Rents Fell for the First Time in Over a Year, but Renters Shouldn’t Get Too Excited

Rents Fell For the First Time In Over A Year

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There’s no question that rental prices remain near record highs across the nation. But the worst may be over for many shell-shocked tenants who have been hit with significant rental hikes.

The median rent in the top 50 metropolitan areas fell for the first time in nearly a year, dropping $10 off a peak reached in July, according to a recent Realtor.com® report. However, rents were still higher than they were a year ago, at a median $1,771 a month, although this was the first time in the past 13 months that they rose only by single digits. Rents were up 9.8% year over year in August.

The minor dip may signal the return of seasonal slowdowns, formerly predictable periods where rents fell in the fall, prior to the red-hot, COVID-19 pandemic boom market. However, the slight downturn isn’t exactly cause for celebration. Rents are still well above where they were before COVID-19. And last month’s annual hike is three times as high as the one seen in March 2020.

“Affordability is still a very big challenge for renters,” says Realtor.com Economist Jiayi Xu. “Inflation is still high, and renters are still feeling the stress of higher costs.”

Many tenants are struggling with higher rents

The yearlong rise in rents and housing costs, coupled with the added squeeze of inflation, has left the average American renter in a bleak situation. While wages grew by 5.2% over the same period, the cost of goods increased by more than 8%, eating away at any potential gains.

At the same time, households are putting higher percentages of their income toward rent. The problem is particularly pronounced in coastal cities, which made up the entirety of the least affordable metros in this month’s report.

Miami, which became a pandemic hot spot, continues to lead in unaffordability. The median rent in that metro amounts to over 46% of the typical household income. On a statewide basis, Florida and California had six of the nine most unaffordable markets.

Rent affordability also continued to drop in Northeastern metros such as New York City and Boston, as renters have returned to the cities after an early pandemic exodus. The middle of the country continues to be the most affordable place to rent. Oklahoma City was the most affordable of the 50 largest metros in August with a median monthly rent of $973.

Chicago sees staggering rent hikes

It’s been almost a given that many Miami renters are struggling with fast-rising rents, which rose 16.7% year over year in August. The South Florida city has had the highest year-over-year growth rate in rents for the past 10 months among the 50 largest metros. It lost that dubious honor to historically affordable Chicago, which saw its year-over-year rents climb by nearly 25% in August.

Scott Curcio, a real estate broker at Coldwell Banker in Chicago, notes that the city’s real estate market is a patchwork of neighborhoods all rising and falling at different times. However, he attributes the growth in rents to a somewhat counterintuitive cause.

Rising mortgage interest rates and the slowdown in home purchases as a result have meant more people who would have bought a home are now renting. That extra demand for rents is keeping prices high.

“We’ve seen a lot of folks renew their leases,” he says. “A lot of buyers … didn’t find the property they were looking for and got to the point where they had to renew their lease. As such, you haven’t seen a lot of inventory that should have come up for rent come back up because people were staying put.”

Boston had the second highest year-over-year rent growth in August, at 22.8%, followed by New York, at 18.9%.

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Donald Trump’s Real Estate Empire Under Fire by New York Attorney General

Donald Trump's Real Estate Empire Under Fire by New York Attorney General

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New York state is going after Donald Trump on allegations he inflated the value of his real estate empire by billions of dollars.

In a 200-plus-page lawsuit filed on Wednesday, state Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat running for reelection, accused the former president and three of his adult children of perpetrating a massive fraud.

The lawsuit seeks to remove Trump and his singled-out children from running the Trump Organization, prevent them from overseeing future businesses in the state, and require them to repay $250 million that was allegedly received illegally.

James is also attempting to prevent Trump and the Trump Organization from purchasing any property in New York state for five years, and to prevent the company from operating at all in the state.

Trump called the suit “another witch hunt” on his Truth Social platform. He called James a “failed A.G. whose lack of talent in the fight against crime is causing record numbers of people and companies to flee New York.”

The lawsuit alleges that Trump, along with his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and senior leadership at the Trump Organization were untruthful about the worth of 23 properties and other assets used to persuade banks to loan money and to receive tax benefits and insurance coverage at more favorable terms.

The attorney general’s office maintains the former president and the Trump Organization knowingly created more than 200 incorrect valuations of Donald Trump’s assets from 2011 through 2021.

“It is abundantly clear that the attorney general’s office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place,” Alina Habba, a Trump attorney, told news outlets. “We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the attorney general’s meritless claims.”

Some of the allegations were referred to federal authorities and the IRS to potentially pursue criminal charges.

“For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them. Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples of this misconduct,” James said in a statement. “There are not two sets of laws for people in this country; we must hold former presidents to the same standards as everyday Americans.”

One of the properties included in the lawsuit was the Trump Tower triplex in Manhattan, the former president’s previous primary residence. The penthouse apartment was assessed as encompassing 30,000 square feet—instead of the 11,000 square feet it actually spanned, according to the attorney general’s office. The embellished square footage meant the apartment could be valued at a much higher price, $327 million, more than three times the price of any New York City apartment ever sold up to that point.

“It’s somewhat surprising to miss that,” says national real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller of the square footage.

Another property singled out was Trump Park Avenue, where unsold residential units were alleged to have been valued much higher in official documents than the Trump Organization’s own estimations. These valuations also failed to take into account that many of these units were rent-stabilized, so were worth much less than market values.

Trump’s clubs also came under scrutiny, including Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s current home. The Palm Beach, FL, resort was allegedly valued at $739 million based on the premise that it could be used for residential purposes. However, Trump signed deeds that limited the use of the property to predominantly a social club—which would put the value closer to $75 million, according to the attorney general’s office.

Eric Trump refuted those claims.

“Mar-A-Lago is arguably one of the most valuable properties in the United States. This assertion is absolutely asinine,” he tweeted in response to the allegations.

Many other properties were mentioned in the lawsuit. However, the charges won’t be easy to prove, especially as real estate appraisals often vary.

“It’s harder to price a high-end property because it’s not a generic property,” says real estate appraiser Miller. Sometimes it can be difficult to find similar real estate for comparison. “It’s harder for a seller to price accurately.”

However, fudging the worth of real estate, while not common, happens more than most people realize, says Miller. He did not comment on the lawsuit.

