Pending Home Sales Fall on the Month, but the Midwest Is Hit the Hardest

Thomas De Wever/iStock

The numbers: The index of pending home sales dropped 0.3% in December, marking the fourth consecutive month of declines, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. The index measures real-estate transactions in which a contract is signed, but the sale had not yet closed.

Compared to 2019, pending sales were still up 21%, a sign of how strong the market is right now despite the recent weakness.

What happened: Pending sales didn’t fall across all regions, as was the case in November.

In fact, the Midwest was the only region to experience a decline, with a 3.6% drop. Pending sales were flat in the West and rose by 3.1% in the Northeast and 0.1% in the South.

The big picture: In the months to come, the story will be whether the number of listings of homes for sale will grow to meet demand.

“Pending home-sales contracts have dipped during recent months, but I would attribute that to having too few homes for sale,” said Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist. “There is a high demand for housing and a great number of would-be buyers, and therefore sales should rise with more new listings.”

It’s not clear precisely what has held sellers back from putting their homes on the market. But the problem could be a self-perpetuating one: Some buyers might be seeing the dearth of homes for sale and be reluctant to list their own for fear of not finding somewhere to move to.

What they’re saying: “Demand for existing homes remains strong but supply is likely restraining sales figures,” said Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams. “We expect to see continued price acceleration in the near term as a result of record-low inventory levels that have persisted for several months now.”

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both fell in Friday morning trades.

The post Pending Home Sales Fall on the Month, but the Midwest Is Hit the Hardest appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Best Rug Pads to Secure and Protect Your Floor Coverings

A nice area rug isn't complete without the right rug pads.

A nice area rug isn’t complete without the right rug pads. (Pixabay/)

Ever wonder where rug pads come from? Mostly from leftovers. Each year, around 700 million pounds of polyurethane foam trim is gathered from all over the world from the manufacture of such items as sofas, chairs, mattresses, automotive interiors, textiles, and clothing. This polyurethane foam trim is compressed, baled and transported to approximately 30 U.S. factories, where it is recycled into bonded padding, making it one of the largest uses of recycled materials in the world. Chances are good you’re going to need some rug padding, and we’re here to help with our top picks.

The no-latex backing means it will add cushion with no bunching or wrinkling, and will not stain or discolor your floors.

The no-latex backing means it will add cushion with no bunching or wrinkling, and will not stain or discolor your floors. (Mohawk/)

This first rug padding comes in a 10′ by 14′ size and is made from 100% recycled felt, and it is Green Label-certified, which has the highest standards for IAQ (indoor air quality) and ensures the lowest emitting products on the market. Great for all flooring types, this padding protects against abrasions and wear. It comes in multiple thickness of 1/8″ (best for a plush rug), 1/4″ (for most rugs), and 1/2″ (for a thin/low profile rug) to best suit your needs. It can also be cut with scissors to trim to the perfect size.

This is a premium rug pad for the eco-friendly home, as it contains no glues, PVC or latex.

This is a premium rug pad for the eco-friendly home, as it contains no glues, PVC or latex. (RUGPADUSA/)

This pad comes in thickness of 1/4″, 3/8″, or 1/2″ for even more cushion. With 24 ounces of felt per square yard, it is also good for noise reduction and insulation. While not intended to stop rugs from slipping in high traffic areas in the home, this 8′ by 10′ pad is designed for larger rugs and rugged enough to be placed under larger furniture. If you are looking for a pad that combines cushioning with a non-slip feature, it has a felt and rubber option as well.

A game-changer if you have a futon, this number also prevents seat cushions and mattresses from sliding with its non-slip protection.

A game-changer if you have a futon, this number also prevents seat cushions and mattresses from sliding with its non-slip protection. (Veken/)

This rug pad’s open grid construction allows air to circulate and thus prevents dust from settling under your rug. It is not intended for use on carpet, vinyl, lacquered, acrylic, natural stone, porous, refinished, concrete, or heated floors. This pad is durable and strong, yet the PVC material means it is also lightweight and thus easy to cut. Great for tile, wood, and laminate flooring, it can also be used on your dining table as place-mats.

Easily glued under any rug, the side facing the floor features tiny suction pores.

Easily glued under any rug, the side facing the floor features tiny suction pores. (Rug Grippers/)

Perhaps you don’t need an area pad to fit your area rug, but are just looking for grippers that can be placed on the corners to prevent curling. If so, this is the one for you, and it utilizes a design principle called “Vacuum Tech.” Whenever pressure is applied to the top, air escapes and creates a low-pressure region within the cups, producing an adhesive effect to keep your gut in place. The gripper is less than 1/10″ thick, making it inconspicuous after installation. While the suction technology means a firm grip to the floor, it easily peels off without causing marks or damage. It is completely washable, so you won’t have to detach and re-attach between cleanings.

Made from 100 percent recycled felt, this pad is also hypoallergenic and mold, mildew, and moth resistant.

Made from 100 percent recycled felt, this pad is also hypoallergenic and mold, mildew, and moth resistant. (Gorilla Grip/)

This pad is made of condensed needle punched felt for increased durability, cushion, rug and floor protection, while also reducing sound. The natural and textured rubber on the underside is ultra-durable, helping to keep the rug in place even if your rug is extra plush, or your vacuum cleaner is heavy-duty. This 8′ by 10′ pad can easily be trimmed with scissors for custom sizing, and it comes in thickness of 1/4″ and 1/8″.

Best Furniture Polish

Put the shine back into your valuable furniture with the right polish.

