Exclusive: HGTV Star of ‘Renovation Impossible’ Reveals How To Get Out of a Renovation Rut

Have a house project you’ve been putting off forever because of limited funds or conflicting opinions on design? The new HGTV show “Renovation Impossible” might be all the motivation you need to actually get going.

Host Russell Holmes is a general contractor who also plays the part of “construction counselor” to Dallas-area homeowners who just can’t decide on which direction to take, or who have unrealistic budgets. Using both compromise and creativity, Holmes helps get stalled renovations rolling and finally finished.

Curious to learn how to get out of a renovation rut, we asked this pro about coming up with a realistic plan, getting more bang for your buck, and predicting home trends.

HGTV's "Renovation Impossible" helps homeowners with stalled construction projects.
Russell Holmes consults with his clients on “Renovation Impossible.”


What’s the most common reason for a renovation stall?

People think the problem is the supply chain and the design, and more often than not, it’s actually themselves. Fear of “my wife’s not going to like it, my husband’s not going to like it, it’s going to be too much money, it’s going to take too long, it’s going to be too disruptive.” So I think fear would probably be the most common reason.

How can homeowners overcome those fears?

When it comes to a construction project, it is probably one of the most devastating to a relationship because you’re causing an upheaval in your home. You need to go into it with a common goal. Know that you’re going into a big, disruptive project. Understand that you’re going to have to be at your best when your significant other is at their worst and vice versa. Know that this isn’t just a weekend DIY; this is going to be a major undertaking. The team attitude is huge.

HGTV's "Renovation Impossible" helps homeowners with stalled construction projects.
Holmes draws up plans on “Renvovation Impossible.”


Construction delays are to be expected. What’s the best way to mitigate them?

It all comes down to planning. You may not know exactly what you want, but there [are] certain things every project is going to need. You’re going to need some drywall, you’re going to need studs, you’re going to need electrical wire, and you’re going to need stuff for plumbing. If you can get yourself ahead of the game and have all the basics there, that’s going to save you time in the long run.

The other thing is people need to be flexible with the supply chains being what they are. You may not get Option A, so you need to have an Option B and C and know that you’re OK with them, because if you want to say, “A is all I’m holding to,” you’re going to end up paying for that in the long run, not necessarily with just the cost of that item but shutting the job down to wait for it. When you have guys standing around, you might as well just keep throwing your money out the window.

How should homeowners approach doing a renovation in stages if budget is holding them back from doing everything at once?

If you’re going to do it in stages, don’t do something that’s going to cause you to have to take two steps backward. Do it so that Step A is going to lead to Step B, is going to lead to Step C, so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time. That’s one of the pitfalls that a lot of homeowners fall into, and it causes them to get frustrated and then the project gets stalled and they say, “you know what, it wasn’t worth it.” Lay those stages out. Have a really good plan so that [you’re] always moving forward.

What areas of the home are the most strategic to spend on?

Obviously, invest where the greatest return is: kitchens, bathrooms, expanding floor plans. But all those also come with their own issues: Your taxes are going to go up based on more bathrooms or usable space, so consult a tax consultant to see how it is going to be affecting your project long term. There is [also] something to be said for just doing your entranceway or your mudroom or an outside space that you’re not really utilizing because value doesn’t just come in dollars and cents. It comes with enjoyment. If you can enjoy an area by doing that, that’s worth all the money in the world.

HGTV's "Renovation Impossible" helps homeowners with stalled construction projects.
Holmes at work on “Renovation Impossible”


Which upcycling techniques can help finances go further?

You’ve got to be creative. My first delves into repurposing was my sister had an old TV stand. It was nice, but a side was coming off. I was redoing my bathroom, so I pulled that top off, got a top that had a chip on it from a big-box store, laid that on top of it, [and] that was now my bathroom vanity! See something that you love, and find another purpose for it. Also, the online classifieds go a real long way when it comes to saving money because I may have gotten rid of something that you really love, so try to get that, give it new life.

Demo is a great way [to stretch your budget]. Don’t be afraid to pull things down to see what’s behind it, because you never know what you’re going to find. It could be an amazing brick wall behind some old drywall or paneling. Pulling up carpet is a great savings if you’re willing to do it yourself. Underneath you may find that diamond in the rough with a hardwood floor.

Is it important to design according to a home’s time period and existing space?

There’s a couple of factors I take into account when I’m dealing with clients who may or may not want to keep with the time period of the house: Is it an investment? Are they going to be there a couple of years and then they’re going to sell it? Resale value is super important.

I don’t want to see somebody take a house that’s a Tudor-style house or a center-hall Colonial and then they go modernize it inside. It just doesn’t match; it’s like Jekyll and Hyde.

More importantly than designing to the space is what’s your intention with this home. Is this going to be your family’s and your next generation’s home? Because then we want to build it to the family. But if this is something that is a step toward your next home, we’re going to take into account what the market trends are going to be and what’s going to help you with your resale value so you can get into the next home that you really want.

