Hoping To Supersize—or Downsize? These Cities Have the Largest and Smallest Homes for Sale

Cities With the Biggest and Smallest Homes

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The tiny-home craze, where folks embraced minimalism and downsized living, was gaining steam. Marie Kondo had snagged a Netflix show, tiny-home magazines and conventions were spreading like summertime kudzu, and HGTV had a lineup of shows aimed at the enthusiasts.

Then COVID-19 hit, and the pendulum swung—hard—in the other direction. Suddenly buyers everywhere were looking for more spacious homes where they could live, work, and learn, all under one roof. And they were willing to move far outside of the cities and inner suburbs to snag that extra square footage.

Now, as the pandemic is finally waning—and the real estate market runs the gamut of unprecedented stressors—it’s not clear yet where the pendulum will ultimately settle. But no matter how tight and unpredictable the market gets, first-time homebuyers and downsizing empty nesters will still be on the prowl for smaller places, and those trading up will be jonesing for bigger homes.

But where will they find them?

The Realtor.com® data team decided to examine where homebuyers have the best chance of snagging a giant house—and where they may be forced to Ikea-out their kitchens to maximize storage.

“The places that boast the country’s largest average homes tend to be clustered in higher-priced communities either near bigger economic centers or in outdoors destinations,” says George Ratiu, senior economist and manager of economic research for Realtor.com. “On the flip side of the coin, cities [with] average home sizes [that] skew toward the smaller end are located in geographically constrained locations, where natural boundaries meet high-density development.”

But that’s not all that goes into the equation. Many older communities, such as in the Northeast, that were developed for blue-collar workers tend to be filled with smaller homes. Meanwhile, newer developments geared toward white-collar commuters often offer abodes with more square footage and amenities like open kitchens, which were not popular in the 1950s. You’re more likely to find McMansions in these areas.

To figure it all out, the Realtor.com data whiz kids reviewed all of the active listings in our database in September to determine the cities with the highest median square footage and the lowest. The cities had to have at least 250 active home listings to make the cut. We included only one city per state to give the list some geographic diversity.

Ready? Let’s check out where you’ll have no trouble finding some great, big homes.

Where homebuyers can find the largest homes in America


1. Greenwich, CT

A 1930s 4,584-square-foot, six-bedroom English manor on the market in Greenwich, CT

MLS via Realtor.com

Median list price: $3.1 million
Median square footage: 4,857

It should come as no surprise that the famously tony town of Greenwich, a suburb just outside of New York City, would come near the top of the list of the places with the largest homes. Home to two of the nation’s wealthiest ZIP Codes, untold numbers of hedge fund managers and stock option–enriched corporate execs, and even a few celebrities, Greenwich has long been known for its sprawling properties.

In the 1920s, it was hailed as “the richest town per capita in the world,” according to Vanity Fair magazine. Naturally, those folks had to show off their riches with mansions.

“Historically, there’s always been large estates,” says national real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller, of Miller Samuel. “However, there’s been additional new construction in the past decade that tends to skew [even] larger than the norm.”

Those large homes had been hard to sell for the past several years, but during the pandemic, they were snapped up quickly like hard-to-find Purell as wealthy Manhattanites decamped to the greener grasses of the burbs. Giant homes, like this newer 3,767-square-foot, four-bedroom house asking for $3 million and this 1930s 4,584-square-foot, six-bedroom English manor on the market for $6.25 million, became all the rage again.

2. Cordova, TN

Median list price: $340,000
Median square footage: 3,888

Cordova offers something unique on this list: larger-than-average homes, for far lower-than-average prices. Though it earned the No. 2 spot for home size—way beyond the national median of 1,875 square feet—the list price per square foot ($118) is a little more than half the national numbers.

This family-friendly suburb about 30 minutes outside of Memphis developed quickly in the late 1990s and early aughts, a time when buyers were mostly interested in large homes on big lots. And that’s generally what you’ll find on the market today.

House hunters can spread out in expansive homes for a steal, including this four-bedroom brick Tudor on an 8,712-square-foot lot asking for $324,900. There’s also this 3,500-square-foot, four-bedroom brick house with a lovely backyard on the market for $399,800.

3. Castle Rock, CO

A 3,696-square-foot, three-bedroom ranch in the desirable Meadows

MLS via Realtor.com

Median list price: $709,975
Median square footage: 3,635

Located 30 minutes south of Denver, Castle Rock sits on the beautiful Rocky Mountain Front. It’s named after the tower-shaped rock formation near the center of town—and it has plenty of other beautiful natural sights in ready supply. The scenery, close proximity to larger cities (which allows residents to commute), and small-town ambiance have been drawing many newcomers to the area over the past decade, leading to a population that has doubled since 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Much of Castle Rock’s housing inventory is made up of recently built subdivisions. They’re aimed at buyers looking to get away from the city. With a price per square foot of about 40% less than Denver, Castle Rock simply offers proportionally more home for less money.

In Castle Rock, buyers have a choice of large, modern houses, including this 3,696-square-foot, three-bedroom ranch in the desirable Meadows for $600,000 or this 4,636-square-foot, five-bedroom house on a giant lot asking got $795,000.


Watch: The 10 Best—and Most Affordable—Places To Retire in America in 2022


4. Prosper, TX

Median list price: $812,000
Median square footage: 3,347

Like Castle Rock, Prosper is a fairly new suburb about a 40-minute drive from Dallas. The houses here are Texas large, and many are located in master-planned communities with serious amenities.

For example, this 3,108-square-foot, four-bedroom brick house in the Creeks of Legacy neighborhood has access to three pools, tennis and basketball courts, and a state-of-the-art fitness facility. The home, which was built in 2021, is priced at $650,000.

Because the area is still being developed, many buyers are choosing brand-new construction such as this 3,833-square-foot, Tudor-inspired, four-bedroom asking for $1.1 million in the luxe Peninsula at Windsong Ranch. The community has its own 5-acre crystal lagoon with white-sand beaches, stocked ponds, and a cafe.

5. Big Sky, MT

A brand-new, 3,344-square-foot, four-bedroom condo that features panoramic views.

MLS via Realtor.com

Median list price: $3.175 million<
Median square footage: 3,293

Big Sky has been known as a primo ski town since the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that it began to blow up. That’s when the private clubs began opening up, attracting a new wave of wealthy second-home shoppers looking for a remote getaway from city life. They sought out massive homes for hosting extended family and friends during the winter ski season and idyllic summer months.

Sure, Big is literally in the town’s name, so maybe it was destined to make this list. But even the condos are oversized here. Take this 2,503-square-foot, three-bedroom condo in a popular vacation rental community, with an asking price of $1,775,000, or this brand-new, 3,344-square-foot, four-bedroom condo that features panoramic views.

“That’s just sort of an ongoing trend in ski homes to have room for people to visit,” says Callie Pecunies, broker/agent with Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty. “We’re primarily a fly-in destination, so people come with groups of friends.”

Rounding out the list of the places with the largest homes are Southampton, NY (with a median square footage of 3,256); Herriman, UT (3,105); Windermere, FL (3,062); Carmel, IN (3,062); and Overland Park, KS (3,044).