Put the shine back into your valuable furniture with the right polish. (Pixabay/)

Folks have been trying to polish wooden surfaces for millennia. Wax and oil forms of furniture polish have been in use since the Bronze Age, dating back to around 1200 BC. With different types of wood being used for different purposes, this meant much human ingenuity and experimentation was put into the process of polishing wooden surfaces. From the 12th to 14th centuries, oil treatments ranged from tung seed and perilla mint oils to beeswax and carnauba. By the latter half of the 20th century, polymer chemistry developed synthetic emulsions based on silicon oils, which produced lubrication and shine. We remember all those spray aerosol commercials from the ’70s, don’t we? If you have any plans on DIY-ing your great aunt’s favorite leisure room side-table, we have some great furniture polish picks.

It’s not just for furniture; it can also be used on major appliances all around the home.

It’s not just for furniture; it can also be used on major appliances all around the home. (Pledge/)

Sure you’d like to get your wooden furniture looking nice, but what if you or the loved ones living under the same roof have a bit of a sensitive nose with regard to airborne impurities? This first product does double-duty as a furniture cleaner as well. Its lemony-fresh cleansing formula removes dust, allergens in dust, and pet dander, while also providing shine and protection to your finished and sealed surfaces. It’s great on wood, but it can also be applied to leather, granite, wood, and stainless steel.

Twenty minutes after applying, wipe off excess, then polish with a soft cloth, and buff to a glorious shine.

Twenty minutes after applying, wipe off excess, then polish with a soft cloth, and buff to a glorious shine. (Howard/)

Unlike the first product, which comes in an aerosol spray, this next one is applied with a small pad of cloth and wiped evenly on to your favorite wood surface. Using an original blend of beeswax, Brazilian carnauba wax, mineral oil, and orange oil, this polish enhances the natural beauty and depth of grain in all types of wood. Conditioning oils “feed” the wood and help keep it from drying and fading. This is excellent for use on antiques, dining tables, kitchen cabinets, wood doors and trim, and anywhere else in the home where there is finished or unfinished wood.

It’s great for homes with busy kids who like to get their fingers in and on to everything as it leaves no fingerprints and requires no buffing.

It’s great for homes with busy kids who like to get their fingers in and on to everything as it leaves no fingerprints and requires no buffing. (The Original Bee’s/)

This polish is about as versatile as it gets, while priding itself on using an “Old World” formula. But in this new world, there is much to clean in a busy household. No matter, this product can be used on all types of surfaces, including wood, leather, marble, granite, wrought iron, stainless steel, glass, and mirrors. Its anti-static properties repel dust so that it stays cleaner, longer. Bring it in the car, too. It gives glass an invisible look and also prevents fogging. As for your favorite furniture pieces, it has no wax buildup over time. And as for your favorite leather shoes, it moisturizes and restores vibrant color with no greasy feel.

Simply shake the bottle well, spray directly on to the surface or onto a soft clean dry cloth, and wipe immediately.

Simply shake the bottle well, spray directly on to the surface or onto a soft clean dry cloth, and wipe immediately. (Weiman/)

This polish will beautify, refresh, and shield all finished wood in your household. It easily removes dust, dirt, and grime, and protects against premature aging and damage. It is excellent for wood furniture, tables and chairs, office furniture, cabinets, panels, and doors and trim. It also moisturizes and conditions wood with a pleasant cherry almond fragrance, and its long-lasting and silicone-free formula means no wax build-up.

The mixture of detergents and water in this formula cleans, loosens, and removes dirt and grime, while the oil helps to conceal microscopic scratches.

The mixture of detergents and water in this formula cleans, loosens, and removes dirt and grime, while the oil helps to conceal microscopic scratches. (Guardsman/)

This wood spray features a premium formula that delivers a rich, clean, low-luster shine for a natural glow. It contains no waxes or abrasives, leaves no greasy film or build-up, and also protects from discoloration and fading with UV sunblock. Thankfully this one boasts no silicone to contaminate the finish, which could make future touch-ups or refinishing more difficult and costly.

Best Sound Machines to Help You Relax

Get some inner peace and better sleep with the right sound machine.

Get some inner peace and better sleep with the right sound machine. (Marpac/)

The hustle and bustle of everyday life may have inhibited our ability to get out in the fresh air, but technology has found a partial solution for nature lovers by bringing the sounds of rustling leaves and rushing waterfalls indoors. Not just aurally stimulating, some sound machines also create the perfect mood with soft-glow lights that come in different colors. It’s not a massage without the sounds of wolves howling in the distance or a power nap without hearing gently rolling waves on a beach. If you’re looking for ways to transform your “calm space,” try these sound machines.

When you’re ready for bed, just tap to start. When awaking, press and hold the touch control to turn it off or to snooze.

When you’re ready for bed, just tap to start. When awaking, press and hold the touch control to turn it off or to snooze. (Hatch/)

With this first sound machine, you can personalize a routine, which helps you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. Before hitting the hay, settle in with a good book or your favorite magazine and set the right light and mood from your library of sounds and lights. You can also set your wake time, alarm sound, and favorite sunset color. Sleek and slim-profile buttons on the side make it easy to adjust brightness and sound without having to reach for the app on your phone.

Just what the doctor ordered for moms who have a tough time getting their little ones to sleep, this machine helps block disruptive environmental noises.

Just what the doctor ordered for moms who have a tough time getting their little ones to sleep, this machine helps block disruptive environmental noises. (Adaptive/)

This sound machine features 10 fan sounds and 10 ambient noise variations, including white noise (higher-pitched), pink noise (deeper, more balanced), and brown noise (more bass-y rumble). It’s solid-state and is powered by either AC or USB, and the precise volume control allows you to set the perfect level for your unique environment. Good in the nursery, but also effective in the workplace or study area as it helps to maintain focus and improves privacy; especially when you don’t need your conversations distracting others hard at work.

