An opulent, yet extremely elegant mansion built way back in 1913 by Arts and Crafts movement developer Herbert J. Hapgood is up for sale in New Jersey. Located at 195 Boulevard in the planned community of Mountain Lakes, the house sits comfortably on 2.3 acres of lush, landscaped land, and offers all the modern-day commodities, while still maintaining its original Colonial charm.
The five-bedroom, five-bathroom home is being marketed by Susanne Sylvester of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, with an asking price of $1,895,000.
Seamlessly blending the classic Colonial Style with contemporary features, having been renovated in 2016, the property is a legitimate architectural gem.
Back in 1910, local Dutch engineer Lewis Van Duyne enlisted the help of developer Herbert J. Hapgood to turn his vision for the rural woodland of Mountain Lakes into reality, by building a planned community of homes, today known as ‘the Lakers.’ The community took just 10 years to build, and to this day it maintains what is probably the highest concentration of Craftsman-style houses in the country. It’s also been added to the National Registry of Historic Places.
The mansion at 195 Boulevard in Morris County, N.J., still boasts that Arts and Crafts, Dutch Colonial vibe, even though it underwent a renovation in 2016. The house offers plenty of open, airy spaces, inundated with natural light, and a cozy, warm ambiance due to the neutral color palette and the use of exquisite, rich materials and fabrics like wood and velvet.
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The home incorporates five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, as well as a three-car garage and an additional 12 uncovered parking spaces. The rooms are spacious but warm, airy but cozy, impeccably decorated and equipped with all the necessary modern amenities.
The living space is exquisite; there is a massive living room, a luxurious dining room, an elegant lounging area with an old-school, wooden bar and plenty of space for entertaining guests, as well as a laundry room, utilities room, mud room, sun room, pantry and storage room.
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There’s also a master bedroom, beautifully crafted with a walk-in closet, abundant natural light and a working fireplace. In fact, you’ll find fireplaces and old-school ceiling fans throughout the house, in most of the rooms and common areas. The house is equipped with all the modern-day sensors and security systems, as well.
The outdoor space that surrounds this luxurious estate is even more impressive, the house being completely secluded and protected by tall, luscious trees and vegetation. There’s a giant pool complete with enough poolside lounging space to entertain friends and family.
Next to the fabulous pool, there’s also a 1,000-square-foot cedar pool house addition that features soaring cathedral ceilings, window walls, a full bath, and a gourmet granite grillmaster’s kitchen.
If you’re interested and want to see more of this fab home for sale, check out this video to get a taste of what it might actually be like to live there.
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With our feeds now being flooded with grim news reports, we thought it’d be good to distract ourselves by looking into the long, twisted history of an iconic property that has stood the test of time.
You might already be familiar with The Breakers, a Beaux Arts masterpiece in Newport, Rhode Island, which was built in 1895 for Cornelius Vanderbilt II. But just in case you’re not, we’re here to spread the knowledge and talk you through the history of this piece of real estate eye candy.
The Breakers, Part One
The original Breakers property was completed way back in 1878, and at the time, it was the crown jewel of Newport. The Queen Anne-style cottage was designed by architectural firm Peabody and Stearns for tobacco tycoon Pierre Lorillard IV. It was built along the Cliff Walk on Ochre Point Avenue, set on a sprawling estate with jaw-dropping views of the ocean.
The stunning mansion was purchased by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in the fall of 1885, for a price tag of $400,000 — in the largest real estate deal ever signed in the area at the time. Vanderbilt then rehired Peabody and Stearns to remodel the property, spending roughly $500,000 more in upgrades and renovations.
Sadly, this investment was soon to go to waste, as the mansion was heavily damaged in an 1892 fire that started in the kitchen. However, Vanderbilt wasn’t about to lose the property, and he soon undertook a redevelopment project that would rebuild The Breakers from the ashes – in a big, big way.
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The Breakers, Part Deux
After his beautiful Newport summer house burned down in an unexpected fire, Cornelius Vanderbilt II wasted no time in gathering a team to rebuild the property. He enlisted the help of renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt, who’s also responsible for the Biltmore Estate, to rebuild The Breakers at 44 Ochre Point Avenue.
The second, much bigger version of The Breakers was completed in 1895, and it was undoubtedly the most opulent and most impressive estate in Newport – again.
The lavish interiors were designed by Jules Allard and Sons and Ogden Codman, in a style reminiscent of French chateaux like The Versailles. The design team used materials and pieces imported from Italy, France and Africa, and the intricate details, rare woods and mosaics were brought here from all around the world.
The new estate featured 62,482 square feet of living space across a total of 70 rooms, set on a sprawling 14-acre oceanfront lot. The opulent Gilded Age mansion is divided across five floors, and it’s easy to lose track of all the rooms in the house.
