Builders Raise the Roof: Ceiling Heights Rise

Developers are finding that buyers have a passion for higher ceilings, and they’re taking them beyond the standard eight-feet in luxury residences. More builders are now promoting ceiling heights of 11, 12, and even 20 feet. They’re finding that buyers are willing to pay a premium for the extra height too.

Just how much?®’s research team found that raising ceiling height to 10 or 11 feet from the standard height of eight to nine feet led to an average 50 percent jump in average listing price per square foot. The highest premium was for ceilings between 12 and 15 feet, which saw an average 76 percent boost per square foot than units with standard heights. On the other hand, taller ceilings – higher than 15 feet – saw the smallest premium at 28 percent higher than standard ceilings.®’s research team analyzed more than 2,300 condos priced at $750,000 or more in New York, Illinois, Southern California, Massachusetts, and South Florida. Researchers found that New York City condos saw the largest premiums from 12-feet-but-below-15-feet ceilings. The average premium was $3,700 a square foot – or 150 percent higher than those with standard ceilings. (But note: Condos with 12-foot ceilings also tend to be in newer towers that feature greater amenities too.)

“The smaller the apartment, the [smaller] the impact of tall ceilings,” says Jonathan Miller, an appraiser in New York. But too tall can make apartments feel claustrophobic, he adds.

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Client Spotlight: The Sankaranarayanan Family

Along with featuring Tracy Dowling for the month of March, we are also featuring one of her great clients, meet the Sankaranarayanan family!

Vidya and her husband were checking out the market until they stumbled upon a house that caught their eye. The listing agent for that house was Tracy Dowling, “We wanted to look at the house so we emailed Tracy… we talked about exactly what we were looking for and my husband and I got a great first impression from her,” said Vidya. She talked about how patient Tracy was with them, and how she never tried to force her opinion on her and her husband, but guided them in the right direction. Home Coach Realty and Taylor provided them with everything they needed to ensure their home buying process ran smoothly. “When did have a few problems along the way but Tracy handled everything, she took care of us,” Vidya stated. When asked if they would recommend Home Coach and Tracy Dowling to a new homeowner Vidya was more than willing to say “Absolutely yes!! In a heartbeat [I would], I wouldn’t even think twice about it.”


Vidya and her husband’s house bought from Tracy!

Agent Spotlight: Tracy Dowling

Meet: Tracy Dowling!


Tracy moved to Raleigh in the late 1990’s from Charleston, SC. At the  time, she owned a web design company and was creating websites for real estate agents. It was during that time that she decided to completely shift her direction. She moved to Georgia for a few years and sold real estate,  and has been back in Raleigh for the last 12 years. She has been with  Home Coach for almost 2 years. Tracy was with a couple of the larger  firms previously and Home Coach has been a better fit for her. She tells  her clients that Home Coach does the best job of helping her help them.



disneyShe lives in Raleigh with her husband and 7-year-old daughter. Tracy’s husband is a member of the North Carolina National Guard and they are active members of their church. Her family loves all that this area has to offer. Their weekends are spent hiking, biking or enjoying many of the outdoor festivals in downtown Raleigh. In her work, she is known for great customer service, consistent communication, attention to detail and for providing a positive experience. She said it’s always about her clients and customers. She knows what it takes to successfully close a transaction making the buying or selling experience seamless.

Basements Less Common in New Builds!

Basements Less Common in New Builds

The share of new single-family homes built on slab is growing whereas basement foundations are not as common, according to a new analysis by the National Association of Home Builders on Survey of Construction data.

Fifty-seven percent of all new single-family homes started last year were built on slab foundations compared to 27 percent that had full/partial basement foundations, 14 percent with a crawl space, and the remaining 2 percent that had raised supports, earthen, or other foundation types.

“The foundation types for residential construction are closely related to climate conditions, especially the frost line,” NAHB reports on its Eye on Housing blog. “Homes in colder areas, where building codes normally require foundations built below frost depth, are predominately constructed with full or partial basements.”

Home owners are the most likely to find full or partial basements in the West North Central region of the U.S., followed by New England or the Middle Atlantic. On the other hand, homes in the West South Central and Pacific divisions are the least likely to have full and partial basements. Areas that have warmer climates or clay soil (which is expansive) – like in many Southern parts of the U.S. – slab foundations are more common and cheaper to construct than full or partial basements or crawl spaces, NAHB notes.



