Many Affluent Millennials Are Now ‘Lifestyle Renting’ Instead of Buying Homes. ‘It’s the Best Option for Now,’ Some Say—but Is It Really?

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Move over white picket fence, it’s all about the doorman and a sleek gym for an increasing number of monied millennials—or at least that’s what a new study from real estate site RentCafe implies. It finds that the share of millennials who are lifestyle renters—defined as renters with above-average incomes who are using their bigger budgets to rent in amenity-rich, fancier apartments rather than buy a place—is on the rise. This year’s millennial rental applicants are making 10% more than those who moved last year, and 39% of applicants this year had individual incomes above $50,000. “There are individuals who opt to rent because they want to and not because they have to. They typically don’t want to be tied down by home ownership and mortgages. They often look for buildings with amenities such as gyms or for buildings that may be closer to where they work,” explains Michael J. Romer, managing partner of real estate law firm Romer Debbas.

But is renting a nice pad better than buying right now? Mortgage rates are still near historic lows—some 30-year rates are still near 3% and 15-year rates near 2%, as you can see here—and experts say they expect them to rise. But at the same time, housing prices rose nearly 20% year over year, which is giving some pause—though many economists and analysts we spoke to don’t see this as a bubble, and instead think prices will continue to rise, though at a more gradual pace, thanks, in part, to constrained supply issues.

The answer of whether to rent or buy depends a lot on your individual circumstances, pros say. From a high level, the rough rule of thumb is that if you don’t plan on staying in the home or area a long time (longer than say 3-5 years), renting is often the better option. This is in part because when you buy a home, you have to factor in closing costs, a down payment, property taxes and more. This rent vs. buy calculator from NerdWallet can help you figure out whether it makes sense to rent or buy now.

A significant downside of renting is the loss of real estate appreciation, which varies based on location and market conditions, but tends to average 4% over the long term, as well as tax deductions such as mortgage interest, real estate taxes and private mortgage insurance. “Simply put, real estate is an asset when you own it and merely an expense when you rent it,” says Romer.

Romer notes that when looking at the financials of buying, “you’d have to calculate the approximate mortgage interest you would have to pay and the real estate taxes for potential property. Be sure to keep state and local tax deductions (SALT) in mind and always check with your accountant first.” Home ownership also requires maintenance that, when renting, the landlord would do for you.

And, it’s not just a question of renting vs. buying: In recent years, Romer says one could argue that investing in stocks is actually more profitable than investing in real estate.

You may need to rent in order to save up to buy: “How long depends upon how much one is able to set aside. Save up to purchase that home—it’s worth it,” says Romer. And RentCafe researcher Alexandra Ciuntu says: “It comes down to the individual’s ability, financial or otherwise, to take the leap toward homeownership and one’s goals. While previous generations felt the need to cross home buying off their list and associated it with status, millennials are more prone to lifestyle renting as a viable, successful alternative. For some higher-earning renters hoping to become homeowners, lifestyle renting might not make sense, but it’s the best option for now. Renting in close proximity to an important hub can help evaluate the homebuying market and hopefully land the right opportunity to buy. For some, waiting it out in a perfect home buying hunting ground can prove a solution.”

Of course, renting versus buying is about more than just money. Renting “is of particular interest to young people who want to try different locations, property types and trendy amenities. Younger professionals are generally income rich and liquid asset poor,” says Lisa K. Lippman, a real estate broker at Brown Harris Stevens in New York. “Therefore, renting allows them to live life at a standard comparable to their income without plunking down a large down payment for a purchase.“ Adds Romer: “A prime candidate would be someone who works in an urban area and wants to live nearby, but doesn’t have the necessary liquidity to purchase. Another example would be empty nesters who have sold their suburban home and no longer want the responsibility of home ownership. For them, renting can certainly be a lifestyle.”

In the end, it’s a personal choice—and it’s not only about money, but also about how you want to live your life.

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Totally Transformed in Tampa: 2021’s Most Popular Home Went From Busted to Brand-New

Most popular homes real estate listings in 2021

A listing agent faced with a shell of a shack let everyone in on the joke. She crafted a brutally honest description of the home, admitting all of its faults. Lowlights included the crooked chimney with no fireplace, a faulty foundation, and “ominous energy.”

It worked! The Tampa, FL, residence marketed as the “worst house on the block” became the most popular home on® in 2021.

The cheeky listing description written by agent Philippa Main vaulted the residence to viral fame and helped it become this year’s top click magnet.

Among the details she shared was this gem: “‘Now I know you’ve heard of a detached garage, but have you ever heard of a detached foundation?!”

There was also this closing remark: “And if you’re looking for a house that screams, ‘I’ve got bizarre and ominous energy!’ then, honey, stop the car, because you’ve found it right here, conveniently located off of U.S.-301.”

2021 was full of plot twists

But the story of this listing doesn’t end with a simple LOL.

Main’s magnificent honesty in February didn’t just help the home rack up millions of views. It also drew attention to what would have been a forlorn strip of land languishing on the market for months. Instead, she managed to sell the decrepit home for $51,500 in April. The buyers tore down the sad hovel and erected a new house, which they listed for $225,000 in July. It was sold for asking price about two months later.

We checked in recently with Main, who says business has been solid in 2021.

“I have been lucky enough to have a couple of people contact me and say that when they searched my name online—after reading my reviews first—they found the Tampa Bay Times news article and felt confident that I’d be able to help them sell their home,” says Main.

“Generally, it was a great learning experience for me as well,” adds Main. “It gave me a good opportunity to learn how to take advantage of a random, unexpected situation and turn it into a positive for my business.”

If that story tickles you as much as it did us, know that the rest of the year’s 10 most popular homes all have intriguing chronicles of their own. Scroll on down to see the top houses folks clicked on in 2021—and why.

1. 37913 Avoca Ave, Zephyrhills, FL

Price: Listed in February for $69,000, sold in April for $51,500
Relisted in July for $225,000, sold in October for $225,000
Why it’s here:
The half-acre lot where a brand-new three-bedroom, two-bathroom home now stands wasn’t looking so swell earlier this year.

In February, the place was littered with trash and included a stripped-out house ready to be torn down. But thanks to the honest and humorous listing description written by listing agent Philippa Main, the shack was transformed into eminently shareable content. Her brutal honesty about the crummy place got the job done, and she sold the property in April for $51,500.

By July, the shack was gone and a new house with a bright green lawn had blossomed in its place. In October, it was sold for $225,000. The complete transformation of the home in a matter of months proves honesty—with a healthy dose of humor—is truly the best policy.

Zephyrhills, FL
Zephyrhills, FL (after)

Zephyrillis, FL
Zephyrhills, FL (before)

Philippa Main

2. 17329 Hidden Valley Dr, Wildwood, MO

Price: Listed for $599,000 in February, sold in September for an undisclosed amount
Why it’s here:
In 2002, things were very different for Nelly. He had just released his classic hit “Hot in Here” and spent $2.5 million on a Tuscan mansion in Missouri.

