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Forget Delivery—Here Are 5 of the Best Backyard Pizza Ovens You Can Buy Right Now

pizza oven

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We’re more than six months into this pandemic, and if you’re anything like us, you’re a bit tired of (OK, make that absolutely fatigued by) your dinner options. Cooking has worn you down, you’ve burned through your repertoire of recipes (literally), and you’ve exhausted all of your takeout options.

So how on earth do you keep your family fed and still keep suppertime sort of interesting, maybe even exciting?

The backyard pizza oven is here to save the day!

“Some people might say, ‘Why don’t you just bake pizza in the oven like normal?’” says chef Tony Matassa at BBQGuys. “It’s because the usual indoor oven just bakes pizza, whereas a true pizza oven fires a pizza. The intense heat of a pizza oven makes the crust pop and crisp up, and you get authentic results that other cookers just can’t offer.”

So if you’re looking to shake up your meal plan and eat the best pizza a home oven can make, we’ve got a few ideas for you. Here are our five favorite backyard pizza ovens that are sure to conquer your cravings.

1. Traditional wood-fired oven

Backyard pizza ovens
Gardman Monterey pizza oven

Walmart

If you’re looking for a small version of those traditional wood-fired pizza ovens we all love, look no further than the Gardman Monterey pizza oven ($264 from Walmart).

“This traditional pizza oven is relatively inexpensive, portable, and small enough for almost any backyard,” says Evelynn Ratcliffe, partner at Alair Homes. “So you can even host pizza night on your balcony or small outdoor space in the city.”

Coming in at only 60 pounds with wheels, this portable, stainless-steel oven is perfect for making custom wood-fired pizzas, steaks, chicken, fish, and even homemade breads—and the rustic look is sure to complement just about any outdoor decor.

2. Portable oven

Backyard pizza ovens
ROCCBOX portable pizza oven

Amazon

For something with even more portability (and a bit more flexibility), check out this ROCCBOX portable pizza oven ($499 from Amazon). This compact contraption packs a big punch and offers both traditional wood-fired and gas cooking options. It’s versatile enough to live on your deck or atop a favorite outdoor counter space.

It’s also the No. 1 selling pizza oven on Amazon, according to custom home builder Judd Builders.

“The reviews are glowing,” he says. “It’s portable, can reach over 950 degrees, and will give you that crispy crust and melted cheese in minutes.”

3. Countertop pizza oven

countertop pizza oven
Forno Venetzia Bellagio countertop oven

BBQGuys

If you really love your pizza (enough to blow your budget on it) and want an oven that looks even better than the ones in the restaurants, take a look at this top-of-the-line Forno Venetzia Bellagio countertop oven ($3,000 from the BBQGuys).

“If you have the right space for this oven, it is top of the line and will add ‘wow’ factor to your outdoor kitchen,” says Builders. “It will give you that Italian wood-fired flavor and can cook up to four pizzas at once.”

4. Wood and charcoal oven

Backyard pizza ovens
Ooni Karu wood- and charcoal-fired portable pizza oven

Ooni Pizza Ovens

For even more versatility—and some might argue, flavor—check out the Ooni Karu wood- and charcoal-fired portable pizza oven ($329 from Ooni Pizza Ovens). This affordable yet cool-looking outdoor oven is also ultraportable and versatile, weighing only 26 pounds and offering charcoal, wood, and even gas cooking options.

“This pizza oven has a sleek, modern aesthetic and is perfect for small families,” says Ratcliffe. “And allows for cooking up to two pizzas at a time.”

5. DIY pizza oven

Backyard pizza ovens
DIY pizza oven by Food Truck Empire

Food Truck Empire

If you really love pizza but aren’t willing to drop the big bucks for an oven, then why not build your own? This DIY model from Food Truck Empire makes it easy to craft your very own backyard pizza oven for less than $100.

Although the final product won’t be some lean, mean, show-stopping chrome pizza machine, the rustic look of this oven (and unbeatable price) makes it possible for just about anyone to get started cooking their very own backyard pizzas.

The post Forget Delivery—Here Are 5 of the Best Backyard Pizza Ovens You Can Buy Right Now appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Meticulously Restored $17.5M Historic Craftsman in Palo Alto Attracts a Buyer

Palo Alto craftsman

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Palo Alto, CA, sits smack in the middle of Silicon Valley and lays claim to some of the highest home prices in the nation. Its current median list price is an eye-popping $3.2 million.

Given these high prices, the city has developed a reputation for tear-down projects that have left charming neighborhoods dotted with modern construction. These new homes emphasize sleek lines and contemporary stylings. For example, take this brand-new $4.25 million home. Or this boxy $4.3 million home.

Which is what makes this Craftsman-style home in the city—currently pending sale, with a list price of $17.5 million—so intriguing. Built in 1905, it’s also the second-most-expensive home in Palo Alto, right behind an $18.5 million French-inspired mansion.

And what is it that the Craftsman possesses and these newer homes lack? It’s protected for eternity, thanks to its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Owned by a former Facebook executive and his investor wife, who bought it for $4.9 million in 2011, this isn’t your ordinary Craftsman bungalow. After buying it, the couple embarked on a massive multiyear restoration project to revive this historic home.

Spanning 7,823 square feet, it packs five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms into a half-acre lot in the Professorville neighborhood, a 20-minute walk from University Avenue downtown. Stanford University is a relatively short jaunt away.

