Here Comes the Bride! 10 Castles for Sale That Are Fit for Royalty

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American fans of the British monarchy will be double-checking their alarms to ensure they don’t miss a moment of the upcoming royal wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle.

Inspired by their impending nuptials, we’re highlighting 10 castles fit for a king and queen, or at least a duke and duchess. As Lorde helpfully pointed out, most of us will never be royals. But that doesn’t mean we can’t live like royalty, right here in America.

There are gorgeous properties in varying styles, sizes, and ages. One of them is a stunner in Milwaukee, modeled after a French chateau.

“My sellers have put the house on Airbnb, and they were booked solid because of the castle feel,” says listing agent Melanie Gilmore-Gaar.

Because who wouldn’t want to be queen for a day—or a least a weekend?

But a weekend stay is far different from owning your own castle, which means maintenance, more maintenance, and lots of mowing the lawn.

“The backyard is the size of a football field,” Gilmore-Gaar says of her listing. The upside is a spacious place for entertaining and perhaps even hosting events such as (nonroyal) weddings.

Practice your bow and curtsy, put on your fascinator, and check out these 10 glorious castles on the market.

3266 N Lake Dr, Milwaukee, WI

Price: $1,845,000
Regal details: There’s no need to head to France for a chateau. Built in 1912 and designed by Wisconsin-based architect Alexander Chadbourne Eschweiler, this castle is modeled after the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire Valley. The 9,154-square-foot structure opens up to lake views in the back. High points include a grand staircase, remodeled great room, family room with a vaulted ceiling, and guest apartment above the three-car garage.

Milwaukee, WI

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6435 Stillhouse Ln, High Ridge, MO

Price: $319,900
Regal details: This “magical” and affordable stone castle is nestled on a wooded lot and comes with four bedrooms, a great room with stone fireplace and wet bar, and an updated kitchen that leads out to a deck.

High Ridge, MO

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1739 Crystal Ridge Ct, Riverside, CA 

Price: $1,499,900
Regal details: Custom-built in 1989 on 2.75 acres in SoCal, this castle features a foyer with a skylight and grand staircase. The updated kitchen has a cooking island and an eating island adjoining the family room, which comes with a bar and fireplace. The grounds include a running stream, and swimming pool with spa.

Riverside, CA

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722 39th St, Downers Grove, IL

Price: $2,699,995
Regal details: Let’s get medieval! This 6,387-square-foot castle was built in 1952 and comes with 1.8 landscaped acres. The finished basement contains a gym, dance floor, and game room. The immense great room and indoor pool, spa, and sauna can easily entertain royal guests. The landscaped grounds include a water fall, reflecting pool with fountains, and a koi pond.

Downers Grove, IL

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600 Chateau V Rd, Evergreen, CO

Price: $12,990,000
Regal details: This limestone structure is modeled after the Biltmore mansion in Asheville, NC. The home features 126 chandeliers, a dining room with a 25-foot-high ceiling, and a kitchen with a turret. Multiple balconies and stone decks offer scenic views of nearby peaks. 

Evergreen, CO

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18 Skyline Dr, Bolton Landing, NY

Price: $12,800,000
Regal details: Lords and ladies, Highlands Castle is still searching for a buyer. The custom-built residence was built with 800 tons of stone and has a secret passageway, a secret staircase, turrets, balconies, two guest cottages, and handcarved knights standing guard in the great room. Originally on the market in 2015, it’s still in search of a buyer who’d appreciate the property’s waterfront views. 

Bolton Landing, NY

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35308 Pabst Rd, Oconomowoc, WI

Price: $10,500,000
Regal details: The property known as Minnewoc is a standout in Lake Country. This replica of Anne Boleyn‘s castle was built in 1892 and has been fully renovated in recent years, including a large addition in 2014. The property includes 800 feet of lake frontage and 7.2 acres of land, including a private island. The home’s high-end finishes make for an opulent 16,000-square-foot space, inside and out.

Oconomowoc, WI

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1155 N River Blvd, Wichita, KS 

Price: $3,500,000
Regal details: A historic landmark, Campbell Castle was built in 1888 by Col. Burton Harvey Campbell and his wife, Ellen, and is reportedly a reproduction of a Richardsonian Romanesque Scottish castle. Original features include fireplaces, handcarved fretwork, German stained glass, and a 300-year-old staircase imported from London. The 17-bedroom home also contains modernizations such as a high-end kitchen and updated baths.