At the time, the rapper and his contractor friend had planned to remodel the place and flip it. But things didn’t go according to plan. Two decades later, the run-down, partly remodeled mansion situated on 12 acres was listed for just $599,000.

Listing photos of the abandoned mansion hint at the grand vision that failed to materialize. Earlier this year, the listing agent for the property estimated it would cost between $500,000 and $1 million to bring it back to life. It was eventually sold in late September for an undisclosed amount.

Wildwood, MO
Wildwood, MO

3. 43 Courthouse Dr, Guildhall, VT

Price: Listed in November 2020 for $149,000, sold in February 2021 for $150,000
Why it’s here:
This quaint and historic home came with a wacky surprise: a rusty seven-cell jail wing attached to the living area.

The home was built in 1878 for the local jailer, and the jail cells look much like they probably did when the last inmate was released in 1969. In a word, icky.

There’s no telling what the new owners have in store for the house, but the listing agent told us interested buyers thought about removing the jail cells to expand the living space, or even transforming them into an antiques shop.

Guildhall, VT
Guildhall, VT

4. 3695 Primrose Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Price: Listed in February for $650,000, sold in June for $550,000
Why it’s here:
From the outside, this duplex looks plain. The interiors are what made this home go viral. The seller, Oscar Tapia, had a bit of an obsession with mannequins and collected more than 150 over the past 20 years. A few of them were prominently featured in the listing photos, which launched the place into viral infamy.

Tapia thinks the mannequins are beautiful and didn’t quite understand the commenters who called them “creepy” in the listing photos.

“All the time, I change it. I move the mannequins around and always have different faces around the house,” Tapia told us in March. “I never feel alone in my house and always have company.”

Listing agent Jesse Yohnka decided to embrace Tapia’s passion and feature the mannequins in the photos.

“You could equate it to a baseball card collection or a record collection,” Yohnka said of the mannequins. “At the end of the day, it’s just a collection.”

Despite the viral fame, the property was sold for $100,000 less than the original asking price.

South Lake Tahoe, CA
South Lake Tahoe, CA

5. 908 Bel Air Rd, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $99,000,000
Why it’s here:
This breathtaking mansion in Bel-Air hasn’t been able to attract a buyer after a solid year on the market. That doesn’t mean folks haven’t been interested—looky-loos clicked all year long on the photos of this magnificent mansion.

With a price tag that very few can afford, it’s understandable why this home has been on the market for 372 days and counting. But it has a lot to offer a buyer with deep pockets. It boasts views to Catalina, a 90-foot infinity pool with views of the L.A. skyline, and even a living wall off the circular carport.

Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA

6. 1677 Round Top Rd, Burrillville, RI

Price: $1,200,000
Why it’s here:
No matter where you stand on the existence of ghosts, there’s plenty of frightening stuff about this listing to go around. The scary movie “The Conjuring” is based on activities that allegedly happened in this house, which the listing notes is haunted.

Current caretakers Jenn and Cory Heinzen run a business out of the place, letting paranormal investigators spend the night, and they’re booked through 2022. That means for the purchase price, the new owners won’t just get a 14-room farmhouse with a freaky backstory—they’ll also be up to their armpits in ghost hunter slumber parties for at least the next year.

Despite its fame—or infamy—the home is still on the market.

Burrville, RI
Burrillville, RI

7. 174 E LA Verne Way, Palm Springs, CA

Price: Listed in January for $529,000, sold in May for $450,000
Why it’s here:
Chic home decor in the1970s was all about wallpaper, and the owner of this Palm Springs condo went all-in on the trend. The colors blue, silver, and even a hint of pink cover every surface in psychedelic patterns even the listing agent called “disorienting.”

But fans of time capsule homes found this delightful, from the mint-condition decor to the kitchen appliances. And we appreciate the home’s groovy vibe that’s a refreshing departure from the palette du jour of grays and whites.

There’s no word on whether the rowdy wallpaper survived the change in homeownership. We have our fingers crossed!

Palm Springs, CA
Palm Springs, CA

8. 615 Columbia St, Elmira, NY

Price: Listed in July for $99,000, sold in November for $200,000
Why it’s here:
This distinctive Victorian was built in 1876 as a gift to a young bride. She didn’t like it and never lived in it.

Over the centuries, it’s served as a single-family home, a boarding house, and apartments. It last changed hands in 2005 and then sat uninhabited. It came on the market this summer. The sellers were a couple who made a number of upgrades to the old castle, but they weren’t able to take the project across the finish line.

When the huge home landed on the market at the very affordable price of $99,000, it became one of the country’s hottest listings. At just $12 per square foot, a bidding war broke out.

Listing agent Shane Searfross had to remind everyone who made an offer that this house needs a ton of work. He estimates it would take about $500,000 to bring it up to today’s standards.

After bids flooded in, the gorgeous old home was sold for double the listing price.

Elmira, NY
Elmira, NY

9. 6900 Dave Carr Rd, Charlestown, IN

Price: Listed in June for $400,000, sold in July for $400,000
Why it’s here:
When we first saw this distinctive castle in Indiana, it wasn’t clear what was going on. The custom-built walled fortress was only half-finished. On the property, there was a home, an enormous workshop, and a huge courtyard filled with heavy equipment.

But this damsel in distress appealed to a buyer, selling in one month for the full asking price.

Charlestown, IN
Charlestown, IN

Charlestown, IN

10. 228 Townsend Ave, Baltimore, MD

Price: Listed in March for $225,000, sold in May for $245,000
Why it’s here:
YOLO, right? Gawkers couldn’t get enough of this strange hybrid of goth stylings and Raiders fandom.

Bedecked in silver and black, this modest home exudes single-dude energy from every nook and cranny. Listing photos show a commitment to the owner’s vision of his “twisted imagination come to life.”

However, the owner decided to get married and so he sold the house to a buyer in search of a ready-made man cave.

There are countless nods to the Raiders NFL team, black carpet, and a custom bar out back. All the attention helped snag an offer $20,000 over the asking price.

Baltimore, MD
Baltimore, MD

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What More First-Time Buyers Are Planning To Do To Become Homeowners

First-Time Homebuyers Are Planning

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First-time homebuyers are getting fed up with losing bidding wars—and many are taking steps to become more competitive in this cutthroat housing market, whatever it takes.

Instead of giving up, more aspiring homeowners, who have been steadily saving money during the COVID-19 pandemic, are willing to spend more on a home and offer more than the asking price in their quest to become homeowners, according to a recent® survey. (The survey of nearly 2,600 adults was taken between Sept. 23 and Oct. 1.)

“First-time homebuyers internalized how competitive the real estate market has been this year and have been willing to adjust their budgets, strategies, and expectations,” says George Ratiu, manager of economic research at “Low mortgage interest rates have allowed first-time homebuyers to stretch their budgets. And many first-time homebuyers who have been able to work remotely have been able to save a little more for a down payment.”

