15 New Reality TV Shows That’ll Inspire Your Real Estate Dreams in 2021

reality TV

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2020 was a tough year, but there was a silver lining: With so much time spent inside, people had a chance to really focus on their homes and make them as functional, comfortable, and beautiful as can be.

So it’s a good thing we have so many great real estate reality shows on HGTV, Netflix, Bravo, and beyond to keep us not only entertained, but also inspired with tips to take our living spaces to the next level.

Whether you’re a fan of “Property Brothers,” “Flip or Flop,” or some other favorite from the past, rest assured that many of these hits are returning next year. But 2021 also brings a slew of brand-spanking-new shows—with fresh faces and ideas—that you might want to add to your binge-watching repertoire.

Curious about what new shows you can enjoy in the new year? Check out these noteworthy picks (air dates listed if available), and learn which one (or few) is perfect for you.

1. ‘Ty Breaker’

Carpenter Ty Pennington rose to fame as the host of “Trading Spaces” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” and now he’s heading back to TV with his new HGTV show, “Ty Breaker,” which will premiere on Jan. 11.

In this series, Pennington is joined by HGTV stars Alison Victoria (“Windy City Rehab”), Grace Mitchell (“One of a Kind”), and Sabrina Soto (“The High Low Project”), who rotate as the show’s guest designers as Pennington helps conflicted homeowners decide whether to fix up their current home or start over with a new place.

This show is perfect for people torn between embarking on a big renovation or a big move, exploring the challenges and rewards of both paths.

2. ‘Home Town: Ben’s Workshop’

Ben Napier is known for his HGTV show “Home Town,” where he and his wife, Erin Napier, rehab old homes in Mississippi. In the show, Ben is always building custom furnishings to make the houses feel more like home—and now he’s getting his own show where he’ll get to focus on those crafty creations.

In this new Discovery+ series out on Jan. 4, Ben will be joined by celebrity guests as he shares his expertise in carpentry and craftsmanship. This show is sure to be a win for “Home Town” fans and carpentry buffs alike.

3. ‘Home Town Takeover’

It looks like the Napiers will have a busy 2021. In addition to Ben’s new solo show, the couple will premiere a new HGTV series, “Home Town Takeover,” where they renovate an entire town.

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Watch: Exclusive: HGTV’s Orlando Soria Gives Us a Tour of His Home

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The town they chose for this season is the community of Wetumpka, AL, which has a population of just 8,278. That may be small, but transforming the whole neighborhood is nonetheless a massive undertaking. Take a look if you’re curious about what goes into transforming the community outside your own front door.

4. ‘Frozen in Time’

Frozen In Time Promo from HGTV House Party

Frozen In Time is coming to @hgtv soon! Maureen McCormick and I are still finishing the last couple houses and each episode will have something for everyone. Something old and something new! @glassentertainment #hgtv #frozenintime #renovationshow #retro #midcentury #interiordesign #50s #60s #70s

Posted by Dan Vickery on Tuesday, January 14, 2020

“Frozen in Time” follows designer Dan Vickery and Maureen McCormick (who played Marcia in “The Brady Bunch”) as they team up to fix old Southern California homes that are stuck in the past. They’ll take homes that were built in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s and modernize them—while still preserving their vintage charm.

Fans of stuck-in-a-time-warp old homes will love seeing them morph into modern marvels on Discovery+ on Jan. 4.

5. ‘Restoration Road’

Chip and Joanna Gaines are premiering many great new series on their Magnolia Network, but one—”Restoration Road”—stands out since it stars an old “Fixer Upper” friend.

The show follows Clint Harp, who’s best known for his furniture creations on “Fixer Upper,” as he travels the country in search of the most exciting restoration and renovation projects, like run-down barns and historic inns. It’s a can’t-miss for those interested in extreme fixer-uppers and beautiful destinations across the country.

6. ‘Bespoke Kitchens’

Another one of Chip and Jo’s new Magnolia shows, “Bespoke Kitchens,” follows Paul O’Leary, a furniture designer, and Helen Parker, an interior designer, as they whip up the most beautiful kitchen spaces.

This show is a perfect choice for any homeowner who cooks up a storm, and wants to make their kitchen even more functional and fabulous than ever.

7. ‘Home Work’

While Chip and Joanna have so many exciting shows coming to Magnolia, “Home Work” speaks specifically to families who are outgrowing their homes. In this show, parents of seven Candis and Andy Meredith take an old schoolhouse and make it their dream home via some genius renovations. It’s sure to inspire all who need to find clever ways to carve out more space at home for a nursery, home office, or otherwise.

8. ‘Home Again With the Fords’

You may know Steve and Leanne Ford from HGTV’s “Restored By the Fords,” but in 2021, this brother and sister team is expanding its empire with another HGTV show.

“Home Again With the Fords” will follow the Fords as they help clients renovate their childhood homes. Anyone who’s ever dreamed of making over their childhood home will love how the Fords update these spaces while preserving treasured family memories.

9. ‘Everything But the House’

Need some organization motivation for the new year? Lara Spencer, host of HGTV’s “Flea Market Flip,” will star in “Everything But the House,” where she helps homeowners declutter and arrange their belongings, and even auction off some surprisingly valuable items hiding in attics and basements. Whether you’re curious if your antiques are worth something or just eager to let them go, here’s that kick in the pants you need.

10. ‘Cabin Crew’

Have you ever dreamed of living in a cozy cabin? Then you’ll dig HGTV’s “Cabin Crew,” where husband and wife Ben and Loana Sargent transform old Vermont cabins and cottages into fabulous dream homes. It’s a must-see for anyone who wants a little house in the woods that’s decked out with all the luxuries of modern life.

11. ‘Fresh Starter’

Not all homeowners have big budgets, which is why HGTV’s “Fresh Starter” stars couple Austin Coleman and Raisa Kuddus as they help young clients create custom starter homes on small budgets. If you want to renovate on a shoestring, this show will give you plenty of ideas.

12. ‘Self-Made Mansions’

While “Fresh Starter” focuses on starter homes, “Self-Made Mansions” is all about luxury living. This new HGTV series stars Clinton Kelly (from “What Not To Wear”), who helps self-made millionaires find the perfect home. It’s a must-watch for those looking for high-end real estate, but it’s also perfect for those who just like to dream.

13. ‘My Lottery Dream Home International’

If you won millions in the lottery, you’d buy a palatial mansion abroad, right? In HGTV’s “My Lottery Dream Home International,” British interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen will help lottery winners find their dream home in Europe. It’s perfect for those fantasizing about an overseas escape in 2021.

14. ‘Unfinished Business’

Have you ever started a home project and failed to finish it? HGTV’s “Unfinished Business” is all about those halfway done projects. In the series, contractor Tom Reber will help families finally complete their handy home undertakings—timely inspiration for viewers dragging their feet on those quarantine upgrades they swear they’ll do someday.