21 Best Beaches in the World!

Find perfection in these places where land meets water.


Ask true beach lovers to name a favorite swath of surf and sand, and the answer changes with the tides. Luckily our planet is covered in oceans, seas, and lakes, which means there’s a beach to indulge any whim. From pearly crescents covered in shells to turquoise bays teeming with Skittles-colored fish, they’re not all created equal.

Here are 21 of the best.


Playa del Amor, Marietas Islands, Mexico: A swim through an opening nearly invisible from the sea reveals what locals call the “hidden beach,” encircled by an impressive rock ring forming a natural oculus for the sun and sky. Only six visitors at a time can visit “Love Beach” via approved tour operators such as Punta Mita Adventures.


Cathedrals Beach, Ribadeo, Spain: For a church visit like no other, head to Ribadeo, on Spain’s northwest Galician coast, where wave-carved, hundred-foot rock arches resembling flying buttresses of Gothic cathedrals line the sand. Walk among them at low tide, but beware, when the Bay of Biscay rises, the beach quickly succumbs to the surf.


Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles: With sun-dappled giant boulders, calm turquoise waters, snow white sand, and palm trees and jungle for greenery, this Indian Ocean beach seems created by a Hollywood set designer. It’s no wonder that it is often ranked as the most photographed beach in the world.



One Foot Island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands: The marooned vibe is so palpable here it lured hit show Survivor to this 15-island atoll. Tapuaetai, “one footprint” in the local Maori dialect, is a short hop across the translucent lagoon, with a coconut palm-fringed shoreline you can trace in 15 minutes, but don’t rush, and don’t forget a footprint-shaped passport stamp from the hut turned post office.


Sunset Beach, Brunswick Islands, North Carolina: At the west end of this remote beach, a mile from the access point, a solitary mailbox stands, planted by local Frank Nesmith in the ’70s, and continually replenished with notebooks inviting visitors to jot thoughts, dreams, wishes, and whatever else moves the spirit.


Lazy Beach, Koh Rong Samloem Island, Cambodia: If thatched-roof huts, crystalline waters, and silky sand beaches aren’t reason enough to hop aboard a wooden boat in Sihanoukville and join the 2.5-hour jaunt into the Gulf of Thailand, then take this beach’s name to heart and come to meander the jungle, nap in porch swings, and let life slow to a crawl.



Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, Florida: Shell hunters hunch in a stance dubbed the “Sanibel stoop” in search of conchs, coquinas, sand dollars, and dozens of other varieties that hitch a ride on Gulf of Mexico currents. Stock up on hats, buckets, and sunscreen at Bailey’s General Store, an island favorite.


Shell Beach, Shark Bay, Western Australia: On the edge of the continent, and part of the Shark Bay UNESCO World Heritage site, countless white cockleshells, up to 30 feet deep in some parts, spread for miles. Take nothing but pictures. Stop at Old Pearler Restaurant, built entirely of shells from this beach.


Lyme Regis, England: Budding paleontologists and casual shellers love the spiral-shaped ammonites and fossil remains of 180-million-year-old sea creatures found embedded in the rock and sand of England’s Jurassic Coast. The Lyme Regis Museum leads guided fossil walks, and May’s annual fossil festival fetes earth sciences with plays, music, and hands-on exhibits.



Cannon Beach, Oregon: Rover is welcome on most of Oregon’s 400 miles of public beaches, including this wide ribbon of hard-packed sand that has the added eye candy of Haystack Rock looming offshore. An annual dog show unfurls in front of the Surfsand Resort each October.


Carmel City Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California: “It’s hard to say who gets more pleasure on Carmel’s beach: the pooches that can romp off leash, or their ‘pawrents,’ who can gawk at world-famous Pebble Beach to the north and Point Lobos to the south,” says Kelly E. Carter, author of National Geographic’s The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel.

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Noordwjk Beach, The Netherlands: Past the tulip fields in south Holland, between Amsterdam and The Hague, the seaside town of Noordwijk has a separate dog beach for wild gambols by the North Sea. There are walking routes for human-canine bonding, and pooch-friendly restaurants and lodgings, including Take2 Beach & Bungalows, near the entrance to the dog beach.



Papakōlea Beach, Hawaii: This small cove gets its verdant good looks from tiny crystals called olivine, found in the rocks of the surrounding 49,000-year-old Puu Mahana cinder cone. Getting there requires a strenuous two-mile trek, but isn’t it worth it to leave footprints on one of the world’s few green-sand beaches?


Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland: On sunny days on Iceland’s south coast, Reynisfjara Beach’s ink black sand and basalt sea stacks are absolutely stunning. But don’t be lulled: “Powerful waves are known to knock people off their feet,” says Katie Hammel, who has worked at Iceland-based TripCreator.


Pink Beach, Great Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga, The Philippines: Hardly lacking in gorgeous beaches, the Philippines claims a pink-sand variety, too. The blush color comes from billions of pieces of crushed red organ-pipe coral, seen in every handful of sand. The number of visitors to the island is regulated, and advance arrangements should be made through the tourist office in Zamboanga.



Pelican Beach, South Water Caye, Belize: “It’s the only place in Belize where you can swim safely to the reef within minutes and explore the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, full of colorful coral, angelfish, blue tang, sea turtles, all in less than 20 feet of water,” says guidebook author Lebawit Lily Girma.


Blue Bay, Mauritius: Enter the Indian Ocean at the west end of the public beach and find yourself amid the parrotfish and other flashy underwater life thriving in the 872-acre Blue Bay Marine Park. The Shandrani Beach-comber Resort and Spa and the Blue Lagoon Beach Hotel also have swimmable access.


Cas Abao Beach, Curaçao: Ringed by reefs, Curaçao hides a Caribbean underwater wonderland, and this beach is one of the few sandy ones on the arid island, with a bar and a shop to rent snorkel gear. Slip straight into the shallow crystalline bay alive with sea fans and coral, tropical fish, sponges, sea turtles, and more.



Sleeping Bear Point, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan: Pure freshwater and 450-foot bluffs mean eyes-open swimming and vast views over Lake Michigan. Walk from the former Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station, now a maritime museum, or along the Sleeping Bear Point Trail over low-lying dunes to the beach. In the distance look for North and South Manitou Islands, prime spots for hiking and camping.


Piscinas Beach, Arbus, Sardinia: Sculpted by the mistral wind and embellished with juniper bushes and olive trees, the Piscinas Dunes paint a mercurial backdrop on Sardinia’s southwestern Costa Verde (Green Coast). A former mining warehouse, Hotel Le Dune Piscinas sits at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, with ample windows and lounge spots for admiring the ever changing canvas of sky, sand, and waves.


Corniche Beach, La Teste-De-Buch, France: At 357 feet high, 1,640 feet wide, and 8,800 feet long, the pine forest–hugged Dune of Pilat is the highest in Europe and tumbles to Corniche Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Climbing is okay, but go for views the birds brag about and hitch a 10-minute paraglide ride with Pyla Parapente over the geomorphic monument.


4 Surefire Ways To Tap Into The Millennial Homebuyer Market

4 Surefire Ways To Tap Into The Millennial Homebuyer Market

Finding success in real estate means trying new things — and targeting new clients

  • Cultivate your online presence and look neighborhood-deep for your marketing and content.
  • Be willing to respond promptly and to assist first-time buyers with lots of questions.


Much has been said about the millennial generation, from the controversial Time magazine cover to wide-ranging research conducted by Pew Research Center and Goldman Sachs.

You may know that millennials are internet natives, but did you know that they now outnumber those in the baby boomer generation?

In other words, overlooking this younger demographic means you’re missing out on a hefty portion of potential clients. So the question is this: How can you, as a real estate businessperson, connect with millennials and gear your business toward the future?

1. Cultivate your online life

Research shows that a whopping 82 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook — not to mention the sizable portions of millennials who utilize Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, too.

More than any other generation, millennials use the internet and social media to connect with businesses. By curating your social media presence, you create the perfect portal for a millennial to click into, engaging directly and cost-effectively with a potential client.

Don’t forget: Websites like Zillow, Redfin, Trulia and others are also popular platforms where millennials source potential homes and agents.

2. It’s all about the neighborhood

Most millennials are in search of more than their dream house; they want to be part of a vibrant community where local businesses, great food, entertainment venues and public transportation are just outside their door.

When pursuing millennial leads or serving millennial clients, emphasize local hotspots and come prepared with specifics on a neighborhood’s most compelling attributes — supreme walkability or a top-reviewed coffee shop around the corner.

3. Be ready and willing to work with first-time buyers

Millennials are a generation hungry for information, and they’ll value you not only as an agent, but as a resource as well.