The popularity of open floor plans is being challenged by the need for segregated at-home workspaces. What’s your prediction for this trend?

You can have a hybrid of both. Instead of making a complete open floor plan, maybe open up a wall, but throw in some sliding French doors so you can close off the space when needed.

The other thing is, I see a lot of people embracing a space that’s unused—and that’s their garage. It’s housing your car, but could it serve a better purpose? Could you make it a pseudo office? Could you make it a playroom? Being able to make your house more of a transformer and fit multiple needs is really where the trend is going.

General contractor Russell Holmes drawing plans for a renovation.
Holmes after the completion of a job well done.


What motivational words can you offer someone who’s been stalling on their own ‘impossible’ renovation?

Tomorrow, you’re going to get in and you’re going to start your project. Make sure you know, one, what area you’re going to work on. Two, do both of you or the whole family agree on what you want to have accomplished? Get those big items, then you can work on the little details: the colors, the finishes.

Brace yourself, because it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride! This isn’t going to go easy and smooth no matter how great the contractor. There’s always issues. As you start to pull things away, don’t be afraid if you see water damage. It’s OK—you’re catching these things in time to be able to fix them so they don’t become a bigger problem. Go out there, do it, don’t be afraid, take it on, and know in the end you can sit back and go, “Yeah, I did that.”

“Renovation Impossible” premieres on Thursday.

The post Exclusive: HGTV Star of ‘Renovation Impossible’ Reveals How To Get Out of a Renovation Rut appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

With Honors! We’ve Ranked America’s 10 Most Affordable College Towns for Homebuyers in 2022

With Honors! We've Ranked America's 10 Most Affordable College Towns for Homebuyers in 2022

Getty Images / exploremenomonie.com / Realtor.com

Is it the quirky bookstores, or the quirky coffee shops? Maybe it’s the bars, the wide grassy commons dotted with ancient trees, or the overabundance of lectures, concerts, and football games that make college towns so irresistible for folks of all ages.

For me, it was the music, the snowboarding, and the Aspen-like hills and mountains around Northern Arizona University that hooked me early in Flagstaff, AZ. College towns are just comfortable—simultaneously casual and engaging. No matter your age, a youthful spirit saturates the place.

And there’s something else: In an era of real estate volatility, buying a home in a university town is looking more and more like a genius-level investment. After all, the customer base runs the gamut from well-heeled students or recent grads looking to stay put, to young families or seniors looking for a vibrant, culture-rich place for their forever home. There will always be strong, steady demand for homes in college towns from both young and old buyers as well as rental opportunities for those interested in becoming landlords.

Now, with classes starting up again, college towns—and their real estate—have shifted back into focus. However, in the face of sky-high home prices, finding an affordable college town to settle into isn’t quite so easy anymore. That’s why Realtor.com®’s data team scoured home listings from all over the country to find the college towns where buyers can still find reasonably priced homes for sale. They do indeed exist—especially in smaller towns in the Midwest and South where real estate overall is typically less expensive. They may just lack the big name recognition of much larger, more expensive college towns (sorry, Boston!).

To come up with our list, we identified cities where students accounted for 25% or more of the overall population. Each of these cities had between 15,000 and 200,000 residents. Then we sifted through Realtor.com® listing data in August to find the most affordable college towns. We limited our list to the single-most affordable city per state to achieve geographic diversity, and cities with at least 20 active listings to ensure enough data to determine median listing price.

All but one city has a population between between 15,000 and 30,000—a small town by any measure. And none of the median home prices come near the current national median of $435,000 in August, according to Realtor.com data.

So where can scholarly buyers go to find a a good deal on a home? Here’s the top 10.

1. Macomb, IL

A home for sale on 1429 Riverview Dr, Macomb, IL 61455

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $59,950
Largest university: Western Illinois University

2. Hays, KS

A home for sale on 105 W 33rd St, Hays, KS 67601

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $167,500
Largest university: Fort Hays State University

3. Troy, AL

A home for sale on 409 Country Club Rd, Troy, AL 36079

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $199,000
Largest university: Troy University


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


4. Winona, MN

A home pending sale on 423 E 4th St, Winona, MN 55987

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $219,250
Largest university: Winona State University

5. Hammond, LA

A home for sale on 44082 Arbordale Dr, Hammond, LA 70403

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $237,613
Largest university: Southeastern Louisiana University

6. Warrensburg, MO

A home for sale on 242 SE 141st Rd, Warrensburg, MO 64093

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $249,500
Largest university: University of Central Missouri

7. Huntsville, TX

A home for sale on 1600 Wimbledon Dr, Huntsville, TX 77340

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $237,613
Largest university: Sam Houston State University