15. ‘Inside out’

In quarantine, many Americans realized just how important outside space can be. And HGTV’s new show “Inside Out,” starring designer Carmine Sabatella and landscaper Mike Pyle, provides plenty of ideas to make the most of your home—inside and out. From jungle gyms to fire pits to pools and beyond, these renovations are great fuel for anyone with a large backyard and no idea what to do with it.

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Pending Home Sales Fall for a Third Straight Month as Buyers Struggle To Gain Traction

MW-pending-home-sales-fall-dec30

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The numbers: Contract signings for home sales fell for the third consecutive month in November — another indication of the challenges prospective home buyers are facing.

The index of pending home sales dropped 2.6% in November after declines in both October and September, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The index measures real-estate transactions in which a contract is signed, but the sale had not yet closed.

Compared to last year, though, pending sales were still up more than 16%, showing the market’s continued resilience in spite of a severe shortage of homes for sale and fast-rising prices.

What happened: Pending sales fell across all major regions, unlike the month prior.

The largest decrease occurred in the West, where contract signings fell by 4.7%. The Northeast was next, followed by the Midwest and the South.

The big picture: The pending home sales index is the latest report to illustrate the difficulties home buyers are encountering in the housing market these days.

“The market is incredibly swift this winter with the listed homes going under contract on average at less than a month due to a backlog of buyers wanting to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates,” Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, said in the report.

As has been the case for much of this year, there has been a serious shortage of homes for sale as sellers have remained reluctant to put their properties on the market. But demand is still up — both because of record-low mortgage rates and shifting preferences toward the suburbs.

The combination of low supply and high demand has pushed prices higher, which could be making home buying unaffordable for a growing swath of Americans.

What they’re saying: “After a tumultuous year that involved a huge drop in sales, followed by a quick rebound to new highs, November’s pending home sales suggest that the housing market is easing, taking a step back from the brisk fall when both spring make-up buying and fundamental interest drove sales higher,” said Danielle Hale, the chief economist at Realtor.com.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both rose in Wednesday trades.

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Lots of Homes Under $100K Are for Sale, but Most Buyers Can’t Get One for This Reason

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Across the nation, home prices have shot up to unheard-of heights even during the pandemic—because there are still people hunting for homes (preferably with their own yard and space for an office and home-schooling), but not enough inventory available.

Yet there are pockets of the country where the real estate market is still struggling. Oddly enough, these are places where folks can become homeowners for under $100,000— and spend less each month on homeownership than they do on rent.  There is just one big problem: Even buyers who can qualify for a mortgage, often can’t get one.

That’s because it’s typically not profitable for lenders to do small-dollar mortgages, as loans at $100,000 or less are called. And the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic may have made things worse, as lenders are even more focused on larger, more lucrative mortgages. The upshot is that would-be buyers in many communities of color, which tend to be lower-income, are unable to achieve homeownership and set on a path of building wealth.

Instead, investors who don’t live in these communities swoop in and scoop up properties in all-cash deals. The homes are then turned into rentals, with predominantly Black and Hispanic tenants who may pay hundreds of dollars more each month than they would on a mortgage. And the neighborhood suffers as locals aren’t as invested in upkeep and advocating for more resources.

“Black and Hispanic people in particular have been left out of this wealth-building opportunity,” says Sheryl Pardo, a spokeswoman for the Urban Institute, a Washington, DC–based think tank. “It’s important [to offer more small-dollar mortgages] in this era where we’re recognizing the severity of the racial wealth gap and finally trying to do something about it.”

There are plenty of more affordable homes out there. In November, there were more than 50,100 listings nationwide for single-family homes priced at $100,000 or less on realtor.com®. And they aren’t all foreclosures and teardowns.

The listings are often in smaller or midsize cities, particularly ones where the local economy has suffered. (For example, there were nearly 800 single-family homes in the city of Detroit listed for below $100,000 on realtor.com as of Dec. 22.) But these homes are also easy to find in the suburbs as well as in rural areas, where land and real estate are typically cheaper.

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Watch: As the Year Winds Down, Signs of an Economic Slowdown

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Despite the prevalence of these homes, just 8.9% of all mortgages made for owner-occupied homes were less than $100,000 in 2019, according to federal data collected through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The rest are mostly cash sales.

Last year, nearly 475,000 homes priced below $80,000 were sold, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Of those sales, about 43%, or around 200,000, were financed with a mortgage.

“The lack of lending activity and access to credit for communities of color is a barrier of building wealth and is an example of inequity in the system,” says Gabe del Rio, CEO of the Homeownership Council of America. The national council provides technical assistance for smaller lenders such as credit unions and nonprofit organizations. “People who live in these areas and want to purchase in these ares should be able to [do so].”

The pandemic made it harder to receive a small-dollar mortgage

The pandemic, and the ensuing economic pain and high unemployment that it caused, has made it even harder for lower-income borrowers to receive small-dollar loans.

Business is booming at most lenders thanks to record-low mortgage interest rates and the rush of buyers entering the market. With a backlog of both buyers and existing homeowners seeking to refinance their mortgages, lenders can be pickier over the business they accept. That means borrowers seeking less profitable loans are more likely to lose out.

“It may be more difficult than ever for borrowers to get a [more modest] loan,” says Nadia Evangelou, a senior economist and director of forecasting at the National Association of Realtors®. “There’s such a high demand for high-dollar loans.”

The number of purchase loans was up 26.3% annually in the week ending Dec. 18, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey of lenders. Refinances of existing mortgages, which allow homeowners to lock in a lower rate, were up 124.3% year over year.

But the average purchase loan was for $376,800 in the week ending Dec. 18—nearly four times higher than a small-dollar loan. That means those looking for a less expensive, humbler loan are competing for lenders’ attention with wealthier borrowers with stronger credit scores seeking much larger, pricier mortgages.

At the same time, lenders have become choosier over whom they approve as the nation grapples with a shaky economy and high unemployment. They don’t want to lend money to borrowers who ultimately can’t repay it and go into foreclosure. So they’re tightening the purse strings. That’s hurting those seeking lower amounts of money.

Why it costs more money to lend less money

Making small-dollar loans became more expensive for lenders after the housing crash in the late aughts, says Steve O’Connor. He’s the senior vice president for affordable housing initiatives at the Mortgage Bankers Association, a national trade group. New regulations were implemented to prevent another financial crisis—and they cost the lender more.

“The cost to originate [these loans] keeps going up,” he says.

Some more traditional mortgage firms will make the smaller loans, such as Essex Mortgage, an Orange, CA–based firm that lends in 30 states. Essex President Roland Weedon figures these clients will eventually trade up to larger, more expensive homes and come back to them for the mortgages. The real estate agents of these customers may also be grateful to recommend their services to clients purchasing more expensive properties.

But at Essex, loan officers are typically paid by earning 1% of the value of the mortgages they make. That means they’re making just $700 for a $70,000 loan and $7,000 for a $700,000 one—for the same amount of work.