Exterior of home in Palo Alto, CA

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Porch

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Stairwell

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Living room

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Dining room

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Kitchen

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Wine cellar

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Terrace

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Outdoor kitchen

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Garage

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Garage interior

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Throughout the home are luxury details for the home entertainer, such as the high-end blue range in the kitchen, which was crafted in Italy, multiple fireplaces, and a walk-in wine cellar that could easily host a small tasting.

The bedrooms are spacious and much larger than you’d normally find in a Craftsman home. To bring the home into the 21st century, an upstairs media room, open kitchen layout, lower rec room, and two private offices were added.

To provide additional space for a growing family, the detached garage was converted into a massage and yoga studio, with shiplap interiors and new light fixtures. It could also be used as a one-bedroom cottage.

There’s also a sense of California-style outdoor living, with a chicken coop, and custom alfresco kitchen. A brick terrace has a fireplace surrounded by sectional sofas, for a cozy year-round vibe. Much of the gorgeous landscape work is complete, including planting beds, water features, and mature trees.

Open-beam ceilings, stonework, diamond-shaped window panes and woodwork have all been impeccably restored.

Photos of the home prior to its renovation illustrate the extent of the work on the interior. In addition to its spot on the National Register, the home earned a Palo Alto Stanford Heritage Historic Restoration Award in 2017.

The gorgeous restoration and its historical cred paid off—the multimillion dollar Craftsman is now in pending sale status. A new owner will reap the benefits of the meticulous handiwork.

Carol Carnevale and Nicole Aran of Compass have the listing.

The post Meticulously Restored $17.5M Historic Craftsman in Palo Alto Attracts a Buyer appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

These 5 Living Room Looks on Instagram Have Us So Excited for Fall

fireplace candles

Spinnaker Development/Houzz

It’s hard to believe another fall season is already here. But with school in session almost everywhere and pumpkins emerging on doorsteps, it’s safe to say that summer is officially over. And as you look ahead to more time spent indoors this autumn, you might be wondering how to make your interiors cozier.

Of course, you can always count on us to provide a few ideas. And we found some that will make you truly excited to usher in the new season.

Like we do every week, we’re bringing you five of the hottest looks found on Instagram, along with designer-approved tips on how to steal the look for your home. This week, we’re focused on the place where you’re guaranteed to spend the most time this fall: the living room.

This fresh list of living room decor ideas is sure to make the crisp days ahead a little warmer.

1. White coffee table

All-white everything might be out, but stand-alone white furniture like this coffee table from @the.beautyrevival is oh so in.

“A white coffee table adds a crisp contrast element to your home this time of year,” says Michelle Harrison-McAllister of Michelle Harrison Design. “This is such a great way to make the elements on the table really pop, especially now that we’re quickly entering the holiday season. Decorating your white table with orange pumpkins, greenery, or just floral arrangements will really change the personality of the room in a hot minute.”

Get the look: Shop this Jamestown coffee table from Target.

2. Candlelit fireplace

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✨Evening vibes ✨ ________________________________________ Kiedy po całym dniu, nie wiesz co słychać na Instagramie, to przynajmniej wiesz, że żyjesz 🤷‍♀️😁 To opowiadajcie co tam słychać? 😉 Miłego wieczoru ✨😘 ________________________________________ #interiordesign #interior123 #interior125 #eveningvibes #eveninggoals #bookstagram #booklover #simplepleasures #plantsofinstagram #myplantlovinghome #cozyspaces #hyggehome #myhyggehome #nordicinterior #mynordicroom #nordicspace #scandinaviandesign #scandinavianstyle #apartamenttherapy #livingroom #livingroomdesign #interiorismo #interiorwarrior #interior_and_living #myhome2inspire #mybeautifulhome #interior_design #interior2you #interior4homes #tatianahomedecor

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We all love the look of a lit fireplace, but for various reasons, having a roaring fire in your home this season might not be feasible. This is why this candlelit fireplace from @tatiana_home_decor is the perfect solution.

“Let’s add some ambiance without having to buy wood or clean up ash,” says Harrison-McAllister. “The time change creates that mood of a fireplace glowing while watching our favorite Netflix show. These candlelit fireplaces save the day by adding the ambiance without the maintenance.”

Get the look: Check out this fireplace candlelight holder from Pottery Barn to set the mood without the effort.

3. Rustic chandelier

When it comes to decor, fall is the perfect time to upgrade your rustic farmhouse vibes—and this chandelier from @simplysoutherncottage can help you get there.

“Rustic chandeliers give your living room that country, rural vibe that’s been popular for years,” says Larry Greene, president of Case Design/Remodeling Indianapolis. “These light fixtures come in a variety of looks and pair well with antique wood-finished furniture.”

Get the look: Shop this Raymore rustic chandelier from Lamps Plus.

4. Modern art arrangements

Do the somber fall colors get you down? Then you might just want to get in on these trending modern-art wall displays as featured by @pernilleloof.

“Whether you want to feature a few pieces or many, modern art arrangements will always be a fun way to add personality to your living room decor,” says Greene. “Big, bright, and colorful art arrangements are also a great way to offset any neutral color palettes.”

Get the look: Shop the colorful print collections of Society6.

