We Want To Live in a Small Town Where We Can Bike, Hike and Kayak—So Where Should We Retire?

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Dear MarketWatch,

My wife and I will retire in 2024 and are starting to think about where we’d like to end up. Here are some of our parameters:

– Sell our current house and buy a house in a price range of $400,000 to $700,000.

– Love outdoor recreation like hiking, biking, kayaking.

– In or near a small town. College town is a bonus. In or near mountains is a bonus.

– Location: Mid-Atlantic is the first choice. Mountain West is good also.

– Weather: Four seasons. Not a terribly long winter. Not in the mega-drought zone.

Any and all suggestions are welcomed!

Thanks,

Dave

Dear Dave,

The good news is you and your wife have lots of choices, even with one or both of those bonus criteria. So many great places to hike, bike and kayak! I hope you’ll take the opportunity to spend some time in those places that make your short list, seeing them at their best and worst, whether that’s weather or crowds, and testing out daily life. College towns are very different depending on whether students are around—and some neighborhoods may be dominated by students.

You may also want to double-check your retirement finances; here’s a free retirement calculator to get you started.

Obviously a lot can change in three years, whether it’s the local housing market or your criteria. You may want to spend some extra time with the MarketWatch “where should I retire” tool to see if there’s something else you’d like to consider.

Where’s the best place for me to retire

 

In the meantime, here are three suggestions to get you started:

Poughkeepsie, New York

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Poughkeepsie, NY

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The MarketWatch “where should I retire” tool suggests Ithaca, but that might be too much snow for you. Instead, what about the Hudson Valley?

Center your search on Poughkeepsie, the seat of Dutchess County and home to both Vassar College and Marist College. (Neighboring Hyde Park, home of Franklin Roosevelt, offers the Culinary Institute.) Your housing money will go far here, or you may prefer something more upscale and more rural (though without the college town). You could look at Rhinebeck and Hudson, among others.

The Catskill Mountains (98 peaks, the highest of which is 4,180 feet, plus many hiking options and even some ski slopes) are on the western side of the Hudson River. The Appalachian Trail crosses to the east of Poughkeepsie along Pawling Mountain and Depot Hill, and the new Empire State Trail means you can pedal virtually traffic-free from several miles west of Poughkeepsie all the way to New York City. (Or take an easier option: either a Metro North commuter train or Amtrak.)

As for kayaking, start with the Hudson River. The Wallkill River is another option. Some Catskill reservoirs are open to paddlers.

Snow levels will depend on elevation, of course. In general, expect average winter highs above freezing and average summer highs in the lower 80s.

The Hudson Valley covers more than one county, but to get you started, here’s what’s the housing market now in both Poughkeepsie and all of Dutchess County. These are listings on Realtor.com, which like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.

Blacksburg, Virginia

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Blacksburg, VA

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The MarketWatch “where should I retire” tool suggested this town of 44,000 in the southwestern corner of the state that is home to Virginia Tech and about 30,000 students. You’d be in the Blue Ridge Mountains and have even more of the Appalachian Trail close by.

To get you started, the town’s Parks and Recreation Department offers kayaking excursions and mountain-biking clinics. If mountain biking isn’t your thing, the paved 14-mile Huckleberry Trail (with some rolling hills) may be more your speed. Less than 30 miles from Blacksburg is the 57-mile crushed-stone New River Trail. Or take your kayaks to either the New River not far from town or drive 35 minutes to Claytor Lake State Park.

As I’ve written many times, I like college towns for the extra amenities they provide and that many public universities let seniors take classes for free. That is the case at Virginia Tech for those 60 and older.

Temperatures here will be more moderate than in Poughkeepsie with about a foot less snow. Average winter highs are in the mid-40s, and summer highs average in the lower 80s.

Here’s what the local housing market looks like, again using listings on Realtor.com

If you like the area but Blacksburg isn’t quite right, Radford, a town of nearly 18,000 plus 10,000 Radford University students, is about 15 miles away. You can also audit college classes there for free.

I’ve also previously suggested a number of other Virginia possibilities: Roanoke (though its population is nearly 100,000), HarrisonburgCharlottesvilleLexington. They may also be options for you.

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

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Pagosa Springs, CO

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I don’t want to leave you without an option out West. With Pagosa Springs, you’d get an outdoor playground in Colorado, but the trade-off is no college town.