Wichita, KS

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4720 Grosvenor Ave, Bronx, NY

Price: $3,200,000
Regal details: Built in 1899, this French provincial–style castle has been updated without losing any of its original grandeur. The living room includes leaded-glass windows, a beamed ceiling, and stone fireplace. The high-end kitchen features Carrara marble counters, custom cabinets, two sinks, and two dishwashers. The 5,158-square-foot castle features a master suite with walk-in closets and a dressing area. The property includes terraced gardens and is an easy commute to midtown by mass transit (no horse-drawn carriage necessary). If you’re not quite ready to be betrothed to this residence, it can be rented for $10,000 a month.

Bronx, NY

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116 5th Ave S, Lake Worth, FL

Price $1,245,000
Regal details: Designed by architect G. Sherman Childs and built in 1925, Lakeside Castle has undergone major restorations, with original details preserved. There’s a formal dining room with chandelier and fireplace, and a living room with vaulted ceiling and exposed beams. A conservatory opens to a courtyard with a gazebo and pool. There’s also a game room with a wet bar. We’ll raise a glass to that.

Lake Worth, FL

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The post Here Comes the Bride! 10 Castles for Sale That Are Fit for Royalty appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

This $1 House in Edmond, OK Is Real Estate Brilliance At Its Best. Here’s Why

$1 house

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A $1 house listed in Edmond, OK, has stirred up a huge hubbub among home buyers, home sellers, real estate agents, and others: Come on, is that even real? There must be a catch. 

So, of course, we had to find out what’s up.

For starters, the listing price is not an error; it really is one buckaroo. And as the pics below show, the house is gorgeous as all get-out. It’s 4,000 square feet of magnificence with four bedrooms, four baths, a swimming pool, and so much more on a 2-acre lot.

Based on comps and other data, the house is valued at about $413,000.

$1 house
The open house for this $1 listing drummed up seven offers.

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If there’s any “catch” to be found, it’s that, as most people know, a home’s asking price is rarely where it ends up; that all depends on what a buyer is willing to offer. And if there are multiple buyers because the home is garnering tons of attention, this can kick-start a bidding war that can drive up the final sum to whatever the market can bear.

That’s exactly what these home sellers—Dan and Sharla Bradley—were hoping would happen.

“I often tell sellers that we could price their home for a dollar and the market would determine what the sales price should be,” explains the home’s listing agent, Ryan Hukill at Keller Williams. “This time, I had some sellers who were bold enough to take me up on trying that theory out.”

So did it work? Well, let’s just say that their first open house—scheduled on a Sunday two days after the listing went live—reeled in around 60 buyers. Seven submitted bids by the deadline of noon on Tuesday.

In other words: After less than a week, the home is under contract. While Hukill won’t share specifics until the deal is officially done, he says, “we ended up a little bit above what the sellers initially thought they’d get.”

Which begs the question: Should more home sellers consider pricing their home at $1?

$1 house
Kitchen

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$1 home listings: ‘It’s a big risk’

While it sounds insane, it’s not unprecedented—and other agents agree that home sellers who try it may see bigger and better returns than if they price their home high to start.

“It’s an excellent strategy that I’ve recommended in the past. With the right marketing, this will make your home the talk of the town,” says real estate agent Cedric Stewart with Keller Williams, in Washington, DC. “Auction-style bidding draws something out of people and often causes them to pay slightly more than they normally would.”

Nonetheless, “most sellers are afraid to take such a risk,” Stewart adds, conceding that this approach does come with some pitfalls.

For one, in the same way Black Friday deals bring out the rabid bargain hunters, sellers could be deluged with lowballers, looky-loos, and other less serious candidates who’ll only clog up the process.

“Many of the buyers may be unqualified and submitting offers that are not worth consideration,” warns William Fastow, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s in the Washington, DC, area. “These junk offers all legally have to be presented to the owner by the listing agent and detracts from the agent’s time and resources, crowding out legitimate buyers.”

This sales gimmick might also drive away legitimate buyers.

“Imagine you are in the market for this home and you arrive to the open house and it’s flooded with people,” Fastow adds. “The agent announces proudly that they have 15-plus offers. If you’re a serious buyer, is this really a situation you want to get involved in?”