This classic has been around since 1962, popularized by its signature sound - the soothing ambient noise of rushing air.

This classic has been around since 1962, popularized by its signature sound – the soothing ambient noise of rushing air. (Marpac/)

This sound machine from Marpac has two-speed options for adjustable tone and volume and is excellent in masking background noises. That means better sleep, better office efficiency, better behaved babies, and better for your sound-sensitive dog, Bowser. Flip the switch to high or low, and then rotate the cap and collar to find the best sound for you. It comes with a 6-foot 120V AC plug so it’ll fit anywhere, and features a compact and basic design that blends nicely into any surrounding. This sound machine is available in white, black, grey, pink, and tan.

The calming nature sounds help your fussy baby fall asleep faster and longer.

The calming nature sounds help your fussy baby fall asleep faster and longer. (Letsfit/)

This extremely versatile sound machine comes with 14 soothing sleep soundtracks: three with white noise sounds, three lullabies, three fan sound effects, and five relaxing natural sounds. Also for new mothers, this sound machine features an adjustable night-light, which emits just enough light for a midnight feeding or changing without disturbing the other half of the bed. The white noise can be played at 15, 30, 60, 90 or 120 minute intervals with auto-off timer settings. And no need to worry about re-setting, as this one remembers the last sound and volume when re-started.

Measuring in at 1 pound, it will fit in any luggage compartment or backpack.

Measuring in at 1 pound, it will fit in any luggage compartment or backpack. (HoMedics/)

Perfect in any hotel room, nursery, or office space, this sound machine from HoMedics can be plugged into a wall outlet with the included adapter or powered by four AA batteries (not included). You can choose from six digitally recorded relaxing sounds: white noise, thunder, ocean, rain, summer night, and brook. Set the timer to 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Or, if you choose, leave your noise machine on all night.

Palatial $140M Mansion in Palm Beach Is the Week’s Most Popular Home

most popular homes 1/29/21

realtor.com

Florida’s most expensive home floated to the top of this week’s 10 most popular homes for sale on realtor.com®. Listed for an eye-popping $140 million, the Palm Beach, FL, mansion landed on the market at an opportune moment—thanks to a buyer-driven frenzy in one of the nation’s most exclusive markets.

And because this magnificent mansion sits at the tippy top of the luxury market, curious clickers had to see what the utmost in high-end construction holds behind the high hedges.

What everyone peeped is a beachfront prestige property filled with exquisite art and finishes. Wide-open spaces and high ceilings define this chic estate available to only a tiny pool of ultrahigh net worth buyers.

But it wasn’t the only megamillion-dollar mansion from Florida to crack this week’s list. Race car driver Johnny Gray‘s $32.5 million mansion in Jupiter features a “megayacht” dock and an incredible garage.

Other homes you clicked on this week included a Pennsylvania home in an art community, a funky geodesic dome in a Missouri lake community, and a Sacramento-area castle known as Swan Lake.

For a full look at this week’s 10 most popular properties, simply scroll on down.

10. 1020 Woods Rd, Southampton, PA

Price: $340,000
Why it’s here: In search of a bohemian vibe? Amid the trees, this three-bedroom Bucks County ranch house oozes cool vibes. It’s situated on a 2-acre plot in the Bryn Gweled co-op community. The home is owned by the resident, while the land is leased from Bryn Gweled following a membership application process.

The listing notes that the co-op community includes artists, musicians, and professionals from all walks of life who are “looking for a slightly alternative living style.” The community offers residents a number of shared amenities.

Southampton, PA
Southampton, PA

realtor.com

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9. 2270 Main St., Bethlehem, NH

Price: $379,900
Why it’s here: This beautiful old church dates to 1928 and is available for residential or commercial use. A three-bedroom residence sits separate from the house of worship to save on heating costs. The house has a new furnace, plumbing, and electrical. The church itself retains original details such as stained glass, ornate millwork, and wood beams.

Bethlehem, NH
Bethlehem, NH

realtor.com

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8. 1426 Mahoning Dr E, Leighton, PA

Price: $699,900
Why it’s here: This 25-acre farm includes a stone house built in 1832. The five-bedroom residence has been expanded to 4,622 square feet of living space. The interiors have been updated with contemporary fixtures that meld beautifully with rustic elements like stone walls, wide-plank wood floors, and beamed ceilings.

Other highlights include the sunroom, a covered porch, and a new roof.

Leighton, PA
Leighton, PA

realtor.com

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7. 176 Spyglass Ln, Jupiter, FL

Price: $32,500,000
Why it’s here: This megamansion is the largest intracoastal property in the desirable Admirals Cove neighborhood and is being sold by NHRA race car driver Johnny Gray. It’s filled with high-octane amenities like a massive garage, a plush home theater, and parking for a yacht. The 29,676-square-foot mansion comes with 365 feet of waterfront.

Jupiter, FL
Jupiter, FL

realtor.com

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6. 50 Glenwood Dr, Fenton, MO

Price: $189,000
Why it’s here: This groovy geodesic dome was built in 1986 and is located in a private community with a 26-acre lake, beach, swimming, boating, fishing, and more. The roomy three-bedroom dome has a private deck, oversized windows, and a crow’s nest on the third level.

Fenton, MO
Fenton, MO

realtor.com

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5. 8300 Moss Ct, Granite Bay, CA

Price: $28,000,000
Why it’s here: Swan Lake Castle is headed to auction. The 5-acre property includes gardens, manicured lawns, and landscaped ponds and waterways filled with “exotic water fowl.”

Inspired by European royalty, the castle near Sacramento is hoping for a bidder with royal dreams to step up. The listing agent says the interiors aren’t being shown to preserve the mystery within for a deep-pocketed buyer.

