Up your dinner game with a specialized grill. (Pixabay/)
Maybe you’ve been cooking outdoors since those Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts days. Or maybe you learned the craft from that wise old parent, who explained the joys (and dangers) of a fire-cooked dinner on the back porch. The magic of grilling isn’t something that’s lost with age – but it is enhanced with the always-evolving tools of the trade. Here are five grills that can take your cooking game to the next level.
Blackstone Gas Grill Griddle Station
Never run out of grilling space again with this oversized, industrial strength cooking station. (Blackstone/)
Cook like a pro with this grill/griddle from Blackstone. The griddle top is great for stir-fry dishes or breakfast items – make the world’s largest omelette with it. But the griddle top is easily removed, revealing a four-burner gas grill underneath. Throw the block’s largest cookout, and you’ll still have room for more burgers and dogs. An electric push-button starter gets the action going fast while secure wheels keep the unit in place.
George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
If you’re not a fan of charcoal or gas, an electric grill is a great substitute. (George Foreman/)
Offering 240 square inches of grilling space means there’s room to accommodate more than 15 servings of food at once. A nonstick coating makes cleaning a breeze – and allows you to grill without butter or oil. If the weather outside isn’t ideal for grilling, just move the George Foreman indoors where it can be safely operated. (Hint: Because it’s an electric grill, it’s typically safe for use on apartment balconies too.)
Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill
An old classic gets some modern-day facelifts with this Weber grill. (Weber/)
Didn’t everyone grow up with a replica of this kettle grill on the back porch? This charcoal grill from Weber is so old school that it’s actually new school now. It can hold up to 13 burgers, and cleanup isn’t a chore anymore with the one-touch cleaning system. Don’t worry about leaving it in the rain; the porcelain-enameled lid won’t rust or peel, and dampers allow you to better control the grill’s temperature.
Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker
Load the wood chips in the side door and let the digital controls do the rest of the work. (Masterbuilt/)
Buying and using a smoker might be intimidating to some backyard chefs. If you’ve watched too many TV shows about barbecue, you get the impression that smoking is an all-day, all-night endeavor. This digital electric smoker from Masterbuilt was designed for beginners or pros. Put away the charcoal and propane; just plug this smoker in, set the controls and relax. Four chrome-plated smoking racks offer plenty of cooking space for ribs, roasts, chicken and more.
Cuisinart Portable Gas Grill
This portable grill operates with a 1-pound propane tank and measures just 19 x 11 x 10 inches, so it’s ideal for camping and tailgating. (Cuisinart/)
It might seem unusual to see the name Cuisinart associated with a grill. The kitchen gear experts, however, offer a portable gas grill that will turn heads at your next tailgating party. A 146-inch enameled steel cooking grate is spacious (and removable for easy cleaning after the feast). And the best part? The grill requires no assembly. You can be cooking 10 minutes after this arrives at the front door.
The tornadoes that tore through Tennessee this week, including neighborhoods in and around downtown Nashville, claimed at least 22 lives, ripped through scores of homes and businesses, and damaged many, many more.
The unexpected storms were devastating by any measure. As people come to grips with the considerable human toll, real estate experts are just beginning to think about the longer-term impact on one of America’s hottest real estate markets.
After all, home prices in the ‘it’ city of the South—a favorite of country music lovers, bachelorettes, and techie hipsters alike—have been on an explosively wild ride in recent years. A tornado devastated some of Nashville’s more desirable neighborhoods. At least 45 buildings downtown are no longer standing, and many others sustained substantial, possibly catastrophic, damage.
“The areas it hit were extremely hot real estate markets with thriving community districts and were densely populated with homeowners,” says real estate broker Brian Copeland of Doorbell Real Estate. Nonetheless, Copeland voices the consensus of most real estate experts: “But I just can’t imagine it affecting the real estate values.”
Indeed, the twister may wind up giving local property values a boost, some say.
In the short term, unaffected areas could see home values edge up, as folks look for temporary housing. Over the long term, prices could also rise if neighborhoods are rebuilt better than before.
Home prices in Nashville’s metro area peaked in 2017. Since then, they’ve come down—but just a little. The dip is likely due to all the new construction that’s been rising at a breakneck pace, easing the housing shortage as more out-of-towners settle in Nashville. (The median list price in the metro area, which includes the city and surrounding suburbs, was $369,000 in January, according to the most recent realtor.com® data.)