8. Radford, VA

A home pending sale on 8340 Sawgrass Way, Radford, VA 24141

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $284,500
Largest university: Radford University

9. Menomonie, WI

A home for sale on N5204 558th St, Menomonie, WI 54751

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $296,450
Largest university: University of Wisconsin – Stout

10. Clemson, SC

A home for sale on 603 Queens Ct, Clemson, SC 29631

MLS via Realtor.com

Median home price: $299,990
Largest university: Clemson University

The top 10 most affordable college towns for homebuyers in 2022


An abundance of affordable homes in smaller college towns throughout America’s heartland

Some of the most affordable college towns—Macomb, IL (No. 1), Hays, KS (No. 2), and Warrensburg, MO (No, 6—are located in smaller communities throughout the nation’s heartland. Each of these cities only has between 15,000 and 21,000 residents—about a third of whom are college students.

Macomb, IL—tucked into the western edge of Illinois, close to where the corners of Iowa and Missouri meet—had the lowest median list price of just $59,950, based on August listing data from Realtor.com. The city is home to Western Illinois University, which boasts that it freezes tuition, fees, and room for students who remain enrolled for four consecutive years.

Local real estate broker Nick Curtis, of Re/MAX Unified Brokers, credits growing up in Macomb with preparing him for college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (about two-and-a-half hours east). Most of his clients now are Western Illinois University staff and faculty who hail from across the globe.

“You have people from all over and from all different backgrounds,” he says.

For older adults moving to the area, he finds many are “lifelong learners” who value living so close to the university and are participating in campus activities. There’s even a local group of residents, Curtis says, who help new students move in, carrying boxes and furniture to their new dorm rooms.

“You get to go back and remember what it was like to be doing the same thing 25 years earlier,” he says.

Low prices in the heartland are a big draw for homebuyers in these university towns. Median prices in Hays, KS, where Fort Hays University is located, and Warrensburg, MO, home to the University of Central Missouri, are very reasonable at $167,500 and just under $250,000 respectively.

Buyers in Hays can score three-bedroom ranches for under $150,000, while those shopping in Warrensburg can score a four-bedroom house with vaulted ceilings, a jetted tub, and an oversized deck for about $250,000.

The upper Midwest boasts plenty of deals

Those looking for affordable college towns may want to search near Minneapolis. Winona, MN (No. 4), is less than two-and-a-half hours southeast of the larger city, while Menomonie, WI (No. 9), is just over an hour east of Minneapolis.

In Winona, a town of about 26,000 on the Mississippi River, you’ll find Winona State University.

Realtor David Taylor, of Edina Realty in Winona, works with a number of buyers who went to the school there and returned for good. Winona has a quirky downtown, he says, with nice coffee shops and restaurants.

“Everything is local,” he says. “We’ve got some cool local breweries, and then you’ve got Main Street, which is kind of the center of it all.”

Plus, it’s got all kinds of outdoor lifestyle attractions.

“You’ve got hiking, biking, kayaking, all kinds of outdoor stuff on the Mississippi River and the lakes and our bluffs,” he says. “It’s a gorgeous town—so scenic.”

The median list price in the city was $219,250 in August, according to Realtor.com. Buyers can find fixer-uppers under $120,000 or splurge for a 3,500-square-foot house on five acres for $439,000.

Menomonie, home to the University of Wisconsin-Stout in the Red Cedar Valley, is another attractive option for college town aficionados. There are plenty of restaurants, locally owned shops, cafes, and breweries, as well as the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, which hosts musical acts.

Menomonie’s median home list price was $296,450 in August, according to Realtor.com data. Buyers can find charming, two-bedroom, three-bathroom houses for about $235,000, or renovated ranches for about $240,000.

The college spirit lives strong in the Southeast

Buyers hoping to save a few bucks may want to head South to Troy, AL (No. 3); Hammond, LA (No. 5); Huntsville, TX (No. 7); and Clemson, SC (No. 10).

Troy is home to Troy University, which has come to be known as “Alabama’s International University” because of its academic fields with an international scope and its emphasis on attracting foreign students.

About an hour south of Montgomery, AL, Troy is small, and the university makes up a sizable portion of the population. The median listing price there now is just under $200,000. Buyers can find newly constructed homes in the mid-$300,000s or save some money on smaller homes that may need a little updating.

Southeastern Louisiana University is what puts Hammond on the list this year. The city is about an hour northwest of New Orleans, on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain. The town has several breweries, including the Gnarly Barley Brewery, a bookstore, and plenty of family-friendly activities, like the Safari Quest Family Fun Center and the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center.

Like many of the cities on the list, Hammond is fairly small, at around 20,000 total residents. However, students have easy access to nearby New Orleans. Hammond’s current median listing price is $238,000.

Huntsville, TX, is the largest of all the cities on this year’s affordable college towns list, with a population of about 46,000. The home to Sam Houston University is only about an hour north from Houston. That makes it just close enough for students to get into the big city for a night out. However, the community still has a more rural feel, says Bill Tutor, a real estate agent at Pinnacle Realty Advisors in Hunstville.

