles, which have driven prices way down. But it seems to be finally rebounding.

About an hour and a half north of the Napa Valley, Clearlake was once a popular San Francisco Bay Area waterfront getaway. And while there are still wineries as well as a lakefront casino and resort, the area was smacked hard by the foreclosure crisis of a decade ago and then ravaged by wildfires over the past few years.

“When we say ‘Clearlake,’ people around here remember childhood experiences camping and vacationing on the lake,” says real estate broker Yvette Sloan of NextHome Yvette Sloan, in nearby Middletown. Now, as more folks are priced out of the Bay Area, they’re taking another look at the place—some even as a primary home option. And that’s helping to turn the area around.

“It’s coming back,” Sloan says.

The average price in Clearwater is a fraction of the $899,400 median metro price in Napa and $950,000 in San Francisco, according to realtor.com data.

Signs of revival aren’t hard to find.The Konocti Harbor Resort, which closed in 2009, has plans to reopen. But the freshwater Clear Lake—which some believe is the oldest in North America—is still the big draw.

7. Spirit Lake, IA

Median home list price: $315,000

Home with a boat garage in Spirit Lake, IA

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It’s a lake lover’s paradise. The tourist towns of Spirit Lake and neighboring Okoboji come alive when summer hits. There are gorgeous lakes just about as far as the eye can see—and all of the attractions that come along with them.

“We call this the Iowa Great Lakes,” says local real estate broker Amy Maris of Okoboji Realty. Her clients come from cities across the greater Midwest. “In the middle of all these cornfields, we have these beautiful lakes.”

West Okoboji Lake is where you’ll find multimillion-dollar, three- and four-bedroom homes and grand estates and plenty of things going on. This four-bedroom brick house with a convenient boat garage with steps leading down to the water is listed at $1,950,000. But there are plenty of bargains to be had, especially near East Okoboji Lake. (Newer, three-bedroom, two-bathroom condos with all of the amenities, are going for under $300,000.)

Those looking for a more peaceful home can opt for Spirit Lake or one of the other nearby, smaller lakes. Older, waterfront, single-family homes start at a measly $100,000 here, the lowest on our list.

8. Mountain Home, AR

Median home list price: $174,900

Clear night in Mountain Home, AR

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Looking for some true lakeside serenity—not a NASCAR track in sight? This town in the Ozarks near the Missouri border offers it up in abundance. Quiet, that is.

“Mountain Home doesn’t have all the entertainment, shows, and theme parks,” says local real estate broker Joey Peglar, of the Peglar Real Estate Group. “It’s a very peaceful, tranquil area.”

The real excitement here is found on the water, especially the bass fishing, swimming, boating, and scuba diving in Lake Norfolk and Bull Shoals Lake, two vast, human-made bodies of water.  There’s plenty of camping, too.

Those who appreciate the slower pace can find roughly 1,700-square-feet, two-bedroom cabins overlooking a lake or river from a wall of windows for about $200,000, says Peglar. Larger, waterfront houses can be had for under $300,000.

9. Baraboo, WI

Median home list price: $189,900

A grand estate on Lake Wisconsin

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus may have shut down for good in 2017, but those with fond memories of clown cars and strange elephant tricks can still head to Baraboo. The Ringling brothers grew up in the town, and their name is still very much a part of the south-central Wisconsin town’s lifeblood, emblazoned on street signs and murals. Those who really need to get their big top fix can make a pilgrimage to Circus World, a museum devoted to carnival history.

What’s that you say? You’re terrified of clown noses? Ditch the museum and head to the 9,000-acre Devil’s Lake State Park just outside of town. It boasts a lake formed by glaciers and stunning, natural rock formations—a magnet for rock climbers at all skill levels.

But folks seeking a waterfront property may have to settle for a river instead. While Lake Wisconsin stretches about 720 acres, the city derives its name from the Baraboo River, and there are good deals to be had near its banks.

Single-family homes by Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River run from $200,000 for a modest, two-bedroom, one-bath cottage to $3.6 million for a grand, seven-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom estate with spectacular water views.