However, they may not get that full $700. Fees are supposed to make up only a certain percentage of a loan. If they exceed that threshold, a loan officer’s commission may be cut. So when adding in other fixed costs, such as appraisal, processing, and underwriting fees, lenders may lose money on making the loans, particularly those below $50,000, says Weedon.

“There are hard costs involved in processing a loan,” he says.

A small-dollar lending program runs into obstacles

However, even with the best intentions, the challenges are steep.

The Urban Institute, along with the Homeownership Council of America and lender Fahe, launched the MicroMortgage Marketplace. It began offering small-dollar loans over the summer. The pilot program has $2 million in funding to make mortgages in three counties in the Louisville, KY, metropolitan area.

“This is giving access to affordable credit,” says Homeownership Council of America’s del Rio. “It’s a game changer.”

If the pilot is successful, the group hopes to eventually expand. However, the program has yet to make a loan.

Berea, KY–based Fahe, which lends in 15 states, received just four applications for its 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. Three borrowers were denied due to weak credit or high debt, and one applicant found another loan.

That’s despite the loans not requiring a down payment or mortgage insurance. Borrowers can also use alternative credit scores, which look at things like paying rent and utility bills on time, to qualify.

One of the main challenges is that loans in the program came with high mortgage rates around 4.5% for the 30-year fixed-rate loans—at a time when rates have fallen to record lows. Fahe has since brought rates down to 3.99%. However, that’s still significantly higher than the average rate of 2.67% in the week ending Dec. 17, according to Freddie Mac.

Those high rates may be dissuading some buyers from applying. Others may not know about the program, which has been marketed mainly through word of mouth and outreach to local nonprofit groups and real estate agents. Fahe plans to do more formal marketing in the new year.

“There is a lot of affordable housing out there,” says the Urban Institute’s Pardo. “But if you don’t have the financing and you can’t get the mortgage and you don’t have the cash on hand, [you can’t] get on the road to homeownership.”

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Where the Yule Log Burns Bright: 11 Homes With 7 Fireplaces or More

Homes with multiple fireplaces

Ron and Patty Thomas/Getty Images

Getting chestnuts roasted isn’t a problem within the walls of any of these 11 toasty houses.

We put a log on the fire and poked through listings nationwide to find homes with a minimum of seven fireplaces. The homes we’ve found do more than provide heat—they also offer a veritable smorgasbord of choice chimneys for Santa to slide down, as well as oodles of acres of mantels for hanging stuffed stockings.

The home we spotted with the most fireplaces is in the unlikely location of Southern California—an area where icicles and frost are not an issue. This Spanish-style home in San Diego County boasts a whopping 18 fireplaces, including outdoor fire bowls flanking the pool.

Quite apart from that outlier, we also found a number of antique Colonials and Victorians with double-digit hearths. Which makes sense, since these residences relied on fireplaces to keep their cavernous rooms livable in the winter.

So whether you’re huddled up around a Duraflame, an outdoor fire pit, or the televised Yule Log, we know you’ll want to unwrap these addresses with fireplaces galore and holiday spirit to spare.

Happy holidays!

4750 Warner Hall Rd, Gloucester, VA

Price: $4,500,000
Fireplace count: 14
Warner Hall: This grand property is said to have been established in 1643. The 38-acre estate has a compound of residences running along the Severn River, including a restored 16,210-square-foot Colonial Revival manor house with 10-foot ceilings and 14 fireplaces.

The property also offers a carriage house and river cottage, as well as gardens and patios. According to the listing details, the home would make a magnificent family estate or bed-and-breakfast.

Gloucester, VA
Gloucester, VA

realtor.com

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211 W. Gwinnett St, Savannah, GA

Price: $1,100,000
Fireplace count: 9
Southern belle: This historic Savannah home in a brilliant pink dates to 1884 and has been featured in a number of publications. The five-bedroom home is one of the most popular Airbnbs in Savannah’s Victorian District and features a library, double parlor, stained-glass transoms, and tall ceilings.

Most importantly, it has nine fireplaces, including one in the bathroom. The property also includes the original carriage house with sleeping loft and spiral staircase, for a one-of-a-kind cozy property.

Savannah, GA
Savannah, GA

realtor.com

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615 Bull Moose Ridge Rd, Stowe, VT

Price: $995,000
Fireplace count: 7
Stowe away: Situated on 7 private acres with its own private pond, this mountain retreat is the stuff of Hallmark Christmas movies. When the snow begins to fall outside, there are seven fireplaces for snuggling indoors. Built in 1989, the five-bedroom, farmhouse-style home also boasts a huge country kitchen with its own fireplace.

Stowe, VT
Stowe, VT

realtor.com

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176 Farragut Cir, New Rochelle, NY

Price: $1,698,000
Fireplace count: 9
Seaside haven: This historic half-acre property comes with water views, and residents have access to a private boathouse, docking and mooring rights, and a beach.

Built in 1907, this seven-bedroom home has been fully renovated across its roomy 6,196 square feet. Outside, there are two ponds, a waterfall, two fountains, porches, and balconies.

New Rochelle, NY
New Rochelle, NY

realtor.com

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102 Jones Rd, Hillsborough, NH

Price: $875,000
Fireplace count: 9
Tranquil retreat: According to the listing details, this antique Colonial is priced under appraisal. Built in 1803 and sitting on 25 peaceful acres, the four-bedroom home features a chef-grade kitchen, Indian shutters, and nine fireplaces. Outside, there’s a pool, cabana, outdoor fireplace, and a pond for skating in the winter.

Hillsborough, NH
Hillsborough, NH

realtor.com

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5 Alexander St, Charleston, SC

Price: $1,875,000
Fireplace count: 10
Chancognie House: Right in the heart of town, this three-story charmer dates to 1813. There are two renovated homes on the property that offer a combined 10 fireplaces.

Carefully updated, both homes open to a private, brick-walled garden with walkways, fountain, and a pond. Best of all? The kitchen house still has its original brick fireplace oven.

Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC

realtor.com

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5566 New London Rd, Forest, VA

Price: $979,900
Fireplace count: 10
Ivy Cliff: Built in 1772, this two-story home was the home of the Revolutionary War hero Capt. Henry Brown.

The five-bedroom residence has undergone a total renovation, to marry modern conveniences with historic charm. It has an impressive 10 fireplaces—both wood and gas. Outdoors, the home has more than 1,000 square feet of porches, plus a spring-fed pond with dock.

Forest VA
Forest, VA

realtor.com

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1841 Kehrs Mill Rd, Wildwood, MO

Price: $2,195,000
Fireplace count: 10
Wills Trace subdivision: Secluded on a gated and private 5-acre parcel, this stately brick mansion offers nine bedrooms, 12,807 square feet, and 10 fireplaces.

Built in 1991, the grand residence also has tall ceilings, a hearth room off the kitchen, a formal study, and a two-story guest apartment. Outside, there’s a magical secret garden, a six-car garage, and porte-cochère.

