It’s a Catio, Daddio! A Video Tour Led by the Feline Himself

It’s hard to underestimate a cat’s love of the outdoors – or the risk of letting felines roam freely.

They can be hit by cars, trapped in garages and just plain lost. Then there are the birds they kill (although windows also do major damage to bird populations).

Forward-thinking cat owners have devised a solution: the catio.

Little perch2

Basically, catios are screened-in porches glorified with stairs, shelves, cushions and scratching posts – as well as sturdy walls, roofs and floors to keep cats in and other critters out. Catios come in all shapes and sizes and can be homemade, custom made or ordered online, with prices ranging from $500 to $5,000.

From these enclosed perches, cats can mock-chirp at birds and squirrels all the livelong day without anyone coming to harm.

They can also bask in the sun, as Little Lord Fauntleroy demonstrates in his Seattle catio:

Little sleeps

Little’s catio, which he shares with four other cats, was featured on a Seattle Catio Tour. His human mama, Jennifer Hillman, jokes that she sometimes feels like a pestering mom to her feline family: “Go on out; it’s beautiful out!”

Jean White of Bellevue, WA, spent about $1,200 on a catio for her cats.

“It may sound pricey, but a vet bill is way more,” said White, who lives near a bus route and in an area where there are coyotes and raccoons. Like most catios, hers is connected to the house by cat doors.

At first, one of her cats didn’t get the concept and thought her Siamese friend was disappearing into a curtain.

Once it clicked, the two began chasing each other in a loop through the catio and White’s home, a tradition that continues – when they’re not napping.

Video and photos by Erik Hecht


Originally published October 2015.

Home Buyers Are Stretching Their Budgets the Most in These Unexpected Cities


The places where buyers are stretching the upper limits of their budgets to become homeowners aren’t where most folks would expect. Uber-pricey New York City didn’t even crack the top 10.

Instead, Los Angeles topped the list, according to a recent report from financial services marketplace LendingTree. An expensive city in its own right, Tinseltown inspired buyers to take out median mortgages for nearly four times—$485,000—their median income of just $124,000.

The rule of thumb is not to spend more than three times your annual salary on the total price of a home. But that’s becoming harder in many of the country’s most expensive cities, particularly in high-cost California.

“In Los Angeles, people are stretching themselves the most to be able to afford a home,” says Jacob Channel, a research analyst at LendingTree. “What it boils down to is people there just aren’t making as much as they would be in, say, San Francisco.”

To come up with its findings, LendingTree looked at the median mortgage sizes as well as the median incomes of buyers in the 50 largest cities and their surrounding suburbs. LendingTree analyzed Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data to do so.

Ultrapricey cities like New York City didn’t top the list because those who can afford to buy there tend to make extremely good money or be independently wealthy. So they weren’t as likely to leverage themselves as those in areas with lower salaries.

The cities where home buyers are the most leveraged

In addition to Los Angeles, four other California cities made the top 10. San Diego took second place for the most leveraged buyers. The median mortgage size there is $455,000, while borrowers had a median income of $125,000.

The city was followed by Salt Lake City, where folks had a median mortgage of $265,000 and a median income of $75,000; San Francisco, with $885,000 mortgages and $252,000 incomes; and Denver, with $345,000 mortgages and $99,000 incomes.

Rounding out the top 10 were Riverside, CA; Silicon Valley’s San Jose, CA; Seattle; Boston; and Portland, OR.

The cities where home buyers are the least leveraged

On the other end of the spectrum are the cities where buyers can most comfortably purchase a home. These are the places where real estate prices are low enough and borrower incomes are high enough to ensure new homeowners aren’t stretching their budgets too far.

Midwestern cities, where prices are relatively low compared with the coasts, dominated this list.

Buyers in Pittsburgh were the least leveraged. That’s because the median mortgage amount there was just $155,000, while the median income of buyers was a comfortable $76,000.

The city was followed by Cleveland, where mortgages were $145,000 and incomes were $70,000. The rest of the top 10 were Detroit; Cincinnati; Indianapolis; St. Louis; Houston; Memphis, TN; Columbus, OH; and Milwaukee. Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and St. Louis all tied for fourth place.