“The rodeo team at the university is real big, and [the university] is just breaking ground on a new equestrian center and a new arena,” he says.

Tutor says he deals with a lot of parents who want to buy a place for their kids while they’re in college. The median listing price is about $272,000.

“A lot of times, they turn it into a true rental after that, and they keep it going that way,” he says.

The last college town on this year’s list, Clemson, SC, might be the most recognizable. The town is known for Clemson University and its three-time national champion Clemson Tigers Division I football team. Residents can’t miss the orange paw prints emblazoned on just about everything in the town.

“Football is huge in Clemson,” says local real estate agent Emily Slabaugh of Allen Tate Realtors. “Fans are die-hards. They bleed orange in their veins.”

Many of her clients are graduates, faculty and staff, as well as retirees whose children attended the school. The area is also popular as a vacation spot because of the nearby lakes.

However, Clemson is the most expensive town on the list with a median price tag of $300,000.

“Whether it’s recent graduates or 30 or 40 years down the road, they gravitate toward back to the area,” Slabaugh says. “Our Clemson market is beyond hot. If it’s priced right it will go in between 12 and 36 hours.”

Appalachia has a great college town, too

Those looking for a lively college town shouldn’t overlook Radford, VA (No. 8), on the list. The riverfront city, in the northwestern swath of the state not far from the West Virginia border, has plenty of restaurants, waterfront parks, and a burgeoning arts scene

Radford University, which started started as an all women’s college but now is also open to men, calls the city home.

Keith Gore, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Mountain Sky Properties in Radford, says there’s a strong college town feel to the area, especially because it’s only about 10 miles away from Virginia Tech.

“The whole area is a college scene,” he says.

However, Radford isn’t overwhelmingly busy. Radford University is at the center of the town, and its open commons space is where students can be found in the warmer part of the year. The university’s Donald N. Dedmon Center is a multipurpose arena that’s the center of campus sports and even concerts.

“It’s a smaller town, with a college campus feel,” he says.

Buyers can check out this updated, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom house with a screened-in porch for about $270,000. Those looking to rent out rooms to students for some extra cash may want to consider this five-bedroom, three-bathroom house for $259,900.

The post With Honors! We’ve Ranked America’s 10 Most Affordable College Towns for Homebuyers in 2022 appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Economists Have a Strange New Buzzword for the Housing Market That Will Shock Buyers and Sellers

housing market

Getty Images

The housing market has been called plenty of things this summer: red-hot, insane, brutal. But the latest word du jour to describe the state of real estate today is almost shocking in its tepidness: balanced.

This term cropped up most recently in an analysis by Realtor.com economist Jiayi Xu, who notes, “Our weekly data suggests that the U.S. housing market keeps progressing toward a more balanced market.”

Many economists of late have remarked on the market’s more even-keel turn.

“Selling prices will level out as the market cools but this cooling is just a return to the type of balanced market that has been absent the past couple of years.”
Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate

“What goes up, must eventually moderate… As some buyers pull back from the market due to affordability and supply constraints and as new construction adds more supply, house prices will moderate, resulting in a more balanced housing market.”
Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American

“The early 2022 enthusiasm that homeowners had toward selling is evaporating as the housing market rebalances.”
Danielle Hale, Realtor.com chief economist

But what does a balanced housing market actually look like—and mean—for buyers and sellers?

In a nutshell, “balance” means that the raging seller’s market that’s dominated since the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly shifting—not into full buyer’s market territory, but toward a middle ground that puts buyers and sellers on more even footing.

But there’s more to it than just that, and our weekly column “How’s the Housing Market This Week?” can help shed light on these nuances by delving into the latest real estate statistics for the week ending Aug. 20.

Here’s what balance looks like—in terms of home prices, number of new listings, and more—so both buyers and sellers can better navigate this new normal of real estate today.

housing market
Weekly housing market update.


Homes are lingering on the market longer

Over the past two years, the pace of real estate sales has sped up significantly. Nationally, homes are on the market a median 35 days before getting snapped up. But this rush is waning.

For the week ending Aug. 20, properties spent four extra days on the market compared with this time last year.

“For a fourth week in a row, homes are sitting on the market for a longer time than last year,” adds Xu. “As both buyers and sellers adjust to the rebalancing market, expectations shift, reducing the sense of urgency in the market and reinforcing the trend toward longer sale timelines.”

Home sellers are less eager to list

While today’s homebuyers are less gung-ho to sprint to the closing table, home sellers are also dragging their feet to the market. For the week ending Aug. 20, the number of new listings dropped by 12% from a year earlier.

“This week marks a seventh straight week of year-over-year declines in the number of new listings coming up for sale, and a second consecutive week with double-digit declines,” notes Xu.