Pagosa Springs and, more broadly, Archuleta County (population 14,000) in southwestern Colorado is surrounded by roughly 2.5 million acres of national forest and wilderness, so plenty of hiking (and, often, mountain-biking) options. Chimney Rock National Monument is 20 miles west of town. You can kayak through town on the San Juan River, and then stop at a hot spring.

Elevation downtown is 7,100 feet, but it’s a dry, more desert-like climate with roughly 300 days of sunshine a year. Even so, nearby Wolf Creek Ski Area gets the most snow in Colorado with 400 inches a year.

While you’ll get snow in Pagosa Springs too, average winter highs are around 40 degrees. Average summer highs are in the lower 80s

There are a couple of drawbacks. One is spotty broadband internet access across the county, though that could change by the time you are ready to retire. Another is the small hospital; it has just seven overnight beds, so you may need to turn to Durango (75 minutes away) or even further afield. Colorado Springs (suggested here) and Denver can be a five-hour drive.

If you decide Pagosa Springs is too rural, look at pricier Durango, where 19,000 people live.

This housing market has been red-hot as more people work remotely, but it may be calmer by the time you retire. Here’s what’s on the market now in Archuleta County, according to Realtor.com.

The post We Want To Live in a Small Town Where We Can Bike, Hike and Kayak—So Where Should We Retire? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Florida’s Housing Market Was Surging, Then a Condo Building Collapsed. What Happens Now?

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The horrifying collapse of a condo building just outside of Miami has left the nation grappling with how a tragedy of this magnitude could have occurred on U.S. soil.

In the aftermath of the deadly disaster, questions will need to be answered on what caused the unprecedented collapse of Champlain Towers South last Thursday. Building and inspection codes will likely be revised. And Southern Florida’s oceanfront condo market, where units had been in high demand, will need to reckon with the immediate and longer-term repercussions of the the collapse.

“Never underestimate the draw of ocean views. But that’s going to be tempered by the fact that people are going to be nervous,” says Randall Bell, CEO of Landmark Research Group. His firm analyzes real estate after cataclysmic events. “The fact that people died in this shifts this into a new category.”

Real estate experts believe the sheer scale of the catastrophe, which resulted in 18 deaths and 145 missing people as of Thursday morning, will depress real estate prices on the beach in Southern Florida.

Many property owners are expected to put their condos on the market at a time when frightened buyers will be more hesitant to scoop them up, even at a discount. Older buildings like the Champlain Towers South, which was beginning its 40-year structural review and was constructed before newer building codes were enacted, are expected to be particularly hard-hit.

The cost of living on the water is also expected to rise. In the wake of the tragedy, decades-old buildings are expected to undergo rigorous inspections that could uncover pricey problems that need to be remedied. The cost of that work will typically be passed on to buyers and owners through higher monthly, maintenance fees.

However, Florida’s popularity with everyone from retirees to international investors, the appeal of oceanfront real estate, and the insanely hot housing market are expected to cushion the housing market. It became a top destination during the COVID-19 pandemic as employers moved operations to the Sunshine State and remote workers, particularly from the Northeast, flooded the housing market and drove up prices.

“In the near term, this is going to have a big impact on the market,” says luxury real estate broker Lani Kahn Drody, of Lowell International Realty. But “I don’t think there’s going to be a complete rejection of condo living. … It’s not like there are tons of options for people right now.”

The fallout is likely to be far worse in the short term

With the tragedy fresh in the public’s mind and receiving 24/7 news coverage, the condo market in South Florida won’t escape unscathed. Prices are expected to fall, even in newer buildings where they could dip a little, say appraisers.

“Similar to other natural disasters, there’s an element here of panic selling,” says real estate appraiser Orell Anderson, of Strategic Property Analytics. “There’s high uncertainty. People are really afraid. They don’t know if it will happen to their building tomorrow.”

This influx of real estate will likely help to lower prices as buyers will have more to choose from—and better bargaining power.

The disaster will dissuade many would-be buyers—but not everyone. Investors and those looking for a good deal typically swoop in after catastrophe strikes.

The damage isn’t expected to be permanent, either.

“Long-term is always pretty good,” says Landmark Research Group’s Bell. “There’s a limited memory of the public.”