Wildwood, MO
Wildwood, MO

realtor.com

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382 Boston Post Rd, Amherst, NH

Price: $999,900
Fireplace count: 11
Fletcher Tavern: A solid post-and-beam Colonial from 1740, this home was once a regular stagecoach stop, a tavern, and even a dairy farm.

Today, it’s a cozy, updated five-bedroom residence with a number of amenities, including a whopping 11 fireplaces, including four with wood stoves. The third floor is finished as a guest floor, including a work and study area.

Amherst, NH
Amherst, NH

realtor.com

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159 Benson St, Hartwell, GA

Price: $425,000
Fireplace count: 11
Oakley: Listed on the National Register of Historic places, this historic Victorian dates to 1892.

The six-bedroom home has been meticulously updated and features an impressive 11 fireplaces with unique mantels—one in almost every room. The second-floor living room has a separate side balcony and oversized windows that let in plenty of natural light.

Hartwell, GA
Hartwell, GA

realtor.com

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6977 Las Colinas, Rancho Santa Fe, CA

Price: $6,795,000
Fireplace count: 18
California Spanish: Built in 1995, this lovely mansion on 3 acres is well-suited for indoor-outdoor living, thanks to an outdoor living room and doors that open wide to the outdoor spaces.

Should you ever need it in this temperate part of the country, the home is kept nice and toasty, with a blockbuster 18 fireplaces. Even the courtyard pool features fire bowls illuminating the poolside bar.

Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Rancho Santa Fe, CA

realtor.com

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All in the Family: How the Pandemic Accelerated the Rise in Multigenerational Living

Extended family sharing breakfast; multigenerational housing

miodrag ignjatovic/Getty Images

Tiffany Lequerique-Considine, 37, and her partner, Steve, 48, were trying to figure out a more supportive living arrangement for his 88-year-old mother at the beginning of this year.

The couple knew that the 10,500-foot elevation of their hometown of Breckenridge, CO, would not be ideal for her health. The family talked about a nursing home, but they weren’t thrilled about the cost and had other concerns—and then COVID-19 struck, highlighting the risks to the vulnerable residents of such facilities.

So the family decided to buy a home on lower ground, in Lequerique-Considine’s home state of Florida. They purchased a duplex in Naples whose two units each had two bedrooms and two baths, plus 3 acres for their horses, for $375,000. A comparable property in Colorado would have cost close to a million dollars.

Steve’s mother packed up her Denver home and moved in July as the couple listed their ranch on the market and Lequerique-Considine sold her business, a hot tub sales and service company, to make the cross-country move in September.

“We knew we were going to have to do something at some point,” says Lequerique Considine. “COVID just pushed it forward.”

Lequerique-Considine and her partner are part of a growing group of American households that count multiple generations under one roof. This trend actually started becoming noticeable several years ago, but the social and economic upheaval of the pandemic has kicked it into a higher gear, as people have lost their jobs and need to conserve money, or want to stay close to elderly relatives without risking visits from the outside. And because of the demographic factors that got this trend going in the first place, this shift in attitude toward home and family is likely here to stay.

After the stay-at-home orders went into effect in many parts of the country in March, there was a 4 percentage point increase in the number of buyers who purchased a multigenerational home, compared with before the pandemic hit, according to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors®. About 15% of buyers opted for a multigenerational home, compared with 11% in the previous year.

“One in six home buyers who purchased during the pandemic purchased a multigenerational home,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “That’s an increase from 1 in 10.”

What does multigenerational housing look like?

These intergenerational homes vary in size and setup. They might be two (or more) attached, fully functional units in a duplex model or one home that offers private kitchens and separate entrances, like a rental unit in a single-family house. They might also be a detached accessory dwelling unit, typically a smaller home, in the backyard of a larger house.

“In our research, we found two key things to make multigenerational housing work better,” says John Graham, co-author of “All in the Family: A Practical Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living” and professor emeritus at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine.

“The hardware requirements were to have separate entrances and separate kitchen facilities,” he adds.

Some of the big homebuilders have taken note. Lennar Corp., CalAtlantic Group, and Toll Brothers have been building and selling large homes with two separate entries, kitchens, living spaces, and, in some cases, more than one garage for more than five years now.

As you might expect, homes intended for more than one family tend to be a little larger, by nearly 22%, according to NAR data. The typical existing home is 1,880 square feet and costs about $270,000. Yet a multigenerational abode is roughly 2,290 square feet and costs about 10.7% more, with a $299,000 price tag.

This year, the No. 1 reason for the uptick in purchasing a multigenerational home was to make space to care for and spend more time with older parents, followed by the cost savings of pooling several incomes, according to NAR’s research.

The figures released by NAR account only for recent purchases. The actual number of intergenerational households that have formed since the start of the pandemic has actually increased by a staggering 61%.

Pew Research Center found that around 6 in 10 adults who have moved since March say they have relocated to a family member’s home. Of those, 41% moved in with their parents or in-laws, 4% moved in with an adult child or in-law, and 16% moved in with another family member.

Younger adults are moving back home—even temporarily

Jacqueline Gamache and her son Marlowe moved in with Gamache’s parents briefly during the pandemic.

Photo provided by Kevin Pickman

Some of these newly formed households may be temporary. Once vaccines become widely available, older Americans may go back to assisted-living facilities and younger adults may return to college campuses or their cramped city apartments. On the other hand, many could opt to make these living arrangements more permanent after realizing the benefits.

“Census data released this summer showed the highest share of young adults 19 to 29 years old are living at home since the Great Depression,” says Lautz.

Though record-high unemployment certainly has something to do with it—18% of the U.S. adults who said they’d moved because of the pandemic say their reason for moving was financial—the reasons for doing so vary from college campuses closing and the ability to work remotely to wanting to spend more time with family during the crisis or reducing their risk of contracting the virus.

Often, it’s a combination of factors. Jacqueline Gamache, 36, her husband, Kevin, and their 2-year-old son ditched their cramped Chicago apartment in early April in favor of Gamache’s parents’ three-story house across the lake in Holland, MI. The plan was to wait out the stay-at-home order for a couple of weeks. The couple ended up staying for two months.

“It wasn’t out of an unfortunate financial event,” says Gamache. “It was for us to manage the needs of a toddler and still be able to go outside.”

While the trend of bringing more than one nuclear family under one roof has soared in 2020, it started long before COVID-19 got everyone thinking about pandemic pods.

The real roots of the rise of multigenerational living

In 2016, a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data found that a record 64 million people—20% of the U.S. population—lived with multiple generations of adults in a single-family home.

“Multigenerational living has been rising since last recession,” says Graham.

The share of Americans cohabiting with family has not been this high since 1950, when 21% of the population shared an address with different generations of their family. That percentage dropped to a low of 12% in 1980 but has seen a dramatic surge since 2008. At that point, it was fueled not by recession but by demographic shifts.