Looking for something a bit more cozy? Ready to move to the smaller side of the housing market?

Where homebuyers can find the smallest homes in America


1. Long Island City, NY

This 713-square-foot, one-bedroom loft is on the market for $899,000.

MLS via Realtor.com

Median list price: $900,000
Median square footage: 762

For those without deep knowledge of the neighborhoods of the greater New York City area, we’re not talking about that Long Island. This is Long Island City, a dense, decidedly upscale Queens neighborhood situated right across the East River from midtown Manhattan.

LIC is where you’ll find the smallest median homes in the U.S., but these condos and co-ops are also the most expensive per square foot of any place on the list. The median price per square foot is $1,328 here—more than double that of nearby suburban Greenwich. Buyers are going to pay a fortune for what little space they get. Welcome to New York, friends!

Historically, the area was a somewhat grimy, industrial manufacturing district. But then developers began erecting high-rise condos and apartment buildings in the early 2000s geared toward white-collar workers seeking an easy commute to the office, with (initially) lower-than-Manhattan rents and home prices. The area has since taken off with high-end restaurants, boutiques, and glass towers along the water.

This 713-square-foot, one-bedroom loft is on the market for $899,000, and this older 754-square-foot, one-bedroom co-op with an asking price of $580,000 are examples of what home shoppers can expect to find here.

Unlike much of Queens and Brooklyn, which skewed toward wealthy residents or growing families, units in LIC were developed mostly for more transient residents and younger commuters who don’t require as much living space.

“Housing stock that has come onto market has been skewed to … mostly studios and one-bedrooms, which is causing the square footage to be smaller than other areas,” says appraiser Miller.

2. Honolulu, HI

Median list price: $705,000
Median square footage: 929

It’s no secret that Honolulu is one seriously expensive resort town. The median price per square foot for a home here is $724, which is higher than in the Hedge Fund Capital of the world (i.e., Greenwich). Its desirability and geographic limitations—it’s on an island, after all—are partly why it has so many smaller homes that cost more than in other places. Another contributing factor is that the city has a booming short-term and vacation rental industry with a lot of buildings that cater to these investors.

There are a ton of hotels and condos designed for second-home owners seeking to make some cash on their units. They include this 565-square-foot, one-bedroom condo in the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach Tower on the market for $700,000, and this $223,000 studio that’s basically a hotel room. The high number of small, rentable units, which are very desirable right now, is a big factor why the median square footage in The Big Pineapple is so much lower than in other U.S. cities.

“Here, land and real estate are forever limited and attract an endless number of buyers desiring a piece of paradise,” says George Krischke, the principal broker at Hawaii Living. “In the Waikiki resort district, one of Honolulu’s densest urban neighborhoods, is where most legal short-term rentals, aka ‘condotels,’ are located. And new legislation curbing illegal short-term rentals is boosting demand.”

3. Miami Beach, FL

A stylish, oceanfront one-bedroom in the W Hotel asking for $1.25 million

MLS via Realtor.com

Median list price: $654,944
Median square footage: 1,003

Like Honolulu, Miami Beach is a hot resort destination on an island with only so much room to develop.

The city has a fairly large number of condotels, too, such as this stylish, oceanfront one-bedroom in the W Hotel asking for $1.25 million. These kinds of units are popular among investors—and help to skew the homes toward the smaller side.

There’s another reason homes here are more compact than in other places. The resort town, which offers buyers fewer single-family homes, was mostly developed in the 1920s through the ’50s, when hotels and apartments were more petite than what many homebuyers expect today.

Locals who can’t afford the newer units in the pricey high-rises in the South of Fifth Street neighborhood are most likely going to find art deco–era condos like this cute 731-square-foot one-bedroom on the market for $300,000.

4. Ocean City, MD

Median list price: $475,000
Median square footage: 1,085

Before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was built in the 1950s and 1960s, Ocean City was mostly a quiet resort town and fishing village. Many of the older homes locals lived in then have been chopped up and converted into condos. They include this 383-square-foot one-bedroom right next to the boardwalk currently on the market for $239,900.

But with easier access to the town’s lovely beaches, tourism exploded in the ’60s and ’70s—and much of the town’s real estate has since been designed to accommodate second-home owners and visitors. (Ocean City’s full-time population is just 6,900, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.)

Because of that, units such as this 1,098-square-foot, two-bedroom condo on the bay available for $399,900 are minuscule compared with most of the primary, full-time residences.

5. Flint, MI

This three-bedroom home in Flint, MI is asking for $167,900.

MLS via Realtor.com

Median list price: $69,900
Median square footage: 1,092

Flint has been in the news a lot over the past several decades for numerous catastrophes like the recent water crisis that still hasn’t been completely remedied and automotive plant closures that decimated the town’s economy, as documented in filmmaker Michael Moore’s 1989 movie “Roger & Me.”

Given its economic woes, there hasn’t been much new home construction in the city since the golden age of the Detroit auto industry. The population has been steadily decreasing, according to U.S. Census Bureau stats. So, most of the homes on the market date to the midcentury when General Motors erected modest tract homes like this three-bedroom now offered for $54,900 and this other three-bedroom asking for $167,900.

“The company brought people in from other areas and put them in these tract homes,” says Douglas Ferrell, an agent with Realty Executives Main Street, who hails from a family of GM workers. “Probably 89% of all the homes were tract homes, and the people who moved out of tract homes moved into similar-sized homes.”

Rounding out the list of places with the smallest homes in the United States is Jersey City, NJ (with a median square footage of 1,094); Des Moines, IA (1,218); Boston (1,249); Long Beach, CA (1,256); and Washington, DC (1,267).

Want more? Here’s a searchable, sortable table you can use to look up median home listing sizes and pricing by city.

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Renters Are Fed Up With Rising Rents—Could Their Frustration Affect the Midterm Elections?

Apartment for rent sign

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Rents are rising—and renters are poised to take out their frustrations in the midterm elections.

More than half of renters registered to vote say that housing will be a key issue for them in the midterms next month, according to a recent Apartment List report. The rentals website recently surveyed more than 8,200 registered voters to come up with its findings.

Rents are up about 23.4% since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, according to the rentals website. And while annual price growth has been slowing down, it’s still more expensive to rent an apartment today. Just under half of renters say those rising housing costs have hurt their families in the past year.

“The renter voting bloc is a massive, under-represented, and under-mobilized group that, at this particular point in history, is facing huge economic challenges that have yet to be properly addressed by either political party,” says Rob Warnock, a senior research associate at Apartment List who co-wrote the report. “Housing affordability and rent inflation are the largest economic issues facing renters today.”

However, renters don’t tend to show up at the polls in the same numbers as homeowners, even though they represent more than a third of the population. About 61% of renters plan to vote in the elections next month—compared with about 80% of homeowners.

Renters don’t tend to vote as much as homeowners often because they’re not eligible to do so, according to the report. They’re more likely not to be U.S. citizens or not yet old enough to vote. They also don’t have as much incentive to cast their ballots, the report says. They’re not as invested as homeowners are in local politics (which can affect property values), and they might not be able to afford to take the time off work to go to a polling site. Plus, they tend to move around more, according to the survey.

