We’re Living for These Viral Listing Photos of a Unicorn and T. Rex: Here’s Why


As silly as it may seem, donning costumes and posing in listing photos is not a new sales tactic. We’ve seen several real estate agents use the clever gimmick to have their listing go viral in the hopes of landing a buyer. (Remember the panda and the dinosaur?) And, truth be told, we’ll never not be interested in a story like this; we always have so many questions! How did you get the seller on board? Why did you choose this costume? And, of course, have you had any offers on the house?

So you can imagine our delight when we happened upon the latest listing photos charade featuring a unicorn and a dinosaur. The inflatable pair appear to be living in domestic bliss in a four-bed, two-bath home in Lexington, KY. They’re doing yardwork. They’re watching TV. They’re even doing their business in the bathroom. These strategically posed creatures actually do a great job of highlighting the home’s best features, including new flooring and stainless-steel appliances.

dinosaur unicorn house
That’s one form of curb appeal.


dinosaur unicorn house
Do not disturb!


To get the story behind these lighthearted photos, we tracked down the real estate agent and property owner, Lynn Keyland. She listed her family’s 2,100-square-foot home for $195,000 and knew including these wacky pictures could be one way to generate buzz.

“With the real estate market in my area being stronger than years past, I definitely wanted to make my home stand out,” she says.

Two of Keyland’s children also wanted to get in on the fun, but feeling protective of their image, she thought dressing them up was a safer move. So she chose the costumes and called her photographer, Christina Leadingham.

“The unicorn, named Lollipop, is my 12-year-old daughter Venessa, and the T. rex, aka King Rex, is my son David, who is 10,” Keyland explains.

Have buyers come knocking?

To Keyland’s delight, her cheeky photos caught the eye of numerous publications—and home shoppers.

“My first open house was the busiest I’ve ever hosted,” she says.

Her second open house was also a success, with a steady flow of potential buyers, including some who weren’t even looking at homes in this price range—or in Kentucky. Several people have also told her they’re considering making an offer.

“What I’ve learned is that the photos are getting people talking, regardless of whether the comments are good or bad,” Keyland says. “So, while one person may have something negative to say and not be interested, someone else may feel differently and have an interest in my home. At the end of the day, all sellers need is just one buyer.”

Though the home is still on the market and a serious buyer hasn’t come around yet, one thing is for certain: Keyland likes the idea of doing something fun for her next listing.

“In fact, my oldest son, Noah, has already received his Batman costume,” she says. “We’d love to use it for the next home seller who will allow me the opportunity to do something a little outside the box to try to sell their home fast.”

dinosaur unicorn house
King Rex enjoys his showers.


Dino and uni
Lollipop is baking up something sweet.


Dino and uni listing
You know the neighborhood is safe when a dinosaur is keeping watch.


Dino and uni
Don’t those new hardwood floors look great?


Dino and uni
Even dinosaurs need to practice self-care.


Dino and uni in cave
King Rex is clearly in shock over the “Game of Thrones” finale.


The post We’re Living for These Viral Listing Photos of a Unicorn and T. Rex: Here’s Why appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

8 Log Cabins Perfect for a Permanent Getaway From the City


To some, log cabins are the ultimate in cozy winter getaways, where you sip hot cocoa by the fire while fat snowflakes pile up outside. Sweet! But here’s the thing: These timber-based homes are just as easy to enjoy in the summertime.

Seriously, take a look at the front porches on most of these places! They beckon you to come outside with your favorite beverage, plop yourself in a comfy rocking chair, and simply soak in the beauty of nature.

With the idea of vacation outside the city on our minds, we scoured our listings for log cabins in the country. Bingo: We found eight ideal candidates currently on the market. They all sit on multiple acres and offer the signature charm this type of abode possesses—no matter the season.

Pull up a chair, and peruse these eight glorious cabins waiting for a buyer in need of year-round respite…

38711 Sugar Wood Dr, Magnolia, TX

Price: $469,900
Log longings: Just north of Houston, this four-bedroom retreat looks like an ideal respite from the big city. Sitting on 2 acres, the 2,400-square-foot home offers ample space for a family. The wraparound porches look particularly peaceful, and the seller is throwing in a chicken coop—along with the chickens!

Magnolia, TX



415 Hideout Ln, Colfax, CA

Price: $475,000
Log longings: Nestled in the woods about midway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, this cool cabin sits at the end of a private road. The interiors of the three-bedroom space are filled with wood, wood, and more wood. If you’re looking for rustic and relaxing, this might be your spot.