Granite Bay, CA
Granite Bay, CA

realtor.com

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4. 3962 Flowers Rd, Florence, SC

Price: $299,000
Why it’s here: Get back to the country with this quant log cabin built in 1991. The farmhouse-style interiors include an open sunroom, hickory wood paneling, front porch, and attached workshop. A new HVAC system, 4-year-old roof, fresh paint, and refinished cabinets are just a few of the recent updates to the home.

Florence, SC
Florence, SC

realtor.com

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3. 3400 Paper Mill Rd, Huntington Valley, PA

Price: $3,495,000
Why it’s here: A slice of the French Riviera in Pennsylvania? This five-bedroom mansion was built in 2014 and boasts a saltwater pool, home theater, gym, and many more luxe amenities.

Huntington Valley, PA
Huntington Valley, PA

realtor.com

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2. 14318 Aboite Center Rd, Fort Wayne, IN

Price: $683,000
Why it’s here: Once a humble brick schoolhouse, it’s been transformed into a whimsical and charming two-bedroom home.

The one-room schoolhouse was built in 1883, and the conversion project has won awards for its smart reuse of a historic structure. It features original slate chalkboards, old carvings, and original beams—all lovingly maintained and restored.

Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne, IN

realtor.com

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1. 535 N County Rd, Palm Beach, FL

Price: $140,000,000
Why it’s here: Florida has a new title holder for the state’s most expensive home. This magnificent mansion was built on a vacant lot that was sold in 2017 for $37 million.

Spectacular in every way, this brand-new, nine-bedroom mansion is elegant and tasteful. Windows throughout allow the oceanfront vistas to take center stage.

The land beneath the beachfront home was once owned by former President Donald Trump, before he sold it in 2008 to a Russian investor. It now awaits a buyer enamored with the idea of the ultimate in Palm Beach luxury living.

Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach, FL

realtor.com

The post Palatial $140M Mansion in Palm Beach Is the Week’s Most Popular Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Home Buyers in These Cities Could Save These Down Payments—by Moving In With Their Parents

Maskot/Getty Images

When COVID-19 shuttered offices across the U.S.—forcing legions of white-collar workers to go remote—many took a hard look at their living situations. Why were they spending so much money to spend 24 hours a day in their itty, bitty, high-priced apartments? As a result, some young professionals decided to trade in their pricey apartments to move back in with good ol’ Mom and Dad and accelerate their savings.

While the prospect of moving back in with the ‘rents may be shudder-inducing to many, for others it’s a dream of home-cooked meals and freshly folded laundry. Plus, folks who have retained their jobs save some significant money that could help them to eventually become homeowners.

When life gives you lemons, save up for a down payment on a home?

“The pandemic changed how we think about being a young adult and moving back in with your family. It’s not just a failure to launch. So many people are now choosing to do it,” says realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “They might be able to move into homeownership sooner than they would—or they may be able to put down a bigger down payment.”

Putting what they would have paid in rent toward a down payment could allow aspiring homeowners to have a 5% down payment on a median-priced home in under two years. Five percent was the median down payment that buyers contributed to their home purchases nationally in December. (This assumes folks were paying the national median rent of $1,533 for a one-bedroom apartment.) In some metropolitan areas, like Chicago, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, former renters could even do it in just under a year.

Just because a metro is less expensive, it doesn’t mean folks can save up faster. Wages are often lower in cheaper areas as are monthly rent and home prices. So it can take longer to hit a goal when folks are putting less money in.

“This scenario could work better in some markets than others,” admits Hale.

To come up with our findings, the realtor.com economics team pored over our for-sale home listings and rental data in the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas in December. Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.

So how long will it take renters to save up for a 5% down payment in these large metros if they move back in with their families? That depends on where they live.

It will take the least amount of time, just 11 months, to come up with a 5% down payment in the Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis metropolitan areas.

In Chicago and Philadelphia, the median monthly rents hover around $1,500 a month, while home prices are a median $327,000. That means buyers need a 5% down payment of $16,350.

“This is an affordable market for sure,” says real estate broker Ryan Gable, of Starting Point Realty in Chicago. He specializes in working with first-time buyers. “But there’s not a lot for sale unless you’re looking for a high-rise downtown.”

St. Louis has lower median rents, of about $1,035 a month, and home prices, of $232,000. Buyers there need only an $11,600 down payment, which will take about 11 months to save up when factoring in those lower rents. But they still should have a little extra stashed away for emergencies.

“We tell people to have a down payment, and then on top of that have a minimum of $10,000 for a single-family home for unexpected expenses on the house, like [problems with] a roof, furnace, air conditioning,” says Gable. “You have to have a cushion for unexpected expenses.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Los Angeles, where ultrahigh prices mean it will take the longest to save up that 5% even if folks are living rent-free. Former renters can expect to spend 22 months accumulating that $2,250 monthly rent into a $49,950 down payment. The median home price in the L.A. metro was a whopping $999,000.

Here’s how long it will take to save up for a 5% down payment:

The post Home Buyers in These Cities Could Save These Down Payments—by Moving In With Their Parents appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Our Favorite 4K TV Sets

Baffled by the choice of 4k TVs out there? We are here to help.

Baffled by the choice of 4k TVs out there? We are here to help. (Pixabay/)

Technology is always moving forward and the world of electronic entertainment is no exception. 4K technology is here and here to stay. It’s considered the next wave in TV viewing, and once you experience it you’ll definitely know why.

Excellent for sports enthusiasts, 4K TVs will draw you into the action with stunning resolution and surround sound technology that puts you right in the stands. If 3D is your thing, 4K will take your experience to a whole new level. 4K also retains its definition better on large screens than many HD models do, so it’s ideal for those who think the bigger the TV screen the better. And for a new technology, 4K TV’s are reasonably priced.