Census data show that Asian, Black, and Hispanic families are more likely to live in multigenerational households than non-Hispanic whites. (Blacks and Hispanics also are more likely than whites to have suffered economically during the pandemic.) In addition, the nation’s population is aging. By 2040, around 1 in 5 Americans will be over the age of 65, up from 1 in 8 in 2000.

Combining households with younger family members is a solution for taking care of the upside-down population pyramid created by the baby boomers, says Graham.

Even before the advent of COVID-19, the age of individuals experiencing homelessness was projected to trend upward until 2030. Much of that is related to the high cost of housing, as more than 10.9 million households spend more than 50% of their income on shelter. Even with record-low interest rates, the cost of buying a home remains stubbornly out of reach amid historically low inventory levels, which push up prices.

In November, the national median listing price was down slightly from the staggering $350,000 in August of this year, to $348,000. That’s still up 12.7% compared with last year, and large metros saw an average price gain of 8.8% compared with the same time period in 2019.

“We need to do things to actually encourage families getting back together,” says Graham. “One of the positive aspects of COVID is its supercharging this return to multigenerational living.”

The post All in the Family: How the Pandemic Accelerated the Rise in Multigenerational Living appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Get Back on the Road with these Great Portable Jump Starters

Don't find yourself stranded on the road. Carry a jump starting kit with you.

Don’t find yourself stranded on the road. Carry a jump starting kit with you. (Clore Automotive/)

It’s one thing to be stuck on the road with a dead car battery if your destination is just around the next bend. But what if you’re traveling lightly-used roads where help isn’t readily available? The solution is to have a ready and able portable jump starter in your vehicle.

Not long ago, lead-acid jump starters were used frequently by towing operators, which were used on vehicles of all shapes and sizes. These starters were large, heavy and a challenge to use safely unless handled by pros. Thankfully, jumpstarting technology took a leap forward when lithium-ion batteries began appearing on the market in 2013. Lighter, compact and more affordable, these jumpstarters can put emergency charging power in any driver’s hands. Before you rush out and get one, take a gander at the jump starters we recommend.

At 2.4 pounds, it’s easy to carry, and a rubberized over-molded casing prevents scratching or marring of surfaces.

At 2.4 pounds, it’s easy to carry, and a rubberized over-molded casing prevents scratching or marring of surfaces. (NOCO/)

Perfect for those who stress over “Is positive red or black?” This jump starter is very safe and easy to use. It features spark-proof technology and reverse polarity protection in case you’ve forgotten which goes where. Powered with a 1000-amp lithium battery, this will also provide up to 20 jump starts on a single charge. It’s highly versatile as it also serves as a portable power bank and LED flashlight. Oh, and by the way, red is positive.

This lead-acid jump starter is for the more robust of operators.

This lead-acid jump starter is for the more robust of operators. (Clore Automotive/)

This starter from Clore Automotive provides a whopping 1700 peak amps, and 425 cranking amps. Its solid and sturdy design means it won’t budge when mounted, and it has ample reach with 46-inch heavy-duty #2 AWG cables, which have industrial grade clamps that penetrate corrosion for the best possible connection. It has a voltmeter that provides the charge status of its onboard battery.

Small enough to store in your glove compartment, it can also jumpstart most vehicles up to 20 times with 800 amps of peak current.

Small enough to store in your glove compartment, it can also jumpstart most vehicles up to 20 times with 800 amps of peak current. (DBPOWER/)

For the moving and shaking business type, this jump starter is both powerful and compact. It is also incredibly safe, with high quality and spray-gold intelligent jumper clamps that provide over-current, short-circuit, overload, over-voltage, and over-charge protection. Equipped with a smart USB port with an 18000 mAh capacity, this jump starter is also perfect for powering up your devices at the fastest speed possible. An LCD screen displays remaining power, and a compass helps you find your way home after closing that deal from the road.

It’ll get the job done for cars, motorcycles, SUVs, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, lawnmowers, and much more.

It’ll get the job done for cars, motorcycles, SUVs, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, lawnmowers, and much more. (NEWPOW/)

This jump starter is the perfect fit for any vehicle, home garage, or cottage getaway. It has a whopping 2500 amps of peak current for 8 L gas or diesel engines. A super-bright on-board LED not only serves as an effective flashlight in the dark, but the alternate blue-red light also functions as a serviceable traffic hazard warning in the event of an accident; a multifunctional life-saver with a SOS signal. Dual USB 3.0 ports are compatible with almost all USB charging devices. The quick-charge port will enable charging speeds of 1.8 times the speed of a standard port. The lithium-ion battery chip has QDSP (Quick Discharge Start Power) technology, which not only makes it able to withstand challenging and frigid weather conditions, but also makes it three times stronger and more reliable than any other starter with the same specifications.

Weighing in at 5 pounds, this model provides 40 jump starts on a single charge.

Weighing in at 5 pounds, this model provides 40 jump starts on a single charge. (NOCO/)

Power and ruggedness. Those words best describe this jump-starter with a water-resistant enclosure rated at IP65 (“Ingress Protection” ratings define levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies and moisture). It’ll recharge any USB-powered device, and its integrated 400-lumen LED comes in seven light modes, including emergency strobe and SOS.

Our Picks for Great Floor Wax

Creating a clean and shiny floor is as simple as picking the right floor wax.

Creating a clean and shiny floor is as simple as picking the right floor wax. (Pexels/)

Some homeowners still refer to “waxing” the floor even though natural waxers haven’t been used as a floor finish for some 50 years now. Back in the day, floor finishes were made of carnauba waxes, which come from the leaves of a tropical plant that is native to Brazil. This natural wax emulsion blend was combined with a resin so that when buffed, it produced an incredible shine.

In the late 1940s, synthetic wax/polymer finishes were being manufactured. The first finishes produced a high gloss, but were brittle and turned yellow over time. Floor waxes improved with the additive polyethylene (wax-like plastic), which made the finish more durable, easy to buff, and non-brittle.

Today, synthetic materials are much more commonly used in floor finishes than natural waxes. Polymer finishes are synthetic and water-based and produce a dry, bright finish. But you’ll still find some products that rely on trusted and true materials, which are good for the planet. If you’re looking to give your floors some new life, we’ve compiled a few great options for floor wax.

This is ready straight out of the bottle - no mixing, measuring or rinsing.

This is ready straight out of the bottle – no mixing, measuring or rinsing. (Bona/)

This floor cleaner from Bona is excellent for unwaxed and finished hardwood floors as it effectively removes dust, dirt and grime to reveal the floor’s natural beauty. Not only is it residue-free, but its pH neutral formula protects against discoloration. The cleaning formula is water-based for fast-drying, and it is also Greenguard Gold certified, which means it’s safe for your family, pets, and planet with very low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions to improve your indoor air quality.

It can handle hardwood, laminate, vinyl, tile, linoleum, terracotta, and more.

