The Price Is Wrong: Many Underestimate These Home Improvement Costs

Home Improvement costs

Getty Images

First-time homebuyers may assume that once they purchase their home—an expensive feat these days—they are done bleeding money. However, they may not be properly budgeting for common home improvement projects, which can be substantial.

Many Americans are underestimating the price of many popular home improvement and maintenance projects, such as installing new windows, doing the landscaping, and painting the interiors, according to a recent HomeAdvisor, powered by Angi, survey. And that’s likely becoming a bigger problem as labor shortages, global supply chain snafus, high inflation, and the rising costs of building materials are delaying projects and causing them to cost significantly more than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The digital marketplace, which connects consumers to local home services, surveyed more than 900 people in October about home improvements and how much various projects cost.

“While material costs may have exacerbated the discrepancy between estimated and real costs for home improvement projects, it was not the main driver,” says Mischa Fisher, chief economist at Angi. (After a merger, HomeAdvisor is now HomeAdvisor, powered by Angi.)

“People typically don’t realize the complexity involved in home improvement projects and consistently underestimate their costs,” says Fisher. “For example, someone putting in new flooring may consider the cost of the new flooring material, but fail to include the additional costs of the demolition and removal of prior flooring, removal and replacing of appliances and/or cabinets, site preparation and cleanup, and, most importantly, the high-quality labor needed to do each of these steps.”

About 4 in 10 people didn’t realize how much it would cost to have windows installed. Meanwhile, more than a quarter underestimated the price to have the interiors of their home painted, a popular pastime during the pandemic as folks were stuck inside. And almost 1 in 4 lowballed how much landscaping costs—by about 67% on average, according to the survey.

For example, professional painters charge anywhere from $200 to $800 to paint a 10-by-12-foot room, according to HomeAdvisor. Those who do it themselves will typically spend between $100 and $300. However, survey respondents estimated it would cost them about half of what they would spend if they did the job themselves.

Many Americans also underestimated landscaping costs—by about two-thirds of the price of getting the job done. About a quarter of households completed a landscaping project in 2020, when the pandemic hit.

A mismatch between what folks think something costs and how much it actually does would help to explain why about two-thirds of Americans say home maintenance projects are stressful. Men were less likely to say fixing up their abodes was stressful, at 58%, compared with 43% of women.

HomeAdvisor experts advise folks to tack about 5% to 10% onto their initial project estimates to account for future price fluctuations on materials, appliances, and other items.

To save money, folks can also opt for repairing or refinishing what they already have instead of replacing them. That could mean painting dated kitchen cabinetry or home siding rather than buying new.

“For any home improvement, it’s important to get multiple estimates before signing a contract,” says Fisher. “And remember, the cheapest option isn’t always the best. Consider the quality of the work, ask for references, and check ratings and reviews online before deciding who to hire.”

The post The Price Is Wrong: Many Underestimate These Home Improvement Costs appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Do You Dare Peek at the 9 Wildest Real Estate Photos of 2021?

Wildest Real Estate Photos of 2021

Here at Realtor.com®, we see a lot of real estate listings. And when you scroll through homes all day, every day, you know that it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. Luckily for us—and you—we can safely say that 2021 delivered when it came to truly offbeat homes—with outlandish photos to match.

We’ve rounded up our nine favorite photos of the year and would love for you to join us on a pictorial journey. We weren’t the only gawkers on many of these real estate listings; they went viral and were shared all over the internet (whether that was the seller’s intent or not).

Whether it’s dead-eyed dolls or a creepy basement pool, there’s something for everyone. Have a look at the wildest and weirdest homes of this year.

Louisiana home festooned with creepy dolls

Welcome to the doll house. An abandoned, trash-strewn home in Metairie, LA, was otherwise unremarkable and, quite frankly, in a sad state. But the vacant-looking dolls livened up the listing for this small three-bedroom abode.

Posed throughout the wreckage, they compelled folks to share the listing photos far and wide.

Thanks to a listing agent who leaned into the situation, the doll house gambit worked. It resulted in hundreds of thousands of clicks and a quick sale.

Doll house in Metairie, LA

Realtor.com


Tilted house

Here’s our slant: This off-kilter home is straight-up cool. If you’re tired of boxy tract homes, a tilted home in Marshfield, VT, might be just your style.

Built in the 1970s, this oddly angled abode has virtually no vertical exterior walls. From the exterior, the two-bedroom home looks as if it has landed on its side and might tip over at any moment. (It won’t.)

Inside, the wood paneling on the walls veers in all kinds of directions. The somewhat dizzying effect, along with the lack of traditional engineering, could have scared off buyers. Instead, when the tilted house landed on the market, it received five offers in just a few days, and eventually sold for more than the asking price.

Tilted home in Vermont
Tilted home in Marshfield, VT

Ted Dawson


Mannequin mania

When you put your home on the market with all your stuff in it, you’d better be prepared to be judged.

And that’s what happened when a dated duplex was listed in South Lake Tahoe, CA. The photos, which displayed the owner’s extensive mannequin collection, caused a collective gasp of horror from the web.

The 2,100-square-foot home felt a bit claustrophobic, with wall-to-wall emerald green carpet, outdated decor, and clutter everywhere. As a showcase for the owner’s menagerie of gussied-up mannequins, bejeweled and decked out in evening gowns, it created a jarring spectacle.

The accidental sideshow grabbed attention online, apparently surprising both the listing agent and the owner. The home eventually sold as is. As for the mannequins, they apparently departed with the seller.

Mannequins in South Lake Tahoe, CA, duplex

Realtor.com


‘Slice of hell’

After an ousted tenant trashed a Colorado Springs, CO, home, the owner placed the vandalized space on the market.

No spin would work here: This place was a wreck. Photos of the five-bedroom home showed interior damage throughout.

The rooms had been defaced with spray paint on the walls, carpet, windows, and doors. Chunks of the walls had been knocked out. Even the kitchen appliances had not escaped unscathed. So, rather than sugarcoat the situation, the description spoke its truth and invited buyers to turn this “slice of hell” into a slice of heaven.

Well, brutal honesty served the listing well: Out of sheer curiosity to view the destruction, thousands of viewers were drawn to the listing, and the fixer sold in a month. It has since been transformed and been returned to the market fully made over, with a higher price tag.

Graffiti
Graffiti inside home in Colorado Springs, CO

Mimi Foster


35 feet below the Earth

In 2019, Nik Stroiney became the proud owner of a defunct missile silo outside Little Rock, AR. He launched a YouTube channel to document his work transforming the decommissioned site from a dirt-filled, underground curiosity into a usable space.

