New Netflix Show on Killer John Wayne Gacy Makes Us Wonder: What Happened to His Notorious Property?

What Happened to 'Killer Clown' John Wayne Gacy's Home

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In the 1970s, boys and young men were disappearing around Chicago. No one suspected that a suburban contractor who moonlighted as a clown at neighborhood parties was secretly luring dozens of men into his home, torturing them, and then burying their bodies on his property.

Serial killer John Wayne Gacy is back in the spotlight with the debut this week of a three-part series on Netflix, “Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes.” The new show explores audio between Gacy and his defense team that previously hadn’t been publicized.

The crimes terrified the nation when 26 bodies of his victims were discovered in the crawl spaces underneath the killer’s modest ranch home in the Chicago suburb of Norwood Park. Three more were found elsewhere on the property, and four were uncovered in the Des Plaines River.

So what ever happened to Gacy’s infamous house of horrors where at least 33 men were raped, tortured, and murdered?

In 1979, the ranch home was razed and a three-bedroom, two-bathroom brick home was erected on the property in 1986. (In 1994, Gacy died by lethal injection.)

Over the decades, that 2,500-square-foot home changed hands several times, selling most recently to one of the owners of a local plumbing company and his wife. The home, which boasts vaulted ceilings, a two-sided fireplace, and a skylight, was sold in March of last year for $395,000, according to property records.

“The stigma runs with the land, not the house,” says real estate appraiser Orell Anderson, president of Strategic Property Analytics in Laguna Beach, CA. “When these houses come up for sale, some people buy the place thinking if they tear it down and change the address a little bit and do some cosmetic fixes, the stigma will go away.” But it typically doesn’t.

The sale came after nearly two years of the home being on the market and at least 10 price cuts, as many buyers were unable to overcome the stigma of buying a home where grisly crimes occurred. The home was listed for $489,000 in August 2019.

The price cuts are often necessary because buyers “have to have an incentive [to live] in a place where a horrific event occurred,” says Anderson. The more horrific a crime, the deeper the cuts can be.

The most famous of homes can attract looky-loos for decades. This can be an annoyance for homeowners dealing with folks stopping and taking photos of the property or even ringing the doorbell.

The new owners weren’t aware of the property’s grisly history “until recently,” the brother of the buyer told Crain’s Chicago Business. The owner of the home declined to comment when reached by Realtor.com®.

Gacy, who had previously served time for sexually assaulting young men, was arrested in 1978. The property was vacant until it was purchased in 1984 by Hoyne Savings & Loan at a sheriff’s sale, according to Crain’s. The savings and loan company paid off $30,544 in taxes on two mortgages to acquire the lot.

Four years later, a woman reportedly bought the property and put up a new home there for her aging parents to live in, according to TMZ. This new home had a different address.

In 2004, the home was sold for $300,000 to what appears to be a financial institution, according to property records. The home didn’t go up for sale again for 15 more years. Even once it was listed in 2019, it took nearly two years and a more than 19% discount before it sold in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, during an epic housing shortage amid record-high home prices.

Says Anderson of the property: “You’ve got bad juju there associated with that specific geographic location.”

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Exclusive: Mika and Brian Kleinschmidt Reveal the Money-Saving Home Maintenance Move You Aren’t Doing

Mika and Brian Kleinschmidt

HGTV

Mika and Brian Kleinschmidt are best known as the hosts of “100 Day Dream Home,” now in its third season. While these Florida residents know plenty about designing and building a gorgeous home, they’re also very aware that first-time homebuyers today are so financially overextended, they’re stressed about saving money even after they’ve found a house and moved in.

And that’s where the right home maintenance and upgrades can make a huge difference—not just on energy bills. As partners with American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning and instructors for the brand’s Homeowning01 series, the Kleinschmidts have plenty of advice on appliance upkeep and other ways to save money around the house.

We talked to the HGTV stars about what first-time homeowners need to know to save money on home maintenance in the warm summer months, which upgrades to skip if you’re concerned about resale value, and one maintenance trick you probably aren’t doing enough, or at all.

What are some ways that homebuyers can save money after they’ve bought a new house?

Mika: The biggest thing is making sure that the stuff you don’t see behind the walls is operating properly. So, as a [real estate agent], if my client is looking at a home and we’re doing an inspection, we’re checking the systems of the home. If things aren’t working efficiently, there can be really unwanted surprises after you close on a home.

The systems like your AC, heating and cooling, plumbing, the condition of the roof, those big-ticket items can cost a lot to replace.

Brian: Even getting something as simple as a smart thermostat, a programmable thermostat, it can save you a ton of money.

What are some common home maintenance tasks that first-time homebuyers aren’t doing enough, or at all?

Mika: “Maintaining” is the key word, right? Because there are certain services that, when you’re renting a property, you have a landlord that takes care of your landscaping, they may take care of pest control. So when you’re owning the property, all of that is going to be additional costs every month, in addition to regular utilities. And I think maintaining your home—especially things like changing out your air-conditioner filters—if you skip those steps, you could run into some big problems down the road.

Brian: It’s so simple to change out your filters, and so many people don’t do it. We recommend every two months or so. And there are great companies that you can sign up for, and they will send you the filters every couple of months, like a membership.

Do you have any tips for keeping energy costs down during the warm months of summer?

Mika: Obviously here, we get some excruciating temperatures in the summer, and electric utility bills kind of jump for three or four months. So I think be aware of even something as simple as window treatments.

Brian: It’s not only for aesthetics; it’s also to make sure that your [AC] unit is not working so hard. It’s also super important to have quarterly service done on these units. It’s almost like an oil change or tuneup on a car. You have to continue to do this to make sure that they’re running properly. The biggest mistake might be to start dumping too much money into these systems—it might be time to buy a new one. So always keep an eye on that.

Do you have any budget-friendly upgrades new homeowners may want to try?

Mika: I love taking something that’s old and refreshing it. Moving into a new house can get very expensive if you have to buy all new furniture for every single room. So I think it’s great to kind of salvage some of the things you have.

Maybe you want to change the paint color or change the finish, but some of the stuff you probably already have, you can reuse and make it fit into the new home and save some big bucks.

Brian: Just because it’s a brand-new house doesn’t mean all the furniture needs to be brand-new. Even with our show, we like bringing in some used pieces, because it makes it feel lived in. It makes it feel much more welcoming. But I mean, the beams in our house, those are actually faux Styrofoam beams that you can do after the fact. We did an accent wall. It’s a shiplap wall, pretty simple. Wallpaper is coming back, so that’s another great way to spruce up a space.

Mika and Brian Kleinschmidt
Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt are the hosts of “100 Day Dream Home.”

HGTV

Are there any upgrades new homeowners should avoid?

Mika: Sometimes I’ve seen paint colors that are very specific or eclectic styles, and for resale, that can be tricky. So it just kind of depends on the intention and longevity that they’re going to spend in the home. But I’m all about making the home feel like an extension of your personality. You should be smiling from ear to ear when you walk in the front door.