Colfax, CA



6935 Conifer Trl, Vale, NC

Price: $249,000
Log longings: Located just an hour from Charlotte, this Carolina cabin on 12 acres feels like it is worlds away. The location offers “cool summer nights and the beautiful autumn colors.” The three-bedroom cabin features a living room with a soaring cathedral ceiling and a rock fireplace.

Vale, NC



59 Old Village Rd, Sautee Nacoochee, GA

Price: $355,000
Log longings: This 20-year-old custom cabin promises all the “conveniences of a modern-day home.” Located on 5 acres in North Georgia, the cabin’s large front porch looks like a perfect spot to spend a warm evening. Inside, the four-bedroom home is all wood, from the floors to the walls to the ceilings.

Sautee Nacoochee, GA



13677 Forest Hill Dr, Nekoosa, WI

Price: $220,000
Log longings: Smack dab in the center of Wisconsin, this three-bedroom cabin touts its remote location on 2 wooded acres on a dead-end road. Ideal for a buyer who loves to work on projects in privacy, the property comes with a three-car garage (not made from logs!) and a pole barn.

Nekoosa, WI



Undisclosed address, Jemez Springs, NM

Price: $300,000
Log longings: This adorable cabin is nearly a century old and sits near National Forest land. Lovingly preserved, the two-bedroom home offers oodles of vintage charm, including an antique cook stove, a wood-burning stove, and a claw-foot tub.

Jemez Springs, NM



6 Cedar Brook Ln, Loveland, CO

Price: $398,500
Log longings: Fully remodeled, the interiors of this two-bedroom cabin sparkle. The location is also a huge plus, with the Big Thompson River only feet from the front door. There’s also a seasonal creek that runs right by the two-story cabin.

Loveland, CO



815 Mountain Trail, Warrior, AL

Price: $299,900
Log longings: Located just a half-hour north of Birmingham, this cabin comes with its own cave. If the underground opportunity isn’t enticing, the four-bedroom home above ground is worth exploring. Sitting on 6 acres, the multilevel dwelling is the ideal antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life.

Warrior, AL


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Is a Dual Agency Relationship Risky?

Buyers and sellers sometimes have the option of entering into a dual agency relationship with their real estate agent. Although this is not necessarily a problem, you should be aware of exactly what a dual real estate agency means and the restrictions it can place on your agent.

What is a dual real estate agency?

The term “agency” refers to the relationship that you, as a buyer or seller, have with your real estate agent. Dual agencies can occur with two agents or with a single agent.

A dual agency with two agents can occur when the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent are licensed under the same broker.

In a dual agency with a single agent, potential buyers may ask a seller’s real estate agent to submit an offer on their behalf. In this case, the agent is acting as a dual agent.

Dual real estate agency disclosure

Because dual agencies represent a conflict of interest for the buyer and seller, some states don’t allow them.

In states where dual agencies are legal, however, the law requires that a dual real estate agent inform both the buyer and seller of a dual real estate agency. These two parties must also sign consent forms indicating that they understand the concept of dual agency, as well as the restrictions imposed on the real estate agent by this type of agreement.

If either the buyer or the seller refuses to sign the dual agency agreement, the transaction cannot continue. Once the dual agency agreement is executed, the real estate agent becomes known as the disclosed dual agent.

Disadvantages of dual agencies

Dual agency imposes some restrictions on a real estate agent. The agent is required to treat both buyer and seller with fairness and honesty.

The agent is required to provide full disclosure concerning the property to the buyer, but they cannot reveal confidential information about the seller. When the time comes to make an offer, a dual real estate agent cannot advise the buyer on how much to offer, nor can they advise the seller to accept or reject an offer.

In a New York Department of State memo, consumers are advised to be wary of dual agency relationships. The memo states that when a person enters into a dual agency relationship, they are forfeiting their right to that agent’s loyalty. The agent then cannot advance the interests of either party.


American Suburbs Swell Again as a New Generation Escapes the City

Smith Farm is a new neighborhood in Apex, N.C., a suburb nicknamed the Millennial Mayberry.

Caitlin Penna for The Wall Street Journal

APEX, N.C.—This Raleigh, N.C., suburb was declared the best place to live in America by a national magazine in 2015, around the time Lindsay and Terry Mahaffey were drawn by its schools, affordable housing and quaint downtown.