While some saw simple Cold War wreckage, Stroiney saw a future vacation home and event center. The complex is way, way underground—35 feet, to be specific, and behind 6,000-pound blast doors.

When he bought it, the bunker was filled with muddy water. Once cleared out, the former missile and launch control center will have around 5,000 square feet of usable space.

Stroiney’s silo isn’t as rare as you might think. Many of these decommissioned properties, which often include acres of land, were sold off after the Cold War.

Some silo sites are in private hands, and some are owned by local governments, and we’ve come across a few on the market. It was the first time we had talked to an owner, and the fascinating interview can be found here.

Silo
Underground silo life

Realtor.com


Walls of a former Arkansas jail

If the fortresslike stone exterior doesn’t give it away, the bars on the windows might: A former county jail in Arkansas landed on the market and hoped to lock up a buyer.

The two-story structure, built from locally sourced stone in 1914, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The first floor housed the jailer’s residence, and a separate entrance and staircase led to the cellblocks.

Reminders of its past are everywhere, complete with inmate graffiti and a large set of antique keys. It’s unclear if the property ever found a buyer.

Jail cell wall

Realtor.com


Steel House in Texas

In our experience, mansions are often marketed as “works of art.” But an actual sculpture? That’s how best to describe the iconic home in Ransom Canyon, TX.

Known as the “Steel House,” this labor of love was undertaken by the late builder Robert Bruno. He created the place by hand from an astonishing 150 tons of steel.

Bruno died in 2008 and never finished the project he started in 1974. The home, which looks like a creature set on four steel legs, still needs a few finishing touches.

The new owners quickly returned the steel house to the market to see if they could tempt a buyer. If not, they planned to fix it up and offer it as a short-term rental. If the amazing photos are any indication, plenty of curious vacationers will want to plan a stay.

Steel sculpture house in Ransom Canyon, TX

Realtor.com


Connecticut castle

Hear ye, hear ye! This Woodstock, CT, castle, built in 2010, returned to the market this year and enraptured a whole new audience of real estate gawkers. We can’t get enough of this mansion’s sheer majesty.

Elaborate from every angle, its design is inspired by European modelas—with hardwood shipped from around the world, stained glass, and even a cloud motif on the ceiling.

The listing initially came on the market back in 2014, for the staggering sum of $45 million. It was the most popular home that year.

Alas, all those clicks and shares have yet to lead to a sale of this picturesque palace.

Castle in Woodstock, CT

Realtor.com


Basement pool in mill

A former grist mill from the 1860s came on the market in Bellefonte, PA, looking for a buyer willing to bring the place into the twenty-first century. While the milling equipment is gone, a spring still flows into an opening in the basement to create a “pool” of sorts.

While we do love a water feature, we’re not sure what kind of buyer would be ready to dive into this one. (And no, we don’t think the swan floaty is helping the cause.)

The mill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is still on the market.

Basement pool in mill in Bellefonte, PA

Realtor.com

The post Do You Dare Peek at the 9 Wildest Real Estate Photos of 2021? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Buying a Home in Today’s Market Can Lead to the 5 Stages of Grief—Here’s How To Survive Them

First time home buyer

Realtor.com / Getty Images

Matthew Libassi and his husband had been looking for a home for months when they found what they thought would be The One. The recently renovated three-bedroom Cape Cod would be less than a 5-minute walk to restaurants, coffee shops, and his gym on one of the main drags of St. James, NY, a cute town on the North Shore of Long Island.

The 35-year publicist had sold the co-op he shared with his spouse, a school psychologist, in May. Since then they had been putting in offers while they stayed with his husband’s parents, but nothing had worked out. And now, in October, the stars seemed to be aligning at last.

“We were trying to be very optimistic on this,” says Libassi. “We told our family. We were picturing where things would go and how we would decorate.” But hours turned into days and then weeks with no word from the agent on whether their offer had been accepted.

“There was a lot of waiting on the edge of our seat, and eventually we came to terms with the fact that we didn’t get it,” he says.

Libassi compared the disappointment he felt to the classic Kubler-Ross model of five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (Still, he drives by the house he lost once in a while.) He’s not alone. As the housing market has become extraordinarily competitive and expensive, it is often taking an emotional toll on folks who are finding themselves mourning the loss of these homes that they loved—and then lost.

“People are envisioning life in these spaces,” says therapist Tiffany Lovell, who is based in the suburbs of Bismarck, ND. “They can see their stuff in there and all of these moments and memories happening. When that doesn’t happen and they don’t get the house, then all of that gets stripped away. It puts them into the grief cycle.”

The disappointment isn’t something that buyers should just dismiss, say mental health and housing professionals.

“It’s not uncommon to lose one if not many homes in a bidding war. Each time it feels like a gut punch. It feels like you’ve lost something that was yours,” says Ali Wolf, chief economist of the national building consultancy Zonda. “Some buyers need time to mourn, and I think it’s something that’s not talked about enough.

“Don’t be hard on yourself if you are feeling these wild emotions,” says Wolf. “That’s part of the ride.”

Why some buyers grieve the homes they lost

Carla Marie Manly, a Santa Rosa, CA–based clinical psychologist, has worked with clients who lost bidding wars during the pandemic. Losing out often feels unfair and just one more thing they’re not in control of during COVID-19. It can also be difficult for some homebuyers to grasp.

“You’re putting in a reasonable or above reasonable offer, you’ve often fallen in love with the floor plan, the neighborhood, you have your funds ready, your loan ready—and now you’ve lost it,” says Manly, who previously worked in real estate investment. “It’s the nonsensical, frustrating nature of the process that triggers grief.”

Manly recommends that buyers acknowledge their feelings, no matter how tempting it may be to push them aside. They can talk with their partner, friends, family, and real estate agent—and hopefully come to a place where they recognize that there are things in life they just can’t control.

“Let yourself feel whatever you feel,” says therapist Janika Veasley, of the Amavi Therapy Center in Yardley, PA. “When it comes to our emotions, we quickly dismiss them. It’s not silly; it’s how you feel.”

The stages of grief aren’t always linear. Folks can feel anger or depression before denial and then anger again before they reach acceptance—if they ever do come to that stage. Some people still mourn the homes that got away five or 10 years later, long after they’ve bought other properties.

However, therapists caution that if these emotions aren’t properly processed, they have the potential to cause long-term problems.

Some frustrated buyers may drop out of the market entirely. At the other end of the spectrum, repeated losses can become a supercharged motivation for others to win at all costs—even to their own detriment if that involves bidding more than they can afford, buying in the wrong location, or waiving important contingencies.

