Posted in Uncategorized

The 10 Best Cities for Singles to Live, Play and Buy a Home

BEST CITIES

1. Springfield, MA

Median list price: $265,100
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 52.4%

The streets of Springfield are lined with colorful Victorian and Colonial-style homes dating back more than 100 years, earning it the nickname of “The City of Homes.”

But after the downturn of a decade ago, a number of these places were left vacant due to foreclosures. To keep the market from spiraling down, down, down, the city introduced programs to help both married and single home buyers.

Buy Springfield Now lowers closing costs for home buyers in the region. And the City of Springfield Office of Housing has a down payment assistance program for first-time buyers. Solo buyers can qualify if their income is below $45,200.

That’s a boon for single, 20-somethings who move to Springfield to work at big companies such as Mass Mutual and Baystate Health.

These folks often wind up buying three-bedroom Colonial and Cape Cod homes in the suburbs once they realize they can get them for between $150,000 and $180,000. Some employers in the region even offer employees 0% interest loans for down payment and closing costs.

“You can get a good-sized house with some land for an amazing price in Springfield,”

Singles scoop: Those looking for some adrenalized thrills along with their ardor can take their dates to Six Flags New England. And if you hit up Nathan Bill’s Bar & Restaurant’s trivia night, remember that children’s book author Dr. Seuss was born and raised in Springfield. (It’ll come up, trust us.)

2. Cleveland, OH

Median list price: $181,600
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 48.8%

The family-oriented Midwest isn’t the first place that comes to mind for singles. But Cleveland bucks the trend, with nearly 50% of mortgages going to the unattached. And the city responds in kind, offering everything from gay happy hours to an array of speed dating options.

When it comes to real estate, buyers can qualify for a home with even a modest salary. Home prices are far below the national median of $299,000, according to recent realtor.com data. One-bedroom condos in prime downtown areas are in the $150,000 ballpark. Just check out this one-bedroom condo in the Stonebridge Plaza priced at $164,900.

Singles scoop: If your date is a music lover, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (unless you’re a Radiohead fan—still not inducted!). Or take in a show at the Agora Theatre & Ballroom, where recent headliners include The Flaming Lips and Cat Power.

3. New Haven, CT

Median list price: $279,100
Share of mortgages taken out by singles:  52.4%

As the home of Yale University, New Haven has a mix of college students, research fellows, and academic types who contribute to the ever-shifting population. And it explains why there are so many bars, restaurants, and nightlife options in this small city.

It also helps clarify why so many folks here are unattached. When it comes to home buying, these folks have plenty of options, including Colonials for under $150,000 right in the city, and 1,000-square-foot condos for around $100,000.

“The great thing about New Haven is that it’s centrally located along the shoreline. You can get anywhere in the state in an hour and half,”

Singles scoop: Still, those looking for a cheap date may want to head to the New Haven Ninth Square District. The historic part of downtown is great for a scenic stroll through buildings and top-notch people watching.

4. Buffalo, NY

Median list price: $190,000
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 46.2%

Buffalo has seen a resurgence of sorts after decades of manufacturing job and population losses. But that spate of recent development, which includes $24 million in planned improvements by the waterfront, haven’t resulted in pricey homes. At least not yet.

“The main reason people are [buying] solo is they realize it’s a good economic move,”

Many of these buyers are getting older homes that need a bit of work in walkable neighborhoods like Elmwood Village and North Buffalo, which boast lots of restaurants and shops. Savvy buyers are scoring abodes in these communities in the $200,000 to $300,000 range and then renting out bedrooms to friends to help cover their mortgages.

Singles scoop: Bars don’t close until 4 a.m. So. Get. The. Party. Started.

5. Albuquerque, NM

Median list price: $252,100
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 51.3%

There aren’t just a lot of millennial buyers in Albuquerque. There are also quite a few members of Generation Z, born in 1997 or later, who are snapping up homes.

“Albuquerque is so affordable you can buy a three-bedroom, two-bathroom [home] with a two-car garage and large backyard in the middle of town for $185,000.