10. Sandpoint, ID

Median home list price: $429,00

Sandpoint, ID

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Let’s just get this out of the way: Sandpoint is the most expensive town on our list. But it’s as much of a destination spot in winter as it is in warmer months. The artsy community framed by mountains (about 90 minutes southwest of Spokane, WA) is catnip for skiers, who can who head to the Schweitzer Mountain Resort when the powder starts to pile up.

In the summer, though, crystal-clear Lake Pend Oreille and its white, sandy beaches are the main attraction. There are wineries, breweries, restaurants, and a music festival every August. And yet it’s not a bustling place to be.

“It is a small town,” says local real estate Chris Chambers of Tomlinson Sotheby’s International Realty. About two-thirds of his clients are second-home buyers from Seattle and Northern California. “You go to one of the two grocery stores in town, and you’ll bump into someone you know.”

Because much of the 111 miles of lake shoreline are taken up by national forests, there aren’t a huge number of lakefront homes, which pushes up prices.

Those looking to save a few bucks can head west of town, toward the Washington state border, and get a house on the Priest River for about $600,000—or significantly less. Or they can settle for a nice home on 5 acres with lakefront views for $600,000 to $700,000.


* Data is from realtor.com, U.S. Census Bureau, and Yelp.

** Prices are as of June 1.

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A Fascinating Peek Inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Playhouse’: Can You Spot What’s Fake?

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Frank Lloyd Wright has built many homes, but a theater? Apparently so: Meet the Avery Coonley Playhouse, which is now for sale in Riverside, IL, for a mere $750,000.

In fact, “schoolhouse” is a more apt description, since it was originally built in 1912 to be an elementary school that included an auditorium and stage for theatrical performances.

In 1917, the playhouse was converted to a private residence. In 1980, the home’s current owners paid a mere $260,000 for it, then spent decades renovating and restoring it.

Last summer, the owners put it up for sale for $800,000. Yet they took it off the market after a few months, and put even more work into it. Currently, the home boasts 3,503 square feet of living space, with two bedrooms and two adjacent bathrooms that have been completely updated with marble countertops and newer fixtures.

“The current owners mostly worked on the bedrooms and made them ready to move into,” says Compass listing agent Mike McCurry. “Also, there was an area that had previously been used for storage, and now they made that into a family room.”

McCurry says the sellers are hoping that with the latest improvements, “the next curators of the home will find it irresistible.”

So what’s ‘irresistible’ about this Frank Lloyd Wright home?

Thankfully, in spite of these many renovations, the historic stage and auditorium remain intact, and now serve as a grand living room with a fireplace.

Frank Lloyd Wright
Auditorium and stage

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Among the home’s most arresting features are Wright’s signature leaded-glass windows, which ring the auditorium. Their design might look familiar—it’s been featured on everything from coasters to floor mats.

According to historical sources, they were inspired by a parade with balloons, confetti, and flags, and were called a “kinder-symphony” by the architect. They’re reported to be the first introduction of circles into his designs.

Frank Lloyd Wright
Famous leaded-glass windows

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However, most of the examples seen in this home are replicas. McCurry reports that previous owners had removed many of the windows and sold them all over the world, for prices up to $250,000 each. Some of the originals can be seen in museums. While a few of the original windows remain in the house, the current owners were allowed to commission museum-quality reproductions for their historic home.

And honestly, could you spot the fakes in the photos below? Didn’t think so.

Frank Lloyd Wright
Classic Frank Lloyd Wright–designed windows

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The one room that still needs updates

Yet in spite of all of the work that’s gone into keeping this home up with the times, there’s still one room that cries out for a makeover: the kitchen.

“It still has a lot of the original elements—they once used it for teaching culinary arts,” McCurry says. Some of the original cabinetry is there, too.

It does have modern conveniences, including a Viking stove, dishwasher, and even a soda fountain, but there’s still room for improvement.

“We expect future owners will want to renovate that, and have left that on the table,” McCurry says.

Frank Lloyd Wright
Kitchen

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You might wonder why, after spending so many years renovating their cherished home, the owners are parting with it at this point in time.

“They’ve done everything they ever conceived of doing,” explains McCurry. “Now that they’re retired, they’re ready to retire from curatorship of the home. They’ve priced it at a point they hope will encourage the next curators, who truly appreciate its architectural style, to come in and take over.”

