Majestic Mansion on a Private Island Is the Week’s Most Popular Home

Most Popular Homes

Realtor.com

We’re well aware of your affinity for private islands. Anytime one of these rare gems pops onto the market, clicks soon follow.

So we weren’t surprised when a private island in the middle of Minnesota’s Bald Eagle Lake captivated real estate watchers this week. Surrounded on water on all four sides, and topped with a luxe mansion, the isle just north of the Twin Cities is the most popular property this week on Realtor.com®.

And there’s plenty of houses stuffed onto this 2-acre speck of land. The massive, 9,414-square-foot home features a whole-house audio system, a professional home theater with a starlit ceiling, and high-end appliances. It’s offered fully furnished and even includes a Hovercraft, so you can explore the lake at your leisure.

Stepping off the island, you also clicked on a lakeside home in Michigan with its own dedicated indoor pool room, a famous—and very expensive—manor back on the market in Los Angeles, and a storybook beauty in Connecticut.

For the full story of all 10 of this week’s most popular homes, just scroll on down.

10. 2272 N. 26th St, Kalamazoo, MI

Price: $474,900
Why it’s here: Water lovers will be in aquatic heaven at this lakeside home. It not only features a hot tub, but also a large indoor pool.

Outside, the three-bedroom home offers a spacious deck with a beautiful view of Lake Lyons. Inside, the first-floor master suite has nearly 1,000 square feet of space and an alcove for a bistro, an office, and a separate entrance.

Kalamazoo, MI

Realtor.com


9. 594 S. Mapleton Dr, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $165,000,000
Why it’s here: Once known as Spelling Manor, it’s one of the country’s most iconic mansions. Now, the majestic Manor is back on the market, only three years after selling for $119.75 million.

Los Angeles

Realtor.com


8. 665 Laurels Rd, Johnson City, TN

Price: $395,000
Why it’s here: With views of Buffalo Mountain, this custom-built wood cabin sits on more than 5 acres.

An exterior spiral staircase leads right to the wraparound front porch. Inside, the 2,048-square-foot home’s open floor plan features a living room with a stone, wood-burning fireplace, a kitchen with custom wooden cabinetry, a grocery lift, and a master suite with porch access.

Johnson City, TN

Realtor.com


7. 1311 Glenn St, Newberry, SC

Price: Listed for $285,000, now off-market
Why it’s here: Built in 1910, this four-bedroom Victorian probably proved popular with buyers. Listed less than a week ago, it’s already off the market.

It’s also a remarkable revival—the home was slated for demolition until the current owners saved and updated it.

Throughout the 3,396 square feet, this classic beauty’s history is evident, from the original hardwoods and handmade tile fireplaces to the stained-glass windows and cast-iron tubs. Recent updates include a new roof and freshly painted exterior.

Newberry, SC

Realtor.com


6. 61 Castle Rd, Cornwall, CT

Price: $6,500,000
Why it’s here: The storybook Cornwall Castle is straight out of a fairy-tale, with its gargoyles, multiple terraces, five waterfalls, and stone footbridges.

With more than 275 acres to enjoy, this European-style chateau, built in 1921, was the original vision of New York socialite Charlotte Bronson Hunnewell Martin.

Since then, the 18-room main residence has been restored and renovated to combine its Old World charm with modern upgrades, including a marble reception hall, heated pool, and private helipad.

Cornwall, CT

Realtor.com


5. 445 Bud Smith Rd, Liberty, SC

Price: $299,900
Why it’s here: This three-bedroom time capsule sits in one of the best school districts in South Carolina.

While the house needs updating, there’s a cool stone fireplace in the family room that offers a look at the home’s potential. There’s also a two-car detached garage that could be transformed into a home office, studio, or workshop.

Liberty, SC

Realtor.com


4. 628 N. 33rd St, Waco, TX

Price: $185,000
Why it’s here: Live in the heart of Gaines country! Although there’s no evidence Chip and Jo worked on this place, the 1930 Tudor Revival cottage combines historic charm with professionally designed upgrades.

Offered at an affordable price point, the three-bedroom home has historic features throughout, including original hardwood flooring and built-in bookcases. There’s a covered front porch and flagstone-lined back patio for relaxing.

Waco, TX

Realtor.com


3. 3043 Swamp Rd, Doylestown, PA

Price: $395,000
Why it’s here: Built in 1938, this three-bedroom stone cottage combines modern amenities and a rich history.

It sits on nearly an acre and boasts a remodeled enclosed porch, complete with a wood-burning stove. Use your imagination to transform the bonus room off the walk-out basement into a home office, studio, or playroom for the kids.

Doylestown, PA

Realtor.com


2. 4219 18th St, Dorr, MI

Price: $120,000
Why it’s here: This former brick schoolhouse was built in 1909 and needs a creative eye to take it to the next level.

Being sold as is, the huge, 8,120-square-foot structure offers endless opportunities. Located on more than an acre, the fixer-upper is currently configured with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms.

Dorr, MI

Realtor.com


1. 1 Bald Eagle Is, White Bear Township, MN

Price: $6,600,000
Why it’s here: This private island isn’t exactly in a tropical locale, but that doesn’t detract from its beauty—or its popularity.

The 2-acre spit of land in the middle of a lake comes with a mansion with nearly 9,500 square feet of living space. You’ll never tire of the 2,800 feet of shoreline that you have all to yourself.

Built in 1985, the luxe home is offered fully furnished. No need to worry about how to haul a sofa to your island retreat.

Highlights include a chef’s kitchen, a lower-level bar, and a full racquetball court.

White Bear Township, MN

Realtor.com

The post Majestic Mansion on a Private Island Is the Week’s Most Popular Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Crypto Casas: 9 Homes Available Right Now for Buyers With Bitcoin

Bitcoin Cryptocurrency accepted real estate listings

Getty Images / Realtor.com

While the concept of the blockchain is still baffling to some, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be used to purchase real goods—like, say, a house.

Gene Simmons, the Kiss frontman, has positioned himself to illuminate us all on the intricacies of such a transaction, with the sale of his Las Vegas home. An early adopter of cryptocurrency, he recently announced that he will accept Bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrency for his estate, which is on the market for $13.5 million.