This newfound reluctance to list not only means buyers have fewer fresh listings to peruse, but it could also throw the market’s rebalancing progress off-kilter.

“This pullback from sellers could slow the speed at which the housing market rebalances,” says Xu. “Buyers looking for more bargaining power may need patience.”


Watch: 10 U.S. Markets Where Home Sales Are Slowing


Home prices are still high

The deep irony in listing skittishness is this: Sellers still stand to make bank, since home prices continue to soar through the roof.

Currently, property asking prices clock in at a median of $449,000 nationwide. And for the week ending Aug. 20, home prices shot up by 14.4% over that same time period last year.

To give you a sense of how far this sum has come, prices have climbed by double-digit percentages for 36 weeks straight. As Xu points out, “Home equity remains at a record high.”

But the clock seems to be ticking, which means there’s some good news for buyers, too: Despite high home prices, Xu says, “more of the usual seasonal price slowdown is ahead.”

Mortgage rates are up

For the week ending Aug. 25, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage shot up to 5.55% from the previous week’s 5.13%, according to Freddie Mac.

This is grim news for buyers, since it means that financing a home today is much more expensive than it was a year earlier. As Xu puts it, “The costs of purchasing today’s typical home [is] up more than 50% compared to a year ago.”

And perhaps herein lies the reason behind sellers’ growing reluctance to list: If they have to buy a new home, it means they’ll have to lock in a new loan at today’s higher interest rates, which could quickly eat away at any windfall their home sale may bring. And so, as Xu points out, with “nearly three-quarters of today’s potential sellers also planning to buy another home, it seems that more homeowners are deciding to stay put.”

And maybe that’s not such a bad idea. Moving is not a process to be rushed, and a more deliberate, level-headed, and balanced housing market may do us all a world of good.

The post Economists Have a Strange New Buzzword for the Housing Market That Will Shock Buyers and Sellers appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Affordable Ohio Victorian With Ornate Details Is the Week’s Most Popular Home

Affordable Ohio Victorian with Ornate Details Is the Week's Most Popular Home

MLS via Realtor.com

Built in 1887, a remarkable Victorian in Cincinnati charmed folks from coast to coast this week. Your clicks made the house known as the Haus Von JF Moorbrink this week’s most popular listing on Realtor.com®.

There were plenty of reasons to check out this Ohio home—its fascinating facade, a glimpse at the opulence of the Gilded Age, and its affordable price tag, just to name a few. While the property in desperate need of some professional staging and lots of decluttering, it’s hard to resist the allure of an old-timey mansion priced at just $116 per square foot.

In addition to the renovation challenge in the Buckeye State, you also clicked on a barndominium in Alabama, a popular bed and breakfast in Michigan, and a resort-style 50,000-square-foot home in Santa Claus, IN.

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

10. 709 S 4th St, Ironton, OH

Price: $269,900
Why it’s here: 
Known as the Tower House, this historic Victorian is a local landmark thanks to its five-story spire. The tower is an ideal lookout spot to take in views of the Ironton-Russell Bridge that connects Ohio to Kentucky.

Beyond the distinctive facade, the five-bedroom home also offers 4,420 square feet of living space at an extremely affordable price. Built in 1855, it features an original three-story curved staircase, sky-high ceilings, and an updated kitchen.

Ironton, OH


9. 1110 Narrow Ln, Clanton, AL

Price: $695,000
Why it’s here:
We love to see a barndominium outside Texas state lines—and apparently you do, too. This modern barn sits on 20 acres right in the center of Alabama.

Built in 2018, the 4,631-square-foot structure features all sorts of contemporary amenities along with an open floor plan. The kitchen is highlighted by quartz countertops, custom cabinets, and a breakfast bar. You’ll also find concrete floors, barn wood doors, and a roll-up door that leads from the living room into the garage.

Clanton, AL


8. 313 Greenview Dr, Elyria, OH

Price: $124,900
Why it’s here: 
This cozy, three-bedroom cabin with a large garage is heated by a pellet stove, and the plywood walls indicate its use as a seasonal cabin. It sits on 2.56 acres overlooking Black River, making it a scenic spot. But be aware: the river often overflows during heavy rains.

The home is being sold as is. However, a bold buyer has stepped up, because a sale is already pending.

Elyria, OH



Watch: Bring the Midas Touch to This $7M Unfinished Idaho Castle

7. 236 Thistle St, Upton, ME

Price: $54,900
Why it’s here: 
This former factory-turned-residence is being offered at an unheard of price.

What was once the Spruce Gum Factory has been transformed to an antique shop on the first floor with a one-bedroom living space upstairs. Built in 1899, the building will need some TLC to restore its full beauty.

Upton, ME


6. 409 N Main St, Marine City, MI

Price: $749,900
Why it’s here: 
Currently operated as a popular bed and breakfast, this three-story Victorian could be transformed back into its original use as a single-family residence.