The couple found a sprawling five-bedroom house next to a horse farm for $782,000, half the cost they would have paid in the Seattle suburb they left behind.

Many other families had the same idea. Apex, nicknamed the Millennial Mayberry, is the fastest-growing suburb in the U.S., according to Realtor.com, and the town is struggling to keep pace with all the newcomers.

When Mr. and Mrs. Mahaffey took their eldest daughter for the first day of kindergarten, school officials told them they didn’t have a seat. Too many kids, they said. On weekends, the family thinks twice about going downtown—not enough parking. And the horse farm next door was sold for a subdivision.

Lindsay Mahaffey, standing left, and her husband, Terry, serve cake and ice cream for their three daughters at a family birthday party in their home in Apex, N.C.
Lindsay Mahaffey, standing left, and her husband, Terry, serve cake and ice cream for their three daughters at a family birthday party in their home in Apex, N.C.

Caitlin Penna for The Wall Street Journal

The couple, like generations before them, soon took an active role in trying to shape their new hometown.

In an echo of the postwar baby boom, many U.S. suburbs are again suffering growing pains: not enough schools, too much traffic for two-lane roads, and scenic farmland plowed under for housing tracts.

After several years of surging urban growth, Apex and suburbs like it now account for 14 of the 15 fastest-growing U.S. cities with populations over 50,000, according to the census.

Emma Sheedy, far left, eats ice cream with Austin Snider at Fresh Local Ice Cream on Sunday in Apex, N.C.
Emma Sheedy, far left, eats ice cream with Austin Snider at Fresh Local Ice Cream on Sunday in Apex, N.C.

Caitlin Penna for The Wall Street Journal

Nearly all the hot suburban locales have the good fortune to be a commute away from thriving cities or outposts of successful corporate businesses.

That means for every Apex, there is a Shaker Heights, Ohio, which is shrinking along with Cleveland’s manufacturing-based economy. For every Huntersville and Cornelius, two booming suburbs outside Charlotte, N.C., there is a Glendale, Mo., which is hobbled by the loss of such St. Louis corporate anchors as Anheuser-Busch. For every Kissimmee, Fla., outside Orlando, there’s an Evanston, Ill., which is shedding population in tandem with Chicago.

In the early 2010s, after the financial crisis walloped the housing market, average growth rates in cities with populations greater than 250,000 outpaced the suburbs. But over the past five years, the average annual growth in America’s big cities has slowed by 40%, to 0.69%, according to census estimates.

Apex officials are learning what happens when too many people share the same dream. The town has grown 54% since 2010 to 57,000 people, officials estimate, and could top 100,000 in a decade. More than 11,000 new houses are either planned or under construction.

St. Mary Magdalene Church during Sunday morning Mass in Apex, N.C. Eight stained-glass windows came from churches that closed in upstate New York.
St. Mary Magdalene Church during Sunday morning Mass in Apex, N.C. Eight stained-glass windows came from churches that closed in upstate New York.

Caitlin Penna for The Wall Street Journal

The flow of newcomers has outstripped the ability of Apex to accommodate them, triggering tax increases and traffic jams. Schools stagger start times from 7:10 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., to give time for buses to ferry all the students.

“It’s great that people want to move here,” said Ms. Mahaffey, 36 years old. “We’ve just got to do it in a way that eases the frustration.”

Good living

America’s move to the suburbs began after World War II, when returning veterans sparked the market for new homes. Growth continued for decades, aided by more cars, better jobs and new interstate highways.

The suburban areas surrounding the 50 largest metropolitan areas make up 79% of the population of those areas, according to a 2016 study by the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing.

Commuters line up on en route to Raleigh, N.C., from the suburban town of Apex.
Commuters line up on en route to Raleigh, N.C., from the suburban town of Apex.

Caitlin Penna for The Wall Street Journal

Tana Malerba moved from Long Island in New York 20 years ago to get away from congestion. These days, she waits an hour to leave her office in Raleigh because of traffic. If she leaves at 6:30 p.m., she gets home around the same time as leaving at 5:30 p.m. “Long term, we’re not going to stay,” she said. “It’s like being back in New York.”

The state Department of Transportation said it needed to delay many road-widening projects because of escalating land costs and a long priority list. The project at the top of the list in Apex likely won’t start work until 2024 or later.

“Everybody says the same thing,” said Apex Mayor Lance Olive, who grew up in town. “‘I love it here, but I can’t turn left out of my neighborhood.’”