The basement level contained a laundry room and staff restrooms. Above, the first floor features an entrance foyer, a gentleman’s reception room, a ladies’ reception room, a massive great hall, an arcade, a library, a music room, a morning room, a lower loggia, a billiards room, a dining room, a breakfast room, pantry, and kitchen.
The second floor of The Breakers included separate bedrooms for Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt, their daughter Gertrude’s bedroom, Countess Szechenyi’s bedroom, as well as a guest room and an upper loggia. The third floor offered additional staff bedrooms, as well as a sitting room designed by Ogden Codman in a style inspired by Louis XVI. Finally, The Breakers also featured an attic floor.
Pretty modest, right? The Vanderbilts’ penchant for opulence is what ultimately got family heirs in trouble in the 2000s.
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Breaking Ties With Tradition
After Cornelius Vanderbilt II died in 1899 at age 55, he left The Breakers to his wife, Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt. After she herself passed, her youngest daughter, Countess Gladys Szechenyi, inherited the Newport summer ‘cottage.’ You’re thinking, ‘not too shabby for Gladys,’ right? Well, think again.
Maintaining and upkeeping a property of this magnitude was no easy task, and Gladys soon found herself overwhelmed. She leased the property to The Preservation Society of Newport County in 1948, for a modicum of $1 per year. Fast forward to 1972, and the society bought the property from Gladys’ daughter, Countess Sylvia Szápáry, for $365,000.
The deal included an agreement that Sylvia was granted life tenancy, and she continued to live at The Breakers until her death in 1998. The Society then agreed to allow her family to continue to live on the property’s third floor, which has remained closed off to the public. The rest of the estate was preserved and opened to visitors as sort of a Gilded Age museum, and for many years, The Breakers was the most visited attraction in the area.
It was business as usual for the Vanderbilts and The Preservation Society for many years, with the two parties living in harmony. That all changed when The Society came up with plans to build a new welcome center right on the garden, an idea that the Vanderbilts heavily opposed.
The Breakers Adds Welcome Center, Vanderbilts No Longer Welcome
Despite protest from historians, neighborhood groups and Vanderbilt family members, the Newport Zoning Board approved the new welcome center in 2015. The family took matters to the Supreme Court, but they had no luck, and plans moved forward with the project.
Things turned controversial in 2018, when news broke out that Gladys and Paul Szápáry, Countess Gladys Szechenyi’s heirs, were to vacate their 12,500-square-foot quarters on the third floor of The Breakers. The Society released a statement saying that the mansion’s outdated plumbing, electrical, and ventilation systems were no longer fit for residential use, and that this was endangering the entire structure.
Despite the fact that this was a joint statement by The Preservation Society and the Vanderbilts, a lot of experts weighed in to say that this move was merely payback for the family’s opposition to the welcome center. Various concerns had been raised, not just from the family, that the modern structure didn’t belong on the historic grounds of The Breakers. The Society had considered another site for the project, on land they owned right across the street, but decided instead to stick to the estate’s garden.
The Preservation Society moved on with the project, and the $5.5 million, 3,750-square-foot welcome center opened in June 2018. The center includes ticketing stations, interactive screens showcasing the history of the estate, as well as bathrooms and a cafe.
We’re not going to take sides here. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that century-old estates like The Breakers are brought up to modern standards. The grandest chateaux and palaces of the world have taken this step. However, in the words of Paul and Gladys Szápáry’s cousin Jamie Wade Comstock, ‘visitors will soon find that the gilded cage was much more interesting when it still had the birds inside it.’
Featured image courtesy of UpstateNYer, Wikimedia Commons
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One of the most unique and architecturally distinct homes in all of New York City is looking for new tenants.
A historic East Village synagogue that was converted into a sun-drenched townhouse 15 years ago has just resurfaced on the market as a $30k rental — and it’s a sight to be seen.
The former synagogue was once known as the 8th Street Shul and served the Lower East Side’s Jewish community. The building managed to survive two fires in the past century, but unresolved ownership issues let it go unattended for years. That was until 2005, when the building was sold to a real estate developer that revamped the property and turned it into an upscale private residence.
It’s now a breathtaking four-story home with impeccable interiors, dramatic 22′ ceilings, and walls of exposed brick and wood, specially designed for displaying artwork. The home is downright gorgeous, and comes fully furnished.
With a dramatic living area — featuring 22′ cathedral ceilings, floor-to-ceiling walls of restored brick (east) and Wenge wood paneling (west), as well as a Cantilever balcony with a built-in projector for showcasing art — the former synagogue has been re-imagined as a space for art lovers, which only doubles down on the space being an art piece in itself.
The luxury rental comes with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and 3 wonderful outdoor terraces. Brought to the finest modern standards, the former synagogue features an expansive chef’s kitchen with Italian granite counters, a 20′ island, floor-to-ceiling custom-built Wenge cabinets, upscale appliances that cover every possible need, and some nice bonuses (like a built-in temperature/humidity-controlled wine cooler).