Brian: A pool would have been a bad investment, but this one talked me into getting a pool and it’s fantastic. I don’t care about the resale value of it, but it definitely makes me happy. And I think that’s priceless.

What advice do you have for new homeowners who want to make the most of their living space?

Brian: Get the biggest TV possible.

Mika: Of course, you would say that, right? I honestly feel like my biggest pet peeve when we’re designing floor plans is I don’t like wasted space. You may have an entryway that’s so grand but doesn’t function as anything. Try to make every part of the house function for some kind of purpose. I love having flex spaces like you’ll see in Season 3 of “100 Day Dream Home” where we converted a home office into a classroom with lots of storage and functionality.

Brian: Real estate right now is booming all over the country, and square footage is skyrocketing. Every square foot in a house matters. And if you’re paying for unused square footage, that’s probably the biggest waste we see. So if you’re designing new, it’s got to make sense. And if you’re buying something used, then it’s going to make sense as well.

Mika and Brian Kleinschmidt
The Kleinschmidts are used to heat where they live in Florida.

HGTV

Lots of homeowners are on a tight budget. Is there a particular room or feature we should be focusing our budget on?

Mika: The generic answer you always hear is kitchen and bathrooms. That’s where you get kind of the most bang for your buck. I think for 90% of our clients, the kitchen is the heart of the home with their entertaining. That’s where everybody gathers. So I think that space for sure is important to make sure it functions for your family and also that it’s pretty. If you have an open-concept floor plan, if you’re going to see the kitchen from all the other rooms, you need to make it look elevated.

Brian: Another great return on your investment is landscaping. I think the latest stat was whenever you put in landscaping, you’ll get 100% return on that. I don’t know where else you’re getting 100% return on your investment, but curb appeal is key.

Any other tips for homebuyers in this competitive market?

Mika: The one thing you can’t change about your home is the location.

Brian: You can change paint colors, you can change your landscape, you can change design, but you can’t really lift the house and transport it somewhere else.

I think the biggest thing in the market that we’re all in right now is for these buyers to be patient, and that’s the hardest thing. But really, be patient and pick the perfect location. Don’t just settle for something because it’s available. Get that piece of land that you really, really want.

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Are We Approaching Bubble Territory in the U.S. Real Estate Market?

Housing market bubble financial economy crisis

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Fast-rising home prices? Check. Out-of-control bidding wars? Check. Investors flooding the market? Check.

Over the past two years, the nation has watched worriedly as home prices seemed to hit a new record high every month. Many buyers have been offering six figures over asking prices to snag properties. It’s been uncomfortably reminiscent of the runup to the housing bust that blew up the world’s economy roughly 15 years ago.

As the market has progressively heated to a boiling point, most real estate experts swore up and down that the housing market wasn’t in a bubble. Mortgage interest rates were so low, in the unprecedented mid-2% range, that buyers could afford the inflated prices, they said. Lenders were no longer making bad mortgages that could trigger another foreclosure crisis. And this time around, a housing shortage that has reached crisis proportions has resulted in many more buyers than properties for sale—just the opposite of the 2007–08 pre-crash conditions. This market could support the frenzy, they explained.

But that might not be so true anymore with mortgage rates soaring to their highest point in more than a decade, hitting 5% last week as they continue their upward march. Many of those same experts are now warning the housing market might be approaching a bubble—if it isn’t in one already.

There’s only so much that homebuyers can afford before they’re priced out of the market. In March, when rates surpassed the 4% mark, the number of buyers applying for mortgages fell 5%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Nationally, buyers are paying about 42% more in their monthly mortgage payments for the same house today than they did a year ago. The potent combo of rising home prices, up 14% year over year in March, and escalating mortgage rates, which rose nearly 2 percentage points, has added hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a month to those mortgage bills.

And that’s on top of what potential buyers are spending on everything else. Rents are up about 17% year over year, inflation is running at 8.5%, and gas prices rose about 40%. Many folks are simply tapped out.

How can the system handle skyrocketing home prices, mortgage rates, and rental prices simultaneously? Some believe it can’t.

“We’re not in a housing bubble just yet—but we’re skating close to one if prices continue rising at the current pace,” says George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com®.  “Some markets will see a correction if mortgage rates continue to rise, in which sales will drop and prices will follow.

But “I don’t expect the market to see a huge crash or spike in foreclosures,” he adds.

Ratiu anticipates prices could fall 5% to 15%, depending on the local real estate market. Areas with struggling economies without the good jobs needed to attract new residents, such as the Rust Belt, would likely see larger price declines. Prices are already tumbling in places like Toledo, OH, and Rochester, NY.

But buyers expecting some pricing relief will likely be disappointed. Even if prices do fall, homebuyers will still be saddled with higher monthly mortgage payments. Rates have risen so much, so quickly, that they will likely more than make up for lower prices, costing homebuyers even more money.

And more desirable communities with plenty of high-paying tech and manufacturing jobs could see prices still continue to rise.

“You’re now starting to see people stretch their budgets,” says Ali Wolf, chief economist of building consultancy Zonda. “The market looks more frothy than it did just six months ago.”

Prices are likely to continue growing—for now

Buyers shouldn’t expect a big drop in prices anytime soon.

It’s going to take a little time for higher mortgage rates, which averaged 5% in the week ending April 14, to have their full impact on the housing market. (Mortgage rate data is from Freddie Mac.) And in the near term, many more buyers are likely to rush in and offer as much as they can to secure homes before rates rise even further.

(Mortgage interest rates are expected to keep going up this year as they’re influenced by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s short-term interest rate. The Fed plans to raise its rates several more times this year in an effort to curb high inflation. That’s expected to push mortgage rates up.)

Home price growth is beginning to slow a little. Median list prices were up 14.9% over the prior year in the week ending April 9, according to the most recent Realtor.com data. While that sounds high, it’s a little lower than the 15.3% annual price increases of the past two weeks.

It won’t drop by much more until buyers realize just how much these higher mortgage rates will eat into their budgets and start making lower offers or dropping out of the market entirely. If they see prices eventually dip, they might wait to see if they go down even further, which could lead to just that occurring.

“People go from ‘I need to lock in before it goes any higher’ to ‘Honey, we can’t afford this anymore,’” says Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst in the San Francisco Bay Area for the real estate brokerage Compass.

Then it needs to sink in for home sellers that they might not be able to get as much as they wanted for their residences.

“Sellers are pricing homes based on the market three months ago—not the market of today’s interest rates,” says Ratiu.“We’re in a period of transition where sellers are looking at the lack of homes on the market and current, record-high prices and are assuming the market will continue like this.

“I’m expecting to see price adjustments as we move into the spring and the summer,” he continues. “Sales will drop before prices adjust.”

Is the U.S. in a housing bubble?

While home sellers and buyers are clamoring to know whether the housing market is in bubble territory, real estate experts haven’t yet reached a consensus.

“The housing market has become bubbly,” says economist Enrique Martínez-García of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He was one of the authors of a recent report finding signs of a housing bubble in the real estate market. “This looks a lot like the housing boom that we saw prior to the 2007–09 financial crisis.”