$1 house
Living room

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Some real estate experts say the downsides of $1 homes go far beyond fending off bargain hunters.

“This is a horrible idea for one overriding reason that has nothing to do with the strategy, but rather with the technology that people use to find listings,” says Kevin Deselms, a real estate agent with Re/Max Alliance in Golden, CO. “Most people will search for homes in a price range that’s comfortable for their financial situation. The vast majority of those searches will not have a $0 minimum limit. The buyer will want to focus on a range that represents their budget. This will leave the $1 listing out of a whole lot of people’s search results.”

Yet there are things you can do to mitigate some of these risks.

“Make sure to consult an experienced real estate consultant and an attorney to make sure all bases are covered,” Stewart says. “To avoid sellers getting sued by unrealistic deal seekers, it’s imperative to set a reserve price and ​very clear rules about how the sale will take place. It should be understood that the seller has the right to accept or reject any offer. If the bids end up being low, the sellers shouldn’t be expected to sell.”

$1 house
Backyard with swimming pool

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Even Hukill isn’t so sure he’d try this $1 sales tactic again.

“I definitely felt like we got some tire kickers, and a lot of jokesters saying they’d pay me $100 or $1,000,” Hukill tells realtor.com. Another surprising downside: “Even serious buyers didn’t know what to offer, or where to start.”

But overall, “I’ve gotten a lot of comments along the lines of ‘This is a brilliant idea, why didn’t I think of that before?’ I don’t know if it’s brilliant, but it’s a conversation I’ve been having with sellers for 10 years,” he concludes. “And these sellers are very happy; they had a lot of fun with it. They were excited to try something different.”

The post This $1 House in Edmond, OK Is Real Estate Brilliance At Its Best. Here’s Why appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

The Best Affordable College Towns for Recent Grads—and Everyone Else

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It’s the classic collegiate circle of life. You prep, you study, and then you just flat-out pray you’ll get into the school of your choice. Then once you’re there, you reach an inflection point, somewhere between your first game of beer pong and your final midterms, when you start counting the days until you can escape—to the place where you’ll start that whole adulting thing for real.

But these days more and more grads are skipping that final step and opting to stay put. And it turns out they’ve got plenty of company. Because you don’t need to be a student or recent graduate to appreciate all that the best college towns typically offer: walkable enclaves of innovative restaurants, lively music scenes, and tons of fun, unique businesses. And most importantly, many of ’em are becoming employment hubs as companies searching for top talent open offices nearby. Home prices are usually still reasonable. And homeownership is often a smart investment as there’s strong demand from both young and old buyers.

So where are the best college towns that offer the best of everything? The realtor.com® data team set out to find them.

“People go [to college towns] with the intention of pursuing a degree … but find these places have lots of the advantages of much larger places,” says Blake Gumprecht, author of “The American College Town.” He’s also a graduate of the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, one of the towns that made our list.

To find these top college towns best suited to putting down roots, we looked at the 700 largest markets around the country. We included only those with at least one four-year university with at least 10,000 undergraduates. Then we ranked them based on a variety of factors, including their percentage of college students, unemployment rates, home appreciation, and median income.*

The biggest cities didn’t make our list—they’re so large that the percentage of students isn’t as dominant as in smaller communities. In case you’re wondering, if we had simply  looked at the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, Boston, the nation’s ultimate college mecca, would come out on top, thanks to schools such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston University. But with so many other nonstudent residents, nearly 675,000 just in its city limits, Boston didn’t make our list.

So crack open a Pabst Blue Ribbon and let’s go on a tour of the best college towns.

College towns where grads should stick around

Claire Widman

1. Ames, IA

Number of college students: 34,935
Median home list price**: $265,200
Median household income: $56,800

Fountains of the Four Seasons on the campus of the University of Iowa State.

Wolterk/iStock

Familiar sights along Ames’ Main Street include an array of historic buildings, funky restaurants, and a seemingly endless parade of Iowa State sweatshirts, banners, and knickknacks. Just about everyone here, regardless of age, seems to love their Cyclones.

With nearly 30,000 undergraduate students, Iowa State attracts many firms and employees from around the world. All of these companies mean lots of well-paying gigs for recent grads and just about everyone else. Did we mention that Ames’ jobless rate is just 1.7%? That’s significantly lower than the national rate of 3.9% as of April.