4K is already making inroads into the film industry, TV shows, popular streaming services like Netflix, and even gaming systems. Knowing how to compare models and features is definitely going to help you navigate the future of viewing. We’ve done a lot of the work for you and picked out some models we think are great options.

This set offers a powerful picture quality and stunning color with resolution that makes your TV watching amazingly crisp and clear.

This set offers a powerful picture quality and stunning color with resolution that makes your TV watching amazingly crisp and clear. (SAMSUNG/)

Feel like you have your own personal assistant with this techy 65-inch TV with voice control that allows you to command all its functions at the sound of your voice. With three different assistants, you can ask Alexa, Bixby, or Google to find your favorite show or change the channel, and even access other connected devices around your home. If you prefer the feeling of the remote in your hand, OneRemote technology lets you put away those remotes that pile up everywhere and control it all with just one. The universal guide provides a list of content that can be personalized to your preferences so you don’t have to search around for what to watch. For such an enjoyable viewing experience you might never leave your easy chair. Now can they just figure out how you can do virtual exercise?

Access thousands of channels, cable TV, or gaming devices in one easy place.

Access thousands of channels, cable TV, or gaming devices in one easy place. (TCL/)

This 43-inch TCL smart TV with LED display pairs the picture clarity of HD with the unmatched color and detail of HDR, for crystal clear life-like viewing. Do you feel like you can never find something you want to watch on TV? With Roku TV you can access over 500,000 movies and TV episodes, so you’re bound to find something that peaks your interest. This model has voice control features, too, either through Google or Alexa and also through a Roku mobile app. You can connect your smartphone or tablet and turn it into a streaming companion or even a remote control. With so many options you’ll never lack entertainment again.

Prevents blur so you can watch fast-moving sporting events or action-packed movies without compromising visual quality.

Prevents blur so you can watch fast-moving sporting events or action-packed movies without compromising visual quality. (SAMSUNG/)

Your leisure time should be easy and your TV watching will be, too, with this Samsung model that will do just about everything for you. The super smart quantum AI processor brings you all the color and clarity 4K has to offer. Ambient Mode means you can display stunning scenery or view weather or calendar information on the screen when you’re not in active watching mode. Can’t hear your game over the kids? No worries. The Ambient Voice Amplifier analyzes background noise and automatically adjusts volume so you can still hear the dialog or commentators. And a built-in Alexa assistant is there to respond to your requests at the sound of your voice. But could she bring you another beer? You could get used to this.

Design to bring everything to your screen in stellar light, color, and definition.

Design to bring everything to your screen in stellar light, color, and definition. (LG /)

For the aficionado who enjoys playing with all the adjustments to get it just right, this LG UHD 4K TV will optimize your viewing experience. Its popular webOS platform lets you stream all sorts of popular apps from one simple place on your screen. The helpful Sports Alert feature brings you updates on your favorite teams, game times, and scores, so you never have to miss kickoff. Gamers will enjoy the Auto Low Latency Mode, which automatically moves back and forth between high and low settings to give you the upper edge in your gaming exploits. With Alexa at the ready you can control the “Magic Remote” with either voice or motion activation. And you’ll feel like you’re at the movies with optional Bluetooth capabilities since it’s compatible with two wireless LG speakers for a cinematic surround sound experience. You just have to bring your own popcorn.

Android TV and Google Assistant are ready to let you go hands free for all your commands.

Android TV and Google Assistant are ready to let you go hands free for all your commands. (Sony/)

See incredible 4K picture quality even in HD content with the 4K X-reality Pro and database that transforms all your viewing into a 4K experience. Your picture will look like real life with Triluminos advanced color display and ultra-high resolution HDR video. Motion control keeps all your fast-paced videos looking crisp, and you can boost your performance with the Gaming Control feature to give you split-second response. Comes with easy one-stop streaming for all your favorite platforms and delivers an advanced sound experience. Refined design and narrow bezel blends into your environment so you can keep all eyes on the screen.

Inside Kamala Harris’ New Home—and Why It’s Not Where You Think

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris

Saul Loeb/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

While everyone knows that President Joe Biden resides at the White House, far fewer know where Vice President Kamala Harris lives.

The second in command does have a special home to call her own—on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory at 1 Observatory Circle. (It’s about 3 miles from the White House.) But this property is undergoing some repairs, so Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, can’t move in just yet.

This house on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory became the official residence of the vice president in 1974.

Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

So in the meantime, the couple have dropped their bags at the Blair house—aka the president’s official guesthouse, at 1651 Pennsylvania Ave.

The Blair house was built in 1824.

Photo by Dmitry KirsanovTASS via Getty Images

Here’s more on Harris’ current living arrangements, and why it may be even better than the official digs she’ll move into once repairs are done.

Blair house history

The main library inside Blair house

Bettmann / Getty Images

The Blair house was originally built in 1824 for Joseph Lovell, the first surgeon general of the United States. It got its name, though, from a later resident named Francis Preston Blair, an adviser to President Andrew Jackson, who acquired the property in 1836 and kept it in his family for the next century.

According to the U.S. General Services Administration, the brick and stucco home is a national landmark that was acquired by the federal government in 1942 and officially designated the president’s guesthouse in 1957.

Over the years, the Blair house was expanded to encompass three other townhouses (the Lee house and two Jackson Place buildings). Today, it sports 119 rooms laid over 70,000 square feet—making it even larger than the White House, which is only 55,000 square feet.

World leaders who’ve spent the night here include Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“The Blair house has literally been labeled ‘the world’s most exclusive hotel,’ and since World War II it has hosted heads of state, royalty, and now our new VP,” says Sara Burack, a real estate agent at Nest Seekers in New York City.