Only about 40% of eligible renters voted in the midterm elections of 2018. Meanwhile, about 59% of homeowners cast their ballots in those elections.

In 2020, renters overwhelmingly voted for Democrats.

“Given their extreme skew toward Democrats, increased turnout among renters has the potential to significantly alter the outcomes of elections,” the report read. “If voter turnout among renters had matched that of homeowners in the 2016 elections, Hilary Clinton would have beat former President Trump handily, and Democrats would have likely won additional seats in both the House and Senate.”

Renters supported President Joe Biden as well as Democrats running for the House of Representatives. But that could change in this election as high rents, yo-yoing gas prices, and soaring inflation have eaten at way at the budgets of renters.

“Over the past two years—during which Democrats have controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress—housing affordability has been eroding at a historically fast pace,” the report continued. “This could create an opening for Republicans to speak to renters who may feel disenchanted by the idea that Democrats are serving their needs.”

The post Renters Are Fed Up With Rising Rents—Could Their Frustration Affect the Midterm Elections? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Place Your Bid: A Deluxe Megamansion Up for Auction in Wisconsin Is the Week’s Most Popular Home

Most Popular Homes

Realtor.com / MLS via Realtor.com

A megamansion up for auction in Mukwonago, WI, is this week’s most popular listing on Realtor.com®. It’s adorned with exquisite fountains, gardens, and statues.

From a 22-karat gold and crystal chandelier to the hand-painted mosaic ceiling, the property oozes over-the-top, ornate finishes. There are four towering levels, for a total of 9,265 square feet of living space.

Other digs that drew your clicks include the former home of MLB legend Vin Scully in California, a Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired midcentury modern in Pennsylvania, and a Wisconsin time capsule designed to resemble a ship.

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

10. 25090 Jim Bridger Rd, Hidden Hills, CA

Price: $15 million
Why it’s here: 
Aptly named “Home Plate,” this mansion was the home of sports broadcaster Vin Scully, who called games for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The legendary sportscaster, who spent 67 seasons with the Dodgers, died over the summer at the age of 94. He spent his final years in this seven-bedroom, French country-style mansion in a gated community popular with celebrities.

The 11,615-square-foot mansion on a 2-acre lot boasts a home theater, marble wet bar, wine cellar, and floor-to-ceiling, stone-cast fireplaces.

Hidden Hills, CA


9. 604 Stinson Lake Rd, Rumney, NH

Price: $239,900
Why it’s here: 
This affordable farmhouse comes with 10 acres, which include multiple barns.

The budget price reflects the condition of the three-bedroom home, which needs some TLC. There’s no central heating, and what heat there is is provided by a wood stove. The 2,228-square-foot home was built in 1820 and features period details, including the wide-plank flooring and exposed-beam ceiling.

Some of the barns will also need work.

Rumney, NH


8. 1713 Port Vue Ave, McKeesport, PA

Price: $179,900
Why it’s here: 
Fans of Frank Lloyd Wright will appreciate this budget-friendly, midcentury modern home with a sunken living room and a built-in fish tank.

Inspired by the legendary architect, the design of the four-bedroom home includes a raised dining room and a kitchen with restaurant-style booths.

There are three bedrooms on the main level. On the upper level is an in-law suite with a kitchen, bath, and private entrance.

McKeesport, PA


7. 69 Maple Hill Ln, Labadie, MO 

Price: $3 million
Why it’s here:
This picture-perfect home on 50 bucolic acres was redone down to the studs in 2019.

It was originally built in 1904, and some of its historic details remain. The 5,500-square-foot home has four bedrooms, double staircases, oversized windows, and a library with built-in bookcases.

The enormous property comes with a stocked lake with a floating dock, a three-story Amish barn with a home office, a woodworking shop, an eight-stall horse barn, fenced paddocks, and a fruit orchard.

Labadie, MO
Labadie, MO


6. 153 McMillen Rd, Home, PA

Price: $222,153
Why it’s here: 
There’s no place like home with this affordable abode that sits adjacent to acres of rolling farmland—you’ll get the vistas with none of the upkeep!

The cozy four-bedroom home has been fully renovated, with a custom kitchen and updated bathrooms. The bedrooms are upstairs. On the lower level, you’ll find an additional living room with a wood-burning fireplace and sliders that open to a patio overlooking the acre lot.

There’s also a covered deck out back to take in the beautiful views.

Home, PA


5. 3200 Waubenoor Dr, Green Bay, WI

Price: $385,000
Why it’s here: 
Designed to resemble a ship, this midcentury modern time capsule displays a nautical theme throughout.

The 4,360-square-foot build features porthole windows, a sunken living room, and a roofline in the shape of a sail. Four bedrooms are on the main level, while the primary suite takes up the entire second floor.

Reflecting the trends popular during its construction in 1958, the home boasts a retro kitchen, unique stonework, and groovy carpeting.

Green Bay, WI


4. 6725 Stokes Westernville Rd, Ava, NY

Price: $424,900
Why it’s here: 
This fixer-upper last changed hands in April for $200,000. Six months later, after an extensive renovation, the homeowners are about to more than double their investment. After barely a week on the market, the home is pending sale.

Built in 1996, the bright and open three-bedroom dwelling now boasts a sleek, modern interior with hardwood flooring, lots of windows, and eye-catching light fixtures. The jaw-dropping kitchen has a cathedral ceiling, exposed beams, and quartz countertops.

The 2,013-square-foot home comes with plenty of decks to take in the surrounding natural beauty.

Ava, NY


3. 39871 Highway 410, Strawberry Point, IA

Price: $975,000
Why it’s here: 
This enormous, five-bedroom log cabin is an unexpected find in small-town Iowa.

Sitting on 3.5 acres surrounded by farmland, this giant, 7,182-square-foot lodge comfortably sleeps 25. The main level features a stone fireplace and two-story, floor-to-ceiling windows. A walk-out lower level comes with its own kitchen and two offices.

The property includes a three-car garage, an enclosed gazebo, a wraparound deck, and a playhouse for the kids.

Strawberry Point, IA


2. 9521 Sandusky Rd, Harrod, OH

Price: $399,000
Why it’s here: 
This picturesque log cabin sits on nearly 10 acres and comes with a heated wood shop and a private pond with a dock.

The reasonably priced four-bedroom retreat boasts a two-story living area with a fireplace. The kitchen has been updated to include lots of cabinets, and the dining room is surrounded by windows and a skylight to let in an abundance of sunshine.

The home already has a contingent sale offer.

Harrod, OH


1. S100W31244 County Road LO, Mukwonago, WI

Price: $4,933,300
Why it’s here: 
This massive mansion sitting on 106 acres is going on the auction block, with bids due by Dec. 8.

The sprawling, 9,265-square-foot estate features three bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms—and ornate details throughout. The two-story foyer is topped by a 22-karat gold and crystal chandelier. The chef’s kitchen features an enormous 15-foot window, oversized island, and La Cornue range.

There are many balconies with views of the resort-style setting, while the third-floor eagle’s nest offers panoramic views.