Gene Simmons’ Las Vegas estate

realtor.com

“I have been an outspoken proponent of cryptocurrency from the beginning,” said Simmons. “It is the future of money, and it just makes sense to offer interested parties the option of using cryptocurrency to purchase the estate.”

So what does a Bitcoin transaction look like? Evangelina Duke-Petroni, who is co-listing Simmons’ Las Vegas mansion, along with Ivan Sher of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, explains it this way: “Once the buyer and the seller agree on the price, the Bitcoin is exchanged electronically from crypto wallet to crypto wallet.”

She adds that banks wouldn’t be involved in that portion of the transaction. However, a few greenbacks will be required to seal a deal.

“You must use traditional currency for the closing costs, like title and escrow fees, commission, and taxes.” says Duke-Petroni. Any fees that involve entities beyond the buyer and seller must be paid for with U.S. dollars.

Wild price fluctuations in cryptocurrency values are a big consideration in terms of sale timing.

“The value of a Bitcoin is usually determined at the time of the transaction,” says Duke-Petroni.

In other words, if a Bitcoin is worth $50,000 at the time of the transaction and the price of the house is $1 million, the buyer will transfer 20 Bitcoins into the seller’s wallet. If the price of a Bitcoin goes up after the sale to $60,000, the sellers are in luck. If the price of a Bitcoin trends down to $40,000 immediately after the sale, the buyers win.

“It’s the risk you take,” said Duke-Petroni.

Although the number of homes changing hands through the blockchain hasn’t been huge, no shortage of homes are available in exchange for cryptocurrency.

We’ve found nine homes—including Simmons’ gorgeous estate—currently available to Bitcoin buyers.

7 Talus Court, Henderson NV

Price: $13,500,000
Gene Simmons’ rock and roll paradise: This modern mansion sits just south of the Las Vegas Strip and offers outrageous views of the city.

It measures a generous 11,000 square feet and sits on is nearly an acre—Simmons bought the lot next door and planted a private orchard on it.

The gleaming three-level mansion includes a lower-level basement and 11 attached garage spaces. Luxe amenities include a floating walkway over a koi pond and glass sculptures. Floor-to-ceiling windows and disappearing glass walls are everywhere, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor spaces.

There’s also a commercial elevator, an oversized built-in tropical fish tank, an 11-seat theater, a private bar and lounge area, and a backyard with an infinity pool.

This modern mansion sits just south of the Las Vegas Strip and offers outrageous views of the city.

Realtor.com


1722 River Oaks Blvd, Houston, TX

Price: $27,500,000
Trade for a Tudor: This modern Tudor estate in the ritzy neighborhood of River Oaks is gorgeously traditional inside and out.

Yet the 12,209-square-foot mansion also has the modern features a Bitcoin baron would love, including LED lighting, Savant and Lutron controls, integrated audio, and state-of-the-art security.

The must-have amenities for a mansion of this stature, including a huge gourmet kitchen, a wine cellar, home theater, gym, and a game room. Outdoor highlights include a pond, herb garden, boxwood hedges, and a pool.

Houston, TX

Realtor.com


17116 Michaels Ave, Cerritos, CA

Price: $925,000
Fragrant fruit salad: For the more modest investor, this three-bedroom ranch-style home in Los Angeles County is the only place for under $1 million on our list.

Built in 1977, it’s on the market for the first time in 16 years, and will need some renovations. Yet it has plenty of appeal, especially the front bedroom that would make an ideal office. Among its most delicious features are avocado and guava trees, as well as rose and blackberry bushes.

Close to both the I-5 and Route 91, it provides easy access to both Orange County and L.A.

Cerritos, CA

Realtor.com


1319 Fillmore St, Hollywood, FL

Price: $1,590,000
Hurray for Hollywood (Florida): This seven-bedroom home with a pool is currently earning over $100,000 per month as a short-term rental. That may leave the new owner some extra cash to invest in more cryptocurrency.

Measuring 4,000 square feet, the two-story home has a country club on one side and the beach on the other.

It has two master suites, ideal for a roommate or an extended family. Eighteen people can gather around the dining table, and after dinner, enjoy drinks at the full-sized bar or recreational activities in the game room.

Hollywood, FL

Realtor.com


1702 Victoria Pointe Cir, Weston, FL

Price: $2,400,000
High-tech everything: Listen to tunes while cleaning up—all six bathrooms in this house are equipped with Bluetooth Kohler showerheads.

This six-bedroom residence also features an ecological water system, all-new Thermador appliances in the gleaming white kitchen, as well as a grassy backyard with a pool.

It’s also next to the Everglades, with its tourist attractions, restaurants, and unique recreational facilities nearby.

Weston, FL

Realtor.com


7181 E. Camelback Rd Unit 707, Scottsdale, AZ

Price: $3,442,800
Classy condo: Downtown, in the middle of swanky Scottsdale, this professionally decorated and fully furnished two-bedroom unit is a shopper’s delight.

It’s within walking distance of Fashion Square Mall, Old Town Scottsdale, and the many upscale boutiques and galleries in the area.

Located on the seventh floor of the Scottsdale Waterfront Residences, the 2,265-square-foot condo even has a view of Nordstrom. It also looks out on Camelback Mountain and gorgeous desert sunsets from its balconies and many large windows.

Scottsdale, AZ

Realtor.com


1845 W. 33rd Ave, Denver, CO

Price: $2,850,000
Mile-high haven: This home has everything an outdoorsy Colorado resident could desire—including a spacious third-floor deck with great downtown views. There’s also a one-bedroom studio, and a dog door and wash station.

Located in the hip Lohi district and built in 2019, this six-bedroom dwelling offers a generous 4,524 square feet of living space.

Ideal for entertaining, it features two wet bars, a covered patio and grassy lawn in the back, and a movie room with a projector screen. Luxe finishes include a rustic wood accent wall and fireplace, wide-plank, white-oak flooring, and heated bathroom floors.

Home in Denver

Realtor.com


3653 Aspen Camp Loop, Park City, UT

Price: $5,950,000
Hope on the slope: It isn’t finished yet, but it’s estimated that this majestic home will be done in late September. Because work isn’t done, prospective buyers can still select some of their own finishes.