Disaster effect: Tornadoes aren’t as bad as hurricanes
Those prices aren’t likely to fall much.
“Tornadoes probably have the least impact on home prices of all disasters: earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, mudslides,” says Chuck Watson, director of research and development at Enki Holdings. The Savannah, GA–based data and analytics firm looks at economic impacts from natural and human-made disasters.
Twisters are “much more random,” Watson says. It’s not like moving a few miles inland in a coastal community if you’re worried about hurricanes. There’s no telling where a tornado will strike.
“Where are you going to go?” Watson continues. “If you move 50 miles from Nashville, you still have the same tornado risk as you do in downtown Nashville.”
Still, this isn’t the first time Nashville’s seen tornadoes. In 1998, a twister pummeled many of the same downtown neighborhoods that were terrorized again this week. Some of these communities were also battered by terrible flooding in 2010.
“Obviously, we bounced back quite nicely,” says Copeland. “Nashville will be fine. We’ve proven this over and over again.”
And while it’s rare that tornadoes strike big cities, they do happen, says Daniel Betten, principal research scientist at CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. The one that traveled through Dallas in October may have caused $2 billion in damages.
“It does happen at least once a year that a major city is impacted,” says Betten.
Surviving Nashville’s deadly tornado
The tornado went through neighborhoods in and around downtown Nashville, such as the up-and-coming Buchanan Arts District. Last year, folks could find a home in need of renovation there for $280,000, says Copeland. This year, they’re more likely to be spending $420,000 for new construction.
Upper-middle-class Germantown and the East End were also devastated as was more working- and middle-class Rosebank on the east side of the city. Suburbs such as Mt. Juliet were also affected.
Anna Altic, 45, was asleep in Rosebank when a tornado warning on her phone woke her up just before 1 a.m. early Tuesday. The real estate broker hurried to get her 16-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son out of bed. They huddled in a hallway, Altic lying on top of them. Within just a few minutes, a tornado struck.
“It was like a train sound, and the house was moving. You could feel this intense pressure,” says Altic, a real estate broker at Parks Realty. “I was so focused on keeping my kids calm and telling them, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK.’”
Her carport was ripped apart and hurled onto her roof. One of her cars was tossed into the other one. The HVAC system was ripped off her house.
“The roof is going to need to be replaced,” she says. “[But] my house is still habitable. Most of my neighbors, most of their roofs and walls were blown in.”
“I still have a house, and I’m still here,” says Altic. Some of the members of her community were trapped in their homes. Others, she believes, didn’t survive.
Why Nashville’s real estate prices could rise in the wake of the tornado
Homes that were damaged will probably be deeply discounted—especially if the new owners need to do costly work like putting in a new roof or a foundation, says national real estate appraiser Orell Anderson of Strategic Property Analytics. Buyers may ask for a 10% price cut in addition to deducting the cost of the repairs.
Properties that were destroyed, of course, will be sold for whatever the land is worth. And that’s when the investors are likely to swoop in. If they or the original homeowners put up nicer, newer homes in place of the older ones that are destroyed, that can give neighborhoods a boost.
“Values can actually go up depending on what they’re replaced with,” says Enki’s Watson. He’s seen duplexes and apartment complexes rise in the place of single-family homes in some communities after disasters. “If it’s a hot market [like this] … it can actually push values up.”
Plus, the city has also been growing by leaps and bounds—which may help to cushion it after a disaster like this. Displaced residents are likely to find refuge, temporary or otherwise, in some of the new residences going up all over town. That supply of homes is likely to keep prices from spiking too high as folks look for housing.
“We’ve seen a ton of new construction, almost a comical amount,” says real estate agent Robby Stone. Out-of-towners often remark on the “overwhelming amount of cranes and construction.”
He and other real estate professionals aren’t terribly worried about prices falling.
“This is just kind of a fluke,” says Altic. “Nashville [will] just continue to be a vibrant city.”
Not so long ago, the idea of a million-dollar home would evoke visions of champagne wishes and caviar dreams. Expectations have changed while the market soars, but a million bucks still buys plenty in today’s housing market. Honest!
We were curious to see what a home buyer could score while sliding in just below the million-dollar mark. We found nine great homes from around the country, all strategically priced at $999,999.