It can handle hardwood, laminate, vinyl, tile, linoleum, terracotta, and more. (Rejuvenate/)

This option from Rejuvenate works well in homes, dorms, and apartments, but also for commercial use. Polymer-based, this floor finish fills in scratches and restores shine and luster, making the floor look new again. It also protects against stains and UV rays that cause fading. An easy mop-on application provides up to 50 percent more traction, which makes it a great finish for high-traffic areas like kitchen and hallway floors. It dries in 45 minutes, but lasts for months.

Oils “feed” the wood while providing a protective coating of beeswax and carnauba wax. It also contains mineral oil and orange oil, which help beautify all woods, whether finished or unfinished.

Oils “feed” the wood while providing a protective coating of beeswax and carnauba wax. It also contains mineral oil and orange oil, which help beautify all woods, whether finished or unfinished. (Howard Products/)

You just had your expensive hardwood floor refinished. Now, it’s just a matter of maintaining that newly restored finish. This conditioner from Howard Products is ideal for enhancing the depth of grain while also providing added protection. It’s also highly versatile, as it can be used not only floors, but on furniture, antiques, and cabinets. The benefits of orange oil aren’t just for wood. It’s also excellent for cutting through grease and grime, and its natural fresh and clean scent helps indoor air quality. Combined with mineral oil, it serves to prevent further drying of the wood and deterioration of the finish.

Designed for finished hardwood, engineered hardwood, vinyl, and laminate floors. It can also be used with refillable squirt mops.

Designed for finished hardwood, engineered hardwood, vinyl, and laminate floors. It can also be used with refillable squirt mops. (Weiman/)

If you have rambunctious pets or kids who love their toys, this is a go-to product as it contains micro-filling technology, which removes scratches. Furthermore, it provides a protective layer to make your surface scratch-resistant. It rejuvenates any finished hardwood floor with a shine and no sticky residue. After using the cleaner, wait 45 minutes to dry. When using the polish, wait at least one hour between first and second coats. The more coats, the longer the shine will last.

Free from aluminum, ammonia, formaldehyde, fragrance, paragon and phthalate, this floor finish also produces a luxurious shine.

Free from aluminum, ammonia, formaldehyde, fragrance, paragon and phthalate, this floor finish also produces a luxurious shine. (Quick Shine/)

This multi-surface cleaner not only produces a great shine, but it’s also very safe for children and pets. It is EPA approved as a Safer Choice Product. It renews and polishes all types of floors, including hardwood, laminate, luxury vinyl tile, luxury vinyl plank, tile, and stone. Before applying, make sure the floor has been cleaned and dusted. Simply squirt on the floor and spread with a mop for a quick and easy application. The floor will dry to a gloss in half an hour. This cleaner also adds a protective layer while filling in micro-scratches, evening out your floor with a brilliant shine.

We Chew Over a Luncheon Loggia in This Week’s 10 Biggest Homes

Biggest homes

realtor.com

We’ve run across many amenities lurking in the halls of massive mansions over the years, but the concept of a luncheon loggia is new to us. In our countdown of the largest homes to land on the market this week, we found a Florida home outfitted with this space specifically designed to consume your midday repast.

And it makes sense, because you couldn’t possibly conceive of noshing your PB&J over the kitchen sink in this, or any of the other huge homes where all the plaster is Venetian, the woodwork is custom, the chandeliers are crystal, and the spas are European.

In addition to the luncheon loggia, you’ll find other luxe amenities aplenty, including multiple pools, a nine-hole golf course, ballrooms, 4K movie theaters, a cigar room, and parking for a fleet of luxury rides.

So scroll down and take a look at these 10 lavish spreads. If you need us, we’ll be out on our lunch loggia—a folding chair in the backyard…

1. N Tigertail Rd, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $55,000,000
Square feet: 30,000
Coming soon: This megamansion, scheduled to be finished in June 2021, is the “largest home west of the 405,” according to the listing.

The 2-acre property is dotted with 3,000 bamboo trees for privacy. The modern compound’s 30,000 square feet of living space include a 5,000-square-foot guesthouse and staff quarters with separate entrance.

Building plans include two pools, a 30-seat home theater, hair salon, cigar room, yoga studio, and parking for 40 cars.

N Tigertail Rd, Los Angeles, CA
N Tigertail Rd, Los Angeles, CA

realtor.com

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2. 822 N Kenter Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $40,000,000
Square feet: 23,000
Coming soon: This L.A. mansion is also under construction, scheduled to be completed in spring 2021.

The 5-acre lot includes a seven-bedroom main house, a 3,000-square-foot guesthouse, and staff quarters. There will also be a 15-car garage surrounded by manicured grounds with room for a tennis or basketball court, or anything else a deep-pocketed buyer can dream up.

Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA

realtor.com

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3. 4444 Valley Ridge Rd, Dallas, TX

Price: $24,000,000
Square feet: 20,000
Dazzling in Dallas: There is nothing understated about this 4.5-acre baronial estate in the prestigious Preston Hollow neighborhood.

Completed in 1993, the ornate and formal home features nine fireplaces, nine bedrooms, and a six-car garage. Outside, the home is suited for warm Texas days with a cabana, two pools, a tennis court, rose garden, Italian stone fountains, and expansive lawns.

Dallas, TX
Dallas, TX

realtor.com

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4. 904 Chinquapin Rd, McLean, VA

Price: $6,500,000
Square feet: 20,000
Regal residence: Ideal for a DC power player, this mansion sits on nearly 4 acres. Pull up to the circular drive for a breathtaking first look at this massive seven-bedroom home. Completed in 2013, it has a marble-floor reception hall, crystal chandeliers, a studio, library, terrace, and every other amenity an ambassador could desire.

McLean, VA
McLean, VA

realtor.com

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5. 14249 S Canyon Vine Cv, Draper, UT

Price: $7,500,000
Square feet: 19,442
Classic mod: French Regency on the exterior, this mansion is modern inside. Built in 2012, the two-story residence features limestone pavers and a double-mansard tile roof. Inside, you’ll find wide-plank wood flooring, a Hollywood-style screening room, and custom furniture throughout. It sits on a full acre with gorgeous valley views.

Draper, UT
Draper, UT

realtor.com

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6. 5324 Palm Royale Blvd, Sugar Land, TX

Price: $9,900,000
Square feet: 19,180
Sweetwater showplace: Built in 2009, this mansion on 1.68 acres is grand in every way. Among the standout features are the Tiffany-style glass domed ceiling in the dramatic foyer.

Featuring chandeliers and Venetian plaster walls throughout, this place is an ode to Old World style. Out back is a pool out with water features and flaming corner fixtures for a high-drama effect.

sugar land tx
Sugar Land, TX

realtor.com

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7. 174 Via Del Lago, Palm Beach, FL

Price: $64,900,000
Square feet: 18,554
Palm Beach landmark: Here’s where you’ll find the elusive luncheon loggia. Built in 1934 in one of the country’s most exclusive ZIP codes, this mansion is also one of the most expensive homes to hit the market this week.

The 3-acre estate sits along the Intracoastal Waterway with its own boat dock, tennis court, and viewing terrace. Designed by Marion Sims Wyeth, the interior spaces include a gym with built-in bar, paneled library, elevator, and an ultraluxe master wing.

Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach, FL

realtor.com

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8. 223 Shady Dr, Burlington, NC

Price: $4,200,000
Square feet: 18,472
May’s Lake Community: This six-bedroom Tudor lake house has gorgeous views, marble floors, and extensive built-ins throughout. This 2.3-acre property is an entertainer’s dream with a home theater, gym, game room, crafts room, and multiple outdoor living spaces.

Burlington, NC
Burlington, NC

realtor.com

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9. 15325 Masonwood Dr, Gaithersburg, MD

Price: $5,900,000
Square feet: 18,422
Golf paradise: This 35-acre property comes with its own nine-hole golf course, pool, sport court, fitness center, spa, and summer kitchen, lending it a feel of a private club. The main house has eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, and four fireplaces. It also features geothermal heating and cooling as well as a new kitchen completed in 2018.

Gaithersburg, MD
Gaithersburg, MD

realtor.com

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10. 160 Ox Pasture Rd, Southampton, NY

Price: $75,000,000
Square feet: 18,000
Linden Estate: Originally built in 1910, this three-story Hamptons beauty has been beautifully preserved and restored. The 9-acre property includes staff quarters, outdoor and indoor pools, a spa, grass tennis court, paddle court, entertainment pavilions, arbors, fountains, and a carriage house.

Southampton, NY
Southampton, NY

realtor.com

The post We Chew Over a Luncheon Loggia in This Week’s 10 Biggest Homes appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

A Happier New Year: Eviction, Foreclosure Freeze Extended Into 2021 for Lucky Few

fotog/Getty Images

Many renters and homeowners won’t have to worry about losing the roof over their heads this new year. And least not at first.

The Federal Housing Administration announced on Monday that it is extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through February. They were set to expire at the end of the year.

Protections for homeowners with government-backed mortgages who lost income due to the pandemic have been in place since March. A less robust patchwork of local, state, and federal protections for renters began around the same time for renters living in homes with similarly federally backed mortgages.

While these extensions are likely to bring relief to millions of Americans, they only continue to protect a fraction of those struggling as the pandemic has upended the economy, leaving millions still out of work.

The two-month moratoriums cover only renters and homeowners living in single-family homes with FHA-issued mortgages. That means only about 1 in 4 renters is protected along with just over half of homeowners, roughly 28 million, with government-backed mortgages.

“Today’s foreclosure moratorium and forbearance extensions for single family homeowners ensure American homeowners continue to have the critical relief and support they need to get back to financial stability,” Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in a statement. HUD oversees the FHA.       

Homeowners will have until the end of February to request a COVID-19 forbearance from their lenders. If they can show financial hardships brought on by the pandemic, they will be allowed to defer their mortgage payments for up to a year. This is the fourth moratorium extension.

Renters are particularly vulnerable. In a typical year, about 3.7 million evictions are filed—roughly 1 every 7 minutes, Matthew Desmond, author of “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” told National Public Radio.

Even during the pandemic, with all of the additional protections, landlords filed 162,563 in the 27 cities tracked by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which is spearheaded by Desmond.

Nearly 7 million to 14 million households are at risk of eviction, according to investment bank and consulting firm Stout Risius Ross.

Their households earned a median $40,500 in 2018—almost half of the $78,000 for homeowner households, according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Homeowners, who are often in better financial shape, are likely to fare better. Many lenders take their cues from the FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. So if the government is offering forbearance, then some lenders will follow suit.

“COVID-19 has created hardships for millions of Americans,” said FHA Commissioner Dana Wade in a statement. “American homeowners should not be forced from their homes while they are seeking help.”

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Covid Spurs Families to Shun Nursing Homes, a Shift That Appears Long Lasting

Savanna Hollar, 90, navigates a hallway as home health aide Tangie Enoch looks on.

Jeremy M. Lange for The Wall Street Journal

The pandemic is reshaping the way Americans care for their elderly, prompting family decisions to avoid nursing homes and keep loved ones in their own homes for rehabilitation and other care.

Americans have long relied on institutions to care for the frailest seniors. The U.S. has the largest number of nursing-home residents in the world. But families and some doctors have been reluctant to send patients to such facilities, fearing infection and isolation in places ravaged by Covid-19, which has caused more than 115,000 deaths linked to U.S. long-term-care institutions.

The drop-off has persisted since spring, including at times when the virus’s spread was subdued. In the summer, when many hospitals were performing near-normal levels of the kinds of procedures that often result in nursing-home stays, referrals to nursing homes remained down.

Occupancy in U.S. nursing homes is down by 15%, or more than 195,000 residents, since the end of 2019, driven both by deaths and by the fall in admissions, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data shows.

The decline in nursing-home patients covered by Medicare, which provides payments vital to the homes’ business model, is even steeper. That has left the industry in precarious financial shape. The biggest U.S. nursing-home company said in August it might not have enough money to pay its obligations.

Big insurers, home-health-care companies and some hospital systems are betting the new patterns of referral and care established amid the crisis will remain in place for the long term. They say doctors, hospital managers and families have seen how some older patients with significant care needs can be sent home. Just as the pandemic has spurred greater adoption of long-considered practices such as working from home, it has brought a re-evaluation of the role of nursing homes.

“We implemented a complete switch of mind-set to say home is the default” for patients leaving the hospital, even frail ones, said Peter Pronovost, chief clinical transformation officer at University Hospitals, an Ohio-based system.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to go back,” he said. “The drive to get every patient home who can be home is going to continue.”

Home-health-care companies and major hospital systems, including Iowa-based UnityPoint Health and South Carolina’s Prisma Health, are building new offerings to support sicker patients recovering at home, often using technology to allow close monitoring.

Also fueling these efforts are pandemic-related regulatory changes that allow Medicare to pay for digital doctor visits and intense, hospital-level care in patients’ homes.

Some nursing-home companies say they too are adjusting—bulking up their own home-focused offerings and aiming to upgrade buildings and staff to capture a new group of sicker patients who might come to them for hospital-level care.

Eventually, nursing-home operators say, demographics will buoy their industry, as more baby boomers require institutional care. Well before that, they say, vaccines should stem the tide of Covid-19 in their facilities.

“Do I think that more patients will be moved to home? Absolutely. It’s the right thing to do for the patient, it’s the right thing to do for the system, and it’s the right thing to do for the cost,” said David Parker, president of ProMedica Senior Care, a major nursing-home operator that also owns a home-health-care provider and is part of ProMedica Health System.

Nursing-home use in the U.S. has been declining gradually for years. In 2019, occupancy was 80%, down from 84% a decade earlier, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Surveys have long shown many patients don’t want to go to nursing homes. The pandemic has made them even less popular, according to a September survey of adults 40 and older by AARP. Just 7% said they would prefer a nursing home for family members needing long-term care, and 6% said they would choose one for themselves. Nearly three in 10 respondents said the pandemic had made them less likely to choose institutional care.

