Top 10 US Cities With the Highest Rent Rates

While rental prices across the nation are steadily climbing, in many cities they are spiking faster than residents can keep up with. For many, home ownership is just too expensive right now, leading them to opt for rentals in the meantime.

It’s no shocker that the most in-demand cities in the US are commanding the highest rent prices.

10. Seattle, WA

The north-west coast city of Seattle is quickly climbing the ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the US for renters, who are paying a median price of $1,600 for one-bedrooms. Hot communities in the city are driving rates up, including Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and Renton.

9. Los Angeles, CA

You might be surprised that the land of celebrities would be somewhat low on this list, though it certainly isn’t cheap to live here. With a median price for one-bedrooms at $1,700, these prices are nothing to sneeze at. Yet, compared to San Fran and NYC, these prices pale in comparison. And compared to other large cities in the country, LA residents pay the highest proportion of their income for rent (47 percent).

8. Chicago, IL

Renters in the Windy City pay an average of $1,780 for rent for a one-bedroom apartment. As the country’s third largest and third most populated city, there’s certainly no shortage of people looking to call a place home. With various industries flourishing in Chicago, such as finance, commerce, and technology, people continue to flock to the city.

7. Miami, FL

South Florida’s super busy Miami is the most expensive in the state, with median one-bedroom apartment prices hovering around $1,850. Just over the past year, the real estate market in Miami has been increasing every month. As a result of high housing prices, first-time homebuyers are opting to rent instead, causing a shortage in the number of rental units currently available.

6. Oakland, CA

As a result of its close proximity to #1 on this list, Oakland’s rent prices have been feeling the ripple effect. When renters in nearby San Francisco get fed up with the incredibly high rent prices in the city, many of them flee to neighboring Oakland. Though rent is comparatively lower, it’s still pretty pricey. One-bedroom apartments go for an average of $1,900 in Oakland.

5. Washington, D.C.

Considering Washington D.C. is the nation’s capital, it only makes sense that its rent prices are among the highest in the country. This city has traditionally been an expensive one to live in, whether renting or buying, and that doesn’t seem to be changing. Renters pay a median price of $2,100 for one-bedroom apartments.

4. San Jose, CA

The third of five cities in California to make this list is San Jose, where renters pay a median price of $2,120 for one-bedrooms. When you consider the fact that this city has a high proportion of millionaires thanks to the wealth of tech companies in the area, it’s no wonder that this kind of wealth has a huge bearing on rent and housing prices, which continue to climb.

3. Boston, MA

One-bedroom apartments in Boston go for $2,230. And even though Boston is among the smaller cities on this list, it’s still considered the third most expensive city in the US to rent in. The uber-affluent Boston neighborhood located in the south of the city between D Street and West Broadway commands an average of $3,400 for a one-bedroom unit.

2. New York City, NY

Running a close second this year is New York City, where renters can expect to pay a median price of $3,100 for a one-bedroom. Based on how expensive the studios are, it’s almost not even worth it to skimp on space just to save a couple of bucks. New York has been a chart-topper for decades when it comes to the cost of living, so it should be of no surprise that the Big Apple is so far up on this list.

1. San Francisco, CA

This gorgeous California city has made it on this list a few times before, averaging $3,500 for a one-bedroom. San Fran even beat out other cities in the state (many of which are on this list, as you’ll see), as well as New York City. Still, San Francisco and NYC are still pretty much neck-in-neck when it comes to sky-high rent rates, especially when you calculate the cost on a price-per-bedroom basis.

We’re seeing some of the lowest vacancy rates in the US since the 1980s, proving that rental prices are showing no signs of letting up any time in the near future.

5 Tips for Making a TV Part of Your Décor

The average American household now has almost three TVs, a number that has been steadily increasing since the 70s. TVs have long expanded beyond the family room to include children’s bedrooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms. Even with today’s wall-mounted TVs, designers can be challenged to make a room still look attractive around a large black screen.

home decor_incorporating TV in design

Fortunately, there are a few creative liberties a homeowner can take to make a TV work with a room’s design rather than against it. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Put a Frame Around It

With today’s wall-mounted TVs, homeowners can actually turn a TV into a work of art. While it can be pricey, a professional frame can be crafted to cover the edges of your TV, making it look much classier. If you’re on a budget, this do-it-yourself option will give you the look you want without blowing your budget. If you aren’t handy with a miter saw, you may be able to hire a local handyman or contractor to do the job for you.

