How to Actually Afford to Buy a Home in America

Home buyers today face tough challenges – housing prices have soared, a dollar doesn’t go as far as it once did and rent is more expensive than the past.

How are people today making such a large purchase despite these hurdles? With more flexibility and a bit of financing creativity, today’s buyers are finding ways to achieve homeownership.

Know your options (and credit score)

The first step to knowing if you can afford a home is figuring out what financing options are available to you, including what mortgages you’re eligible for and how much you need (and can afford) to put down upfront.

Learning the minimum FICO score required by lenders and understanding your own credit score are important starting points.

Many home shoppers aren’t sure how much they have to put down on a home, what the lender-required minimum down payment will be (it’s not always 20%), or what programs are available to help with down payments, like FHA loans.

Before buyers even start thinking about saving for a home, they should know what their financial resources are and if they’re eligible to buy.

Make enough money to save

With fewer resources to pull from than their older, wealthier counterparts, renters wanting to buy face tough financial headwinds.

According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019, renter households typically earn a median income of $37,500 annually, which is nearly $40,000 less than the median household income netted by households who recently bought a home (of whom the median household income is $75,000 annually).

While there are ways to enter into homeownership without making $75,000 in household income, it’s hard to afford to buy if you make significantly less. “If you’re making $37,500 per year, it’s probably not feasible for you to buy in almost any market,” says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.

While households purchasing homes are more likely to have two incomes than renter households (and thus a higher median household income combined), even two-income households struggle to afford to buy in competitive markets.

Save enough cash (but not as much as you think)

One of the most daunting parts of home buying? The down payment. In fact, two-thirds of renters cite saving for a down payment as the biggest hurdle to buying a home, according to the Zillow Housing Aspirations Report.

For people buying the national median home valued at $229,000, with the traditional 20% down payment, that’s $45,800 upfront – just to move in.

“The down payment remains a hurdle for a lot of people,” says Gudell. “But they should know they don’t have to put 20% down.”

Although putting down less than 20% means additional considerations, such as the cost for private mortgage insurance (PMI), some find it worth the hassle. In fact, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019, only one-fifth of recent buyers (20%) put 20% down, and just over half of buyers (56%) put less than the traditional 20% down.

Buyers are also getting creative about piecing together a down payment from multiple sources. According to the report findings, 34% of buyers who get a mortgage also get help in the form of gifts or loans from friends and family to come up with a down payment. 

Know your deal breakers, but be flexible

To get into a home – even if it’s not the home of their dreams – some of today’s buyers are considering homes and locations outside of their initial wish list and getting increasingly flexible when it comes to neighborhood, house condition and even home type.

“I do think people get discouraged when they look in their target neighborhood and they see homes around $170,000 when they’re looking for a $110,000 home,” Gudell says.

Affordably priced homes do, in fact, exist. But in popular areas, where people most often want to live, it’s going to be harder to find that cheaper home, Gudell says.

“If you’re willing to take a longer commute and make a couple trade-offs, you might be able to find a home that is farther out that might be cheaper,” Gudell explains. “You have to leave the paved path before you can find cheaper choices.”


The Property Brothers Have a Kohl’s Line So Cute We Want It All

Jason Mendez/Getty Images;

As if shooting weekly episodes of “Property Brothers,” running their real estate business, and wining and dining beautiful people such as Zooey Deschanel weren’t enough to keep them busy, Jonathan and Drew Scott have somehow found time to launch yet another enterprise: a new line of furnishings at Kohl’s called Scott Living.

Officially launched in October, this mix of modern home basics includes small furniture such as chairs and end tables, tons of kitchenware, bed and bath essentials, and even a few holiday accents for those itching to ring in some Christmas cheer early.

Bonnie Aunchman, an interior stylist in Massachusetts who specializes in styling magazine and catalog covers, says she is impressed by the line’s consistent style sensibility.

“I love that this entire collection shares a similar tone and color palette, from kitchen to bed to bath,” she says. “Also, I love that many of the pieces are solid colors or very subtle patterns, which make great staples for your home. These are classic pieces that will not go out of style.”

So if you’re in the mood to have a bit more “Property Brothers” in your life, take a look at some pieces in the Scott Living collection from Kohl’s that could fit right in with your home.