They typically want homes in master-planned communities that come with their own schools and parks. These homes tend to go for between $180,000 and $230,000.

Singles scoop: Could anything be more romantic than a “Breaking Bad” tour? Check out some of the Albuquerque-based show’s more distinctive locales, from Jesse Pinkham’s house to the original Los Pollos Hermanos (it’s actually a fast-food joint called Twisters—sorry).

6. Detroit, MI

Median list price: $255,000
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 49.5%

A revitalized downtown and a host of new employers moving in have encouraged lots of folks who grew up in Detroit to move back. Their return has added a spark to the singles scene—and housing market—of Motor City.

Many of these one-income buyers are interested in the former industrial buildings that are being converted into surprisingly chic condos and lofts. They typically run around $300,000 and often boast features like high ceilings and granite countertops.

This increase in demand has led to a number of new condos popping up in downtown. For example, the Selden is a 12-unit condo building that opened last year. It offers two-bedroom units costing around $450,000.

Singles scoop: The culinary-inclined can impress their dates with a cooking class at the Cornwall Bakery, where you can learn to make pastries and pizza, or the Mirepoix Cooking School where you can go nuts with heirloom tomatoes.

7. Providence, RI

Median list price: $350,000
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 49.6%

Many of the single buyers in Rhode Island’s capital are graduate and medical students at local institutions like Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. They’ve found that, in some cases, homeowning just makes more financial sense.

He has other buyers who buy in Providence and commute to work during the week in much-pricier Boston. An Acela train between the cities is only about a half-hour. The median list price in the Boston metro area is $519,950—about $170,000 more than in Providence!

Condos are particularly high in demand for single buyers in their 20s and 30s. A slew of historic buildings have been transformed and subdivided into the popular units.

Singles scoop: Altruistic singles can sign up for dog-walking volunteer shifts at the Providence Animal Rescue League. You’ll be guaranteed some smooches—even if your puppy love comes from an actual puppy.

8. Pittsburgh, PA

Median list price: $180,100
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 43.8%

An influx of tech jobs from companies such as Uber and Amazon have brought lots of singles to the region from exorbitant places like San Francisco and Washington, DC. Once they arrive, they are met with sticker shock (the good type), spurring many to buy homes in historic neighborhoods on the upswing.

Brighton Heights, which is around 15 minutes from downtown, has a number of inexpensive three- and four-bedroom homes, which have been remodeled in recent years.

“A lot of people in the tech industry and students who finished up graduate school at colleges in Pittsburgh are buying up homes here. “Many are shocked when I tell them their monthly [mortgage] payment will be lower than their rent.”

Singles scoop: This has become a seriously hip place. One-of-a-kind craft cocktails? Debauched party scenes? Cool used-vinyl stores? Check, check, and check.

9. Louisville, KY

Median list price: $250,000
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 48%

In the Bluegrass State, nothing says romance more than taking your date to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, and watching horses race while donning your most obnoxious floppy hat. And regardless of what you may have heard, mint juleps are delicious.

But Louisville singles don’t have to win a trifecta to afford a roof over their heads. The market here is packed with homes priced between $150,000 to $250,000. There are even down payment assistance programs for those making under $40,050 a year.

Singles can nab three-bedroom, two-bath homes in subdivisions or historic homes in walkable neighborhoods like Germantown.

Singles scoop:  Watch what you say—the fastest way to end a date here is finding out your would-be love connection is on the wrong side of the fevered University of Kentucky versus University of Louisville basket ball rivalry.

10. Milwaukee, WI

Median list price: $259,100
Share of mortgages taken out by singles: 44.9%

Social worker Ann Bausch, 36, was tired of being at the mercy of her landlord’s rent hikes. So in July she bought a one-bedroom, loft-style condo in a renovated former shoe factory for $146,500. Located in the Riverwest neighborhood, the condo is also within walking distance of great breweries and brunch spots.

They’re a mix of lawyers, doctors, and sales professionals.