Built in 1885, the seven-bedroom Heather House features a commercial range and walk-in fridge, updated electrical, and an elevator. Each of the guest suites comes with a balcony or porch.

There’s also opportunity for expansion in the unfinished attic space on the third floor. Perhaps an enormous primary suite or even more space for traveling guests?

Marine City, MI


5. 5382 E SR 162, Santa Claus, IN

Price: $47,900,000
Why it’s here: 
The ginormous Big Tree Farm sits on a sprawling 550 acres and is the most expensive property in the Hoosier State.

This resort-like spread is close to Holiday World, where Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is celebrated all summer long. Included in the hefty price tag is a pool pavilion, a tennis court, garden amphitheater, shooting range, basketball court, horseshoe pits, eight different lakes, and a 1950s diner.

Santa Claus, IN


4. 5135 Ashworth Rd, West Des Moines, IA

Price: $3,250,000
Why it’s here: 
This midcentury modern stunner sold last summer for just $87 per square foot. If the seller gets anywhere near the current asking price of $564 per square foot, this residence would be one of the most successful flips we’ve ever seen.

Built in 1954 and recently transformed, the 5,758-square-foot property now offers three fireplaces, hickory hardwood floors, a gourmet kitchen, and a primary suite with roof deck. There’s also a two-bedroom guest house on the nearly four-acre property that features a pool, hot tub, and putting green.

West Des Moines, IA


3. 3117 E Locust St, Davenport, IA

Price: $550,000
Why it’s here:
Calling all football fans! Who wants to own a castle once lived in by former Iowa Hawkeyes offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde?

This custom-built house gives new meaning to royalty with regal flourishes throughout—including a tantalizing turret. Vandervelde called the castle home for five years before selling it in 2017.

Davenport, IA


2. 369 Kings Hwy, Salem, NJ

Price: $350,000
Why it’s here:
Featured on HGTV’s “Cheap Old Houses,” this six-bedroom fixer-upper received a serious boost on social media this week. Built in 1865, the residence needs a facelift to return it to its historic grandeur. The spacious 5.5-acre lot also features an original silo from when the property was operated as a dairy farm. It’s being sold as is, and there’s a cesspool on the property.

Salem, NJ


1. 1501 McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH

Price: $830,000
Why it’s here:
From stained glass and hand-painted ceilings to mosaic floors and collector’s items strewn throughout, there’s a lot packed into the 50 photos for this home’s listing. And it’s only $116 per square foot!

Built in 1877, the seven-bedroom Haus Von JF Moorbrink features a solarium, a tower room, and an abundance of brightly painted rooms. While the 7,171-square-foot home’s current use is as a single-family residence, the sheer size of the place might allow it to be operated as a B&B.

Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati, OH


The post Affordable Ohio Victorian With Ornate Details Is the Week’s Most Popular Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

No Down Payment Mortgages Are Back. Can They Close the Homeownership Gap?

No Down Payment Mortgages Are Back. Can They Close the Homeownership Gap?

Getty Images

One of the nation’s largest banks is seeking to help rectify decades of housing discrimination against communities of color.

Bank of America announced this week that it will be offering zero down payment mortgages for first-time homebuyers in historically Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in five U.S. cities. Borrowers would be able to qualify for these loans by showing on-time rent, utility, and other payments, and wouldn’t be on the hook for closing costs.

While many real estate experts lauded the bank’s Community Affordable Loan Solution program as a way to help more people of color become homeowners, the program is not without risks. If the economy and housing market slip into the downturn that many fear, home values could fall, leaving the recipients of these loans owing more than their homes are worth—which is what happened during the Great Recession.

“Homeownership strengthens our communities and can help individuals and families to build wealth over time,” AJ Barkley, head of neighborhood and community lending for Bank of America, said in a statement. “Our Community Affordable Loan Solution will help make the dream of sustained homeownership attainable for more Black and Hispanic families.”

After centuries of systemic racism in the U.S., the homeownership rates of people of color significantly lag white households. About three-quarters of white households are homeowners, at about 74.6% in the second quarter of this year, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report. However, the homeownership rate is just 45.3% for Black households, 48.3% for Hispanic households, and 61.1% for Asian households.

The loan would cover the down payments and closing costs for approved first-time buyers in Black and Hispanic communities in Charlotte, NC; Dallas; Detroit; Los Angeles; and Miami. It may eventually be rolled out to other cities. In addition, borrowers would not be charged costly private mortgage insurance (PMI) which penalizes those who don’t put down at least 20%.

Instead of looking at traditional credit scores, loan officers for the program will evaluate applicants based on their histories of paying rent, utility and phone bills, and car loans. The bank claims that applicants’ eligibility will be based on their incomes and the location of the home they hope to purchase.

Applicants must go through a Bank of America-approved homebuyer certification course before applying to the program.