“In any profession, there is a small percentage of people who are morally flexible. That damages the reputation of the entire industry, and it’s a shame,” says Miller. “When you’re valuing real estate assets, the size of some of these assets can be off by millions of dollars.”

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Is the U.S. Federal Reserve Trying To Bludgeon the Housing Market?

Is the U.S. Federal Reserve Trying To Bludgeon the Housing Market?

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The housing market has been on fire for the past two years as home prices shot up into the stratosphere. Now the U.S. Federal Reserve is trying to bring them back down to Earth, part of its avowed war against the nation’s runaway inflation. But it’s using a move that could inflict even more pain on struggling homebuyers.

The Fed hiked its short-term interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point on Wednesday as it continued its war against surging inflation. This is expected to push mortgage interest rates even higher as they tend to follow the same trajectory of the Fed’s own rates. And that’s expected to price additional would-be homeowners out of the market and make purchasing a home even more expensive.

“Housing is an interest-rate-sensitive sector of the economy,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. “When interest rates increase, housing often feels the pain first. Tightening is going to require some pain.”

Mortgage rates have topped 6% on 30-year fixed-rate loans, the highest they’ve been since 2008, according to Freddie Mac. In the past year alone, monthly mortgage payments have swelled nearly two-thirds higher mostly due to a more than doubling in mortgage rates as well as higher prices. That means buyers today are paying roughly 66% more than they would have a year ago.

“Mortgage interest rates have not yet hit their peak,” says Dietz. “They’re going to go higher than where they are right now.”

Rates were up to 6.5% this week for 30-year loans, says mortgage broker Rocke Andrews, of Lending Arizona in Tucson.

“It’s getting harder and harder for people to [secure] a loan,” he says. Some are considering adjustable-rate mortgages, which offer lower introductory rates and then reset over time.  “They’re trying anything to lessen the pain a little bit.”

Many real estate experts predict that home prices will fall as a result of the higher rates. After all, there is only so much that buyers can afford to pay for housing every month.

“We expect some limited price declines nationwide,” says Dietz. Areas that saw the biggest price increases and the greatest influx of investors could fall even harder. “Some of the previously hot markets could see double-digit price declines playing out over this year and the first half of next year as the market adjusts to the new mortgage interest rates.”

Ironically, the Fed’s goal of slowing down the housing market may wind up making the dire housing shortage even worse.

Dietz now expects single-family home construction to fall by 10% this year, the first time it’s gone down since 2011. This will keep prices high as the supply of homes stays low.

“Most single-family homebuilding is financed with loans. When interest rates increase, the cost of financing for land developers and homebuilders increases. That reduces the number of homes built,” says Dietz.

In addition, many people who would have put their properties on the market as they traded up or down likely won’t do that with rates so high. If they buy something else, they’ll wind up spending so much more due to higher rates that it may make more financial sense to stay put.

“We’re going to see more, ‘let’s stay here and fix up our house,’” says Andrews.

“It seems like a scary time to buy. They don’t know if they buy a house now, if they’re buying at the top. What if they lose their jobs? It’s an unknown period right now,” he adds. “When people are worried, they freeze and stay where they are.”

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Climbing Housing Costs Could Prop Up Inflation for a While

Climbing Housing Costs Could Prop Up Inflation for a While

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Rents and other shelter costs are emerging as a major driver of overall consumer inflation, keeping it high at a time when many other sources are starting to ease.

Economists expect housing inflation to strengthen further before cooling off in the coming months, but are unsure of when relief will appear. This creates another challenge for the Federal Reserve as it raises interest rates to reduce price pressures.

Overall annual inflation eased to 8.3% in August from 8.5% in July, according to the Labor Department’s consumer-price index. That reflected declines from the month before in prices for items such as gasoline, airfares and used cars, and slower price increases in other categories, such as groceries.

Housing was an outlier. Not only are shelter costs rising, they are climbing at an accelerating pace, accounting for a growing share of the overall inflation rate—about 25% of August’s rate, up from about 20% in February.

Shelter costs—comprising mostly rents and a gauge of home prices known as owners’ equivalent rent—rose 0.7% in August from the previous month, up from 0.5% in July. They rose 6.2% in August from a year before, up from 5.7% in July.

The price of housing “was always going to be a persistent boost to inflation this year,” said Omair Sharif, head of the advisory firm Inflation Insights LLC. “It has absolutely ticked up over the last three months and it is offsetting declines in things like airfares and hotel rates.”

Fed officials have raised interest rates this year at the fastest clip in decades to combat inflation, which hit a 40-year high in June. They are widely expected to lift rates by 0.75 percentage point after their two-day policy meeting concluding on Wednesday. That would be the third consecutive increase of that size.

Rising housing costs also raise the odds that the Fed will raise interest rates by 0.75 percentage point again at its November policy meeting, economists at Barclays wrote in a report for clients.

Economists and firms tracking private data expect housing inflation in the CPI to cool eventually because the rent increases they see in new leases appear to be slowing. That should show up in the CPI with a lag because of the way it is constructed, they say.Most of the time, most renters pay the same price every month, while those who renew their lease or sign new ones are more likely to see an increase. Private firms, such as Apartment List Inc., which tracks rental prices, record only the rent amounts in new leases.

By this method, the median U.S. rent increased 10% in August from the previous year, down from a recent peak of 18% in November 2021, according to data from Apartment List.

The CPI’s rent component, in contrast, is estimated based on rents paid across the market, which includes rents raised months ago.

Home prices surged during the pandemic, boosted by low mortgage rates, changes in home-buying preferences, population trends and low inventories of homes for sale.

But government agencies don’t take home prices directly into account when calculating inflation because they consider a home purchase to be a long-term investment rather than a consumer good.

Instead, the CPI uses rents to create its estimate of homeowners’ housing costs—called owners’ equivalent rent—which calculates the imputed rent, or what homeowners would have to pay each month to rent their own house.

Because rents rose strongly over the past year, those increases are now feeding into the CPI and other inflation measures.

The private estimates offer hope that housing inflation in the CPI will slow at some point, said Igor Popov, chief economist at Apartment List.