5. Branch lamps

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✨ Hello Instagram, Je suis en plein montage de mon DIY meuble de bureau. Il me manque quelques petites choses comme le fond du meuble, les charnières pour les portes et j’attend la toile de jute que j’ai commandé sur internet. La lampe à gauche est d’ailleurs une création de monsieur de A à Z, vous aimez ? Et vous ? Quel est votre prochain DIY ou votre DIY en cours ? ✨ ___________________________________________________ #interior4you1 #interiordesign #home #homedecor #homesweethome #homestaging #housedecor #decorating #livingroom #instaday #instadeco #livingroomdecor #deco #decoracion #decorationinterieur #scandinavehome #scandinave #instamoment #homedeco #homes #homeinterior

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Bringing nature indoors is a style that’s been going strong this year, and these pastoral branch lamps from @breizh.home are no exception.

“That corner in your living room needs something, but maybe you can’t decide whether it’s a sculpture or a floor lamp,” says Harrison-McAllister. “Choose both with an organic base element and attached light fixture like this one—which will surely be a statement piece for any room and the envy of your family and friends.”

Get the look: Take a look at this driftwood metal floor lamp by Brimfield & May for the ultimate statement lighting in your living room.

The post These 5 Living Room Looks on Instagram Have Us So Excited for Fall appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Millions Are House-Rich but Cash-Poor. Wall Street Landlords Are Ready.

American Homes 4 Rent has this summer been one of the country’s most-active builders.

Dustin Chambers for The Wall Street Journal

Americans with mortgages have accumulated nearly $10 trillion in home equity thanks to a decade of rising home prices. Yet millions of them have fallen behind on mortgage payments and risk losing their houses.

It is a potential bonanza for rental-home investors. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, big single-family landlords have raised billions of dollars for homebuying sprees.

Even if there isn’t a surge in repossessed homes to buy cheaply off the courthouse steps—which led to the emergence of Wall Street’s landlords during the foreclosure crisis a decade ago—there is likely to be a lot of forced sales and new renters.

“A lot of people are house-rich but cash-poor,” said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of real-estate consultant Zelman & Associates. “If they bought in the last two or three years, even if they bought five months ago, they have equity.”

Having plenty of home equity but reduced means to keep making payments could prompt many to sell while prices are high and exit homeownership with a cash cushion, Ms. Zelman said.

People behind on their payments aren’t being kicked out of their houses yet because of federal and local restrictions on foreclosure enacted during the pandemic. Many with federally guaranteed mortgages have entered forbearance, which allows them to skip payments for up to a year without penalty and make them up later.

Some 3.5 million home loans—a 7.01% share—were in forbearance as of Sept. 6, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Many more borrowers are behind on their payments but not in forbearance programs with their lenders.

Meanwhile, bidding wars are breaking out for suburban homes hitting the market.

Millennials coming of age have been enticed by historically low mortgage rates. Other house hunters are leaving city centers and apartments, seeking room for home offices and space between them and their neighbors. And then there are investors, a mix of individuals and investment firms that have been buying more than one in every 10 homes sold in the U.S. over the past decade.

The most house-hungry of these investors are the rental companies formed a decade ago to gobble up foreclosed homes by the thousands. They were expanding before the pandemic, wagering on a permanent suburban rental class. The economic distress brought by the lockdown has only made investors more excited about such companies’ prospects.

So far these companies have reported record occupancy, on-time rent collection on par with historical averages and rising rents. Shares of the two largest landlords, Invitation Homes Inc. and American Homes 4 Rent, are up 79% and 59%, respectively, since stocks bottomed on March 23. The S&P 500 is up about 50% during that time.

Investors have bought nearly $900 million of new shares sold by the two largest rental companies since the pandemic began. Other home-rental operations have also sold nearly $6 billion of rent-backed bonds, including three deals presently in the market, according to Akshay Maheshwari of Kroll Bond Rating Agency.

Beyond that, investment firms Blackstone Group Inc., Koch Industries Inc., J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. have each made nine-figure investments in single-family rental companies eyeing expansion.

American Homes 4 Rent, which owns about 53,000 houses, in May more than doubled the size of a home-building pact with J.P. Morgan Asset Management to $625 million and last month raised more than $400 million in a stock offering.

“We’re endeavoring to deploy that capital as quickly as possible,” Christopher Lau, American Homes 4 Rent’s finance chief, told investors at a virtual conference this week.

American Homes 4 Rent is still buying properties off the open market. But the company has focused lately on building homes expressly to rent and this summer has been one of the country’s most-active builders.

Its largest rival, Invitation Homes, hasn’t been building but it has resumed its prepandemic pace of buying about $200 million worth of homes every three months. To fund its expansion, Invitation sold about $500 million worth of new shares in June.

“We could have, quite frankly, raised a whole lot more,” Chief Executive Dallas Tanner said last week at an industry conference.

Invitation Homes said in a presentation to investors this month that it is planning a sale-leaseback program as another channel to add to its 80,000 homes. Invitation Homes executives said the plans are nascent and declined to discuss them in more detail.

Sale-leaseback transactions are common in commercial real estate and involve the owner of a property selling to investors and then renting it from the buyer.

Such arrangements would allow those who face the prospect of losing their homes to cash in on high house prices without having to move, said Jarred Kessler, chief executive of EasyKnock Inc., a startup that he said raised $25 million from venture investors in June and hundreds of millions of debt to launch a sale-leaseback program this month called ReLEASE.

