Get Your Hands on these Beach Bags

A good beach bag is a must for any trip to the shore.

A good beach bag is a must for any trip to the shore. (Pexels/)

There’s nothing quite like a day at the beach to help you get back in touch with your own personal happiness. Whether you intend to venture into the water or not, there are a lot of things you need to bring along with you, like sunscreen, an intriguing novel, beach towel, and more to make that day great. The right beach bag makes doing that possible.

This bag is easy to clean and lays flat for storage.

This bag is easy to clean and lays flat for storage. (AOMAIS/)

Built for strength and durability, thanks to two-line sewing, this mesh bag is easy to clean, even sand from the beach, and stores flat for storage when not in use. It comes in a variety of festive “beachy” colors and features a total of eight pockets so you can store items that require easy access.

This roomy, water-resistant, rectangular tote is great for chores off the beach as well.

This roomy, water-resistant, rectangular tote is great for chores off the beach as well. (Household Essentials/)

Measuring 13 inches tall by 22 inches wide and 11 inches deep, this bag can carry all your essential beach items. When not in use, the bag collapses for easy storage. While its outer layer is canvas, its inner lining is vinyl making it easy to clean and perfect for grocery trips.

This spacious has no sewing rift so it helps maintain the original temperature of your beverages and lunch without leakage.

This spacious has no sewing rift so it helps maintain the original temperature of your beverages and lunch without leakage. (FITFORT/)

Patented 2-in-1 design enables this bag to be effective as a mesh beach tote and a cooler bag. The cooler bag is detachable and can be carried in its own right thanks to its handle. The mesh beach tote features a padded handle for comfortable carrying and a zipper closure for valuables.

There’s space in this tote for any accessory you’ll need at the shore.

There’s space in this tote for any accessory you’ll need at the shore. (Dejaroo/)

The eight-pocket mesh beach bag by Dejaroo is available in a variety of bright, festive colors, essentially waterproof, dries quickly, and doesn’t hold on to sand. The roomy pockets allow you to carry all your beachy essentials, and the bright colorful mesh makes your bag easy to recognize and identify.

Use this bag at the beach on the weekend and at the grocery store during the week.

Use this bag at the beach on the weekend and at the grocery store during the week. (CleverMade/)

Weighing in at only 1.25 pounds but able to carry up to 30 pounds of gear, this beautiful bag may be your ideal bag for a day at the beach. This beach tote is foldable when not in use, so you can pack it away in other travel bags while on the go or store at home.

Our Favorite Vegetable Spiralizers

Cut the carbs with a vegetable spiralizer.

Cut the carbs with a vegetable spiralizer. (Brieftons/)

Whether you’re interested in spiralizing veggies to replace carbs or simply to work more vitamins and nutrients into your diet, vegetable spiralizers are ideal for helping you get the vegetables you desire in fun and easy-to-consume ways.

This bundle comes with everything, including a blade caddy, storage containers and recipes.

This bundle comes with everything, including a blade caddy, storage containers and recipes. (Brieftons/)

Featuring a total of seven different spiralizing blades, this vegetable spiralizer offers budding chefs the opportunity to try new flavors and textures in their meal preparation. We love that this spiralizer also comes with a no-hassle lifetime replacement policy so you can buy with confidence.

This pocket-sized spiralizer is easy to store and a breeze to clean.

This pocket-sized spiralizer is easy to store and a breeze to clean. (Fullstar/)

Featuring a system that offers compact storage and easy cleanup, the Fullstar vegetable spiralizer is an excellent choice if you desire the functionality of larger spiralizers, but have a small kitchen with little room for storage. It also contains your cooking “mess,” making cleaning up afterward an easy chore.

This device is ideal for people who are cooking for one or two, but want the benefit of healthier eating.

This device is ideal for people who are cooking for one or two, but want the benefit of healthier eating. (Ontel Veggetti/)

Spiralizing your vegetables has never been so easy with a simple twist of this tool. Whether you’re looking for a low-cost and convenient tool for vegetable spiralizing or you only need to do light spiralizing (for one while preparing regular pasta for the rest of your family, for instance), the Ontel spiralizer certainly hits the mark.

From curly fries to angel hair zucchini, this vegetable spiralizer delivers all the favorites you expect.

From curly fries to angel hair zucchini, this vegetable spiralizer delivers all the favorites you expect. (Spiralizer/)

Whether your goal is to create visually appealing salads, garnishments for your favorite dishes, or simply to encourage your kids to try more vegetables, this spiralizer packs a powerful punch. It’s made with 420 high carbon cutlery grade stainless steel blades, making it possible to spiralize harder root vegetables, like turnips and sweet potatoes. It has a no-hassle lifetime replacement guarantee too.

Decor Debacle! Is This Week’s Most Popular Home the Weirdest Ever?

Most popular homes of the week 5/21

realtor.com

A Pennsylvania home filled with eclectic decor choices rocketed to the top of this week’s most popular homes on realtor.com®.

Sedate from the exterior, but unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the interior, the home’s wild listing photos caused a click storm online.

The home’s outlandish interiors sprang from the mind of homeowner John Cope. According to the home’s listing agent, Cope desired to design the party pad of his dreams.

Highlights include a dining room designed to replicate the bridge of a 25th-century spaceship, complete with a talking alien head. And instead of just hanging a few UFOs from the ceiling, Cope used parts stripped off an old Apache helicopter.

For a truly tropical vibe, there’s a guest bedroom filled with actual sand on the floor.