Buyers tend to forget once the damage has been cleared away. The wildfires that swept through California’s wine country hasn’t dampened the appeal of the area, nor do violent hurricanes tend to do lasting damage to a real estate market. Just look at New Orleans, which the deadly Hurricane Katrina devastated in 2005, or Houston, which was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“There’s still this really strong demand for oceanfront living. I haven’t seen any kind of pullback based on rising sea levels and storms,” says Lesley Deutch, managing principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting. She’s based in Boca Raton, FL, and works in Florida and the Southeast. “There is always a scare and people may leave for the short term, but people come back.”

Bell also believes the tragedy won’t affect beachfront real estate much outside of South Florida. That’s because this appears to be a one-off event, and because it didn’t happen locally, it’s not likely to spook buyers in, say, California.

“It’s going to be more regional,” Bell says of the impact.

Demand for condos in older buildings will likely recover

Don’t expect demand to disappear for older buildings, though. With home prices hitting record highs and budgets being stretched to the brink, buyers are desperate for bargains.

Before the disaster, prices in Champlain Towers were significantly lower than the newer, nearby luxury buildings. Most of the more recent sales there were between $600,000 and $1 million, according to broker Kahn Drody’s analysis of multiple listing service data. One much larger unit sold for $3 million, but that appears to be an exception.

Then look at 87 Park, a nearby condo complex constructed in 2020. One-bedroom units there start at just under $2 million. Recent sales ranged from $6 million to $8 million.

Those determined to live on the beach may not let the age of a building get in their way—particularly when the alternatives cost millions more.

However, they’re likely to pay much closer attention to structural engineering, maintenance, and cash reserves for the buildings to cover repairs or fix problems. They may ask more questions about construction defects and potential issues that may not have been raised previously. And there may be an increased focus on rising sea levels, flooding, and hurricanes, which can damage buildings.

“Things like chipped concrete, constant flooding, and peeling paint—especially in waterside communities—can be a warning sign and can indicate the building isn’t being properly maintained,” Kahn Drody says. “Whenever you’re purchasing in any condominium building, it’s important to do the homework and look at the financial stability of the building. Is it planning for its future?”

The South building, which was the one that collapsed, was constructed in 1982. Newer, safer building codes weren’t put in place until after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992.

Forty years is still relatively young for a building, says George Dotzler, director of Construction Research Laboratory. The Miami-based firms tests facades as well as other building features for resiliency.

Well-maintained structures should last forever, he says. “This is a complete outlier. This should never happen.”

The post Florida’s Housing Market Was Surging, Then a Condo Building Collapsed. What Happens Now? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Florida’s Housing Market Was Surging, Then a Condo Building Collapsed. What Happens Now?

Getty Images

The horrifying collapse of a condo building just outside of Miami has left the nation grappling with how a tragedy of this magnitude could have occurred on U.S. soil.

In the aftermath of the deadly disaster, questions will need to be answered on what caused the unprecedented collapse of Champlain Towers South last Thursday. Building and inspection codes will likely be revised. And Southern Florida’s oceanfront condo market, where units had been in high demand, will need to reckon with the immediate and longer-term repercussions of the the collapse.

“Never underestimate the draw of ocean views. But that’s going to be tempered by the fact that people are going to be nervous,” says Randall Bell, CEO of Landmark Research Group. His firm analyzes real estate after cataclysmic events. “The fact that people died in this shifts this into a new category.”

Real estate experts believe the sheer scale of the catastrophe, which resulted in 18 deaths and 145 missing people as of Thursday morning, will depress real estate prices on the beach in Southern Florida.

Many property owners are expected to put their condos on the market at a time when frightened buyers will be more hesitant to scoop them up, even at a discount. Older buildings like the Champlain Towers South, which was beginning its 40-year structural review and was constructed before newer building codes were enacted, are expected to be particularly hard-hit.

The cost of living on the water is also expected to rise. In the wake of the tragedy, decades-old buildings are expected to undergo rigorous inspections that could uncover pricey problems that need to be remedied. The cost of that work will typically be passed on to buyers and owners through higher monthly, maintenance fees.

However, Florida’s popularity with everyone from retirees to international investors, the appeal of oceanfront real estate, and the insanely hot housing market are expected to cushion the housing market. It became a top destination during the COVID-19 pandemic as employers moved operations to the Sunshine State and remote workers, particularly from the Northeast, flooded the housing market and drove up prices.