There’s also a separate elegant dining area with a restored 19th Century backlit Star of David. On the 3rd level, there’s a gorgeous library with custom-built floor-to-ceiling wood bookshelves, an Italian marble fireplace and a wet sink/wet bar.
The 4th story has a fairly unique floor-to-ceiling glass hallway and secluded master bedroom, fitted with a custom-built working fireplace, huge walk-in closet, and opulent master bath packed with everything from an oversized Jacuzzi tub, to walk-in shower with steam unit, rain shower, waterfall and separate hand-held shower. To top that off, there’s also a hot tub that fits 8 people out on the master terrace.
The stunning townhouse is being offered fully furnished, and the listing clearly specifies that it’s looking for short-term renters (9 months max). Those interested in the 30,000/mo rental should contact listing agents Jessica Swersey or Jamie Fedorko, both with Warburg Realty.
Fun fact: The former synagogue even had a brief stint in a movie (though it’s worth noting that this was prior to its transformation), as the building was featured in Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 psychological thriller Pi.
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For this article, we partnered with sponsor Compass.com. While this is a paid article, its contents reflect our honest opinion and our reporting on the topic has not been influenced.
After an extensive renovation brought new life into L.A.’s iconic Villa Carlotta, the 1920s Italianate villa gloriously returned to market in 2018 as its founders intended — in the form of a swanky extended-stay residential with minimum 30-day lodging.
Now home to 50 rental units, Villa Carlotta plays on its historic past as a home and haunt for the artistically adventurous, only it now adds significant glam to the mix (and quite a few luxury rental perks).
How much will a month-long stay at Villa Carlotta cost you? A one-bedroom suite is $5,500/month, and comes fully furnished — and appointed with designer finishes, appliances for your every need, as well as towels, robes and personal care products lined up in the spa bathroom.
Since the building is a hybrid between your traditional apartment complex and an upscale hotel, renters get to enjoy services like spa treatments, a 24-hour concierge, housekeeping, and a rooftop with a killer view of the Hollywood sign. The common areas are as glamorous as you’d expect from an Old Hollywood beauty, and other onsite amenities include a swimming pool, courtyard, fitness studio, delivery lockers and bike storage.
For more information on the Villa Carlotta rental, get in touch with real estate broker Laura Pardini.
The century-old history of the Villa Carlotta
Built back in 1926 by architect Arthur E. Harvey — the man behind neighboring manor, Château Élysée, which was once home to Humphrey Bogart, Ginger Rogers, and Clark Gable — the Italianate villa sits proudly at the corner of Franklin and Tamarind avenues.
The building has a fascinating history, starting with its controversial inception; as the story goes, Elinor Ince, the original owner of the building, received funding from William Randolph Hearst to erect the property as an extravagant apology for accidentally killing her husband, silent film superstar Thomas Ince.
Now part of Old Hollywood lore, Ince’s death supposedly happened aboard Hearst’s yacht in 1924, when the media mogul himself accidentally shot Ince with a bullet intended for Charlie Chaplin, who Hearst suspected was having an affair with his mistress, actress Marion Davies. Nothing was ever proven but surprisingly, Marion Davies became one of the first residents of the building (well before she bought the iconic Beverly House).
Over the years, Villa Carlotta has been home to countless famous residents, including Oscar-winning producer David O. Selznick (Gone With The Wind), Oscar-winning director George Cukor (My Fair Lady), actor Montgomery Clift (A Place In The Sun), and Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons, a Hearst protégé who ended up living in Villa Carlotta’s most luxurious apartment (with rumors saying the residence was a reward for her silence, as Parsons was aboard Hearst’s yacht when the shooting allegedly took place).
And while the apartment complex failed to retain its upscale status in its later years, becoming more of an artist hideout and home to up-and-coming talent, it still nabbed its fair share of celebrity residents; Jim Morrison of The Doors once stayed here, as well as Neil Patrick Harris (post Doogie Howser). Rumor has it Pulp Fiction director-screenwriter Quentin Tarantino tried to rent a unit too, but wasn’t accepted into the building.
Then, in 2018, real estate developer CGI strategies embarked on a $5.5 million restoration and renovation project, carried alongside the Hollywood Heritage Museum and Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources. With careful consideration for the building’s historic nature, the renovation brought the 50-unit complex back to life in the form of a striking boutique rental that combines Old Hollywood charm (think floor-to-ceiling French door) with modern touches (each unit has been equipped with an Apple TV and a tablet connected to the concierge service).
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Walton Gogginsis selling his Los Angeles home, a lovely 5-bedroom home tucked behind dense landscaping just above Hollywood Boulevard. The actor, known for his prominent roles in The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Justified or Django Unchained and now the star of CBS’s heartwarming sitcom The Unicorn, bought the home back in 2010, when he was getting ready to welcome his son Augustus, now 10.