Beach room crazy PA house
Beach room

realtor.com

Clicking through listing photos is a wild ride. The best part? Everything you see inside gets thrown in with the $159,000 purchase price. Yes, even the talking alien and vintage MAD Magazines.

Besides the peculiar Pennsylvania home, you also clicked on the waterfront Michigan manse of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, a quirky cottage built over a river in Maryland, and an A-frame in Ohio built in 1969 that’s just plain groovy, baby.

Join us on a long, strange trip into this week’s most popular properties…

10. 800 Washington St, Pekin, IL

Price: $135,000

Why it’s here: Bargain fixer-upper alert! This nearly 4,000-square foot brick Italianate home is priced at only $35 per square foot.

Built for John Herget in 1870, this historic residence is filled with period details and offers endless potential. Cool original features of the two-story home include ornate mosaic tile, curved archways, hardwood floors, and high ceilings.

Perkin IL historic house
Pekin, IL

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9. 15530 Windmill Pointe Dr, Grosse Pointe Park, MI

Price: $4,750,000

Why it’s here: Mansion of a mogul! This elegant Colonial was built in 1929 by Hal H. Smith, a well-known supporter of the arts in Detroit. Sitting on just under 2 acres, the over 14,500-square-foot home boasts a two-story walnut library, hand-painted ceilings, blue stone patio, pool, and greenhouse.

Located just off the banks of Lake St. Clair, the property offers gorgeous water views, in addition to 200 feet of lake frontage.

Gross Pointe, MI estate
Grosse Pointe Park, MI

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8. 6216 Bahama Shores Dr S., St. Petersburg, FL

Price: $2,699,000

Why it’s here: Wide open views of Tampa Bay are the hallmark of this four-bedroom home, on nearly a full acre of waterfront property.

Built in 1949 for entertaining on a grand scale, the Mediterranean-inspired design features a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor living, a heated saltwater pool and spa, rooftop terrace, koi pond with waterfall, aviary, patio, and a 200-foot dock for boating.

Saint Petersburg, FL
St. Petersburg, FL

realtor.com

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7. 28 Westwood Dr, Worcester, MA

Price: $2,188,000

Why it’s here: French maximalist luxury abounds in this regal five-bedroom residence built in 2001. The first floor pays homage to the eras of kings Louis XIV through Louis XVI, with plenty of crystal chandeliers and gold leaf.

The half-acre lot includes a terrace off the kitchen, formal gardens, and a three-car garage, which can be accessed by an elevator.

Worcester MA french mansion
Worcester, MA

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6. 7 Westmoreland Pl, St. Louis, MO

Price: $1,400,000

Why it’s here: Storybook fantasy! Meticulously detailed Indiana limestone welcomes guests to this remarkable Romanesque home, built in 1890.

The six-bedroom home has been tastefully updated for modern living and boasts hardwood floors, oak paneling, and crown molding. On just under a half-acre, the estate is ringed with gardens, a gazebo, and mature trees.

Saint Louis, MO house exterior
St. Louis, MO

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5. 8659 Frederick Rd, Ellicott City, MD

Price: $259,900

Why it’s here: Over the river and loving this home! This charming cottage from 1940 is literally built over a river, maximizing its views throughout. At just 930 square feet, it has been updated with hardwood floors, a new kitchen, and new half-bath.

This water lover’s delight is adjacent to county land, offering uncommon privacy and seclusion.

Ellicott City, MS house over a river
Ellicott City, MD

realtor.com

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4. 207 E. Washington St, Pierce City, MO

Price: $59,900

Why it’s here: For a buyer in search of a higher calling, this onetime bustling church needs a heroic rescue. Built in 1890, the brick building could be polished into a luxurious family home or perhaps a wedding business.

Pierce City MO converted church
Pierce City, MO

realtor.com

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3. 1867 Long Pointe Dr, Bloomfield Township, MI

Price: $6,500,000

Why it’s here: Football fans wanted to see the digs of Lions QB Matthew Stafford.

The superstar property is dubbed “Michigan’s most magnificent estate” in the listing details and is reputed to have the state’s largest infinity-edge pool.

The megamansion was built in 1980 and fully renovated in 2016, and its other highlights include an indoor basketball court, 625-bottle wine cellar, and over 400 feet of waterfront.

Matthew Stafford mansion Bloomfield Township MI
Bloomfield Township, MI

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2. 4130 Edgehill Dr, Columbus, OH

Price: $699,900

Why it’s here: Modern, experimental, and unlike anything else on the market, this A-frame built in 1968 was designed to bring its natural surroundings indoors.

The three-bedroom home is on a wooded, professionally landscaped half acre and would be a daring choice for any home shoppers looking for a statement property to make their own.

With nearly 3,300 square feet of living space, its highlights include a solarium, indoor pond, and wine cellar.

A frame columbus oh exterior
Columbus, OH

realtor.com

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1. 480 Rainier Dr, Plum, PA

Price: $159,000

Why it’s here: We asked listing agent Samuel Pace about this one-of-a-kind home and its eccentric owner. He told us he wasn’t prepared for what he saw inside the home, but made his peace with the off-the-wall decisions made by its owner, John Cope.

“I think he enjoyed his time in the house,” Pace said with a laugh.

We’d call Cope an accomplished outsider artist, thanks to his ability to dodge decor norms in favor of a place that served to make him happy.

Everything you see in the home’s wild listing photos will convey with the sale.