Others, like Carlisle and Wolf, aren’t as sure. However, all three believe there could be a correction in the housing market, which would lead to falling—but not crashing—prices.

It’s like “air escaping an over-pressurized tire through a very small puncture. The tire is not going flat quickly, but it will get slowly softer,” Carlisle says.

Martínez-García anticipates the double-digit price growth experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic could slow to about 2% a year. But he warns that corrections between 5% and 10% “are not completely out of the question.”

A correction is very different than a bust in that it’s not a huge, immediate drop that affects the whole nation at once. And a correction doesn’t have to be a very large price decrease. It could just be a few percentage points as the market cools off and adjusts to higher rates that cost buyers hundreds of dollars more each month.

“A universal drop in home prices across the entire the country is rare,” says Wolf. However, “we need to be realistic that prices could eventually come down a bit.”

The last bust was precipitated by shady loans that ballooned in size after a few years. Many homeowners couldn’t afford the higher payments, so they defaulted on their mortgages and their homes fell into foreclosure. This resulted in cheap homes flooding the market at the same time that the economy imploded, scores were laid off, and there just weren’t enough folks who wanted to purchase them. So prices plummeted, falling about 30% by some estimates.

The market looks very different this time around. There are many more buyers than homes for sale. And another foreclosure crisis seems unlikely as those riskier loans no longer exist. The vast majority of homeowners locked in fixed-rate loans that don’t result in monthly payments very suddenly surging. So unless there is another recession followed by high unemployment, they’re much less likely to be in danger of losing their homes.

And not everyone believes prices will ebb.

“What causes home prices to fall is being swamped [with homes for sale],” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. He expects prices will eventually flatten out and stay put for the next few years. “[Instead] we’re at record low record levels of supply.”

There will also likely be buyers as well as investors who can afford the higher rates, or are buying in cash, who will keep the housing market strong.

“Financially, many buyers are in a position to still commit to buying a home,” says Ratiu. “The main challenge is from one week to another they’re watching mortgage payments jump up hundreds of dollars a month. It’s bound to be discouraging.”

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Homeowner Groups Seek to Stop Investors From Buying Houses to Rent

Homeowner Groups Seek to Stop Investors From Buying Houses to Rent

Angela Owens for The Wall Street Journal

Small groups of neighborhood volunteers are blocking companies from buying single-family homes, rewriting homeownership rulebooks to thwart investor purchases of suburban housing.

These groups, called homeowner associations, spend much of their time enforcing rules related to things such as lawn care and parking. But they often have broad powers to regulate how homes are used.

Some of these associations now believe that the rise in home purchases by rental investors has led to a decline in property maintenance and made their neighborhoods less desirable. Investors are also making it more difficult for local families to buy houses, these groups say.

Homeowner tactics include placing a cap on the number of homes that can be rented in a particular neighborhood, or requiring that rental tenants be approved by the association board. In most cases, associations need at least a two-thirds majority to pass these measures.

In Walkertown, N.C., near Winston-Salem, members of the Whitehall Village Master Homeowners Association are trying to amend their covenants to require new buyers to live in a home or leave it vacant for six months before they can rent it out. This move, they believe, would effectively prevent investors from buying any more houses.

“They’re coming in, and they’re basically bullying people out with cash offers,” said Chase Berrier, the association’s president who is leading the effort. He said some of the homes in the subdivision owned by investors now look shabbier, and absentee owners are hard to contact to resolve problems.

“We don’t want a bunch of rentals,” says Chase Berrier, the Whitehall Village homeowner group’s president.

Angela Owens for The Wall Street Journal

Investor purchases have been rising in recent years and accounted for more than one in five home sales in December, according to housing research firm CoreLogic. Their effect on the housing market and local neighborhoods has become a hot-button issue across the country. Home prices have also risen at historically high rates during the pandemic, and would-be buyers say they have a hard time competing with companies that pay in cash.

Some housing analysts say that blocking investors from neighborhoods could end up hurting renters, who are often less wealthy than their homeowner counterparts or who struggle to find affordable housing. “There’s a pretty deep and pervasive social stigma against renters,” said Jenny Schuetz, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

It is hard to know exactly how many associations have proposed measures to block investor buyers, but they likely number at least in the thousands.

Since the beginning of 2019, about 30% of the more than 1,000 amendments from HOAs in 21 counties in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Texas were leasing and usage restrictions, including restrictions on short- or long-term rentals, according to an analysis by the real estate technology company InspectHOA for The Wall Street Journal. That is up from 21% of amendments filed in the same counties from 2016 to 2018.

State lawmakers are debating how much power homeowner associations should have over rentals. As part of an effort to encourage homeowners to build small rental properties on their land, California now prohibits associations from imposing some limits on long-term leases.

The Whitehall Village neighborhood in Walkertown, N.C., where some house buyers are investors who rent out the homes.

Angela Owens for The Wall Street Journal

“The only real purpose of restricting rentals in a given community is to keep renters out, actions which in our view are both harmful and dangerous,” said David Howard, executive director of the National Rental Home Council, a landlord trade group.

During the past few years, the real-estate industry has worked to pass legislation in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida that prevents associations from retroactively banning investors once they have already bought and started renting out a house, though associations can still block future investor purchases with amendments in those same three states.

Scott Weiss, a Nashville, Tenn., homeowner-association attorney, said he writes hundreds of rental amendments every year. “It’s become so much of an issue in middle Tennessee because Nashville is a hot market,” he said.

In other places, neighborhoods without many investors are passing new rules to pre-empt corporate buyers.

More homes are being built in Whitehall Village, where the homeowner group is trying to prevent investors from buying houses.

Angela Owens for The Wall Street Journal

Investors own only a few of the 170 homes in the Grassy Creek neighborhood of Indianapolis, but the homeowner association passed new restrictions in January after noticing the rise in rentals in nearby subdivisions, said Candace Trzaskowski, a member of the association’s board. “It’s creeping into our neighborhood,” she said.

In nearby Fishers, Ind., with a population of about 100,000, a citywide housing study found that more than 900 homes were purchased by nonowner occupants between 2016 and 2021, or 9.4% of all home sales in that period. About one-third of those purchases were by out-of-state investors. Scott Fadness, who has been mayor since 2015, said he was shocked.

“They’re denying an entire group of individuals an opportunity to build equity in an asset and accrue wealth,” he said, referring to corporate home buyers. “We have been exploring what are the options to regulate this?”

Mr. Fadness said the city plans to hold a town hall with HOAs in the coming months to help them understand their options.

Most associations require a large majority of homeowners to pass restrictions. Mr. Berrier, of Walkertown, would need 80% of the single-family homeowners in Whitehall Village to agree with the proposed changes. He and a group of neighbors are planning to knock on doors and set up a stand at the neighborhood pool this summer to whip up support.

“We don’t want a bunch of rentals,” he said. “We paid money for houses to have families that are going to be there for years.”

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Real Estate Wars of ‘The Real Housewives’: Who Has the Most Luxurious Home?