The two-story brick home has both French and Spanish touches as well as beautiful, eclectic interiors that combine vintage décor and boho chic influences with modern elements. The results are so spectacular that the home caught the eye of over 20 publications, with Architectural Digest, Maison Du Monde or GQ all featuring it in the past. Now, Goggins is looking to sell the charming home for $3.35 million and has enlisted the help of Josh Myler of The Agency to find a buyer.
Stylish vintage interiors pay tribute to the roaring 20s
Originally designed and built by Harold O. Sexsmith in 1927, Goggins’ home retains many of its original features. From the original coffered front door to the hardwood floors, or the arched openings to the casement windows, every detail has been meticulously restored, maintaining the original charm, warmth, and essence of the 1920s.
The foyer that welcomes visitors is accentuated by original period tile floors. To the left, there’s a stylish and sophisticated formal living room, whose surrounding windows and overall scale allow light in from every side. The most striking elements in this room are an oversized, original stone wood-burning fireplace and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that line one of the walls.
The living room opens to indoor/outdoor dualling lounges, which are connected by French doors and offer privacy for more intimate gatherings. In fact, the whole house is filled with comfy gathering places, both indoors and out.
“My philosophy is a person shouldn’t have to take more than six or eight steps without having an opportunity to sit down for a conversation to begin,” the actor once told a GQ reporter that toured his home.
A wonderfully elegant kitchen
The main floor is completed by a fully equipped eat-in chef’s kitchen with wood and marble open shelving, punctuated by elegant brass fixtures that complement the rich, dark wood cabinets. The actor’s kitchen features a lovely dining area that, just like the living room, is surrounded by top-to-bottom bookshelves that complete the inviting, bohemian look. Next to the kitchen, there’s also a large pantry with accompanying laundry facilities.
The bedrooms are bright and inviting
On the main level, there’s also a guest bedroom with a full en-suite bathroom. But the bulk of the sleeping quarters are on the second level, where there’s a primary suite (boasting a chic bathroom and large walk-in closet) and two additional guest bedrooms and a bathroom.
Walton Goggins’ retro home office
One of the most eye-grabbing rooms of this celebrity house is the home office, with its distinctive retro style and vintage furniture. With big windows inviting plenty of natural light in, the actor’s office also has a comfy seating area and a wall made entirely out of corkboard, perfect for memorabilia or for staying organized with work files and charts.
Stepping outside to a whimsical backyard
In line with the overall romantic feel of the European-inspired home, the outdoor area is whimsical and inviting, with a large swimming pool that is framed by citrus fruit trees and string lights. Since the actor finds gathering spaces to be of utmost importance, the quiet, private backyard features two outdoor dining areas, and extra seating set around a fire pit.
Lead image credit: Property – Anthony Barcelo, courtesy of The Agency. Walton Goggins headshot – Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
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A cozy log cabin with a long and colorful history, this unique dwelling in the historic Idyllwild, CA, area has an unusual past and a very livable present and future.
The original structure is reported to have been built in 1849—an auspicious year in California history—and it’s been improved upon ever since.
Much of what’s standing today was erected in 1943, as what is apparently the area’s only existing “cord home.” The walls of the structure are made of 10-inch cordwood logs that were embedded in concrete, then sealed and protected from insects and the elements.
The building method may sound odd by today’s standards, but it has stood the test of time, as well as the onslaught of vicious wild fires.
Located in the mountains that tower over Palm Springs and the greater Coachella Valley, the tiny town of Pine Cove is accessed by a winding mountain road that breaks off from Interstate 10 near Banning, CA.
The story goes that after the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp retired to San Bernardino, he rode the stage coach up that mountain road to play poker in this very cabin, a stage stop at the time.
The cabin has served a variety of purposes over the years, as a post office, a general store, and a horse stable. It also had incarnations as the Summit Lodge and the Pine Cove Tavern.
When the parents of the current residents bought the property in 1969, it was their family’s home. Their father used it as an art gallery, while their mother used the parlor for psychic readings.
It’s still in the family today. The second-generation owners are musicians, and have been filling the house with music for years now.
Nestled among towering pine trees, the home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It also has a high, stacked fireplace of river stone, and a shingled, second-story addition above the original cord walls.
Clerestory windows and skylights allow for natural illumination, and pine cabinetry and paneling add to the cabin’s rustic Western feel.
There’s also plenty of decking outside, with stone stairs, walls, and pathways on the large lot.
Listed in July for $399,000, for the first time in decades, the property appears to have attracted a buyer at the price of $380,000.
The cabin feels remote, yet it’s only a few minutes away from Idyllwild’s galleries, restaurants, and shops. An authentic piece of the Old West in Southern California, it’s a portal to another time and place.
Remember that warm-weather place you cherished as a winter getaway back in those hazy, crazy, pre-pandemic days of, say, 2019? What would it be like to live there year-round?