Inside the Blair house

Classic bedroom canopies suit the Victorian-era home.

Bettmann / Getty Images

The Blair house, which has 14 bedrooms and 35 baths, was redesigned in 1985 by two celebrated decorators, Mario Buatta and Mark Hampton. Buatta tackled the Lee portion, while Hampton took on the Blair side.

“The rooms and collections in this landmark building really tell our American story, especially via the refreshed elegant interior and opulent bedrooms and baths,” says Burack.

The look isn’t terribly modern, but a few updated necessities are available to the new vice president. As Burack points out, “New changes were woven into the old, such as charging stations near the 19th-century furniture.”

The home also features three formal dining rooms, more than a dozen guest suites, a gym and beauty salon, as well as three beautifully landscaped gardens, which were renovated in the 1980s.

The sitting rooms, drawing rooms, and studies are named for various presidents (Lincoln, Truman), while the library contains hundreds of tomes on history and culture as well as books that were gifted to the Blair house from global leaders.

“What an amazing treat for the first female VP and her lucky hubby to live in the midst of the amazing provenance of previous glam residents,” says Dolly Lenz, a real estate agent of the eponymous New York City firm. “Plus a staff of 18 to tend to your every need, and two kitchens—so you never miss a treat!”

The Lee dining room, where President Harry Truman once held Cabinet meetings

BlairHouse.org

One excellent reason the Blair house makes sense as a primary residence for Harris is its very convenient address: Living here puts her literally across the street from the White House, which makes meetings and other events easy to attend.

Even Biden took advantage of the Blair house’s proximity by staying here the night before his inauguration.

“Imagine being so close to the action—with no commute—in such a grand, beautiful, and historic residence,” says Lenz.

Repairs to the official vice president’s residence

The verdant solarium inside the Naval Observatory

Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

One of the top items on the repair list for the vice president’s official home, meanwhile, is replacing the chimney liners. The six-bedroom, 9,000-square-foot mansion is also likely to get fresh paint, rugs, and different artwork, similar to the Oval Office refresh for Biden’s tenure.

While it’s not clear how long it’ll take to spiff up the vice president’s residence, once it’s ready to go, Harris will become the ninth vice president to live here.

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Watch: Inside Kamala Harris’ Real Estate Portfolio

The post Inside Kamala Harris’ New Home—and Why It’s Not Where You Think appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Our Favorite Dog Harnesses

Who's a good boy? With the right-fitting harness, he'll be a safe boy too.

Who’s a good boy? With the right-fitting harness, he’ll be a safe boy too. (Pixabay/)

A dog harness is superior to the traditional collar because it is designed for maximum control and protection. By securely fastening around the dog’s neck, chest, and shoulders, the harness evenly redistributes the pressure from the leash and prevents choking or crush injuries. While a determined pup could wriggle out of a collar and escape, the harness keeps him safely under your control.

Although using a good harness can reduce the chances of a RomCom plot unfolding as you chase your dog frantically through the park, it significantly enhances both your dignity and your dog’s comfort and safety on your daily walks. Here are some we like.

A lightweight option for both cats and dogs up to 30 pounds.

A lightweight option for both cats and dogs up to 30 pounds. (Voyager/)

Even kitties can safely go exploring with this versatile mesh harness. The design accommodates cats or dogs as small as 6 pounds and up to 30 pounds. Reflective mesh fabric keeps your pet both cool in summer and warm in winter. You won’t have to wrestle your pet to get this harness in place, because it’s made to step-in and snap. You’ll get extra security with the strong Velcro closure combined with a buckle attached to double D rings. A wide variety of colors makes this safety harness fun and fashionable as well.

With four adjustable straps, this harness is easy to fit your dog’s specific shape.

With four adjustable straps, this harness is easy to fit your dog’s specific shape. (rabbitgoo/)

Although dogs are often categorized by weight or chest measurements for harnesses, there can be a vast difference in the shape and size of two animals in the same weight class. That’s why we love the customization of this harness with its four adjustable straps around the neck and chest. Your pet will feel most secure and comfortable in a breathable material that fits snugly without rubbing against his skin, which makes this the perfect choice for a pampered pup. And for your comfort, the Rabbitgoo model features quick-release buckles and a sturdy handle for extra control.

Designed by a veterinary behaviorist with a patented strap across the chest for maximum control while training.

Designed by a veterinary behaviorist with a patented strap across the chest for maximum control while training. (PetSafe/)

Its deceptively simple design delivers a big impact on your dog’s behavior. Whether training a young puppy or working to cure bad habits in an older dog, this harness makes it easy to guide your animal in the right direction. The Martingale chest strap allows you maximum control and helps train your dog not to pull on the leash. The simple straps are also ideal for walking your dog in hot or humid weather without the added heat of a padded harness.

Big dogs who do hard work need a smartly-designed harness to get the job done.

Big dogs who do hard work need a smartly-designed harness to get the job done. (Auroth/)

Large dogs have been used for work ever since humans first domesticated them from wolves. As man’s best friend and most reliable partner, your canine companion deserves the very best equipment for the job. This heavy-duty tactical harness is designed with the versatility and functionality valued by police or military K-9 units. Four adjustable straps with sturdy pads allow your animal to pull heavy gear without discomfort. Additional Molle (stands for Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment) Velcro patches on the back of the harness are useful for carrying smaller items into the field.

Bright orange reflective fabric and heavy-duty construction will keep both of you safe.