Frank Loyd Wright
Contrasting vertical and horizontal elements

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If recent sales of local Wright homes are any indication, those future owners could well be right around the corner. The playhouse was built on the same grounds as the much larger, 6,000-square-foot Avery Coonley house, which finally sold in February for $1,150,000. It had been on and off the market for almost 10 years, after being listed for $2,890,000 in 2010.

Who knows? Maybe lightning will strike twice in the same place, in the same year, and sell this Wright home, too.

The post A Fascinating Peek Inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Playhouse’: Can You Spot What’s Fake? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Need to Relocate? Bring The House, Too

Tonny Luong for The Wall Street Journal

Dao Engle, some neighbors and a handful of local kite-boarders stood on a sand dune on Pocomo Head along Nantucket Harbor this past June and watched nervously as her 10,000 square-foot home, which had been separated from its foundation and placed on a series of steel moving rails, began its very slow, very short trip to safety.

After seven years of planning and four months of preparation, En Fin, as the house is named, was at last fleeing the fast-eroding bluff that was on its way to undermining its foundation.

“They’d move the house 5 feet, then check it. Then they’d move it 10 feet and check it again,” Mrs. Engle said. “It was definitely nerve wracking.”

For 40 years, En Fin’s gabled roof and massive size have made it a landmark for sailors like Mrs. Engle and her husband, who first saw the home from the water.

“It made an impression,” Mrs. Engle said.

En Fin, a 10,000-square-foot home on Pocomo Head in Nantucket, Mass., is being moved away from a sandy bluff that is eroding and threatens to undermine its foundation.
En Fin, a 10,000-square-foot home on Pocomo Head in Nantucket, Mass., is being moved away from a sandy bluff that is eroding and threatens to undermine its foundation.

Tony Luong for The Wall Street Journal

In August of 2012, the Engles, who are investors and real-estate developers, purchased the home for $8.4 million from Nicki Nichols Gamble, former Planned Parenthood executive and widow of Procter & Gamble heir Richard Gamble. The home was endangered by the eroding edge of the bluff, which was 25 feet from the home at the time of purchase. The need to relocate or replace the enormous structure was baked into the price, which was very low for a luxury home on seven waterfront acres on Nantucket. Initially, the Engles thought they’d replace it.

The Engles installed a fence at the base of the bluff to slow further erosion, but they knew they couldn’t stop it. After living in the home for four summers, the family decided to relocate it rather than tear it down and start over: the total cost to move, including the cost of disconnecting utilities, the fee to clear the site and move the house, and the price of concrete used in the process, was approximately $1.6 million. Estimates on a rebuild alone in 2017 was $1,000 a square foot, not including the cost to demolish En Fin and remove the debris.

“We were realizing that it’s a secondary home for us,” said Mrs. Engle, whose primary residence is in Palm Beach, Florida. “Maybe it doesn’t need to be perfect. We could tweak it.” As part of the move, the Engles are building a finished basement, adding about 6,500 square feet, two more bedrooms, a home theater, and a gym. That work will bring the all-in cost for the move and upgrade to an estimated $4 million.

By some measures, En Fin may be the largest home moved on the Cape and Islands, an area particularly subject to coastal erosion. In 2013, a 8,300-square-foot home belonging to Richard and Jennifer Schifter was moved 275 feet from a bluff on Martha’s Vineyard.

 The home is prepped for the move by the moving contractors Toscana Corp., who installed wooden cribbing and steel beams, which were punched through the original foundation.
The home is prepped for the move by the moving contractors Toscana Corp., who installed wooden cribbing and steel beams, which were punched through the original foundation.

Tony Luong for The Wall Street Journal

More than 8,000 structures are moved each year, due to development, environmental hazards and historic preservation, according to Tammie DeVooght Blaney, executive director of the International Association of Structural Movers. Industry leaders estimate that high-end, single-family homes at 4,000 square feet or greater account for about only a dozen of these moves annually.