Create Cabinetry

home decor_TV in cabinetry

Many homeowners have custom cabinetry built around their TVs. This serves two purposes: it improves the look of your TV while also providing extra storage. You can build shelving, cabinets, or a combination of both, using the space to show off pictures or hide electronics like gaming systems.

Cover It

If you’d prefer a large mirror or painting to hang in place of your TV, you may be in luck. Solutions now exist that allow you to easily cover your TV with a painting or mirror when not in use. This step-by-step guide can help you with a DIY version, but you can also purchase frames that incorporate the technology.

Use an Easel

home decor_TV on easel

Easel TV stands are all the rage, with creative homeowners using them to make their TV sets look like studio canvases. The popularity of easels for TVs has led them to become commercially available, although they may be pricey for many budgets. If you opt to turn an artist’s easel into one for your TV, be sure it is strong enough to hold the TV without tipping. This decorator turned an artist’s easel into a TV stand very few issues.

Recess It

home decor_recessed TV

One of the most attractive design choices for a wall-mounted TV is to incorporate it into a customized recessed area of a wall. This might not be an option for homeowners who don’t want to deal with major construction on the affected walls. Perhaps the biggest problem with this eye-pleasing option is that TV sizes change over the years. The recessed area may work well for the TV a family has today, but what about ten years down the road, when TVs may be different?

A TV can take away from the look of a room, but with a little creativity a homeowner can make it work well with the surrounding décor. Whether a homeowner decides to build around it, hide it, or frame it, the option should express the occupants’ personal style while also letting them still enjoy their favorite shows.

14 Home Design Accounts You Need to Follow On Instagram

Whether you occasionally enjoy the odd design blog or are literally obsessed with making your space look as chic and stylish as possible at every waking moment, following certain Instagram accounts can provide you with the inspiration and ideas you need.

Check out the following home decor-inspired Instagram accounts that will set you on the right path to creating the perfect style in your home.

1. Apartment Therapy

Siire’s Eclectic, Happy Apartment in Paris — House Tour (Click link above in our profile to read the post on Apartment Therapy!)

A photo posted by Apartment Therapy (@apartmenttherapy) on

They’re motto is “saving the world, one room at a time,” and they mean it. Launched in 2004 by Maxwell and Oliver Ryan, Apartment Therapy boasts easy and affordable ways to help homeowners make their spaces as beautiful and organized as possible. Those who follow this account will get a regular dose of resources and ideas to copy and be inspired by.   

2. One Kings Lane 

This is a fantastic online marketplace that offers homeowners amazing little decorating secrets from the experts in interior decor. One Kings Lane is an interior decor retailer that can be somewhat compared to places like Pottery Barn and Ikea – but their prices fall somewhere in between. Whether you buy from them or not, their Instagram account is a great place to discover awesome ideas at no charge.

3. Emily Henderson

She’s a stylist, interior designer, TV personality, and writer of a daily style blog. And when it comes to interior decor, she’s sheer genius. Emily Henderson’s Instagram account offers home lovers visually appealing and out-of-the-box concepts and ideas that will make you want it all. She’s all about going outside of the norm to achieve an amazing look.

4. Domino Mag

The Domino Mag Instagram account was set up by Domino Magazine, and provides sources for online shopping, tips, and photo galleries that showcase the latest styles and trends in the world of interior decor. The account covers a wide array of decorating details, from subtle decor to much more elaborate and embellished spaces.

5. House Beautiful

Two words: Weekend. Goals. #vacation #escape ✌? (Photo by Don Freeman) A photo posted by housebeautiful (@housebeautiful) on

Not only do homeowners take pointers from House Beautiful, even expert interior designers have been known to peruse this account to get some ideas for decor projects. As the official feed of House Beautiful magazine, this account will drive you to want to covet every design idea that’s posted. The color palettes that are used are so inviting that you’ll want to jump right into the pages.

6. DIY Playbook

Bridget and Casey are the design geniuses that are behind this account, which features homemade DIY ideas that any crafty homeowner can employ to transform their interiors in a jiffy, and on a tight budget. As thrift-store enthusiasts themselves, these two are the perfect sources to get some affordable DIY inspiration from.

7. Mat Sanders

What are you reading this weekend?

A photo posted by Mat Sanders (@thematfinish) on

Mat has a unique and bold design talent that has even attracted the attention of Hollywood heavyweights like actress Jessica Alba and fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni, who have employed him to update their own pads. Sanders’ Instagram account is chalk full of off-the-wall style that you simply can’t look away from.