As another bonus, Cope has offered to help answer any questions a buyer may have. And we have a feeling there will be questions.

plum pa space ship dining room
Plum, PA

realtor.com

The post Decor Debacle! Is This Week’s Most Popular Home the Weirdest Ever? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Opus Gets a Rebrand and a Price Cut, but Still Ranks as Most Expensive New Listing

Beverly Hills

realtor.com

Formerly known as Opus, an ultraluxe Beverly Hills estate has changed its tune. Now renamed 1175 Billionaires’ Row, the property, which was once on the market for as much as $100 million, is back on sale for just under $60 million.

Even with the reduction, the megamansion, set on a promontory with incredible views of Los Angeles, features again as this week’s most expensive new listing on realtor.com®.

Last year, priced at $68 million and still known as Opus, it topped our weekly look at the priciest properties in the country.

But earlier this year, the home, which was designed by the architect Paul McClean, changed ownership. It went from real estate developer Nile Niami to Joseph Englanoff, a lender on Niami’s portfolio, the Wall Street Journal reported. With the change in ownership came a new strategy to drive a successful sale.

The rebranding of the home is an effort to expand the potential buyer pool beyond deep-pocketed buyers on the hunt for a pricey party pad, the WSJ noted.

Beyond the name change, other alterations were made. What was once champagne fridge is now a pantry, and the home’s stone floors were taken up, in favor of wide-plank oak flooring. Even the “O” sculpture prominently displayed at the entry has been removed.

Despite the changes, the swanky estate still has plenty of eye-popping perks. The Beverly Hills address bills itself as the “most spectacular and luxurious organic modern home ever constructed,” with its 22,713-square-foot interior and two pools.

Most expensive listing, reconsidered

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Living room

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Dining room

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Home theater

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Indoor pool—mind the dino!

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Bedroom

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Gym

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The wine cellar that used to house Champagne is now an organic pantry.

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Pool

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Car museum

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The open and airy design, with no expense spared, features seven bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, and four half-baths on a little over an acre.

It includes two gourmet kitchens, a walk-in, temperature-controlled pantry, an oversized home theater, wine cellar, billiard-room, car museum, and “mind-blowing” audiovisuals.

The fitness and wellness area includes a gym and indoor pool, guarded by what appears to be a full-size dinosaur skeleton.

The coveted neighborhood is the home of stars and titans of industry, such as David Geffen and the Twinkies heir Evan Metropoulos.

Rayni Williams and Branden Williams with Hilton & Hyland hold the listing.

The post Opus Gets a Rebrand and a Price Cut, but Still Ranks as Most Expensive New Listing appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Feel Grand in the Sand with these Beach Blankets

Grab a seat and enjoy a day at the beach with a good beach blanket.

Grab a seat and enjoy a day at the beach with a good beach blanket. (Unsplash/)

Nearly everyone loves spending a day at the beach. In any season, the sand and the surf provide memorable backdrops for amazing sandcastles, beautiful tans, painful burns, and many of the events that shape our lives. These five beach blankets can help you enjoy a space free of sand during your next day at the beach and many more to follow.

This beautifully colored blanket is made of long-lasting ripstop nylon.

This beautifully colored blanket is made of long-lasting ripstop nylon. (Wekapo/)

Large enough to comfortably hold seven adults, this Wekapo blanket is 10’ by 9’ and features four anchor loops and comes with six metal stakes. It features four corner pockets, is sand proof, water-resistant, and dries quickly. In addition to using it as a beach blanket, you can use it for camping, picnics, hiking, and more.

The blue and orange mandala fits two people comfortably.

The blue and orange mandala fits two people comfortably. (RAAJSEE/)

This beach tapestry is made of 100 percent cotton and is 70 inches in diameter. While you can hang this beach tapestry in your home, the RAAJSEE lightweight blanket is also ideal for yoga, a dining tablecloth, and more. It is machine washable (no bleach) but should be hung to try. It’s available in lots of other bright colors as well.

Bright and easy to recognize on the beach, this blanket has been UV stabilized to retain its color for years of use.

Bright and easy to recognize on the beach, this blanket has been UV stabilized to retain its color for years of use. (Camco/)

Easily portable thanks to the handy carrying straps, this beach mat is durable and weatherproof. It’s weatherproof, mildew resistant, and large enough to hold four adults. This is also easy to clean, just wipe it down, and lightweight. It folds to a compact size to offer easy storage and transport.

Enjoy endless hours of family fun with this durable, easy to clean, beach blanket.

Enjoy endless hours of family fun with this durable, easy to clean, beach blanket. (JJ Cole/)

Created to provide a dry comfortable location to enjoy during your beach experience, this blanket dries quickly, is easy to clean, and lasts a long time. The blanket folds out to five feet by five feet and stores compactly when not in use. It’s fit for picnics and other outdoor adventures, too.

This blank is made of three layers: a polyester fabric on the top, sponge layer in middle and PVC bottom.

This blank is made of three layers: a polyester fabric on the top, sponge layer in middle and PVC bottom. (ZOMAKE/)

Waterproof backing prevents ground moisture from becoming a problem with this picnic, camping, or beach blanket. This beach blanket behaves more like a mat. It is sand and waterproof and planet-friendly. The ZOMAKE blanket folds up easily after your beach adventure and is easy to store. It measures 79 inches by 59 inches and folds to a compact size for storage and features a convenient strap for easy carrying.

The Most Affordable Places Where Buyers Can Still Find a Home for Sale

Aerial view of the Des Moines skyline at sunrise looking out across the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden.

dangarneau/Getty Images

As home prices have surged over the past few years, many buyers have been chasing affordability. They’ve sought out smaller homes, fixer-uppers, and abodes in farther-out neighborhoods and suburbs to save some dough. And now, with the novel coronavirus sickening the world’s economy, resulting in tens of millions of furloughs and job losses, affordability seems more important than ever.