Mukwonago, WI
Mukwonago, WI


The post Place Your Bid: A Deluxe Megamansion Up for Auction in Wisconsin Is the Week’s Most Popular Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Mortgage Rates Just Hit a 20-Year High—and That’s Not the Scariest Part

Mortgage Rates Just Hit a 20-Year High

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The housing market is a scary place these days.

Ominous pronouncements are the norm: “The Fed will push until something breaks.” “Housing is in a free fall.” “It’s going to be brutal.” “This will end in tears.”

Such doom and gloom might make skittish homebuyers wonder if there’s any hope or point in forging ahead. But if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that things can change quickly—for better or for worse—which is why keeping your eye trained on the latest real estate statistics is a must to stay sane and ahead of the housing apocalypse nipping at your heels.

Our column “How’s the Housing Market This Week?” is where we look at the most recent real estate data—mortgage rates, home prices, and more—that can help homebuyers and sellers get their bearings and navigate today’s intimidating market.

Mortgage rates reach their highest level in 20 years

For the week ending Oct. 27, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate shot up to 7.08%. According to Freddie Mac, this is the first time that this rate has broken the 7% threshold in 20 years, since April 2002.

Crunch the numbers on how this affects housing affordability, and the picture turns even more frightening.

“Combined with rising home prices, higher mortgage rates have significantly increased the cost of a monthly mortgage payment, up more than 70% from one year ago, sapping the purchasing power of shoppers,” notes Realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale in her recent analysis of emerging housing markets.

In September, home prices hovered at a national median of $427,250—and for the week ending Oct. 22, prices continued to rise by 13% compared with the same week last year. That’s a slight drop from the previous week’s rise of 13.2%, but it’s also the 43rd week straight of double-digit expansion.

“Home price growth moderated but remains at a double-digit pace and, alongside higher rates, is putting a big dent in home shopper budgets,” says Hale in her review of the week’s housing data. “With affordable homebuying options dwindling, some shoppers are looking elsewhere.”

In other words, buyers are casting their eye even farther afield for deals. In fact, Hale adds that the majority of home shoppers are now searching across state lines.

An upside to rising mortgage rates: More homes on the market

For the week ending Oct. 22, despite the number of new sellers entering the market dwindling by 13% from a year earlier, overall housing inventory (of new and old listings) shot up by 36%. That’s the biggest jump in the number of homes for sale seen in 16 weeks.

The reason why so many homes are sitting on the market is that homebuyers just can’t afford what they used to.

“Higher mortgage rates coupled with higher home prices have drastically curtailed buying power, and with it sales activity,” says Hale.

Many of these homes will stick around on the market gathering cobwebs longer than usual, too. While properties currently linger for a median of 50 days, for the week ending Oct. 22, they spent a whole week longer on the market compared with a year earlier, a pace that’s slowed for 13 weeks straight.

“For buyers, it may mean a bit more time to think through options, depending on your location,” says Hale. “It may not be a buyer’s market yet, but this trend is certainly more buyer-friendly.”

In other words, nervous buyers who brave today’s market may come to realize that it’s not quite as bad as the doomsayers suggest.


Watch: 4 (Mostly) Bright New Realities of Buying a Home Today


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Is America’s Only Legally Haunted House Actually Haunted?

Legally haunted home

Courtesy of Mark Kavanagh Collection

Cynthia Ackley Kavanagh recalls sitting on her bed in her new home when the cord to the light above began swinging in a way that she had never seen before. It wasn’t sloping in an arc as it should. Instead, it was as if some invisible force were playing pingpong with the pull switch.

The year was 1967. Her father had gotten a job in New York City, and the family had recently traded their Maryland farm for a derelict Victorian just north of New York City. Her parents, Helen and George Ackley, were determined to restore the run-down, 4,200-square-foot house on the Hudson River, where they planned to raise their four children.

Built in 1890, the house in Nyack had sat vacant for seven years before the Ackleys bought it. During that time, neighborhood children would say they saw faces in the windows.

Over their two decades in the home, the Ackleys would have many inexplicable experiences. They heard mysterious footsteps and voices. Doors and windows would fly open. On several occasions, they claimed, they even received visits from peaceful spirits wearing clothes from centuries past. The paranormal was just part and parcel of their new home.

The Victorian in Nyack, NY

Courtesy of Mark Kavanagh Collection

The old Victorian would eventually achieve infamy in the early 1990s after the Ackleys put it on the market. When the buyers learned of the home’s supernatural history, they tried to back out of the deal. To recover their deposit, they sued. And the court, for the first time, established that a property was haunted in a published opinion.

That opinion, colloquially referred to as the “Ghostbusters ruling,” established the Ackley residence as the only known legally haunted house in America.

The case has since been taught in law schools across the country. And while disclosure laws vary greatly by state, the case did create something of a common-sense precedent for what sellers must disclose to buyers.

The Nyack home itself has changed hands several times since the ruling, including to some celebrity owners attracted to its notoriety. However, not a single one has publicly reported a paranormal experience.

But the questions, and the mysteries, remain: Is America’s only legally haunted home really haunted?

‘Is there any way we can take our other­worldly friends with us?’

The house was the source of the “Ghostbusters ruling.”

Courtesy of Mark Kavanagh Collection

Kavanagh, now 70, is a believer. She lived in the home during high school, briefly after she was married, and again when she was widowed.

On her first holiday break in the house, she tells Realtor.com®, she was awakened by her bed being shaken. The next morning it happened again.

“It wasn’t violent,” Kavanagh recalls. “It was really gentle, like someone was shaking you awake, like, ‘Come on, you’ll be late to school.’”

So the next night before she went to sleep, she announced loudly to the room that she was on her Christmas break and didn’t have to go to school in the morning, Kavanagh adds. After that, the spirits allowed her to sleep in.


Watch: Ghost Hunting with the Paranormal Investigators From ‘Kindred Spirits’


A few years later, she met one of the other “residents” of the home. She walked into her bedroom late one night and saw a woman in white sitting on her bed. The apparition was looking in the mirror as she combed her blond hair. Kavanagh remembers politely excusing herself and going downstairs for about a half-hour. When she returned, the woman was gone.

Kavanagh says she even received some gifts from the ghosts.

When Kavanagh’s oldest daughter was baptized, Helen Ackley had to tie a gold ring onto the baby’s finger because it was too big for her. When the family returned to the house after the ceremony, they found a small ring on the dresser. It fit the baby’s finger perfectly. Her daughter, now grown, still wears that ring around her neck.

“We had plenty of ghost sightings,” says Kavanagh, who now lives in Salem, OR, with her husband. “None of us ever felt afraid of anything that went on.”

Her mother penned an article for Reader’s Digest in 1977. In it, Helen shared the family’s experiences in the home.

She wrote about seeing a male ghost floating in the air, smiling at her while she painted the living room. He was dressed in a blue suit with ruffles at the throat and wrists, short pants that stopped at his kneecaps, and black shoes with buckles.

“We have come to savor these happenings. They give a sense of the continuity of the past with the present and with the future,” Helen wrote. “These elusive spirits seem gracious, thoughtful—only occasionally frightening—and thoroughly entertaining. Now we wonder: if the time comes for us to move again, is there any way we can take our other­worldly friends with us?”