“In the near term, this is going to have a big impact on the market,” says luxury real estate broker Lani Kahn Drody, of Lowell International Realty. But “I don’t think there’s going to be a complete rejection of condo living. … It’s not like there are tons of options for people right now.”

The fallout is likely to be far worse in the short term

With the tragedy fresh in the public’s mind and receiving 24/7 news coverage, the condo market in South Florida won’t escape unscathed. Prices are expected to fall, even in newer buildings where they could dip a little, say appraisers.

“Similar to other natural disasters, there’s an element here of panic selling,” says real estate appraiser Orell Anderson, of Strategic Property Analytics. “There’s high uncertainty. People are really afraid. They don’t know if it will happen to their building tomorrow.”

This influx of real estate will likely help to lower prices as buyers will have more to choose from—and better bargaining power.

The disaster will dissuade many would-be buyers—but not everyone. Investors and those looking for a good deal typically swoop in after catastrophe strikes.

The damage isn’t expected to be permanent, either.

“Long-term is always pretty good,” says Landmark Research Group’s Bell. “There’s a limited memory of the public.”

Buyers tend to forget once the damage has been cleared away. The wildfires that swept through California’s wine country hasn’t dampened the appeal of the area, nor do violent hurricanes tend to do lasting damage to a real estate market. Just look at New Orleans, which the deadly Hurricane Katrina devastated in 2005, or Houston, which was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“There’s still this really strong demand for oceanfront living. I haven’t seen any kind of pullback based on rising sea levels and storms,” says Lesley Deutch, managing principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting. She’s based in Boca Raton, FL, and works in Florida and the Southeast. “There is always a scare and people may leave for the short term, but people come back.”

Bell also believes the tragedy won’t affect beachfront real estate much outside of South Florida. That’s because this appears to be a one-off event, and because it didn’t happen locally, it’s not likely to spook buyers in, say, California.

“It’s going to be more regional,” Bell says of the impact.

Demand for condos in older buildings will likely recover

Don’t expect demand to disappear for older buildings, though. With home prices hitting record highs and budgets being stretched to the brink, buyers are desperate for bargains.

Before the disaster, prices in Champlain Towers were significantly lower than the newer, nearby luxury buildings. Most of the more recent sales there were between $600,000 and $1 million, according to broker Kahn Drody’s analysis of multiple listing service data. One much larger unit sold for $3 million, but that appears to be an exception.

Then look at 87 Park, a nearby condo complex constructed in 2020. One-bedroom units there start at just under $2 million. Recent sales ranged from $6 million to $8 million.

Those determined to live on the beach may not let the age of a building get in their way—particularly when the alternatives cost millions more.

However, they’re likely to pay much closer attention to structural engineering, maintenance, and cash reserves for the buildings to cover repairs or fix problems. They may ask more questions about construction defects and potential issues that may not have been raised previously. And there may be an increased focus on rising sea levels, flooding, and hurricanes, which can damage buildings.

“Things like chipped concrete, constant flooding, and peeling paint—especially in waterside communities—can be a warning sign and can indicate the building isn’t being properly maintained,” Kahn Drody says. “Whenever you’re purchasing in any condominium building, it’s important to do the homework and look at the financial stability of the building. Is it planning for its future?”

The South building, which was the one that collapsed, was constructed in 1982. Newer, safer building codes weren’t put in place until after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992.

Forty years is still relatively young for a building, says George Dotzler, director of Construction Research Laboratory. The Miami-based firms tests facades as well as other building features for resiliency.

Well-maintained structures should last forever, he says. “This is a complete outlier. This should never happen.”

The post Florida’s Housing Market Was Surging, Then a Condo Building Collapsed. What Happens Now? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Best Slime Kits for Fun and Laughs

At-home slime kits will keep the kids happy and busy for hours.

At-home slime kits will keep the kids happy and busy for hours. ( Amazon/)

Because we all secretly love slime, we’ve put together a list of our preferred slime kits, based on entertainment, safety, and overall value. Try dipping into one of these recommended slime kits and watch your kids get creative.

The non-toxic formulas come in containers that are washable, reusable, safe, and made without borax powder.