Data; Real Estate Wars of the Real Housewives: Who Has the Most Luxurious Home?

Getty Images / Realtor.com

Whether you love them or hate them, the homes of “The Real Housewives” are something to behold.

Some have their own names (like Villa Rosa, the very pink mansion that belongs to Beverly Hills’ Lisa Vanderpump). Others have their own storylines: Will New York City’s Sonja Morgan ever sell her iconic Manhattan townhouse? They’ve been the subject of unforgettable drag-down feuds (like when Atlanta’s Kenya Moore wanted to prove Moore Manor was better than Sheree Whitfield’s Chateau Sheree). Some even have their own fan base.

But choosing the best and most luxurious homes over the sprawling, multiple-location,16-year run (so far!) of “The Real Housewives” reality TV franchise is no easy feat. Location, of course, is key.

As New York housewife Tinsley Mortimer famously pointed out, there’s a “huge difference” between West Palm Beach and Palm Beach in Florida—and the bigger the better.

The TV-obsessed Realtor.com® data team perused cast members’ homes across the country—from Atlanta to Orange County—to find the most impressive abodes in a number of different categories.

The luxe lifestyles and the homes of these women are among the reasons the shows have become so popular. Besides the high drama, part of the shows’ appeal is the aspirational aspect of it, says Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. (Also appealing, a generous sprinkling of schadenfreude.)

“We like to watch and look at these big places and fantasize about having a house like them,” Thompson says. “But sometimes we also like to mock them and feel superior.”

The show began before social media became a ubiquitous force, largely giving viewers the chance to see inside the homes of the rich and famous for the first time. And since they are often the backdrop of some of the shows’ most iconic scenes, viewers feel a sort of intimacy they don’t get with a staged set like the “Friends” apartment, Thompson says.

After all, who can forget all the drama that went down at Kyle Richards‘ annual backyard white parties in Beverly Hills?

To find out who has the most outrageous homes, the Realtor.com® data team combed through nearly 200 real estate listings of the “Real Housewives” stars and compared their stats. We looked at everything from the square footage to the number of bathrooms. We focused on the seven biggest franchises: Beverly Hills, New York City, New Jersey, Orange County, Miami, Atlanta, and Potomac. (We did not include Dallas, which was canceled, and Salt Lake City, which is too new.)

So who owns the ultimate “Real Housewives” home bragging rights? Grab your glass of pinot grigio and read on!

The most expensive ‘Real Housewives’ franchises

Winner: Beverly Hills, with a $6.9 million median home list price
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The 90210 ZIP code has long been one of the most expensive in the country, thanks to its massive mansions and the many celebrities that call it home. So it’s no surprise that the women of Beverly Hills boast the most expensive manors. Like everyone else who lives here, they’re drawn to the lush lawns and expansive grounds that offer significant privacy, while still being close to Los Angeles.

All told, the median list price for former and current cast members’ homes was about $6.9 million, significantly higher than the next most expensive franchise, Miami (where the median list price was $5 million). Besides the housewives, notable residents here include superstar singers Taylor Swift and Adele.

“There’s a huge cachet in certain key cities around the world: Paris, London, Tel Aviv, and Beverly Hills,” says Scott Tamkin, a real estate agent with Compass Los Angeles. “These are areas that are globally accepted as money centers and command high real estate prices.”

The cast member with the most expensive home

Winner: Beverly Hills’ Diana Jenkins, $87 million

Diana Jenkins’ former Malibu beach house

Realtor.com

While all of the homes of the Beverly Hills’ cast members are, objectively speaking, expensive, the priciest of them all belonged to one of the newest cast members: Diana Jenkins. Jenkins, a philanthropist and businesswoman, sold her Malibu mansion last year for $87 million, according to deed records.

Located in the appropriately named Paradise Cove neighborhood, the 3-acre spread includes the main house, three-story guesthouse, pool, and 256 feet of beach frontage. The home was built by the late country music star Kenny Rogers, so of course, there’s a recording studio and plenty of room for entertaining.

Reality TV enthusiasts might also recognize the home as the filming location for the final season of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” (Kim Kardashian is just one of Jenkins’ many celebrity friends.)

Originally listed for $125 million—largely for its prime location along the Pacific Coast Highway—it even has a cable car system that goes from the cliff to a beach cabana (complete with a wet bar), which Rogers was reportedly fined $2 million for installing.

The cast member with the largest home

Winner: Beverly Hills’ Carlton Gebbia, 15,200 square feet

Carlton Gebbia’s 15,200-square-foot Gothic mansion was featured in Beverly Hills’ Season 4.

Realtor.com

Carlton Gebbia was on the Beverly Hills show for just a short spell in the fourth season, but she sure made an impression. That’s something she has in common with the 15,200-square-foot Gothic mansion she helped design with her then-husband, business executive David Gebbia, and his brother.

Carlton Gebbia, a Wiccan, famously embraced the macabre, and the home was filled with crosses, dragons, black chandeliers, and heavy drapes. It also included a burlesque room—a major storyline in Gebbia’s single season on the show. She toned down the look when listing the property for sale in 2018, but cathedral doorways and intricate stonework remained.

The five-bedroom, six-bath home is set on a 2-acre lot. It also has plenty of privacy since it backs up to Franklin Canyon Park. (The hiking spot is popular with rich housewives and celebrities alike.)

Gebbia sold the property for $13.8 million in 2019, but tweeted this: “This house will always [be] mine.”

The cast member with the most bedrooms

Winner: Miami’s Lea Black, 9

Lea Black is currently selling her nine-bedroom Star Island mansion for $28.9 million.

Realtor.com

Former “Real Housewives of Miami” star and beauty mogul Lea Black has bought and sold multiple properties over the years with her husband, attorney Roy Black. Their extensive portfolio includes homes in California and throughout Florida. But perhaps their most impressive was a home they never even lived in.

The Blacks had been using the nine-bedroom Star Island mansion as a rental property, but it’s now on the market for $28.9 million (cut from its original list price of $34 million). They bought the property for $7 million in 2011.

While the listing doesn’t include any interior photos, the Blacks have renovated and updated the property throughout the years. The waterfront home features 190 feet of water frontage with a fully permitted dock, a pool, and a guest cottage.

The 10,000-square-foot mansion was built in 1981 and sits on a pie-shaped acre on the exclusive, man-made island in Miami. Famous neighbors include Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Sean Combs. Two years ago, the newly engaged Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez picked up a property there. It’s unclear who kept the home.

The cast member with the most viewed home

Winner: New Jersey’s Melissa Gorga

Melissa Gorga’s home sold for $2.5 million in 2020.

Realtor.com

The cast members’ homes get lots of clicks on Realtor.com once they hit the market, but the most viewed home belongs to “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star and boutique owner Melissa Gorga and her entrepreneur husband, Joe.

Fans should be very familiar with the 9,100-square-foot Colonial in Montville, a tony suburb of New York City that has consistently made Money magazine’s list of Best Places To Live.