The distance a house, especially a very large one, can travel by dolly on a roadway is often limited by street width as well as electric power lines, natural surroundings (like hillsides, sharply curving roads and trees) and other existing structures, according to Ms. DeVooght Blaney. For this reason, large single-family homes can only be moved back from an eroding coastline if there’s room to maneuver. Unlike their east coast counterparts, luxury homes along California’s eroding beaches, in communities like Laguna Beach and Malibu, are frequently built close to the lot lines on all sides, so owners often have little choice but to stand their ground and fight for shoreline improvements like sea walls.

Because of this, the majority of West Coast luxury house moving occurs in the booming Seattle market, where structural movers Nickel Bros relocate homes by barge. When Nickel Bros identify a house that the owners are planning to demolish, they present an alternative to the owners—the company will find a buyer and sell the house for a cost that will include its removal, transportation, and delivery. The current owner does not pay for any of the home removal costs, but there could be additional costs involved on site, so owners generally save around 80% of the cost of demolition, the company says.

The view underneath the home.
The view underneath the home.

Tony Luong for The Wall Street Journal

Nickel Bros are involved in the sale and relocation of around 300 structures in the Pacific Northwest and Canada every year. Owners, says Nick Carpenter, the company’s sales manager, are further motivated to move a home rather than destroy it because of sentimental attachment or an aversion to creating waste. The company recently moved a 7,000-square-foot manse because the plot owners had raised their children in the house and couldn’t bring themselves to demolish it before rebuilding.

If a home move is logistically possible, the owners then have to weigh the cost of relocation against the costs of demolition and new construction, which vary by region.

“The more logistical issues involved in the move, the greater the costs, the more you need to prove the value of the house,” according to John Clegg, president of the Texas Association of Structural Movers. “Ninety-five percent of people who reach out to us don’t do the move. It’s just too expensive.”

Flooding is also becoming a major factor in home moves, according to Jerry Matyiko, who has been moving houses (plus airport terminals, lighthouses and more) for 50 years as the co-owner and president of Expert House Movers. He says that flood-related moves often occur after a house has already taken some water damage. This means that states’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant money and National Flood Insurance Program claims can factor into budgetary decisions.

“FEMA gives three options if you have a water problem: tear the house down, move it, or lift it,” according to Ms. DeVooght Blaney. “If you can’t move your home and you’re in a flood plain, FEMA funds a grant for acquisition and demolition, but you can never rebuild on that property again.”

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program caps its structural reimbursement at approximately $250,000, and that’s not enough to rebuild a home over 4,000 square feet. (Supplemental insurance often proves cost-prohibitive for many homeowners.) For some owners, this may tip the scales in favor of a move for a larger home—but hidden costs and complications may make the investment a wash.

For many homeowners, the best option is to hire a structural mover to simply lift the house up onto stilts or pilings and hope rising waters stay lower than the first floor.

En Fin half-way through its move. Remnants of the original foundation are in the foreground.
En Fin half-way through its move. Remnants of the original foundation are in the foreground.

Tony Luong for The Wall Street Journal

Once the Engles decided to relocate En Fin, they worked with Nantucket architect Chip Webster, who in turn used local surveyors to select a new location for the home 80 feet to the north, then 60 feet to the east of its historic location. They also hired Scott O’Connor of O’Connor Custom Builders to be the project’s general contractor. His work would include all internal and external renovations at the new site.

Structural moving and excavation firm Toscana Corporation moved the house to its new location. Toscana founder Carl Jelleme says he’s worked on about half of the house moves on Nantucket since his first structural move in 1981, which was when house moving started becoming more common on the island.

After clearing the overgrown lot and charting the home’s path, the Toscana crew erected wooden cribbing that would support the weight of the home and the steel support girders once it was removed from its foundation. Then, the crew punched through the basement walls, creating space to slide the lattice of steel beams that would support the house. Beneath these beams, the crew installed 32 unified hydraulic jacks.

Invented by Chicago-based structural mover Pete Friesen in 1955, the unified hydraulic jacking system is what allows such large structures to be moved “with pristine precision,” Ms. DeVooght Blaney said.

Because the Engles’ house only had a short distance to travel, the crew put the house on 16 cribs and 16 skates—rolling fixtures designed to grip and glide down a series of steel rails. (If the distance had been farther, the house would have traveled on large, two-axle dollies, as the Schifter house did.) Two excavators, attached via cables to the steel bracing under the house, pulled the massive structure along its track.