Savanna Hollar at her home, where her sons brought her after a hospital stay for a broken shoulder.
Savanna Hollar at her home, where her sons brought her after a hospital stay for a broken shoulder.

Jeremy M. Lange for The Wall Street Journal

When Savanna Hollar, 90 years old and almost blind, broke her shoulder in August, her sons decided not to send her to the rehabilitation facility she went to after a broken hip three years before. They brought her home to recover in the farmhouse near Yadkinville, N.C., where she has lived since 1951.

The local nursing home had reported Covid-19 cases among residents, and it wasn’t allowing visitors. If sent there, Mrs. Hollar wouldn’t be able to see family members or get care from the aides who have long helped her at home. “She’d be lonely and scared and afraid to move,” said son Keith Hollar, 63.

The family hired a rotating cast of eight workers to watch her constantly, with two at a time on duty during the day. At home, Mrs. Hollar could enjoy her gray cat, Buddy, her favorite recliner and tomato sandwiches made with produce from her garden. She has since recovered.

For years, certain government policies have encouraged alternatives to nursing homes. Medicaid programs, which cover long-term care for poorer adults, have increasingly paid for long-term services that help patients remain at home such as health-care aides, though funding has long fallen short of demand.

In Medicare, which typically pays for a limited nursing-home stay after a hospital visit, more people have been getting their benefits through insurance companies, which have held down costly nursing-home stays. The companies now provide coverage to around 36% of Medicare beneficiaries, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Medicare has also begun paying health-care providers in ways that reward them for bringing down overall costs, giving the providers an incentive to reduce referrals to nursing homes.

The Trump administration gave Medicare insurers more flexibility to spend money on things that improve patients’ home setups. It made pandemic-related tweaks that allow Medicare coverage for more types of care in the home.

“We should be able to provide more services in the home setting that can enable somebody to be independent,” said Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Covid is going to force a national conversation about how we take care of our elderly, and clearly there are issues in nursing homes that go beyond infection control,” she said.

During his campaign, President-elect Joe Biden promised to spend $450 billion to make sure people who need long-term care can get support in the home and community.

“There’s no daylight between the Trump administration and the Biden administration on the desire to see more folks cared for in the home,” said Robert Kocher, an Obama White House health adviser now at venture-capital firm Venrock.

The number of Medicare-financed residents of nursing homes fell 28% in April and 34% in May from a year earlier, as the pandemic turbocharged efforts to steer Medicare patients away from nursing homes and as hospitals referred fewer after surgeries, according to an analysis of billing records done for the Journal by data firm CareSet Inc. The decline occurred even though, during the pandemic, the Trump administration waived a requirement that Medicare beneficiaries stay three days in a hospital before going to a nursing home.

In addition, some nursing homes shut off admissions in the spring, said Susan Craft, vice president of population health at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

“It was a forced period for us to work on home-care programs,” said Gloria Rey, the director of post-acute care at Henry Ford. “We’re continuing to work within our organization to make going home the priority.”

Graphic: Hospital referral patterns
Hospital referral patterns

The Wall Street Journal

Major Medicare-plan providers Humana Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. say they are working to develop programs that would allow sicker patients to be discharged from hospitals to their homes. The shift in nursing-home use “is probably one of the trends coming out of Covid, along with telemedicine, that is going to act as a real accelerant and be sustainable,” said Susan Diamond, who leads the home business of Humana, one of the biggest Medicare insurers and also a major home-health owner.

Nursing homes’ loss has been a gain for home-health companies, which provide services such as therapy and nursing visits, though typically not 24-hour care.

Data from CarePort Health, a unit of Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. that helps manage post-hospital care, show that referrals from hospitals to nursing homes and home-health providers both plunged in April. By October, though, referrals to home-health providers were at 109% of their 2019 baseline level, while nursing-home referrals had flattened at 83% of their baseline.

The falloff has been a disaster for the nursing-home industry, because Medicare pays better than the long-term stays Medicaid covers. Despite billions in pandemic-related government aid, some nursing homes have closed or been sold in recent months.

A November survey by the American Health Care Association, a nursing home industry group, found 65% of nursing homes were operating at a loss. Mark Parkinson, the association’s chief executive, said 10% to 20% might file for bankruptcy without additional government aid.

Genesis Healthcare Inc., the biggest U.S. nursing-home company, told investors in August it might not be able to continue as a going concern. Its loss in the third quarter deepened, and in November it said it would need ongoing government support to sustain its operations. Its shares have languished at less than $1.

On the other side, shares of Amedisys Inc., the largest publicly traded home-health-care company, are up nearly 75% in 2020. It saw strong volumes and higher profits in the third quarter.

“We want to take care of sicker and sicker patients, and show we can do it,” Amedisys CEO Paul Kusserow said.

Home health care aide Tangie Enoch helps Savanna Hollar get around in her home near Yadkinville, N.C.
Home health care aide Tangie Enoch helps Savanna Hollar get around in her home near Yadkinville, N.C.

Jeremy M. Lange for The Wall Street Journal

Nursing-home officials said they worry that some frail patients could be left without enough supervision and support if sent home. A 2019 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that compared Medicare hospital patients discharged to nursing homes with patients who got traditional home-health services found the latter were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital. Mortality and functionality of the groups were similar.

To help patients who are sent home, some hospital systems and home-health firms, including Amedisys, are building new, often tech-heavy programs that layer on extra services and aim to reproduce aspects of nursing-home-level care in patients’ homes.

Prisma Health, an 18-hospital system in South Carolina, in May launched Home Recovery Care, a joint venture with a company called Contessa Health Inc. that provides operational support and technology for the service. Some hospital patients who might qualify for a nursing-home stay are instead sent home using the new program, which some insurers pay for, Prisma Health officials said.

In early November, Joy Sprouse, 74, was taken to a Prisma Health hospital after having a bad reaction to an antibiotic she had taken. After a hospital stay, Mrs. Sprouse, who can’t walk because of spinal stenosis, was still weak and getting a different antibiotic through an IV. She didn’t want to go temporarily to a nursing home, as she did after two previous hospital visits.

Instead, she enrolled in the Home Recovery Care program and an ambulance took her to her rural Dacusville, S.C., house, where two nurses met her. Aides stayed there for five days, helping with cooking and other tasks. Nurses visited twice daily and used a tablet device to check her vitals. Physical therapists visited daily and she had digital visits with a hospital doctor.

Since the special program ended for her, Mrs. Sprouse, a former teacher’s aide, has continued to get some services she had before the hospital stay, such as visits by an aide for a few hours a day. She is back to doing her own cooking and favorite craft activities, such as making and decorating cards.

“I knew I would get better quicker at home,” she said of the small white house by a pond where she has lived for 26 years. She has been alone there since her husband passed away in January 2020, but her best friend lives across the street and she has regular visits from her children and grandchildren.

“I hope I can remain here the rest of my days. I don’t want to give up the way I live,”she said.

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