Of the more than a quarter of would-be first-time buyers who haven’t closed on a home this year, nearly three-quarters plan to keep trying. More than 9 in 10 first-time buyers plan to offer more than 20% down, when possible, and check online listings daily to make themselves more competitive.

And yes, many are also willing to pay more to become homeowners.

The number of folks looking for homes in the $500,000 to $750,000 range more than doubled from 6% in the spring to 13% in the fall. Meanwhile, fewer folks were seeking properties priced below $350,000, dropping from 75% of first-time buyers to 62%.

Despite rapidly rising prices, nearly a third of these buyers are now willing to offer 30% over the list price of a home—compared with none in the spring when conducted a similar survey. Offering that much can add more than $110,000 to the price of the typical home.

“Many of these first-time homebuyers have gone through multiple failed bidding wars,” says Ratiu. “As a result, they’re willing to pay significantly over asking to win.”

As the pandemic drags on—and on—millennials are increasingly seeking out more flexible space that they can use for multiple purposes, such as finished basements, guestrooms, and guesthouses, which can pull double or even triple duty, according to the survey. With folks spending more time at home, buyers have been looking for homes with spaces for things like offices, gyms, and online learning if a child’s school goes remote.

However, nearly two years into the pandemic, they’re not as willing to relocate to get all of that extra space. About 47% planned to stay in their current towns and cities in the fall compared with 40% in the spring. Just 16% planned to move out of state.

“Most people who wanted to move have moved by now,” says Ratiu.

Many companies bringing workers back to the office, or planning to in the new year, could also deter some folks from uprooting. Plus, many farther-out and smaller cities became less affordable as the pandemic dragged on.

“For many people, the place where they’re living is attractive and suits their lifestyle,” says Ratiu.

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Omicron Variant Hits the Luxury Real Estate Market

Omicron Variant Hits the Luxury Real Estate Market / Getty Images

The recent volatility in the stock market and cryptocurrencies, fueled by anxiety over the omicron variant, has some would-be homebuyers pressing pause on pricey real estate purchases.

That’s been the case for New York native Neil Kapoor, 36, who toured a luxury home priced at $2.2 million in Puerto Rico last month. With his investments tied up in cryptocurrency, he’s waiting for values to rebound before pulling the trigger. Bitcoin, the gold standard for digital money, has dropped 28% in value recently.

“With the whole [cryptocurrency] market down, that totally changed my dynamic,” says Kapoor, head of business development at CasperLabs, a blockchain technology company. “We might be entering a bear market … so instead of liquidating and buying properties, everyone is holding on to their assets.”

As many wealthy buyers purchasing second, third, or even fourth homes and investment properties have their money tied up in stocks or cryptocurrencies, when the markets are down they have less cash to put into real estate. And since many of these are discretionary purchases, as most of these folks already have primary residences, the buyers may get spooked by the volatility and hold off on any large purchases until the markets settle back down.

Luxury home sales could take an especially pronounced dip in parts of the country like New York City; Miami; San Francisco; Austin, TX; and Denver, CO, where workers—particularly in the tech sector at companies like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google—may be compensated in stock. So when the Dow plunges, so do their assets. And that means they’re less likely to buy real estate, says Jonathan Spears, a Destin, FL-based real estate agent.

“When you have a customer who may have a large stake in Bitcoin, and Bitcoin took a hard swing, their willingness to liquidate goes down tremendously,” Spears says. Most of his buyers  fall into the middle-tier luxury market, looking for homes priced between $2 million and $5 million.

“We’ve had instances where contracts get canceled because the funds that have been waiting to be liquidated are not there entirely,” he adds.

All of the uncertainty playing out in the high end of the sales market is having a ripple effect

While the Austin market, for example, continues to see a slew of luxury home sales, some folks who would have bought luxury homes outright are now eyeing rent-to-own options instead, says James Duncan, a Realtor® at Austin Luxury Realty. Many of his buyers in the $2 million-plus price range are coming from Miami and California, or they’re international buyers.

“I’m not seeing a lot of people cashing out on stock right now,” Duncan says.

Foreign buyers may also be deterred by market volatility. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they shelled out $183 billion on real estate in 2019, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors®. In 2021, they spent just $103 billion, according to a survey NAR sent out in April and May covering the previous 12 months.

“We’re not seeing the foreign traffic,” says Donna Olshan, president of the New York City–based luxury brokerage Olshan Realty. The luxury market in Manhattan began rebounding later this year, but could be hurt again as a slew of countries reenlist travel restrictions, impose new rules, and reinstate lockdown measures.

There were 33 contracts for luxury homes priced at $4 million-plus in New York City signed in the week ending Dec. 12, according to Olshan’s weekly Manhattan report. That’s a dip from 37 from the last week in November.

That could signal some homebuyers are waiting out the market, relocating to second homes, or purchasing in the suburbs or near greater access to outdoor amenities as some employers may delay the return to the office as a result of the variant, Olshan says of the market turbulence.

Still, despite times of uncertainty, the luxury market typically rebounds faster than others, Olshan says. She notes that high-end real estate recovered exponentially after the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008.

“New Yorkers want to keep a foothold in New York City. If there’s a good dip, you go out and you buy. Because the dips don’t last that long,” Olshan says, adding that she’s seen high-end buyer interest coming from San Francisco to New York in particular recently.

In the long term, West Coast markets where many buyers may be looking for more space and access to outdoor activities, such as the Lake Tahoe area as well as Nevada, could see a boom in luxury home sales as homebuyers continue to seek out more space while working remotely, Dolly Lenz, a New York City–based real estate agent of Dolly Lenz Realty, says.

“Somebody who might have bought three weeks ago, because of the variant, may have decided, ‘Let me take a pause. Maybe I’ll come back in the new year, or make my second home my primary,’” she says.

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Sorry, Tenants: Rising Rents Continue To Smash Records

Rising Rents Break Records / Getty Images

Rapidly rising inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the continuing housing shortage have all contributed to record rent hikes nationwide.

November marked the fifth straight month of double-digit rent increases with rents rising 19.7% year over year in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in November, according to a recent® report. The national median rent hit $1,771 a month in November—the highest ever recorded by

That means renters are shelling out an additional $291 a month compared with the same time a year ago. calculated national rents by averaging the medians of the 50 largest metropolitan areas as of November 2021. Rental units include apartment communities and private rentals (condos, townhomes, single-family homes). All units were studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom.

“We are seeing a lot of eviction moratoriums expire this year, which has allowed many landlords to adjust their rates,” says George Ratiu, manager of economic research at

Another factor was a surge in millennials seeking homes to rent or buy. Since it’s so tough to purchase a home due to the housing shortage, many would-be buyers are being forced to rent. There aren’t enough rentals available either, pushing prices up.

“People are entering their 30s in record-high numbers, 4.8 million just this year,” says Ratiu. “So there is tremendous demand meeting insufficient supply [of housing].”