The region also has a slew of startups founded by former students. Iowa State’s Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship has helped launch some of them, including KinoSol, which sells solar-powered food dehydrators to farmers in developing countries.

“The phrase is ‘Iowa nice.’ If you’re starting a business, people are very open to helping you,” says Diana Wright, a marketing and programs coordinator at the center. “Serial entrepreneurs here help others launch their businesses.”

College grads who stick around flock to neighborhoods such as Hillside. It offers new developments of ranch-style, single-family homes that run anywhere from $300,000 to $450,000.

“They like the town’s good vibe, and Iowa State football and basketball, and the concerts and entertainment,” says Mark Greenfield, a local real estate agent at Re/Max Real Estate Center.

2. State College, PA

Number of college students: 48,480
Median home list price: $257,600
Median household income: $61,100

Downtown State College

aimintang/iStock

For home football games, the Penn State Nittany Lions are cheered on by more than 106,000 fans at Beaver Stadium. And if they beat a rival such as Ohio State University, you can expect Penn students—current, former, or wannabe—to rush the field. Good times!

But State College isn’t known only for its football. It also boasts the annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, which takes over the city in July. And don’t worry: When it comes to actually making a living, there are no shortage of good health care jobs here.

Right out of the gate, it can be challenging to buy a home, however. Recent graduates prefer to live in walkable areas close to downtown. But those a bit further along in their careers find it’s very doable, says Mary Lou Bennett, a real estate agent at Re/Max Centre Realty.

After completing his studies in broadcast journalism at Pennsylvania State University, Thomas Frank Carr weighed an out-of-state job offer or a part-time position at a local radio station near the school. He eventually decided to stay put in State College. Since then, the 27-year-old has gotten married and been promoted. Now the on-air radio talent is thinking about buying a home. This is a feat that many of his peers who went to bigger cities, where prices are steep, might never be able to do.

“The way I describe [sticking around is] it’s the best party you’ve ever been to, but you just stayed,” Carr says. “The longer you stay, the more you appreciate the town. It is a small town with city-sized entertainment opportunities.”

3. Lawrence, KS

Number of college students: 28,883
Median home list price: $289,000
Median household income: $58,600

Downtown Lawrence, KS

Wikipedia

Plato said, “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” That’s fine and dandy, but getting your bank account out of the red each month sure helps, too. You don’t need a math (or philosophy) degree to see that the dollar goes far in Lawrence.

The University of Kansas, the state’s flagship university, is home to about 19,000 undergraduates students. It’s also the dominant employer in the region. But employers such as Boston Financial Data Services and Hallmark Cards also have major offices here.

As for fun, you don’t need to be an alumnus to dig Kansas Jayhawks games. The men’s basketball team, winner of five national titles, has been top-drawer attraction over the years.

4. Blacksburg, VA

Number of college students: 46,722
Median home list price: $231,400
Median household income: $52,900

Hikers at McAfee Knob on Appalachian Trail near Blacksburg, VA

Joel Carillet/iStock

After receiving their diplomas, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) graduates often head to cities such as Washington, DC, or Charlotte, NC. But those who prefer the great outdoors over big-city life are choosing to stick around.

For starters, the Appalachian Trail is just a short drive out of town. Claytor Lake State Park is the go-to for fishing and boating, and New River Trail State Park is a fantastic place for horseback riding.

“Blacksburg has a great quality of life,” says Mel Jones, a research scientist at the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech. “The mountains are beautiful, and the area has all the benefits of being a large university town.”

Like many college centers, the biggest employers in the region are the universities themselves. But there are lots of other options, too. Dish Network employs around 1,000 here, and Moog, an aerospace and defense company, also has a large presence.

The most popular homes are often the historic, single-family houses in downtown. However, they ain’t cheap, with price tags often topping $500,000. That’s led many entry-level buyers to opt for homes outside the city limits into the rest of Montgomery County instead. It’s rural, but has more affordable homes for those on a tight budget.

5. Ithaca, NY

Number of college students: 31,547
Median home list price: $250,700
Median household income: $61,700

Downtown Ithaca at Night

aimintang/iStock

You might not expect Ithaca, home of Cornell University and Ithaca Colleges, to have a booming startup scene. This city, four hours north of Manhattan, isn’t exactly thought of as a bustling place. But prepare to be surprised.