For more Americans, this alluring fantasy has become a reality, especially during this particularly bleak COVID-19 winter. As office and home, work and play blend together in this pandemic age, areas that once served as sunny vacation respites from chillier climes are emerging as desirable long-term locations for remote workers—and that’s been a game changer for real estate markets across the country.
“Traditionally, winter is a season when many residents of northern, colder states move south to enjoy the warmer weather in states nearer the Gulf Coast,” says George Ratiu, senior economist for realtor.com®. “This year, the migration is compounded by the COVID pandemic, leading lots of residents from the Northeast and Midwest to seek not only a seasonal escape but a permanent home.”
One driving force: These are often much cheaper places to buy a home, in an era when working remotely is becoming a viable long-term option. While expensive cities have long held a monopoly on great jobs, it now turns out that you don’t actually have to pay for an overpriced, undersized urban apartment to make a great salary. And housing data shows that house hunters from snowy states have been bidding on homes in warmer and more affordable markets in Southern markets for a change of lifestyle, weather, and cost of living.
To find the most affordable warm-weather destinations where folks can ride out the rest of the pandemic—and well beyond—the realtor.com data team scoured the United States for counties with high median temperatures for January and February, lower cost of living with median home prices below $350,000, actual inventory, access to cultural and outdoor amenities, and high-speed internet so it’s possible to get work done. We also factored in the number of vacation rentals in each county just in case there’s a need to rent the place out.
So why not escape that tiny, overpriced apartment amid the polar vortex gales to somewhere you can actually thaw out this winter—and possibly every winter? Spring and summer, too! Let’s take a tour of your potential new WFH headquarters.
Median home price: $275,000
Tampa Bay residents are still celebrating their Super Bowl win, but the area has a lot more going for it than Tom Brady. The metro boasts 246 days of sunshine per year, average February temperatures in the 70s, and some of the softest sand in the continental U.S. along the Gulf Coast beaches in Pinellas County.
The county, which sits along the Gulf of Mexico, across the bay from Tampa, has seen an influx of home buyers from colder, more expensive places like Illinois, Minnesota, and even New York, who have been snatching up real estate.
“We are having New Yorkers come to the Gulf Coast,” says Terry Tillung, real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Realty. “There used to be separation where East Coast people would come to the east coast of Florida and Midwesterners would come here. We’re seeing a shift now.”
Those Northeasterners and others from cold climes have been trading out their cramped apartments for homes near the water, including this two-bedroom condo with killer views of Clearwater Beach listed for $250,000 and this two-bedroom house in St. Petersburg Beach on the market for $245,000.
Median listing price: $339,900
As winter approached, remote workers from New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Chicago, and pricey California began flocking to Broward County’s beaches in droves. The area, home to Fort Lauderdale, is just north of Miami-Dade and all of its world-class cultural offerings, but boasts a more chill vibe.
Its beachfront strip, once infamous for spring break shenanigans, now boasts high-end restaurants. Walkable and sophisticated Las Olas Boulevard attracts visitors from across the region who want to eat, shop, and drink.
Plus, the area boasts a wide range of housing at a wide range of prices. For just $269,000, buyers can get into this two-bedroom condo right next to one of the nicest beaches in Fort Lauderdale. And those who want newer homes with more space and better public schools can drive 20 minutes west to find places like this three-bedroom townhouse in desirable Cooper City listed at $299,900. But these days, buyers need to move fast.
“It’s been a complete frenzy,” says Samantha DeBianchi, estate agent for DeBianchi Real Estate. “If I put a home on the market and it’s priced right, I’ll get five calls within the first 30 minutes.”
Median listing price: $225,000
According to the San Diego Audubon Society, Corpus Christi is “America’s birdiest place.” The large, shallow bay on which it lies attracts diverse flocks of water birds, songbirds, and raptors that bring in avian aficionados from across the U.S. But it’s not just amateur ornithologists who have been migrating here.
The family-friendly metro is protected from the Gulf of Mexico by the gorgeous Padre and Mustang islands, which offer outdoor activities ranging from beach combing and watching sea turtles hatch to camping and paddling trails—along with plenty of tourists looking to rent vacation homes during season.
Those homes are a steal. Starting in the mid-$100,000 range, buyers can get into condos with a view, including this two-bedroom on the water listed at $144,500 or a single-family nearby for a couple of hundred thousand more, including this three-bedroom house listed for $279,900.
Median listing price: $175,000
One county south of Nueces, Cameron County, home to Padre Island National Seashore and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, has the same warm winter weather (average highs are in the 60s) with even more nature access and cheaper real estate. For $159,000, house hunters can get into this three-bedroom home in Laguna Vista, right near the waterfront and the wildlife refuge. Folks seeking a beach lifestyle can find a two-bedroom condo in the hub of South Padre Island for $172,500.
Median listing price: $179,800
There’s a reason Yuma County is called “America’s salad bowl.” The border region produces much of the lettuce, broccoli, and other leafy greens that Americans eat during the winter months. That’s because with highs in the mid-70s come February, plants can get all the sun they need to thrive when much of the rest of the country is frozen over.