How the Victorian became the nation’s first legally haunted home

Helen Ackley

Courtesy of Mark Kavanagh Collection

If only she had been able to take her otherworldly friends with her, Helen might have avoided the legal trouble that followed.

By 1989, she was widowed and owned another home in Florida. It was time to sell the Victorian she had lovingly restored. The buyers were Wall Street trader Jeffrey Stambovsky and his wife, Patrice Stambovsky, who were moving to Nyack from New York City. Their offer was accepted, and they made a down payment of $32,500.

The problem was that Helen had apparently told everyone but the Stambovskys about her home’s haunted history.

Following Helen’s article in Reader’s Digest—at the time, one of the nation’s most popular magazines—the house was written up in the local newspaper a few times and even included on a haunted walking tour of the town. It was a popular topic of conversation in the town.

But none of this was apparently disclosed to the buyers before they closed the deal. And when they discovered the stories about paranormal activity in their new home, they were neither charmed nor thrilled. They tried to break their contract, but Helen refused. So they sued to get their deposit back.

The Stambovsky v. Ackley case hinged on the homeowner “advertising” the supernatural activity, but not to the buyers. The judge ruled the buyers wouldn’t have been expected to know the home was haunted as they weren’t locals. It didn’t matter if the home was actually haunted. What mattered was that people believed it was, thanks to Helen. So she had a duty to disclose that information to prospective buyers.

Helen is now deceased, and Kavanagh has a different version of events.

Her mother had sworn to her that she mentioned the ghosts would love having children in the house again in front of a pregnant Patrice Stambovsky. Helen also maintained that the Stambovskys were trying to get a deep discount on the home, which she had flatly refused.

It didn’t make much of a difference to the court, though.

The “seller deliberately fostered the public belief that her home was possessed,” the 1991 ruling read. “Having undertaken to inform the public-at-large, to whom she has no legal relationship, about the supernatural occurrences on her property, she may be said to owe no less a duty to her contract vendee.”

Today, New York is one of only four states that include supernatural activity in their real estate disclosure laws. The others are New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, each with different requirements. Several other states require sellers to tell buyers if there was a death on the property. These laws vary greatly, but there are a few rules of thumb.

In most of the country, sellers don’t need to disclose ghosts “unless you’re bragging about it,” says law professor Christopher Trudeau, of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, who has taught classes on real estate law. “If you’re telling other people it’s haunted, you have a duty to tell the person who’s buying it.”

And if a buyer asks outright about paranormal activity in a home, sellers should answer truthfully, Trudeau says. It’s similar to disclosing the last time the roof was replaced or whether the home has ever flooded.

“If they lie … that’s a basis for a lawsuit,” says Trudeau. “If you’re trying to hoodwink somebody, the court will try to figure out a way to make things right.”

So is this legally haunted home really haunted?

America’s sole legally haunted house

Courtesy of Mark Kavanagh Collection

The ruling hasn’t discouraged high-profile buyers from living in the legally haunted home.

Adam Brooks, who wrote and directed the film “Definitely, Maybe,” bought the property from Helen. He reportedly never had any paranormal encounters during his roughly two decades there.

In 2012, he sold the home for $1,725,000 to pop singer Ingrid Michaelson. The “Way I Am” singer told the New York Post it was “a magical home” with an “unbeatable” view.

Nancy Blaker Weber, who was the real estate agent for this transaction and subsequent sales of the home, says Michaelson got a kick out of the ghost stories.

“There must be a fun element of owning the only legally haunted house,” Weber, of Howard Hanna Rand Realty, says. “There’s a certain type of person who’s attracted to that kind of thing.”

About three years later, singer and rapper Matisyahu, of “King Without a Crown” fame, purchased the home for $1.77 million. He apparently did not experience any poltergeists either.

The home was last sold in March 2021 for $1,795,000. The new owners, who are also in the creative field, are renovating the home, says Weber. The five-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom home was valued at $1,864,000 earlier this week, according to Realtor.com data.

“I’ve logged a lot of time in that house through the years, and I’ve never felt anything unsettling. If there’s anything there, it must be friendly,” Weber says.

The post Is America’s Only Legally Haunted House Actually Haunted? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

America’s Safest—and Most Dangerous—States Today May Come as a Huge Surprise 

Runners in a park in Boston, MA

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Whether worries about crime, inflation, a recession, climate disasters, or another COVID-19 outbreak keep you up at night, it’s understandable if you’re wondering if there’s any place in the world right now where you can feel safe. While no locale is entirely free of all dangers, it turns out that certain states keep their residents safer than others.

WalletHub has just released the 2022 iteration of its Safest States in America report, where it sized up all 50 states based on how well protected its population is against a vast variety of threats. Yes, the traditional dangers were assessed, including the frequency of assaults, car accidents, and natural disasters. But so were less obvious perils such as debt levels, the presence of an emergency fund for unforeseen problems, and the percentage of the population who possess health insurance and are fully vaccinated.

Based on 53 variables, the state with bragging rights as the safest of all is Vermont!

“The state has few murders, thefts, and assaults. Plus, it has some of the most active firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and neighborhood watch groups per capita,” explains WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.

Financial safety is also key to being No. 1, she adds. “Vermont has very few people without health insurance, quite low unemployment and foreclosure rates, as well as few identity theft complaints and personal bankruptcies.”

In fact, six states in the New England area made the top 10 this year, so those seeking a secure environment might consider heading northeast.

Safest states in America

  1. Vermont
  2. Maine
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Utah
  5. Hawaii
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Connecticut
  8. Minnesota
  9. Washington
  10. Rhode Island

Some of the reasons that New England stands out include its low crime rates, including the fewest murders and manslaughters per capita (New Hampshire’s is lowest) and the fewest thefts (Massachusetts wins this category).

At the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana was dubbed the most dangerous state. While the Pelican State has lots to offer (New Orleans!), it’s also home to some of the worst drivers in the nation, with some of the biggest fatality numbers behind the wheel, as well as high incidences of assault and money lost to climate disasters.

As for surprises within the report, Gonzalez points to the poor showing Florida made.


Watch: The 10 Very Best U.S. Cities for Homebuyers


“We would have expected this state to rank higher, especially since it has a small number of hate crimes per capita and high job security,” she says of Florida.

Sadly, road safety and few households with an emergency fund combined to sink the Sunshine State.

“A large number of mass shootings and sex offenders in the area plus a small number of EMTs and paramedics per capita also contributed to the lack of overall safety, especially in schools,” adds Gonzalez.

Rebecca Rouse, professor of emergency security studies at Tulane University and WalletHub expert commentator, urges future homebuyers to list their priorities and then consider the trade-offs they might be willing to make.

“For example, living close to schools may encourage their kids to walk and bike there, but it also requires them to be cautious about traffic and safety on the way,” she says.