The non-toxic formulas come in containers that are washable, reusable, safe, and made without borax powder. (Zen Laboratory/)

This value pack of different colored slimes will keep your kids entertained for long periods of time. The slime kit includes not only 18 different colored slimes, but also two plastic straws, 12 vials of colored glitter, 3 bags of beads, 6 bags of foam balls, and 3 cutting and shaping utensils. This broad collection will let your kids work all kinds of magic on their slime. Unlike most other toys, the slime kit can help stimulate your child’s creativity while enhancing their motor skills and boosting hand-eye coordination. Who knew slime was so scientific? Like the cherry on top, you’ll also find glow-in-the-dark powder so your children can have adventures with their slime even at nighttime! This kit is great for Christmas gifts, birthdays, art projects, party activities, or just for playtime.

Buy: DIY Slime Kit Toy for Kids Girls Boys Ages 5-12

It also includes helpful written instructions as well as access to online videos to spark ideas and ensure their recipes are a success.

It also includes helpful written instructions as well as access to online videos to spark ideas and ensure their recipes are a success. (Original Stationery/)

If she loves unicorns, she will especially love this. The Unicorn Slime Kit is a comprehensive package fully loaded with creative potential in pretty pastel colors. Your children will be able to create endless mixtures and designs with the tools and accessories included, such as beads, pearls, inks, molds, glitters, foam balls, jelly cubes, snow powder, and even scents that add a delicious smell to their creations. How many variations of squishy slime can be created? They will love finding out. Improve your children’s social and creative skills with over 100 possibilities in this exciting and colorful slime kit.

Buy: Original Stationery Unicorn Slime Kit Supplies

The magical liquid is an all-in-one formula that doesn’t require you to supply baking soda or other additives in order to get started.

The magical liquid is an all-in-one formula that doesn’t require you to supply baking soda or other additives in order to get started. (Elmer /)

We’re all familiar with Elmer’s Glue. Who didn’t have one of these as a staple school supply? But did you know Elmer’s also offers colored glues, metallic glues, glitters, confetti, and even glow-in-the-dark glue? Use Elmer’s magical slime activator liquids to experiment with and craft an assortment of slimy creations. We like the important feature that these are washable, non-toxic ingredients, making it a safe activity for kids ages 3 and up. Use this kit, again and again, to transform colorful, glittery glue into a variety of slimy creations. You can store them in an airtight bag and preserve them for months if your kids don’t want to part with their masterpiece.

Buy: Elmer’s Celebration Slime Kit

Contains your own mixing pots and stirring tools, and storage cases with black ribbon for stashing away their treasures.

Contains your own mixing pots and stirring tools, and storage cases with black ribbon for stashing away their treasures. (Original Stationery/)

This 25-piece galaxy-themed slime kit is out of this world. This trippy, colorful slime kit makes a perfect gift for the arts-and-crafts ingenue or an engaging entertainment activity for girls and boys ages 8 and older. It includes stars, stickers, and powder that all glow in the dark like real constellations, plus glitter, inks, foam balls, and flakes – all the stellar accessories your kids need to ensure hours of galactic creativity. The easy-to-follow instructions will help guide you and your children to successful creations with minimum hassle. You’ll like how the slime is 100 percent hypoallergenic, making it safe for children and adults.

Buy: Original Stationery Galaxy Slime Kit

With this hefty selection, they’re sure to enjoy crafting projects again and again.

With this hefty selection, they’re sure to enjoy crafting projects again and again. (ESSENSON /)

If you can’t decide on which theme or slime kit you want to get, why not just try one that has a little bit of everything? This comprehensive kit has oodles of supplies to make dozens of amazing slime creations, and also enough accessories to use for a variety of other arts and crafts projects. Your imagination is virtually the only limit here. For children ages six and up, this DIY slime kit comes with numerous colored slimes, glitters, fishbowl beads, charms, colorful foam balls, fruit slices, sugar paper, molds, and mixing tools, to provide hours of stimulating creativity and practicing motor skills. It’s so inviting you’ll want to get in on the action. You can say you’re supervising. Get them off the electronics or give them hours of rainy-day activity.

Buy: Slime Kit – Slime Supplies Slime Making Kit

More Homes Went Up For Sale in June, but Prices Still Hit New Highs

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The housing market may be taking one step forward—and two steps back.

In a sign that the hot housing market is getting a little better for buyers, more homes hit the market in June, according to a recent Realtor.com® report. However, prices continued to soar, reaching a new all-time high.

The number of new listings for sale increased 10.9% in June compared with a month earlier—and were up 5.5% annually.