“So much is imbued in the homebuying process,” says Manly. “We have hopes, dreams, and desires all focused into … obtaining the home of our dreams.”

Settling for a so-so home can create anxiety and depression

In such a heated market, it can be tempting to settle for just a so-so home or a farther-out community. However, therapist Lovell advises against such impulses. Buyers who compromise too much on what they want can experience anxiety and depression as a result.

“It’s going to cost more emotionally down the road,” explains Lovell. “The right home is worth waiting for, and [the buyers] will feel more emotionally stable when they find that house that’s really meant to be theirs and they’re able to close on it.”

In the meantime, she recommends that buyers do their best to leave the emotion out of the decision over whether to submit an offer.

“Be guarded but hopeful you’ll find the home that you love,” says Lovell. “Give yourself permission to fall in love with it when you have the key.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done for many buyers.

After losing out on the house he so very much wanted on Long Island, Libassi took a break from home hunting to grieve the loss. He and his husband are now questioning just how invested they should become in the homebuying process.

“If I go in tempering my emotions every time I see a house, will I ever get that feeling that this is the house for us?” asks Libassi. “If my guard is up all of the time, will I really know?”

The post Buying a Home in Today’s Market Can Lead to the 5 Stages of Grief—Here’s How To Survive Them appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Elon Musk Says He Lives in a $50,000 House. He Doesn’t Talk About the Austin Mansion.

Getty Images

AUSTIN, Texas—When Time magazine last week named Elon Musk “Person of the Year,” it painted a spartan picture of his living arrangements. “The richest man in the world does not own a house,” the piece began.

The magazine was repeating what has become a core element of Mr. Musk’s public persona. Since last year, when the billionaire Tesla Inc. and SpaceX CEO announced he was “selling almost all physical possessions” in an effort to simplify his life, Mr. Musk has repeatedly portrayed himself as a man of modest tastes.

“My primary home is literally a ~50k house in Boca Chica/Starbase that I rent from SpaceX,” he tweeted this June, referring to a Texas town near the Mexican border near SpaceX’s rocket-launch facility. “It’s kinda awesome though.”

What Mr. Musk hasn’t said, and what few people know, is that for roughly a year he has also been living in a waterfront estate in Austin owned by a rich friend nicknamed “Kenny,” people familiar with the matter say—a home so extravagant that it was the most expensive listed in the Texas capital when it was sold just a few years ago.

Mr. Musk has also engaged a series of real-estate agents to show him Austin-area mansions for purchase—and toured some houses personally, some of the people say.

The Austin home where Mr. Musk stays is owned by Ken Howery, a billionaire in his own right who has known Mr. Musk for decades. Mr. Musk’s stay is so secret that some friends of Mr. Howery said they were unaware of the arrangement.

Mr. Howery co-founded PayPal Holdings Inc.—where Mr. Musk was an executive early in his career—and later, with famed investor Peter Thiel, co-founded Founders Fund, the venture-capital fund that has backed several of Mr. Musk’s companies.

The three men are considered part of what has been popularly termed the “PayPal Mafia,” a group of former company executives who went on to further success in business.

In 2017, Mr. Musk tweeted that he had swung by a party attended by actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom to say hi to Mr. Howery.

Mr. Howery served as U.S. ambassador to Sweden during the latter half of the Trump administration. Since his term ended, Mr. Howery has been traveling the world, including chasing tornadoes and other extreme weather events as a hobby, people who know him say.

That left his home available for Mr. Musk, who said last year that he had moved to Texas. Earlier this year, he relocated Tesla’s headquarters to the outskirts of Austin.

The property includes nearly 8,000 square feet of interior space on a peninsula that juts into the Colorado River at the foot of Mount Bonnell in an exclusive Austin neighborhood, property records show. It boasts a waterfront pool, jacuzzi and private boat slip, and is protected by several sets of gates and a guardhouse as part of a development called “Watersedge.”

The mansion sold for more than $12 million in 2018; real-estate agents say it would sell for multiples of that now, a reflection of the city’s booming property market. It couldn’t be determined if Mr. Musk paid Mr. Howery for use of the residence. Mr. Musk is worth around $240 billion. Neither man responded to requests for comment.

After publication of this story, Mr. Howery, in a text message, said: “Elon does not live at my home, he lives in South Texas. He stayed at the house as my guest occasionally when traveling to Austin.”

Mr. Musk’s extended stay in the Austin mansion, as well as his continued pursuit of a showcase property nearby, complicate the narrative he has cultivated. Several years ago, he was temporarily sleeping with a white, caseless pillow on the floor under his desk at Tesla’s San Francisco-area factory.

He pledged on Twitter last year to “own no house,” and has followed through by selling a vast portfolio of homes.

“I do live in a $50k house,” he wrote on Twitter in July. Public records show that he is registered to vote in Cameron County, Texas, near Boca Chica beach, at a home built in 1971 that occupies one-fifth of an acre. The house is owned by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the records show.

The home where Elon Musk stays when he is in Cameron County, Texas, near Boca Chica beach.

Phil Kline for The Wall Street Journal

In recent months, Mr. Musk and his representatives have engaged a series of Austin-based real-estate agents to hunt for a trophy property in the area, people familiar with the matter say. His personal financial advisers have sent a slew of requirements to brokers, including a desire for a large expanse of land that is currently unavailable in properties on the market, the people say.

Mr. Musk has toured several homes in person, two of the people say. Among the homes he expressed interest in, those people say, is a custom-built mansion owned by the noted jewelry designer Kendra Scott.

Ms. Scott, who through a spokeswoman declined to comment, was open to a deal, but Mr. Musk was a no-show at several appointments to tour the home, one of the people said.

Paramount to Mr. Musk’s concerns, say people briefed on the search, is privacy.

The home search is so tightly protected, the people say, that several high-end Austin home-sellers say they expect it will remain a mystery even after he purchases a property. When the most expensive listed home in Austin sold for around $39 million earlier this year to a California limited-liability corporation with connections to Mr. Musk, word buzzed around the neighborhood that Mr. Musk was the secret buyer.

He wasn’t, says Jonny Jones, a businessman who previously owned the house and has found himself forced to shoot down the rumor.

Michele Turnquist, a real-estate agent who represented Mr. Jones in the sale, said she continues to receive misplaced kudos.

“I’ve had five people tell me, ‘You know, Elon bought your listing,’ ” Ms. Turnquist says. “I tell them that if Elon bought my listing, I wouldn’t know.”