Located in the Promontory neighborhood, this 7,508-square-foot mountain home is ideal for a family retreat or a primary residence to get away from it all. It’s conveniently close to the ski resorts for winter recreation and golf courses for summer recreation. The seller will even throw in a country club membership to a buyer willing to pay the full asking price.

The six-bedroom home offers such upscale amenities as a heated driveway, a wine room, and multiple decks with gorgeous mountain views.

Home in Park City, UT

Realtor.com


735 N. Bonhill Rd, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $21,995,000
Land rush: This listing is all about the acreage in L.A.’s prestigious Brentwood neighborhood. The property spans over 2.35 acres of lush lawns and offers unrivaled city and canyon views.

But the fact that the listing shows few interior photos and that the details say it has “incredible potential,” describing it as “the perfect opportunity to create and develop the ultimate estate,” lets us know this hacienda-style home may not be long for this world. You can’t beat the location, behind discreet security gates in a canyon hidden from the I-405 freeway .

As it currently stands, the six-bedroom house measures 8,500 square feet, with a pool and tennis court. Will it survive a Bitcoin buyer? Unlikely.

Home in Brentwood, CA

Realtor.com

The post Crypto Casas: 9 Homes Available Right Now for Buyers With Bitcoin appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Exclusive: HGTV Star Jasmine Roth Has a Secret—and a Big Regret—About Her New House

Jasmine Roth

HGTV

HGTV star Jasmine Roth has made over many homes on shows ranging from “Hidden Potential” to “Help, I Wrecked My House.” So what was it like for her to build her own home from the ground up?

While images of Roth’s gorgeous new home in Huntington Beach, CA, have been splashed across HGTV and social media, one gritty detail that’s easily overlooked was how long it took to build: three years. Furthermore, Roth was pregnant with her first child during that time. Daughter Hazel was born in April 2020—three months before Roth and her husband, Brett Roth, were able to finally move in.

Now that her family has settled in, we were curious to hear how this reality TV star is doing. We learned she is busier than ever, raising her toddler and partnering up with Hunter Fan Co. on a new line of lighting.

We were also surprised to hear that although Jasmine Roth loves her new home, there’s one thing it’s lacking that she hopes to change soon. Here’s what she learned building her own house—and some hard-won lessons that will shed new light on what her home life is really like today.

Now that you’ve settled in to your new home, has a certain feature grown on you as your favorite?

My favorite feature is the secret room. It’s a bookcase, and then it moves to the side and you walk into a little speakeasy. We call it a wine tasting room. It just has a bench in there and a window, and it’s just real small. If you don’t know it’s there, you don’t know about it.

Is there anything in the house you would have done differently?

It took us three years to build, ground up. We started with dirt. And there’s a lot of things I probably would have done differently. It’s interesting how much things change in three years.

So I think at this point, my main thing is we’re trying to figure out a second work-from-home space. We have one office. And now we’re trying to carve out another area where both my husband and I can work from home at the same time, take interviews, talk loud, and not have to worry about waking up the baby or stepping on each other’s toes.

A lot of homeowners have decided to renovate during the pandemic. Where do you suggest they start?

My recommendation is a little bit different than most designers. I think most people would say start in the kitchen. It’s the heart of the home. It’s the most used space. And while I do see the benefit in that, I actually recommend starting in the main bedroom and bathroom, because what we don’t realize is that our sanctity and our ability to reset is usually in that space, right? We come home at the end of the day, we need somewhere that feels like it’s ours.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone to somebody’s house, and I walk in and I’m like, “This is great! Like, it looks really nice.” And then you open the door to the main bedroom, and it’s like, “What happened here?” Because it hasn’t been touched in 10 or 15 years. I always tease my clients: “You guys, this looks like a dorm room.”

So my recommendation is to start with your bedroom and bathroom and make it a space where you can really recharge, where you feel comfortable. And then I believe that overall feeling of serenity will translate, and you’ll be able to attack the other spaces with a clear head.

Did becoming a mom change your views on design?

I’ve been designing for families for a lot longer than I’ve been a mom, so it’s interesting to see how all of these things that I thought I knew and that I’ve been helping people with, now I get to actually try them out myself.

One thing that I’ve helped my clients with for a long time is decluttering and storage—that’s necessary when you have kids. And so, I recommend this literally every single day to somebody: Buy a big basket. Not a basket the size of your head, not a basket the size of your arm, but like your torso, a big basket, and put everything in there. And it’s amazing how much of a difference that can make.

The other thing that I’m noticing a lot in designing spaces for parents is that, whether it’s a nursery or a playroom, it doesn’t have to be a space that an adult doesn’t want to hang out in. Meaning it doesn’t have to be unaesthetically pleasing. [I’ve been] encouraging my clients to be a bit selfish. Just because it’s a playroom or a nursery, make it nice for us, a space that helps [adults] feel good and proud of the house. Because we’re the ones that care. Kids don’t care. They just want their toys to be there.

Jasmine Roth talks with clients
Jasmine Roth talks with clients about their nursery on “Help, I Wrecked My House.”

HGTV

Do you have any early design blunders that homeowners can learn from?

I have made so many mistakes! One of the main ones I remember from the early days, and it scarred me so much that I’m hypersensitive to it now, is I designed an entire kitchen. My clients went to move in, and they were like, “OK, where’s the trash can?” And I was like, “Oh man.”

It’s not even that I didn’t build the trash can into the cabinetry, which would have been lovely and there was plenty of space for it. Some kitchens don’t have that, and that’s fine. But I didn’t even consider it. I didn’t have a spot for it.

They had this beautiful new kitchen, and they were going to have to put a trash can right in the walkway. And it was a mess, it was a mistake. And I learned from that. I had to rip out a cabinet, build in a trash, and it never happened again.

Jasmine Roth looks at tiles
Roth selects tiles on “Help I Wrecked My House.”

HGTV

Are there any styles or materials that you’re just loving these days?

I know this has been around for a while, but I really like brushed brass. This is something that I just started using, and I’m using it very sparingly. I might still do chrome doorknobs, chrome plumbing fixtures, maybe even still chrome cabinet hardware. I feel like that can elevate the design, it adds a different color and something that’s a little bit special.

Homeowners don’t always have a big budget. Do you have a favorite inexpensive home upgrade?