Trouble is, just because an area boasts reasonably priced homes, it doesn’t mean buyers can snag those deals. Especially now.

The number of homes for sale has plummeted since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold on U.S. soil, making it tougher than ever for buyers to find a home in their price range. Sellers have pulled listings off the market at a rapid clip, as many didn’t want to sell or accept a lower price during a public health and financial crisis.

So with the economy struggling and a lack of listings, where can buyers look for that sweet spot of affordability and plenty of homes to choose from? Well, they can start by heading to Des Moines, IA, or maybe to the Southeast.

Des Moines was one of just six metropolitan areas that boasted a decent inventory of affordably priced homes, according to a recent realtor.com® analysis. (Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller cities.) The median home price in the Midwestern city was nearly $270,000 in April. That’s nearly 19% less than the national median of $320,000.

(Realtor.com’s economics team included only metropolitan areas that were more affordable for residents earning local salaries. These real estate markets also needed at least 10 active home listings per 1,000 households. Only the 100 largest metros were included in the analysis.)

“These are predominantly Southern areas where we tend to see fewer people living on top of each other and more opportunities for builders to keep up with housing demand,” says realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “Des Moines regularly appears at the top of our home affordability lists.”

Des Moines was followed by Baton Rouge, LA, with a $249,000 median home price; Atlanta, at $325,000; Virginia Beach, VA, at $316,000; Jacksonville, FL, at $311,500; and Lakeland, FL, at $235,000. These are mostly areas that weren’t as affected by COVID-19 in April as other parts of the country. (Atlanta’s median price is higher than the national one, but the analysis is based on local incomes.)

On the other side of the equation are the most affordable metros—where buyers will have a harder time finding properties for sale. There were only two to four listings per 1,000 households in each of these markets.

Nationally, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated an already severe housing shortage. In April, the number of new listings was down 45% year over year. That’s due to sellers taking homes off the market or holding off on listing their abodes. Many don’t want to go through the selling and moving processes, and have potential buyers and movers inside their homes, during a public health crisis. Others are worried they’ll be leaving money on the table by selling their residences during an economic downturn.

That’s likely to make finding the right home at the right price challenging—even for the most motivated buyers.

“Inventory has been low and has continued to be low nationwide because builders have not kept up with the number of buyers in the market,” says Hale. “The areas that have seen the worst inventory shortages are a lot of Rust Belt cities and West Coast areas where builders have really struggled to put up new housing.”

Buffalo, NY, led the pack of the more affordable real estate markets with a dearth of inventory. The median home price in the city in northern New York state was just $219,950 in April. Too bad there were just 2.5 homes on the market per 1,000 households.

Columbus, OH, was up next, with a median home price of $309,500. It was followed by Rochester, NY, at $250,000; Springfield, MA, at $314,000; and Harrisburg, PA, at $250,000.

Lastly, there were the metros where there are plenty of homes to go around—if you’re rolling in dough. They all have more than 10 home listings per 1,000 households.

Bridgeport, CT, which includes the pricey suburbs of Fairfield County, had the most inventory. But with a median home price of about $722,000 in April it was well out of reach for many Americans, especially those struggling financially right now.

It was followed by Miami, at $399,000; Charleston, SC, at $436,000; Honolulu, at $612,500; and North Port, FL, at $353,500.

The post The Most Affordable Places Where Buyers Can Still Find a Home for Sale appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Our Favorite Beach Games for Kids

Make some waves on your next trip to the shore with these beach games for kids.

Make some waves on your next trip to the shore with these beach games for kids. (Pixabay/)

Planning a trip to the beach? Make your family’s outing even more fun by adding a few new outdoor games and toys to your arsenal. These great ideas are perfect for a wide range of age groups and can even be enjoyed by adults.

When looking at beach games and toys for your family, it is important to remember:

  • Find games and toys that will grow with your children. There are a ton of different options that are just as fun when they hit the pre-teen or teenage years as when they were little. Investing in quality items now will allow them to become fond memories and family traditions later on.
  • Search for items that can be used outside of a trip to the beach. If it is something that they would have just as much fun with in the backyard or on a trip to a local park, it’s a good addition.
  • Look for choking hazards around small children. Many beach toys and games have age limits for a reason and this usually has to do with small pieces or parts.

The goal is to see who can make 21 points first, which can be quite a challenge for everyone.

The goal is to see who can make 21 points first, which can be quite a challenge for everyone. (Kan Jam/)

Designed for all ages, this disc game is sure to keep the whole family occupied during your next beach trip. Available in both traditional and patriotic color schemes, this awesome set includes two goal cans plus an official flying disc. A portable design makes it easy to load up when it is time to return home, while the stackable cans make it simple to stow away when not in use.

This fun-loving game helps develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

This fun-loving game helps develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination. (Melissa and Doug/)

This simple beach toy is as whimsical as it is fun. The toss and catch game features a fun cartoon shark design on each of the two catching nets and is made from fade- and chlorine-resistant materials. Two included balls make playing toss back and forth a fun way to pass the time, while the overall activity helps promote gross motor skills in young children. Ideal for ages 6 to 8, it is a great set to take with you in the car for impromptu trips to the beach, park, or pool.

Forget silly little sand castle molds because this set helps you build actual size bricks for mastering beach architecture.

Forget silly little sand castle molds because this set helps you build actual size bricks for mastering beach architecture. (Sand Pal/)

Any child can take on building a simple sand castle, but this kit takes things to a whole new level. It includes nine pieces to help you build actual size bricks for making amazing creations. Best of all, the kit also works with snow to allow you the chance to create full-size igloos during the winter months. Plus, a mesh carrying bag gives you the chance to store the moulds neatly away when they aren’t in use.