“On the one hand there’s some confidence that the shelter component of CPI is not going to completely run away from us,” he said. “On the other hand, there’s a growing concern that in the meantime, the shelter component’s really propping up inflation at a time when these numbers are under a microscope.”

Mr. Sharif said shelter cost increases should begin to cool either in the fourth quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023. Barclays economists say it will happen this fall. Brett Ryan, senior economist at Deutsche Bank, estimates the peak won’t come until the second quarter of next year.

Economists at the Dallas Fed said in a paper published last month that they see a lag time of up to a year and a half between when market rents start to fall and when that decline shows up in the CPI.

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Exclusive: Car Expert Cristy Lee Fixes Real Estate on ‘Steal This House’

Cristy Lee

HGTV

You might know Cristy Lee from her car expertise on the “Garage Squad,” “All Girls Garage,” and “Celebrity IOU: Joyride.” But lately, she’s broadened her skills to work on houses.

On the new HGTV show “Steal This House,” Lee takes prospective homeowners—who’ve had no luck in house hunting—on a search for a fixer-upper in Detroit.

We had a chat with Lee about how she got started in real estate, as well as her best advice for homebuyers today.

You’re known for your work with cars and motorcycles. What made you want to do a home renovation show?

Cars and motorcycles have been a huge part of my life my entire upbringing. My dad was a shop owner and mechanic. So that has always been a part of my life. That’s a huge passion for me.

But in 2005, I moved from Daytona Beach, my hometown, to Detroit to invest in real estate. I would say my favorite thing about working on both cars and bikes and homes is that it’s a learning process, and getting in there and figuring out how to get the job done and then executing that job. I mean obviously, there’s a vast difference between the things that you need to renovate and restore a car versus a home. But in terms of the learning process of getting a job done and the steps it takes through that process, they’re both very similar.

Cristy Lee
Cristy Lee talking to Renée Zellweger on “Celebrity IOU: Joyride”

Discovery+

In the show, you encourage clients to buy fixer-uppers. What’s the advantage for buyers?

There’s always something to be said about a property that needs work. It definitely can scare a lot of people away. In addition to the stress and concerns of buying a new home, you’re adding in a potential major renovation. So that’s a lot.

So I understand that. I’m empathetic with the homeowners that we see on the show in that they’re not sure that they want to take up that renovation. But as far as looking at homes that are in a state that is less desirable to the general public, I think that’s the best way to find a steal—and that’s what this show is exactly about, is looking at a home in a different way.

I’m just trying to guide them and help them through the process. These buyers have been struggling to find the right house. They need to adjust that price point and look at different houses that they may have not considered before.

Cristy Lee
On “Steal This House,” Lee discusses potential changes with the homeowners.

HGTV

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Watch: ‘Renovation Impossible’ Star Reveals One of the Biggest Hidden Costs of Remodeling

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What’s the market like today? Do you have any advice for buyers?

The market is ever-changing. The market right now is so different than it was six months ago, even three months ago. Sellers don’t know whether it’s time to sell their home—whether to cash out to get the best value for their home—or sit back and wait because they think that inflation and interest rates are changing.

The best thing for those considering buying or selling a home is to hire the best real estate agent to help you through this process.

The market is incredibly competitive right now. The last property that I purchased, I was the first person through the doors and I made an offer within a few hours. That’s kind of crazy for the average homebuyer to go through that same type of experience. But that’s the way the market is right now. So having the right person and right team to help you out through this process is more important now than it ever was before.

My second recommendation would be to change the scope of how you’re looking at the market. Maybe you aren’t going to find a house in that exact block that you’ve been looking for. Maybe you aren’t going to find the house within a very specific price range. Start considering homes that do need renovation. Start considering homes that are maybe at a lower price tier or considering homes that are maybe even 5 to 10 miles away from the area that you’ve been looking in before.

Now is a great time to really open up your expectations for what types of homes you’re looking at.

Cristy Lee
Lee reveals the Zyskowskis’ home after a dramatic renovation.

HGTV

Do you have a favorite project from this season?

I’m really happy with how all of the different projects that we tapped into on this season turned out, because there is such a wide variety of different styles and different projects. I’m able to bring to the table some of my car experience, which sounds kind of crazy, but I do have experience working with metal, and I’ve been able to bring some of those skill sets to the home projects as well.

In one episode, for example, we created this amazing custom steel staircase railing, something that the homeowners didn’t even think about putting in place. It turns out the existing railing wasn’t up to code and we had to replace it. Instead of just putting in a wood railing or a wood banister, we decided to go with this full custom steel hand railing—this extremely beautiful and unique piece that they now have in their home that looks amazing.

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Will Home Prices Drop? Will Mortgage Rates Rise? What To Expect in the Fall Housing Market

A girl taking a photo of a For Sale sign in front of a home

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Buying a home has never been easy. However, over the past few years, the process has become truly herculean as buyers have been pushed to emotional and financial limits. Sellers, on the other hand, largely have been able to sit back and enjoy the ride, which has typically culminated in a massive payday.

The housing market has shifted dramatically over the past few months. Higher mortgage rates have thinned the pool of buyers, begun to rein in runaway home prices, and forced many sellers back to the negotiating table. The changes are leading buyers and sellers to wonder who has the upper hand these days.

So as real estate continues to cool along with the weather, what do we know about this year’s much anticipated fall housing market?

“The housing market is going to continue to be in an adjustment period as buyers and sellers try to figure out what’s ahead,” says Realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “The economy is at a turning point, and that’s going to result in uncertainty among buyers and sellers. People are more worried about a recession than they have been.”

She anticipates buyers will have more opportunities and less competition this fall to purchase homes. There will be more homes for sale as many properties sit on the market longer. Buyers won’t have to submit offers within hours of touring a home, and they will be able to insist on inspections and other common-sense contingencies. In many markets, they won’t even have to offer more than the asking price—and may even be able to negotiate a lower price.

However, home prices and mortgage rates—the latter of which has more than doubled in the past year—are expected to keep rising, leaving buyers this fall saddled with significantly higher monthly payments than they would have had earlier this year. And buyers shouldn’t expect a large influx of homes to hit the market to provide any relief.