Paint is probably the least expensive, most impactful thing you can do in a space. But I’m here to tell you that most of the benefit that you get from painting is what you do before painting and what you do right after painting.

Because in order to paint, you have to clean up, and so I think people get excited about painting and they start cleaning up and they start decluttering and they start getting rid of things. And that’s actually what makes most of the difference. Cleaning up is free, if you do it yourself.

Then right after you paint, usually you have this fresh set of eyes to your project and that’s when you can figure out, “OK, can I add a light in this space? Can I rethink the furniture layout? Can I buy a big basket and put some toys in it?”

You’ve worked with homeowners who have messed up their homes. What’s the biggest DIY fail you’ve seen?

Last season, one of my clients wanted to add a wall sconce in the bathroom. So he and his dad ran a wire down, and then they went to cut their light. And they cut into a pipe. And then instead of figuring that out, they were like, “Well, this is where we want the light and there’s a pipe there.” And they zip-tied the brand-new light, with live electrical, to the pipe in the wall, and then just left it.

When I found this zip-tied light/pipe situation, it was terrifying. I wanted to be like, “What are you doing?” Just shake them. But they knew it was wrong, and I’m glad they called me. My advice is to hire an electrician for any electrical projects and also [a plumber] for any plumbing projects. Because I’ve seen some doozies.

As a partner with Hunter Fan Co., what tips do you have for finding the best lighting fixture for your space?

Choosing lights is tough. I do it for a living. But when I saw what Hunter was doing, I knew that I had to be a part of it. They have a wonderful reputation with their ceiling fans, so it was a no-brainer for them to move into lights, and for me, as a designer, picking lighting is challenging.

The challenge is making sure that everything matches. And Hunter has kind of cracked the code to have these collections of lights where every light—whether you have a light in your dining room, above the island in your kitchen, a sconce in your bathroom—they can all match.

You’ve done a ton of reality TV. What’s happening behind the scenes that viewers might not know?

People ask me this all the time, “Where do people go when you kick them out of their house and you start renovating?”

Most people go to a family member’s house or a friend’s house, or they do a short-term rental. One of the funniest stories was on one of my projects. My homeowners had bought their house because their parents lived literally four doors down, right up the street. And so when I kicked them out, I was like, “You’re not allowed to see your house anymore [until it’s finished].” They’re like, “Well, we’re staying four doors down. How are we supposed to get there?”

And so we looked at a map of the neighborhood. And instead of the easy way into the neighborhood, and driving past their own home to get to the house where they were staying, we made them drive all the way around the whole community and enter through the opposite side. It added at least 15 minutes to every single time they came or went. But then that day when they finally drove up and they got to see it, they’re like, “OK, it was worth it.”

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Real Estate’s Hottest Markets Right Now Will Surprise You—Especially No. 1

hottest markets manchester new hampshire

Getty Images / Realtor.com

Despite winter’s deep freeze, many of America’s real estate markets are already heating up. And even though cold temperatures tend to get people dreaming of moving to warmer climes, a new report has found that the nation’s hottest real estate market right now is hiding in a surprisingly cold place: Manchester, NH.

This chilly, unassuming city was ranked the hottest market in January based on an analysis by Realtor.com®. The rankings factor in a combination of demand (measured by the number of unique views per home listing) and how quickly homes are selling in that area.

In Manchester, property listings in January received 3.4 times more visitors than the national average, with homes lingering a mere 33 days before being snapped up by buyers. (The national average for days on market is nearly double that, at 61 days.)

Due to this high demand, the median listing price of homes in the Manchester-Nashua area has risen 11.1% over the past year, to $450,000, which is well over the national median of $375,000.

Manchester’s reign as the hottest market is no fluke, either, as this is the ninth time it’s topped these rankings in the past year. Real estate agents and brokers in the area speak of open houses overrun with buyers making offers on the spot.

“It’s definitely a sizzling-hot and crazy market,” says Manchester real estate broker Pamela Young, of Re/Max Insight. “Many homes are placed under contract immediately after an open house.”

America’s hottest housing market today

Overall, America’s hottest markets this month highlight more affordable places outside of bigger, more expensive cities. But some pretty pricey places ended up on this list as well. So what’s behind Manchester’s undisputed hot streak?

“Manchester, NH, sits squarely at the very intersection of current trends,” says George Ratiu, manager of economic research for Realtor.com. First and foremost, “it’s a short distance from the Boston metropolitan area.”

In the Boston metro, median home prices spiraled to $725,000 in January, which may be driving homebuyers to search farther afield for more affordable places to live. Manchester, located two hours away, may seem like the perfect compromise, particularly for the growing number of homebuyers who are clocking more work hours from home.

“Remote work has moved from a pandemic necessity to a preferred reality for millions of workers across the country,” says Ratiu. “In practice, these changes are spotlighting communities located within a two-hour drive from a major urban employment center, a broadening of the traditional commute radius.”

Manchester residents save not only on housing, but taxes, too.

“New Hampshire is attractive for its lack of state income and sales taxes, which can help many higher-income families keep thousands of dollars from wages in their pockets every year,” Ratiu explains.

In fact, half of homebuyers shopping for properties in Manchester are from nearby metros like Boston, New York City, and Providence, RI, as well as far-flung cities like Seattle, Atlanta, and Washington, DC.

Yet not all of America’s hottest markets in January boil down to affordability. The Santa Cruz, CA, metro area—No. 2 on the list—saw median listing prices of $1,199,000. Meanwhile, Topeka, KA (No. 3), and Rochester, NY (No. 4), have listing prices hovering at $159,000 and $200,000 respectively.

What lies ahead for homebuyers in 2022

Based on early indicators, this year already seems slated to be a scorcher of a housing market.

“The first weeks of 2022 point to an unseasonably active real estate market across the country,” says Ratiu.

The driving force? Rising mortgage rates.

“Buyers are seeking to close on homes in an effort to beat rising mortgage rates,” says Ratiu.

In February, mortgage rates jumped to their highest level since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising to 3.69% for the week ending Feb. 10, according to Freddie Mac.

While many homebuyers may be panicked about rising interest rates combined with high home prices, Ratiu says he is hopeful that the warmer months ahead will bring some relief.