As for how far your dollar will stretch, we found two smaller beach houses—one in Hawaii and one in California. But that very same price tag could land you a gorgeous, 5-acre wooded retreat in Wisconsin, a luxury desert retreat in Arizona, or a 70-acre horse farm decked out for even the most discerning equestrian lover.
So set down your caviar spoon and save your million-dollar fantasies for another day. There’s plenty of wish fulfillment to be found in these nine homes, priced a buck below that magic price point…
Square footage: 3,721 Price per square foot: $269 Desert dwelling: Sitting on nearly a half-acre in the gated Las Sendas golf community, this four-bedroom, Tuscan-style home was built in 2006. It’s loaded with upgrades, like built-ins, tumbled travertine floors, and an owner’s suite with full sitting room. However, its top feature might just be the amazing mountain views. The backyard is an entertainer’s oasis, with a covered patio, pool, fire pit, and a staircase to an observation deck designed to maximize views of the city below.
Square footage: 3,934 Price per square foot: $254 Giddy up! Equestrian lovers will swoon for this 1890 brick farmhouse sitting on nearly 70 acres. The property also features an indoor riding ring, plus 14 stalls. The three-story main house features a custom brick and stone kitchen, an owner’s suite with balcony, hardwood floors, and a mudroom with half-bath. The property also includes additional barns, fenced pastures, and other perks for horseback riding aficionados.
Square footage: 5,336 Price per square foot: $187 Dunes West: Custom-built in 1996, this five-bedroom home sits on a wooded, 2-acre lot. Traditional interiors feature a two-story foyer, cathedral ceilings, and fireplace. There’s also a wet bar leading to a wood-paneled man cave. Outside, there’s a two-level patio with awning and a spiral staircase leading to an observation deck. The gated community is filled with trails and offers golf, pools, tennis, and a fitness center.
Square footage: 5,330 Price per square foot: $188 Stately Colonial: Great curb appeal all over! This five-bedroom Colonial sits on 2 acres and is punctuated by a 20-foot lighted flagpole. The interiors have been updated and include a large mudroom, hardwood floors, a gas fireplace in the owner’s suite, and a bonus room. Outside, the grounds have been professionally landscaped and are ready for long days of family fun.
Square footage: 6,063 Price per square foot: $165 Hilltop hideaway: Perched on nearly 5 wooded acres, this four-bedroom Craftsman home was built in 2006. Indoors, the home has maple and mesquite floors, a theater room, Amish cabinetry, six fireplaces, and a fully finished walkout lower level. There’s also an additional garage, which can accommodate up to eight cars and a motor home.
Square footage: 2,345 Price per square foot: $426 Beach house: This compact two-bedroom is just three short blocks from the beach and is offered with all the furnishings. Which means it’s an easy, breezy turnkey rental property or vacation home. Built in 1890, the adorable Victorian includes a loft with skylight as well as an updated kitchen.
Square footage: 4,936 Price per square foot: $203 Wooded paradise: Elegant inside and out, this five-bedroom home was built in 2005, and has been recently updated with new paint and carpet. Decorative lighting, hardwood floors, and dual staircases give the interiors a timeless appeal. The real highlight is the backyard, with its large, covered patio, grill, pool, and spa, all surrounded by mature trees and professional landscaping.
Square footage: 3,250 Price per square foot: $308 Deer Creek discount: According to the listing details, this three-story home is priced at $100,000 below its estimated value. Built in 1999, the custom home has more than 50 windows to bring in the surrounding views. The kitchen has been remodeled, and the hardwood floors feature Brazilian cherry inlay for flourish. A spacious deck serves as a dramatic backdrop for outdoor entertaining, while the finished walkout basement offers plenty of indoor space for family and friends to gather when temperatures dip. Check out those views!
Square footage: 2,340 Price per square foot: $427 Beach beauty: A sandy beach for swimming, snorkeling, and fishing sits just minutes away from this four-bedroom island home. Built in 1956, this Oahu property has several modern updates to the kitchen and bathrooms and features a loft, large owner’s suite, and a fenced backyard.
Hurricane Irma barreled through Gainesville, Fla., in 2017, displacing some of the clients Faye Feazell worked with as a home health aide. Ms. Feazell, unsure how she would make her monthly mortgage payments, called her mortgage company for help.