The business line was originally conceived to allow homeowners to start cashing out of their homes when the market was hot or when an expense arose, but not necessarily when they wanted to move. Since starting out in 2016 the New York firm has bought $187 million worth of houses, all of which remain occupied by the sellers. Now EasyKnock has distressed borrowers in mind and is looking toward early next year, when prohibitions on foreclosure are set to expire.

“Once January comes that’s when the carnage will come,” Mr. Kessler said. “We’re just giving people choices that they never had before.”

The post Millions Are House-Rich but Cash-Poor. Wall Street Landlords Are Ready. appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Immaculate Midcentury Modern for Under $1 Million in Minnesota

Minnesota midcentury

realtor.com

We’re suckers for a finely crafted midcentury modern home. Especially when the residence has been meticulously cared for, shows off the surrounding landscape, and offers distinctive amenities tailored perfectly to its particular climate.

Minnesota is a state of four true seasons—with particularly harsh winters. Taking a cue from its location, the home at 1808 Colvin Ave. in St. Paul, MN, was crafted in a way to take account of each season in turn.

On the market for $975,000, this Danish-influenced dwelling awaits a buyer who appreciates its cozy Atomic Age charms.

Designed by Jerome Robert Cerny at the height of midcentury style in 1955, this 3,500-square-foot dwelling is both functional and beautiful.

The windowed front door opens onto art and ambiance. A bench right off the entryway is demarcated by decorative metalwork, and the space makes taking off snow-covered boots easy and accessible. A large coat closet is within easy reach.

Exterior of home in  St. Paul, MN

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Front entry

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Living space

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Fireplace wall

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Kitchen

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Dining area

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One of the most conspicuous features of the home is the wood paneling that graces every room. It’s not the weird, grainy wood paneling in your grandmother’s den. This is in remarkable shape and provides the home with a warm, nostalgic glow.

Each of the common spaces—from the living room to the dining area and the kitchen—flows into the next and provides the airy openness of an open-concept floor plan.

In the living space, the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows takes full advantage of the changing seasons. A brick wall that doubles as a fireplace separates the living space from the rest of the house.

The ceramic tile floors aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, they’re also heated—so there’ll be no cold feet in the middle of February.

Bedroom

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Bathroom

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Backyard

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Storage space is in abundance, with closets, built-ins, and cabinets throughout the home. A separate den could easily be converted into an office space. The home also offers four spacious bedrooms and four bathrooms.

Every detail was painstakingly considered in designing this home. Deceptively simple, its storage and features make it easy to create a decluttered, intentional space. In the bathrooms, for example, water cup and toothbrush caddies ingeniously swivel into the wall. Brilliant!

The indoor-to-outdoor space is seamless, and the backyard includes a pool and mature trees. Oh, and if that’s not enough, there’s a finished basement with a wet bar and game area. It doesn’t get any better.

The post Immaculate Midcentury Modern for Under $1 Million in Minnesota appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Tarek El Moussa Reveals One Cool Upgrade That May Be a Waste of Cash

"Flipping 101"

HGTV

Tarek El Moussa of “Flip or Flop” fame now teaches novice house flippers his time-proven tricks on his new show, “Flipping 101 With Tarek El Moussa.” But as the latest episode makes painfully clear, some of his protégés need more guidance than others.

In the episode “Communication Breakdown,” El Moussa helps flippers Pino and Patsy with a house in Sylmar, CA. The house cost them only $375,000, but it may be more trouble than it’s worth. Between an expensive addition and a retaining wall that’s caving into the backyard, El Moussa isn’t sure Pino and Patsy will ever get a buyer, even with his help.

Yet in the end, El Moussa manages to turn this house around. Read on to find out how he helps these flippers save money on the renovation while not sacrificing style. His budget-friendly suggestions might inspire a few changes in your own home, too.

In an inexpensive home, high-end materials are a waste of cash

kitchen
This subway tile looks great in this home.

HGTV

Patsy and Pino have already renovated three houses before this one. Unfortunately, they didn’t make a profit on any of them. In fact, they lost money.

But right away El Moussa realizes why they’ve been in the red: Pino has expensive tastes.

First, Pino wants to install black, stainless appliances, which El Moussa says are too expensive. Then, when picking out a backsplash, Pino wants to install marble that’s $14 per square foot. Once again, El Moussa pushes back.

“OK, you never, ever spend $14 a foot on a house like this,” he says.

Meanwhile, Patsy suggests a simple subway tile laid in a herringbone pattern, and they end up going with her pick. When the kitchen is finished, the backsplash looks great—and it didn’t break the bank.

In the end, it’s a good lesson in investing in the right materials.

Choose light flooring for small spaces

floors
The flooring Pino chose is light and bright.

HGTV

While Pino doesn’t have the right instincts when it comes to the tile selection, he does choose very stylish flooring.

Both he and Patsy pick light wood-tone flooring—a smart choice because this color will keep the small home feeling bright, light, and open. Plus, at just $2.79 per square foot, this flooring is right on budget.

When El Moussa first sees the sample, he says simply, “Great choice.”

Create a convenient place to do laundry

While most people would like to have a dedicated laundry room, with a table for folding and a sink for washing, not every house has the space.

Pino and Patsy’s house, for instance, doesn’t even seem to have room for a washer and dryer.

When El Moussa first tours the property, he finds the washer/dryer hookup outside (which El Moussa points out is definitely not permitted). He notes that the most convenient place for a washer and dryer is in the hallway by a bathroom. Even though El Moussa knows this placement will mean losing the double vanity in the bathroom, he says it’s the right choice.