“As we look toward the spring season, we expect the combination of growing new homes and more homeowners listing their properties to offer buyers more options,” he says, “and also lead to a moderation in price growth.”

January’s hottest real estate markets

Hotness Rank Metro Hotness Rank YoY Median List Price
1 Manchester-Nashua, N.H. 10 $449,900
2 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif. 23 $1,199,000
3 Topeka, Kan. 5 $159,900
4 Rochester, N.Y. 27 $200,000
5 Boulder, Colo. 184 $810,000
6 Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. -5 $584,000
7 Burlington, N.C. -4 $325,000
8 Raleigh, N.C. 56 $424,706
9 Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla. 217 $415,000
10 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla. 171 $525,000
11 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif. 11 $945,000
12 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, N.C. 37 $298,500
13 Appleton, Wis. 31 $350,000
14 Yuma, Ariz. 12 $299,000
15 Columbus, Ohio 6 $299,900
16 Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, Calif. 46 $1,495,000
17 Rapid City, S.D. -13 $417,770
18 Fort Wayne, Ind. -11 $249,900
19 Yuba City, Calif. -6 $446,000
20 Colorado Springs, Colo. -18 $494,401

 

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Could Luxury Homes One Day Fill America’s Languishing Office Buildings?

Getty Images

As American manufacturing declined over the decades, major cities inherited vast stretches of disused factories and warehouses. Eventually, savvy owners and developers redesigned and renovated that manufacturing space to create desirable downtown condominiums and loft apartments, often with stylish industrial accouterments.

Now, in metropolitan business environments forever altered by the Covid-19 pandemic, an abandoned office space is today’s empty factory. With many major urban areas still facing housing shortages for working professionals, the minds behind a new trend explore the possibility of transforming offices into residential real estate opportunities.

According to a recent Rent.com report, cities across the U.S. are seeing office vacancy rates averaging higher than 20%. The areas with the highest reported number of open office space include Fairfield County, Connecticut (32.6%), Westchester County, New York (25.6%), Houston,(25.4%) and Brooklyn, New York. (25.2%).

With a growing sense that viral pandemics might become a seasonal phenomena, and with remote-work technology proliferating the cultural landscape, there remain questions if those empty offices will ever fill again. Residential transformation could prove a solution for real estate companies possessing ample empty buildings.

While developers have the urban space to transform quiet offices into new condominiums or luxury apartments, the question remains if they want to take on the considerable cost. Like disused factories and warehouses, orphaned offices require reparceling and utility servicing to create living spaces.

Government incentives are percolating

David Downey, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based International Downtown Association, or IDA, says his organization is supporting the effort to reduce disused office space. He cites the Revitalizing Downtowns Act now before Congress as a key to pushing this metropolitan repurposing effort forward.

Sponsored by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, the bill “expands the investment tax credit to add a qualified office conversion credit.” The 20% credit must apply to qualified converted buildings. The bill defines such a pre-conversion property as a nonresidential property available for lease to office tenants; a property substantially converted from an office use to a residential, retail or other commercial use; a building initially placed in service at least 25 years prior to the beginning of the conversion; and a building with an allowable straight line depreciation.

“IDA is supporting (the Revitalizing Downtowns Act) to incentivize conversion of underutilized office space into other uses, including residential,” Mr. Downey said.“The rehabilitation concept is similar to urban warehouse conversion from recent past decades. However, downtown office asset values are significantly more expensive than vacant industrial warehousing, which is why a conversion tax credit incentive is so important.”

Acknowledging a housing shortage in many city environments, Mr. Downey considers such governmental involvement essential to pushing repurposed office use forward in many cities.

“Greater housing levels in downtowns is imperative for building inclusive and resilient cities,” he added. “Throughout the pandemic, city centers with more residents were able to sustain small businesses and remain more vibrant even when the daytime office worker traffic was diminished.”

Plus, the benefits of new housing emerging from abandoned offices are practical, enabling more residents to live and work while dramatically reducing commute time and congestion, Mr. Downey said.

Redevelopment could take some time

David Bitner, global head of capital markets insights for global real estate serving firm Cushman & Wakefield, said the concept of making abandoned urban offices into condos or rental properties remains in its infancy as the industry comes to terms with the transformational necessities.

“The reality is that it is typically difficult and expensive to convert urban office space into residential use,” Mr. Bitner said. “For many of these to pencil, you would need to have buildings that are substantially vacant and have undergone dramatic write-downs. There are certainly cases where this will transpire, but it will only ever be a marginal influence on the office and multifamily markets, respectively.”

Mr. Bitner said conversions of older warehouses to offices was a niche or opportunistic development trend driven by demand for adaptive re-use offices from top-tier tenants. The pre-divided office layouts may not lend themselves as easily into homes.

“The often unfavorable floor plates of office buildings make them potentially less attractive to tenants,” Mr. Bitner added. “An exception would be older office buildings with attractive exteriors and small floor plates, which could make them more amenable to laying out residential units, though the interior work necessary would still be substantial.”

Developers could find themselves stuck between two worlds when it comes time to market any new spaces they create, he added.

“Conversion is expensive, which suggests that a luxury price point would be necessary,” he explained. “However, the compromises on unit layout may make them less competitive in the luxury set.”

Regardless of the practical challenges, Mr. Bitner acknowledged the appeal of new urban housing in many cities.

“I think that the pandemic has brought home the importance of submarkets having a mixed composition of office, retail and residential for maintaining vibrancy,” he says. “I think that cities should encourage this development. If they really want a lot of this to happen, then they will have to offer a range of inducements.”

Office to condo is Challenging, but not impossible

Matthew Gardner, chief economist for the Seattle-based Windermere Services Company, considers it unlikely that the offices-to-homes trend will take off significantly because of very real world problems such as plumbing.

“The core depths of traditional office buildings are not suited for conversion,” Mr. Gardner said. “There are significant issues with plumbing penetration. Warehouses are far better suited to conversion and have been successful in conversion to residential spaces for decades—such as in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan.”

If a trend for office space transformation does take off, Mr. Gardner echoed others that the resulting residences need to go upscale.

“I can’t imagine that they would be an affordable option, given conversion costs would be significant,” he says.