She said the company, AmeriHome Mortgage Co., told her not to worry: She could skip payments for 90 days. But three months later, when she called to find out about resuming payments, she learned she was being foreclosed on, she said. The AmeriHome employee she spoke to didn’t know anything about the relief plan Ms. Feazell said she was offered.
“It was heartbreaking,” Ms. Feazell said. “Because I have never been behind on anything in my life.”
Mortgage companies often offer help to borrowers after natural disasters, but the programs can end up hurting them.
The scope of the problem is difficult to quantify. Hundreds of homeowners have complained to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about problems with so-called mortgage forbearance programs. Consumer lawyers in regions hit hard by natural disasters say they have seen more homeowners who are reported delinquent to credit-reporting firms after accepting payment help.
“We’re just one law firm in one disaster in one part of Florida and we saw this come up a number of times,” said Mike Ziegler, a consumer lawyer in Clearwater.
How such programs operate, and their potential pitfalls, could become even more important in light of the coronavirus epidemic. If the disease spreads throughout the U.S. and puts some Americans out of work, lenders would likely grapple with how and whether to offer assistance to borrowers.
The problems with assistance programs often start with administrative errors that lead to bigger issues down the road.
After storms, wildfires and other natural disasters, companies sometimes offer help over the phone but don’t record that they did so, according to interviews with consumer lawyers and homeowners. The companies might not make it clear when or if borrowers have to make up the payments.
A company that tells borrowers they can miss payments might report them as delinquent to credit-reporting firms when they do so. That in turn can send their credit scores tumbling and make it more difficult for them to buy a car, rent an apartment or tackle other tasks after a storm. People with lower credit scores before a natural disaster are more seriously affected by knocks to their credit afterward, reinforcing their disadvantage, the Urban Institute found.
Servicers say they do their best to help borrowers and have made efforts to improve their disaster responses.
While such programs help many borrowers, reports of problems highlight the need for consumer vigilance. A trade group that represents the credit-reporting companies says consumers who skip payments after a disaster with their mortgage company’s permission should check their credit reports to make sure they haven’t incorrectly been reported as delinquent.
Consumer lawyers say borrowers should accept payment relief only if they have no other means to pay their mortgage and should call their servicers regularly until a final repayment plan is ironed out.
A law firm helped Ms. Feazell, 67, keep her home. But she still has to pay more than $7,000 for the attorney AmeriHome hired to process the planned foreclosure. She wishes she had never called the company for help.
AmeriHome declined to comment.
Susan Tellem’s home burned down when the Woolsey Fire tore through her Malibu, Calif., neighborhood in November 2018. Her mortgage servicer, Select Portfolio Servicing Inc., agreed to let her skip payments for four months as she figured out how much her insurance would pay to rebuild, she said.
Less than two months later, she got a letter from the company saying she was in default for missing a payment. Ms. Tellem, a senior partner at a public-relations firm, told the company she no longer wanted the relief and started paying the mortgage again, she said.
But her servicer reported her as delinquent, according to a copy of her credit report. Ms. Tellem’s credit score soon plunged. The company eventually sent correct information to the credit bureaus, she said, but her interactions were frustrating.
“It’s like a revolving door,” Ms. Tellem said. “You never talk to the same person.”
Select Portfolio Servicing didn’t respond to requests for comment.
For loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, mortgage servicers are required to give borrowers the option to skip payments for up to 12 months when a natural disaster hits, though the policy kicks in only under certain conditions. For example, the area has to be declared a major disaster by the president. The Woolsey Fire fell into that category, as did Hurricane Dorian in North Carolina and severe flooding in Nebraska and Iowa last year.
Under the same rules, servicers aren’t supposed to report borrowers as delinquent to credit bureaus while they are on disaster-relief plans. They are supposed to regularly check in with homeowners and set up a plan to transition back to payment.
A similar policy applies to Federal Housing Administration mortgages.
Some borrowers said their servicer told them they could skip several months of payments and tack them on to the end of the loan—but then were told a few months later they had to repay the money right away.
Cheryl and Garrett Bowles said that is what happened to them with Mr. Cooper Group Inc., formerly known as Nationstar Mortgage, after Hurricane Irma downed several trees on their property in Citra, Fla.