However, the overall number of homes for sale was down 43.1% from June of the previous year, when the nation was already in the throes of a housing shortage.

The dearth of properties for sale boosted median list prices 12.7% year over year, to reach $385,000. While prices may be higher, the rate of price growth has slowed. In May, prices were up 15.2% compared with the previous year.

“It’s a shift away from an overheated market to a new normal,” says Realtor.com® Senior Economist George Ratiu.

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Watch: Inventory Is Up and Mortgage Rates Are Down: Is Relief in Sight for Frustrated Buyers?

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“More homeowners are deciding to put their homes on the market, encouraged by vaccines, a stronger economy, and low mortgage rates,” says Ratiu. “What this means is buyers will have more choices at more affordable prices.”

The housing shortage has been a problem in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, but hit crisis proportions over the past year. This resulted in record-high asking prices and bidding wars driving the price tags to new heights. Median list price increases were the highest in Austin, TX, where they rose 34.3% from last year, to $524,000.

Nationally, homes are also selling faster, lasting just 35 days on market. That’s two days shorter than in June 2020.

The picture was rosier in the 50 largest metropolitan areas, where 11.7% more new listings came onto the market in June compared with last year. Milwaukee gained the most new listings, at 44.7%, followed by Silicon Valley’s San Jose, CA, at 40.7%, and Cleveland, at 37.9%.

“We’re going to see more homes come to the market as we move through the summer into the fall,” says Ratiu. “More first-time buyers will see much more approachable prices as the number of homes increases.”

The post More Homes Went Up For Sale in June, but Prices Still Hit New Highs appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

More Homes Went Up For Sale in June, but Prices Still Hit New Highs

Getty Images

The housing market may be taking one step forward—and two steps back.

In a sign that the hot housing market is getting a little better for buyers, more homes hit the market in June, according to a recent Realtor.com® report. However, prices continued to soar, reaching a new all-time high.

The number of new listings for sale increased 10.9% in June compared with a month earlier—and were up 5.5% annually.

However, the overall number of homes for sale was down 43.1% from June of the previous year, when the nation was already in the throes of a housing shortage.

The dearth of properties for sale boosted median list prices 12.7% year over year, to reach $385,000. While prices may be higher, the rate of price growth has slowed. In May, prices were up 15.2% compared with the previous year.

“It’s a shift away from an overheated market to a new normal,” says Realtor.com® Senior Economist George Ratiu.

“More homeowners are deciding to put their homes on the market, encouraged by vaccines, a stronger economy, and low mortgage rates,” says Ratiu. “What this means is buyers will have more choices at more affordable prices.”

The housing shortage has been a problem in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, but hit crisis proportions over the past year. This resulted in record-high asking prices and bidding wars driving the price tags to new heights. Median list price increases were the highest in Austin, TX, where they rose 34.3% from last year, to $524,000.

Nationally, homes are also selling faster, lasting just 35 days on market. That’s two days shorter than in June 2020.

The picture was rosier in the 50 largest metropolitan areas, where 11.7% more new listings came onto the market in June compared with last year. Milwaukee gained the most new listings, at 44.7%, followed by Silicon Valley’s San Jose, CA, at 40.7%, and Cleveland, at 37.9%.

“We’re going to see more homes come to the market as we move through the summer into the fall,” says Ratiu. “More first-time buyers will see much more approachable prices as the number of homes increases.”

The post More Homes Went Up For Sale in June, but Prices Still Hit New Highs appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Exclusive: The Stars of ‘Farmhouse Facelift’ Dish on the Dirty Truth of Fixing Up an Old House

Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink

HGTV Canada

Think fixing up an old farmhouse would be an idyllic way to spend your days? Then it’s high time for a crack-of-dawn wake-up call from the stars of a new reality show, “Farmhouse Facelift.”

In this 10-part series (now available on Hulu), Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink renovate old farms in Canada, making them more modern and functional for families today. And while the results are pretty as can be, this brother-and-sister team would be the first to say that getting to this picture-perfect “after” portrait is often a grueling process.

For a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s really like to fix up a farmhouse, check out what this up-and-coming design duo has learned—the hard way—that might make you think twice before swinging that sledgehammer.

Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink
Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink

HGTV Canada

Carolyn, you’re a designer, and Billy, you’re a contractor. How did you guys get into these industries and start working together?