The post Elon Musk Says He Lives in a $50,000 House. He Doesn’t Talk About the Austin Mansion. appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

7 Surprising Facts About Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen Laine of ‘Good Bones’

Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen Laine Good Bones HGTV

Photo courtesy of HGTV

The hit HGTV show “Good Bones” has been renewed for a seventh season (set to air in summer 2022), and fans are thrilled. It seems viewers just can’t get enough of Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk.

But there’s a lot more to this mother-daughter renovation team than fixing up houses: With unexpected social connections, shocking career changes, and some highly unusual pets, the stars of this series are full of surprises that don’t always make it on the show. Read on to find out how well you know the “Good Bones” family!

1. At first, they thought ‘Good Bones’ was a prank

Starsiak Hawk and Laine started their renovation company Two Chicks and a Hammer in 2007, after (as their company’s website explains) “Mina bought a house that needed a lot of love.” The show came about when a casting agent saw their Facebook page and started calling Starsiak Hawk. At first, she thought it was a joke, but luckily the agent convinced her otherwise. Thus “Good Bones” was born, premiering in 2015.

2. Karen Laine once practiced law

Despite Laine’s handiness around the house, home design wasn’t her first career, and it won’t be her last. Before getting involved in her daughter’s renovation business, Two Chicks and a Hammer, this mom practiced law as a deputy prosecutor. And in 2019, she announced her retirement from renovations to pursue yet another passion: divinity school.

“You would think that a [law degree] would be enough,” she joked after starting to pursue her new calling in June 2020. “But I love school, and I’ve wanted to preach forever.”

3. Their family is large—and ‘complicated’

Starsiak Hawk has six (yep, six) siblings—some of whom make regular appearances on the show, including half-sister Kelsy (who is the chief business officer of Two Chicks and a Hammer) and half-brother Tad (who’s assistant project manager as well as a notable member of the demolition team).

Their family tree isn’t simple, however. Starsiak Hawk’s parents, Laine and Casey Starsiak, had three kids together. Then Laine had her daughter, Gray, with her second husband. Meanwhile, Casey married his second wife and had his son Tad. After his wife died, he married Missy and had two more sons, Steven and Johnny.

“Our family is a ridiculous, complicated, messy pile of love,” Starsiak Hawk said on Season 1.

4. Laine built a house with her ex-husband

Casey Starsiak's house
The “Good Bones” team renovated Casey Starsiak’s house.

HGTV

While married to Casey, as their family grew, Laine realized they’d need more room—so they built a house together.

“Casey and I had three children together,” Laine explained in Season 1. “After all the children were born, we started building this house because we needed more space. But then we decided we needed to get divorced! Eventually, when the divorce was final, he moved into this house and I moved out. So this is the house where Mina grew up part of the time.”

In fact, on Season 1 of “Good Bones,” Laine and Starsiak Hawk even renovated this house, proving that these former spouses are still as amicable as can be.

Good Bones family
Karen Laine, Missy, Casey Starsiak, and Mina Starsiak Hawk

HGTV

5. Starsiak Hawk built her own family house

Mina, Steve, and Karen
Starsiak Hawk and Laine give Steve Hawk a tour of his new kitchen.

HGTV

Starsiak Hawk met her husband, Steve Hawk, through a friend and they married in 2016. Now, the happy couple have two kids, 3-year-old Jack and 1-year-old Charlotte.

To make things even sweeter, Starsiak Hawk combined her love for her family and her company by designing and building their house.

Mina's house
Starsiak Hawk designed and built this house for her family.

HGTV

In “Good Bones” Season 4, Starsiak Hawk and Laine gave the new build a Charleston-style exterior, with elegant columns, a blue ceiling on the balcony, and a black metal fence with a hawk on the gate—which is fitting given their last name.

“No one else has their last name on their gate in the form of an animal,” Starsiak Hawk said of the custom feature.

6. Laine’s house was robbed three times

While Laine and Starsiak Hawk love living in Indianapolis, it seems their community isn’t as perfect as it seems on “Good Bones.” Laine’s house has been burglarized three times, the third time during her daughter Gray’s wedding.

“Burglars are a problem in our neighborhood,” Laine told local news station Fox 59. Still, she doesn’t want to move and, considering her background as a prosecutor, her house is “probably not the house you want to burglarize because I was immediately on the case,” she said.

7. Their favorite house pet is Braveheart the chicken

Mina and Karen
Laine hangs out in Starsiak Hawk’s yard, showing off Braveheart the chicken.

HGTV

Given that their company is called Two Chicks and a Hammer, it seems fitting that Laine has her very own chickens and a coup. These feathered friends have appeared on Laine’s social media and have even made cameos on “Good Bones”—particularly one hen named Braveheart.

“I used to take my toy poodle with me everywhere. Now I take Braveheart,” Laine explained on Twitter.

The post 7 Surprising Facts About Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen Laine of ‘Good Bones’ appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Pet-Friendly Fabrics With Durable Designs That Don’t Compromise Style

Getty Images

You don’t have to compromise on luxury to incorporate your pets into living room designs.

While animals and upholstery don’t typically mix, some heavy performance materials and tricks to camouflage the dog bowl and chew toys can ensure your living space is pet-friendly and stylish.

Wool and crypton take sofas from scratching pads to durable living room anchors, wicker baskets hide unwanted odds and ends, and a built-in furniture drawer conceals pet food.

“Luxury living now means we can enjoy our pets and at the same time enjoy our luxurious homes,” said New York City-based interior designer Amy Lau of Amy Lau Design. “Rich and sophisticated performance textiles and rugs are available now that are stain and fade-resident. Perfect for standing up daily usage to pets, kids and late night wine spills.”

We asked a select group of designers to weigh in on pet-friendly materials and how to style them in the living room.

Think liveable luxury with performance fabrics

“For living spaces, we always like to know whether or not a client’s four-legged children are going to be jumping on a dog bed, and we put it into the furniture layout. We love using Perennials Fabrics from fiber technology and solution-dyed acrylic fibers. We’ll have entire sofas upholstered in them and ottomans so that you don’t freak out if someone has a dog that sleeps on it or if you spill wine. We’ve even done custom dog crates.

“We love anything that’s washable. We do a lot of washable throws in our design made out of knit material you can throw in the wash and feel comfortable snuggling with your pet. It’s not dry-clean only. Wool is a really great material. A wool rug is easy to clean and it’s antimicrobial. If you buy a rug that’s 100% wool, you can get anything on it, take it to the rug cleaner and they can clean it with shampoo and water and get anything out. Now a lot of fabrics have built-in performance solutions like crypton to use for pillows. And faux suede is a super durable fabric for the couch.”