The Bowleses couldn’t afford to catch up with a lump-sum payment, so a Mr. Cooper employee offered what they hoped was a way out. Mrs. Bowles said she was told she could file paperwork requesting that the skipped payments be added to the end of the loan.
She said that she applied right away but a Mr. Cooper agent later told her the company had lost the documents and she had to reapply.
A spokesman for Mr. Cooper said Wednesday the company did offer the Bowles family a loan modification but wouldn’t specify terms or when it was offered.
Mrs. Bowles applied again. Mr. Cooper told her in a December letter it couldn’t modify her loan because her family had “insufficient disposable income.”
The family moved out of their 1982 Catalina double-wide mobile home in January. Mrs. Bowles found a buyer and expects the sale to cover the $40,000 still owed to Mr. Cooper. For now, they have moved in with Mrs. Bowles’s sister.
Mr. Cooper settled with Florida’s attorney general in 2018 over accusations that it misled borrowers after Hurricane Irma. The company didn’t admit wrongdoing, but its chief executive said in a press release its communication with some customers “was less than perfect.”
Take your indoor garden to the next level with the right grow lamp. (Yoyomax/)
Grow lights allow you to grow fresh fruit and vegetables in any environment — even when there is little or no sunshine in sight. Each of the following five grow lights for indoor plants has something different to offer, and all are great choices for your plant growing needs.
Monious-L LED Grow Light Strips
Versatile, easy to use and leaving plenty of room for growth of your plants and your growing system, these lights are ideal for many. (Monious-L/)
Monios-L‘s 60 watt high output integrated fixture grow lights for greenhouses and grow shelves is suitable for various plants, such as vegetables, flowers, succulents, and verbena plants. These lights are extendable, energy-efficient, low heat and easy to use. Combine plug and play ease of use with affordability for a nearly perfect growing solution.
Ankace Grow Light with Red Blue Spectrum and Adjustable Gooseneck
Ideal for growing vegetables, fruits, flowers and more, this grow light is feature rich and primed for the growing season. (Ankace/)
This Ankace grow light for indoor plants is twice as nice for helping your garden grow with dual heads. Some may say it’s thrice as nice as it has three timing modes. Growers also appreciate the red/blue LED combination and the five different dimmable modes. The compact size makes it suitable for use in apartments, garages and other small spaces.
Relassy LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants
Offering 88 high-quality LED chips to accommodate full spectrum growth, this grow light has a lot to offer. (Relassy/)
Relassy 15000Lux Sunlike full spectrum grow lamp offers fast plant growth accommodating the growing needs of hobbyists and professionals alike. With a larger illumination area and three different lighting modes, the high-efficiency grow lights are ideal for indoor use with fruits, vegetables, succulents and more.
Yoyomax Grow Light Plant Lights for Indoor Plants
Take your indoor garden to the next level with the right grow lamp. (Yoyomax/)
Even beginners can make gardens grow when using this easy-to-use LED grow light. Favorite features include the auto on/off timer (great for continued growth while on vacation), the sturdy clamp and its six dimmable options as well as various light and switch modes.
BESTVA Grow Light Lamp for Greenhouse Hydroponic Indoor Plants, Vegetables and Flowers
No matter what you’re trying to grow, this grow lamp has all your growing needs covered. (BESTVA/)
Whether you’re considering hydroponics as a grower or simply want to boost your productivity and growth rates for your vegetables, fruits or flowers, this unit has the right spectrum to meet your needs. The BESTVA DC Series 2000W LED is suitable for use in major growing houses or for personal use alike. This light features LEDs with new 10W dual-chip technology, offering more efficient and brighter output than traditional 5W and 3W LEDs.
Most Americans these days have a certain degree of PTSD when it comes to even passing mentions of the R word. After all, the Great Recession worked its dark tendrils into the lives of just about everyone. Nearly 9 million people lost their jobs. Almost 10 million homes were foreclosed upon or underwent a short sale. Even those lucky to hold on to their jobs and homes often went without raises and bonuses for years, and watched their retirement accounts dwindle.
And now, with the recent stock market drops and escalating fears that the COVID-19 virus is plunging the world into another recession, folks are beginning to experience some ugly déjà vu. Shudder.