The national housing shortage exists largely due to a drop in new home construction from 2011 to 2021, he adds, a result of the Great Recession, the economic downturn that lasted from 2007 to 2009. That pause in homebuilding while the population was increasing is a big reason there aren’t enough homes to go around.

Rents increased the most in Miami; Tampa, FL; Orlando, FL; Riverside, CA; San Diego; Memphis, TN; and Austin, TX—all growing by more than 30% since last November. They were up 44.4% in Miami in November compared with a year earlier.

The cities showing the greatest rent hikes have strong local economies, good bang for the buck, and balmy climates.

“Good weather was particularly desirable during the pandemic when you had to be socially distancing and there was the need to be outdoors,” says Ratiu.

It’s also a lure that Florida has no state income tax.

“If you are able to work from home, why not move somewhere winter is two weeks long?” says Giovanna Calimano, a Realtor® with Luxe Properties in Miami.

Due to demand, most Miami properties are renting for a premium, says Calimano.

“If it’s a nice house, in a nice area, it gets 20 offers,” she says.“One two-bedroom, advertised at $2,100, ended up renting for $2,300.”

Some of her rental clients, unable to find affordable apartments, were forced to extend their existing leases. A few moved out state after months of searching for a rental, while some landed in efficiency apartments or temporarily moved in with family.

Some individuals even write a letter to the landlord, pleading their case.

“There is inventory, but it goes quickly,” says Leonardo Castells, a Realtor at NXT LVL Realty in Miami. “One tenant decided to offer six months’ rent upfront and finally got a positive answer.”

Minimum-wage workers are most hurt by rent hikes. Despite an increase in the minimum wage, hourly workers must work harder and longer to afford a typical rental unit in the 10 metros with the biggest rent surges, according to the report.

What lies ahead for renters in 2022? Those who have the flexibility to work in the office one day a week or less frequently will think beyond the typical commute, he says. For example, some workers in New York City have moved as far upstate as Albany.

“This is not an option for service workers who have to be onsite,” adds Ratiu. “For them, next year will be one of continued challenges.”

He predicts rents in 2022 will rise nationally, to about 7.1% more than this year.

“Rising mortgage rates will make buying a home challenging for first-time buyers, who will continue to rent,” he says. “The only way to solve the problem is by more construction.”

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These 10 Under-the-Radar Housing Markets Are Still Affordable—for Now

Under Radar Affordable Housing Markets

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The South appears poised to rise again.

The top 10 under-the-radar, more affordable real estate markets that are expected to see some strong home price appreciation are all below the Mason-Dixon Line, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors®. These are all places experiencing strong job, wage, and population growth and where homes are still affordable compared with local incomes and the rest of the country.

“They’re hidden gems because they have strong economies and strong job growth and lots of people are moving into the areas, which suggests prices should be higher. But they’re still affordable,” says Gay Cororaton, a senior economist at NAR. “So they’re hidden gems for now.” ”

To come up with its list, NAR measured wage, job, and population growth over the past three years as well as the number of housing permits over the same period in 379 metropolitan areas. The group also looked at migration and the percentage of the population aged 25 to 44 as well as the percentage of households with broadband service.

Only metros with at least 200,000 residents and positive job, wage, and migration growth were considered. (Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)

Many of the markets on the list are benefiting from remote work as buyers feel more comfortable moving farther out into some of these cheaper, secondary cities or into new cities if they don’t have to commute to work five days a week, says Cororaton.

“A lot of these markets are close to booming, high-price areas,” Cororaton points out. “We’re starting to see demand spilling into these more affordable markets.”

All of the places had estimated property values below the national median of $297,506 in the second quarter of 2021.

The cheapest metro was Spartanburg, SC, with estimated values of $185,571. The small city, just a half-hour’s drive from Greenville, SC, and about 90 minutes west of Charlotte, NC, is home to a large BMW plant. Homes in the area are also cheaper than in Greenville, where values are about $217,459, and Charlotte, where they are nearly $100,000 more, at $280,645, according to the NAR report.

The most expensive spot was Dallas, where the estimated property value was $293,976. Dallas has become a popular destination over the past few years as large companies like Toyota and Charles Schwab have moved their headquarters to the area, and other big organizations are also expanding there. That has attracted workers who need places to live and is expected to keep housing demand high.

“The economy is driving the market,” says real estate agent Dee Evans, of Ebby Halliday Realtors in Dallas. She doesn’t anticipate prices ebbing until more new homes go up for sale. “What is pushing values is all of the people moving in, and there’s not enough inventory.”

The 10 housing markets with stronger anticipated home price appreciation (in alphabetical order):

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Thousands of Home Appraisals May Contain Racially Biased Language, Federal Regulator Finds

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Despite policies meant to bar race-related bias in assessing property values, many home appraisers continue to make references to the neighborhood’s racial demographics in their assessments of a home’s value.

That’s the takeaway from an examination of millions of property valuations conducted by the Federal House Finance Agency, the main regulator that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It’s the latest indication of how widespread racial bias in home appraisals may be. The FHFA is part of an interagency taskforce reviewing the role that such bias may play in housing inequity. A recent study from Freddie Mac found that 12.5% of homes in Black neighborhoods were valued below the contract price, compared with just 7.4% of homes in white neighborhoods.

The FHFA’s review of appraisals focused particularly on what appraisers wrote on appraisal forms in free-form fields related to neighborhood descriptions and other attributes.

“From millions of appraisals submitted annually, a keyword search resulted in thousands of potential race-related flags,” FHFA senior examination specialist Chandra Broadnax and FHFA associate director James Wylie wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Many of these references did end up being false positives, they noted, but they published a series of examples of language that appraisers used that made clear reference to race, ethnicity or other protected classes. For instance, multiple appraisers cited the demographic profiles of neighborhoods, including the area’s racial make-up or the percentage of the local population composed of immigrants.

One appraiser noted that a nearby shopping plaza featured ‘storefronts supplying Jewish Households,’ while another referred to an area with a growing immigrant population as ‘one spicy neighborhood.’

One wrote that an area was “originally founded as a whites-only city or sundown town” but had become “fairly diverse” with a “diverse school system.” Other appraisers noted how a neighborhood’s population had changed over time, citing gentrification.

Other examples the FHFA highlighted included an appraiser who noted that a nearby shopping plaza featured “storefronts supplying Jewish Households,” while another referred to an area with a growing immigrant population as “one spicy neighborhood.”

The report didn’t indicate whether appraisals that contained potentially biased language had lower appraisal values.

Broadnax and Wylie wrote in their blog post that the appraisal industry could combat this avenue for bias by providing more guidance on how appraisers should use the free-form text fields on appraisal forms.

“By updating industry norms on the type of neighborhood information that is appropriate to include and moving neighborhood descriptions away from the examples we shared above, we can begin to establish more equitable assessments that ensure fair and unbiased property valuation for all,” they wrote.

The interagency task force on appraisal bias is set to provide recommendations to the White House early next year, with information on the causes and consequences of property misevaluation throughout the country.