“These are cities that are in the Rust Belt,” says Channel. “Housing is cheaper because people in these areas don’t need to make as much money” to buy.

The post Home Buyers Are Stretching Their Budgets the Most in These Unexpected Cities appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Property With Tie to Serial Killer Tops This Week’s Most Popular Homes

Right in time for Halloween, a quiet residence in Illinois with a grisly past is the week’s most popular home on®.

The unassuming brick family home sits on the very plot of ground where serial killer John Wayne Gacy buried 29 of his victims. The bodies were removed decades ago, and Gacy’s home, which once stood on the lot, was torn down in 1979. A new home was put up a few years later.

The passage of decades didn’t stop lookie-loos from clicking on the location where a creepy mass murderer once operated. And when they clicked, instead of something out of a Hollywood scary movie, what they found was a warm, serene space filled with light and ready for family fun. The question is whether the property’s past will deter buyers from taking the plunge.

Other spooky places attracting your attention this week included a half-remodeled house from 1880 in New York with many secrets to share and a legit log cabin in the woods being sold in a hurry in as-is condition.

For those looking to make a quick getaway from the clutches of evil, there’s even a tiny house on wheels with solar power ready to tow to an undisclosed location.

It’s a list filled with real estate scares and nightmares, with more than a few deals and steals to be found along the way. Get in the Halloween spirit and scroll on through—if you dare!

10. 26 Elmwood Ave, Friendship, NY

Price: $39,000

Why it’s here: With $50,000 worth of renovations already completed, this house is looking for an owner who will fully resuscitate this historic home. Built in 1880, the three-bedroom house sits on a half-acre lot. Recently completed upgrades include a new roof, water line, a repaired foundation, a gutted and reconfigured kitchen, and new electric service.

Historic home exterior Friendship, NY
Friendship, NY


9. 138 Homecrest Ave, North Smithfield, RI

Price: $385,000

Why it’s here: This oh-so-charming Cape Cod is updated and move-in ready. The three-bedroom home features an updated stainless kitchen, hardwood floors, a big yard, and generous front porch, and it’s located within walking distance of shopping and dining.

North Smithfield, RI Cape Cod exterior
North Smithfield, RI


8. 5610 Ridge Rd, New Hope, PA

Price: $70,000

Why it’s here: Looking to go off the grid? Roll right into this tiny house on wheels. Built in 2016, this mobile residence comes with solar panels, a 50-gallon water tank, and a washing machine! If you don’t mind sleeping in a loft, this is your opportunity to hit the road or to plant this place on land you already own.

New Hope, PA tiny home on wheels
New Hope, PA


7. 128 Wardlaw Cir, Ripley, TN

Price: $200,000

Why it’s here: This four-bedroom antebellum home known as the Wardlaw-Steele Mansion was built in 1942. The original details and craftsmanship, including woodwork, pocket doors, and hardwood floors, are still in beautiful condition. A detached guesthouse is also included.

Antebellum house in Ripley, TN
Ripley, TN


6. 202 N. Buckfield Rd, Buckfield, ME 

Price: $199,900

Why it’s here: Over the past two years, the current owners have worked painstakingly to restore the 1791 home of Abijah Buck, the founder of Buckfield. The over 2,700-square-foot Colonial home has been featured in several publications and is on Maine’s Historic Preservation List. It sits on a hill on over 30 acres filled with several varieties of fruit trees and open fields.

Colonial home in Buckfield, ME
Buckfield, ME


5. 1 Rosebriar Ln, La Monte, MO

Price: $339,900

Why it’s here: Built in full-blown antebellum style, this mansion dates only to 1993. However, the huge home needs some work and has already been prequalified for a fixer-upper loan, according to the listing details. There’s also an additional 3,500 square feet of space in the unfinished basement.

Antebellum house in La monte Mo exterior
La Monte, MO


4. 1228 Windsor Harbor Dr, Jacksonville, FL

Price: $3,175,000

Why it’s here: Former NFL linebacker Kevin Hardy is selling this enormous estate, built to combine the best of work, play, and family life into one massive, five-star complex. The over-the-top property includes an 8,000-square-foot main house with luxe living quarters. But the true highlight is the entertainment zone, featuring a theater room, gaming house with bar, batting cage, putting green, and a heated, beachside entry pool.