So it seems like a good time to take a big step back to determine just what happened to the housing markets in America’s top cities in the aftermath of the worst real estate crash since the Depression. Because the silver lining to the previous housing bust were bargain-basement home prices—if you were able to scrape up the funds to become a buyer back then, of course. Those fortunate enough to weather the storm and purchase a home at the bottom of the market basically won the equivalent of the real estate jackpot.
After 127 months straight of economic growth and surging demand for housing, home prices in most of the country have reached or exceeded their pre-recession peaks. The realtor.com® data team set out to determine just how much prices rose from the trough to the pinnacle in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.
So where were the increases the highest?
“Cities where we’re seeing the strongest price rebounds are where high-wage jobs like tech, health care, and financial services have grown the most during this past decade,” says realtor.com Senior Economist GeorgeRatiu. They include Dallas, where home prices skyrocketed as more companies have moved in—attracting workers from around the world jockeying for good places to live.
Watch: Home Sales Are Really Taking Off in These 3 Hot Markets
There have also been huge price gains in cities that fell the furthest—like Las Vegas and Miami, where crazy overbuilding coupled with rampant real estate speculation led to the biggest of busts. They had nowhere to go but up. In Las Vegas, aka foreclosure central, median sale prices have since risen 121.4% from early 2012 through the top of the market in November 2019.
To figure out where prices have increased the most, the data geeks of realtor.com looked at the median home sale prices in the 11 largest metropolitan areas* at the bottom of the market in February 2012. (While economists say the Great Recession ended in mid-2009, real estate prices didn’t bottom out in most markets until 2012.) Then we compared those lows to each city’s corresponding post-recession peak to see which places saw the highest percentage change.
Ready to find out just how much you could have made if you’d only bought way back then?
New York, NY
Median home price February 2012: $340,000 Highest month (July 2019) median home price: $457,500 Percentage increase: 34.6%
Any New Yorker will remember the empty construction sites, expanses of dirt, and partly laid foundations that pocked the city after the housing crash. But no more.
The post-recession years of 2014 and 2015 are what real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuels calls “peak new development.” Cranes dotted the city skyline like pigeons on Central Park benches. Thousands of luxury condos and apartments were erected.
During the crash, foreclosed single-family homes with overgrown yards and boarded-up windows became familiar sights in poorer, predominantly minority communities in Southeast Queens, the South Bronx, and Southeastern Brooklyn. Upper Manhattan also took a hit. Its East Harlem neighborhood, which saw home prices increase a staggering 499.6% from 1996 to 2006, was among the neighborhoods that saw the steepest drops when the bubble popped.
But prices for townhomes and brownstones have ballooned back up by more than 170% since 2009, according to Property Shark data.
This seven-bedroom townhouse in Harlem, for example, sold for $3.4 million, five years after it was picked up for $550,000.
Astronomically high prices are now the norm again in all five boroughs of New York City. Plagued by a dearth of affordable housing in the wake of the recession, buyers have been moving farther and farther out from central Manhattan. That’s resulted in fast-rising real estate prices in outlying neighborhoods well beyond their previous 2008 highs.
“It’s the [neighborhoods] that haven’t already been established that saw the most growth,” says Miller.
Los Angeles, CA
Median home price February 2012: $365,000 Highest month (July 2019) median home price: $675,000 Percentage increase: 84.9%
Los Angeles’ real estate market is back and then some. Thank the strong economic recovery in the City of Angels, which resulted in a high concentration of well-paid buyers who have been driving up the cost of housing in recent years.
But, as is the case in many other U.S. cities, the far-flung suburbs were hardest-hit. Inland areas like Palmdale and Lancaster saw some of the steepest declines in the new housing developments that went up as far as the eye could see leading up toward the crash. That’s where prices still haven’t fully recovered.
Statewide, home prices fell 42% from the pre-recession peak to the bottom of the market, according to an analysis of CoreLogic data.
“California was really at the forefront of the housing crash,” says realtor.com’s Ratiu.
Median home price February 2012: $180,000 Highest month (July 2019) median home price: $261,000 Percentage increase: 45%
Illinois had one of the greatest nosedives in home prices during the Great Recession—across the sprawling Chicago metro they declined by 33% at the bottom of the crash, according to an analysis of CoreLogic data. And while much of the region has been on a multiyear home-buying spree since the recovery kicked in, some parts of the Chicago metro are still lagging behind.