The post Thousands of Home Appraisals May Contain Racially Biased Language, Federal Regulator Finds appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

By the Numbers: The Biggest Winners and Losers in Real Estate in 2021

Biggest Winners and Losers in Real Estate in 2021 / Getty Images

From the highest of high prices to the lowest of low numbers of homes for sale, there’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic upended the nation’s real estate market. And while 2020 was the year that seemed to never end, 2021 appears to have gone by faster than you can say, “Sorry, I didn’t realize I was muted” on that Zoom call.

Now that 2021 is nearly behind us, and we can catch our collective breaths, we decided it was time to take stock. We wanted to know: Over the course of this twisty, unpredictable, whipsaw year in real estate, who were the real winners and losers? Sometimes it seemed hard to tell. So the® data team took a deep dive into the numbers to find out who were the real housing market victors this year, and who got the short end of the “For Sale” sign stick.

To come up with worthy contenders, we looked far and wide, from cities to states to entire generations. Some entrants could have winded up on either list, but at least one key metric tipped them over the edge.

In a continuation of what we saw last year, the demand for housing in 2021 shot up while the inventory of homes for sale shrank. The number of home listings is down 41% so far this year compared with the same time a year ago, while listing prices rose 11% nationwide, data shows. Those extremes resulted in the perfect storm that left our heads spinning.

“After 2020’s roller coaster of a housing market, people expected 2021 to be smoother, but the ride wasn’t over yet,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale.

So who won the residential real estate skirmish of 2021 and who will need to spend 2022 tending to their wounds?

The biggest real estate winners of 2021

1. Florida

The median list price for homes in Florida overall was up 19% in November compared with last year, while rents in cities like Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville have also skyrocketed.

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Key stat: More than 300,000 people moved to the state between April 2020 and April 2021  

This year it seemed like everybody and their grandmother was moving to Florida.

While that’s not entirely true, hundreds of thousands did make the migration in 2021, according to the most recent data from the state’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research. They were mostly lured by warm weather, gorgeous beaches, no income tax—and comparatively attractive home prices.

“Florida became a hotbed for people fleeing the Northeast and Midwest throughout the pandemic,” says Ali Wolf, chief economist of building consultancy Zonda. “The increased demand hit at a time that inventory was scarce, pushing both home prices and rents higher.”

While New Yorkers and other East Coasters continue to be hot for Florida, the pool of other out-of-state buyers expanded. In 2021, more people were coming from as far away as California as many workers went remote, something that was unheard of just a few years ago.

And it’s not just former hot spots like Miami getting all the love; it’s happening across the state. The median list price for homes in Florida overall was up 19% in November compared with last year, while rents in cities like Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville have also skyrocketed.

2. The suburbs

Key stat: The number of suburban shoppers spikes 42% 

Perhaps the biggest COVID-19 wake-up call was for city folks who were no longer able to justify soul-crushing rents when the perks of urban life suddenly evaporated. Having more space for that home gym, a large backyard to safely entertain in, and a bit more space between neighbors suddenly became more desirable than a small apartment with shared elevators and laundry facilities.

As a concept, suburban living tends to go in and out of fashion with younger homebuyers. Let’s just safely say it’s currently in.

Buyers raced to the suburbs, resulting in heated bidding wars, wild offers over asking price, and folks willing to waive inspections and contingencies to secure a home. The number of suburban shoppers this year was 42% higher than before the pandemic, according to an analysis from the economic research team. And all that extra competition is sending home prices in the suburbs higher.

In 2020, suburban home prices grew faster than urban home prices for the first time since 2017. In September, the median price per square foot of a home in the suburbs was 28% higher than pre-pandemic levels, while urban homes were 25% more expensive, according to the economic research team.

Despite the price increases, suburban homes are selling more quickly, making an already bad inventory problem seem even worse. A typical home in the suburbs sold about three weeks faster this September compared with September 2019, while urban homes moved 16 days faster over the same time period.

3. Baby boomers

Baby Boomers
“Boomers are the most likely to own homes and be invested in stocks, both of which have gone up in value over the past year.”

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Key stat: Average profit margin on a median-priced home hits $100,178

OK, boomers, you win.

In an extreme seller’s market, older Americans who owned homes appeared to be the ones holding most of the cards in 2021. They were most likely to be the ones with big homes to sell, as many downsized or moved closer to family and friends. And in many cases, they were able to cash in big-time.

The pandemic led to lower mortgage rates, fewer homes on the market, and a crush of buyers looking for a new place. All of these factors meant homes have been selling fast for record-high prices. In most cases, sellers got what they were asking for (and sometimes significantly more) provided the home was in good shape.

In fact, this summer the average profit margin on median-priced homes reached $100,178—the highest level since the end of the Great Recession, according to real estate information firm ATTOM Data Solutions.

“Boomers are the most likely to own homes and be invested in stocks, both of which have gone up in value over the past year,” Zonda’s Wolf explains. “Boomers selling and moving into a smaller, less expensive home are commanding top dollar on their sale and are often in a place to put in a competitive offer on a new place.”

4. Wall Street investors

Key stat: Investors make up 5.5% of home purchases

Buyers competing for affordable, single-family homes in the suburbs in 2021 included deep-pocketed, large real estate investors as well as first-time buyers. Unlike most first-time home buyers, many of these investors were able to offer all cash for these homes en masse to turn into rentals.

The share of investors in the market hit the highest level since at least 2015, according to an analysis of deed records earlier this year by Investors made up 5.5% of all home purchases in the first seven months of 2021. Many were capitalizing on the country’s massive shortage of homes, which isn’t expected to be resolved for the next few years.

“Investors saw a tremendous opportunity to leverage this imbalance,” says George Ratiu, manager of economic research at

5. Homeowners who refinanced their mortgages

Key stat: Mortgage rates hit a record low of 2.65%

One of the few bright spots for homebuyers and homeowners this year was rock-bottom mortgage rates.

Low rates meant buyers could stretch their budgets further as prices escalated, but homeowners who were able to refinance their existing loans were definitely the big winners in 2021. People who already own homes were able to shave $100—or more—off their monthly mortgage payments—ultimately saving tens of thousands of dollars over the life of their loans.

Rates bottomed out in the first week of the year when they fell to an all-time low average of 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate loans, according to Freddie Mac data. While they’ve since risen to 3.10% in the week ending Dec. 9, they’re still hovering around historic lows. (Two years ago, before the pandemic hit, they were around 3.7%.)

“Homeowners who refinanced this year had a once-in-a-generational opportunity to lock in a low rate for a long period of time,” Ratiu says. “Mortgage rates at the lows we saw are not likely to happen again.”

The biggest real estate losers of 2021

1. Millennials

Key stat: First-time buyers spent 9.6% more on their homes

It isn’t easy being a first-time homebuyer these days. As millennials entered their peak homebuying years in 2021, they found themselves in a housing market unlike any seen before.