The move took place over a week, and involved a dozen people. It will take another couple of months for the home to be secured on its new foundation. In addition to building out the new basement, the Engles also had stabilization fences constructed on the face of the bluff, which seems to be slowing down erosion.

“By fixing the problem and redoing the space, we have effectively doubled the value of the home versus what we bought it for,” Mrs. Engle said, relieved that the long journey of 140 feet is over. The Engles hope to be back in the home by next summer.

“Ultimately, this move has been a no-brainer for us,” Mrs. Engle said. “We’d like to be here for the next 100 years.”

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Farm Turned Rustic-Chic Wedding Venue Is the Week’s Most Popular Home

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Hang the twinkling lights, break out the flower crowns, and don’t forget the Mason jar candle holders, because a Pinterest-perfect farmhouse wedding venue is this week’s most popular home on realtor.com®. The meticulously manicured 10-acre spread is a romantic spot tailor-made for a party—and Instagram. Hashtags not included.

On the market for $695,000, the Michigan property provides a turn-key wedding barn, reception hall, outdoor bar, and fire pit. There’s also a five-bedroom main house that’s ideal for the future proprietor of this clickworthy business opportunity.

Other properties you clicked on this week include a massive castle built by an oral surgeon in Wisconsin over the course of a decade, a classic SoCal home that was the scene of a notorious murder, and an over-the-top decor explosion in Detroit still awaiting a buyer.

It’s been a week of style-forward searches—all of this week’s most popular homes have their own distinct aesthetic and point of view. Strike a pose and have a look…

10. 3311 Waverly Dr, Los Angeles, CA 

Price: $1,988,800
Why it’s here: This Los Feliz home was owned by Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, who were randomly murdered here 50 years ago by Charles Manson and his followers. The property has drawn attention not only because of its bloody history, but also because of its prime location and classic Hollywood style. For those with morbid curiosity, it’s likely to be too late—TMZ has reported that the host of “Ghost Adventures,” Zak Bagans, has bought the home.

Los Angeles, CA

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9. Springdale, AR

Price: $1,450,000
Why it’s here: This modern home was renovated by reality-TV couple Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar with an eye toward a quick flip. However, the more than 10,000-square-foot custom home has been slow to attract a buyer. The Duggars hope a recent $200,000 price cut will do the trick.

Springdale, AR

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8. 2291 Waccassa St, Geneva, FL

Price: $409,000
Why it’s here: This darling Dutch Colonial was built in 2004 and sits on 5 private acres in the somewhat unlikely location of Geneva, FL. Interior highlights of the two-bedroom home include a large farmhouse kitchen, heart-of-pine floors, high ceilings, and a fireplace. The surrounding wooded acreage includes a pond, landscaping, and space for gardening or raising livestock.

Geneva, FL

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7. 40 S. Lafayette St, Mayesville, SC

Price: $599,500
Why it’s here: Known as Glen Eberly, this grand home takes its name from a mansion that features in “The Sword and the Distaff,” a novel by the Southern historian William Gilmore Simms. The Beaux Arts beauty was built in 1895 by Robert James Mayes, grandson of Mayesville founder “Squire” Matthew Peterson Mayes. Today, the seven-bedroom home includes eight fireplaces, exposed brick, and original frosted glass. Outside, the more than 5-acre lot includes a fountain, mature magnolia trees, a pool, terrace, and an antebellum cabin used as a guesthouse.

Beaux Arts home in Mayesville, SC
Mayesville, SC

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6. 450 W. Grixdale, Detroit, MI 

Price: $300,000
Why it’s here: This one-of-a-kind decor delight has been lingering on the market since March 2018. After yet another price cut, the owner, known around town as “Mr. Ronnie,” is hoping to attract a buyer to his distinctive dwelling.

He’ll need to find someone who truly appreciates the love and the care put into the decor—from the crochet on the ceilings to the meticulous rec room complete with Elvis on a stage. When we examined the lack of a buyer last month, the price sat at $374,900 and there was a single listing photo. Now, it’s back on the market with a reduced price, a new agent, and plenty more eye-popping pictures to ogle.