Most dangerous states in America

  1. Louisiana
  2. Mississippi
  3. Arkansas
  4. Texas
  5. Alabama
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Florida
  8. Missouri
  9. South Carolina
  10. Tennessee

The post America’s Safest—and Most Dangerous—States Today May Come as a Huge Surprise  appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Where Are Budget-Minded Americans Moving? These 10 Surprising Up-and-Coming Real Estate Markets

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Forget simple curb appeal. More affordable real estate markets that offer some much-needed relief from soaring prices and punishing inflation are what’s attracting homebuyers this fall.

So where are these red-hot real estate destinations?

Johnson City, TN

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Look no further than Johnson City, TN, which nabbed the No. 1 spot on the latest quarterly Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com® Emerging Housing Markets Index. Residents of this small city of about 200,000, tucked into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, can purchase a home in the metropolitan area for about $379,000. That’s about 11% less than the national median home list price of $427,250 in September.

The emerging market’s index analyzes the 300 largest metropolitan areas each quarter, seeking to identify which will be strong in the coming months. It’s based on factors such as a thriving local economy, low unemployment, competitive wages, short commutes, and easy access to recreational activities. The index also factors in the local housing market, checking median days on the market, property taxes, and more. (Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)

The index showed that homebuyers are seeking out cheaper places far from the largest cities on the coasts. Most of the top 10 were primarily in the South and Midwest, far from the larger cities on the coasts where real estate, taxes, and the overall cost of living are generally more expensive.

Every dollar counts these days as home shoppers are grappling with sharply rising mortgage rates, increasing rents, and high inflation. While the housing market is correcting and home prices have dipped a little from their peaks over the summer, they were still up about 14% year over year in September, according to the most recent data from Realtor.com. That may be changing—but not quick enough for today’s buyers.

“Compared to a year ago, home prices are still up. But winter shoppers will see lower prices than we saw this summer,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “On top of that, shoppers in some markets may find sellers who are more willing to negotiate on price or other contract terms than they have been in recent years, especially for a home that has been on the market for a longer period of time.”

Why Johnson City reigns supreme on the emerging markets list

Home shoppers facing an increasingly hostile real estate landscape may be creating their own personal inflation-fighting plan.

Beyond competitive home prices and a low cost of living, Johnson City offers further safeguards for workers, families, and retirees alike facing today’s roiling economic uncertainty.

The town boasts a vibrant local economy with an average unemployment rate below the 3.6% national average. And major local employers such as East Tennessee State University, Johnson City Medical Center, and Ballad Health mean there are potential jobs for homebuyers coming from out of town. Typical wages in Johnson City (and other wallet-friendly metros on the list) neared $1,120 per week.

Another major draw for today’s cash-strapped home shoppers? Tennessee is one of nine states with zero income tax.

“Johnson City is attracting buyers from outside of the area, and these buyers are predominantly coming from one of two sources: high-cost metros or other, generally more expensive nearby cities,” says Hale. “Many are from major East Coast metros like New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta, or Charlotte, where the median home list price in each area exceeds $400,000.”

More than 4 out of every 5 home shoppers looking at housing stock in Johnson City are from somewhere else.

Homes spent about 42 days on the market, almost a full week less than the national average of 48 days. But it’s not just the popular Appalachian Trail that’s attracting homebuyers.

“The higher interest rates have caused many buyers to pause their search and sellers put off selling their home,” says Layla Wright, a real estate professional at Keller Williams Realty, in Johnson City. “Homes are not going much over list price, and more have to do a price reduction within a few weeks of sitting on the market.”

Homebuyers are on the move chasing affordability

The list reveals that homebuyers are casting a wide net to find an affordable home, with interstate buyers continuing to make up a majority of home shoppers.

So why will homebuyers travel far and wide? It’s simple: The cost of a monthly mortgage payment is up more than 70% from one year ago, according to Realtor.com calculations.

Aside from Johnson City, affordability drew buyers to the second and third cities on the emerging markets list. Visalia, CA, and Elkhart, IN, have median home prices of $400,000 and $257,000 respectively—both less than the national median price tag.

Meanwhile, high-priced markets in the Western region fell off the list completely this fall, further highlighting the importance of savings for homebuyers. And it’s not only more expensive markets that have gone by the wayside but smaller markets with fewer potential jobs, too.

“Even though today’s jobs market remains on solid footing, with an unemployment rate at a historically low level, some households may be preparing for the possibility of a slowdown by seeking out homes in bigger cities that offer more job options,” says Hale.

Indeed, the fall emerging markets list reveals buyers are now flocking to areas with plenty of diverse job offerings to possibly insulate themselves from a downturn in the job market.

Top 10 emerging real estate markets in the third quarter of 2022


Johnson City, TN



Visalia, CA



Elkhart, IN



North Port, FL



Fort Wayne, IN



Lafayette, IN



Columbia, SC



Columbia, MO



Raleigh, NC



Yuma, AZ



Watch: The 10 Very Best U.S. Cities for Homebuyers


The post Where Are Budget-Minded Americans Moving? These 10 Surprising Up-and-Coming Real Estate Markets appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Mortgage Bankers Expect Rates To Drop to 5.4% in 2023. Here’s What That Means for Home Prices.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — High mortgage rates and recession fears are hurting home prices, so expect growth to be flat this year, one expert says.

“Our forecast is for home-price growth moderation to continue,” Joel Kan, vice president and deputy chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, said Sunday during the organization’s annual conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Home prices have already begun moderating. According to Case-Shiller, home prices fell month-over-month from June to July for the first time in 20 years. The latest numbers, which will be for August, will be reported on Tuesday morning.

With a recession likely in the cards, on top of mortgage rates near or above 7%, “we’ve already seen a pretty dramatic pullback in housing demand,” Kan said.

The 30-year fixed rate averaged 6.94% last week as compared to 3.85% a year ago. The MBA is also expecting rates to come down to 5.4% by the end of next year.

So expect national home-price growth to “flatten out” in 2023 and 2024, he said. This might be a “silver lining” for some, Kan added, as it brings home prices back to more “reasonable levels.”

A flattening of home-price growth should allow households to catch up, in terms of wages and savings, to afford homes that are presently too expensive.


Watch: Housing Snapshot: What’s Happening in Different Markets Across the Country


But he also warned that some markets may actually see home prices drop. We’re already seeing home values fall in some markets, from pandemic boomtowns like Austin and Phoenix to well-known expensive ones the San Francisco Bay Area.

Still, even with price drops, don’t expect a surge of inventory as people sit on their ultra-low mortgage rates that they will likely not enjoy again in the near future.

According to June data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, nearly a quarter of homeowners have mortgage rates of less than or equal to 3%. And the vast majority of owners—93%—have rates less than 6%.

On top of that, supply is likely to be tight too.

Sellers are said to be “striking” and not selling their homes as they see others forced to cut list prices to woo buyers. Builders are also getting spooked, signaling intent to slow new construction.

Nonetheless, demand for housing should recover eventually, given that there are a lot of people who will soon be in need of a home that they own.

MBA’s Kan estimated that there are 50 million people in the 28-to-38 age demographic, of which some—or many—are likely to become potential homeowners in the future.

For those under 35, the homeownership rate is only 39%, Kan said, while that share increases for people aged 35 to 44, to 61%.

So as people age, “we’re fairly confident if we stick to these trends, you will see a very supportive demographic driver of housing demand for a good number of years,” Kan said.