Despite clear challenges, Mr. Downey, of IDA, said metropolitan areas should encourage more productive use of building assets.

“Pre-pandemic, employers were already relocating to the city center where the knowledge workforce preferred to live,” Mr. Downey said. “Additionally, aging populations continue to seek walkable, amenity-rich neighborhoods with easy access to services without the use of an automobile. The Revitalizing Downtowns Act works to help finance these costly conversions as an alternative to continuing to build further out in the rural landscape.”

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The Middle Class Feels the Sting of the Housing Shortage and High Prices

Middle Class Housing Shortage

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The turbocharged housing market is hurting middle-class homebuyers stymied by a double whammy of fast-rising prices and a dearth of properties for sale.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, home prices surged about 30%, according to a joint report from Realtor.com® and the National Association of Realtors®. The typical home now costs about $80,000 more than it did just two years ago.

Meanwhile, as any buyer knows, there aren’t enough homes on the market. The number of properties currently listed is about a quarter of what was available during the same period in 2007. The shortage has resulted in a runup in prices, offers well over asking price, and bidding wars making it even more challenging, particularly for first-time buyers.

The analysis looked at how affordable homes listed for sale are for prospective buyers with different household incomes. It also looked at the number of homes for sale.

“In a highly competitive real estate market, the best areas for buyers are areas that have relatively more home available. But in order to truly be available, the home has to be for sale and affordable,” says Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “A homebuyer needs to ask themselves: ‘With my income and what’s on the market right now, where do I have the best shot from an availability perspective?’”

Buyers with a household income between $75,000 and $100,000 could afford only about 51% of the homes listed for sale. (Households include all adults living together, such as spouses and partners, extended families, and roommates.) That was compared with 58% in 2019. Those buyers are competing for just 245,300 homes nationally that are within their budgets.

Meanwhile, there were just 165,280 homes across the country that buyers could afford with household incomes between $50,000 and $75,000.

Even in the few places where housing became cheaper during the pandemic—such as the bigger, more expensive cities that became less desirable over the Past few years—the lack of homes for sale has made it harder for buyers to get an edge.

“Due to rising home prices and the ongoing inventory shortage, homeownership attainment will become especially challenging for middle-class buyers unless significantly more entry-level housing units become available,” Nadia Evangelou, NAR’s senior economist and director of forecasting, said in a statement. “Otherwise, the wealth gap between middle-income and upper-income households may grow even further.”

The 10 best metropolitan areas for buyers with household incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 were mostly in the South in less expensive areas that have had more new construction. These places all had more homes for sale at the right price for these buyers.

Deltona, FL, topped the list, followed by Des Moines, IA; Augusta, GA; Atlanta; McAllen, TX; Baton Rouge, LAMiami; Virginia Beach, VA; Youngstown, OH; and Scranton, PA. (Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)

“Homes are priced a bit lower so that your housing dollars stretch further,” says Hale. Also, “construction has done a better job of keeping up with demand.”

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Buying a First Home Costs More Than You Think, Especially Now

Photo by Ross Martin for The Wall Street Journal

Buying a first home is always stressful. Buying now, with property price increases eating into savings and inflation driving up the cost of home repairs, is proving to be particularly costly for some first-time buyers.

New buyers are putting more money into down payments and increased closing costs as prices go up. To compete in the current market, buyers are also waiving inspections and making fast deals, brokers say—decisions that pose big risks and potentially bigger costs.

Waiving an inspection can often mean buyers face needed repairs shortly after moving in, just when budgets are already stretched thin. And the cost of those repairs is higher than usual right now, thanks to labor shortages and inflation pushing up the price of goods. Inflation rose 7% in December, as prices for appliances, household furnishings and household operations all increased.

First-time buyers also tend to have lower credit scores—a median of 720 versus 753 for repeat buyers, according to federal mortgage data compiled by the American Enterprise Institute. The lower the credit score, the higher the interest rate, so those new buyers are paying more every month on their mortgage than more creditworthy buyers would.

“First-time home buyers are least equipped to do things like waive an inspection or overbid,” said Ed Pinto, director of the AEI Housing Center.

Kathleen Jacob and her boyfriend Eric Hilt lost three different Nashville, Tenn., houses to higher bidders, despite offering more than $40,000 over ask on some of the homes. Last summer, the couple was thrilled when their $461,000 offer was chosen for a 112-year-old 1,100-square-foot house. The seller had two conditions: waive the inspection and promise to go through with the deal even if the property was appraised below the purchase price.

They did it anyway.

“Some people will say you’re crazy,” said Ms. Jacob, a 30-year-old public information officer.

“But when there are 12 to 15 other offers on the same house you’re forced to waive to stay competitive.”

On the couple’s moving day, a 95-degree scorcher, the home’s central air-conditioning unit gave out.

The new unit and installation cost about $7,000, and they opted for a payment plan that offered zero interest for five years. The couple still had roughly $15,000 left in their emergency account but decided to finance the new system so they could pay for any other unexpected expenses.

First-time buyers made up 34% of all home buyers in 2021, compared with 31% in 2020, according to a National Association of Realtors survey. Nationwide, first-time home buyers paid a median price of $252,000 in 2021, more than 9.5% higher than in 2020, said NAR. Recently sold homes were on the market for a median of one week, a drop from three weeks in 2020, the survey found.

Natalie Lvova and her husband Lev Blinchik said they had 15 minutes to walk through their home in Highlands Ranch, Colo., before they had to decide whether to make an offer.

They didn’t notice that many of the home’s windows didn’t open or close properly. They had an inspection, but the inspector missed the window problems, Ms. Lvova said. The next shock came with the quotes for repairing the windows: roughly $50,000.

Ms. Lvova, 44, had budgeted about $15,000. The couple is going in phases, repairing windows in the bedrooms and living room first and paying for the fixes with credit cards.

Ms. Lvova is hardly alone in facing rising costs. The average cost to care for a single-family home rose 9.3% to $4,886 in 2021, compared with the prior year, driven in part by labor and material shortages, according to online-services marketplace Thumbtack Inc.

Cheryl Costa, a financial planner in Framingham, Mass., said she advises clients to budget for maintenance and repairs totaling 1% to 3% of the home’s value every year. For a $500,000 house that is $5,000 to $15,000.