Detroit, MI

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5. 637 Crescent Ave, Ellwood City, PA

Price: $224,000
Why it’s here: This restored five-bedroom Victorian was built in 1891 and retains many of its original fixtures and features. There are pocket doors, stained-glass windows, and two fireplaces. Outdoors, the elegant home has wraparound porches leading to two grand marbled entrances.

Exterior of blue Victorian home
Ellwood City, PA

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4. 5976 Main St, Trumbull, CT

Price: $369,000
Why it’s here: Reading is fundamental! Built in 1936 to serve as the library for the town of Trumbull, CT, this property was converted into a home in the 1980s. Today, the “Hawley Memorial Library” is a single-family dwelling with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and 3,000 square feet. There’s also a two-car garage and a finished basement with two bedrooms, a full bath, and a laundry room.

Exterior of brick home in CT
Trumbull, CT

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3. 250 Harvey Rd, Chadds Ford, PA 

Price: $350,000
Why it’s here: This local landmark is priced to reflect the substantial amount of work needed to restore the exterior stucco. Tucked among the trees on just under 2 acres, the stark and modern three-bedroom was built in 1954. With a bit of love (and money!), it could be brought back to all its midcentury modern glory.

Modern home in PA
Chadds Ford, PA

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2. N7040 Saucer Dr, Watertown, WI

Price: $674,900
Why it’s here: A decade in the making! This 10,000-square-foot castle garnered local attention when it was built in 2008, by the owner himself, Dr. Dale Roznik, a local oral surgeon. Roznik and his wife visited Germany and were inspired to build something similar back home. The result is the Roznik Countryside Castle, now awaiting its “final finishes,” according to the listing details. The 2-acre property also includes a 50-foot-by-70-foot heated workshop.

Castle in Watertown, WI
Watertown, WI

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1. 15046 Tyrone Ave, Kent City, MI

Price: $695,000
Why it’s here: Pinterest-loving entrepreneurs need look no further! This cute-as-a-button country farm in Western Michigan has been reimagined as a rustic, romantic wedding destination, complete with wedding barn, reception hall, and outdoor area for warmer months.

Every element of an Instagram-worthy wedding is covered—twinkling lights hang overhead in the hall, a rustic outdoor bar sits ready to serve up signature beverages, and a changing room is ready for a blushing bride.

An owner will also acquire the five-bedroom main house, a workshop, storage barn, chicken barn, and cattle barn. Pass the tissues, because we love weddings!

Rustic wedding chapel
Kent City, MI

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The post Farm Turned Rustic-Chic Wedding Venue Is the Week’s Most Popular Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

This City Has the No. 1 Most Stable Housing Market in the Country

ronaldmorales/iStock

Buying a home in Boulder, Colo., is still the safest bet.

For the fifth year in a row, Boulder ranked as the best housing market nationwide based on home price growth and stability, according to a new report from SmartAsset.

The odds of a major drop in home prices in Boulder were 0% — and properties in the city have increased 268% in price since 1994. Boulder was one of three Colorado cities to rank among the Top 10 most stable markets, along with Fort Collins (No. 4) and Denver (No. 8). Texas also had three cities at the top: Midland (No. 2), Austin (No. 3) and Houston (No. 9).

The study analyzed 25 years of home-value data across 358 metropolitan areas around the country from the Federal Housing Administration. The metro areas were then ranked based on two factors: Overall home price growth and the probability that a homeowner would experience a significant price decline of 5% or more within a decade after purchasing a property.

SmartAsset

Overall, the top end of the ranking did not shift too much since SmartAsset’s 2018 study. Billings, Mont., Grand Forks, N.D., and Casper, Wyo., dropped out of the Top 10.

San Francisco and San Jose rose this year to tie at No. 6 from No. 13 and No. 15 last year, respectively. “A stable housing market requires years of consistent performance, so it’s not unusual that places repeat year after year,” the study noted.

However, homeowners have nearly 1 in 5 odds of a 5% drop in home prices in San Francisco and San Jose. And recent data have suggested larger home price cuts could be on the horizon as sales activity in those markets has become rather depressed as the high cost of housing has pushed would-be buyers to the sidelines.

The post This City Has the No. 1 Most Stable Housing Market in the Country appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.