Jacksonville, FL waterfront house overhead
Jacksonville, FL


3. 385 Upper Neck Rd, Pittsgrove, NJ

Price: $179,900

Why it’s here: This cute three-bedroom log cabin in South Jersey was built in 1975 and is being sold as is. The nearly 3-acre property also includes a detached garage with its own one-bedroom apartment. Other highlights include a porch with swing, a side deck, a sunroom with hot tub, and skylights that fill the home with plenty of natural light.

Pittsgrove, NJ log cabin exterior
Pittsgrove, NJ


2. 700 Foxhollow Run, Milton, GA

Price: $5,200,000

Why it’s here: Baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz has been trying to sell his estate for years. He’s now priced the 20-acre property below its 2019 appraisal price, in an effort to attract a buyer. The gated, secure, 20-acre European-style main house has 10 bedrooms and more than 18,000 square feet. The listing calls the backyard a “private resort” with golf, baseball, basketball, swimming, tennis, volleyball, football, soccer, and a fishing pond.

Mansion exterior Milton, GA
Milton, GA


1. 8215 W. Summerdale Ave, Norwood Park, IL

Price: $459,000

Why it’s here: This sunny and nondescript family home is built on land that was once the burial spot of many of the victims of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Seven years after Gacy’s grisly crime spree, his house was torn down, and this 2,500-square-foot property was built in its place. Today, it’s a lovely family home featuring an updated kitchen, a huge backyard, dining room, a living room with two-sided fireplace, a large second-story loft, and a new roof. For a buyer who doesn’t buy into bad juju, it’s a perfectly fine buy in the Chicago suburbs.

Home built where Gacy house stood exterior
Norwood Park, IL

The post Property With Tie to Serial Killer Tops This Week’s Most Popular Homes appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

$33.9M Luxe Home on 118 Acres in Wyoming Is the Week’s Most Expensive Listing

A luxury home located on 118 acres in Jackson, WY, is this week’s most expensive new listing on®. It’s available for $33.9 million.

While it has the vibe of a remote ranch, it’s actually part of a subdivision. Still, there’s plenty of space to avoid seeing your neighbors.

And there are no cattle to lasso here—the property is built for relaxation. Boasting scenic views, it comes with a huge main house and an annex apartment for staff or guests, as well as a separate guesthouse.

A buyer could build a barn for horses and add another 1,000-square-foot cabin to the property, notes Ian Osler, the listing agent with Sotheby’s International Realty.

Built in 2009, the luxury compound was last listed for $32.9 million in 2012 and has had only two owners. It was last sold in 2013 at auction for an undisclosed price.

Most expensive new listing this week

Living room with double-sided fireplace

Kitchen with double islands

Wine room with tunnel

Two-story library and office

Master suite

Master bath with marble tub

Indoor pool

Set on Riva Ridge, the acreage offers dramatic views of the Teton Mountain Range and is surrounded by a nature preserve.

“It’s the ultimate in privacy,” says Osler. “You can’t find a property of this size, with this kind of view, anywhere in Jackson.”

For the main house, Western-style decor co-exists with modern conveniences. The 13,721-square-foot dwelling has five bedrooms, six baths, and two half-baths. 

In the living area, a double-sided fireplace separates the living and dining spaces, both of which feature massive windows to view the surrounding landscape. The main floor includes a two-story library and office, and a large kitchen with commercial-grade appliances, two islands, a pizza oven, and a breakfast bar.

The main-floor master suite includes floor-to-ceiling windows, a walk-in closet, and a bath with double vanities, steam shower, and a stand-alone marble tub. Upstairs, a two-bedroom suite adjoins a TV area and library.

The lower level holds the “indoor playground,” the listing notes. Here you’ll find a wet-dry sauna, gym, granite bar, game room, locker room, home theater, and wine room. The latter doubles as a tunnel to the elevator, which leads to the annex apartment and three-car garage. 

There’s also an indoor pool that connects to the outdoors through a large glass door. Outside, the patio features a seating area, grill, and fireplace.

A separate, 4,000-square-foot log cabin offers four beds and 3.5 baths.

While seemingly remote, the property is just 10 minutes from downtown Jackson.