Because most millennials are new to the market, be prepared to educate them throughout the house-hunting process. Employing clarity and patience with your millennials leads or clients could pay-off in a sale, positive online reviews, and even referrals, as millennials are passionate brand devotees.

4. Be speedy in your response

Ye; s, millennials are patently known as a generation that values instant gratification.

While such a claim is likely not so black-and-white, it doesn’t hurt to follow up with millennial leads and clients in a timely manner (a tenet true for all client interactions).

Millennials work quickly and can source information and agents with a few strikes of the keyboard, so to stay in the game, and be sure to respond thoughtfully, personally and without undue delay.

Finding success in real estate means trying new things and pushing your business to evolve. Practicing the points above may give you the edge you need to tap into the coveted millennial demographic, setting you and your business up for sustained success in the long term.

By Brandon Doyle
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Countertop Pros and Cons: What To Choose and Why

Countertop Pros and Cons: What To Choose and Why

Wondering how to choose a countertop for your kitchen? With so much to pick from, it can be challenging – especially with changing trends and so many options that are at similar price points. This pro and con list should help.


Quartz is the most popular choice in countertops today because of its easy maintenance and seemingly unending array of looks, from sleek and modern to options that mimic the appearance of exotic stone and classic marble.


Pros: It won’t stain, so go ahead and drink that red wine. Let your kids have at it with the markers and paint. Go crazy and chop those veggies right on the surface since it’s pretty hard to scratch. Quartz also requires no sealing, unlike granite and other countertop materials.

Cons: High-end quartz can be pricier than real stone like granite, and while it’s much easier to care for, it’s not indestructible. Hot pots should still be placed on a trivet to avoid burning the surface.


While granite has been replaced by quartz as the countertop of choice today, it remains a popular option for homeowners.


Pros: The natural stone comes in a variety of colors and styles, and individual patterns and markings give each slab a unique look. “Granite has a rich beauty that few other countertop materials can match,” said Countertop Guides. “It is a natural product with a timeless aura and appeal.” Granite is also stain- and scratch-resistant, if properly sealed.

Cons: It’s that “properly sealed” part that can make people shy away from granite. Improper maintenance can leave you with a stained, scratched counter. And don’t place a hot pot directly on it or you run the risk of it an ugly burn.


It’s gorgeous, it’s classic, and it’s showcased all over TV in high-end, remodeled kitchens. But marble has a downside that makes it hard to love for many people: the care involved.


Pros: “Is there anything that looks and feels more glamorous than a marble countertop?,” asks Houzz. “Nothing beats marble for sheer elegance. It stands up to heat well, and because it remains perennially cool, it’s a traditional choice for pastry and baking stations.”

Cons: It’s going to stain, no matter how hard you try to keep it clean, and even if you seal it responsibly. It’s also a softer material, which makes it more likely to scratch and chip.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel countertops are most commonly found in commercial kitchens but have become more popular as home kitchens have transformed into chef-worthy spaces.


Pros: “Professional chefs love stainless steel because it’s non-staining, heat-resistant and easy to clean,” said Houzz. “While it certainly makes fingerprints and scratches stand out, it’s a great choice for hardworking kitchens that don’t need a perfect look.” It can also be more affordable than stone.

Cons: About those fingerprints…that’s a deterrent for many people. If you can’t stand little marks on your stainless steel fridge, you probably won’t enjoy them on your counters, either. Stainless steel can also look a little cold, and may not be embraced by the masses – something to think about for when it’s time to sell your home.


Concrete countertops have gained in popularity over the past few years as industrial looks have become more trendy, and are also a favorite of HGTV personality Joanna Gaines, one of today’s most influential tastemakers.


Pros: Because concrete is poured and not quarried, it can look like almost anything you want, with custom shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s also durable, “and both scratch and heat resistant,” said Angie’s List. “Because each countertop is individually handmade, there are endless ways to customize them.”

Cons: Concrete is porous, shows errors and imperfections, and can easily stain. Some people like that because the changes over time are organic; those who want their countertop looking pristine may want to opt for a product other than concrete. Even with diligent sealing, it’ll never be “perfect.”

Another consideration for people looking to use concrete on their counters is how, or rather, where, it is poured. “Concrete countertops that are poured in place (not precast) may develop a hairline crack,” said Angie’s List. “The cracks aren’t necessarily the result of poor workmanship, rather perhaps a new house settling or tension caused by a faucet screwed in too tightly. Hairline cracks can be tricky to fix – ironically the larger the crack, the easier it is to fill and repair – so you might chalk up any such flaw to being a part of concrete’s natural patina.”