“A lot of single want to be near downtown where the action is. Or buying in the nearby suburbs where they can have a yard for their dog.”

Singles scoop: Milwaukee is home to the Miller Brewing Co. and the birthplace of Pabst Blue Ribbon. So bottoms up!

* A metropolitan statistical area is a designation that includes the urban core of a city and surrounding smaller towns and cities.

SOURCE: REALTOR.COM

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Posted in Home Improvments & Repair

9 SURPRISING THINGS THAT ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOUSE

A home’s value is dependent on many things. Here are nine factors you might not have thought about. What do surf breaks, Walmarts, and public transportation have in common? Being near any of them can add thousands to your home’s value.

At least that’s what various university researchers have found based on their evaluation of variables that could be influencing home prices. Their conclusions might surprise you. Here’s what they found:

1. Surf Breaks

Being within a mile of a surf break (a spot where surf-able waves happen) adds about $106,000 to a home’s value, according to surfonomics experts at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Reality check: Mother Nature makes surf breaks, so it’s not like you could build your own DIY break to boost your home’s value.

2. Parks and Open Spaces

A desirable public park or other recreational open space boost the property value of nearby homes by 8%-20%.

One study looked at 16,400 home sales within 1,500 feet of 193 public parks in Portland, Ore., and found these boosts to home values:

Natural areas: $10,648

Golf courses: $8,849

Specialty parks: $5,657

Urban parks: $1,214

Reality check: A park that’s not maintained and overcrowded can drag down nearby home values.

3. Living Near a Walmart

Along with making it easier to run out for a gallon of milk at midnight, researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that living within a mile of a Walmart store could raise your home’s value by 1%-2%, and living within half a mile could boost your property value by an additional 1%.

For an average-size home, that’s an uptick of $4,000-$7,000.

Reality check: What you gain in home value, you may end up spending at Walmart.

4. Solar Photovoltaic Systems

California homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems sell for a $17,000 premium over homes without solar systems, according to research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Reality check: Although costs for residential solar power systems are falling, they’re still rather pricey at $15,000-$40,000, depending on the size of your house.

5. Walkability

Being able to stroll to schools, parks, stores, and restaurants will raise your property value anywhere from $4,000-$34,000, says a 2009 study from CEOs for Cities.

Reality check: The biggest boost in walkability values occurred in large, dense cities.

6. Accessory Dwelling Units

Whether it’s a granny flat, an in-law apartment, or a carriage house, having a separate unit can increase your home’s value by 25%-34%, according to a study of 14 properties with accessory dwelling units in Portland, Ore. You can also get a steady stream of income from a second unit.

Reality check: Local governments often ban accessory dwelling units, so check zoning laws, building codes, and homeowners association rules before you add a unit.

7. Professional Sports Arenas

A new pro sports stadium can raise property values within a 2.5-mile radius by an average of $2,214. The closer you are to the new facility, the larger the increase in home value. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Alberta examined house sales in Columbus, Ohio, before and after the city added two sports stadiums.

Reality check: If a stadium is proposed, home values can decline a bit until the project is complete. And if you live really close to a stadium, you may encounter traffic and parking issues.

8. Community Gardens

Planting a community garden raises the value of homes within a 1,000-foot radius by 9.4% within five years, according to research by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and New York University School of Law.

The impact increases over time, and high-quality community gardens have the greatest positive influence. Poor neighborhoods saw the biggest gains in home values.

Reality check: Gardens on privately owned land and in higher-income neighborhoods don’t have the same beneficial influence.

9. Trees

No real surprise here — whether trees are in your yard or just on your street, they’re a valuable asset you should be aware of. Here’s a gauge of how much trees are worth to your home value according to a University of Washington research survey:

Mature trees anywhere in your yard: 2%.

Mature trees on your street: 3%.

Trees in your front yard: 3%-5%.

Mature trees in high-income neighborhoods: 10%-15%.

Reality check: Trees usually mean work — raking leaves, trimming branches and keeping roots out of sewer lines.

SOURCE: HAR.COM