Millennials, now aged 25 to 40, made up the largest share of buyers last year, at 34% of the market, according to the National Association of Realtors®. But even those who had done all the right things—making sacrifices to save up for a down payment and working on their credit scores—had a tough time finding the home of their dreams, let alone one in their price range.

And forget about any bargaining power. As more people than ever searched for homes, most buyers this year paid at least the full asking price for their home, according to a recent report from NAR. First-time buyers spent a median of $252,000 on their homes, up from $230,000 in the previous year, according to the NAR report. To do so, the majority told NAR they had to make financial sacrifices to save up for their purchase. And their homes, at a median 1,640 square feet, were nearly 400 square feet smaller than those of repeat buyers.

“First-time buyers are typically looking for homes in the most competitive part of the market,” says economist Wolf. “The lowest-priced homes are desirable to first-time buyers, move-down shoppers, lower-income individuals, investors, and even some move-up buyers.”

A massive shortage of inventory made homes this year less and less affordable, especially for buyers with crippling student loan debt. Meanwhile, they’re competing for the same homes against trade-up buyers who can bring their home equity to the table and investors who are able to pay with cash.

“Sellers typically choose the offer they deem most likely to go through. First-time buyers stand little chance when competing with high-wealth individuals,” Wolf says.

2. Austin, TX

Austin Texas
Austin became one of the most popular destinations for remote workers in 2021, thanks to its funky, youthful culture and home prices that are still cheaper than the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Key stat: Rents have risen 30% 

Some old-timers may still want to “Keep Austin Weird,” but how weird can you stay when you become America’s fastest-growing and perhaps least affordable city?

The capital of Texas, already growing at a nice clip pre-pandemic, went on an unprecedented tear starting in 2020—and the growth accelerated in 2021, with new tech companies arriving at a steady clip. Austin became one of the most popular destinations for remote workers in 2021, thanks to its funky, youthful culture and home prices that are still cheaper than the San Francisco Bay Area.

But how big is too big? While population growth is usually a good thing for local economies, this relatively small city didn’t have the available housing for sale or rent that was needed to take on the massive influx. This became further apparent after Elon Musk announced Tesla would be moving its headquarters to Austin, where the company is building a factory.

The influx of buyers and low home inventory have sent median list prices about 50% higher in this metro area than what they were pre-pandemic, according to data. Last month, the median list price for a home was an eye-popping $550,000, pricing out many would-be buyers.

Renters aren’t having much luck either. The overall median rent in Austin reached $1,700 in October, up about 30% from the same time a year ago, according to analysis.

“Practically any city in the world would find its infrastructure overwhelmed if it experienced this similar, fast pace of growth,” says Luis Bernardo Torres, research economist at the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University.

“It’s going to become very difficult to find a home in Austin with a price tag below $250,000 in the coming years that is considered a starter home,” Torres says. “Affordability will be an issue facing Austin’s housing market going forward.”

3. Home flippers

Key stat:  Flippers made 7 percentage points less profit per house

It may seem like flippers should have had their best year ever; but instead, it was both the best and the worst of times for these enterprising folks.

The number of home flips reached record levels last year, but profits shrank, according to a analysis of deeds records. From April to June of this year, flippers made the lowest profits since 2008. On average, a flipper earned about 43% after selling a flip, but that doesn’t take into account the cost of hiring contractors and paying for materials like lumber, along with appliances. Typically, flippers seek a return on investment of 50% or more.

Despite sky-high demand for homes and rising prices, flippers were often spending more to secure homes. A record-low number of homes for sale meant they often had to offer more than they had for homes just a year or two ago to beat out the competition from first-time buyers and other investors. Rising costs for construction and appliances, plus delays due to the global supply chain shortage, significantly ate into their bottom lines.

“Flippers got burned by the incredibly steep price jumps we saw over the past year and a half,” economist Ratiu says.

4. Renters

Key stat: Rents have jumped 9%

Rental prices cratered at the start of the pandemic in many of the larger, more expensive cities on the coasts. Many urban dwellers who suddenly no longer had to commute to their offices five times a week relocated to cheaper parts of the country or moved to the suburbs.

But data from shows rents haven’t just recovered, they’re reaching new all-time highs, and renters are losing out. So far this year, rents have risen about 9% across the country, and in some areas (ahem, Austin) rental prices are up more than 30%.

“For renters this year in particular there was really a one-two punch,” Ratiu says. The first was the expiration of eviction moratoriums earlier this year that had kept many struggling tenants in their homes, and the second was a steep rebound in rent prices.

This comes as buying a home becomes less affordable, too, leaving renters between a rock and a hard place.

“Landlords are in a position where they’re more than making up for the lost revenue and time by bringing rents to record highs,” Ratiu says.

5. The San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area
“Even before the pandemic, the Bay Area is a market that was chronically undersupplied of homes, especially those that could be considered entry-level.”

Getty Images

Key stat: 31% of San Franciscans left the city

Shocker: The Bay Area may no longer be either the hottest or the coolest place in America to live.

When remote work became the norm for many tech workers, San Franciscans really began to rethink why they were paying so much to live in their prized City by the Bay. So they took off. Many looked for cheaper, nearby alternatives and made the move to places like Reno, NV; Seattle; and Phoenix. Much of the reason that Tesla moved to Texas was that workers could no longer afford homes close to the office.

“Even before the pandemic, the Bay Area is a market that was chronically undersupplied of homes, especially those that could be considered entry-level,” Wolf says.

When renters realized they couldn’t afford to buy homes in the Bay Area, many expanded their home searches and moved elsewhere. San Francisco recorded a 31% increase in people leaving the city, according to a report from the nonpartisan California Policy Lab. Meanwhile 21% fewer people moved in to take their places.

But despite this mass exodus, home prices somehow still grew even more unaffordable. The median home appreciation in San Francisco proper grew 20% from spring 2020 to fall 2021, according to an analysis from real estate firm Compass. It was even more pronounced in counties outside the city limits as wealthy buyers looking for bigger homes sent home prices in those neighborhoods even higher. All these rising prices are putting homeownership even more out of reach for many locals.

“A flood of people became interested in homeownership during the year. That increase in demand, especially among higher-income individuals, helped drive home prices higher,” Wolf says.

The post By the Numbers: The Biggest Winners and Losers in Real Estate in 2021 appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Millennials Are Supercharging the Housing Market

Parker Michels-Boyce for The Wall Street Journal

Alex and Michelle Angert lived the last years of their 20s without a permanent address. They moved out of a small Manhattan apartment in 2018 to stay in short-term rentals around the U.S. before embarking on a yearlong honeymoon to travel the world, starting in the Philippines.

When the pandemic cut their travels short last year, Mr. Angert, 31, decided to take a job in public relations in Richmond, Va. He and Mrs. Angert, who is also 31 and works at a healthcare tech company, started house hunting this spring. After losing out on multiple offers, they raised their $400,000 budget. In July, they plunked down $635,000 on a three-bedroom ranch in a tree-filled lot near a Richmond country club.