He proves that not every house needs a laundry room, but all buyers will at least need convenient access to their washer and dryer.

Bathroom size can be more valuable than bedroom size

bathroom
This bathroom is small, but clean and bright.

HGTV

While El Moussa says it’s OK to sacrifice bathroom space for a necessity like a washer and dryer, he isn’t willing to sacrifice shower space for a larger kid’s bedroom.

“The size of this bathroom is way more valuable than making a kid’s bedroom bigger,” El Moussa says. “You’ve got to remember, you’re selling the houses first and foremost to the adults.”

When the renovation is done and buyers are finally touring the property, they are so impressed with the bathrooms that they barely notice the smaller bedrooms.

The exterior is just as important as the interior

wall
Tarek El Moussa knows right away that there’s something wrong with this wall.

HGTV

While this house has a big backyard, El Moussa isn’t able to appreciate the space. As soon as he steps into the yard, he spots the unsightly retaining wall and notices that it’s tilting. Not good!

Patsy and Pino begin discussions with the neighbors to fix the wall, but by the time they put the house on the market, it’s still not finished. El Moussa worries this might scare some buyers away.

As expected, potential buyers notice the fence.

“The wall looks like it’s going to fall down,” one buyer says when he walks into the yard.

wall
Repairs were started on this wall, but the work wasn’t done by the time Pino and Patsy listed it.

HGTV

Another buyer notices that, unfortunately, she can see the wall from the kitchen window.

“I do not want to have my morning coffee and look at that,” she says.

El Moussa is disappointed to see so many buyers mention the wall, especially since Pino and Patsy worked so hard to make the house itself look great. Still, it’s a good reminder that while a house may look great inside, the exterior still matters to buyers.

Is the latest ‘Flipping 101’ tutorial a success?

Pino and Patsy face some big problems with their renovation. From issues with picking out materials to an unsteady retaining wall, this property presents lots of challenges. For a while, it seems like Pino and Patsy’s streak of unprofitable flips may continue.

However, this problematic flip turns into a major success story when Patsy and Pino receive an offer of $728,000. After buying the property for $375,000 and spending $140,000 on the rehab, they stand to make a massive profit.

It looks like El Moussa’s tutorials may be paying off!

The post Tarek El Moussa Reveals One Cool Upgrade That May Be a Waste of Cash appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Should I Waive a Home Inspection? Why Buyers Are Willing To Right Now

waive home inspection

Westend61 / Getty Images

By the time my husband and I put in an offer on a home (for the third time) in August, we were exhausted by the home-buying process—and we hadn’t even bought a home yet.

Even in the midsize town in northern Alabama where we wanted to buy, the real estate market was nuts. Homes were going under contract the same day they were listed, making it nearly impossible to see the house and feel confident enough to submit an offer before we were beaten to the punch by another buyer.

When we finally did go under contract on this third home, we learned of another issue: Home inspectors in the area were booked for two weeks and up, but our contract stated that we had only seven days to get an inspection done.

Up against a tight deadline, we considered an option that seemed like real estate suicide: Should we waive our home inspection?

While house hunting during this crazy time, we’d heard that many buyers were indeed waiving their right to a home inspection. Thankfully, our real estate agent was able to find a local inspector who had a last-minute opening. We got lucky, but it left me wondering: Is it ever OK to waive a home inspection?

Here’s what the experts have to say.

Should you ever waive a home inspection?

The problem we experienced with overbooked inspectors is a trend being seen on a larger scale across the country. From March through May, due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, many states weren’t allowing home inspections to happen, says Mike Wagner, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and owner of RAL Inspection Services, based in Indiana.

Since then, in areas with low COVID-19 infection rates, home inspections have resumed—and the pent-up demand for their work has resulted in a backlog that’s slowing down real estate deals. This was especially problematic given home purchase contracts typically require an inspection be done within a week of the contract being signed by both parties.

If you’re in a hot real estate market where homes are getting multiple offers, there might be a temptation to skip an inspection when you really want the house. But waiving a home inspection comes with sizable risks.

The risks of waiving a home inspection

A home inspection is something that protects your financial interest in what will likely be the largest purchase you make in your life—one in which you need as much information as possible. For example, learning that a home needs repairs costing $20,000 or more could change your mind about wanting to buy it, or the amount you’re willing to spend.

Considering the health and safety of your family is also important. Home inspections can uncover potentially hazardous items in a home—such as bad wiring, unsafe heating or cooling equipment, or even structural issues—that the average person won’t likely notice with a quick look around.

A home inspection “is a few hundred dollars for your peace of mind,” says Jean Rosalia, a residential and commercial real estate agent based in Virginia Beach, VA. “As opposed to maybe tens of thousands of dollars down the road for something that you could not detect on your own.”

Why people are waiving home inspections during the COVID-19 era

Offers that waive a home inspection contingency can be more attractive to home sellers since there’s less likelihood that the buyers will find some expensive problem that they’ll demand is fixed before they move forward. Generally, waiving a home inspection is done to speed up the closing process.

While Rosalia personally doesn’t recommend waiving a home inspection, one option you have is to include a home inspection “for informational purposes” in your contract. This means that you won’t hold home sellers responsible for making repairs, or fronting the money for them. This could make sellers more likely to accept your offer.

This way, “the buyer will still be afforded the inspection, and the seller will know that there will be no negotiations or requests for repairs,” Rosalia says.