Mr. Olive, 55, a Republican who was elected mayor in 2015 and runs a circuit-board design business, said growth has become the only political issue in Apex. The town council feels pressure from some residents and political challengers to better manage local development.

Unlike such fast-growing states as Florida, North Carolina doesn’t typically have fees that require new housing projects to offset the increased costs for schools and other public services. In Apex, the Wake County Public School System operates independently of the town.

That means the town council doesn’t take into account local school capacity when reviewing new housing proposals. The school system solicits planning data each year from area municipalities to update its own plans for new schools.

To add available seats, a fifth of the schools in the Wake County school system operate on a year-round calendar.

The newest schools to open are Apex Friendship Middle School, which opened last fall, and the adjoining Apex Friendship High School, which graduated its first class in June. Both are already exceeded capacity. The high school is adding a trailer with six classrooms this summer.

In 2016, a year after Ms. Manaffey and her family moved to Apex, she won a seat on the Wake County school board. She has since pushed to speed up school construction in Apex and neighboring suburbs.

Jaine Arredondo on his porch in Smith Farm, a new neighborhood in Apex, N.C.
Jaine Arredondo on his porch in Smith Farm, a new neighborhood in Apex, N.C.

Caitlin Penna for The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Manaffey also sought better pay for school-bus drivers to alleviate a shortage. She encouraged her mother-in-law, who moved to Apex from Buffalo, N.Y., to drive a bus.

Mr. Mahaffey, a 39-year-old Microsoft software engineer, is a regular at planning-board meetings and created the Facebook page, Citizens for the Responsible Growth of Apex. He believes the town should designate land for new schools in its long-range plan before all the large parcels are taken.

“I feel like we’re running out of time,” he said. “Once it’s developed, it’s developed.”

Getting discovered

Apex was originally a water stop for steam trains headed east toward Raleigh. It was incorporated in 1873 with roughly 200 people. By the town’s centennial, the population had reached 2,200, many of them tobacco farmers.

Mayor Olive recalled joining a dozen kids on bikes in the 1973 Fourth of July parade. He knew all of them. Last summer, he stopped counting at 400 children, he said: “I couldn’t believe it. It was 2½ blocks of bicycles to ride the two blocks.”

Apex began to add people leaving Raleigh in the 1990s. A decade ago, it was largely shielded from the economic downturn by the region’s employment base in state government, nearby universities and the 50,000 tech jobs at Research Triangle Park, among the largest research office parks in the U.S.

The town’s population boom coincided with two events. In 2012, the state Transportation Department opened North Carolina’s first toll road. For $3, commuters could slash their drive time from Apex to the Research Triangle Park on a new six-lane freeway. And in 2015, Apex was named America’s best place to live by Money magazine.

Median household income these days is $100,000, twice that of North Carolina’s. More than 61% of the Apex population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, twice the state average.

Janett and Vincent Cueto moved here with their two daughters from Miami Beach in June 2016. They said they were charmed by the town’s small-town feel while visiting friends at Thanksgiving.

The Cuetos, who were both Wake County schoolteachers, had different work times and so did their daughters because of the district’s staggered school schedules. That led to a chaotic regimen of carpools and before-and-after-school care. Planning family vacations was impossible.

The couple got the idea to open a day camp for students on break from year-round schools. They rented a 4,000 square-foot space in a little-used office building on the outskirts of downtown. Their first classes for middle-school students began in late June.

A new residential development in Apex, N.C.
A new residential development in Apex, N.C.

Caitlin Penna for The Wall Street Journal

“We’ve been able to make our dreams come true, and that would have never happened in Miami,” said Mr. Cueto, 41.

Father Donald Staib began his work in 1961, when it was common for a priest to drive from Raleigh to Apex to administer Holy Communion to the town’s handful of Catholics. There are now three Catholic churches in Apex, including his own, St. Mary Magdalene, which hosts more than 2,000 people for weekend services.

The congregation is dominated by young families, Fr. Staib said. The number of older adults is growing with the addition of grandparents who followed their grown children to Apex from the Midwest and Northeast.

Fr. Staib feels a little guilty about the pace of growth in Apex, he said, when churches struggle in places like his hometown of Williamsport, Penn.

For his parish’s new $14 million sanctuary, it moved eight stained-glass window panels from two closed churches in upstate New York. “I didn’t do anything to get this,” Fr. Staib said. “It’s demographics.”

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