The suburban McMansion communities that went up like wildfire in the ’90s and early 2000s have been especially slow to recover. Demand simply hasn’t been as strong there. In South Barrington, IL, this sprawling four-bedroom that hit the market for $725,000 in 2009 is now listed for just $589,000.
And while the rest of the Windy City metro market has cooled slightly after a yearslong buying frenzy, the once gloomy West Loop is still roaring after a multiyear, post-recession surge. The developers who first started transforming the centrally located neighborhood with amenity-laden, millennial-focused condos are still selling million-dollar-plus abodes.
Median home price February 2012: $161,000 Highest month (June 2019) median home price: $285,000 Percentage increase: 77%
Home values have surged substantially in Dallas over the past seven years—largely due to the metro’s transformation into a much more diverse, economic powerhouse.
After the housing bubble burst just over a decade ago, plenty of builders went out of business and an excess of homes sat empty without buyers. But the market normalized again fairly quickly, according to local building consultant Ted Wilson of Residential Strategies.
Within the past few years, all kinds of companies are moving, expanding, and opening up in the Dallas–Fort Worth region. Toyota opened a U.S. headquarters outside of the city in 2017. And all of those well-paid workers moving in need places to live, causing prices to shoot up in recent years.
In desirable North Dallas, a just-sold two-bedroom home that was listed for $246,000 in 2009 went on the market for $325,000. That’s not uncommon as the area continues to boom.
Median home price February 2012: $166,000 Highest month (June 2019) median home price: $253,000 Percentage increase: 52.40%
Like Dallas and much of the rest of Texas, Houston escaped the worst of the Great Recession. Sure, there were plenty of foreclosures. But unlike places like Florida and Nevada, the state never saw the mobs of frenzied investors artificially inflating costs to buy homes in the run-up to the recession. So things bounced back faster.
“Other parts of the country saw amazing price increases in the run-up to the subprime debacle. Texas really didn’t participate,” says building consultant Wilson.
Houston wasn’t just lucky. The city has shifted its economic focus away from oil and gas—though the industry is still a huge presence—toward health care, construction, and administrative services. The job growth is up, luring more out-of-towners to settle here.
So it’s no surprise that single-family home sales have been on the rise. They jumped nearly 10% from last year, according to the Houston Association of Realtors. The majority of those purchases were in the midrange, from $150,000 to $500,000.
The neighborhoods surrounding Hobby Airport, considered a haven for first-time home buyers, have seen steady increases in home values. This Glenbrook Valley four-bedroom house is on the market for $309,900, a 76% increase over its 2014 asking price.
Median home price February 2012: $200,000 Highest month (July 2019) median home price: $275,000 Percentage increase: 37.50%
The City of Brotherly Love has done a 180-degree turn from the dark days of the recession. The former industrial city has been making a comeback with a stronger economy, a growing population, and fewer vacant homes. Bidding wars are common, and buyers often have to submit several offers before getting a contract.
But unfortunately for buyers who picked up a home at the bottom of the market, they’re not seeing the same kinds of high returns as in other parts of the country. That’s because prices didn’t rise as much in the run-up to the bust as the city was still struggling. So they didn’t have as far to fall.
The parts of town that have seen the biggest price jumps are the ones that were considered less desirable a decade ago. They’re neighborhoods of older, brick row homes and newer condos that are now considered “up and coming” such as Point Breeze, Kensington, and Fishtown.
Median home price February 2012: $323,000 Highest month (July 2019) median home price: $435,000 Percentage increase: 34.70%
When the housing bubble burst, home values didn’t fall off a cliff in DC. After all, the nation’s capital always has a steady stream of government employees, lobbyists, and politicians moving in and out. But as in many cities, predominantly minority neighborhoods were affected the worst.
Overall, the DC metro area’s real estate market has seen steady gains in the recovery, especially over the past year or so, with the drop in interest rates, employment gains, and the upcoming arrival of Amazon’s second headquarters all increasing demand for homes.
In Virginia’s Arlington County, where Amazon will be located right across the river from DC, median home prices rose 33% from November 2018—when the company announced its new location—to November 2019. And they’re expected to keep rising over the next few years as well-paid Amazon employees look for nearby homes.