Turn a sunny day at the beach into a memorable experience by flying these beautiful sea creature kites.

Turn a sunny day at the beach into a memorable experience by flying these beautiful sea creature kites. (Singare/)

A beautiful day at the beach easily becomes a memorable day of fun with these beautiful octopus kites. Available as a two-pack, these kites are easy to assemble in minutes and feature everything you need to get them up in the air. Bright colors, flowing tails, and a fun ocean-themed design make the kites a ton for fun for everyone in the family over the age of 3.

For Beach Towns, Coronavirus Means a Make or Break Summer Starts Now

A worker readies the ticket booth at Trimper’s Rides amusement park on the boardwalk at Ocean City, Md., on May 13.

Gabriella Demczuk for The Wall Street Journal

OCEAN CITY, Md.—The Dough Roller restaurant’s 53-table dining room sits quiet and empty steps from the boardwalk. Proprietor Kevin Gibbs doesn’t know when he will be allowed to offer dine-in service or even if the crowds of summers past will return.

And the clock is about to start ticking.

“I have 110 days to make my money for 365,” he said.

From Ocean City to the Jersey Shore to Cape Cod, the window between Memorial Day and Labor Day is make-or-break for hotels, restaurants, arcades and T-shirt shops. On top of potential concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, more than 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, pinching disposable incomes.

Mayor Rick Meehan says a speedy but safe reopening is vital for this town of 7,000 residents, which can swell to 300,000 visitors on summer weekends. “Just like the rest of the country, we’re in an economic crisis right now,” he said.

Town officials have eased some restrictions. The beach and boardwalk reopened May 9. Last week, the town allowed hotels and short-term rentals to take guests after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, lifted a statewide stay-at-home order and let retail stores open at half-capacity.

Visitors, many not wearing masks, have hit the boardwalk, where the town blocked off some benches, and signs remind people to keep 6 feet apart.

Tables are set aside in anticipation of outdoor dining at reduced capacity at an empty Fish Tales restaurant in Ocean City, Md.
Tables are set aside in anticipation of outdoor dining at reduced capacity at an empty Fish Tales restaurant in Ocean City, Md.

Gabriella Demczuk for The Wall Street Journal

But under Mr. Hogan’s statewide recovery plan, Ocean City fixtures like high-capacity bars and restaurants won’t be allowed to operate at prepandemic occupancy levels until there is a widely available coronavirus vaccine or an effective treatment. Neither is expected before summer’s end.

Outdoor dining isn’t permitted yet, and Mr. Meehan on Monday sent the governor a letter asking for the authority to let bars and restaurants open their outside areas at 50% capacity. A spokesman for Mr. Hogan said that is part of the next phase of Maryland’s gradual reopening, though it isn’t clear when that might take effect.

For the hundreds of Ocean City businesses, reopening can’t come soon enough, says Susan Jones, executive director of the Hotel Motel Restaurant Association. A “we’re ready for you” publicity campaign spotlights stepped-up sanitizing and other health measures. One reason Ms. Jones says she feels optimistic is that the town’s wide beach makes social distancing easier.

Kids run along the beaches as families distance themselves along the boardwalk on May 13.
Kids run along the beaches as families distance themselves along the boardwalk on May 13.

Gabriella Demczuk for The Wall Street Journal

Adam Showell Sr., majority owner of Ocean City’s Castle in the Sand Hotel, said while he expects gross sales to drop, he anticipates typical net income, thanks to a roughly $500,000 forgivable loan under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, deferred mortgage payments, scaled-back renovation plans and loyal guests.

“It was catastrophic two months ago when all this started coming down. I was scared to death. Now I’m definitely optimistic,” Mr. Showell said.

The 181-room beachfront hotel is set to reopen Friday, and general manager Adam Showell Jr. said he hopes it to be about half full.

One concern is out-of-town visitors could bring the coronavirus with them to Ocean City, causing an outbreak in an area largely spared by the pandemic so far.

“If we get a spike in cases, we’re all in for a rude awakening,” said Jeff Hicks, Castle in the Sand’s food-and-beverage general manager, taking a break from power-washing patio chairs.

“We just have to mitigate that risk as much as possible,” Mr. Showell Jr. replied.

The lobby counter has large Purell dispensers and a bucket-like container that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize room keys. A rack of tourist brochures has been removed, and a sign instructs people not to sit in the chairs. Staff will take employees’ temperature daily and spray guest rooms with disinfectant.

Lenny Sawicki, a 64-year-old retiree from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., said he still plans to spend a week in July at the hotel, a family tradition since the early 1990s.

“It’s not going to stop us from a vacation,” he said of the pandemic.

Marshall Coulbourne, left, who has been employed at the restaurant for over thirty years, stocks drinks at the Dough Roller.
Marshall Coulbourne, left, who has been employed at the restaurant for over thirty years, stocks drinks at the Dough Roller.

Gabriella Demczuk for The Wall Street Journal

Marie Ferguson of Towson, Md., said it is far too soon for a beach vacation. She and nine members of her family canceled their weeklong Ocean City condo stay.

“Everywhere you go it’s packed,” said Ms. Ferguson, 50. “They’re not going to wear masks at the beach. It’s not going to happen.”

On a sunny mid-May afternoon, Egan O’Brien, 48, of Annapolis, Md., relaxed next to Ocean City’s mostly empty beach. He said he usually visits several times a summer but doesn’t know if he can afford to this year because he lost his restaurant job in the shutdown and now earns less as a grocery store cashier.