The idyllic weather is reason enough to pack your bags and head south, but the landscape is just as impressive. It’s home to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, a 665,400-acre preserve with one of the largest herds of desert bighorn sheep in the Southwest, deer, foxes, and a wide variety of plants, some found only in this small slice of the Grand Canyon state.
Yuma County has plenty of affordable options for those seeking to thaw out through the winter, from relaxing retreats in the desert, such as this two-bedroom on an acre of land in Wellton for $139,900, to nice spreads in town with a pool, like this three-bedroom listed at $174,900.
Median listing price: $179,000
Terrebonne Parish is known as a paradise for outdoor activities, where locals spend their free time hiking through nature preserves and hunting and fishing in the freshwater bayous and the Gulf of Mexico. Because everyone is outside so much anyway, the pandemic hasn’t changed that much in terms of everyday life.
“My house is on the water, so COVID times did not even affect me,” says Melanie Rogers Bruce, real estate agent with Keller Williams Bayou Partners. “I sit out on my little dock, and any stress I have goes away.”
While the area does boast multimillion-dollar waterfront homes, the $250,000 to $400,000 range gets the most action. At that price, buyers can get their own little “camp,” a waterfront house raised on stilts with a dock, including this cute three-bedroom with a boat lift for $259,900.
Median listing price: $175,000
One parish over from Terrebonne and just a hop, skip, and a jump from all the action and music of New Orleans, Lafourche Parish offers a similarly outdoorsy lifestyle to its outlying neighbor with the same mild winter climate. But the area also gives Nueces County (see above) a run for its money in birding.
From fall through spring, a diverse array of migratory birds including herons, egrets, and hummingbirds spends time in the county’s idyllic pockets of salt marsh, shallow bays, grassy meadows, and shady live oak forests.
“It is one of the biggest bird-watching communities in the nation, and there’s monarch butterfly migration,” says Rogers Bruce. “Really it’s great for any kind of outdoor animal watching.”
Nature lovers can get into their own base near Grand Isle at prices starting around $200,000, including this $225,000 four-bedroom.
Median listing price: $254,900
Savannah’s oak-covered squares and historic homes have been drawing new residents seeking a calmer (and warmer) pace of life for the past decade or so, but the city has offered yet another carrot to lure remote workers since COVID-19 roiled big tech centers: a $2,000 reimbursement for relocaters.
With its great restaurants, quaint streets, and gorgeous nearby beaches, it’s no surprise that this year has seen a massive influx of Northerners.
Buyers who want to be right near the historic core—and take advantage of the city’s moving incentive—can find small houses with compact yards starting in the $200,000s, including this two-bedroom cottage listed for $239,000.
Median listing price: $260,000
Tucson and greater Pima County have been growing steadily over the past decade. This Sun Belt city’s population has grown by a healthy 6.8% in the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Even more people have been coming in since COVID-19 hit. Remote workers from California, Nevada, and beyond have been snatching up fully contained spreads with room for entertaining (outdoors, obviously) and private pools, including this $260,000 four-bedroom and this $260,000 three-bedroom on an acre just outside Tucson Mountain Park.
“Everyone wants amenities now,” says Jen Anderson of the Jen Anderson Team, Long Realty.
Median listing price: $177,900
Want to know where you can buy a single-family house just steps from the beach for less than $200,000? Look to Mississippi, specifically Harrison County. The popular second-home and retirement area offers mild winter temperatures (highs in the 60s), a plethora of outdoor activities, frequent events (in normal times), and incredibly affordable housing, including this four-bedroom ranch right near the sand in Pass Christian listed for $185,000.
Mississippi’s beaches, which have been dubbed the Secret Coast, traditionally haven’t drawn as much attention as Florida, Alabama, and other coastal states, but that’s started to change as more buyers from cold places like Michigan and Colorado have been buying up homes and land.
“Many people don’t realize what a gem we have here, but I think the word is getting out,” says Wendy Hope Boyd, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty.
Matt Paxton is best known as the host of “Hoarders,” but these days he’s busy uncovering history in his new show, “Legacy List.”
In this series, Paxton and a team of home organizers visit old homes and help not only declutter and organize the home, but also uncover some valuable items hiding within.
In the Season 2 episode “You Gotta Have Art,” Paxton and the team visit a 54-acre estate in Coventry Village, CT, that is filled to the brim with sculptures and canvases. The family home and the large barn are filled with the artwork of artist David Hayes Sr. Now that he has passed on, his son and homeowner David Hayes wants to turn this estate into a living museum.
During decluttering, Paxton uncovers incredible finds—including a Picasso sketch, a couple of pieces by Salvador Dali, and even what may be part of the Underground Railroad.
Read on to learn more about how to unearth hidden treasures amid a mess. Who knows, similar items might be hiding in your own home, too.