“It’s pretty centrally located,” Osler says. “You really are close to town. At the same time, you’re in your own world.”

The post $33.9M Luxe Home on 118 Acres in Wyoming Is the Week’s Most Expensive Listing appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

The Untold Story Behind the Infamous ‘In Cold Blood’ Murder House—and Why It’s for Sale

Jeff Roberson/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images;

Sixty years ago, a prosperous farmer, his wife, and two of their children were murdered in their rural Kansas home in the middle of the night, by a pair of strangers. The slaying of the Clutter family in America’s heartland and the ensuing search for the killers captivated a terrified nation. Writer Truman Capote‘s best-selling account of the crime, “In Cold Blood,” became a literary classic—and catapulted the Clutter house into infamy.

The Clutters, their killers, even Capote himself, are all long gone. But remarkably, the 14-room farmhouse in Holcomb still stands, eerily looking much as it did that fateful night in 1959.

Long before it was an attraction for hordes of true-crime fans, sometimes undeterred by the prominent “Private Property” signs on the edge of the grounds, the Clutter home was the jewel of the small town of Holcomb. It has had a long, strange journey since then—from a source of community pride to infamous crime scene to movie location (portions of the film version of “In Cold Blood” were shot there), and finally back again to a family home.

Now, this four-bedroom home and the roughly 9 acres it sits on will be going on the market again. The question remains: Will it ever be able to shed its bloody past?

“It was a beautiful house,” the Clutters’ niece Diana Edwards said in the 2017 four-part documentary “Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders.” “But nobody should have ever gone in it again.”

Aerial view of the Clutter farm in Holcomb, Kansas in 1960.

Bettmann/Getty Images

A horrifying discovery

Capote’s book ingrained the Nov. 15, 1959, murders of Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their teenage children, Nancy and Kenyon, into America’s psyche. Ex-convicts Dick Hickock and Perry Smith broke in to their home to search for a safe that did not exist, and killed all those present with a 12-gauge shotgun, so as to not leave any witnesses. (The Clutters also had two adult daughters who were no longer living at home.)

When no one answered the door the next morning, Nancy’s friend Nancy Ewalt went inside to check on her.

“I saw Nancy in bed,” Ewalt testified in the trial. “I thought she was sleeping or something, so I went over to shake her to try to wake her up and I saw blood all over the wall.”

“I’ve seen some gory things in my time, but nothing as gory as that: what we found in the Clutter house Sunday morning,” the coroner, Dr. Robert Fenton, said at the time.

Herb Clutter, 48, his wife, Bonnie, 45, son Kenyon, 15, and daughter, Nancy, 16

Bettmann/Getty Images

A modern home that was the pride of its community

Just over a decade earlier, the two-story farmhouse designed and built by the Clutters was famous for quite a different reason. Stylish and modern, it was heralded as an achievement in the community when it was completed in 1948 at a cost of $40,000.

Here was a new house with 2.5 bathrooms at a time when not everyone in rural America had running water. At least one local newspaper ran photos of the family and their new residence on its cover.

The Clutters would host family gatherings, parties, and meetings for the local 4-H Club and Farm Bureau there.

“It was a really nice house for its time with a lot of innovations,” says Laurie Oshel, assistant director of the Finney County Historical Society and Museum in Garden City, KS. (Holcomb is in Finney County.)

Oshel remembers that the kitchen cabinets went straight up to the ceiling, well out of reach for most homemakers. But in a clever solution, a board could be pulled out of the bottom drawers and used as a step.

The blond brick house stood out among the white stucco and wood siding that were popular in the area at the time, says Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue. It also had an unusually large basement, which would later become the site of Herb Clutter’s murder.

Many visitors from outside the community are surprised the home wasn’t simply demolished after the tragedy, but they aren’t taking into consideration the realities of local life.

“People in the community are very practical,” says Ralph F. Voss, author of “Truman Capote and the Legacy of ‘In Cold Blood.’” “Why would you tear down a perfectly good house?”

The main street in Holcomb, Kansas, looking North. The Clutter place is a mile south and west.