Visitors walk along the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., on May 13.
Visitors walk along the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., on May 13.

Gabriella Demczuk for The Wall Street Journal

Many local businesses are getting ready for whatever is in store. At Bahia Marina, fuel pumps are on and boats can be rented. Fish Tales, its nearly 400-seat restaurant, is open for takeout. Tables and chairs are stacked up in the parking lot in preparation for when reduced outdoor seating is allowed.

“This year is hold-on-to-what-you-got. Our goal is to make it to next year to be able to open up again,” co-owner Shawn Harman said. If he can operate Fish Tales at 75% capacity by July, he said, “it won’t be a great year, but we’ll manage.”

At the Dough Roller, near the foot of the boardwalk, masked cashiers take carryout orders from behind plexiglass. Mr. Gibbs has cordoned off some booths and tables so customers would be able to maintain distance once he can open the dining room, which accounts for 60% of receipts. The restaurant, one of five his family owns locally, also has a small outdoor seating area.

Weak sales this summer will spell trouble not only for his family’s restaurants, he said, but for merchants all over town. “It could be a bloodbath here in the winter,” he said.

Beachgoers walk toward the boardwalk at Ocean City, Md., on May 13.
Beachgoers walk toward the boardwalk at Ocean City, Md., on May 13.

Gabriella Demczuk for The Wall Street Journal

The post For Beach Towns, Coronavirus Means a Make or Break Summer Starts Now appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Dive Into These Pool Games for Kids

Turn up the fun in the pool with these games and floats.

Turn up the fun in the pool with these games and floats. (Unsplash/)

Adding fun inflatables and games is a great way to keep everyone happy and entertained while in the pool. However, you do want to be a little choosy on what you purchase. Quality materials are important for longevity, because nobody wants a game or toy that breaks on the first use. In addition, safety should be a top priority, too.

A few tips to keep in mind when purchasing pool toys for your family include:

  • Keep the size of the object in mind. If it is meant to last more than one season, you’ll want to have a plan for storing it in the winter months, which can be difficult with bulky items.
  • Look at sturdiness and construction. Some inflatables are only meant to last a season or a few uses, while other diving toys can go for multiple summers.
  • Be aware of any choking hazards. Young children often put things in their mouths, including pool toys and games. Ensure you’re selecting items that are appropriate for a specific intended age group.
  • Have fun with it. There are numerous different styles and options to choose from, so select a variety of items to help keep the attention of everyone in your household.
  • Be aware of pet interference. Some toys, such as beach balls or inflatables, look like fun to dogs. This can lead to popping or damage. Choose items that might not look so appealing to your pet.

This sturdy and brightly colored aquatic volleyball kit is designed for hours of family fun in the sun.

This sturdy and brightly colored aquatic volleyball kit is designed for hours of family fun in the sun. (Intex/)

Designed for ages six and up, this pool volleyball set is sure to bring hours of family fun and memories to your summer. Made from sturdy 10-gauge vinyl, the inflatable net features grommets for anchor weights to help keep it firmly in place during play. An included inflatable volleyball, repair kit, and shelf box help round out the kit.

Dunk and toss to your heart’s desire with this pool version of hoops.

Dunk and toss to your heart’s desire with this pool version of hoops. (Swimline/)

Who needs a court when you have a swimming pool and this inflatable basketball hoop? Simply toss the included inflatable basketball into the top to score or use one of the many accessible side ports. Durable construction makes this a great item to use all summer long.

Entertain your children and improve their overall swimming skills with this game.

Entertain your children and improve their overall swimming skills with this game. (Water Sport/)

This collection of three inflatable rings hold steady in the pool and present a fun challenge of swimming through them while underwater. Colorful fish and turtles adorn the top markers to make the location of each one easy to see within the pool. Designed for ages 8 and up.

Let your little one dive and play all summer long with this fun collection of brightly colored swim toys.

Let your little one dive and play all summer long with this fun collection of brightly colored swim toys. (Joyin/)

Sometimes the best swim games are the ones you make up on your own and this pool set definitely makes that possible. Whether your little ones are having a competition to see who can get the most rings at the bottom of the pool or want to race the underwater torpedoes, there are enough items in this 18-piece set to please.

In Airbnb Hubs, Furnished Short-Term Rentals Are Now Pouring Onto the Market

Downtown Nashville and a luxury rental

Jason Kempin/Getty Images/realtor.com

The sweeping shutdowns across the U.S. intended to keep the coronavirus pandemic in check have been devastating to the economy—and especially anything related to travel, as pretty much everything one would do on a vacation was put on pause. Even as states are slowly opening up, many of those recreational activities remain off-limits—or people are reluctant to come out and do them. After all, not only is there the lingering threat of catching a deadly disease, but many people have lost their jobs—or are worried that layoffs still might be coming.

Travel searches for all popular U.S. vacation destinations dropped by 64% in March and April 2020 compared with the same time last year, according to a survey released last week by RentCafe. And a survey by Guesty, a rental property software company, of nearly 400 property management companies found that 64% of respondents said that cancellations were up by 76% to 100% compared with the same time last year. Nearly a third said they expect a 51% to 75% decrease in revenue for the year.

The vacation home rental market, dominated by such players as Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway, has taken a huge hit as a result. Over time, renting out a home or homes for visitors became a full-time gig, and a substantial form of income for many owners—which is what makes the crash of the vacation economy so devastating. Many homeowners who had relied on rental income have been forced to either try to sell their homes or completely revamp their business model to stay afloat.