Median home price February 2012: $169,000 Highest month (Nov. 2019) median home price: $305,000 Percentage increase: 80.5%
South Florida was one of the epicenters of the housing apocalypse, a sun-drenched poster child for overdevelopment and subprime mortgages. Everyone from lawyers and stockbrokers to exotic dancers and busboys seemed to heedlessly jump onto the real estate speculation train.
When the market bottomed out, there were moldy, vacant homes on nearly every block. Statewide, home prices plunged a whopping 50% from their pre-recession highs to the bottom of the market, according to an analysis of CoreLogic data
While the market for single-family homes has met or expanded beyond mid-aughts peak prices, many condos have not fully rebounded to their former high price points. And it doesn’t look like the developers have learned their lessons. A new, post-recession group of luxury condo towers has been going up on the water since 2013 and 2014.
“South Florida is boom or bust,” says Jack McCabe, CEO of Florida-based McCabe Research & Consulting. “Things here are either rapidly appreciating or we’re overbuilding and rapidly declining.”
This two-bedroom condo with water views in the Brickell neighborhood (just south of downtown Miami) was sold for $505,000 in 2006, a year after it was built. It was listed for $200,000 in 2012—and now it’s back on the market for $440,000.
Median home price February 2012: $161,000 Highest month (June 2019) median home price: $260,000 Percentage increase: 61.50%
Atlanta was devastated by the Great Recession: About 1 in 10 jobs was lost while around 250,000 homes were foreclosed upon. Construction came to a screeching halt in the northern exurbs of the sprawling city. But fast-forward just over a decade and Hotlanta is back.
Neighborhoods surrounding the Beltline, a former railway corridor encircling the city that is currently being transformed into hiking and biking trails, have quickly made up for lost values over the past couple of years. In Adair Park, a neighborhood right near the recently completed section of the 3-mile westside trail, this four-bedroom, single-family home is asking nearly four times its 2014 price. It’s listed at $475,000.
“Everybody is following the Beltline,” says Ryan Sconyers, a Realtor® with Graham Seeby Group. “It’s turned into gangbusters real estate-wise.”
Median home price February 2012: $296,000 Highest month (June 2019) median home price: $496,500 Percentage increase: 67.70%
The Boston metro area did see some steep price corrections when the housing market crashed. But the area, so rich in high-paying academic, technology, and financial jobs, has grown substantially in the years since. The population has exploded 12.4% since 2010.
As housing demand has increased, so have home values, swelling well beyond their pre-recession highs. For instance, in Brookline, MA, a stable suburb that was one of the last neighborhoods to drop in value and the first to come back, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo was last sold in 2007 for $595,000. It’s now asking nearly $1.2 million.
“In Boston, the average sale price has gone through the roof,” says Brookline associate real estate broker Jayne Friedberg of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Those price points are way over what they were pre-recession.”
San Francisco, CA
Median home price February 2012: $430,000 Highest month (May 2018) median home price: $928,000 Percentage increase: 115.80%
With a huge influx of high-paying tech jobs—600,000 to 700,000 new positions since 2010—the San Francisco Bay Area is now the priciest real estate market in the United States. During its 2018 peak, median home prices were more than double that of the New York City metro (which includes the suburbs and outer boroughs) and a few hundred thousand dollars higher than in Los Angeles.
“Everything has come back,” says Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst of the Bay Area for real estate brokerage Compass. “Of course there have been different levels of appreciation depending on where in the metro area.”
In Bernal Heights, adjacent to consistently popular and relatively stable Noe Valley, prices have skyrocketed. This just-sold, four-bedroom Victorian that was purchased for $1,135,000 in 2011 was asking about twice that.
The more expensive homes in longtime desirable places like Noe Valley and Pacific Heights saw values surge 70% in the run-up to the recession. Prices dropped a bit, but many of the well-to-do homeowners were able to avoid foreclosure and weather the economic storm.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, home prices soared up to 170% before the recession This five-bedroom home in Dublin was sold for $1,300,000 in 2005, then $735,000 in 2009. It’s now listed for $1,439,000 and just went under contract.
“In 2015–16 more affordable neighborhoods started to go up faster because things had gotten too expensive so quickly in more affluent neighborhoods,” says Carlisle. “There was a desperate search for, ‘Where can I still afford a home?’”
* Metros consist of the main city as well as the surrounding suburbs, towns, and smaller cities.