“The fall housing market is still going to be challenging for buyers and sellers,” says Ali Wolf, chief economist of real estate consultancy Zonda. “Buyers have more options than they did at the beginning of the year, but someone who is looking for homes won’t be flush with options.”

Mortgage rates will likely continue to rise

The fate of the housing market this fall, and what ultimately happens with prices, will largely depend on mortgage rates. They are now the highest they’ve been since 2008 and more than double what they were just a year ago, according to Freddie Mac. Rates hit an average of 6.02% for 30-year fixed-rate loans in the week ending Sept. 15—up from 2.86% a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

Mortgage rates are likely to keep rising as the U.S. Federal Reserve continues hiking its own rates to fight inflation. Mortgage rates generally follow a similar trajectory.

Each additional percentage point can make monthly mortgage payments significantly more expensive and add tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year loan. Today’s buyers are paying about two-thirds more each month for the same house than they would have a year ago, thanks to a punishing combination of higher rates and prices.

“Rates are not likely to fall in the near term and could even increase,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac.

The good news for buyers is rates vary tremendously based on the loan and the lender as loan officers compete for business. That presents opportunities for savings.

“It may benefit a borrower to consider shopping around,” says Kiefer.

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Watch: America’s Hottest ZIP Codes for Real Estate in 2022

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Will home prices go down?

Those hoping for another housing bubble to pop—and home prices to plummet—shouldn’t hold their breath.

Another crash doesn’t look likely. But while it still costs more to buy the same home today than it did a year ago, price growth is going down as mortgage rates have ratcheted up. Higher mortgage rates mean that buyers have less money to spend on homes, creating a sort of cap to keep prices in line with their budgets.

“Prices will decline a little bit more than what would be common seasonally,” says Hale. “But they’ll still be higher than what they were a year ago.”

While home prices could actually fall, “the deck is stacked against” this happening, says Hale. There aren’t enough homes for sale for everyone who wants one. Rents are also rising, making the prospect of locking in a fixed mortgage payment especially appealing.

Many real estate experts consider the days of endlessly skyrocketing home prices to be over. Instead, they expect prices will flatten out this year, and could even dip a little in 2023. Buyers are already slamming the brakes in the most overheated markets, where prices rose the most at the fastest clip. (Think the Southwest and Mountain West, like Austin, TX; Phoenix; and Boise, ID.)

“We are due for home prices to come down a bit. That’s not a crash,” says Zonda’s Wolf. She predicts prices will fall 5% to 10% nationally, although the drop will vary market to market.

“Over the next couple of years, some of the frothiest markets may see price drops that may look more like 20% down,” she adds.

Sellers have already begun reducing their prices in earnest, and builders are offering all kinds of incentives to lure buyers. About 19.4% of sellers were forced to cut their list prices in August—up from 11% a year earlier, according to Realtor.com data.

Now that the market has cooled, most sellers are no longer receiving 15 offers, all above the asking price, half in cash with no contingencies within hours of putting their homes on the market. Instead, bidding wars have died down as the number of buyers in the market has fallen.

“If someone is trying to buy a renovated home in a great school district, the housing market is still extremely competitive. And you should still expect to go through a bidding war,” says Wolf. “But if the home needs a little bit of work, is not in the best neighborhood, or is priced high, then buyers are not going to find a bidding war. [They] may be able to negotiate down the price or not waive contingencies.”

Don’t expect a surge of homes to go up for sale

While buyers have more negotiating power than they’ve had in years, they shouldn’t get their hopes up that there will be an influx of homes going on the market this fall.

More “For Sale” signs went up in late spring and summer as sellers attempted to cash in while they could. However, there’s less incentive for them to list their properties now that the market has cooled and homes are no longer going under contract in just a few days.

“That big shift in inventory that helped shift the market in a buyer-friendly direction has lost some momentum,” says Hale. “We’re not seeing as many homeowners decide to sell.”

Of course, most sellers are also buyers—and it’s a tough road for that group. So plenty of sellers are choosing to stay put.

“It’s harder to make that math work out on moving because the costs are so much higher than they were,” says Hale. “If you have to take a new mortgage, it’s obviously going to be a lot higher today.”

Few homes and high costs mean fewer home sales going forward. Some would-be buyers may prefer to wait to see if prices fall or the nation heads into a recession. Others are simply priced out.

Mortgage applications to purchase homes were down 28.6% year over year in the week ending Sept. 9, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That lack of buyers will help to turn the pendulum in their favor.

“In the fall, we’ll see the return of a buyer’s market in some metros across the country. In other markets, it’s still more buyer-friendly,” says Zonda. “You don’t have to make an offer the day the home is listed. You don’t have to offer over the asking price. And you don’t have to give up your first-born child.”

The post Will Home Prices Drop? Will Mortgage Rates Rise? What To Expect in the Fall Housing Market appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Start Your Engines: Rural Oklahoma Home With a Racing Track Zooms Onto the Market for $1.6M

Rural Oklahoma Home with Full Racing Track Zooms onto the Market for $1.6M

MLS via Realtor.com

It’s the perfect place for those with go-fast dreams.

A property in rural Coalgate, OK, has a full drift racing track in the backyard. It’s zoomed onto the market for $1.6 million.

The fast feature caught clicks on the web, and the property raced onto the list of most popular homes on Realtor.com®.

“As far as I know, no other properties have a functioning drift race track on it,” says listing agent Lew Forrest, with Porches and Pastures.

The year-old asphalt track is 9/10 of a mile long, and 30 feet wide.

Track

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Entrance

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Speedy spot

“Drift racing is where they usually pair up vehicles to go down a very winding track, and they approach corners essentially sideways,” Forrest explains. They’re “spinning the tires, and that’s essentially the whole thing—and they drift.”

Cart racing uses similar tracks, and the sale price includes the track, the 2,233-square-foot home, nine commercial go-carts, and much more.

“It took about a year to build the track,” he says. There are also tire stations, parking lots, shaded pavilions, and a shop on the property’s 40 acres.

Tire station

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Carts

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Track area

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It’s known as Cam’s Acres and is available for rent for special events. The rate is $2,000 a day and includes camping spaces and fire pits.

“It does generate income,” Forrest says.