“I would have had all of these regrets in life if I didn’t travel,” Mr. Angert said. “But it feels like the right time to settle down and put down some roots.”

For years, conventional wisdom held that millennials, born from 1981 to 1996, would become the generation that largely spurned homeownership. Instead, since 2019, when they surpassed the baby boomers to become the largest living adult generation in the U.S., they have reached a housing milestone, accounting for more than half of all home-purchase loan applications last year.

The generation’s growing appetite for homeownership is a major reason why many economists forecast home-buying demand is likely to remain strong for years to come.

Rarely has the for-sale home market been more heated than in the past year. The median price of an existing home sold in October was nearly $354,000, close to a record and up about 13% from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. Prices have climbed from a year earlier for a record 116 straight months, with double-digit percentage gains touching every corner of the U.S. this year.

The frenzy has eased a bit in recent months. More buyers are pausing their searches or walking away, discouraged by the prices and a shortage of homes for sale, real-estate agents say. Some market watchers expect home sales to flatten or decline from current levels. They say the Covid-19 pandemic produced a sudden, unforeseen spike in home buying that won’t be repeated, pulling forward sales that would have been spread out over a number of years.

But most housing analysts don’t expect a wave of sustained home price cuts for quite a while. They say the pandemic and the emergence of remote work accelerated millennial home-buying trends already under way. Young families living in apartments decided to buy houses in the suburbs or leave expensive cities for cheaper ones. Millennials who already owned homes traded up for more space. Forbearance on student-loan payments, federal stimulus checks and a booming stock market helped some first-time buyers afford a down payment.

The generation accounted for 67% of first-time home purchase mortgage applications and 37% of repeat-purchase applications in the first eight months of 2021, according to CoreLogic. And as the largest cohort of millennials turned 30 this year—below the median first-time buyer age of 33—those percentages could rise higher still. That’s especially true because millennials are getting married and having children later in life than recent prior generations, events that can often prompt a home purchase.

The Angerts paid $635,000 for their three-bedroom ranch.

Parker Michels-Boyce for The Wall Street Journal

The financial stakes could scarcely be higher for millennials, who have faced a wide wealth gap with previous generations. Burdened by student debt and with career paths sidelined by the 2008 financial crisis and housing-market collapse, many millennials lacked the savings for a down payment in their 20s. Some distrusted homeownership as an investment. Credit standards tightened after the housing crash, making it more difficult for many young borrowers to qualify for loans.

Some real-estate brokers also theorized that millennials preferred to rent and spend money on travel and experiences rather than buy houses. “We talked for years about how millennials preferred to ‘do’ rather than to ‘have,’ ” said Richard Ruvin, a Realtor at Keller Williams Milwaukee North Shore in Wisconsin.

But sitting on the sidelines meant missing out on one of the biggest sources of wealth creation for past generations: equity in a home. In 2019, households of older millennials had a net worth about 11% below expectations based on what older Americans had at the same age, while younger millennials’ net worth was 50% below, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Home prices have soared in the past year, raising questions about whether now is the best time to jump into the market. But purchasing a home is still more affordable for many first-time buyers today than it was for older generations, said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American Financial Corp. That’s because incomes are higher and mortgage-interest rates have declined from above 10% in the 1980s to around 3% today.

A typical mortgage payment for a median-priced U.S. single-family existing home made up 17% of the median family income in the third quarter of 2021, according to NAR. That’s down from about 23% in 1990, when many baby boomers were in their late 20s and 30s.

The main challenge for millennial home buyers, Mr. Fleming said, isn’t whether they can afford to buy a house but whether they can win a bidding war. The frenzied market this year has made it especially difficult for buyers with small down payments to compete. First-time buyers often lose out to all-cash buyers or investors buying to flip or rent out the homes.

Booming millennial demand coincides with a housing shortfall that is proving persistent. There were 1.25 million homes for sale at the end of October, down 12% from a year earlier. Mortgage-finance company Freddie Mac calculated at the end of 2020 that the U.S. housing market was 3.8 million single-family homes short of what is needed to meet the country’s demand.

That mismatch is providing a sort of floor for the market, an army of buyers ready to swoop in and act if prices begin to sag, brokers and real-estate executives say. About 32% of millennials surveyed by housing-research firm Zonda in late 2020 and early 2021 said they planned to buy a home in the next one to three years or as soon as they could save for a down payment. Only 7% said they never plan to own a home.

“You very much could have record-high levels of demand” in the coming years, said Ryan Dobratz, co-lead portfolio manager of the Third Avenue Real Estate Value Fund, which invests in real-estate companies including home builders and land developers. “That’s just because of the millennial cohort finally moving to single-family housing in a big way.”

Mariel and Matt Balaban, who are 35 and 36, respectively, were happy living in rental apartments for years, but having children changed their perspective. When the pandemic struck, Mrs. Balaban was pregnant with their second child, and they decided to move from California to Pennsylvania to be closer to their families. After touring more than 30 homes, the couple had their fifth offer accepted this spring on a four-bedroom house in Wayne, Pa.

“My husband and I both grew up in houses with yards and neighborhoods, and I think we both wanted that for our daughters,” Mrs. Balaban said.

About 31% of older millennials and 43% of younger millennials don’t currently have a mortgage but could qualify for one, according to a Freddie Mac analysis of credit-bureau data.

In the first eight months of the year, millennials comprised the highest share of purchase mortgage applicants in San Jose, Calif., Austin, Texas, and Seattle, all metro areas with a high number of tech jobs, according to CoreLogic. Millennials also accounted for more than half of applicants in more affordable markets such as Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Buffalo, N.Y., CoreLogic said.

“We have a lot of people that have chosen to rent for a lot longer than maybe they did 10 or five years ago,” said Dana David, a real-estate agent in the Buffalo area. “Instead of buying your first house and having it be a $150,000 house, now we’re seeing a lot of first-time home buyers be in the $250,000 to $350,000 range.”

Increased millennial buying clout is starting to change the face of U.S. homeownership. The millennial generation has more Black and Hispanic households than older generations. About 45% of millennials are nonwhite, compared with about 40% of the generation born between 1965 and 1980; and 28% of baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, according to Pew Research Center.

The homeownership rate for white households is projected to continue to exceed the homeownership rate for nonwhite households in the next two decades, according to the Urban Institute. But the number of white homeowner households will decrease between 2020 and 2040, the policy research group said, while the net increase in homeowner households will be nonwhite.

Latino homeownership in the U.S. is growing at a record pace. The number of Hispanic homeowners rose by more than 700,000 to nearly 9 million last year, according to Census Bureau data compiled by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, an industry group. That growth was fueled primarily by younger buyers: Hispanics in the U.S. had a median age of 30 in 2019, which was about 14 years younger than the median age for non-Hispanic white Americans.

Hevert Someillan, who is 31, teamed up with his mother, Lourdes Someillan, to buy a three-bedroom home with a pool and a detached garage with an apartment in Granada Hills, Calif., in February.