1. Limit your keepsakes to a handful of items
Paxton says that everyone should have a “legacy list,” a collection of items that tells a family’s story. But he says that this collection should be limited to just a handful of items, small enough to be manageable but big enough to tell a story.
So when Paxton first arrives at Hayes’ property, he asks if there are specific legacy list–worthy treasures he’s hoping to find in his house. Although many of the items may be financially valuable, Hayes is interested in the things that are personally meaningful to him.
“Everything you see around here is art,” Hayes says. “I’m thinking about some items that are maybe not art, you know, things that were significant to us as children as we were growing up.”
He asks Paxton to save just four items: his father’s childhood model airplane, the badger-hair shaving brush his father used every morning, a carved wood grouse, and the family copy of his mother’s published cookbook, “French Cooking for People Who Can’t.”
While this artist’s house is filled with valuable objects, this just goes to show that sometimes the best treasures are the more sentimental items.
2. Remember to research your treasures
Sentiment aside, Paxton and the team also turn up some incredibly valuable works. Not only do they find a sketch by Pablo Picasso, they also discover not one, but two, Salvador Dali works!
“Your dad is probably the only guy that’s just going to have some Salvador Dalis up in the attic,” Paxton says to Hayes.
Of course, Lex Reeves, a member of Paxton’s team, reminds them that the pieces are valuable only if their authenticity can be verified by an expert.
Still, it’s an impressive find and a good reminder to always research the old items that you bring out of storage. You never know when you might have a Picasso on your hands!
3. Old clothes are often vintage and valuable, too
When going through the house, Jamie Ebanks and Mike Kelleher find some items they didn’t expect. In a closet full of art, these two pull out a couple of old auto dealer uniforms with “Moriarty Brothers” on the back. As it turns out, these belonged to Hayes’ father when he was a teen, working at an auto dealer.
These shirts bring up a good memory, but as Ebanks points out, these vintage finds are valuable in their own right. Old clothes almost always come back in style, and these shirts are no different.
“I would wear that today,” Ebanks says.
4. Sometimes the best treasures are part of the house itself
While the team finds a lot of great stuff in this house, one of the best finds is in the house itself. Paxton comes across a secret door, which is disguised to look like a bookshelf. Immediately, he thinks back to a rumor about the house.
“You know the family folklore of possibly this being on the route of the Underground Railroad?” he asks fellow organizer Avi Hopkins. “I’m thinking this might be it; this might be one of the spots.”
Hopkins points out that this house is near the Connecticut Freedom Trail, so it could possibly have been part of the Underground Railroad. Hopkins investigates by climbing into the space.
“There’s some room here,” he says. “Yeah, a small family could definitely spend some time back here.”
While the team may not be able to confirm whether or not this house was used to help enslaved people escape, this space is proof that a home’s treasures are sometimes built right into its bones.
Paxton and his team work overtime to clean up this home. They take some of the art to a nearby facility where it can all be documented, and the rest of the works can be displayed and stored safely on the property.
This was a big job, but Paxton and his team are able to get the home and barn looking much more organized. Plus, they’re able to find all four of Hayes’ legacy list items. Overall, this project is a big success!
A historic home where Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, spent a lot of her childhood is on the market. Although the exterior emits plenty of historic vibes, the home is a real fixer-upper.
“The current interior is unfinished, and needs to be finished by the buyers,” says the listing agent, Paul Hallenbeck.
The agent has high hopes for an enterprising buyer willing to take on this well-pedigreed property.
“It’s going to be incredibly grand,” he says. “I want to go back to the house when it is finished.”
It may not be complete, but that doesn’t mean that this prime piece of property on the Hudson River will come cheap. The 10,000-square-foot Second Empire-style home in Germantown, NY, is listed for $5.25 million.
Known as Oak Terrace, Eleanor Roosevelt’s grandparents built the home in 1865.
“It was their summer house when they lived in New York City. Due to tragedies in her family, she eventually ended up living with [her grandparents] and spent summers there with them. Her bedroom is identified, so you can visit it,” Hallenbeck explains.
Roosevelt’s memoirs say she spent time reading books under the shade of the trees on the estate.
The location and setting is hard to top—for reading or whatever leisure pursuit you choose.
“It’s directly on the Hudson River, with views of the river and the Catskill Mountains beyond. It’s 25 acres and has total privacy there,” Hallenbeck says.
Those gorgeous views are visible from a wraparound veranda accessible from a number of spots in the house.
Inside, there are 18 rooms highlighted by a 700-square-foot great room with dramatic 16-foot ceilings. A grand staircase goes up 36 feet and is topped by a spectacular coved ceiling with skylights.
Each of the six bedrooms in the four-story house comes an attached bathroom, including what Hallenbeck says will be a marvelous master suite.
Van Lamprou, a co-founder of Dolce Vita footwear, is the home’s current owner. He bought the home in 2013, for $2.85 million.