Dining area

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Living space

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Kitchen

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Bedroom

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The 2,233-square-foot house on the lot was built in 1997 and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

A covered porch wraps around the house, and there’s also a sunroom.

Pond

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Sunroom

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Porch

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There’s a large pond for fishing, and a pecan orchard provides shade.

Forrest says it’s a beautiful piece of property, even if racing isn’t your thing. But he adds that the racetrack is the draw.

With 40 acres, Forrest says there is room to build a drag strip, sand pits, and more.

There are no ordinances on noise and there is direct access off a two-lane highway. So you can go ahead and rev those engines!

“It is located about two hours south of Oklahoma City and maybe three hours north of DallasFort Worth, TX,” he says. “The nearest town is McAlester, which is about 20 minutes away. They have shopping and hotels.”

Forrest says the seller built the track because of a son’s interest in drift racing and is selling it because of a change in family circumstances.

In an Instagram post, the sellers state, “We are needing to move closer to town and [want to] give someone else the opportunity to continue the legacy of this wildly popular drift venue we started a year ago.”

Race track

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The post Start Your Engines: Rural Oklahoma Home With a Racing Track Zooms Onto the Market for $1.6M appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Home-Goods Retailers Jolted by Slowdown in Housing Market

Home-Goods Retailers Jolted by Slowdown in Housing Market

MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES

Falling home sales are rippling through the economy, providing a window into how rising interest rates can cool spending, hiring and growth.

When people buy new homes, they typically buy a lot to go inside, including furniture, curtains, lighting fixtures and appliances.

Such spending has slowed or fallen this year as many home buyers moved to the sidelines in the face of climbing interest rates and a shortage of homes to buy, according to government data and businesses.

Sales declined in August from a year before by a seasonally adjusted 1.6% at furniture and home-furnishing stores, and by 5.7% at electronics and appliance stores, according to the Commerce Department.

Furniture businesses have been cutting jobs in recent months, according to the Labor Department.

“It’s very bad if you’re involved in the housing market” or a retailer of the kind of products people purchase when they move into a new home, like appliances, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics. “All these things are triggered by transaction volumes, and I’m pretty confident that they’re all going to take a pounding,” he said.

This is bad for the sellers and their employees, but is exactly the domino effect the Federal Reserve expects when it raises borrowing costs to combat high inflation. The central bank has lifted its benchmark interest rate this year at the fastest pace since the early 1990s and is likely to lift it this week and in coming months to restrain spending, investment and hiring, hoping that will slow inflation.

Mortgage rates have soared in response. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed to 6.02% last week, up from 2.86% a year ago, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

U.S. existing home sales fell in July for the sixth straight month, the longest streak of declines in more than eight years. They dropped 20.2% from a year ago.

Inflation is proving stubborn so far. Although sales are down, prices for household furnishings and supplies–which includes furniture, bedding, curtains and carpets–rose 1.1% in August from July, the fastest monthly pace since January, and were 10.6% higher than a year before, according to the Labor Department. One exception in the category is appliances: Their prices fell in August from the prior month by the most in nearly two years.

More prices could decline or rise more slowly if the sales trends continue.

RH, the high-end furniture seller formerly known as Restoration Hardware, said this month that it expected its sales to keep falling at least through January because of housing-market weakness over the next several quarters, the Fed’s anticipated rate increases and the comparison with its record sales in 2021.

RH said it expected its net revenue to drop by between 15% and 18% in its next quarter, which ends Oct. 29. The company expects a net revenue decline of 3.5% to 5.5% for its 2022 fiscal year, which ends Jan. 28, 2023, compared with a 32% increase last year.

“People keep saying, are we going to be in a recession? We’re in a recession. Anybody who thinks we’re not in a recession is crazy,” RH Chief Executive Gary Friedman said on a conference call with analysts. “The housing market is in a recession and it’s just getting started. So it’s probably going to be a difficult 12 to 18 months in our industry.”

Some of the falling spending on goods related to home sales reflects factors other than the housing market. RH and other home-goods companies such as Wayfair Inc. and Williams-Sonoma Inc., owner of Pottery Barn and West Elm, have been facing a reversal of fortunes after the pandemic initially helped fuel increased spending on home furnishings.

A housing boom started in mid-2020 as buyers scrambled to find homes with more space, which helped drive purchases of items like sofas, rugs and house plants. Many consumers who started staying home more—canceling vacations and avoiding restaurants—saved money and decided to remodel and redecorate. Spending on home furnishings continued to soar through the end of 2021.

Now, many consumers are tapped out or shifting spending to groceries because of inflation, as well as to services they missed during the pandemic, like dining out. Meanwhile, retailers now have inventory gluts due to delayed orders arriving after the shoppers moved on.

“From when we reopened in 2020 to the end of 2021, business was going crazy good, you were selling everything you had,” said Jared Simon, owner of Simon’s Furniture, Mattresses & Appliances in Franklin, Mass.

Now, “most dealers are over-inventoried; our inventory is up 55% from pre-Covid levels,” he said.

Prices are starting to come down, he said, with manufacturers offering incentives like discounts for customers who buy a whole package of appliances, such as for a new kitchen—a trend he hasn’t seen since 2019.

Some consumers are trying to wait out the current period of high inflation, high borrowing costs and supply-chain issues. Nick Luczak recently moved to Dallas for a job as a business development associate, and he plans to wait for holiday deals to upgrade some of his appliances like a coffee maker, cellphone and air fryer.

“Until they break, there’s no need for me to buy one,” the 22-year-old recent college grad said. “I’m being smart about the way I purchase things.”

Residential investment accounts for roughly 4% of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the Commerce Department. The category includes the construction of new homes, improvements to existing ones, brokers’ commissions on property sales, and equipment built into residential structures like heating and air-conditioning units.

The multiplier effect is large, according to the National Association of Realtors, the main trade association for real-estate agents. It estimates that the real-estate industry and related consumer spending accounts for about 17% of GDP. That includes spending on lawn care, home remodeling, new furniture, mortgage origination, moving, and building new homes. News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, also operates Realtor.com under license from the association.

Businesses connected to the property sector are coming off a strong couple of years. For the better part of the past 15 years, households paid very little to borrow.

Today, however, “if you have to borrow to buy the good, you’d expect higher rates to weigh” on spending, said Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics.