The custom-built home, which long served as a backdrop in the reality TV show, was completed in 2009. Set on over 2 acres, the home features extensive millwork, a two-story great room, and a high-end kitchen. The massive finished basement includes a gym, wine cellar, recording studio, and screening room (perfect for binge-watching “The Real Housewives”).

The Gorgas listed the home for $3.5 million in 2017. After three years, multiple price cuts, and the toning down of some of the “Scarface”-inspired gold and gilt touches, the house was finally sold in 2020 for $2.5 million.

The cast member with the most extensive real estate portfolio

Winner: New York City’s Bethenny Frankel

Bethenny Frankel bought the former Morning Glory bed-and-breakfast during Season 10.

Realtor.com

Having multiple homes almost seems to be a requirement to join the cast of “The Real Housewives.” They make perfect backdrops for all the invariably disastrous trip episodes. (See: New York cast member Dorinda Medley‘s Berkshire home, Blue Stone Manor.) But it’s “Real Housewives of New York City” alum and serial flipper Bethenny Frankel who has the most expansive real estate portfolio.

That shouldn’t be too surprising for fans; her design chops and real estate savvy have been featured extensively on the show. Frankel even had her own design spinoff with “Million Dollar Listing” agent Fredrik Eklund, where the pair teamed up on a Manhattan condo project.

The businesswoman, Skinnygirl founder, and philanthropist was one of the original cast members when the show premiered in 2008. At the time, she lived in a comparatively modest apartment on the Upper East Side but has since graduated to some pretty epic abodes.

Last month, Frankel sold her SoHo loft, which she renovated from top to bottom, for $7 million. She had purchased the space in 2017 for $4.2 million. However, her most “controversial” home was an investment property she bought in Bridgehampton, NY, during Season 10.

When telling the ladies the location of her newly purchased 1910 mansion, a former bed-and-breakfast, Frankel’s frenemy from New York Ramona Singer immediately chided her for buying a home “on the highway.” It seems Singer might have been correct. After renovating the property and renting it out for $150,000 a month, Frankel eventually sold it in 2020 for $2.28 million, just above the $2 million she originally paid.

The cast member with the weirdest listing photos

Winner: New York City’s Kelly Bensimon

Former cast member-turned real estate agent Kelly Bensimon poses in listing photos for her Manhattan apartment.

Realtor.com

It doesn’t matter how luxurious the home is, if the listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t be interested. The “Real Housewives” homes are no exception to this rule, and many cast members use professionals to put their homes in the best light and get top dollar.

One sure way to set the listing apart is posing in the pictures, which former New York City cast member Kelly Bensimon did when she listed her NoLita duplex last year. The two-bedroom apartment is located in a landmark building that served as NYPD headquarters from 1909 to 1973. According to the listing, it features 16-foot ceilings, oversized windows, Venetian plaster, and a “modern attitude.”

Bensimon, a former model turned real estate agent, has made a name for herself in New York’s luxury real estate market since leaving the show in 2012. The Douglas Elliman broker reportedly closed $100 million in sales in 2021, according to the New York Post.

The photos appear to have worked: A sale for the $2.9 million unit is pending.

The post Real Estate Wars of ‘The Real Housewives’: Who Has the Most Luxurious Home? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

I No Longer Drive and Want To Retire in a Highly Walkable Urban Area With Many Cultural Activities—Where Should I Go?

Walkable cities to retire in

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Dear MarketWatch,

I am in my late 60s and need to find another place to retire. I am in the beginning stages of blindness and no longer drive, so am very dependent upon public transport and shopping, particularly grocery shopping, being within walking distance. I presently live in a suburb of a large city, but where drivers are especially aggressive, and with COVID, public transportation has been cut back fairly severely. 

I would like to live on the East Coast where there are educational opportunities available for seniors. I would especially like more advanced classes that are available to graduate students. I also would like a large, urban area where there are many cultural activities. 

A college town with a good bus system would be OK, but secondary to the urban area. To have a highly walkable city would be very nice. My rental budget is $3,000 a month. 

I am wedded to the East Coast. Public transportation in the middle of America is pretty wretched, and the West Coast doesn’t suit me.

I have lived in everything from 400-square-foot studios to 1000-sq-foot apartments. Somewhere in the middle would be fine.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Deborah

Dear Deborah,

So many people want walkable towns, and it’s a shame they aren’t more plentiful. You need to look in older communities, built before the era of suburban sprawl, and in what’s known as streetcar towns—where the old streetcars and trolley lines once ran. Even then, walkability to grocery stores will still depend on where you live.

If your heart is set on a large urban area on the East Coast, what you need most might be a public transit map that shows the connections to where you want to go.

But it seems the more decisive question is whether you can take the graduate-student classes you want—and what that will cost. State universities often have programs that let older residents audit certain classes for free. That’s not a given at private institutions. Columbia University, for example, charges those 65 and older $750 per course. At Princeton University, it’s $200 per course.

Note the restrictions go beyond which courses are even available: you may not be able to participate in classroom discussions, and there’s no contacting professors directly allowed at Princeton, for example.

So my advice is to first decide on the classes you want to take and then approach the university about its rules. That will narrow your list of possible locations rather quickly. You may find you need to actually apply for graduate school. Or you may have to settle for upper-level undergraduate classes.

Other programs tailored to older students interested in the joy of learning, not a degree, might give you much of what you seek as well as more interaction. Have you explored the various Osher Lifelong Learning Institute programs? (You can screen for participating institutions with MarketWatch’s “Where Should I Retire?” tool.)

And I assume you’ve already considered online courses, many of which are free.

I do have some other bad news: the East Coast is full of aggressive drivers. You won’t escape them moving into a city.

I’m sorry you’re so dead-set against the Midwest; I’d point you to a town with a large state university, both for the auditing opportunities as well as the cultural activities. And you’d likely find a good bus system too.

For example, college students ride the bus for free in both Bloomington, Ind., (Indiana University and suggested here) and West Lafayette, Ind. (Purdue University), so the network has many routes connecting campus and the rest of the community. And a reduced-fare ride for seniors is just 50 cents on both.

And I’m not even going to get into Chicago with its transit system and of course neighborhood supermarkets and other stores.

On the other hand, you’ve got a generous rental budget and a willingness to live in a small space if needed. Here are three suggestions on the East Coast to get you started.

New York City

The Statue of Liberty with One World Trade Center background, Landmarks of New York City, New York.

Getty Images

I can’t ignore the U.S.’s biggest urban area—19 million people across the tri-state New York metro area, and about 8.8 million of them live within New York City. The best place to search for apartments is on StreetEasy. Set your budget, look by neighborhood; there are many ways to narrow your search.

Why not start with the Inwood neighborhood in northern Manhattan? It’s more affordable than other parts of the borough, and the subway’s A train will get you to Midtown and Broadway theater in 30 minutes. The 1 subway line gets you to Columbia and Lincoln Center. Hop the bus across the Harlem River and just into the Bronx when you want to go to Target or Marshall’s. Even in such a big city you’ll find a neighborhood senior center.

If you want more ways to audit college courses, check out Hunter College and Brooklyn College, both part of the City University of New York system.