Carolyn Wilbrink: I actually went to school for broadcast journalism, and then I went to design school once I had my first two children.

Our grandmother was a seamstress, and our mom can also sew. Billy builds everything, so it was always like if I couldn’t find something, I’d ask Billy to build it or somebody to sew it for me, or I would do the same thing. It came to a point where someone was just, like, “Why wouldn’t you go back to school for interior design?” So that’s what I did.

Billy Pearson: I’ve been doing construction since I was about 21, but Carolyn and I really teamed up when she bought her first farmhouse. No one else wanted to take on the challenges or the headaches of that farmhouse, and she came to me, not really begging but…

Wilbrink: Pretty much begging. No one else I knew would do the job that I knew Billy would do.

Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink
Wilbrink and Pearson

HGTV Canada

While fixing up a farmhouse sounds glamorous at first glance, what are some of the trickier problems you’ve run into that you didn’t expect?

Wilbrink: The first farmhouse Billy and I did together, my old house, everything looked as if it was regular electrical.

Pearson: It looked like it had been updated. They had a brand-new panel in the basement with new wiring. But when we opened up the ceiling in the kitchen, we found all these illegal junctions that they’d buried where they’d tied new wiring into knob-and-tube electrical, which is totally against code. So that was a huge expense for Carolyn and her husband.

living room
Living room

HGTV Canada

Wilbrink: Billy and I both love to use antiques if we can. Like, in Episode 1, we took an antique dresser and we turned it into that vanity. But I don’t like to overdo it with antiques. I think that it gets to a point where it can be stuffy.

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Watch: Christina Haack Is Ready to Flip Her Home, Turn Over a New Leaf

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Pearson: Like Grandma’s house.

Wilbrink: Although there’s a new trend coming around, “grandmillennial.” Right now that’s huge, and you will see some of that in our upcoming season. I really love incorporating florals, mixing patterns. Wallpaper is huge for me. I really love using that this season, because not a lot of people will trust you with wallpapers.

Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink
Wilbrink and Pearson

HGTV Canada

DIY has been a big trend during the pandemic. What are some of the top mistakes homeowners make when renovating their own home?

Pearson: In the third episode, one client was trying his best with his dad. They would work on weekends to sort of tackle some of the renovations on their second story. But there were a few telltale signs that they didn’t have the expertise to do some of it. I don’t want to make that sound rude, because they were trying their best and they did a nice job, but just certain things, like the insulation, hadn’t been done right.

Wilbrink: Pretty much every episode, when Billy and I would demo things out, you could find DIY homeowner renovations where they would patch certain things and not do it correctly.

Pearson: Or even like one house, you could get on the toilet and it was so close to the sink that you could sit there and brush your teeth. I mean, that’s more of a matter of spatial awareness.

What are some red flags that people should look out for when they buy an older home?

Pearson: When you open a wall in an old home, you never know what you’re going to find, especially if a home is, like, 150 years old. There’s been a lot of families living there, a lot of people doing their own renovations. And sometimes they build walls in front of things and hide things. There’s always the risk of unknown discoveries. You want to change lead pipe plumbing right away—also galvanized plumbing, because you’re probably going to have poor water pressure from that, ’cause it’s full of rust.

You’re also going to have to look out for asbestos, especially if you’re going to be demolishing anything, because you have to have it removed professionally. And that can add quite a significant amount to your renovation cost if you hadn’t yet factored that in.

Wilbrink: Yeah, and there’s even other things, like water. I have a 160-year-old farmhouse, and the well is horrible. It was never dug deep enough, because back in the day, you didn’t have to dig so deep. That is going to be a massive cost for us when we do our renovations.

Pearson: When you’re falling in love with the house, you kind of have to think about all these other things that are going to cost you a lot of money. You want to make sure everything’s in good shape, structurally and whatnot, before you dive in and take that plunge.

The post Exclusive: The Stars of ‘Farmhouse Facelift’ Dish on the Dirty Truth of Fixing Up an Old House appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Exclusive: The Stars of ‘Farmhouse Facelift’ Dish on the Dirty Truth of Fixing Up an Old House

Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink

HGTV

Think fixing up an old farmhouse would be an idyllic way to spend your days? Then it’s high time for a crack-of-dawn wake-up call from the stars of a new reality show, “Farmhouse Facelift.”