In the years since, he has poured lots of money into unglamorous but necessary elements to bring the home into the 21st century.
“The current owner has done an enormous amount of work,” Hallenbeck says. “He has redone the roof, drilled a new well, put in a new septic, installed modern heat and AC in the house, redone the fireplaces, and completely reinsulated the house.”
In addition to that infrastructure work, the home’s entire electrical and plumbing systems are also new.
Now that the crucial systems are in place, the next step is to finish off the interior.
“The owner decided to move ahead with other projects, instead of finishing the interior—which I think is probably a very good idea when you have a house like this,” Hallenbeck explains.
It will allow any buyers to customize to their personal taste the decor, finishes, and layout.
Hallenbeck estimates that the project will cost at least a million dollars.
“We’ve had quite a few people come with their architects and designers, trying to figure out how to finish it in the right way for them,” he says.
The perfect buyer is likely to be a family looking for a private weekend retreat, he says.
“When you’re outside here, you see the river and the Catskill Mountains beyond, and if you’re lucky, you see a boat or two on the river,” he adds. “But what you hear is nature, the wind. You don’t hear motorcycles or traffic. There are very few places like that.”
If the idea of an updated Colonial with acreage to spare sets your heart racing and inflames your passion to buy, this week’s list of the nine oldest homes to hit the market will get you all revved up.
Start with the oldest listing of the week, a crisp white house with a smart, navy-blue door, built in 1700 in northern Massachusetts. Buying a vintage home doesn’t mean you must forgo creature comforts. This home’s airy, sophisticated, and oh-so-contemporary interiors—including the luscious, light-filled library—are the stuff of winter-nesting dreams.
We spotted another impeccable reimagining of an antique Colonial in Scarsdale, NY—a gorgeous, green-and-white beauty with beamed ceilings that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Beyond those two cool Colonials, seven other old-timey homes are worth checking out. Some sit on the banks of a river, others are surrounded by woods, but all of them are charmers, with centuries of history behind them. Have a look!
Year built: 1700
Idyllic Colonial: Tucked on just under an acre and a half of land close to the Merrimack River, this five-bedroom Colonial has been updated in all the right places and modernized everywhere else.
Highlights include a new all-white kitchen and renovated bathrooms. Original features like exposed beams, gunstock corners, field paneling, and wide-plank floors hark back to the home’s 18th-century roots.
There’s also a sunroom, a three-car garage, and pergola, with a brick patio out back.
Year built: 1700
Old Red Farm Inn: This working inn and sometime wedding venue sits on 2 landscaped acres on the way to Cape Cod.
The carefully updated five-bedroom farmhouse comes with a pool, gazebo, wet bar, and two-car garage. The property is surrounded by a local golf course and is within walking distance to the beach.
Year built: 1712
Sanford family house: The house was built by the Sanford family, who lived there for two centuries. The current occupants are only the fourth owners in the home’s long history.
The three-bedroom home, which recently housed an antique business, includes wide-plank floors, a beehive oven, and two fireplaces. There’s also a large antique barn, corn crib, and a current tenant who would be willing to stay, if the buyer so desired.
Year built: 1720
Motivated seller: Priced below appraisal, this two-bedroom Colonial features a front porch patio, stone walls, and lush gardens. The charming residence sits on a lot of nearly a full acre, close to the Hudson Valley. Inside, the home features original wide-plank flooring, beamed ceilings, and custom cabinets.
Year built: 1734
Cudner-Hyatt house: Artfully restored and reimagined, this historic four-bedroom farmhouse has maintained its vintage character, with a modern boost.
It now features all-new systems, finishes, and furnishings, which perfectly complement the home’s past. A custom kitchen, new bathroom, and a private deck are just a few of the modern touches incorporated in the timeless home.
Year built: 1739
John Woodhull House: This five-bedroom home on Long Island sits on a half-acre, with views of Miller Duck Pond.
It’s filled with original architectural elements, including four fireplaces, original moldings, wood beams, and wide-plank floors. Complete with a walk-up attic/loft, this space is ready to be reimagined as something spectacular.
Year built: 1760
Saltbox Souhegan: This three-bedroom home will require some love, but the 5-acre piece of property is sublimely situated, with 600 feet of frontage on the Souhegan River. The saltbox-style home comes with a large dining and living room, mudroom, and workshop.
Year built: 1760
In-town Colonial: This two-bedroom home has a stately entryway that opens to a living room with chair rail, pumpkin pine floors, and a fireplace. Other highlights include a sunroom with stone floor, a walk-up attic, and space outside for entertaining, all a few minutes from Flemington’s historic Main Street.
Year built: 1768
Haines-Lippincott house: First, it was a general store, and then it was converted into a local post office. Later still, it served the Enterprise Library.
These days, it’s a charming six-bedroom brick home with heartwood pine floors, as well as a finished basement with stone walls. The lovely backyard has a koi pond and patio for entertaining.