“The racial and ethnic homeownership gap is as wide today as it was when discrimination was first made illegal,” says Janneke Ratcliffe, vice president of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute. Loans like this will help “more people have access to homeownership. We should see it make a difference.”

That’s critical, as homeownership is the primary way that millions of Americans gain a toehold into the middle-class and build wealth that is passed down to future generations. Many minorities were denied this opportunity due to deed restrictions and redlining, which prohibited them from buying and receiving mortgages for homes in white communities, as well as steering and other government-sanctioned, racist housing policies.

The bank is providing borrowers with grants between $10,000 and $15,000 so they have equity in their properties once they close, reported Bloomberg.

However, if the economy succumbs to a recession and the home values fall, homeowners who received one of these no-down-payment loans could suddenly find themselves underwater on their mortgages.

“If the program creates long-term, sustainable homeownership, then a temporary slump in home values should not be a major concern,” says Sarah Mancini, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

She’s not worried about this leading to another catastrophe, like what happened during the Great Recession, as many of these homeowners will simply stay put.

“Historically values should rise over time,” Mancini says.

Ratcliffe says these loans have been done safely before and aren’t as risky as the subprime loans that went bust in the mid-2000s, triggering the foreclosure crisis. Today’s lenders verify borrowers’ incomes and debt levels carefully and most of the predatory loans that balloon over time have been banished from the market.

“You shouldn’t confuse this type of lending that is well vetted and includes housing counseling and alternative ways of establishing peoples’ credit worthiness and ability to repay with the risky loans and careless underwriting of the loans that led to the foreclosure crisis,” says Ratcliffe.

The post No Down Payment Mortgages Are Back. Can They Close the Homeownership Gap? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Amid Good News, There’s a Crucial Housing Market Detail We’re All Overlooking

Today's Housing Market Has Just Uncovered Crucial—and Overlooked—Information Buyers and Sellers Need To Know This Fall

Getty Images

Recent real estate headlines are bursting with promising news for homebuyers, heralding a bright new housing market that’s more “balanced” and “buyer-friendly.”

But what this exuberant outlook seems to be missing is a bit more balance itself. Yes, homebuyers have it a little bit better, in some places. But for others, it’s still a war zone—or, at best, a mixed bag—according to the latest statistics highlighted in our weekly column “How’s the Housing Market This Week?

“Today’s home shoppers are contending with a more buyer-friendly market than last year’s by several measures. However, they also face significant hurdles,” notes Realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale in her analysis. “While there are more homes available for sale, and there may be more time to make an offer on one, the typical home has a higher price and will cost much more to finance than one year ago.”

Since the numbers never lie, here’s a reality check to help both homebuyers and sellers navigate the highly dynamic world of real estate today.

Weekly housing update
Weekly housing update.



Watch: As Summer Comes to an Unofficial Close, Where Does the Housing Market Stand?


Home prices are up and down, depending on how you look at it

The latest August data from Realtor.com places the median home price nationwide at $435,000. And, for the week ending Aug. 27, listing prices rose by 13.2% over that same week last year.

“The typical asking price was up from last year by double digits for a 37th week,” says Hale.

But here’s another way to look at: Although prices are up over last year, they’re down compared to last month. In fact, August’s $15,000 drop from July’s median home price of $440,000 is the steepest fall-off seen in the past six years.

“While a seasonal decline in prices is typical in our historical real estate data, this month’s dip is larger than usual from July to August,” says Hale. “Price momentum in the housing market has shifted.”

That bodes well for cash-strapped buyers as we enter the fall market, which is typically the best time to buy a home.

Fewer home sellers are listing—but they may be missing out

For the week ending Aug. 27, the number of new listings on the market dropped by 12% compared to that same week a year earlier. That’s the eighth straight week of declines, and the third consecutive week showing a double-digit drop.

Clearly, sellers are miffed they can no longer call all the shots with desperate buyers—although from a purely objective standpoint, they might be missing the big picture that they’ve still got it pretty good.

“Even though home prices are near record highs and home equity has soared, homeowners appear to be less eager to list homes for sale compared to last year,” says Hale. “Recent survey data shows that while home sellers are in a good position, typically getting their list price and still generally satisfied with the price and other aspects of their home sale, these markers have shifted over the last year. Among the most recent sellers, twice as many had to contend with a buyer request for repairs.”

Homebuyers have more time to make an offer

In August, listings lingered on the market 42 days before getting snapped up. And for the week ending Aug. 27, homes spent an extra five days on the market compared to last year.

In other words, buyers today have more breathing room to close the deal, but still less time than they had back before COVID came along and spurred the market into hyperdrive.

“Homes still spent 22 fewer days on the market compared to the typical August 2017-2019,” points out Hale. “Put simply, today’s shoppers still have weeks less than pre-pandemic shoppers had to consider whether the typical listing is a good fit. But they have a bit more time to make decisions compared to last year, and recent momentum is in their favor.”