A culture tip: get a TDF membership for great discounts on Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway shows. And you can get free or discounted one-year membership to a number of museums using your free New York City ID card.

Washington, D.C.

Row houses near Dupont Circle in Washington DC.

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You’ll be spoiled for choice for cultural opportunities in our nation’s capital, and they’re generally more budget-friendly than in New York City. Start with the Smithsonian’s many museums and their classes, lectures and tours. Among the Kennedy Center’s many events are some that are low-cost or even free.

I’ve also found you an option for taking graduate-level courses. The University of Maryland allows it for retired state residents 60 and older, though they still must meet the admissions criteria. Tuition will be waived; fees are not. The same group also can apply to audit undergraduate classes.

Among other options for auditing classes, George Mason University in Virginia allows state residents 60 and older to audit up to three classes per semester for free. American University allows those who are at least 55 and live in four nearby ZIP codes to audit classes, and Georgetown University allows those 65 and older to audit most undergraduate classes, depending on space, for $30 per credit hour. A caveat for you is that Georgetown isn’t on the regional subway system, called Metro.

Indeed, where you want to audit classes could determine where you live. Otherwise consider stops along the Orange Line in Arlington and Rosslyn in Northern Virginia; all have vibrant walkable neighborhoods and easy transportation. If you prefer Maryland, look at downtown Silver Spring. And for more of an urban feel, consider the DuPont, U Street, Shaw or NoMa neighborhoods in the District.

Here’s what’s for rent in Washington, D.C. right now, using listings on Realtor.com (It, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.)

Princeton, New Jersey

Street in Princeton at night, New Jersey.

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This is my wild-card suggestion. True, it’s not a big city; just under 31,000 people live here. And it’s got its share of pricey rents. But you have a college town with courses you can audit, as I flagged above, many cultural events tied to the university, highly regarded McCarter Theater (with more than just theater) as well as an excellent local library with many events of its own. Of course there’s a senior center too.

For transportation, use the university’s free Tiger Transit bus service that goes to some supermarkets, other bus lines as well as train service to New York and Philadelphia (suggested here), using the shuttle train service to the Princeton Junction station (also served by Amtrak).

You can also take a 15-minute ride on New Jersey Transit from Princeton Junction to New Brunswick and Rutgers University, where state residents over 62 can audit classes for free.

Here’s what’s on the market, using listings on Realtor.com.

I’ve flagged many other college towns in other articles. Within North Carolina’s Research Triangle area, focus on Raleigh (better transportation than neighboring Durham, those 65 and older can audit courses for free at North Carolina State University, and NC State also hosts an OLLI program). Richmond, referenced here, is another option (audit classes at Virginia Commonwealth University).

The post I No Longer Drive and Want To Retire in a Highly Walkable Urban Area With Many Cultural Activities—Where Should I Go? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Russell Wilson’s Washington Mansion Is the Week’s Most Popular Home

Russell Wilson's Washington Mansion Is the Week's Most Popular Home

Realtor.com

Just a month after flying away from the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson put his Emerald City mansion on the market. NFL fans blitzed Realtor.com® for a look inside the $36 million home. The Super Bowl–winning quarterback’s lakefront estate racked up tens of thousands of clicks, making it this week’s most popular home.

The bluff-top estate overlooks Lake Washington and comes with nearly 2 acres, two private beaches, and a massive dock. The dock offers space for four boats, including a 60-foot yacht, and there’s even a tram to take folks down to the lake’s edge.

Also popular this week: another celebrity spread (the homeowner is a Boston boy), the most expensive home in Texas, an affordable Virginia farmhouse, a Lustron home in Michigan, and a South Carolina home featured on HGTV’s “Rock The Block.”

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

10. 12400 Cedar St, Austin, TX

Price: $45,000,000
Why it’s here:
Known as Villa Del Lago, this is the most expensive home for sale in the Lone Star State. It’s also a popular event venue in the capital city.

Accompanied by 25 acres along Lake Travis, the 15,394-square-foot home offers a media room, theater, game room, gym, and wine cellar. Surrounded by several waterfalls, the seven-bedroom mansion is a dreamy escape in the big city.

Austin, TX

Realtor.com


9. 83 Vick Rd, Bradford, TN

Price: $750,000
Why it’s here: 
This custom-built three-bedroom home comes with 13 acres, which include an apple orchard, pear and peach trees, and grapevines.

For a buyer who likes to tinker, there’s a workshop with plenty of space for projects or storage. The property also offers space to build a guesthouse for family and friends to visit or to generate revenue.

Bradford, TN

Realtor.com


8. 16401 River Rd, Chesterfield, VA

Price: $260,000
Why it’s here: 
This historic three-bedroom farmhouse comes with five picturesque acres, and the sale price is ultra-affordable.

Built in 1880, the home has been modernized over the years. Cozy and quaint, it features hardwood floors, built-ins, and fireplaces. It measures nearly 2,200 square feet.

Chesterfield, VA

Realtor.com


7. 1320 S. Riverview Ln, Appleton, WI

Price: $550,000
Why it’s here: 
This midcentury modern ranch takes its cues from Frank Lloyd Wright. The three-bedroom residence features mahogany walls, doors, and trim.

Built in 1955, the 3,000-square-foot home features a number of modern amenities. Skylights make the space feel airy, and a walk-in steam shower is a true highlight. There’s also stained-glass windows, exposed stone, a four-season room, and a spacious primary suite.

Appleton, WI

Realtor.com


6. 7989 Algonquin St, Mackinac Island, MI

Price: $5,150,000
Why it’s here:
Built in 1888, Cairngorm Cottage is a Victorian-era home that is just steps from the island’s famous Grand Hotel.

Offering a whopping 8,000 square feet of living space, the seven-bedroom home is located on the West Bluff. It’s just a quick carriage ride to the shops and restaurants along the island’s main street.

In a bonus for buyers, the professionally decorated home has been modernized over the years and is being offered fully furnished. The one-acre lot includes a two-bedroom carriage house.

Mackinac Island, MI

Realtor.com


5. 3060 Lakewood Dr, Ann Arbor, MI

Price: $289,900
Why it’s here:
This rare two-bedroom Lustron Westchester home was built from prefabricated enameled steel in 1949. Developed for the post-World War II era, Lustron homes never took off, but a few of these steel beauties remain.

This one features a retro kitchen with open shelves, a farmhouse sink, and a vintage Frigidaire Flair double oven with a hideaway stovetop. The primary bedroom boasts a built-in vanity and three closets.

Ann Arbor, MI

Realtor.com


4. 3003 Craig Ave, Oroville, CA

Price: $895,000
Why it’s here: 
This historic Queen Anne Victorian in Butte County was built for Sen. George Hearst and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, parents of William Randolph Hearst.

This four-bedroom home features original wood floors and woodwork, an ornate staircase, and large curved windows. You’ll also find a brick fireplace, coffered ceilings, and large bay windows with built-in seating. On the 16-acre property, there are over 100 olive trees and a fruit orchard.