Ms. Costa recommends speaking to prospective neighbors to ask about flooding; bringing a home inspector along for the tour if sellers seem likely to demand waiving an inspection; and asking questions about anything that seems odd in the disclosures on the home’s listing. While touring the house, take a picture of the hot-water heater, she suggested. It usually has a tag on it from the most recent servicer, and a buyer can try to contact that company to get more information about the system, she said.

About a year and a half ago, Max Sturm, 34, and his wife Gabrielle Sturm, 31, thought they had found their dream home, a three-bedroom house with a finished basement in Montclair, N.J.

About three weeks before closing, they learned they would need flood insurance. Neither the real-estate agent nor the seller had disclosed the home was in a flood zone.

Further investigation uncovered that prior owners had filed flood-related claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The couple was eventually able to get the seller to return their $60,000 deposit and terminate the contract.

The Sturms are now renting in East Rutherford, N.J., until the housing market cools down—and they regain their nerve.

“We’re still rocked from that first-time experience,” Mr. Sturm said.

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Kat Von D’s Goth Girl L.A. Mansion Is the Week’s Most Popular Home

Most popular homes

Realtor.com

We’ve seen plenty of swimming pools of azure blue—edgeless pools that appear to expand into infinity. We’ve seen gorgeous, black-bottomed pools. We’ve even seen pools with David Bowie painted on the bottom.

But we’d never seen a red pool until photos of this week’s most popular home on Realtor.com® took the internet by storm.

The acclaimed tattoo artist Kat Von D is responsible for the splashy crimson backyard (and $15 million mansion) in Los Angeles, which raked in tens of thousands of clicks this week.

The former reality TV star turned her signature style into a fully fledged fashion moment and built a booming makeup business in the process. Her aesthetic is obvious throughout the rest of her three-story home, which resembles a Goth girl fantasy, with ornate period furnishings covered in miles of velvet and silk.

Aside from the residence of Ms. Von D, you also clicked on a lovely home just blocks off the French Quarter in NOLA, a historic Iowa home built by the area’s first lumber baron in 1890, and a cabin retreat in New York built in 2018, with cathedral ceilings and loads of natural light.

For a full look at all of the week’s most popular properties, scroll on down.

10. 1095 Beechview Dr, Worthington, OH

Price: $350,000
Why it’s here: Marvelous midcentury modern dwellings with loads of potential tend to grab attention. This three-bedroom home from 1960 is no exception.

Listing photos show a gem awaiting a final polish from a savvy buyer. Highlights include a cedar exterior, refinished hardwood floors, new windows, stellar views, and loads of original features.

Worthington, OH
Worthington, OH

Realtor.com


9. 1800 Turkeycock Mountain Rd, Callands, VA

Price: $180,000
Why it’s here: Built in 1925, this charming, one-bedroom log cabin in the woods sits on more than 11 acres and was fully restored to its present glory in 2016.

A large and rustic living room features exposed logs, and the hardwood floors are original. There’s also a gas log stove to keep everything toasty. Outside, there’s a lawn shaded by mature trees, a creek, and walking trails.

Callands, VA
Callands, VA

Realtor.com


8. 119 Morgan Hill Rd, Nobleboro, ME

Price: $350,000
Why it’s here: Dating to 1840, this Cape Cod-style residence has been reborn thanks to smart updates.

Sitting on 3.2 acres, it’s surrounded by newly installed stonework and gardens. The three-bedroom home features a lovely four-season room that opens to the kitchen, several built-ins, plenty of natural light, as well as an extra bedroom or home office just above the kitchen.

Nobleboro, ME
Nobleboro, ME

Realtor.com


7. 9737 Cedar Lake Rd, Paris, NY

Price: $480,000
Why it’s here: Country life under spectacular cathedral ceilings is what this home is all about.

This three-bedroom getaway is filled with glorious woodwork and light-filled spaces. Built in 2018, it also features no shortage of privacy—thanks to the surrounding 40 acres that come along with the purchase price.

Paris, NY
Paris, NY

Realtor.com


6. 1203 Grove Ter, Dubuque, IA

Price: $799,000
Why it’s here: A truly grand Victorian dating to 1890, this home was built by the town’s first lumber baron.

That’s why only the finest cherry, walnut, maple, and pine woods were used in the home’s construction over a century ago.

Fully renovated in 1992, the five-bedroom home has four fireplaces, a billiard-room, and wraparound porch to welcome guests. Perched on one-third of an acre overlooking the city, with river views, this historic home is formal, polished, and stately.

Dubuque, IA
Dubuque, IA

Realtor.com


5. 803 W. Washington St, South Bend, IN

Price: $349,900
Why it’s here: Known as the Kizer Mansion, this landmark residence could be an income generator.

Spanning 7,220 square feet, it’s currently divided into a main residence on the two lower levels, and a third level split into three separate one-bedroom apartments.

The home is in the historic West Washington neighborhood, and the true income potential from tenants is still untapped. The property also includes a carriage house and an unfinished basement that has already been separated into multiple rooms.

South Bend, IN
South Bend, IN

South Bend, IN


4. 615 Harrison Ave, Charleston, IL

Price: $129,900
Why it’s here: A slice of history with an affordable price tag. Built in 1926 by the architect Chris Mitchell as his personal residence, this home is described as the “Crown Jewel of Old Charleston” in the listing.

The design incorporates elements of Revival, Prairie, and Craftsman styles, with a little English country manor thrown in for good measure. Inside, the home features an attention-grabbing fireplace, Tudor-style living room, built-ins, and a bathroom built from marble recycled from the old Coles County Courthouse.

Charelston, IL
Charleston, IL

Realtor.com


3. 1030 St. Anthony St, New Orleans, LA

Price: $1,950,000
Why it’s here: Just blocks from the famed French Quarter, this property comes with a coveted side lot.

The glorious three-bedroom home was built in 1862, but received a timely renovation in 2012. It now features a whole-house generator, a roomy yard with a gazebo for parties, and a multicamera security system.

New Orleans

Realtor.com


2. 5780 Figsboro Rd, Martinsville, VA

Price: $179,000
Why it’s here: Bargain mansion, anyone? Spread out across nearly 12 acres, this property includes a farmhouse from 1890 with a mix of updates and old-school charm.