So what are they doing to stay afloat? Instead of raking in relatively high per-night rents, some rental home owners are turning to leasing out their fully furnished properties for longer terms, up to three months. It portends a big shift in the market.

“COVID-19 is a terrible crisis in so many ways,” says professor David Wachsmuth, who studies home-sharing platforms at McGill University’s School of Urban Planning. “One of the things we’re seeing is a remarkable collapse of the short-term rental market, particularly in cities. The viability of running dedicated Airbnb operations is not looking good right now.”

To figure out which places have been hardest-hit by the collapse of home-sharing platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway, the realtor.com® economics team ran an analysis of the metros where furnished short-term rentals are now flooding the market—where they are shifting away from their mainstay: night-by-night rentals.

Looking at the 100 largest metros in the United States, the team scoured single-family homes, condos, townhomes, apartments, and other multifamily housing for keywords that identified furnished short-term properties. The metros eligible for analysis had at least 100 furnished short-term rentals in the last week of April, based on realtor.com data. The inventory growth trends were calculated by comparing the last week of February with the last week of April.

While there’s no way to know for sure whether the influx of furnished rentals available for less than three months has come straight from home-sharing platforms, they are unusual in the general rental market—so there’s reason to believe these new listings are overflow from Airbnb and VRBO inventory. And the markets that were unfortunate enough to make it into our top 10 are classic getaways for business and leisure. According to RentCafe’s survey, city trips fell among preferences from the first choice before the pandemic to the fourth after the coronavirus upended normal life.

Infographic: metros with short term rentals on the rise
Where short-term rentals are pouring onto the market

realtor.com

No summer fun in the city this year

A pair of nightlife hot spots saw the biggest increases in furnished short-term rentals in the United States: Nashville, TN, with a whopping 185% leap, and Austin, TX, with 160%.

The famously lively destinations lure millions of visitors a year eager to listen to live music in densely packed bars and dine at bustling eateries. While Nashville is partly reopening with bars and restaurants at 50% capacity, Austin’s stay-at-home order is still in effect until May 30.

Tennessee is allowing restaurants to open at 50% capacity. Here, a waitress wears rubber gloves and a mask at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant in Franklin, just outside Nashville.
Tennessee is allowing restaurants to open at 50% capacity. Here, a waitress wears rubber gloves and a mask at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant in Franklin, just outside Nashville.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise that short-term rental owners are seeking alternative tenants. The owners of these furnished units are either renting to folks in between homes—in Nashville, 1,000 residents were displaced in early March after a tornado sliced through town—or trying to sell.

“I’m seeing more furnished listings on the market [for sale],” says Sher Powers, a spokesperson for the Greater Nashville Realtors who is also owner of a short-term rental.

A car drives down Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
A car drives down Bourbon Street in New Orleans on a Saturday, when it would normally be crowded with revelers.

Bryan Tarnowski/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just as short-term rental owners in Austin took a big hit when South by Southwest got canceled in mid-March, New Orleans’ landlords got slammed with financial losses by the cancellation of Jazz Fest. (The city’s notorious Mardi Gras celebrations, which take place over the month leading up to the Feb. 25 holiday, have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus.)

The number of furnished rentals being offered for longer stays in New Orleans shot up 48%—sixth highest in the U.S.—though, it probably would’ve been far higher had local governments not banned nearly all short-term rentals six months ago.

Since December, stays of fewer than 30 days are allowed only in commercial zones or if the owner lives on-site.

“It’s causing [rental] prices to fall in areas that had a lot of short-term rentals,” says Brett Richman, broker and owner of Nola Homes Co. “Landlords are heading for dark times. They’re used to getting, like, $5,000 a month and now are looking for tenants for $1,200 per month.”

The correction has been much-needed for local renters in these popular vacation cities. A recent study estimated that of all the rent increases over a multiyear timeline, one-fifth could be attributed to Airbnb, says Wachsmuth: “That’s a crazy number.”

Traditional family vacation spots are a no-go

The kids are out of school, but family-friendly getaways have been shut down just like everywhere else.

For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, Walt Disney World closed for something other than a hurricane. And on March 27, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned vacation rentals for stays shorter than 30 days, across the state. Hotels are open, but property owners are unable to take new short-term reservations. On Friday, the governor opened the door to allowing such rentals on a county-by-county basis.

Walt Disney World in Orlando has been closed since March 16.
Walt Disney World in Orlando has been closed since March 16.

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Orlando has seen an 82% increase in furnished rentals being marketed for over 30 days, the third-highest in the nation. While the owners of these sorts of properties are taking a hit, the swell in inventory is actually a positive for locals in the steadily growing metro—whose population has increased nearly 20% in the past decade—as there is a huge demand for affordable rental units throughout Orlando and the Interstate Highway 4 corridor.

The Realty Medics, an Orlando-based rental agency, has seen a 30% increase in rental applications this April compared with April of last year. Broker Tommy Weclew has been approached by some of these short-term unit owners to help find long-term tenants to pay the bills.

Built for visiting families, these apartment-style places—in touristy areas right around the parks in Kissimmee—often feature five bedrooms, five bathrooms, kitchens with granite countertops, and splashy community pools.

“The people renting them for a year are getting a really nice, unique experience for a rental house,” Weclew says. “It’s a whole different experience.”

A police officer walks outside of the closed Alamo in San Antonio, TX.
A police officer walks outside of the closed Alamo in San Antonio, TX.