Bettmann/Getty Images

A blessing—and a curse—for recent owners

The spacious house was at first a blessing for its most recent owners, the late Leonard and Donna Mader, who purchased it in 1990. (Leonard died in 2007; he was 76. Donna died in July, at age 82.)

Like everyone else in that part of Kansas, the Maders were familiar with the murders; they even knew the family from the community. Leonard had farmed the land for the owner before him, a divorced cattle rancher named Bob Byrd. Byrd purchased the house in 1964 from a couple who had owned it for only a year after buying it from the surviving Clutter daughters and their husbands. Donna would play cards in the home with Byrd’s son and daughter-in-law.

Sheriff Bascue remembers patrolling the Clutter farm in the mid-’80s, before he was promoted. Byrd was gone much of the time.

“People would go in and trespass,” he recalls. “We would go every night, check the doors and windows, make sure everything was secure.” Nonetheless, the location became a magnet for the curious—and even a make-out and party spot for local teenagers.

After Byrd committed suicide (not in the house), his relatives offered to sell the home to the Maders. It must have seemed fortuitous for the couple, who had six children and craved a larger home and farmland of their own.

“We had a lot of, you know, weird feelings,” Donna Mader told The Oklahoman about moving into the home. “But after several years, you realize the house didn’t do anything, and besides I keep my doors locked and we have dogs.”

However, the house’s notoriety became a problem in later years.

Truman Capote at the Clutter house during the filming of “In Cold Blood”

Jack Garofalo/Paris Match via Getty Images

The Maders had expected the attention from fans of the book and movie. But they didn’t expect the fascination to endure for decades.

“It’s probably one of the most famous houses in the United States,” Leonard Mader was quoted as saying in an Associated Press article from the mid-1990s. “We have cars come down here every day, from England, France, Germany, Japan—you name it.”

Their sons used to fire guns into the air to scare away curious trespassers, according to The Lawrence Journal-World.

Donna Mader’s “feelings with the house was, just burn it,” says Finney County Historical Society’s Oshel, who heard this from a co-worker. “She was tired of being bothered.”

Short stint as a tourist attraction

In an effort to turn a negative into a positive, the Maders began offering tours of the home in the early 1990s, charging $5 per visitor. They even considered turning it into a bed-and-breakfast.

“It’s an odd situation—showing this house. I can’t believe the way people are so curious and fascinated,” Donna Mader told The Garden City Telegram a few months after the family began the tours. “Some people are just obsessed about what happened here.”

But after a few years the tours were discontinued due to complaints. The home wasn’t zoned for commercial use, so the new owners couldn’t legally operate a business there.

Perhaps more importantly, “it was upsetting for some people who had ties to the house,” says the Maders’ daughter Sue Wieland.

In 2006, before Leonard’s death, the Maders attempted to auction off the property. Open houses were held, drawing folks from all over but few serious buyers.

“It was too big for them,” says Wieland, who was also the real estate agent. She was an adult when her parents bought the home and never lived there. “There were only two people, and it was an over 5,000-square-foot house. They wanted to get something smaller and downsize.”

However, low bids and family troubles derailed the couple’s plans to sell the property, says Wieland.

But now the home is going up for sale yet again.

Wieland hopes to have the house, which comes with a detached garage and two Quonset buildings for storage, back on the market within the next month or so. She’s waiting on an appraisal, and relatives are looking after the property. She says there are already a few prospective buyers.

Small town has grown, but not much has changed

Holcomb has grown dramatically from just a few hundred residents in the late 1950s to just over 2,000 today, but it’s still primarily a farm community of ranchers and farmers growing wheat, corn, alfalfa, and milo (a type of sorghum).

There’s just one restaurant in the center of town, a Mexican joint called the El Rancho Cafe, across the street from a small grocery store/gas station. A Sonic Drive-In and a Subway sandwich shop are located at the edge of town.

The community has been buoyed by a beef-processing plant that opened just outside of town about 40 years ago. It employs more than 3,500 workers. It’s also become something of a bedroom community for neighboring Garden City, just 7 miles west, with a population topping 26,500 as of last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. (Hickock and Smith, who killed the Clutter family, were tried there.)

The bottom line, though, is that it’s still a small town, and there aren’t a ton of buyers jostling for properties—much less one with a tragic past.