— Carolina V. Gentry, principal interior designer and co-owner of Pulp Design Studios in Dallas and Seattle

Designate pet-friendly areas with design

“Natural fibers always work, especially wool, inherently water, stain and fire-resistant. But this next generation of performance fabrics makes true indoor and outdoor living pet and family friendly. We suggest targeting the furniture pieces you know will be the most used and upholstering them in a next-generation performance material for that extra layer of protection. Shedding, playing, eating treats and wet faces from fresh drinks always end up on our furniture, no matter how much training we have in place. Wipe ability and stain removal are keys to success. Great Plains by Holly Hunt and Perennials by David Sutherland are go-to sources for performance materials. A little extra protection is to have Fiber Seal come and apply a protectant onto fabrics to make them easier to clean if stains happen.

“We also love convenience, and in my kitchen, I had my contractor carve a little space from the adjoining closet to create a food drawer for [my dog] Biscuit’s bowls. They easily stow away when guests come and keep the area fresh and clean. It’s an excellent solution for hiding his bowls, and right above is his closet filled with his leash, bones, toys and food. Everything Biscuit needs is in one place and easily accessible.”

— Kendall Wilkinson, designer at Kendall Wilkinson Design, San Francisco

Camouflage Is key

“I have two dogs now. I have a brown sofa, and I always have the dogs up on one of the cushions. I bought a chocolate-colored towel from The Company Store, they have hundreds of colors. It’s tucked really tight into the cushion so it looks like it’s a fuzzy accent and everyone’s is like, ‘wait, what’s that?’ It blends in, you don’t see it immediately, it saves my expensive sofa and it doesn’t look terrible.

“I also have two big wicker baskets next to each other. I put all the toys in there. One is low enough for them [the dogs] to grab toys from the inside, and you don’t see the toys immediately. It’s such a great fix to make toys go away. Then, I made this navajo rug into a big pillow so it sits on the floor in front of my fireplace and looks like someone can sit in front of the fire, but it’s really for my dogs, but you’d never know it.”

— Ashley Darryl, an interior designer at Ashley Darryl Interiors, New York City

Chew-proof furniture with easy access

“I adopted my dog, Coco, when she was four or five, so she was through the puppy stage but still needed to get acquainted with her new house and having accidents. If you have a young puppy, you may have to deal with a chewing stage. Rather than furniture with wooden legs, you may opt for furniture with metal framing. This will help curb your pup’s desire to chew.

“As someone who loves vintage, antiques and pieces that tell a story, I think naturally tanned leather is a great option for pets. This is not a good option for Type-A personalities who want perfection, but like an amazing leather handbag, a sofa can age beautifully, too. We have a cognac-colored, leather sofa that has seen more than a few incidents and scratch-to-get-comfortable sessions, and it looks rich, warm and beautiful in the space. It’s also super easy to vacuum off all the dog hair.

“For pets that have a hard time jumping as they age, you’ll want to invest in solutions that make hopping on the sofa and bed a bit easier. At one point, I had pet stairs for little Coco, but they were such an eyesore and I stubbed my toe on them regularly. Two key things I’ve learned that make it easier for a pup jump are traction and shorter hops. For my bed and sofa we’ve added a low ottoman to enable an easy path. Rugs can also help create traction, which makes Coco feel more stable and safe when popping up.”

— Alessandra Wood, the vice president of style at Modsy, San Francisco

The post Pet-Friendly Fabrics With Durable Designs That Don’t Compromise Style appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Ho-ho-ho! Homes! Our 7 Favorite Holiday Light Displays on YouTube

Our 7 Favorite Holiday Light Displays on YouTube

Photo via Youtube by The NYC Walking Show

Every year, homeowners around the country engage in a festive game of one-upmanship to see who can create the wildest holiday light show. And these amazing, audacious, and sometimes mind-melting displays are easier than ever to enjoy.

In the good old days, you had to drive to some far-flung neighborhood and follow a line of cars to see a true Santa-inspired spectacle. In 2021, you simply have to fire up YouTube to check out homes decked out with strings of flashing lights, pop music, and large amounts of seasonal cheer.

This year, homeowners with an abundance of holiday spirit have outdone themselves. We love a good light show, and these seven homes, lit up for the season, could outshine the sun.

So grab a glass of eggnog (if you can find one), and let these seven holiday displays dazzle you.

1. Light show to Queen medley

The Bostick Family Light Show in Garden City, MI, debuted last year. Luckily for us, the tradition continues this year.

You don’t have to live in Michigan to lay eyes on it. The whole show—staged to a medley of Queen hits—was filmed to demonstrate the family’s audiovisual prowess.

The production involves flashing lights, props, and perfectly timed music. The light show also won the city’s prize for best holiday lights.

If you’re inspired to consider a move into the neighborhood, you’re in luck. 

With 46 homes available in the Detroit suburb and a reasonable median home price of $164,500, you could consider this three-bedroom charmer on the market for $149,900. 


2. Candy Crush in Windcrest, TX

Over in the San Antonio area, Brenda and John Wilson, better known (to some, anyway) as Santa and Mrs. Claus, have decked their dwelling with bundles of candy cane-striped trees. They clinched the prize for best holiday light show in Texas on an episode of ABC’s “Great Christmas Light Fight.”

Their display is certainly a feast for the eyes—and the nose. A train gives off a whiff of peppermint-scented smoke, and Santa’s sleigh sits in the middle of the candy-filled extravaganza.

Apparently, the city of Windcrest takes its holiday lights seriously, and each year, thousands flock by to get an eyeful.

If you’re struck by the spirit of decor, you may want to check out the homes for sale in the area—with 21 currently on the market, at a median list price of $305,000.


3. Dazzling by drone

A huge house in Illinois is decked out with over a million bright lights, 2,400 strobes, and six lasers, and drone footage is really needed if you want to take in the entire spectacle.

According to a community website, the show, in Elburn, IL, has been hosted by the Larsen family for the past 14 years.

About an hour west of Chicago, the town has 68 homes on the market, with a median home price of $374,950.


4. Shoppers’ delight

Manhattan is famous for its holiday-themed windows, but the Saks Fifth Avenue department store takes things a bit further, with a multimedia light show. It’s a dazzling winter wonderland of music and moving lights.

Crowds flood over to the address on Fifth Avenue to see the light show that covers the building’s entire facade.