Mark Felix / AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, San Antonio, TX, has long been a favorite urban getaway when school’s out for summer—its Sea World, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the Alamo, and famous River Walk offer something for everyone. Normally at this time of year, Airbnb rentals often fill up on weekends with families for leisurely vacations, weddings, and graduations, but now bookings have been canceled through June.

San Antonio earned the No. 6 spot on the list of places with the biggest jump in furnished short-term rentals, with a 49% increase. The folks who have been taking advantage of these more affordable short-term rentals tend to be relocating for a job or changing homes.

“We’re getting people in transition from selling a home and trying to move into another home,” says Ruth Horace, a short-term rental owner and agent with Keller Williams Legacy in San Antonio. “Instead of a couple of days, we’re seeing a few weeks at a time.”

Waterside getaways also see a slump

Nearby Jacksonville, FL, in the No. 9 slot, has also seen a wave of longer-term furnished listings resulting from the short-term rental ban. Furnished rental listings have increased 42% since COVID-19 shut down the Sunshine State.

People access Jacksonville Beach in Florida.
People access Jacksonville Beach in Florida.

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Though the Gateway to Florida itself isn’t necessarily known as a vacation hot spot, the metro area encompasses several family-friendly, coastal communities where visitors rent out entire homes to enjoy the balmy ocean breeze. That includes Jacksonville Beach and St. Marys, across the state line in Georgia and just a ferry ride from Cumberland Island National Seashore. But throughout the two-state metro area, the vacation rental market has effectively died since March, local hosts say—in spite of Georgia lifting its short-term rental ban in late April.

Although these areas are attempting to lure tourists back, experts aren’t expecting to see visitors or vacation rentals pick back up anytime soon.

“It’s going to be a while,” says Wachsmuth. “It’s not an Airbnb-specific problem; it’s the tourism industry as a whole.”

The lack of tourism has crossed the Pacific, too. The family-friendly beach towns around Hawaii have seen their COVID-19 caseloads dwindle over the past two weeks—most likely due to the 14-day quarantine implemented for travelers entering the archipelago.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell recently extended the quarantine order to June 30 for the metro. The lack of holidaymakers has prompted many short-term rental owners to list their places for longer stays. Honolulu ranked at No. 8, with a 47% increase in furnished listings.

Though there has been a 40% drop in vacation searches for Honolulu since lockdown began, it actually is considered one of the most resilient vacation destinations in the U.S. by the folks at RentCafe, as that drop is far lower than other popular travel spots. Nationally, the most popular vacation destinations in the before times have experienced a 64% decrease in travel searches from last spring.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Wakiki Beach resort stands next to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Wakiki Beach resort stands next to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Marie Eriel Hobro/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bridgeport, CT, an upscale waterside metro of another stripe, has also seen an uptick in furnished short-term rentals hitting the market—the 10th highest in the nation, at 35%. Many of the wealthy towns that make up Connecticut’s Gold Coast on the Long Island Sound have banned rentals under 30 days and asked new arrivals to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

But the furnished longer-term listings in Westport, New Canaan, Darien, and similarly well-to-do ZIP codes are getting snapped up by New Yorkers desperately seeking an escape from the cramped COVID-19 epicenter of the United States for the next three to five months. Demand actually outpaces supply—especially for the homes that are so luxe there’s no need to leave the property.

“Right now in Fairfield County there are only five summer furnished rentals with a pool,” says Matt Murray, real estate salesperson with the Higgins Group. “The pricing ranges from about $7,000 to $75,000 per month for the summer.”

It’s these types of suburban and rural areas just outside major cities that have been better poised to weather the storm of fewer weekend warriors.

“The flow of new reservation requests has dropped by only 10% to 20% in U.S. suburban and rural areas,” Omer Rabin, a director at Guesty, recently told Forbes. “This is in comparison to a more than 50% decline in new reservations in urban markets (and a decline of over 70% in highly impacted markets).”

No convening at these convention centers

The Las Vegas metro, which has varying short-term rental restrictions from municipality to municipality (some of which come with $1,000 penalties for noncompliance), has seen the fourth-highest increase in furnished listings, up 56% as demand for yearlong leases has been skyrocketing.

“It seems like as soon as something becomes available, I get three or four people wanting to rent it,” says George Trombley, broker of leasing at 10 Blackbird Realty & Management. “I have a waiting list for the first time in 10 years.”

A gaming area is closed at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
A gaming area is closed at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

And Chicago, like Vegas a longtime hub for conventions and travelers seeking an accessible urban experience, follows right behind Vegas with a 49% increase in furnished short-term rentals. The Second City has not been as hard-hit by COVID-19 as New York, but with a thriving nightlife and a densely packed population, it most certainly hasn’t been immune to the virus.

Even landlords and management companies that focus on yearlong leases are becoming more flexible with tenants, extending leases until the stay-at-home order is lifted or offering deals to renew.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t want to deal with the situation whatsoever,” says Maurice Ortiz, director of operations at Apartment People. “They don’t want people coming through their apartments, don’t want to look at apartments—some are just moving home and hunkering down with family until this clears up.”

Here’s the complete list of the 10 metros where furnished short-term rentals have increased the most, with the percentage increase:

  1. Nashville, TN, 185%
  2. Austin, TX, 160%
  3. Orlando, FL, 82%
  4. Las Vegas, NV, 56%
  5. Chicago, IL, 49%
  6. San Antonio, TX, 49%
  7. New Orleans, LA, 48%
  8. Honolulu, HI, 47%
  9. Jacksonville, FL, 42%
  10. Bridgeport, CT, 35%

The post In Airbnb Hubs, Furnished Short-Term Rentals Are Now Pouring Onto the Market appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.