In this case, if there are major issues that arise from the home inspection, you can still back out of buying the home. You might have to forfeit the earnest money deposit you’ve put down with your offer, but not necessarily if you’ve worded your contract right. And even if you do lose your deposit, it might pale in comparison to paying for whatever required repairs the home inspection brings to light.

Just know that the more safeguards you place for yourself that might put the sale in question, the less likely sellers might be to play ball with you if they have alternative offers with fewer strings attached. Still, the main point is that an information-only inspection means you can go into the deal with your eyes open to the potential costs, and back out if you find flaws that feel like too much for you to handle.

Should you waive inspections in a condo or new-build home?

What about condos? Since they’re often part of a larger building, a home inspection might not seem as important. Same with new construction, since it hasn’t had time for wear and tear to accumulate.

“Even in a condo, there are things that can go wrong,” says Rosalia.

For instance, many items such as water heaters and HVAC units are still the responsibility of individual owners, warranting a home inspection to make sure these items are up to par.

You should always get a home inspection in a new-build home, too, because you never know what problems might come up.

Rosalia says she had a buyer who’d bought a new-construction home and, upon inspection, they discovered the stove had been wired into a ground-fault circuit, meaning that every time it reached a certain temperature, it flipped the circuit breaker.

The builder “fixed it before they moved in,” she says. “But we wouldn’t have known about it” without an inspection.

Is it ever OK to waive a home inspection?

Kelli Griggs, a real estate agent with Navigate Realty in San Francisco, says that if the home you’re buying is new construction and under builder warranty, or if the seller had existing reports within the past year, she might “potentially” be OK with waiving the right to an inspection if it was the only way to get your offer accepted.

But again, it comes down to the risk you’re willing to take.

“I look at it like a car: I’d never buy a used car simply on the word of the seller that it runs well,” she explains. “I’d have my mechanic look at it.”

Jennie Caterinacci, a real estate agent with HomeSmart in Scottsdale, AZ, says it might also be acceptable to skip a home inspection if you’re an experienced real estate investor or home flipper with $20,000 to $50,000 set aside in an emergency fund in case there are things wrong with major components of the home. But regardless of what you’re planning to do to a home, she says, “no one wants to buy a money pit.”

Bottom line: Spending a few hundred dollars on a home inspection is almost always money well-spent.

“If nothing else, it’s a mini lesson in home maintenance and a convenient honey-do list for the buyers if they decide to purchase the home,” says Caterinacci.

To find a licensed home inspector, you can search by state or name on ASHI’s website.

The post Should I Waive a Home Inspection? Why Buyers Are Willing To Right Now appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Legendary Football Coach Lou Holtz Selling $4.5M Mansion in Orlando

Lou Holtz Orlando home

Francisco Rodriguez, Emily Loftus/WireImage

The longtime college football coach and analyst Lou Holtz is selling his home in Orlando, FL, for $4.5 million.

Holtz purchased the place back in the 1990s, for a mere $254,000. While it may look as if he is trying to score an enormous profit, his house has an interesting backstory, and the coach has sunk serious cash into extensive renovations.

You may or may not be aware of this feature of Disney World’s home state, but Florida is the lightning capital of the United States. Orlando sits right in the center of “Lightning Alley,” which runs from Titusville to Tampa Bay.

Unfortunately, Holtz’s house was in the line of fire, and was struck by lightning in 2015, according to the Los Angeles Times. The house was set ablaze, and 60—yes, 60—firefighters were required to extinguish it.

Living space in home in Orlando, FL

Francisco Rodriguez

Kitchen

Francisco Rodriguez

Smoke room

Francisco Rodriguez

Office

Francisco Rodriguez

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Watch: Cam Newton Is Selling This Crazy Deluxe Condo in NC as He Heads to Boston

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Extensive renovations were required, and work on the home was completed in 2017.

As a result of the renovations, the former coach was able to introduce some cool customized additions. Two highlights are the home’s smoke room and a space that he’s dubbed the “Walkway of Fame.” True to its name, this is a room that showcases all his awards and honors.

Holtz apparently loves cigars, which explains why he built in a dedicated cigar room in house. A perfect space to entertain fellow aficionados, the room comes complete with an air purification system.

While the customizations are nice, Holtz told the Orlando Weekly that it’s his upstairs office—which he occupied for the majority of his career—that is most special to him.

“I had great privacy and could smoke my pipe and make all my decisions there … some bad, but all decisions were made in there,” he said.

Media room and wet bar

Francisco Rodriguez

Outdoor kitchen and lanai

Francisco Rodriguez

Pool

Francisco Rodriguez

The rest of the 10,000-square-foot space includes six bedrooms, six bathrooms, four half-bathrooms, a remodeled kitchen, and an abundance of living space.

The master suite is accessible via elevator as well as by stairs, and includes dual oversized, walk-in closets.

In true Florida style, the outdoor living space is as impressive as the indoor space. Under a sizable lanai is an outdoor kitchen and an abundance of space for entertaining. There’s also a covered pool and spa for escaping Florida’s nearly year-round heat.

Holtz coached football at a variety of colleges for 34 years before becoming an analyst, contributing to both ESPN and CBS Sports.