The startup vibe is bolstered by low startup costs as well as the Cornell eLab student accelerator program, a special yearlong program aimed at budding entrepreneurs. Alumni have launched ventures such as the Rosie App, an online grocery app, and Ursa Space Systems, which collects satellite imagery to help companies make business decisions.

“The traditional go-to locations after graduation are New York, Denver, and Boston,” says Adriana Condarco, an economic development specialist at the Center for Regional Economic Advancement in Ithaca. “But here you have access to interesting and exciting companies that you might see elsewhere.”

Yes, those soul-crushing winters can be rough, but a good craft beer or two can definitely help. Head over to the Ithaca Beer Co. for supplies and wait for the summer thaw.

6. Ann Arbor, MI

Number of college students: 75,929
Median home list price: $334,100
Median household income: $69,200

Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor

Davel5957/iStock

Google employees get free lunch, can bring their dogs to work, and have access to an on-site masseuse. But here’s the news flash: They don’t have to move to the tech giant’s Silicon Valley HQ, in Mountain View, CA, to do so.

Companies such as Google have set up shop in Ann Arbor in order to attract top talent from the University of Michigan. That saves employees from having to live in the uber-expensive San Francisco Bay Area. The median home list price in Mountain View is $1,400,000—about four times that of Ann Arbor.

That may be why buyers are diving into the market, despite Ann Arbor being the most expensive college town on our list. Over the past year, the share of millennials buying homes here jumped from 38% to 48%—the biggest such increase among the places we ranked.

The area has a lot of housing options, too. There are new condos and townhomes all over this walkable downtown and plenty of single-family houses in the burbs, including this three-bedroom, one-story home on a tree-lined street for $373,500.

7. Champaign, IL

Number of college students: 51,442
Median home list price: $158,100
Median household income: $55,500

University of Illinois campus

benkrut/iStock

Located two hours south of Chicago and two hours east of Indianapolis, Champaign is great for those who want to save some cash—while still being just a drive away from big-city perks.

But what’s really important to many residents is the Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. It has become a technology hub with around 100 companies (e.g., Yahoo, Capital One, and Caterpillar) with nearly 2,000 employees.

The inexpensive housing stock is also a draw, with a median home price well below the national median of $289,900. The downtown is full of multifamily, two-story homes priced under $125,000. These homes can double as rental properties for students.

This college town also has a lively cultural scene, including the famed Spurlock Museum and the Krannert Art Museum.

8. Lafayette, IN

Number of college students: 39,768
Median home list price: $191,600
Median household income: $54,000

Lafayette, IN

Rodrigo A. Rodriguez Fuentes/iStock

Do the math. Lafayette is home to Purdue University, a school known for its superb engineering programs. That’s attracted top-flight employers from all over the world hoping to snag some of Purdue’s finest alumni. They include GE Aviation’s $110 million aerospace technology plant and Rolls-Royce’s jet engine research and development facility.

All of these good jobs have led local home builders to try to ramp up production. This new ranch-style home with stone countertops, a sunroom, and a clubhouse in its subdivision is priced at $178,000—and the builder will allow buyers to customize the finishes.

But buyers should act fast. Median home list prices shot up nearly 9.2% from March to April and almost 5.8% year over year, according to realtor.com data.

9. Columbia, MO

Number of college students: 39,099
Median home list price: $240,400 
Median household income: $53,500

Columns in front of University of Missouri

benkrut/iStock

This is no one-college town. The University of Missouri, the state’s flagship public university, Stephens College, and Columbia College are all based here—meaning there are students and graduates everywhere.

Many locals work in the area’s thriving health care sector and are fans of the annual True/False Film Festival. Some admit to being addicted to Hot Box Cookies, a late-night cookie delivery company that started locally.

Students “stay, or they come back later in life,” says Jim Meyer, a real estate agent at Meyer Works in Columbia. “People from a lot of different places around the world live here and have made this into a unique community.”

Young professionals often want a newer, single-family house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, Meyer says. But sometimes they have to lower their expectations. The going range for starter homes here is $150,000 to $200,000.