Oroville, CA

Realtor.com


3. 71 Beverly Park, Beverly Hills, CA

Price: $87,500,000
Why it’s here:
 Mark Wahlberg wants to sell his sprawling 30,500-square-foot mansion in North Beverly Park.

On a lot of 6 acres, this gated mansion features a two-story paneled library, home theater, and wine cellar. Outside, there’s a five-hole golf course, tennis court, and skate park. The actor’s home was designed by Richard Landry and also features a resort-style grotto pool and guesthouse.

Beverly Hills, CA

Realtor.com


2. 133 Sandy Bend Ln, Summerville, SC

Price: $1,250,000
Why it’s here:
This four-bedroom house was famously designed by Jenny and Dave Marrs for HGTV’s popular design competition, “Rock the Block.”

Although it didn’t win Season 3, it still attracted plenty of interest. Offering three floors of living space, the modern farmhouse was outfitted with an array of special features by the couple from “Fixer to Fabulous.” From a private sauna in the primary suite to a built-in study and homework station, there are spaces for every member of the family.

Summerville, SC

Realtor.com


1. 905 Shoreland Dr SE, Bellevue, WA

Price: $36,000,000
Why it’s here:
New Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara, now hold another title: owners of the most expensive home for sale in Washington.

Located on Lake Washington, the six-bedroom home features a professional gym, yoga studio, and sport court. There’s even a private treehouse to take in views of the water, patios, and terraced gardens.

Bellevue, WA

Realtor.com

The post Russell Wilson’s Washington Mansion Is the Week’s Most Popular Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Rental Prices Are Surging Everywhere—but Especially in This State

Rental Prices Are Surging Everywhere—But Especially in This State

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Rental prices are continuing to shatter records—especially in Florida.

Nationally, the monthly median rent hit $1,807 in March, costing tenants nearly 20% more than what they paid just two years ago, according to the latest Realtor.com® rental report. They rose even higher in Florida, where several of the big cities saw astronomical increases.

“Florida has seen a surge of new residents over the past two years. The moves were also encouraged by the state’s early actions to reopen its business and tourism sectors and relax pandemic restrictions,” says George Ratiu, manager of economic research for Realtor.com. “Along with retirees looking for great quality of life and low living expenses, the state has welcomed many young professionals and families. With tight supply of housing and low vacancy, demand for housing pushed rents to new highs.”

The report looked at studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, condos, townhomes, and single-family homes advertised on Realtor.com in March.

Oklahoma City was the most affordable major metro and the only one with median rent below $1,000 a month. (A metro includes the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)

In Florida, rents shot up 57.2% in the Miami metro area compared with a year ago. They rose 35% in Orlando and 31.1% in the Tampa/ St. Petersburg metros. That’s been driven by an influx of new residents during the COVID-19 pandemic who are looking for places to live.

“The [Florida] economy is strong,” says Kent Rodahaver, real estate broker of NextHome South Pointe, with offices in St. Petersburg and Gainesville. “We don’t have state income tax like a lot of other places in the country, and the cost of living is still relatively reasonable.”

Weather is, of course, also a large part of the draw. People who have been working from offices in Washington state, New York, and the upper Midwest can now soak up the sun working from their patio—in their new home in the Sunshine State.

Pandemic policies such as mask and vaccination requirements in other states are another factor that drove people to Florida. Businesses are also flocking to the area, bringing jobs and new residents along with them.

Potential first-time homebuyers are also remaining renters longer, because they’re losing bidding wars or are priced out of homeownership.

“A lot of what you’re seeing is people who have sold a home recently,” says Rodahaver. “They’re relocating here, but they don’t know the area well enough. So they’ll rent for six months to a year while they become familiar with the area.”

The post Rental Prices Are Surging Everywhere—but Especially in This State appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Exclusive: ‘George to the Rescue’ Reveals the Renovations That Can Change Your Life

George to the Rescue

LXTV

Mix a gorgeous home makeover with a good cry, and you’ve got “George to the Rescue,” a show where host George Oliphant helps renovate spaces that literally change people’s lives.

Currently in its 13th season on CNBC (streaming on Peacock), “George to the Rescue” tackles projects for those in need who are facing unique challenges, from a surprise bedroom renovation for a girl battling cancer to the transformation of a warehouse into a sensory gym and reading center.

Curious to hear more from Oliphant about his fondest memories on set and his top renovation tips, we chatted with him and came away inspired. Read on if your own home (or merely your faith in humanity) could stand for a little rescuing, too.

How did this show get started?

It began with the show “Open House,” which has been on forever with Sara Gore, and I actually started as the home improvement, nuts-and-bolts guy on that show. I had a little segment called “Floor Plan” where we came and did small projects for families—just honey-do list projects like childproofing and taking the audience along for the ride.

And it snowballed, and we got bigger projects, and it came to this kitchen we did and it was such a big undertaking, as kitchens are, that we said, “You know, there are so many people contributing to help this family rebuild this kitchen. We need to do, like, a half-hour segment on it” as an “Open House to the Rescue” special.

Now we are in Season 13, 140 families and organizations later, and we’re still going—the little engine that could. It just started with basically wanting to do something that was real and wasn’t just smoke and mirrors, but leaving people in a better place than when we found them.

George to the Rescue
George Oliphant of “George to the Rescue” helps a family with their home.

LXTV

What has been your most heartwarming renovation so far?

They’re all amazing. There are some that touched me more in different ways. As a father myself, when we’re doing something that involves kids, anything we can do to improve their situations, especially kids who are battling some horrific disease or condition, obviously you can’t help but pour 110% into those.

Also, I think there have been times where I’ve had amazing experiences with the community and the people that help us—the designers, the contractors, the architects, the local community, just do-gooders, laborers—people who are like, “I can lend a helping hand. Let me help you.”

I’ve got to say, everything [people say] about Southern hospitality is true.

Then in California, we did one for a veteran, and the military community also comes in numbers. When you put out the Bat signal, like “Hey, we’re helping one of your own,” we got help from vets all over California. It was really moving.

George to the Rescue
The team working on a front porch

LXTV

Homeowners today are worried about their budgets. Have any tips on which upgrades are actually worth the money?

Anything you can do to just kind of make your home smarter and more efficient is always going to help save money, whether it’s using LED lights or lightbulbs or having smart thermostats. Until you’re a homeowner and you start to realize how many bills you’re getting, all these things definitely do help and pay for itself.

Are there any upgrades you think new homeowners should avoid because they’re too complicated or a waste of cash?

One thing I’ve said to my wife when we moved into our house—which was an old house—was that we got to do the unsexy projects first because otherwise, everything we do going forward could just be throwing good money after bad. You want to make sure your HVAC is clean and running, that your electric and plumbing is running. After that, then you can start getting into “Is your basement dry or your roof not leaking?”

Once you’ve done those fundamental, foundational things, then you can really start to have fun with the space. But otherwise, you’re asking for trouble because you’re like, “Oh, I’ll put that off,” and then what happens when you’ve got a leak in the ceiling and it’s like, “Oh, I should have tackled those things first.” It could be disastrous.