A two-tiered basket

Want to free up counter space? Try this two-tiered wall basket ($49) in the kitchen, bathroom, or beyond, to efficiently corral whatever you want to keep within easy reach.

“Use this one in the kitchen for fruit or snacks, in a home office for supplies, or in the bathroom for small towels or toiletries,” recommends Aunchman.

property brothers
A wall basket to free up counter space

A four-piece gilded glassware set

Not only will these glasses with gilded bands ($48) brighten up your kitchen—especially if you have glass-paned cabinets or open shelving—they can double as sweet vases for flowers or containers to hold pens and pencils in a home office.

property brothers
Pretty gold-rimmed glasses add flair.

A minimalist dinnerware set

This four-piece dinner plate set ($64) is a go-to for when you want to shake up your dining table without splurging on an expensive new set of dishes, and it can also work well with your existing pieces.

“I like that these sets are one color and not printed,” says Aunchman. “They’re timeless and great for every day, but you can also use them for special occasions.”

property brothers
The 16-piece set comes in blue, navy, or gray.

A cozy chenille throw

Can you ever really have too many blankets? Use these chenille rib decorative throws ($80) from the couch to the bedroom for warmth and style. They’re cozy and soft, come in five neutral colors, and add great texture to any room.

property brothers
Cozy blankets make perfect gifts.

A duo of round nesting tables

Made from solid wood with metal legs, this set of nested tables ($400) has a retro design that can blend into any living room style. Plus, the tables have a nice lip around the edges, helping to contain any potential spills.

“These are ideal for entertaining when you have guests,” says Aunchman. “You can always use extra tables for food and drinks, and these are beautiful.”

property brothers
Whip out these tables for entertaining made easy.

A comfy accent chair

The angular frame and retro-inspired design of this Chatham accent chair ($400) can shift modern or traditional depending on its surroundings. It would make a mighty fine addition to any home office.

property brothers
This comfy seat comes in gray or navy.

A velvety comforter set

The Lustre velvet comforter set ($220-$240) majorly adds to the glam factor of your master or guest bedroom, with a sharp geometric pattern that complements the luxuriously soft fabric.

property brothers
Transform your bedroom into a luxury hotel.

A ladder bookshelf

Sturdy yet sophisticated, the five-tier ladder bookshelf ($400) has a black finish and industrial X-brace detail (you know, to hold all those books you’ve probably never read). Or, use it in the bathroom to hold towels and flameless candles.

Stack ’em high on this sturdy piece.

The post The Property Brothers Have a Kohl’s Line So Cute We Want It All appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

This Life-Size Barbie DreamHouse Must Be Seen to Be Believed


The Barbie Malibu DreamHouse isn’t just a dollhouse—it’s real! And it will soon be up for rent for a very limited time on Airbnb.

In celebration of the Barbie brand’s 60th anniversary, toy company Mattel has made over a house in Malibu to mimic Barbie’s digs. It’ll be rented out for a mere $60 per night, for just one weekend, Oct. 27–29. The listing will go live at 11 a.m. PDT on Wednesday—so set your clocks, Barbie fans, because this opportunity will get snapped up fast!

What it took to turn this house into the DreamHouse

At first glance, this house truly does look like the Barbie Malibu DreamHouse to a T, with its pink furniture and even a second-story slide connected to the pool.

But the house also has a lot of differences, making it more comfortable for real-life guests. For instance, while Barbie, Ken, and friends may have been happy with just one toilet, these lucky renters will appreciate the house’s two bathrooms and two bedrooms, which can comfortably accommodate four guests.


dream house
Barbie’s most recent home has some amazing features.


If you’re worried that your odds are slim of being the one to kick back in this mansion, don’t worry: Once Mattel’s celebration is over, the house will go back on Airbnb, just without the Barbie garb. And let’s face it—even without that epic purple slide, this Malibu house is still a fantastic getaway.

pink furniture
Barbie’s office (Hey, where’s Ken?)


How much does this real-life DreamHouse actually cost?

So without the Barbie trimmings, how much is this Malibu house actually worth? According to Los Angeles real estate agent Beatrice de Jong, a house of this size in Malibu with its ocean views and infinity pool would be pricey even without Mattel pulling such a stunt.

“Being so close to Malibu Pier means this house is in a prime beach real estate market and likely worth $30 million,” de Jong says.