10. Iowa City, IA

Number of college students: 29,192
Median home list price: $290,000
Median household income: $61,400

Downtown Iowa City

harmantasdc/iStock

Students from around the Midwest flock to the University of Iowa, known for its law, pharmacy, and business programs. But when they’re done, some have a hard time leaving. That’s thanks to the University of Iowa Health Care, a large medical center that employs many recent graduates as well as more-seasoned professionals.

Younger residents are particularly fond of the historic homes in walkable downtown neighborhoods such as Longfellow. Most homes here are smaller, single-family bungalows that cost between $175,000 to $275,000, says Julie Dancer, a real estate agent at Lepic-Kroeger in Iowa City.

“Iowa City has great Midwestern values. It is easy to meet and trust people and become a part of the community and get your hands in the dirt,” Dancer says.


* Sources: Home price appreciation from realtor.com; number of college and university students as calculated by Emsi; median household income from Nielsen; unemployment rates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; population trends and share of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher from the U.S. Census Bureau; and median rent figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

** Prices are a median of the past 12 months ending in April 2018. 

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Should Buyers Crowdfund Their Way Into Homeownership?

Should Buyers Crowdfund Their Way Into Buying a Home?

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In recent years, crowdfunding has become a popular way to pay for a remarkably wide range of ventures. Want to back a sliced-ketchup product, a self-serve cocktail machine, or maybe a charity race? Just pull out your smartphone. But more recently the technology has been moving a bit closer to home—right up, in fact, to your doorstep. Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way for aspiring home buyers to tap into their networks to come up with down payments.

A new wave of crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter for real estate, could be a game changer for younger, tech-savvy generations of home buyers saddled with student loan debt. It’s an idea that is gaining traction, with sites such as HomeFundMe and Feather the Nest, which helps folks raise money for down payments and repairs, and online registries such as HoneyFund, which includes the option of gifting a down payment contribution.

“The No. 1 challenge that we hear from millennials in terms of their ability to buy a home is the down payment,” says Jonathan Lawless, vice president of customer solutions for Fannie Mae. “Crowdsourcing is an interesting new way that a person can generate a down payment, one made possible by technology. … We think there is a great future for it.”

Users who are typically pre-qualified for a mortgage can create personal pages on these platforms, on which they can talk about their journey toward homeownership, illustrated with photos and maybe video. These pages can be shared with family and friends.

“[Many] people find they can afford [mortgage] payments, but not the down payment to own a home,” says Christopher George, CEO of CMG Financial, a San Ramon, CA–based mortgage banking firm that launched HomeFundMe late last year.

George, a father of four millennial sons, came up with the idea for HomeFundMe in 2016 after seeing the financial struggles of his kids’ generation. The crowdfunding platform is the only one of the bunch designed solely for down payments and is the first to be backed by mortgage industry giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“We’re talking to millennials saying their social network is their net worth,” George says. “Why not allow your sphere of influence [to] help as well?”

What you need to know about a crowdfunded down payment

Using gifted funds for a down payment can be tricky—mortgage lenders typically require a letter from the giver, specifying that the money is a gift, not a loan, and there are no strings attached. But using an online fundraising platform can allow buyers to bypass some of that red tape.

Using HomeFundMe, anyone can give up to $7,500 to a campaign without documentation. HomeFundMe also doesn’t charge fees to use the platform, or take a cut of what’s raised. The company will even give buyers $2 for every $1 they raise, up to $1,000, or up to 1% of the purchase price if they undergo home buyer counseling beforehand. Buyers who earn less than their area’s median income can earn up to $2,500, or 1% of the home price.

So what’s the catch? Crowdfunders must get their mortgage through HomeFundMe’s parent company, CMG Financial. They have to close on a home within a year of accepting their first gift. And if they don’t use the money to buy a home, funds marked “conditional on the recipient purchasing a home” are returned to the donor. The crowdfunder can keep the rest.

Other crowdfunding platforms have slightly different business models.

The online gift registry Feather the Nest has helped about half of its 3,000 “nesters” raise down payments since it launched in 2014, according to company officials.

Fees include a 5% transaction fee that goes to Feather the Nest, and a fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents that goes to its payment processing system, Stripe.

At HoneyFund, another online registry, about 6% of the 100,000 mostly millennial couples who use the site each year ask for down payments, according to company officials. There are no fees to use the platform, but users are charged 2.8% processing fees plus 30 cents per gift when the money is moved into their PayPal or WePay accounts.