By: Jaymi Naciri
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Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’ Reveals 5 Top Home-Staging Mistakes

Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’ Reveals 5 Top Home-Staging Mistakes


Few home renovation reality show hosts are as enjoyable to watch as Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” And for good reason: One, let’s face it, they’re a cute couple. Two, as the show’s before-and-after pics make clear, Chip (a contractor) and Jo (a designer) are a potent combo when it comes to transforming humble hovels into gorgeous homes.

And now fans craving more about this pair can get their fill with their first book, “The Magnolia Story,” out Oct. 18. This biography reveals how they first met (at an auto repair shop), the highs and lows of raising their “babies” (four kids and their home remodeling business, Magnolia Homes in Waco, TX), and plenty of lessons learned along the way about renovations, real estate, and relationships.

One of the keys to a successful home sale, says Jo, is home staging, where you arrange your furniture and décor (or some rented stuff) in a way that entices buyers to make an offer. Yet home staging is a highly misunderstood practice, one where home sellers can easily make missteps that can undermine these efforts.


Here, Jo reveals the top five home-staging mistakes she’s seen, so you’ll know to avoid them when selling your home.

Mistake No. 1: Purging all your family photos

“You’ll hear staging experts say to take down your family photos, kids’ artwork, and anything personal, so that a potential buyer can picture their family in your home, rather than seeing yours everywhere,” says Jo. “Personally, I love knowing that a house is well-loved, and seeing those personal touches displayed reminds me that my family would be happy there, too.”

Mistake No. 2: Including too much furniture

“Trying to put too much furniture in one space makes it look smaller than it really is,” Jo explains. “Try to stick with three large pieces at most per room to keep the house feeling big and open.”

Mistake No. 3: Not cleaning up

“It’s true that leaving your house a mess can keep a potential buyer from seeing how beautiful your space really is, so a quick cleaning blitz before a showing can do a lot of good,” says Jo. “When the house is clean, buyers can see you love your house—and know they will, too.”

Mistake No. 4: Stuffing clutter into closets

On the other hand, “if you’re scrambling to clean up when a real estate agent schedules a last-minute showing, don’t stuff your closets full of laundry, toys, odds, and ends,” says Jo. “Potential buyers will definitely want to know how much storage space your home has, so no closet will be safe for concealing messes. If you’re in a pinch, a last-ditch effort to hide a mess is under a bed.”

Mistake No. 5: Ignoring your home’s exterior

“Simple touches like making sure the lawn is freshly cut, power-washing the driveway, or putting a few freshly potted plants on the front porch can make a big impact,” says Jo. “It’s all about reminding them that your house is cared for, so they won’t worry that you’re also ignoring what they can’t see.”

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The 10 U.S. Cities With the Fastest-Growing Suburbs

The 10 U.S. Cities With the Fastest-Growing Suburbs


Ever since the modern American suburb sprouted like kudzu in the post-WWII era, we’ve found ourselves in a love-hate relationship of epic proportions.

Love: Owning your own slice of the dream—a home with a front and back yard, far from urban crime, crowds, squalor, and substandard schools. Hate: Leaving behind the thrill and culture of the city and settling into a tragically unhip, homogenized milieu, skewered in all its soul-crushing glory by everyone from Updike to “Stepford Wives” to “Mad Men.”

But here’s the thing: We can’t quit them.

Even the most die-hard urbanites often wake up to realize they crave more space and better public schools at a lower price—while hopefully remaining within commuting distance of the jobs, restaurants, and indie music joints of the Big City.  In some of the nation’s top metro areas, the suburbs are growing faster than the city proper.

And now with an aging millennial generation, and growing interest from minorities, suburban communities are getting a fresh influx of transplants seeking affordable, family-friendly living. From 2010 to 2017, households in the suburbs grew 7.9% nationally, compared with 6.6% growth in urban areas, according to a analysis of Nielsen population data.

“Most high-growth urban areas just don’t have enough land, so prices are higher and homeownership is typically lower,” says Jonathan Smoke, our chief economist. “It’s tempting to live in a walkable urban neighborhood … but the costs make it hard to afford, especially  for large or growing families.”

To pinpoint which suburbs are growing the fastest, our data team looked at where the number of households, home listings, list prices, and demand for homes are growing the fastest for every ZIP code in the 50 largest metro areas—our research portal has a more in-depth analysis of each metro. What did the data reveal?