Bright orange reflective fabric and heavy-duty construction will keep both of you safe. (BABYLTRL/)

Sometimes you just want the freedom of a nighttime run under the stars. And when you do, your dog is bursting with energy and ready to race alongside you. But big, powerful dogs need big, powerful harnesses to keep them in check when the wild thrill of the sprint is coursing adrenaline through their veins. To keep you both safe, you can rely on this reflective harness to ensure any passing motorists see you and steer clear. And when you need to tug on the leash to slow your excited friend down, you can be confident the tough straps and securely locked buckles will do the job without causing pain.

What Rising Home Prices? Where You Can Find the Most Homes Priced at $100K or Less

valentinrussanov/Getty Images

Owning a home is a lifelong dream for many Americans. But in many parts of the country, the dream can seem hazy and all too distant these days. Prices have zoomed to new heights over the past year as hordes of buyers flocked to the market—right at the same time that sellers spooked by the pandemic pulled their listings. Today, it’s hard enough finding a home for sale due to that historic inventory shortage, let alone one at a reasonable price.

However, there are still deals to be found—if you know where to look. That’s why our data team scoured the nation to find the metropolitan areas with the most homes for sale at just $100,000 or less. That’s quite a bargain considering the national median list price was more than three times higher, at $340,000 in December, according to realtor.com® data.

They’re out there for buyers willing to forgo trendy neighborhoods and invest in a fixer-upper.

The metros on our list are areas that have struggled economically, even if they’re now on the upswing. Some were once thriving industrial towns that have since fallen on harder times as factories closed. Many were hard hit by the Great Recession and the resulting foreclosure crisis. Some are cities that have rebounded, but with neighborhoods that still lag behind.

“Even the successful cities on this list have economies that may not be as vibrant as they once were. When you have more homes than interested buyers, that tends to result in lower prices,” says realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. Nonetheless, “homes that are $100,000 or less aren’t exactly common in these areas—they’re just more common than anywhere else.”

To come up with our findings, we scoured realtor.com to find metropolitan areas with the most single-family home listings at or below $100,000 in December. We narrowed our list to the 150 largest metros and included only one metro per state. (Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)

Ready for some bargain hunting? Grab the checkbook, and let’s go!

The metros with the most single-family homes at or under $100,000

Tony Frenzel

1. Detroit, MI 

The Detroit metro area has the most homes for sale at or under $100,000.

Photo by Mike Kline (notkalvin)/Getty Images

Median home list price: $251,550*
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 1,070

For decades, Detroit has been the poster child for industrialized cities in decline. First came the long ebb of auto manufacturing, then a crash of foreclosures during the Great Recession. But during the coronavirus pandemic, Detroit’s housing market has exploded, says Lyndsey Sass, associate broker at Re/Max Leading Edge in Dearborn Heights, MI, a Detroit suburb. Professionals from more expensive areas now able to work from home are flocking to Detroit for its low cost of living and affordable home prices.

You’ll have to act fast to nab one, though, says Jason Gelios, real estate agent with Community Choice Realty in the Detroit metro.

“These are some of the fastest-moving properties in Detroit and surrounding areas,” he says. “If you’re looking to purchase in this price range, you have to move fast and present a strong offer.”

Detroit is popular with buyers seeking starter homes and investors looking to purchase rental properties or homes to flip.

In Detroit, Grandmont-Rosedale and Warrendale are the neighborhoods where you’re most likely to find a home for less than six figures. Check out this three-bedroom brick home for $79,800, or this two-bedroom ranch home right next to a city park for $79,000.

2. St. Louis, MO 

Median home list price: $231,500
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 916

The St. Louis housing market is still on the rebound from the Great Recession, says local real estate agent Phil Hearn, of Real Estate Bees, a real estate tech platform. That’s why there are still good real estate bargains to be found—particularly for those who are handy and don’t mind putting in some elbow grease. But prices are going up, particularly on single-family houses.

“Whether you’re looking for a move-in ready or fixer-upper, you can find great deals throughout the city,” he says. “Depending on the neighborhood you choose, homes priced below $100,000 might need a face-lift or a full remodel.”

Buyers are most likely to find homes for around $100,000 in the Ellendale, Boulevard Heights, and Bevo Mill neighborhoods, which are all undergoing resurgence efforts. This historic home in Ellendale was built in 1938 and recently renovated. The two-bedroom brick home is listed for $80,000.

3. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh still has affordably priced homes for sale.

Davel5957/Getty Images

Median home list price: $239,500
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 659

The Steel City boasts some of the coolest neighborhoods in the country. Its thriving tech sector, top-notch universities, and more affordable cost of living have helped with the city’s reinvention.

Homes for around $100,000 can be found throughout the city, especially on the outskirts of the downtown metro, says Jen Mascaro, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services.

“Many are move-in ready, while others are a great investment opportunity to restore to their original glory,” Mascaro says.

“Someone looking to buy a home under $100,000 should be prepared to do some work,” says local real estate agent Dina Castillo, of Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty. “They should also be prepared to compromise on location. Locations where you could find homes under $100,000 a few years ago just don’t have those options anymore.”

For example, in Brookline, south of downtown, average home prices were around $110,000 in 2016, says Castillo. But they went up to $168,000 in 2020. However, this two-bedroom in Brookline is currently listed at $103,999.

4. Chicago, IL 

Median home list price: $327,025
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 506

While glitzy downtown Chicago houses a wealth of arts and cultural institutions, award-winning restaurants, and multimillion-dollar condos in glam high-rises, other Windy City neighborhoods are still struggling economically. These are the areas where buyers can still find relatively inexpensive real estate.

The most affordable include the South Side of Chicago and the southern suburbs, including Elgin, Joliet, and Waukegan, where you’ll find both attached and detached homes, says Paul Kempa, designated managing broker at Realty ONE Group in Chicago.