“A lot of couples are not only saving for their home down payments but also home improvements,” HoneyFund CEO Sara Margulis says.

The dangers of crowdfunding your down payment

However, there are risks to buyers relying on crowdfunding to come up with money for a home.

“If somebody is not able to save for their own down payment, it might be because they are stretched financially. But it [also] might be that they are bad at saving,” says Fannie Mae’s Lawless. “The ability to generate savings is a critical aspect of being a responsible homeowner.”

Remember, it was homeowners who couldn’t really afford their homes that led to the financial crisis just over a decade ago. So helping more people who haven’t mastered the art of saving, or who may be so financially stretched that they can’t afford to save, is worrisome.

It’s “a very risky proposition,” says Rick Sharga, executive vice president at Carrington Mortgage Holdings, a real estate company in Aliso Viejo, CA. These kinds of buyers may be “one unexpected car payment, one roof repair, one water heater replacement away from missing a mortgage payment and possibly going into a downward cycle they can’t recover from.”

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Castaway Dreams! A Private Island in Connecticut Is This Week’s Most Popular Home

most popular listings May 11, 2018

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Land ho! A $3 million private island off the shores of Connecticut landed atop our list of the most-clicked homes this week.

The custom Victorian sitting on a tiny speck in Long Island Sound looks like an older home, but the island retreat was built in 2001 and replicates the original structure, which had been falling down.

“The owner wanted to make it exactly as it was,” says listing agent Joe Piscitelli. The resulting estate is a true looker and comes with its own private beach, landscaped greenery and trees, wraparound porches, and a boat dock.

The runner-up is a whopping 6,500-square-foot manor in Philadelphia—an entertainer’s delight complete with a two-story basketball court, living room with bar and fireplace, and an enormous recreation area with a bar, billiards, and stage.

Other notable homes crashing the list this week include a show-stopping home in the Northern California coastal town of Bolinas that includes a modern main house plus a 100-year-old hay barn, a cool custom contemporary in New York, and a multimillion-dollar teardown opportunity in the exclusive celebrity enclave of Hidden Hills.

Even if you’re not enticed by the prospect of spending millions on a home to knock it down, there are plenty of other opportunities among this week’s most popular properties…

10. 823 Exposition Blvd, New Orleans, LA

Price: $1,300,000
Why it’s here: Live right next to Audubon Park and enjoy 350 acres of green space outside your front door. This remodeled three-bedroom Arts and Crafts abode from 1916 includes a wraparound porch, large backyard, balconies with park views, a sunroom, and a new kitchen.

New Orleans, LA

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9. 6 Quincy St, Methuen, MA

Price: $534,900
Why it’s here: This home from the turn of the last century offers original details like hardwood flooring, stained-glass windows, and two fireplaces. Plus there’s a wraparound deck, fenced yard, three-space garage, and pool.

Methuen, MA

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8. 109 Valley View Ave, Haverhill, MA

Price: $364,900
Why it’s here: Just 35 miles from Boston, the historic town of Haverhill offers up a charming Colonial from the 1800s. The updated kitchen features a breakfast bar, granite counters, and new cabinets. There’s hardwood flooring throughout, and outside you’ll find a large patio and deck area plus a firepit. The home was a hit—it already has an offer in place.

Haverhill, MA

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7. 612 Claridge Ct, Franklin, TN

Price:: $369,900
Why it’s here: A mighty, mighty brick house. This three-bedroom home located on a quiet cul-de-sac offers 2,405 square feet of living space and can accommodate extended family, thanks to a finished rec room or guest suite located over the garage. 

Franklin, TN

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6. 24600 John Colter Rd, Hidden Hills, CA

Price: $4,799,999
Why it’s here: The pitch for this property is an opportunity is to “create or develop a prodigious estate sited on almost 3 acres.” Plans have already been submitted for an expansive open living space with amenities like a living room with 20-feet-high ceilings, home theater, gym, and an infinity pool. See the rendering below. All it needs is your imagination … and your bank account.