8. Jonathan Adler

Life’s too short for beige. Give your friends something to squawk about. #interiordesign A photo posted by Jonathan Adler (@jonathanadler) on

Jonathan Adler’s design philosophy is simple: develop a classically chic foundation upon which to build from, then accessorize with reckless abandon. His Instagram feed offers an inside look into his diverse and far-reaching design world where you’ll discover how to mix patterns and textures, put art on display in unexpected ways, and style your furniture pieces like the experts.

9. Grace Bonney

Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney offers followers simple and fun DIY project ideas that just about any homeowner on any budget can handle. From hanging prints to choosing wallpaper patterns, Grace Bonney’s got some fun and creative ideas for any home.

10. Jason Grant

@basilbangs featured on my blog today #mjgedit #mrjasongrant photo @craigwallphoto stylist @jessicahansonstylist ??#linkinprofile A photo posted by @mr_jason_grant (@mr_jason_grant) on  

This Australian interior stylist and author offers some insight into a professional interior stylist’s adventures. Grant is quickly becoming increasingly well known in the world of interior design, and for good reason. He absolutely adores color and develops the most awe-inspiring spaces without even changing the wall paint color. Among his most adoring fans are college students who want an interesting space, but don’t have the budget nor the power to make major changes in their dorm rooms.

11. From the Right Bank

 As featured in InStyle and Huffington Post, From the Right Ban’s developer travels all across the globe to draw inspiration from various cultures and infuses them into spaces. Following the motto “living the good life with global modern style,” the founder shares her travels with all of her followers.  

12. The Gathered Home  

DIY blogger and home decor lover Brynne Delerson has so far posted over 800 photos that highlight vintage furniture collections that are married with everyday contemporary decor to create truly unique spaces. The Gathered Home features regular blog posts from the designer, and is home of the weekly #thriftscorethursday hashtag.

13. Pennies Into Pearls

Who wants the recipe! It’s up on the blog today! www.penniesintopearls.com SO good! #yum #sweet #baking #lemonblueberry

A photo posted by Brittany @ Pennies into Pearls (@penniesintopearls) on

Those who are seeking to create a space for entertaining on a budget will find Pennies Into Pearls quite helpful and inspiring. This Instagram account was founded by lifestyle blogger Brittany, who focuses on living in glorious spaces without having to blow the bank account. Her awesome ideas include everything from discovering amazing finds in thrift stores, to creating items made out of recyclables, and everything in between.

14. Victoria Smith

Inspired by bohemian-chic decor and items, Victoria Smith’s Instagram account is loaded with a collection of images that will convince even the naysayers that color should always be used, no matter how subtle or extravagant.

Whether you’re just looking for a few home decor tips, or are completely transforming the look and feel of your home, these fabulous Instagram feeds are the ideal sources for interior design inspiration.

6 Ways to Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster

Who wouldn’t love the idea of no longer being tied to a mortgage? The freedom associated with zero monthly mortgage payments is incredibly liberating.

The thought of knowing that your mortgage won’t be fully paid off for another 30 years isn’t.

Luckily, there are methods you can put into play to effectively wipe out your mortgage payments sooner rather than later.

1. Make Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments

Monthly mortgage payments tend to be the popular option among homeowners. It’s also a slower way to pay down your mortgage principle. If you pay $1,600 per month on your mortgage, consider paying $800 every two weeks instead.

pay mortgage faster_bi monthly

Sounds strange, right? Especially considering the fact that two $800 payments equals one $1,600 payment. But the reason why you can slightly increase the speed at which you pay your mortgage off by paying bi-weekly is because you actually make one extra month’s payment each year. With 26 bi-weekly pay periods in a year, you’re putting a little more towards your mortgage without even realizing it.

2. Refinance Into a Shorter Loan Period

While the “default” loan period is typically the 30-year mortgage, there are other options to help significantly reduce the amount paid towards interest and more towards principal. If you’re serious about paying off your mortgage faster, consider a 15- or 20-year mortgage instead of the usual 30-year version. With a shorter and accelerated amortized schedule, you’ll be paying more with each payment, but you’ll reach the end a lot quicker.

And when we say you’ll be paying more each payment, that doesn’t mean you’ll be paying twice as much with a 15-year mortgage compared to a 30-year mortgage.