It isn’t cheap to live nearby, but the Upper East Side offers plenty of options, with condos going for a median price of $1.5 million.


5. Bright lights of Dyker Heights

Away from the tourist-friendly displays of Manhattan, a light show for locals grows each year in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights.

This community display offers everything from inflatable Santas to an array of colorful lights.

The amazing exhibit encompasses several streets and can be enjoyed on foot throughout the holiday season.

If you’d like to live in a neighborhood that truly turns on the Christmas joy, there are plenty of options, but you’ll need some serious dough. There are over 150 places on the market, and the median home price is a hefty $1,388,000.


6. Spaceship Earth’s out-of-this-world show

If you’ve been to Walt Disney World, you may have noticed the giant, geodesic dome that has been a fixture at the park since it opened in 1982.

During the holidays, the orb really goes all out, with a festive light-and-sound show.

While you can’t actually live at Epcot, you can live close by, at a Disney-approved neighborhood like Celebration, FL. The area is a magnet for Disney fans and has 80 home listings, with a median home price of $549,900.


7. Taylor Swift medley with singing tree

If you need a dose of Tay Tay in Texas, a trippy light show set to the pop star’s hits is one for the ages.

Located in the Houston suburb of Cypress, TX, this home is a standout in an area where family-friendly homes are plentiful. There are about 800 homes for sale in the town, and the median list price is about $395,000.

As for the display, a tree belts out Swift’s hits, as lights capture the look of softly falling snow, toy soldiers, and holiday gifts. Moving multicolored lights highlight the home and sync to the songs.

A video screen in the window even shows shots from Swift’s videos. We simply can’t “shake it off.”

The post Ho-ho-ho! Homes! Our 7 Favorite Holiday Light Displays on YouTube appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

9 Horrifying Holiday Decor Fails, Outdoor Edition: Scare the Neighbors Away for Good

Horrifying holiday decor fails

Photos via Instagram by josedzine / 67brea / carolcammero

Some of us wait patiently all year to put together a tasteful holiday tableau out on the lawn, planning a cute little Rudolph here and a winding garland there. Other folks go right ahead and give outdoor Christmas decor a bad name.

Oddball, creepy, over the top—you name it, and you can find it on every social channel and probably down the street in your own neighborhood.

Maybe it’s because people aren’t willing to let go of Halloween, with its shock value, when Yuletime rolls around? Or perhaps these crazy looks are due to a few loose screws?

Who knows? But what is clear is that every time the season begins, we’re left just shaking our heads.

Still, let’s be honest: Rubbernecking at these holiday equivalents of car wrecks can be amusing—and, for those who need a little extra guidance, can teach you about exactly what not to do in your front yard.

Whatever your reason, read on if you feel like having a gander at the looniest, most crazy-town, outdoor holiday looks.

1. Never hand a snowman a hairdryer

It’s bad enough that many communities are facing an uptick in crime in real life. Do we need our holiday blow-up lawn decorations getting in on the act?

Not much holiday spirit on display here, and matters aren’t helped by the bandit wielding a blow-dryer rather than a gun: Threatening to melt poor Frosty is pitiful. Also, moisture and electricity don’t mix. This one is a no-go from every angle.

2. Santa should not be breaking and entering

We get it: Not all homes have a working chimney Santa can pass through.

Still, having him try to break and enter through a window or from the fire escape is not the answer. For that matter, there is only one Santa—way to go confusing the kids.

3. With shiny baubles, more is not more

Wow—just wow. This decor has zero sense of scale or restraint. It’s a miracle that this rainbow ball scheme is actually staying put on this home (kudos to the person behind the scenes!).

This petite house is loud and proud, though, and we’re actually going to give it a thumbs-up for sheer ball-siness.

4. Don’t go overboard with the lights

Christmas is the season of light, but this display is borderline crazy-town. We’re pretty sure this dude has his own substation to power his display and doesn’t flinch when the electric bill arrives.

Let’s hope he turns the colossal assemblage off at night, so his neighbors don’t have to sleep bathed in twinkling light.

5. Stay away from skeletons

Here’s where we lament the fact that some homeowners think it’s perfectly fine to mix Day of the Dead and Halloween pieces with presents under the tree.

We suppose if you’re also a Grateful Dead fan, this montage could be considered acceptable. But if not, please do the right thing and save the bone men for next October.

6. Enough with the inflatables

When your inflatable is larger than your domicile, you need to rethink your outdoor holiday decor.

Don’t let a menacing balloon loom this large—babies will cry, dogs will bark, and your friends will think you’ve gone around the bend.

7. Reindeer should look cute rather than creepy

It’s nice that these critters reuse a natural resource—we’re all for going green at the holidays and avoiding plastic and other bits that clog up the ocean.

But we’re just not certain this is the way to do it. The “antlers” look ready to poke someone’s eye out, in the immortal words of “A Christmas Story,” and those bows?  Too big, and they sure don’t suit the naturalistic theme.

8. You don’t have to fill your whole yard

Someone likes decorating their yard for the holidays. We mean, really, really likes it.

The crowded results—almost like an overpacked cocktail party or some crazy post-Christmas tag sale—wind up just making passers-by dizzy. Our advice: Do the right thing, and offer at least half of these to your neighbors.

9. Stick to snow sculptures rather than real ones

Frankly, we’re not sure what this girl is doing in the yard or why someone felt the need to dress her in pine boughs.

All we know is we’re getting some uncomfortable “Midsommar” vibes. But if odd nature figures are your thing, we’re not here to stop you.

The post 9 Horrifying Holiday Decor Fails, Outdoor Edition: Scare the Neighbors Away for Good appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Leading Economists and Analysts on the 4 Things To Look For in the Housing Market in 2022

Getty Images

If you’re in the market to buy a home—or on the fence about whether to dive into the housing market right now—here’s what reports and interviews from economists and analysts predict will happen in 2022.

Mortgage rates will rise

Right now, we’re still facing mortgage rates near historic lows—some 30-year rates are still near 3% and some 15-year rates near 2%—but pros do predict a rise. Dr. Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors (NAR) chief economist, forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to increase to 3.5% by the end of 2022 as the Fed raises interest rates to control inflation. For its part, Realtor.com predicts an average mortgage rate of 3.3% throughout the year, hitting 3.6% by end of year. And Bankrate, after yesterday’s Fed meeting, simply wrote that: “Interest rate hikes, soaring inflation and a smaller bond-buying program are a recipe for higher mortgage rates in 2022.”