The post Home-Goods Retailers Jolted by Slowdown in Housing Market appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Buyer’s Bonanza: The 10 Very Best Cities in America for Home Shoppers Right Now

Where Market Shifts Make Buying Better

Getty Images

The housing market’s quick shift into a cooldown has many watching carefully to figure out what’s next. Will the latest uptick in mortgage interest rates bring home prices down? Will sellers be more open to negotiating? Will more homes finally go up for sale?

Trying to gain an advantage in 2022’s real estate market is a bit like trying to game the New York Stock Exchange: full of contradictory signals, dead ends, and lots and lots of guesswork. Home shoppers looking for the right location at the right price can feel overwhelmed trying to piece together which indicator can help guide them in the right direction. Price reductions? Increases in new listings? The time homes spend on the market? Each metric tells only part of the story.

But that’s what we’re for! The ambitious data team at Realtor.com® decided to put together a 2022 housing “theory of everything”—combining several of the most important indicators and metrics into a definitive single list of the best cities in America for homebuyers right now.

To come up with a “buyer’s bonanza” ranking, we analyzed housing data from the nation’s 250 largest cities. We looked at the price per square foot compared with the local median income (to ensure residents can afford to become homeowners); how many days a home spends on the market (to assess how quickly homes are selling and whether sellers might be ready to negotiate); the percentage of sellers cutting prices; and the amount of homes for sale relative to the total number of households in the city. This last metric makes sure bigger cities with more homes for sale given their size don’t skew the rankings.

Finally, we limited our list to just one city per state to ensure geographic diversity.

It turns out shoppers in certain parts of the country don’t need to wait for the national market to sort itself out—new opportunities to buy the right home are opening up fast.

“For some of these markets, it’s a return to balance especially where you saw lots of dramatic demand increases during the past couple of years,” says George Ratiu, manager of economic research for Realtor.com.

The best cities for home buyers aren’t clustered in one part of the country, either. These buyer-friendly markets are spread out, from the sunny Southwest to the Upper Midwest and back to the beaches of Florida.

1. Midland, TX

A home for sale: 5608 Fenway Dr in Midland, TX

MLS

Median listing price: $343,730

Midland earned its name for being the middle point between Dallas and El Paso, TX, on a long stretch of railroad. In fact, it was just “Midway Station” before it was ever a city.

But Midland earned its spot atop our “buyer’s bonanza” list because of its low home prices, high relative wages, and an abundance of homes for sale.

While the market in Midland has slowed in recent months, like most places across the country, it’s still moving briskly, says local broker associate Brian Sales, with The Sales Team Realtors.

“We went from about 120 mph down to about 105 mph,” Sales says.

Sales says he can see why Midland made the list. The area is a mecca for the oil and gas industry, and that’s brought lots of high-paying jobs.

“Geologists, engineers, chemists,” Sales rattles off. “These are well-paid scientists and experts.”

While the median household income in Midland is 45% above the national average at around $94,000, the price of real estate is about 25% below the national average, at around $164 per square foot. That already puts buyers in the area in a more comfortable position.

With homes no longer selling almost immediately, Sales says buyers have time to weigh their options.

“There’s definitely more of an attitude for buyers, like, ‘Hey, we have some time, we can think about it, we can absorb what we’re seeing, we can pray over it,’” he says. “Whereas a year ago, if you took the time to say a prayer over it, you might just lose it.”

2. Cedar Rapids, IA

A home for sale: 7608 Thorndale Dr in Cedar Rapids, IA

MLS

Median listing price: $232,450

Cedar Rapids straddles the Cedar River about two hours east of the state’s second-largest city, Des Moines. It’s known for its strong manufacturing and food-processing industries, especially corn.

It ranked so highly on this list because home prices are low while local incomes are relatively high. At just $133 per square foot, median home prices are 40% below the national average. Meanwhile, incomes are about 8% above the national average.

Buyers in the city can still find a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house with a new wooden deck for under $100,000. Those with larger budgets looking for more space can nab this three-bedroom, 2.5-bath house with a deck, patio, and finished basement for $245,000.

3. Detroit, MI

A home for sale: 2059 Taylor St in Detroit, MI

MLS

Median listing price: $79,700

The Motor City, once an automotive powerhouse, has struggled over the past few decades as plants have closed and workforces have dwindled. As more people left the city, there weren’t enough new ones moving in to keep the housing market strong. That’s resulted in Detroit having some of the most affordable real estate in the country.

Right now, the median price per square foot in Detroit is $72—that’s just one-third the national average. And, like the other top contenders on this list, the city has a median income at around the national average, giving Motown buyers lots of affordable options.

The current inventory in Detroit is higher than it’s been for most of the past five years, except for a few months in late 2019. This provides buyers with plenty of choices—and they don’t have to rush to make a decision.

Another standout factor in Detroit is the median length of time listings have been on the market: a little under two months.

Buyers who don’t mind putting in some elbow grease can find a three-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow with a garage for just $69,000. Those who prefer a move-in ready residence can check out this newly renovated, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, brick house for $149,000.

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Watch: America’s Hottest ZIP Codes for Real Estate in 2022

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4. Lawrenceville, GA

A home for sale: 369 Hillridge Dr in Lawrenceville, GA

MLS

Median listing price: $402,000

Lawrenceville is a relatively small town (population of 31,000) about 30 minutes northeast of Atlanta. The artsy suburb is known for its parks, the Aurora Theatre—which hosts hundreds of performances a year—as well as the School of the Arts at Central Gwinnet High School, which offers a conservatory and fellows program.

It made our list thanks to its relatively high local wages and relatively low home prices per square feet. However, what really stands out about Lawrenceville is the share of listings that have had their price reduced—a steep 42%—along with the bounce back in inventory. The number of homes for sale is back up to nearly normal levels for the area, after dipping in 2021 to less than a quarter of what’s available now.

Buyers can snag a 3,000-square-foot, brick fixer-upper for $350,000. Or they can opt for this three-bedroom, two-bathroom Cape Cod with a patio for $300,000.