It turns out America’s most sought-after suburban neighborhoods are often the exurbs of its fastest-expanding metros—places where those white picket-fenced homes often offer a way more affordable option.


1. Denver, CO

Median urban home price: $544,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Northeast Denver (ZIP code: 80239)
Median price in Northeast Denver: $270,000
Suburban savings (moving from the city to the suburbs): 50%

The suburb known as Northeast Denver burst onto our radar with the opening of the surprisingly cool Stanley Marketplace—a chic, food-centric neighborhood center with restaurants, beer halls, and a yoga studio. It’s helping turn the former industrial neighborhood into the next hot spot.

The proof is in the prices. The median home price in the neighborhood jumped 27% last year—making Northeast Denver the fastest-growing suburban neighborhood in our analysis. (That sure makes sense, given that the city of Denver is also growing at a breakneck pace.)

“The Marketplace is one of the things really joining the top 1 percenters and the bottom 10 percenters here,” says Jessica Jiang, a real estate agent with Re/Max Momentum.

Lifelong Northeast Denver resident Jascon Willis, 37, an  oil industry consultant, is witnessing the changes with some apprehension.

“It’s growing,” says Willis, who hopes longtime residents won’t be displaced. “It’s an area in transition.”

Fun fact: Bordering Northeast Denver is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, inhabited by 330 species, including coyotes, black-footed ferrets, and bison.

2. Dallas, TX

Median urban home price: $501,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Wylie (ZIP code: 75098)
Median price in Wylie: $369,000
Suburban savings: 26%


For folks who work in central Dallas but want to retreat to suburban security each night, Wylie is turning out to be just the place.

Named one of the safest cities in the U.S. by the website Neighborhood Scout, it’s home to a mix of young families as well as established professionals, with many first-time homeowners. The median home list price in Wylie currently sits at $352,000, around $100,000 above the national median—but hey, safety’s worth it, right?

With buyers eager for homes, new residential construction is booming. In fact, overall economic growth in the area has exerted pressure on the local labor market for more college-educated workers.To that end, the city worked with Collin College to sponsor a large new campus in Wylie, scheduled to open in 2020.

Fun fact: Sorry, the place was NOT named after Wile E. Coyote—the guy who supplied its moniker was railroad engineer Col. William D. Wylie, who helped pave the way for the trains that brought prosperity to Wylie in the 1880s.

3. San Francisco, CA

Median urban home price: $1,144,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Dublin (ZIP code: 94568)
Median price in Dublin: $890,000
Suburban savings: 22%

Just over the hill from Oakland, and nestled in a region referred to as the Tri-Valley Area, Dublin represents a rare pocket of (relative) affordability in the exorbitant San Francisco Bay Area.

Not only do the homes have friendlier prices, but the city’s schools are at the top of the class, too. In fact, seven of them are rated 10 out of 10 on

We’re not saying it’s cheap—buyers will still need to pull down a Bay Area salary to buy a home here—but the number of households in this family-friendly ZIP grew 25.6% from 2010 to 2017.


According to Nielsen data, half the housing stock in Dublin has been built since 2000. Much of the city’s growth can be traced to the addition of a Bay Area Rapid Transit station, which opened in the late ‘90s, directly connecting commuters to the metro Bay Area.

To keep pace with rapid growth, the city broke ground last year on a 189-acre community that could build up to 1,995 residential units over the next seven years.

Fun fact: In 2011, the Discovery Channel show “MythBusters” misfired a homemade cannonball and hit a Dublin home during filming. We’re not quite sure what myth it was trying to bust, but Dec. 6 was thereafter named “Victory in the Battle for Dublin.”

4. Austin, TX

Median urban home price: $494,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Daffan (ZIP code: 78724)
Median price in Daffan: $348,000
Suburban savings: 30%

The suburban neighborhood of Daffan may not seem to have much in common with its hip, young city neighbor to the west. In fact, if the hood is known at all, it’s probably as the home to the Decker Creek Power Station. But that’s already starting to change.


Daffan is seeing an influx of new residents who are being priced out of the city as home and rent prices continue to rise sharply. New developments of single-family homes are going up, and suburbanites are moving right in.

And why not? What Austinites may not know is that the neighborhood is also home to the family-friendly Austin Rodeo, Fair and Stock Show as well as the Travis County Exposition Center. The latter hosts everything from rodeos to Kenny Rogers concerts.