Eugene Hickock and Perry Smith

Bettmann/Getty Image

Home’s past may weigh on its future as it heads to market

What may wind up helping—or hurting—the sale of the Clutter house is that it’s practically the same as when the Clutters lived there.

“Everything is original in that house, just about,” says Wieland, who touted the two fireplaces as well as the bathroom on the main floor with a glass block enclosure for the bathtub and shower. “It’s so different, but it’s really neat.”

But residences where brutal crimes took place typically sell for a 10% to 15% discount, say real estate appraisers. And while the stigma typically diminishes over time, the more famous the home, the more difficult it can be to find a buyer offering a good price.

If the home is in good shape, it could fetch anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000, theorizes local real estate agent Tamara Hunter of Heritage Realty.

But she believes it’s more likely to appeal to an out-of-town buyer who’s intrigued by the home’s history. Locals, especially those with connections to the Clutter family, might be more hesitant. Plus, the home remains very isolated, shielded by a quarter-mile driveway.

“It was a good family and a sad memory,” says Hunter, whose mother was friends with Nancy Clutter.

At a time when true crime is a wildly popular genre in books, TV, and podcasts, it seems unlikely that obsessions with this famous murder case, and the home in which it took place, will fade. The new owners will have to deal with all that attention, as well as their own feelings about the home’s sad history.

“It amazes us that everyone is still fascinated by it,” says Wieland. “There are people … who drive up and down the lane and just stare at the house.”

Denny Foreman grew up in Kansas hearing tales about the crime and wanted to see the home. In 2006, he drove 400 miles across Kansas to attend one of the open houses. Still, he doesn’t think he’d be able to live there.

He took a picture of a red blemish on a basement wall, which the Maders told visitors was a bloodstain from when Herb Clutter was killed.

“You’d be consumed … thinking about what happened there,” says Foreman, now 64, of Lenexa, KY, who works for a residential appraisal management company. “I don’t know how someone could get it out of their mind.”

Natalie Way contributed to this report.

The post The Untold Story Behind the Infamous ‘In Cold Blood’ Murder House—and Why It’s for Sale appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

What Do Both Republicans and Democrats Really Care About? Housing Affordability


Lately, it seems like America couldn’t be any more polarized. About half of the country is gunning for President Donald Trump‘s impeachment, while the other half remains staunch in its support for the commander in chief (or simply doesn’t care about politics). Throw in fears of a recession, and the picture seems even more dire.

But as splintered as this great nation may appear to be, there are a few things voters can agree on: the importance of jobs, health care, and housing affordability, according to a recent Bankrate report. The personal finance website surveyed more than 1,000 Americans in early September to come up with its findings.

“Housing affordability is a key issue for many Americans,” says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. “We’ve had home prices rising year after year. The annual increases have been substantially above wage growth.”

Democrats, women, and millennials ranked housing affordability as their third most important concern going into the 2020 presidential election. It fell just behind employment and health care. Meanwhile, Republicans, men, and members of Generation X and baby boomers ranked it fourth, after their concerns about taxes.

“Many younger Americans are aspiring to upgrade their housing situation. Some may still be living at home because they have student loan debt, others are still renting,” says Hamrick.

Meanwhile, he adds, “women are still facing a wage gap. … It [may be] more challenging for them to be able to afford a home purchase” if they’re on their own.

All groups of voters ranked housing affordability as more crucial than foreign trade, student loan debt, and the stock market.

The report also looked at whether the finances of Americans have improved since Trump took office. That’s key for both first-time and repeat home buyers, who need to be able to pull together a down payment.

Nearly half of respondents, 46%, said their finances have stayed about the same. Almost a third, 32%, said they were better off, while 21% said things had gotten worse for them.

But those results followed party lines. More than half of Republicans, 54%, said their finances had improved, while just 24% of independents and 21% of Democrats said the same.

Meanwhile, men were more likely to report gains than women. Thirty-seven percent of the men surveyed said they had achieved more financial success since Trump became president compared with 26% of the women.

“For many Americans, homeownership is a key to improving their net worth. Gaining equity in a home is certainly one way to raise one’s personal wealth,” says Hamrick. But if folks’ “personal financial situations aren’t improving, then they aren’t getting any closer to buying a home.”

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