The post Mortgage Bankers Expect Rates To Drop to 5.4% in 2023. Here’s What That Means for Home Prices. appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Homebuyers, Don’t Give Up! Here Are the 10 Cheapest Cities in America To Purchase a House Right Now

Cheapest Cities in America To Purchase a House Right Now

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Homebuyers are always looking for a deal. That’s nothing new. But a true bargain today is scarcer and more valuable than ever, as buyers and sellers both feel the viselike squeeze of a tightening housing market.

Soaring mortgage rates have pushed monthly housing payments up hundreds or even thousands of dollars for homebuyers. That’s straining budgets that would have worked fine just a few months ago. The result is a quickly cooling real estate business, with buyers largely pulling back from purchases and sellers forced to drop prices to meet the new reality—or to just skip the market altogether.

But here’s the thing: This slump isn’t happening everywhere. In fact, some cities still have humming home markets, with low prices that insulate, to some extent, against the effects of rising mortgage rates. So the Realtor.com® data team found them: the cities where buyers can find the most affordable homes in America, right now.

These are generally smaller metropolitan areas in the Northeast, the Upper Midwest, and the South, many of which have gone through economic challenges in recent years. Prices in these places have historically been lower than the rest of the country—and they didn’t go through the dramatic COVID-19 price pumps of the past couple of years seen by red-hot markets such as Phoenix, Boston, and Denver. Many are state capitals and former manufacturing powerhouses in the Rust Belt that saw population shifts as plants closed and jobs migrated overseas.

They may not all be thriving tech centers or America’s most fashionable metros, but they all have plenty of surprisingly nice homes that are seriously well-priced. All had median price tags that were significantly less than the $427,250 median national home price in September.

Sorry—you won’t find any areas in California, or the entire western half of the U.S., on this list. Home prices there remain too (damn) high.

To come up with our findings, we dug into our listing data in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, compiled at the beginning of October, to see which had the lowest median home price per square foot. We used price per square foot instead of the overall price to account for seasonal trends as well as the different sizes of homes around the country.

Metros include the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas. We included only one metro area per state to ensure geographical diversity.

Ready to check out some housing bargains? For real?

1. Youngstown, OH

Median home list price per square foot: $95
Median home list price: $149,900

Youngstown, about halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh on the Ohio side of the state line, is the cheapest metropolitan area in the nation. This is in the heart of the Rust Belt, and like other boomtowns of the 19th and early 20th-century steel industry, it saw population declines starting in the 1970s. With more homes than buyers for them, prices fell.

The city has a low cost of living, something Al Cerritelli, an agent with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services in the Youngstown suburb of Poland, says has become a self-perpetuating fact of life in upper Appalachia. That’s appealing to folks moving in from other higher-priced parts of the country looking for bargains.

“People who come in from out of state, they talk about people being so nice here, how there’s not a lot of traffic, the cost of living is so affordable,” Cerritelli says.

Things have slowed down in the past several weeks, as interest rates have hit new highs, Cerritelli says. But when he sends new listings to home shoppers, they’re opening his emails and clicking through to the properties.

Prices in Youngstown have come down a little over the past several months, dropping a little more than 2% since hitting a high in August. And prices are still up year over year by around 12%.

Cerritelli says he thinks costs had been artificially low before the pandemic, but with remote workers looking for cheaper places to live and work from home, prices were pushed up.

“We had a lot of value that was not being perceived,” he says. “Then over the past two years, we saw some bidding wars, buyers walking in and elbowing each other to the side to get a contract going.”

2. Scranton, PA

Median home list price per square foot: $124
Median home list price: $225,000

Scranton, about 2.5 hours north of Philadelphia, may be best known as the home of the fictitious Dunder Mifflin paper company from “The Office” and is the real-life hometown of President Joe Biden. It’s also one of the most affordable ski towns in America.

The city has a rich history, as it was a coal industry center in the mid-19th century and was even dubbed the “Electric City” in the 1880s, after becoming one of the first with electric lighting and then electric streetcars. The population declined in the late 20th century, like in many industrial-era boomtowns. Now the city is home to five colleges and universities, and a vibrant downtown.

The home prices in Scranton are low even after steady increases over the past year. Prices per square foot climbed 20% year over year, outpacing the national market’s 12% year-over-year increase. It’s 1 of 4 metropolitan areas on this list bucking the recent trend of prices falling a little.

For just under $225,000, you can get a large, three-bedroom home, built in the 1940s, with an updated kitchen.

3. Syracuse, NY

Median home list price per square foot: $130
Median home list price: $217,250

Syracuse, a college town in Central New York, was recently named one of the best places for middle-class homebuyers by Realtor.com thanks to its low price tag.

But buyers on a budget may want to turbocharge their searches as prices are on the rise. They jumped about 10% year over year.

The number of homes for sale in Syracuse is the lowest of any metropolitan area on the list. However, despite the housing shortage, homes are sitting on the market a little longer than the national average, selling in anywhere from 47 to 60 days over the past four months, according to Realtor.com data.

Right now, buyers can get a three-bedroom, brick ranch in a cul-de-sac in Syracuse’s historic Washington Park neighborhood near the center of town, just a five-minute drive from the Onondaga Lake shore, for $220,000.


Watch: The 10 Best—and Most Affordable—Places To Retire in America in 2022


4. Wichita, KS

Median home list price per square foot: $134
Median home list price: $304,475

Wichita is known as the “Air Capital of the World,” attracting aviation enthusiasts from around the world. The area is a high-tech manufacturing hub that is home to companies like Beechcraft, Cessna, Learjet, and Boeing’s Stearman Aircraft. However, it still offers residents a low-cost, high quality of life—along with some fantastic barbecue.

Wichita is also credited as one of the birthplaces of the American desegregation movement, marked by a sit-in at the Dockum Drug Store in 1958.

Home list prices in Wichita have increased the most of any city on the list, rising 24% in the past year. And the Wichita market has so far completely avoided the downturn seen in other U.S. metropolitan areas, instead hitting a yearlong high in September.

Buyers searching for deals can check out this three-bedroom, two-bathroom house spanning 2,500 square feet on nearly a third of an acre for $180,000. Or they can look at this three-bedroom, two-bedroom ranch for $265,000.

5. Jackson, MS

Median home list price per square foot: $138
Median home list price: $299,000

Jackson, the birthplace of country singer LeAnn Rimes, has been in the news lately due to its toxic drinking water. The crisis appears to be affecting the real estate market.

Home inventories have climbed as sellers have rushed to list their homes. There are now about 50% more homes for sale than this time last year.

However, the drinking water hasn’t hurt home prices—at least not yet. Jackson is one of the four metro areas on this list where the current price is still the highest it’s been in the past year. Prices here have fluctuated a little each month, rising about 17% year over year per square foot.

The city has historically been a flashpoint in the struggle for civil rights, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just announced a civil rights investigation into the current water crisis, after formal complaints argued that the current situation is the continuation of systemic neglect of infrastructure needs in the heavily Black urban center of the Jackson metropolitan area.