Fun fact: The nearly 1,300-acre Walter E. Long Lake, which runs through Daffan, is the ideal place to spend an afternoon catching hybrid striped bass and catfish. Kenny Rogers tunes are optional.

5. Tampa, FL

Median urban home price: $350,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Palm River–Clair Mel (ZIP code: 33619)
Median price in Palm River–Clair Mel: $134,000
Suburban savings: 62%


Last year, we named Tampa the No. 1 city where Americans are moving, due to its winning combo of cheap housing and a strong job market. But plenty of area residents don’t want to actually live within the sleepy city’s limits. So instead, they’re heading for the ‘burbs.

Palm River–Clair Mel is becoming ever more popular with cash-strapped families looking for a safe and affordable home. It’s not a cultural mecca, however.

“Most of it is strip malls and residential real estate,” says Kenneth Stillwell, a real estate agent at Spin Real Estate, who specializes in buying homes in foreclosures, fixing them up, and then selling them as rental properties to investors. But “you have a lot of three-bedroom, two-bath homes and four-bedroom, two-bath homes” for a good price, he says.

Fun fact: Palm River–Clair Mel and nearby Progressive Village area were this metro’s first planned low-income housing suburb.

6. Orlando, FL

Median urban home price: $278,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Vista East (ZIP code: 32829)
Median price in Vista East: $231,500
Suburban savings: 17%

There are plenty of reasons to love Orlando. But one thing residents aren’t so fond of are the quickly rising home prices.

And that’s why they’re moving out to newer neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, like Vista East, which are still comparatively affordable, and just a half-hour from the soon-to-be-Shamu-free SeaWorld.

“It’s very family-oriented. It has a community pool, a community playground, and it’s very well taken care of,” says Orlando-area Realtor® Jodi Nielsen of Re/Max Select. And it’s growing. “Everywhere you can see construction companies clearing the area and breaking ground.”

Fun fact: Orlando has 100 lakes, many of which are the result of sinkholes.

7. Miami, FL

Median urban home price: $470,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Cutler Bay (ZIP code: 33189)
Median price in Cutler Bay: $290,000
Suburban savings: 38%


Floridians who love living on the water—and want to do it relatively affordably—seem to increasingly be discovering Cutler Bay. The small town, right on Biscayne Bay, is between Miami and North Key Largo, just 45 minutes from either destination.

“It’s far enough away to have that small-town feel,” says Realtor Marcos Fullana of Choice One Real Estate in Cutler Bay. “But it’s close to the beaches and downtown [Miami].”

The best part? “It’s affordable,” he says. “You’re going to get more square feet for your money than if you get closer to downtown Miami.”

Fun fact: Incorporated only in 2006, Cutler Bay is the youngest city in Florida.

8. San Jose, CA

Median urban home price: $1,149,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Milpitas (ZIP code: 95035)
Median price in Milpitas: $850,000
Suburban savings: 26%


For years, the city of Milpitas has been notorious for a noxious and pernicious odor that residents claim originates in the landfills of San Jose, just to the south. The smell even inspired a couple of Twitter accounts (@MilpitasStinks and @MilpitasOdor). But perhaps the acrid air is a small sacrifice to pay for affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area?

After all, with top-ranked schools and easy access to most of Silicon Valley, Milpitas is an attractive location for tech professionals with families. Perhaps that’s why the number of households in the city grew 15.5% from 2010 to 2017.

As with Dublin, mass transit will likely play a vital role in Milpitas’ growth. A new BART station set to open in 2017 will link the city with the rest of the Bay Area. 

With BART in mind, city officials recently approved a new mixed-use development of condos and retail spaces that they expect will eventually catalyze into something resembling a downtown.

Fun fact: From 1953 to 1983, Milpitas was home to Ford Motors’ primary manufacturing site in Northern California. Today, that site is the Great Mall of the Bay Area, a sprawling indoor mall whose 1.4 million square foot of retail space is anchored by a ginormous Burlington Coat Factory.

9. Nashville, TN

Median urban home price: $422,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Williamsburg in Murfreesboro (ZIP code: 37129)
Median price in Northwest Murfreesboro: $295,000
Suburban savings: 30%

We already know Nashville is cool. But now that’s spilling over into Murfreesboro, 33 miles southwest of Nashville. It’s the 13th fastest-growing city in the U.S., according to U.S. Census data.