Hidden Hills, CA

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5. 15 Dogwood Hills Rd, Pound Ridge, NY

Price: $2,495,000
Why it’s here: Constructed in 1984 by the Macedonian-born architect Vuko Tashkovich, the 5,275-square-foot layout is a light-filled space with walls of glass. Features include wood and marble floors, a living room with stone fireplace, formal dining room with doors to a sun porch, office, guest wing, and massive master suite.

Pound Ridge, NY

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4. 7515 Coffey Creek Dr, Charlotte, NC

Price: $189,900
Why it’s here: Adorable in Charlotte, this Cape Cod-style home has been updated with bamboo, ceramic, and wood flooring. It also features a renovated kitchen and bathroom along with new paint throughout the home. Clearly a winner, the revamped home is already in “pending sale” status. 

Charlotte, NC

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3. 201 Mesa Rd, Bolinas, CA 

Price: $3,885,000
Why it’s here: We’re California dreaming about this scenic and serene spot. The property includes a modern main house and a 100-year-old hay barn. Known to locals as “Purple Gate,” the place includes multiple communal spaces, three bedrooms, three baths on 1.73 acres, and is close to downtown, beaches, and hiking trails.

Bolinas, CA

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2. 11033 Knights Rd, Philadelphia, PA

Price: $699,900
Why it’s here: This 6,500-square-foot home offers the plush amenities of a suburban home while managing to stay within Philly city limits. It features a full indoor sport court, outdoor pool, a two-story foyer, giant kitchen with island and breakfast bar, and a living room with a bar. Along with a master suite, the home also boasts a recreation area with a bar, billiards, and stage. Get out the karaoke machine!

Philadelphia, PA

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1. Island Wheelers, Branford, CT 

Price: $3,000,000
Why it’s here: For a truly private getaway, buy your own island! The “Queen of the Thimble Islands” boasts a structure that is a replica of the falling-down Victorian that stood there before. It sits on its own spit of land, which you can call your very own.

Listing agent Joe Piscitelli notes that it’s a favorite of photographers for its stunning looks.

“She’s the prettiest home out there,” he says. Building the waterfront property meant bringing in materials by barge, and a hefty markup for building costs. But the effort is evident.

“The building is spectacular,” Piscitelli says. “It’s absolutely perfect and unique.” 

The custom home comes with eight beds, four-and-a-half baths, and includes wraparound porches, an outdoor dining area, flexible floor plan, a family room with fireplace, an eat-in country kitchen, plus a grassy lawn, a boat dock, and a sandy beach for swimming or kayaking.

Branford, CT

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Holmby Hills Megamansion With Medical Room Is This Week’s Most Expensive New Listing

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A stylish mansion in Holmby Hills has hit the market as this week’s most expensive new listing on realtor.com®. It’s listed for $69.9 million.

Built in 2013 by real estate developer Nile Niami (who’s currently working on a $500 million L.A. megamansion), this Los Angeles home was sold to a Saudi buyer for $44 million in 2014, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Property records indicate a group called Hami Limited owns the home.

Called “Il Magione,” the “impeccable” villa is located in the area known as “Billionaire’s Row,” which also includes the $188 million mansion known as “Billionaire.”

Living room with glass doors

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Open kitchen with three islands

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Indoor pool

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Massive bedroom

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Wet bar and game room

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Medical facility?!

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The 31,450-square-foot mansion decorated in Fendi has 10 beds and 12 baths. It sits on 1.4 acres.

As we pored over the photos of this sumptuous spread, we were stopped short by what appears to be an outpatient facility. (The listing describes it as a “medical room.”) Perhaps the owner has Botox delivered?

Aside from that oddity, the Mediterranean-style villa features plenty of high-end amenities, from a bowling alley with a game room, stocked bar, and movie theater, to a fully equipped gym and hair salon. 

There’s also a golf simulator, office, wine cellar with tasting room, and indoor pool with spa room and steam shower. The estate has a guard-gated entry, motor court, and separate driveways for staff.

The main house boasts a master suite with dual bathrooms, oversize closets, and a terrace overlooking the pool and cabana area with fountains outside. The open kitchen is adjacent to a family room and dining area.

Outdoors there are multiple patios, a grassy lawn, lounge area with fire pit, and kitchen. The property comes with a two-bedroom guesthouse. 

In short, this megamansion has everything you need for a luxe L.A. lifestyle. You don’t even need to leave the house for a face-lift.

Branden Williams with Hilton & Hyland holds the listing.

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