Barbie’s dream pool looks heavenly!


And this recent Barbie makeover will likely only add to its value.

“The Barbie Malibu DreamHouse was the first home I coveted, and likely responsible for inspiring many little girls to grow up with a love for real estate,” says de Jong. And besides, she jokes, “Barbie is a true entrepreneur, having career experience working as a doctor, fashion model, an astronaut, and virtually everything else. I am excited to see that she is adding Airbnb host to her resume.”

The Barbie DreamHouse through the ages

It’s also interesting to see how Barbie’s DreamHouse (the doll-size version) has gone through many changes over the decades. For instance, the first Barbie DreamHouse came out in 1962—and it was made out of cardboard.

original barbie house
This ’60s version of the Barbie DreamHouse was made of cardboard.


By 1979, Barbie’s home had come a long way, featuring an A-line roof and lots of fun features like flowerpots and working doors.

70s Barbie house
The ’70s version of Barbie’s home is retro-fab!


By 1990, Barbie’s house got a big upgrade, with lights that worked. And while versions of the DreamHouse used a broad range of color palettes, the ’90s edition was all pink, all the time—a signature Barbie look.

The most recent edition (below) features all the comforts of the 21st century, with solar panels, a TV, carport, and elevator.

All we can say is it’s pretty cool to see this epic dollhouse come to life!

dream house
Barbie’s most recent home has some amazing features.


The post This Life-Size Barbie DreamHouse Must Be Seen to Be Believed appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

50 Years Later, Still Stylish: 10 Cool Homes From 1969 for Sale

Five decades ago, it was a heady time in America. The year was 1969, and the country put a man on the moon.

In addition to that stellar news, homes were being built across the country as Americans looked to spread out into the suburbs.

We took a peek at homes celebrating their golden anniversary and found over 8,000 homes built in 1969 that are currently for sale. Of course, some of them were completely redone over the decades while others fell into disrepair.

We narrowed our focus to 10 vintage homes truly worthy of the golden anniversary. All are up for sale, and all represent the beauty and diversity of that pivotal year in U.S. history.

That so many properties built in 1969 are still around is proof those mid-20th-century risk takers really were ahead of their time. Their daring designs are still the stuff of dream homes. Take a look…

940 E. Murray Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA

Price: $849,000
Kings Point: Built by celebrated architect William Krisel, this home has retained all of its late-’60s cool. This stylish three-bedroom, 2,900-square-foot home is located in the Indian Canyons neighborhood in south Palm Springs. The desert retreat sits in a community with 43 other Krisel-designed homes, with access to two pools, spas, a community tennis court, and clubhouse.

Mid century house in Palm Springs, CA exterior
Palm Springs, CA


7480 SW 64th St, South Miami, FL

Price: $1,349,000
Villa Serena: Like an enchanted garden, this verdant 1-acre property is lush and exotic. It comes with a heated, saltwater lagoon pool, a three-bedroom main home, and a one-bedroom casita. Tropical extras include multiple ponds with koi and goldfish, winding paths, two Tiki huts, an outdoor kitchen, and a veranda running the full width of the home.

tropical home in South Miami FL
South Miami, FL


1380 S. Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA

Price: $4,500,000
The Villa: Designed and built by Bob Ray Offenhauser, with gardens designed by landscape architect Mark Bartos, this 4,300-square-foot home sits on an acre lot. The property also includes gardens, a lap pool, pavilion, and pergola. Indoors, the home’s highlights include a grand, two-story living room with garden views, a dining room with beamed ceiling, a library with bar, an elegant main bedroom suite with cathedral ceiling, and custom finishes throughout.

Pasadena, CA villa pool view
Pasadena, CA


6259 S. Jamestown Ave, Tulsa, OK

Price: $659,000
Tulsa modern: This lovely four-bedroom home was recently renovated by a husband and wife team who specialize in midcentury modern homes. They gave it a gleaming new kitchen and updated flooring. The home is filled with custom designs, is located in a “fabulous” neighborhood, and boasts a large pool out back.

Tulsa, OK
Tulsa, OK


2223 Travers Ln, Flossmoor, IL 

Price: $319,900
Flossmoor Park: Recently reduced in price, this modern five-bedroom home is being sold as is. The listing states that the current owners have meticulously maintained the home and did quite a bit of work recently. There’s a new deck and front stoop, new shades in the living room, new ceiling fans, and rehabbed exterior wood.