“Many of the affordable, single-family detached homes are being sold as is,” he explains. Many need a good amount of work, perfect for an enterprising buyer.

Example: For $100,000 (on the dot!), this 2,000-square-foot trilevel in Waukegan is a find. However, it does need some sprucing up.

5. Davenport, IA

Median home list price: $149,950
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 499

Located on the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa, Davenport, about 180 miles west of Chicago, is part of what’s known as the Quad Cities.

Some of the area’s biggest employers include John Deere, which is headquartered in the nearby suburb of Moline, IL, and the U.S. Army Reserve Support Command located on Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. But people flock to the Iowa side, which offers reasonably priced  homes and much lower property taxes, says W.T. Grampp, the real estate broker at Grampp Realty.

Central Davenport, which is home to great schools, shops, and very little traffic, is one of the best neighborhoods to find decent, bargain-priced homes. Many homes here are Victorian-style, with tall windows and ceilings, and are about 100 years old, Grampp says. This three-bedroom home built in 1915 is newly remodeled and listed for just $82,500.

6. Cleveland, OH 

There are still affordable homes for sale in Cleveland for those who know where to look.

Davel5957/Getty Images

Median home list price: $197,000
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 462

From professional sports teams to a notable restaurant scene to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland has plenty to offer its mix of families and young professionals.

“If someone has aspirations of becoming a homeowner, it is certainly well within their reach,” says local real estate agent Kristina Morales. “At the lower price points and within desirable areas of Cleveland, once a home hits the market, it is quickly taken off with multiple offers.”

The inner part of the city on the banks of Lake Erie is where you’re most likely to find a home within the $100,000 range. Many need to be remodeled, but there’s good news: Buyers who purchase a fixer-upper may qualify for the city’s Residential Tax Abatement Program, which eliminates property taxes when homeowners rehab certain homes.

Deals can be found in other parts of Cleveland, too. In the Slavic Village neighborhood, there’s a three-bedroom, Colonial-style home with an updated kitchen and bathroom for $85,000. Or buyers can snag a 2,000-square-foot, five-bedroom house located in West Park listed for $99,900.

7. Birmingham, AL

Median home list price: $256,800
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 386

Over the past several years, Birmingham has been striving to reinvent itself. Today it is a thriving metro with art museums, theaters, outdoors activities, festivals, and, as always, plenty of college football. The city attracts new residents with its low cost of living and homes available in various price ranges, says TJ Sayers, a real estate investor in Birmingham and owner of Birmingham Homebuyers.

“It is still possible to find houses in good areas around the $100,000 price range, especially those that need cosmetic upgrades,” he says. “But they don’t last long.”

Nearby towns like Pleasant Grove, McCalla, and Hueytown, and neighborhoods such as Huffman are a good place to start. Sayers says homes in these areas have appreciated well—for example, homes that sold for $100,000 a few years ago are now listed for $130,000 to $150,000.

“If you’re patient and are willing to do a few repairs, you may be able to find a great deal with instant equity in a good area like Huffman or Hueytown,” he adds.

Case in point: This 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom fixer-upper in Huffman is for sale as is for $89,000.

8. Memphis, TN 

Median home list price: $252,050
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 360

Memphis may be a bustling metro area, but residents say it still feels like a small, tight-knit community. More people have moved to Memphis over the past few years, drawn to its low cost of living and healthy job market. Some of the biggest local employers include FedEx, International Paper, and AutoZone, which all have their headquarters here.

Home prices here are also lower than in other nearby metros such as Nashville, three hours northeast. The median list price in the Nashville metro area was $396,400 in December.

Some of the most affordable neighborhoods in Memphis include Cooper-Young, Midtown, and West Memphis, which is actually located across the river in Arkansas. For $80,000, you can find a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Cooper-Young. But according to the listing, the home needs “some updating.”

9. Indianapolis, IN 

Bargain hunters can still find affordable real estate in and around Indianapolis.

Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Median home list price: $263,750
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 358

Indianapolis has a growing tech industry and has been luring young professionals from tech hubs on the West Coast. That migration is likely helped by its lower cost of living.

Lately, home inventory has been low, and even lower for homes priced around $100,000, and that’s sometimes creating bidding wars, says real estate broker Mike Jones, of Re/Max at The Crossing in Indianapolis.

“Pockets can be found all around the city in all directions,” Jones explains. The homes tend to date to the 1940s or earlier, and come in a range of sizes and amenities.

Located just five minutes from downtown, this remodeled two-bedroom is listed for $85,000, but it’s on the small side, at under 900 square feet. For almost twice the size, there’s a two-bedroom home in the Garden City neighborhood for $75,000.

10. Huntington, WV

Median home list price: $139,500
Number of homes listed at $100,000 or less: 247

Huntington has long struggled, including with the opioid epidemic, but appears to be on its way up. Community life and new businesses are thriving, and local parks, trails, and outdoor activities, such as boating, fishing, and camping, draw people from surrounding areas. Huntington is also affordable, and most residents are employed in the health care sector at one of the city’s hospitals or at Marshall University.

Huntington’s cost of living is well below the national average, and West Virginia has one of the lowest property tax rates in the country (lower than nearby Kentucky and Ohio). Home prices are low, too, but they’ve gone up about 23% over the past year. Still, you’ll have no trouble finding a home for less than $100,000 in just about any part of Huntington.

Located in the Southeast Hills neighborhood, this spacious 2,900-square-foot home with four bedrooms is an affordable $74,900. And you guessed it: The listing says it needs “a little TLC.”


* Median home list prices are for the metropolitan area as of December 2020 on realtor.com.

The post What Rising Home Prices? Where You Can Find the Most Homes Priced at $100K or Less appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.