Home prices will rise, but at a much slower pace than in 2021—and a lot is market dependent

The breakneck pace of housing prices in 2021—a nearly 20% rise—will slow, but experts say prices are still likely to go up. The National Association of Realtors estimates housing prices will climb 5.7% in 2022, while Realtor.com predicts a 2.9% rise.

But there will be differences by market: “The housing sector performed spectacularly in 2021 in many markets, with huge gains achieved in places like Austin, Boise and Naples. Several markets did reasonably well in 2021, but not as strong as the underlying fundamentals suggested. Therefore, in 2022, these hidden gem markets have more room for growth,” says Yun. NAR’s top 10 hidden gem cities include places like Dallas-Fort Worth, Huntsville, Knoxville and Tucson, which are expected to experience stronger price appreciation relative to other markets in 2022.

Fewer bidding wars, but they’re still happening

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate, says because of the strong economy and vibrant labor market, housing demand will remain strong in 2022, but not the free-for-all it was in much of 2021. “Limited supply of homes available for sale and a restrained pace of homebuilding will keep prices elevated, but even modest increases in mortgage rates will price more first-time buyers out of the market,” says McBride. Demand will still exceed supply, especially at price points below $400,000, just not to the extent seen in 2021. “Homebuyers will continue to be frustrated by the lack of homes available for sale but there will be fewer bidding wars and homes will take a little longer to sell,” says McBride.

Kate Wood, home and mortgage expert at NerdWallet, notes that she believes that the forecast for 2022 housing market isn’t looking too different from 2021. “If the market is cooling down, it’s only by a few degrees. There are still many more buyers than there are homes for sale, particularly in the starter home price tiers,” says Wood.

Housing inventory will remain limited, but not as bad as in 2021

The National Association of Realtors notes that the U.S. has under-built housing by at least 5.5 million units, and Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist, estimates that we’re about 5 million units short. “With homes selling and continuing to do so quickly, inventory will remain limited, but we expect to see the market rebound from 2021 lows. Inventory is expected to grow 0.3% on average in 2022,” Realtor.com notes in a new report. That’s thanks, in part, to a rising share of homeowners who say they plan to sell their homes, the report revealed.

The post Leading Economists and Analysts on the 4 Things To Look For in the Housing Market in 2022 appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Where the Cool Kids Are: 10 Trendy U.S. Metros Where You Can Still Afford To Buy a Home

Getty Images

Much like every new tech startup is dubbed “the new Uber,” it seems whenever a newly hip and fashionable town or neighborhood emerges someplace in the U.S., it gets tagged “the next Brooklyn.”

After all, the New York City borough has become shorthand for an area packed full of craft cocktail–guzzling, bike-commuting, indie rock–loving, tight T-shirt-wearing residents—that rarefied species once commonly known as “hipsters.” They usher in the totems of trendiness, from adventurous shops and restaurants, to art installations and cool public spaces, to artisanal pickle shops and luxury beard-waxing salons. Status and livability shoot up, as do home prices.

Certain Brooklyn neighborhoods like Williamsburg made the full transformation from shabby to chic—from urban blight to the land of one-bedroom rentals for a median $3,500 a month—in the relative blink of an eye.

So how do you lock in on the next hot spots, before home prices go into the stratosphere and over-gentrification sets in?

Just in time for the new year, our team of data wizards set out to find affordable metros that have lots of cool things to do and emerging cultural scenes. These are the sorts of places with bike shops, breweries, food trucks, and farmers markets, where younger buyers can still find relatively affordable starter homes.

What we found were mostly smaller cities in the Northeast and Midwest as well as a few larger ones in the South—the kinds of places where residents tend to make less money than in the bigger, flashier cities and home prices are still reasonable. Some have managed to fly under the radar, attracting fewer outsiders who can push up home prices when they arrive by bringing more cash to the table, says Danielle Hale, chief economist of Realtor.com®.

“The fact that these gems have remained relatively hidden has helped them maintain affordability,” Hale says.

So how’d we figure it all out?

To come up with our list, the Realtor.com data team looked through the country’s 300 largest metro areas in search of ones that have a young, culture-rich urban experience but also plenty of affordable homes for sale.

To be included, each metro had to have plenty of amenities loved by the trendy set: yoga studios, breweries, and art house theaters, to name a few. Each metro recorded an increase in the population of 25- to 34-year-olds moving to the area from 2018 to 2019, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In order to weed out areas that could be out of reach for first-time homebuyers, we limited the list to places where the median home list price was $400,000 or less in November by using Realtor.com listing data. (Metros include the main city and the surrounding suburbs, towns, and smaller urban areas.)

Ready to take a walk on the trendy but oh-so-affordable side?

Homebuyers don’t necessarily have to pay big prices in these up-and-coming cities.

Tony Frenzel for Realtor.com

1. Savannah, GA

Median listing price: $340,403

USA riverfront skyline in Savannah, GA

Getty Images

For the past decade or so, this waterfront city in the South, home to Savannah College of Art and Design, has been luring new residents who seek a calmer pace of life—albeit one drenched in history and unique culture.

The city features pedestrian-friendly blocks dotted with oak trees and great restaurants—from old-school stalwarts like Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House to New York imports such as the Fat Radish, and even The Grey, whose chef nabbed a James Beard award in 2019.

Because of its artsy scene and large numbers of tourists visiting from across the country, the city is more diverse and accepting than other cities in the South.

“Savannah is purple politically,” says writer and comedian Nichelle Stephens, who moved here a few years ago from New York City. Translation: A good mix of differing viewpoints is reflected throughout the city.

Buyers who want to live near the historic core—and take advantage of the city’s moving incentive—can find condos in the $400,000 range, including this one-bedroom listed at $350,000 and this charming two-bedroom townhome asking $425,000.

2. New Orleans, LA

Median listing price: $348,500

The French Quarter of New Orleans, LA

Getty Images

New Orleans might be best known for its debauched Mardi Gras festivities, but locals know that the real life of the city extends far past tourist meccas like Bourbon Street—a dynamic, still-rebounding urban mecca that’s home to artists, musicians, amazing food, and cultural attractions ranging from family-friendly to freaky.

Throughout the city are hip cafes, fun bars, and more great restaurants than most denizens will ever have time to sample. Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District, for example, boasts vintage boutiques, record shops, killer breakfast spots such as Molly’s Rise and Shine (owned by the folks who operate iconic sandwich spot Turkey and the Wolf), and relatively affordable condos.

Buyers can find historic places like this one-bedroom condo asking $185,000 and this large one-bedroom condo on the market for $285,000.