Mortgage payments are made up of principal, interest, insurance and taxes. While the taxes and insurance portions will remain constant, principal and interest will change. The total interest that you pay over the life of your mortgage will consistently decrease. First of all, you’ll be paying down your principal faster; and secondly, shorter loan periods are typically issued at lower interest rates.

pay mortgage faster_refinancin

3. Refinance With a Lower Interest Rate

Refinancing doesn’t only have to take place in order to shorten the loan amortization period. Many homeowners also refinance in order to take advantage of lower interest rates. This is especially true if they locked into a particularly high interest rate that they can certainly improve on these days.

Interest rates have been hovering around historic lows over the past few years, allowing homeowners to pay considerably less towards interest and thereby pay down their mortgages faster. Even the penalty they may pay to break their mortgage pales in comparison to how much can potentially be saved by jumping ship from a high-interest mortgage and locking into a lower-rate mortgage.

In this circumstance, plan to continue making the same monthly payments – that way, more of your money will go towards principal, which will help you pay down your mortgage a lot quicker.

4. Make Extra Payments, Even if You Don’t Refinance

If you’re on the fence about refinancing, at least consider making payments as if you had. We’ve already explained the benefits of refinancing from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, including making higher payments each month (and therefore paying your mortgage off faster), and taking advantage of lower interest rates.

Just like many other things in life, it also comes with some drawbacks. One disadvantage to refinancing in this manner is that you forego flexibility. So, if you face a health emergency or lose your job, you might be stuck in a position where you’re unable to pay your mortgage. You’ll also have to pay added closing costs (though you can always roll this money into the new mortgage).

pay mortgage faster_pay

If you’ve already got a lot of years in your mortgage, refinancing may not be necessary. That’s because you won’t have the mortgage long enough to reach the breaking-even point between your current mortgage and refinancing to a new mortgage.

If you’re able or willing to make extra payments towards your mortgage on a regular basis, that may be enough to surpass the rate at which you close your mortgage compared to if you had refinanced to a shorter loan period. Just focus on making enough extra payments to pay down whatever is left on your mortgage.

5. Find More Affordable Home Insurance

Here’s a no-brainer for you: pay less towards home insurance, and you’ll effectively lower the amount of money you’ll be paying every month.

pay mortgage faster_insurance

The key here is to continue to make the same monthly payments – with less money going towards insurance, more will be going towards your principal.

Take some time to shop around for quotes from various insurance providers. It’s pretty easy to do these days, especially when you can compare and contrast online.

6. Downsize or Rent Out Part of Your Home

Another obvious tip, but a goodie nonetheless: if you’re really hell-bent on freeing yourself from your mortgage, consider downsizing to a more affordable home. Sell the house you’re currently living in, and take the equity you’ve built up in it to put towards the purchase of a new, cheaper home. You never know, you just might have enough to completely clear the purchase price. 

pay mortgage faster_downsize

If you’re not willing to go that route, then consider renting out a part of your current home. Finish the basement and convert it to an apartment, or rent out a guest room in your home. Use the income you collect from rent to put towards paying down your mortgage. While you might not enjoy the idea of having someone else living in your home, think about how nice it would be not to have to pay a mortgage any longer! 

There are plenty of savvy ways that you can employ to effectively pay off your mortgage faster. Of course, they all require a certain level of diligence and discipline, so make sure you’re ready for it before you make a move. Speak with your mortgage specialist or real estate agent to find out which methods are most doable and comfortable for you to pay your mortgage off faster without being “house poor.”

Space-Saving Design Ideas for Awkward Rooms

We’ve all seen rooms with awkward design elements that make it nearly impossible to hang photos, position furniture, or even walk comfortably. Whether it is a small guest bedroom, a bonus room, or an unworkable closet, when it’s in your home, it can present a big challenge. With a little creativity, you can make even the most unworkable space into a living area. Here are a few ideas for your home’s most challenging spaces.

Uneven Ceilings:

Attic and bonus rooms can be especially challenging, thanks to strange ceiling configurations. If part of your room is blocked by slanted ceilings or dormers, you can minimize the impact on the look of the room by painting the walls and ceiling the same color. This blends the ceiling and walls in a way that makes the room look larger. If the room includes windows, try to make the most of the light they’ll bring in by placing seating areas or workspaces in an area of the room that will get direct sunlight.

space saving_window seat

While you may still not be able to stand up straight in a room with slanted ceilings, you can still make full use of the room with beds and seating. You can place a window seat or cubbyholes in the area to avoid wasted space. The right design can make the room look as though slanted ceilings were part of the concept all along.