6. Little Rock, AR

Median home list price per square foot: $141
Median home list price: $298,873

Buyers can also look toward the capital of Arkansas to find affordable homes, even though prices are rising. The city was recently named one of the best for middle-class buyers thanks to its low cost of living and massive revitalization of its historic downtown.

The price per square foot is up about 15%, and homes in Little Rock are still selling quickly.

For around $300,000, a buyer in Little Rock can afford a one-bedroom condo with floor-to-ceiling windows and a patio overlooking the Arkansas River and the downtown River Market District. The same price will also get a large, four-bedroom home on a big lot in the wooded suburbs farther from downtown.

7. Indianapolis, IN

Median home list price per square foot: $144
Median home list price: $300,000

Indianapolis, best known as the home of the Indy 500, has frequently been included in the most affordable cities lists. Buyers in the state capital can find some of the cheapest mansions in the nation.

Prices in Indianapolis were up 11% year over year. However, they did dip a little, by about 2%, from the high in May.

Buyers can find snag a recently remodeled three-bedroom, one-bathroom house for about $150,000. They can also schedule a showing for this 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house for $250,000. (You’d better hurry.)

8. McAllen, TX

Median home list price per square foot: $144
Median home list price: $270,000

Some of the best deals today can be found in McAllen, a city of around 150,000 situated right on the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley about an hour’s drive from the Gulf Coast.

Visitors travel to the city to see its nearly 550 species of birds and 300-plus species of butterflies. It’s also a regional shopping mecca for those on both sides of the border.

Home prices in this trade-port city have defied the housing market’s recent price downturn. They have been steadily rising since this time last year.

This three-bedroom, brick starter home that could be rented out is on the market for $205,000. Those with a bit more expendable income can check out this newly constructed three-bedroom house with a big backyard for $285,000.

9. Columbia, SC

Median home list price per square foot: $146
Median home list price: $308,900

Columbia is yet another state capital as well as a college town, home to the University of South Carolina. (Go Gamecocks!) It’s become more popular with out-of-state buyers during the pandemic who were looking for places with more affordable prices, low taxes, and warmer weather.

Of all the metropolitan areas on the list, home prices in Columbia have seen the biggest price slump in recent months, falling almost 5% since prices peaked here in June. Still, prices are more than 10% above where they were this time last year.

For around $310,000, buyers in Columbia can get an 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom home in a suburb just a few minutes north of downtown.

10. Augusta, GA

Median home list price per square foot: $150
Median home list price: $311,575

Only about an hour southwest of Columbia, Augusta is best known as the site of the elite Masters Golf Tournament every April. It’s also a medical, tech, and military hub. The city is host to Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia, the state’s sole public medical school, as well as Fort Gordon Army Base, an Army cybersecurity and electronic warfare training center.

The university and military base normally keep the real estate market humming, says Katerra Godbee, a Realtor with Realty One Group Visionaries.

“We see a lot of people who relocate here for work or for school,” Godbee says. Many leave and then return later to stay permanently. Plenty are drawn in by the baked-in Southern charm.

“People are very friendly,” she says. “It still has a small-town feel, and you can get a home on bigger lots.”

Buyers typically can get homes on a half- or full acre. That was very appealing during the height of the pandemic when everyone wanted more space.

“Because of our low cost of living, we had a lot of people permanently relocating here, from California, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, all over really,” Godbee says. “They came here and were able to buy with cash.”

Inventory in Augusta has grown the most this year of any of the metros on this list, increasing by a factor of nearly 2.5. And housing supply has continued to rise in recent months.

Despite the low prices, however, Augusta buyers haven’t been immune to the higher mortgage rates.

“At the beginning of the year, maybe they were looking at homes at the $300,000 mark, but now they’re at $250,000,” Godbee says.

The post Homebuyers, Don’t Give Up! Here Are the 10 Cheapest Cities in America To Purchase a House Right Now appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Why the Housing Market Should Brace for Double-Digit Mortgage Rates in 2023

Housing Still Has 'a Lot of Wiggle Room' in a Recession, Even With Mortgage Rates Near a 20-Year High, According to This Investor


Even if Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and his cohorts stopped hiking policy rates soon, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate still would climb to 10%, according to Christopher Whalen, chairman of Whalen Global Advisors.

That’s because the Fed’s torrid pace of rate increases in 2022 takes time to seep back into mortgage rates, especially with the fed-funds rate already jumping to a 3%-3.25% range in late September, from almost zero a year before.

“Lenders only slowly adjust their rates,” Whalen told MarketWatch. “They are not used to seeing rates moving this fast, and typically would change rates only once a month or once every other month.”

Borrowers pay a premium above risk-free Treasury rates on mortgages to help account for default risks. The 30-year Treasury rate rose to 4.213% Thursday, its highest since 2011, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Freddie Mac on Thursday said the 30-year mortgage rate was averaging 6.94% in its latest weekly survey, a 20-year high that has severely curtailed demand for new home loans.

But with U.S. inflation showing no signs of a clear pullback from a 40-year high, expectations have been running high for the Fed to increase its policy rate by another 75 basis points at its November meeting, and potentially by the same amount again in December, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

The CME odds on Thursday favored a 4.75%-5% fed-funds rate to kick off February.

“There is a lag effect in mortgages,” Whalen said, adding that even if central bankers decided to hit pause on additional rate increases after their December meeting, the 30-year mortgage rate still would “easily touch 10% by February.”

Whalen, an investment banker, author and specialist focused on banking and mortgage finance, urged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008 to move complex and opaque derivatives “back into the daylight,” after banks and investors saw hundreds of billions of dollars in losses tied to structured debt, including subprime mortgage exposure. He also provided testimony to Congress in 2009 about systemic risks of the banking industry.

Now, Whalen sees another major shakeout coming in mortgage banking as profitability continues to get pinched (see chart) and the housing market sputters.

Importantly, Whalen also sees potential for home prices to give back all of their pandemic gains if rates stay high for all of 2023.

That’s a bigger call than estimates for a 10%-15% correction in home prices from prices that surged 45% nationally during the pandemic.

But Whalen pointed to speculative home flipping volumes that reached almost $150 billion, or 10% of total home sales in 2022, and the cold blanket of double-digit mortgage rates as catalysts for a steeper home price retreat.

Economists at Mizuho Securities on Thursday pegged median home sales prices as down 2.5% from their peak, in a client note, and characterized the housing market as “deteriorating,” but mostly in line with expectations given the sharp jump in mortgage rates.

Mortgage loan rates can be traced directly to the mortgage-backed securities, or MBS, market, which are bonds that trade on Wall Street, mostly with government backing, that finance the bulk of the near $13 trillion U.S. mortgage debt market.

With the Fed’s race to raise rates, it has jolted financial markets, sunk stocks and led to a stark decline in mortgage bond issuance this year, while also making it more expensive for corporations, municipalities and households to borrow as part of its inflation fight.

“It will take us months to get the bond market and lending market in sync so people can make money again,” Whalen said.

Stocks closed lower for a second straight day on Thursday, leaving the S&P 500 index off 23% on the year at 3,665.78, and the 10-year Treasury rate at 4.225%, its highest since June 2018.

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