In northwest Murfreesboro, neighborhoods like Williamsburg and White Haven have seen a huge influx of eager home buyers. Younger buyers can still get a home for under $250,000 if they’re lucky, says Realtor Brian Copeland with Village Real Estate Services.

Another plus is the presence of two major hospitals—St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital and TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center—right in the heart of Williamsburg/White Haven, providing hundreds of jobs.

Fun fact: Murfreesboro celebrates Uncle Dave Macon Day every July, when people honor the first superstar of the Grand Ole Opry with competitions for old-time music and dancing.

10. Raleigh, NC

Median urban home price: $418,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Apex (ZIP code: 27502)
Median price in Apex: $429,000
Suburban savings: Sorry, you have to pay a 3% premium. Apex is just that awesome.


In case you somehow missed it, Raleigh has become a magnet for millennials on the East Coast, benefiting from a booming job market.

That’s because the metro is home to Research Triangle Park, an area that’s home to more than 200 technology companies, including IBM and Cisco, and top-notch schools like Duke University.

And the hottest neighborhood is Apex. It’s so sought-after that it was rated the best place to live by Money Magazine in 2015.

Along with some of the state’s best schools, the community also boasts some serious small-town charm. Maybe there’s really something to that “peak of good living” town slogan after all.

Fun fact: Apex was a tobacco farming town in the early 1900s, when farmers discovered that its land produced excellent tobacco crops.

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Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent When Purchasing New Construction!

Five good reasons to have a pro on your side throughout the process.


Buying new construction seems simple, right? Just pick out the floor plan you want, choose the perfect lot, and watch it go up. No sellers to deal with, no unexpected repairs that come up during inspection, no drawn-out negotiations. Right?

Not so fast. In any real estate transaction, it’s important to have a professional on your side, even if the process seems straightforward.

“Having your own agent provides a sense of security,” says Seattle-area homeowner Kristy Weaver, who has bought two new construction homes from two different builders. “It gives you some peace of mind, knowing that someone is looking out for your best interest.”

Peace of mind is just one benefit of having an experienced agent along for the ride. Read on for five more reasons you’ll want a local real estate agent by your side when buying a new construction home.

To help you find a reputable builder

“Your agent can rely on their own experience and that of their colleagues to help you find a builder you can trust,” says Portland, OR-based real estate agent Kim Ainge Payne of the Realty Trust Group. “What’s the quality of the workmanship? What kind of warranty do they offer? What’s their track record of resolving issues? Getting a clear understanding in the beginning can alleviate serious headaches down the road.”

To go to bat for you

The timeline for purchasing new construction is typically quite a bit longer than buying an existing home. From the first time you visit the sales center, to choosing your layout, construction, inspections, and finally closing, there are ample opportunities for things to go sideways — think construction delays, permit issues, and financing concerns. An experienced buyer’s agent can help you navigate all of these sticky situations.

To help you review your contract

Even if you’ve purchased a home before, the contract for new construction is a whole different animal, and an experienced agent can help you make sure you understand everything, from floor plans to earnest money requirements, deadlines for requesting changes, and timelines for completion.

“It’s crucial to have a third party who represents your interests in the transaction,” says Dmitry Yusim, a Seattle-area agent who has represented new construction buyers. “A good agent can add the proper addendums to protect you if something falls through.”

To assist with negotiations

Buyers’ agents know the areas where you’ll find the most wiggle room when it comes to negotiations.

“Builders are trying to keep their sales price up so that the next buyers through the door see the higher closing price,” explains agent Britt Wibmer of Windermere Real Estate in Seattle. “They’d much rather throw in closing costs or additional upgrade credits.”

To point you toward smart upgrade choices

Builders will offer you endless options for finishes and upgrades, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A seasoned real estate agent can recommend the upgrades that will get you the most bang for your buck in resale value, suggest finishes that might be cheaper to do on your own, and help you avoid over-improving, which can jeopardize your appraisal before closing.

Even though a friendly sales representative will greet you with a smile the moment you walk through the door of the sales center, don’t forget that they work for the builder. Bring your own agent with you starting with your first visit — in fact, many builders require your agent to register with them from the very beginning in order for them to be involved in the process and receive their commission.

With a professional you trust by your side, you’ll rest easy knowing someone is there to protect your money, your time, and your new home.

Wondering if new construction is right for you? Search new construction listings, and get more home-buying tips and resources to help you decide.

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