In this 10-part series (now available on Hulu), Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink renovate old farms in Canada, making them more modern and functional for families today. And while the results are pretty as can be, this brother-and-sister team would be the first to say that getting to this picture-perfect “after” portrait is often a grueling process.

For a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s really like to fix up a farmhouse, check out what this up-and-coming design duo has learned—the hard way—that might make you think twice before swinging that sledgehammer.

Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink
Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink

HGTV

Carolyn, you’re a designer, and Billy, you’re a contractor. How did you guys get into these industries and start working together?

Carolyn Wilbrink: I actually went to school for broadcast journalism, and then I went to design school once I had my first two children.

Our grandmother was a seamstress, and our mom can also sew. Billy builds everything, so it was always like if I couldn’t find something, I’d ask Billy to build it or somebody to sew it for me, or I would do the same thing. It came to a point where someone was just, like, “Why wouldn’t you go back to school for interior design?” So that’s what I did.

Billy Pearson: I’ve been doing construction since I was about 21, but Carolyn and I really teamed up when she bought her first farmhouse. No one else wanted to take on the challenges or the headaches of that farmhouse, and she came to me, not really begging but…

Wilbrink: Pretty much begging. No one else I knew would do the job that I knew Billy would do.

Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink
Wilbrink and Pearson

HGTV

While fixing up a farmhouse sounds glamorous at first glance, what are some of the trickier problems you’ve run into that you didn’t expect?

Wilbrink: The first farmhouse Billy and I did together, my old house, everything looked as if it was regular electrical.

Pearson: It looked like it had been updated. They had a brand-new panel in the basement with new wiring. But when we opened up the ceiling in the kitchen, we found all these illegal junctions that they’d buried where they’d tied new wiring into knob-and-tube electrical, which is totally against code. So that was a huge expense for Carolyn and her husband.

living room
Living room

HGTV

Wilbrink: Billy and I both love to use antiques if we can. Like, in Episode 1, we took an antique dresser and we turned it into that vanity. But I don’t like to overdo it with antiques. I think that it gets to a point where it can be stuffy.

Pearson: Like Grandma’s house.

Wilbrink: Although there’s a new trend coming around, “grandmillennial.” Right now that’s huge, and you will see some of that in our upcoming season. I really love incorporating florals, mixing patterns. Wallpaper is huge for me. I really love using that this season, because not a lot of people will trust you with wallpapers.

Billy Pearson and Carolyn Wilbrink
Wilbrink and Pearson

HGTV

DIY has been a big trend during the pandemic. What are some of the top mistakes homeowners make when renovating their own home?

Pearson: In the third episode, one client was trying his best with his dad. They would work on weekends to sort of tackle some of the renovations on their second story. But there were a few telltale signs that they didn’t have the expertise to do some of it. I don’t want to make that sound rude, because they were trying their best and they did a nice job, but just certain things, like the insulation, hadn’t been done right.

Wilbrink: Pretty much every episode, when Billy and I would demo things out, you could find DIY homeowner renovations where they would patch certain things and not do it correctly.

Pearson: Or even like one house, you could get on the toilet and it was so close to the sink that you could sit there and brush your teeth. I mean, that’s more of a matter of spatial awareness.

What are some red flags that people should look out for when they buy an older home?

Pearson: When you open a wall in an old home, you never know what you’re going to find, especially if a home is, like, 150 years old. There’s been a lot of families living there, a lot of people doing their own renovations. And sometimes they build walls in front of things and hide things. There’s always the risk of unknown discoveries. You want to change lead pipe plumbing right away—also galvanized plumbing, because you’re probably going to have poor water pressure from that, ’cause it’s full of rust.

You’re also going to have to look out for asbestos, especially if you’re going to be demolishing anything, because you have to have it removed professionally. And that can add quite a significant amount to your renovation cost if you hadn’t yet factored that in.

Wilbrink: Yeah, and there’s even other things, like water. I have a 160-year-old farmhouse, and the well is horrible. It was never dug deep enough, because back in the day, you didn’t have to dig so deep. That is going to be a massive cost for us when we do our renovations.

Pearson: When you’re falling in love with the house, you kind of have to think about all these other things that are going to cost you a lot of money. You want to make sure everything’s in good shape, structurally and whatnot, before you dive in and take that plunge.

The post Exclusive: The Stars of ‘Farmhouse Facelift’ Dish on the Dirty Truth of Fixing Up an Old House appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.