Mortgage rates are up

According to Freddie Mac, for the week ending Sept. 1, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased to 5.66%, a steep hike from the previous week’s 5.55%.

In sum, homebuyers will pay dearly to finance a house today. And while many might be tempted to put their home search on hold until interest rates subside, some may be driven to forge ahead, since rents are up, too.

“With rents high and continuing to rise, some home shoppers will remain motivated to navigate the currently shifting housing market,” Hale concludes. “But others have paused their searches, creating some opportunities for those who are pressing on.”

The post Amid Good News, There’s a Crucial Housing Market Detail We’re All Overlooking appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Home Prices Just Took the Biggest Plunge in 6 Years: Is Now the Best Time To Buy?

Home Prices Just Took the Biggest Plunge in Six Years: Is Now the Best Time To Buy?

Getty Images

The turbulent story of America’s housing market has yielded yet another surprise twist. 

After steadily climbing to the record-shattering apex of $450,000 in June, home prices are at long last taking the plunge. From July to August, national prices dropped from $449,000 to $435,000, their most significant month-to-month plunge in data history dating back to 2016, according to a new report by Realtor.com®

Granted, home prices in August are still up annually by 14.2% from a year earlier. But weary homebuyers may see a further break in the clouds come fall, which is generally the best time to buy a home

“It’s the time of year when prices typically slow,” explains Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “We usually see a peak in median listing prices in June, and then prices come down as we move toward the end of the year.”

‘We’re seeing a shift in the balance’

For homebuyers, this news of plummeting prices will no doubt be a welcome reprieve from the steady dose of drama spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Home prices not only soared over the past two years, but properties were scarce, and buyers snapped up what was available at a record-setting pace.  

But in August, the national inventory of properties for sale jumped by 27%, with 166,000 more listings compared to last year. And the median amount of time a house spent on market increased for the first time since June 2020, lengthening by five days since last year to 42 days.

“This year, in addition to the usual seasonal cooling, we’re seeing a shift in the balance of supply and demand,” explains Hale. “After years of demand vastly outstripping supply—forcing buyers who wanted to find a home to bid up prices—supply has increased. And that means price growth has cooled.” 

And as days on market increased, this stagnation forced more sellers to slash their prices; the percentage of price reductions rose from 11% last August to 19.4% this year (which is close to 2019 levels).

This means home shoppers may gain the upper hand when it comes to negotiation and a final sales price. It may even drive down median list prices further in the coming months and extinguish the red-hot seller’s market once and for all.

“Sellers are starting to adjust their expectations of the market, down from the sky-high prices,” says Hale. 

‘Buyers can be more selective now’

Housing inventory has still not completely returned to pre-pandemic levels. August’s total number of active listings is still 7.7% below where they were in 2020.

Yet the good news is that the number of homes actively for sale in the 50 largest U.S. metros increased by 39.8% over last year. (Metros include the central city, surrounding suburbs, towns, and smaller urban areas.)

And some once-impenetrable markets are now seeing listings rise by shocking numbers. 

Take the pandemic boomtown of Raleigh, NC, a once-sizzling market at the height of the real estate craze. In August, Raleigh’s number of active listings shot up an astounding 176.6% compared with last year, making it the highest increase in the top 50 metros. 

“Buyers can be a little more selective now, and homes that are priced without factoring that in may indeed linger on the market and ultimately take a price reduction,” says Debbie Van Horn, founding real estate agent Compass in Raleigh, NC. “In the recent two years, homes were priced and readily sold, without considering upgrades, condition, floor plan utility—all the things that truly affect a home’s value. That will have to shift back to typical pricing strategies. Buyers ultimately set the price.”

Other former hotbeds that saw booming pandemic demand—including Phoenix and Austin, TX—also saw their inventory levels increase by more than 100% year over year.


Watch: How Much Do You Need To Save for a $500,000 Home?


Is a buyer’s market in the cards for fall? 

Even though buyers are finally catching a break in terms of home prices, they’re still facing high inflation and mortgage rates, which now average about 5.8% for a fixed-rate 30-year-mortgage. 

Increasing rates have caused the cost of a monthly loan on a typical home to soar by 53% compared to a year ago. (This assumes buyers put down 20% and doesn’t include property taxes, insurance, and homeowners association fees.)

And although America’s red-hot market has cooled somewhat, it’s by no means a buyer’s market. Rather, we may all face a more balanced housing market where buyers and sellers will continue to battle it out on more even footing. 

“Home prices are likely to remain high, which is a con for many,” says Hale. “But if you can find a home that meets your needs and fits your budget, you may be able to lock in a majority of your housing costs with a fixed-rate mortgage.”

The post Home Prices Just Took the Biggest Plunge in 6 Years: Is Now the Best Time To Buy? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.