5. Jacksonville, FL

A home for sale: 10207 Tulsa Ct in Jacksonville, FL

MLS

Median listing price: $341,000

Florida has many banner cities, but Jacksonville is the most populous—and the largest geographically. The city, at the eastern tip of the state, became especially hot during the COVID-19 pandemic as out-of-state buyers looking to soak up some sunshine descended, buying up local properties.

The area’s close proximity to the coast (the city sits on the St. John River where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean) and moderate climate made it an ideal location for those looking to escape the busy metropolitan hustle and take advantage of the new work-from-home lifestyle.

Jacksonville’s inventory still hasn’t reached a pre-pandemic normal, but it’s gotten close.

Prices in Jacksonville have been coming down since June, but are still well above anything before the pandemic began.

Buyers can find a cute, three-bedroom, one-bathroom house with a front porch for $225,575. They can also splurge on a renovated, 3,000-square-foot brick ranch with a lanai and pool in the backyard for $675,000.

6. Boise, ID

A home for sale: 9662 W Arnold Rd in Boise, ID

MLS

Median listing price: $564,945

Boise, like Jacksonville, was a popular destination for buyers during the pandemic. Its below-average prices and abundant active and outdoor lifestyle put it at the top of the list for shoppers who wanted someplace that has year-round quality of life, at a low cost. It was especially appealing to Californians seeking a more affordable lifestyle.

The influx of new residents led prices to soar—and builders to go on a local construction spree. The latter has helped to boost inventory at a time when there are fewer buyers in the market. The result is that more than half of all current listings have had their price reduced—more than any other city on this list.

“The combination of some inventory growth and some price reductions has caused buyers to pull back,” says Andrea Pettitt, a real estate agent at The Boise Group at Silvercreek Realty.

It’s worked out well for at least one of Pettitt’s clients, who she says is emblematic of buyers right now.

“The seller listed it in May of this year at $699,000. My client just closed on it for $524,000,” Pettitt says of a 20-something engineer who didn’t think he could buy recently. “And this is after he was trying to buy a year ago and was making offers at $590,000 that were getting beat by $25,000 or $30,000.”

Patience appeared to have paid off. Pettitt’s client waited and was able to get a home in his price range—and he was able to pick from several on the market, instead of competing against other buyers.

Ratiu cautions that, while the market has taken a turn toward buyers, things could be getting even better for buyers in the coming months.

“A relative bargain in Boise might need an asterisk. There may be more room in those markets to have prices come down a bit,” he says.

7. Reno, NV

A home for sale: 1080 Del Webb Pkwy W in Reno, NV

MLS

Median listing price: $621,995

Reno, sitting just on the east side of the California-Nevada border and less than an hour from the beautiful Lake Tahoe and all the boating, hiking, and skiing the area offers, was another pandemic hot spot.

In the past few months, though, Reno has had a lot of new homes come on the market and lots of price reductions.

Its appeal to pandemic-era buyers may have reached its end, putting it closer to where it was in 2018 and 2019.

“Reno saw a lot of inflow during the pandemic,” Ratiu says, “especially [San Francisco] Bay Area buyers dealing with social distancing requirements, and who were interested in the great outdoors and an almost vacation-like lifestyle.”

This two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in a community with a pool is on the market for $245,000. Those looking for a single-family home can score this four-bedroom, three-bathroom house for $549,000.

8. Baton Rouge, LA

A home for sale: 8904 Kingcrest Pkwy in Baton Rouge, LA

MLS

Median listing price: $335,000

Baton Rouge, an inland city about an hour and 15 minutes northwest of New Orleans, is home to Louisiana State University and is known for its Cajun and Creole culture and views of the Mississippi River.

Louisiana’s state capital is also a place where buyers can still find bargains. The city still has prices 25% below the national average, with incomes just below the national average.

Recently, it’s seen more inventory and price reductions for nearly 1 in every 3 homes currently listed.

A classic three-bedroom, two-bathroom, midcentury home, sitting on several acres of land with a barn/workshop, can still be snagged for $450,000 in this Southern city.

9. Myrtle Beach, SC

A home for sale: 616 Bathurst Dr in Myrtle Beach, SC

MLS

Median listing price: $339,950

This longtime tourist destination and retiree favorite became even more popular during the pandemic as remote workers rushed to buy up homes near the beach. The coastal city, which Realtor.com recently named one of America’s most affordable beach towns, has golf courses, a boardwalk, an amusement park, and plenty of other activities.

However, it’s not just baby boomers buying up homes in Myrtle Beach, says Ratiu.

“We’ve also seen younger buyers, millennials who now have kids, and they’re looking for family-friendly places to settle,” he says.

The expansion of Myrtle Beach’s port in recent years has opened the area up for new business, Ratiu adds, which has led to an overall economic boom there.

“Myrtle Beach has a strong economy that’s quite diversified,” Ratiu says. “It’s strong for transit, trucking, ports, logistics.”

The beachside community offers buyers an abundance of single-family homes over 2,000 square feet that are walking distance to the Atlantic Ocean, for under $500,000. For example, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom house is on the market for $390,000.

10. Scottsdale, AZ

A home for sale: 5720 E Marilyn Rd in Scottsdale, AZ 85254

MLS

Median listing price: $934,500

Scottsdale, one of the state’s most popular golf and resort destinations also favored by retirees, made the list after the market largely returned to what local experts describe as “normal.”

“Buyers are definitely in a better position than six months ago,” says Tiffany Carlson-Richison, an associate broker with Realty One Group in Scottsdale. “There’s more opportunities, and it’s kind of the pick of the litter right now.”

Carlson-Richison says she was selling three houses per month just a few months ago, but now she’s back to around one per month.

Joseph Callaway, the owner of Callaway Realty in Scottsdale, says he prefers the market as it is now: “It’s more balanced.”

The early part of 2022 was like a fast run-up, he says, with prices up $80 per square foot in just a few months. But things have slowed down, and that’s good for buyers. Scottsdale’s prices have dropped 7% since the high in April, but inventory is still not back up to pre-pandemic levels.

“If you want to buy,” Callaway says, “you can look around. You can negotiate.”

The post Buyer’s Bonanza: The 10 Very Best Cities in America for Home Shoppers Right Now appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

An Affordable Midcentury Modern Gem in Kansas Is the Week’s Most Popular Home

Most Popular Homes

MLS via Realtor.com / Realtor.com

A magnificent example of midcentury modern architecture in Salina, KS, is this week’s most popular listing on Realtor.com®. Priced at $132 per square foot, it’s amazingly affordable.