George to the Rescue
Oliphant and his clients

LXTV

Once the fundamentals of a house are in good shape, what should homeowners tackle next?

People always get so excited with color, and they usually end up with too much color on the walls, which takes away from the colorful things that they put in a room. A great tip is let your objects—your pillows, blankets, chairs, coffee table books, things on shelves—be the star of your space. Use more muted colors to let them kind of blossom.

I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my wife, who kind of reined me in on that many years ago, when I was always like, “I want everything to be big and bright.” Now, we have a black wall in our bedroom. It makes our bed just pop. So sometimes the lack of color makes the other color around it really pop.

Since homeowners may not get as much square footage as they’d like, have any advice for making the most of the space you’ve got?

The organization is so key. Sometimes you have small kitchens, especially in apartments or small houses. But sometimes you can use your pans and your pots as decoration as well as storage, like hanging pots and pan racks. And then also that’s nice because it’s right there and easy to get, easy to grab when you need them.

George to the Rescue
Oliphant also works with kids.

LXTV

Have any final words on what new homebuyers should do once they manage to close the deal and move in?

My stepdad just did the most genius thing: My mom and stepdad just moved, and the first thing they got unpacked was his work area. That way, everything they needed, any tool for moving in, was at their disposal. They weren’t digging through boxes looking for a hammer or a screwdriver or a drill. They set up HQ first, and that allowed them just a lot more ease when they went to move in. They’re like, “OK, we’re going to hang pictures.” OK, well, here’s all the pictures. I have never even thought of that until they did it.

George to the Rescue
Oliphant of “George to the Rescue”

LXTV

The post Exclusive: ‘George to the Rescue’ Reveals the Renovations That Can Change Your Life appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Signs You May Be a Victim of Homebuying Discrimination

Signs You May Be a Victim of Homebuying Discrimination

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Have you been the victim of discrimination while buying a home or getting a mortgage? And if you were, are you sure that you could tell?

There were nearly 29,000 complaints alleging housing discrimination in 2020, according to a 2021 report by the National Fair Housing Alliance. However, many more cases go unreported even over a half-century after the Fair Housing Act was passed to end housing discrimination.

“A lot of discrimination in the real estate sales market can be very subtle and many times undetectable,” says Steve Dane, a fair housing attorney and founder of Dane Law, based just outside of Toledo, OH. “A lot of consumers often don’t ever know they have been treated differently.”

The original federal Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 to outlaw bias in the housing market against people based on race, color, religion, and national origin. Over the decades, sex (gender), familial status, and disability were added as protected classes. Under President Joe Biden, sexual orientation and gender identity now fall under the definition of “sex.”

The Fair Housing Act applies to all areas of housing, from renting to homebuying to selling a home, and to all the necessary requirements that go along with homebuying, including appraisals, getting a mortgage, homeowners insurance, zoning, and land use, as well as design and construction.

If you are shopping for a home and wonder if you have been treated differently because of your protected class, read on to learn to spot the signs of discrimination.

Discrimination with a smile

One type of discrimination that can be hard to identify is called “revolving door discrimination” —otherwise known as “discrimination with a smile,” according to Morgan Williams, general counsel for the National Fair Housing Alliance.

“That is where a housing service provider will work with the consumer in some sort of cursory fashion and then show them the door,” he said.

Refusing to sell to or otherwise deal with an interested buyer—which includes not returning calls or ignoring firm sales offers—is discrimination, according to the Fair Housing Act.

Some sellers and their agents may waive mortgage pre-approval letters from white or heterosexual couples but turn away prospective buyers of color or same-sex couples. Or sellers may want only to sell their homes to families who closely resemble theirs or those who celebrate the same religious holidays.

But it can be difficult for a consumer to know if he or she is being treated badly by someone who is providing bad service or being discriminated against because of something more nefarious.

“In itself, bad treatment isn’t discriminatory,” says Williams. “As someone who’s providing that to all of their consumers, in itself it is not a violation of the Fair Housing Act. However, if there’s a housing service provider providing service to white consumers, and limited or curtailed service to Black or Latino consumers, then that’s discrimination.”

Be on high alert for signs of steering

Homebuyers should be alert for signs of steering. That’s when someone is steered to or away from locations, homes, and even certain kinds of loans because they fall under one of the protected classes. This can affect which neighborhoods they’re shown homes in, or result in being offered more expensive or riskier mortgages.

One glaring red flag that you are being discriminated against is if a real estate agent is not following your directions, says Dane.

An example of that might be a Black homebuyer who is looking to buy in a neighborhood that is predominantly white. But the buyer’s real estate agent won’t show him or her any properties in that area even though the properties are within the buyer’s price range. Or the agent suggests the buyer would “be happier” in another community.

Mortgage discrimination happens, too

Discrimination in mortgage lending is another problem that still persists.

If you’re trying to get a mortgage, a lender may not offer you lower-cost loans that you’re eligible to receive or may offer you one with a higher mortgage interest rate. Or if a potential buyer is pregnant, a lender may unlawfully refuse to offer her a loan until she returns from maternity leave.

This can have big repercussions for homebuyers—as well as the nation. In the run-up to the Great Recession in the 2000s, many buyers of color were steered into subprime loans when some would have fared better with other more stable mortgages. The loans initially came with lower monthly payments that then ballooned in size over time. Borrowers couldn’t afford these higher payments, so they defaulted on their mortgages and their homes went into foreclosure—and that’s what helped to trigger the housing bust.

Watch out for appraisal discrimination

Artificially low appraisals have often hurt communities of color as much of Americans’ wealth is tied up in their homes. Biased appraisals hurt how much sellers make on the sales of their properties and hurt homeowners who try to refinance or tap into their home equity to cover an emergency.

Properties in predominantly Black communities are often undervalued by about 23% versus comparable properties in white communities, according to a 2018 study from the Brookings Institution, a think tank.

Biden’s administration is addressing the problem with the release of its PAVE Action Plan, which aims to end biased appraisals in a variety of ways.

“The appraisal industry has largely been free of the fair lending, fair housing scrutiny that was given to the lending and insurance industries over the past several decades,” says Williams. “Now, that same scrutiny is being applied to the appraisal industry—and with that, you’re seeing aggressive steps to provide oversight and put in place controls to address some of the identified bias.”

Report discrimination to your local fair housing agency

Identifying discrimination can be difficult, but there are things you can do as a consumer to uncover it.

First, do some research.

“As a consumer, you always want to educate yourself when you go out into the marketplace to engage in a commercial transaction, and in particular, learn what your rights are as a consumer,” says Dane.

You should also trust your intuition. Ask yourself, “Is there something about the behavior of the agent that is a little off or suspicious?” says Dane.

Then you can approach your local fair housing agency, which can help to investigate what’s going on.

“It’s a tremendous resource that exists across the country for consumers to have on hand to support them and their assertions around potential discrimination,” says Williams.

If there is no state or local fair housing center in your area, you can file a complaint on the National Fair Housing Alliance’s website.

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