The stately five-bedroom home includes an entry-level owner’s suite, built-ins, and woodwork. And while the interiors could use some love to bring them back to life, this property promises to clean up into something truly special.

Martinsville, VA
Martinsville, VA

Realtor.com


1. 357 Lorraine Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Price: $15,000,000
Why it’s here: Would you dare dive into a blood-red pool? The backyard and period interiors of Kat Von D‘s SoCal home commanded your attention this week.

Prior to the tattoo artist’s tenure, this three-story Victorian from 1896 was known as the “Cheaper by the Dozen” home—thanks to the 2003 film, which used it as a filming location.

Nowadays, this Goth fever dream of a residence evinces no signs of family-friendly cinema. Inside, the 12,565-square-foot mansion now features rich, dark woods, ornate furnishings and trimmings, as well as red and black velvet nearly everywhere.

Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA

Realtor.com

The post Kat Von D’s Goth Girl L.A. Mansion Is the Week’s Most Popular Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Forget Big Homes and Pools: These Are the Must-Have Home Features of 2022

Must-Have Home Features of 2022

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The latest must-have features for homes have nothing to do with in-ground pools.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hottest home amenity seemed to be extra square footage for an office, a home gym, and a place where the kids could attend virtual classes if their schools went remote. Families clamored for yards large enough to safely entertain in, and suddenly swimming pools exploded in popularity. Location no longer mattered quite as much, as many of those who could work remotely were willing to move farther and farther away from the larger cities to get everything on their home wish lists.

However, what buyers want now is more flexible space.

Record-high home prices and rising mortgage rates, coupled with the return to the office, even if only a few days a week, are prompting buyers to prioritize locations closer to their jobs that they can afford—instead of what’s bigger and better, say real estate experts. Many are making do with smaller homes within their budgets featuring square footage that can be used in a multitude of ways.

“In 2021, space was the housing story followed by affordability,” Ali Wolf, chief economist at Zonda, a homebuilding consulting company, tells Realtor.com®. “In 2022, affordability is the lead story followed by space.”

Homebuyers, particularly first-timers, still want large kitchens, designated offices, and outdoor spaces they can enjoy in 2022, according to a recent survey by Zonda. However, many will have to align their expectations with finances. That can mean forgoing that extra square footage to become homeowners.

“Interest is and will remain strong for the most affordable homes in any market as first-time buyers, investors, and cost-constrained shoppers compete for the same homes,” says Wolf. Circumstances “will force some buyers to make compromises.”

Nationally, home prices rose sharply during the pandemic, hitting a high of $385,000 in June and July of 2021—an 18.5% increase in median list prices from June 2019 in the pre-COVID-19 days, according to Realtor.com data. Plus, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.45% for the week ending Jan. 13, up nearly a quarter of a percentage point from the previous week, Freddie Mac reported on Thursday. It’s the highest average rate since March 2020.

Flexible space helps buyers maximize tight square footage

Those who can’t afford to purchase thousands of square feet are expected to seek out rooms that can be used in a multitude of ways, says designer Caroline Danielson, director of showrooms at Newport, VA–based Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. She anticipates this will be the top design trend of the year.

“A kitchen is more than a room to cook, a mudroom isn’t just a catchall for dirty clothes, and a den is becoming more than just a place to watch movies,” says Danielson. Her clients are choosing design options to make their kitchens look more like a living space with built-in appliances instead of traditional stainless steel so residents can easily hop on video work calls.

“A kitchen-turned-home office can be made multifunctional by adding a refrigerator drawer or built-in coffee maker so that the appliances seamlessly blend in [with design and layout] and are easily accessible throughout the day,” she adds.

Other suggestions include installing a Murphy bed in a guest room so that it can be used as an office or even a workout room as well.

“Some of our homeowners report turning a mudroom as a transition space to keep germs out of the home complete with laundry and shower space. This is particularly great for homeowners in the medical field,” Danielson explains.

Townhomes are becoming more appealing for cash-strapped buyers

As a result of a historic shortage of stand-alone, single-family houses (the kind with the yards in front and back) along with their high price tags, townhomes are becoming more appealing.

“Stand-alone houses that come onto the market in good condition in desirable areas are typically priced high with bidding wars driving prices up even further,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. “But townhomes, which may or may not have yards and can be smaller than single-family homes, can provide a way into homeownership for first-time buyers.”

Builders are taking note. Townhouse construction jumped 38% through the third quarter of 2021, according to NAHB. To compare, construction on stand-alone, single-family homes grew just 23% during the same time period.

While it can be difficult for builders financially to put up more entry-level, stand-alone homes for first-time and other cash-strapped buyers, townhomes are one way to do it. These homes, typically connected to one another, usually don’t require as much land, making it easier to put up more units in heavily populated areas.

“They can be more affordable because a smaller share of the homebuyer’s budget is required to purchase the lot, as single-family, attached homes require a smaller amount of land. Additionally, first-time buyers are often younger, and younger households report an increased demand for walkable neighborhoods that are convenient to retail and community services,” Dietz says.

Hybrid work—instead of fully remote jobs—now affect the housing market

With some workers now weaned off of a solely remote work schedule and onto a hybrid model, buyers are concerned about proximity to their jobs again. Some are more hesitant to go as far into the outer suburbs, now that they have to trek to the office at least some of the time, as they may have considered in early 2020.

NAHB anticipates that up to 40% of the American workforce will work three days in an office and two days at home, with a two-day weekend. That will save folks time as well as commuting costs, which can be steep in some more expensive parts of the country.

“They can live farther from urban cores, gaining more bang for the buck for housing,” says Dietz.

Homebuilding in the outer suburbs of small and large metro areas with easy commuting times to offices increased from 17.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 18.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to NAHB data. Meanwhile, apartment construction fell in large metropolitan areas over the same period, while it rose in the outer-ring suburbs.

“The great migration to the suburbs or to the country is down to a trickle,” says New York City real estate broker Sheila Trichter, who’s with Coldwell Banker Warburg. “City people are unlikely to leave the city if they have not already done so, and a lot of those who left are coming back. I don’t think they are running away from COVID any longer.”

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