Custom-built in 1958, the home has had only one owner. From the sunken living room with walls of windows to the curved kitchen with blue countertops, the home has been immaculately maintained over the years.

In addition to this original beauty in the Sunflower State, you also clicked on a custom contemporary in Rhode Island, a 40-acre property complete with a racetrack in Oklahoma, and a landmark “castle” in Pennsylvania.

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

10. 1406 W Crestwood Dr, Memphis, TN

Price: $599,900
Why it’s here: 
This stylish midcentury modern home has garnered as much attention for its interior as it has for its exterior.

Built in 1961, the alluring five-bedroom home has been updated by award-winning local architect Rick Gardner. From the clean lines, earthy hues, and stone walls, to the numerous decks, patios, and walls of windows, it’s easy to see why this one caught your eye.

The Zen landscaping, in-ground pool, and private half-acre lot are bonuses. After less than two weeks on the market, this appealing abode has already found a buyer.

Memphis, TN

Realtor.com

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9. 67 Serpentine Rd, Warren, RI

Price: $649,900
Why it’s here: 
This spacious three-bedroom features a lower-level bar for entertaining as well as an enormous detached garage with loft space.

Built in 2001, the custom contemporary offers 3,266 square feet of living space. The home boasts an impressive three-season family room with a wood ceiling, mahogany flooring, and sliders to both the back and side decks. The open floor plan features oversized windows to let in lots of natural light.

The serene 1.32-acre lot includes a cozy fire pit where you can warm up on chilly New England nights. The picturesque place is pending sale after six days on the market.

Warren, RI

Realtor.com

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8. 1130 Route 26, Colebrook, NH

Price: $349,000
Why it’s here: 
This bargain farmhouse with five bedrooms comes with 22 acres of pastoral privacy.

Built in 1920, the charming, 2,274-square-foot home was recently updated. It now offers a modern kitchen with butcher block countertops and recessed lighting. The first-floor primary suite features a new bathroom. There’s a detached garage with a wood stove and a two-stall horse barn.

There’s also a new pellet furnace and a hybrid water heater, ideal for keeping energy costs down.

Colebrook, NH

Realtor.com

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7. 153 Fry Rd, Fleetwood, PA

Price: $225,000
Why it’s here: 
Offered at an affordable price, this historic stone and wood farmhouse is looking for a buyer to complete the remodeling work in progress.

The five-bedroom home was built in 1841 and features original details such as exposed beams, stone walls, and fireplaces. The home sits on nearly 3 acres, which include a detached garage and two barns.

Fleetwood, PA

Realtor.com

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6. 38706 County Rd 1570, Coalgate, OK

Price: $1,600,000
Why it’s here: 
Calling all speed demons! Now is your chance to live directly on the Midwest Drift Racing Complex.

A three-bedroom home with a sunroom sits on this massive 40-acre lot that also features a popular racetrack. The property comes with a tire shop with two tire machines, shaded pavilions, a pecan orchard, and a stocked pond.

There are no zoning or noise ordinances, which presents the possibility of expanding the offerings or building a drag strip.

Coalgate, OK

Realtor.com

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5. 1282 Steubenville Pike, Burgettstown, PA

Price: $749,900
Why it’s here: 
You can be the king or queen of this home locally known as “The Castle.” It sits on 4.38 acres and comes with an indoor pool, sauna, and tennis court.

The six-bedroom home from 1954 offers touches of midcentury style with its stone walls and brightly colored carpets throughout the 5,262 square feet of space.

You can take in tristate views of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia from the all-season room’s glass walls.

Burgettstown, PA

Realtor.com

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4. 124 S Elizabeth St, Marine City, MI

Price: $215,000
Why it’s here: 
This turn-of-the-century Victorian is affordably priced and features many original details.

A couple of weeks ago, we featured a similar Victorian in Marine City among the weekly most popular listings. This week’s focus is on a single-family residence that boasts five bedrooms, ornate wainscoting, beautiful moldings, pocket doors, lots of built-ins, and a grand staircase.

The kitchen was recently updated with maple cabinets and radiant floor heating. A roof on the detached garage needs to be repaired or replaced. Despite the work needed, this beauty already looks to have found a buyer.

Marine City, MI

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3. 2182 Sr # 30A, Port Saint Joe, FL

Price: $215,000
Why it’s here:
Behold this fixer-upper in Florida. While it’s a big project, the upside could be quite rewarding. With a transformation, this five- bedroom, four-bath, two-story home has oodles to offer.

Consider its lush landscaping, water views, and potential for an in-law unit. Some work has been done on the 2,646-square-foot home, but “every room needs attention,” the listing notes.

Port Saint Joe, FL

Realtor.com

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2. 189 Old Flat Forjd Ln, Brooklet, GA

Price: $399,900
Why it’s here: 
Location, location, location!  This cozy three-bedroom home sits on a 2.3-acre parcel along the Ogeechee River and offers an incredible outdoor living space.

Recent improvements include a modernized kitchen, tile flooring throughout, and shiplap walls.

The outdoor living space was designed for entertaining and comes fully equipped with a kitchen and dining area, wood-burning fireplace, and built-in grill. There’s also a pole barn with three bays and an easement to a private boat landing.

Brooklet, GA

Realtor.com

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1. 4189 N Crystal Springs Rd, Salina, KS

Price: $325,000
Why it’s here: 
From the outside, this house may resemble a school, but it’s a marvelous midcentury modern beauty on the inside.

Custom-built in 1958, this two-bedroom home has had just one owner, who was the architect. The 2,466-square-foot home sits on a 2-acre parcel and features “slate floors, expansive windows, a round kitchen, fireplace, and bathroom, sunken areas, and a rooftop studio,” according to the listing.

The home’s custom furniture and furnishings by Eames, Herman Miller, and Knoll are also available for purchase. That offer may have clinched the deal, as the home is now pending sale.

Sallina, KS

Realtor.com

The post An Affordable Midcentury Modern Gem in Kansas Is the Week’s Most Popular Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.