Flossmoor, IL mid century modern house exterior
Flossmoor, IL


4216 S. Dahlia St, Cherry Hills Village, CO

Price: $1,275,000
Brick retro-modern: This all-brick beauty with nearly 4,900 square feet of living space is on the market for the first time. Highlights include beamed ceilings, clean lines, and plenty of open spaces for entertaining a crowd. The newly carpeted basement includes a fifth bedroom, a study, and a steam sauna.

Cherry Hills Village, CO mid century modern home
Cherry Hills Village, CO


103 Fairwood Blvd, Fairhope, AL 

Price: $375,000
Sixties Southern: This custom Alabama abode was designed for stylish Southern living. The four-bedroom home has been restored and now features an updated kitchen. The living room has a wood-burning fireplace and opens to a deck overlooking the wooded backyard. There’s also a bonus room, which could be used as a workshop or game room.

Mid cenutry home in Fairhope, AL
Fairhope, AL


112 Ashbourne Rd, Columbus, OH

Price: $1,175,000
Premier in Columbus: Built in 1969 by Ralph Fallon for the John F. Wolfe family, this striking two-story home was expanded in 1992. Today, it has four bedrooms and more than 6,000 square feet of space. It includes a large chef’s kitchen, formal dining room, and a walled, private patio with room for entertaining.

Columbus OH home built in 1969 exterior
Columbus, OH


88 Stoney Lea Rd, Dedham, MA

Price: $1,050,000
Forest treasure: This modern marvel has been featured in Boston Magazine because of its geometric shapes, flood of natural light, and an open floor plan centered around the main staircase. The 4,000-square-foot home sits on more than an acre in the forest and is wrapped with decks on the second floor with breathtaking views of the surrounding trees.

modern home in dedham ma exterior
Dedham, MA


409 Ridgecrest Dr, Chapel Hill, NC

Price: $799,000
Magnificent modern: This four-bedroom home was designed by modernist architect Harriet Gordon. It’s been totally renovated with high-end features, with an eye toward maintaining the home’s original style. Wonderful custom touches throughout include the original beams from a tobacco farm in North Carolina, the kitchen’s custom Italian cabinets, and recycled glass countertops.

modernist home in Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill, NC

The post 50 Years Later, Still Stylish: 10 Cool Homes From 1969 for Sale appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

This Isn’t Your Average Woodland Cottage

“We spend so much of our lives in boxes,” says Alexis Borsboom, owner of this cottage nestled among the trees on Mayne Island, BC.

The unique shape is just one reason she and her husband moved in. The rest of the story lies inside its walls – and begins with the walls themselves.

That’s because they’re made from cob: a combination of clay, sand and straw that’s mixed with water and then sculpted by hand. The couple fell in love after meeting in a cob-building workshop; later, they purchased the home and built a life constructing cob structures together.

With soft edges throughout and a wooden staircase, the interior of their home seems like something out of a dream – but subtle nods to 70s decor make it feel familiar.

Cob is a little like adobe. But unlike adobe, which is formed into bricks and hardened before building, cob structures are sculpted while the mixture is still wet.

Working with raw earth means there’s not much need for loud equipment on a cob site. And because most of the necessary materials can be gathered from the surrounding area, constructing a cob has very little ecological impact.

This construction style also informs the natural, organic shapes you’ll find throughout a cob home, like arched doorways and a space perfectly sized to fit the wood-burning stove.

The kitchen, which sits just off the living area, is a cozy space with enough room for the essentials – plus a breakfast nook for enjoying a morning cup.

Upstairs, a gently sloping ceiling gives the bedroom and workspace a uniquely homey vibe. And just above that ceiling sits a wide, undulating roof. It’s crucial – it protects the home from wind and rain. With a strong foundation and the right roof, a cob-style home can last forever. But “if it’s left out in the elements, it will turn back into dirt within a year,” Borsboom says.

The door on the second story leads out to a small deck that’s perfect for catching the magical sunsets off Canada’s western coast.

Alexis describes cob-style homes as a “gentle and beautiful way to live.” We couldn’t agree more.