“I feel like I kind of owe it to my family, as an immigrant,” said Mr. Someillan, who was born in Cuba. “I like ownership. … Eventually you pay it off, and it’s yours.”

The post Millennials Are Supercharging the Housing Market appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Reality TV Stars Rewind: All the Juiciest Highlights From Tarek, Christina, Chip, and Jo’s Past Year

Reality TV Stars Tarek, Christina, Chip, and Jo’s Past Year

Photos via Instagram by hilary_farr / therealtarekelmoussa / Getty Images

2021 proved to be yet another wild year, one where we spent more time than any of us may have liked stuck at home, wondering what we could do to spruce up our surroundings and, more likely than not, surfing for a little inspiration from our favorite stars on reality TV.

And they did not disappoint: Chip and Joanna GainesTarek El MoussaChristina Haack, and the rest of reality TV royalty were busier than ever this year on screen, flipping houses, unveiling new decor trends, and beyond. Plus, what these stars were up to behind the scenes was just as riveting.

And so as 2021 draws to a close, we thought we’d look back at the most memorable moments and milestones for the top reality TV stars this year. Whomever you’re a fan of, take this moment to look back and appreciate just how far they’ve all come!

Tarek and Heather Rae El Moussa married—and finished renovating their home

In October, “Flip or Flop” star Tarek El Moussa and Heather Rae Young (now El Moussa) tied the knot. In one Instagram post, Tarek said, “So many things to be grateful for this year but marrying @heatherraeyoung is one of the biggest. It’s really crazy how much your life can change when you find the right person.”

But a wedding wasn’t the only big thing these newlyweds did this year. The couple finally finished renovating their Newport Beach, CA, home. In 2020, the house endured devastating water damage, but the couple worked hard to rebuild it into a modern home with a fire pit and massive rooftop deck.

Since their new life together is finally official, it makes sense that these two also  began popping up in each other’s real estate series, too. Heather appeared in a number of episodes of Tarek’s show “Flipping 101 with Tarek El Moussa,” while Tarek did the same in Season 4 of Heather’s Netflix series, “Selling Sunset.” Will these two team up for their own real estate show in 2022? We’ll have to wait and see.

living room
Tarek and Heather Rae El Moussa’s living room in their renovated home


Chip and Joanna Gaines returned to TV

chip and joanna gaines
Chip and Joanna Gaines have had a big 2021.

Magnolia Network

What a busy year it’s been for Chip and Joanna Gaines: In July, after a spate of pandemic-related holdups, they launched their own Magnolia Network. While many of this channel’s shows had the Gaineses’ signature style and charm, probably the best part is that they returned to the small screen, too.

The cute couple reemerged on “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home,” a redux of their original hit show. Fans rejoiced in seeing Chip’s antics and Jo’s eye-rolling alongside their tasteful designs once again. It had been way too long!

Jasmine Roth sold her own house

Reality TV stars deal with real estate day in and day out, but when their own home goes on the market, that’s major. Such was the case for “Help I Wrecked My House” star Jasmine Roth, who sold her Huntington Beach, CA, home in January for over asking at $2,214,000.

Part of what made this home sale so momentous was that Roth had not only lived here for many years, but she also had built it “from the ground up.”

As such, “we definitely have all the feels about putting the #11thstreetretreat on the market,” Roth said on Instagram.

Although parting with this home was bittersweet, Roth did manage to remain in the neighborhood. In October 2021, Roth showed off her new home, just a few blocks from her old one. The property is equally spectacular, featuring a 10-foot island, plaid wallpaper in the dining room, and even a unique play space for Roth’s daughter, Hazel, under the stairs. And in case she ever gets homesick for her first abode, she can do an easy drive-by and wave.

Jasmine Roth
Jasmine Roth’s new home

David Tsay/HGTV

Christina Haack has moved on—romantically and in real estate, too

After finalizing her divorce from Tarek El Moussa in 2018 and splitting from second husband Ant Anstead in 2020, Christina Haack shocked fans with news of her engagement to a new beau, real estate agent Joshua Hall, in September. These folks like to get married!

The star of “Christina on the Coast” made big moves not only romantically but in terms of real estate, too. In August, after selling the home she shared with Anstead, she upgraded a $10.3 million mansion in Newport Beach, which is notably the same coastal city where her ex-husband El Moussa lives with his new wife.

Plus, earlier this year, Haack shocked fans when she bought a Tennessee vacation home for $2.5 million. The six-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom farmhouse in Franklin has tons of country chic charm. Does this mean she’s ready to branch out from her coastal design aesthetic into farmhouse decor? It’s yet another reason to look forward to 2022 to find out.

David Bromstad finally found his own ‘dream home’

Ever since winning Season 1 of “Design Star,” David Bromstad has had the lucky job of helping lottery winners find just the right digs on his show “My Lottery Dream Home.” But in July, he turned the camera toward his own personal victory by detailing in an HGTV special how he found his own dream home in Florida—after an epic four-year search.

In an interview with where he shared his renovation plans, Bromstad said he’s glad he took his time to find the right place, adding that this house is a “first” for him in a unique way.

“This is the first house I’ve owned on my own,” he said. “With all my other houses I had a partner, so there was always a second opinion. Now, I have no second opinion. It’s going to be delicious, tasteful, bold, but yet really comforting.”

Ty Pennington got hitched at a home he’s renovating

“Ty Breaker” star Ty Pennington finally found The One, announcing his engagement to social media manager Kellee Merrell in June this year and later announcing his marriage in November. The happy couple met in 2010 when Pennington was filming a show in Toronto, and the friends stayed in touch through the years. They decided to quarantine together when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the rest is history!

Plus, this year, the “Ty Breaker” star sold his home in Venice, CA, and the pair wed at their new home in Savannah, GA. Naturally, they’re currently restoring this property together!

Erin and Ben Napier welcomed baby No. 2

Ben and Erin Napier had a busy 2021, premiering Season 5 of “Home Town” in January, their new shows “Home Town: Ben’s Workshop” that same month and “Home Town Takeover” in May.

But that’s not all the couple had cooking: In May, they welcomed their second baby girl, aptly named Mae. While the Napiers have remained fairly private and haven’t shared photos of Mae’s nursery, one might guess that the space looks a lot like big sister Helen‘s nursery, which featured a wood crib (handmade by Ben), deep green walls, and floral curtains.

Hilary Farr announced her new solo series

In mid-November, longtime “Love It or List It” host Hilary Farr announced that she’s getting her own design show which will premiere on Dec. 20, “Tough Love With Hilary Farr.”

In an Instagram post, Farr wrote about her new renovation projects where she helps families with disastrous homes and conflicting tastes: “For years, I’ve helped thousands of people love their homes. Now I’m working with families whose problems are way bigger than bad floor plans. Upgrading these spaces will be a challenge, but transforming these homeowners’ lives is where the real work begins.”

What will happen to her original hit series with co-host David Visentin remains to be seen, but hopefully she can juggle two shows so we see double the renovations!

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