The post Legendary Football Coach Lou Holtz Selling $4.5M Mansion in Orlando appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

How To Create a Kitchen With a Soul, According to Home Design Experts

Andreas von Einsiedel/Getty Images

Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen may evoke the warmest emotions. After all, it’s here that people gather with family and friends, to share food and good company. It’s no wonder the kitchen is often called the heart of the home—and that it’s a key selling point, promising a great lifestyle.

But kitchens also run the risk of being cold and soulless. What’s the point in having top-notch appliances if no one actually wants to hang out and use them? Like food, a kitchen needs to have a certain depth—let’s call it soul.

“A kitchen with a soul is a unique space that provides comfort, warmth, and a sense of peace,” says Ron Woodson of Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design in Los Angeles. “These are spaces that honor one’s personal style or the original time period in which a home was built.”

A few personal touches that both move you and reflect how you live are key to achieving this effect. These design elements can really allow the kitchen’s soul to shine, and to make its effects felt throughout your home. To bring out the soul of your kitchen, try the following tips.

Use materials to tell a story

Photo by Davenport Designs

Every kitchen has a story to tell. Woodson recommends mixing different textures and patterns that complement the existing color scheme.

“We associate natural stone, wood, and other materials found in nature with soul—they add warmth and bring life to a space,” Woodson says. “Luckily, you can still get the same look of natural stone with ultradurable alternatives. For countertops and flooring, I love Dekton Laurent by Cosentino. It makes such a bold design statement, yet it’s ultradurable and impervious to heat, scratches, and stains.”

If you’re not in the market for a full kitchen remodel, add warmth and character to your space by displaying a collection of cutting boards crafted from different material like wood ($138, etúHOME), marble ($89, CB2), or slate.

Laurie March, home design expert and host of The House Counselor on HGTVRemodels.com, says this is one of her favorite budget-friendly tricks.

They double as functional art when leaned against, or hung on, the wall, and truly step up your hosting game when presenting a beautiful spread for your guests,” she says.

Respect the bones of the space

Photo by KitchenLab Interiors

A soulful kitchen will always emphasize the room’s good bones, or unique architectural touches.

“I always research the era the home was built in and try to pay homage to it in some way, whether through paint colors or decor style,” says Woodson, who co-founded the nonprofit organization Save Iconic Architecture.

March says for spaces craving more architectural detail, add faux ceiling beams, which can quickly and affordably transform the look of a space.

“They can also give you the opportunity to add additional pendant light fixtures without having to open the ceiling,” she says. “When it comes to lighting, dimmers are a fast and budget-friendly update that can really transform the vibe of a space—especially when layering different light sources.”

Paint can also highlight the good bones of a home. It’s a great resource in a cosmetic update.

“If painting all of your cabinetry feels daunting, consider painting just your island or lower cabinets,” says March. “The two-toned kitchen is a strong, simple trend that’s been doing well for over a decade.”

She also recommends painting the ceiling to add an unexpected design element that’s often overlooked.

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Remember the details

Photo by Emerick Architects

Details are everything, especially in a kitchen that serves as the focal point of the house.

“For me, a vintage doorknob or dramatic, deep-blue paint color goes a long way,” says Jaime Rummerfield, the other half of Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design. “Even small changes to cabinet pulls and light fixtures can be incredibly impactful when it comes to personalizing a kitchen.”

Layering accessories—like a durable yet stylish rug, a potted plant, and a vintage ceramic crock to hold your cooking utensils—is essential.

If you’re looking to take on a more daunting project and you have the wall space, March says adding open shelves to the kitchen will give you more storage, plus a spot to display any beloved dishes and glasses.

“Leave the mismatched items inside the cabinet, and curate a pleasing vignette on the open shelves that reminds you of travels or happy moments,” she says.

Shop vintage

Photo by Urbanology Designs

Embrace the thrill of the hunt, and snatch up hard-to-find, unique furniture, artwork, and decor pieces that speak to you.

“Vintage finds add so much individuality to a kitchen,” says Rummerfield. “We love to incorporate vintage pieces that correlate to the time of the home, even in small ways, like adding vintage tile to a backsplash to add warmth.”

Woodson and Rummerfield frequent online retailers like 1stdibs and Olde Good Things, as well as Los Angeles–based Wertz Brothers.

Contrast old and new

Bringing out the soul of a kitchen often requires mixing old and new to create a harmonious effect.

“While incorporating your own style or paying homage to the original era of the home is so important, incorporating modern touches can truly bring the space to life and allow it to be highly functional for modern-day living,” says Rummerfield. “Simple, contemporary touches can co-exist beautifully with vintage or antique-style pieces.”

March says while it might seem obvious, updating cabinet hardware “is a tried and true way to give a little lift to your space.” She also recommends replacing the kitchen faucet with one that makes a little more of a statement, like a sleek single-handle faucet ($477, Kohler).

The post How To Create a Kitchen With a Soul, According to Home Design Experts appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Rare Private Island for Sale in New Jersey Is the Week’s Most Popular Listing

most popular homes 9/18

realtor.com

A rare find sailed to the top of this week’s most popular homes on realtor.com®.

One of just two residential islands in the state of New Jersey is on the market for $1.85 million. For folks searching for seclusion, this private 6-acre property comes with a modern, roomy residence. On and off the market for years, it saw a serious uptick in interest this week.

A scroll through the listing photos of the offering just off the Jersey Shore will have you dreaming of sipping cocktails on the home’s rooftop deck surrounded by spectacular views.