3. Philadelphia, PA

Median listing price: $312,450

The Schuylkill River Boardwalk in Philadelphia, PA

Getty Images

The City of Brotherly Love is chock-full of culture, history, and quaint neighborhoods that have been dubbed “the next Williamsburg”—for a fraction of the price.

Fishtown, for example, is home to some of the trendiest boutique hotels in the city. They include Lokal Hotel and Wm. Mulherin’s Sons Hotel, which boasts midcentury modern rooms right above the hotel’s Italian restaurant.

When locals aren’t visiting art galleries or shopping at trendy boutiques, they fill up at restaurants such as Pizzeria Beddia, the Lebanese cafe Suraya, taco spot Loco Pez, and barbecue joint Fette Sau (which also boasts a Williamsburg location, just sayin’).

In this trendy hood, homebuyers can score nice places for less than the cost of rent in Brooklyn. They include this sunny two-bedroom townhome asking $349,000 and this three-bedroom townhome on the market for $359,000.

4. New Haven, CT

Median listing price: $329,950

New York City is famed for its pizza, but many would argue that the best pies in the nation are in New Haven, a two-hour train ride away.

The city’s renowned clam pizzas may not be the primary reason NYC residents have been relocating to Elm City, but they probably don’t hurt matters. Since the pandemic hit, New Yorkers have been packing up their apartments for large homes with yards near the water in this historic Connecticut metro.

While the beach is certainly a draw, this college town, home to Yale University, also has the restaurants, cafes, yoga studios, and other hip amenities urban folks want.

“New Haven is a great hub for restaurants,” says Regina Sauer, A Realtor® with Frank D’Ostilio at Real Living Milford. “There’s all different kinds of international cuisine here, and great seafood places.”

For under $400,000, it’s possible to get a giant spread such as this six-bedroom, multifamily Queen Anne listed at $395,000 or this two-bedroom condo with views of the Quinnipiac River and East Rock on the market for $234,900.

5. Sioux City, IA

Median listing price: $193,450

Veterans Memorial Bridge between Sioux City, IA, and South Sioux City, NB

Getty Images

The artsy hub of Sioux City is essentially the museum capital of the tri-state region of Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska. It boasts the Sioux City Art Center, which highlights artists from the region, the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center, the Sioux City Public Museum, and far more.

Known as “Little Chicago” during the wildest days of Prohibition, Sioux City is tamer these days. The city has implemented programs to get residents walking, eating well, and spending time together in the community. It has yoga studios, dance studios, and other wellness options along with dozens of cafes for gathering with neighbors.

Real estate is much more affordable here than in the rest of the country, so residents don’t have to stress as much about paying the bills. Nice homes can be bought for under $200,000, including this four-bedroom Colonial right near Grandview Park for $159,950 and this brand-new two-bedroom, one-bathroom on the market for $140,000.

6. Albany, NY

Median listing price: $319,900

There’s a reason out-of-town buyers flooded New York’s once-sleepy state capital during the pandemic: affordability. Homes in the Albany metro go for less than half of what they cost the New York metro (which has a median price of $655,000). And die-hard New Yorkers don’t even need to leave their state.

In addition to lots of outdoor activities on nearby mountains and lakes, the home of the State University of New York at Albany offers all the yoga, coffee, breweries, and restaurants a city person could dream about. And unlike other major cities, the restaurant scene here actually grew during COVID-19.

White-collar telecommuters from as far as California have been taking advantage of the trendy amenities and comparatively low cost of real estate. A three-bedroom, single-family home that’s walking distance to historic Madison Theatre, Saint Rose restaurants, and more is listed for $157,000.

7. Kalamazoo, MI

Median listing price: $189,000

This college town, home to Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University, is not just inexpensive, it’s also downright welcoming.

The blue-leaning city is a gay-friendly haven that presents annual Outfront Awards to local people and businesses ​​that have made strides for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer equality in the community.

Events and businesses that welcome LGBTQ members include Queer Theatre Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. Popular hangouts and restaurants include Bell’s Eccentric Cafe and Rose Gold Coffee Company.

House hunters can find nice homes in great locations for under $200,000, including this $179,000 three-bedroom ranch within walking distance to WMU. This historic five-bedroom home asking $120,000 is located in the charming Stuart neighborhood right near lots of dining and entertainment.

8. Eau Claire, WI

Median listing price: $239,900

“Sawdust City” has been earning a reputation for a whole lot more than its lumber mills.

Located about an hour and a half east of Minnesota, Eau Claire has been reinventing itself as an outdoor and cultural paradise with boutique hotels, farm-to-table restaurants, and an $80 million arts complex at the crossroads of two gorgeous rivers.

Because it’s still somewhat under the radar, buyers can find nice homes in walkable areas such as this two-bedroom Craftsman with a lilac-lined driveway asking $214,900

9. Baltimore, MD

Median listing price: $215,000

The Baltimore, MD, downtown

Getty Images

Baltimore boasts great restaurants, cafes, breweries, and much more throughout its historic neighborhoods. Bonus: It’s way more affordable than nearby Washington, DC, where the median-priced home was $505,000 last month.

The growing food scene has been gaining recognition from the James Beard Foundation, which many consider the Oscars of food. They include Outstanding Bar Program nominee Clavel Mezcaleria and Cindy Wolf as Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic. There’s no shortage of eating establishments to explore here.

In Canton, walkable from the trendy Fells Point area, buyers can get into a renovated one-bedroom condo for $179,000. In Hampden, the indie shopping mecca of the Mid-Atlantic, it’s possible to buy an updated two-bedroom townhouse for $219,900.

10. Orlando, FL

Median listing price: $335,000

Downtown skyline next to Lake Eola in Orlando, FL.

Getty Images

Orlando may be best known as the home of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, but many newcomers to O-Town are drawn for reasons that have nothing to do with Disney.

They include Christopher Wray, a musician who moved to Orlando from the Miami area a few years back. He’s found his way into the local music scene and regularly frequents new restaurants, breweries, and cocktail bars.

While he knew it was a great place to raise a family, Wray says he has been pleasantly surprised by all the amenities and activities for younger adults.

“It’s a much slower pace, less stressful, more casual,” he says. “But there’s always stuff going on.”

The home of the University of Central Florida has lots of great restaurants, breweries, cafes, and art house theaters that regularly host community events.

Buyers can dig around a bit to find deals in hip neighborhoods such as this two-bedroom home asking $300,000 in College Park and this midcentury modern three-bedroom on the market for $340,000 in Audubon Park.

The post Where the Cool Kids Are: 10 Trendy U.S. Metros Where You Can Still Afford To Buy a Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.