You also clicked on the childhood home of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant. The hoop he used to hone his game still sits in the driveway. Hoops heads also wanted another glimpse of Shaq-a-pulco: The massive Florida mansion owned by Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal recently bounced back onto the market.

Architecture aficionados swooned over a rare Marcel Breuer design in Maine and followers of fashionable real estate went gaga for Tommy and Dee Hilfiger‘s spectacularly renovated estate in Connecticut.

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

10. 1224 Remington Rd, Wynnewood, PA

Price: $899,900
Why it’s here: Well-maintained and updated since it was built in 1957, this five-bedroom Colonial was the childhood home of the late NBA great Kobe Bryant.

The home is a quick commute to Philadelphia. Lovely landscaping and a circular drive welcome guests to the home, but the hands-down highlight of the property is the basketball hoop where a young Mamba sharpened his game decades ago.

Wynnewood, PA
Wynnewood, PA

realtor.com

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9. 5248 River Rd, Petoskey, MI

Price: $229,900
Why it’s here: It’s a colorful splash! Green and candy-apple red hues hint at the one-of-a-kind interiors, which are weathered in some places and industrial modern in others—all to gorgeous effect

Unique touches throughout the historic property include a two-bedroom main house, detached studio, and restored barn. The surrounding acreage features a covered patio perfect for soaking in the fresh air.

Petoskey, MI
Petoskey, MI

realtor.com

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8. 6141 167th St, Tinley Park, IL

Price: $249,749
Why it’s here: For a buyer interested in burrowing, we’ve found the place. This three-bedroom residence built in 1986 is mostly buried underground in the side of a hill.

South-facing widows fill the interiors with natural light, and there’s a four-car garage above ground. Recent updates include a new kitchen and renovated bathrooms, which mean this earth-sheltered abode is move-in ready.

Tinley Park, IL
Tinley Park, IL

realtor.com

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7. 30 John St, Greenwich, CT

Price: $47,500,000
Why it’s here: Built in 1939 and reimagined for Tommy and Dee Hilfiger, this incredible mansion is built on the area’s highest point. The stylish residence offers views from Long Island Sound to Manhattan.

The six-bedroom main residence is outfitted with award-winning design and decor. The 22.5-acre estate also boasts a pool, tennis court, guest cottage, immaculate gardens, outdoor living spaces, and a greenhouse.

Greenwich, CT
Greenwich, CT

realtor.com

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6. 764 W Onondaga St, Syracuse, NY

Price: $179,900
Why it’s here: Sitting on a half-acre, this spacious Queen Anne Victorian was built in 1900 and has retained many of its original features. Vintage highlights include wood carvings, leaded-glass windows, pocket doors, and stained glass.

The six-bedroom home includes a full attic, full basement, and rear deck. For guests or tenants, there’s an in-law suite with kitchenette. According to the listing, local zoning allows for the property to be used as a residence, office, short-term rental, or day care.

Syracuse, NY
Syracuse, NY

realtor.com

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5. 9927 Giffin Ct, Windermere, FL

Price: $19,500,000
Why it’s here: After bouncing on and off the market for years, the 4-acre estate owned by Shaquille O’Neal is back on the market at a nearly $10 million discount off its original asking price.

The massive 31,000-square-foot mansion has 700 feet of lake frontage and is lovingly called Shaq-a-pulco thanks to its tropical feel. The XXL-size property includes an indoor basketball court, lakefront office, and pool with rock waterfall.

Windmere FL
Windermere, FL

realtor.com

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4. 3177 W 200 S, Hartford City, IN

Price: $875,000
Why it’s here: “Barndominiums” continue their steady migration outside of Texas. This next-level one in Indiana sits off the grid on more than 36 acres.

The four-bedroom main house has 4,336 square feet of living space and features siding made of reclaimed wood. The acreage includes three fenced pastures and is already subdivided into three lots.

Hartford City, IN
Hartford City, IN

realtor.com

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3. 1000 S Valley Rd, Olathe, KS

Price: $275,000
Why it’s here: The photo below says it all. This nondescript four-bedroom house has one extremely specific, attention-grabbing feature: a hot tub plopped right next to the dining area!

The listing describes the area as a sunroom, but the table and proximity to the kitchen suggest otherwise. If a kitchen-adjacent hot tub jibes with your fantasy, there’s plenty else to adore about the house, including custom closets, custom tile, and a finished basement.

olathe ks
Olathe, KS

realtor.com

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2. 84 Stonybrook Rd, Cape Elizabeth, ME

Price: $1,149,000
Why it’s here: This architectural masterpiece was designed by Marcel Breuer and built in 1949 for the Potter family. The glass and stone home sits on a fieldstone foundation and is surrounded by mature trees for a stylish and private retreat.

Cape Elizabeth, ME
Cape Elizabeth, ME

realtor.com

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1. 4 Lower Little Island, Beach Haven, NJ

Price: $1,849,900
Why it’s here: If you can stand a little hyperbole, the listing notes this private island on the bay side of the Jersey Shore is “the most unique property in the entire state.” But once you take a gander, perhaps those words won’t seem like an overstatement.

The 6-acre island is accessible by boat and comes with a four-bedroom home. Built in 2007 with 2,200 square feet of deck surrounding the interiors, the home features a rooftop deck with water views all around.

Beach Haven, NJ
Beach Haven, NJ

realtor.com

The post Rare Private Island for Sale in New Jersey Is the Week’s Most Popular Listing appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.