L-Shaped Rooms:

A L-shaped room can be difficult to work with, leaving part of the room obscured from the rest. This can actually work to a homeowner’s advantage, providing a natural division of two rooms. A large L-shaped room can be divided into a dining room and living room, for instance, separating each room without having a door between them.

space saving_home office

The small part of the room can also be used as an office, serving as a natural small alcove that accommodates a desk, chair, and a couple of file cabinets, if necessary. For a bedroom, you can make the decision whether to use the small or large part of the “L” for your bed. The other area can be set aside for non-nocturnal activities like doing homework, putting on makeup, or lounging with a good book.

Under-Stairs Alcoves:

Homeowners who have stairs often have unused square footage, whether it is at the head of the stairs or in the area beneath it. Newer homebuilders have learned to use this space for coat closets and pantries, but there are still homes with an extra gap beneath.

space saving_bookshelf

To maximize the space, you can install shelving to store books or knickknacks. You could also use it to host a cozy reading spot or extra bed. You’ll gain extra sleeping space while also making the most of what would have otherwise been wasted square footage. If the space there is limited, you could instead install hooks and use it as a place to store jackets, coats, umbrellas, and purses.

Awkward rooms create major design challenges. With a little ingenuity, however, you can repurpose these spaces and create a unique living space that will provide many years of use.

5 Signs of an Upcoming Buyer’s Market

Simply put, a buyer’s market is basically one that favors buyers. While this isn’t exactly rocket science, there’s a little more that goes into officially identifying a buyer’s market. 

If you’re a homebuyer sitting on the sidelines waiting for the market to shift in your favor, here are some tell-tale signs things might just start to be going your way.

1. Inventory of Listings Are High

A buyer’s market can be identified with the simple law of supply and demand: when there are more people looking to sell their homes compared to the number of people looking to buy homes, you’re most likely smack dab in the middle of a buyer’s market.

buyer's market_high inventory

With more homes for sale compared to the number of buyers actively seeking properties, buyers have the definite advantage. In this type of market, sellers could be in a position to have to accept a lower price than they may have initially wanted, and may have to take extra steps to attract buyers. This is the situation that buyers ideally want to be in, because they can most likely snag a deal.

Realtors use a handy little math equation to help them more closely define a buyer’s market: it’s known as the Sales-to-Listings ratio, and it measures the balance between demand and supply. Using this tool, a buyer’s market would be determined if the ratio is less than 7 sales for every 20 listings.

2. Over Six Months of Housing Inventory on the Market

Real estate professionals use the phrase “months of supply” to determine the amount of inventory of properties for sale on the market. The months of supply is determined by the amount of time that it would take for all of today’s inventory to sell if all of it sold at the current rate without any new inventory being added to the market.

buyer's market_6 month housing inventory

Sound confusing? It’s not. It’s an easy calculation: the number of properties currently for sale is divided by the average number of properties sold each month.

To illustrate, let’s say that 150 homes sold over the past 12 months in a particular community. When dividing 150 by 12 months, we get an average of 12.5 homes per month. In order to come up with the months of supply, the current supply of homes will need to be divided by 12.5.

If the current supply in this sample neighborhood is 95, the answer would be 7.2 months of supply. 

Six months of supply is the criteria for a balanced market: any more than 6 months of supply points to a buyer’s market and leads to lower prices, while any less favors sellers because there are less options for buyers.

3. Current Listing Prices Are Lower Than Previous Comparable Sale Prices

Professional real estate agents who represent buyers will typically pull a report on recently sold comparable homes in the neighborhood their clients are looking in. These reports will show the actual prices that homes sold for, which helps buyers identify an acceptable price to offer on a home that’s currently for sale.

If the sold prices on these reports are higher than the asking prices on current listings, this points to the probability that sellers are having trouble finding buyers at higher price points. If this is the going trend, you’re most likely in a buyer’s market, in which you can expect to pay less than the listing price for a home.

4. Closed Sale Numbers Are Low

buyer's market_closed sales

In a buyer’s markets, fewer numbers of purchasers will lead to fewer sales, which can skew median prices for properties. If there are a lot less people looking around to buy a home compared to the vast number of sellers longing for an offer to come in on their listings, the number of actual closed sales will inevitably fall. If you notice this trend, and are in the market to buy, consider yourself in the driver’s seat at the negotiating table.

5. Median Sale Prices Are Falling

Homebuyers who have been patient and waited around for better deals are rewarded when sellers start dropping their listing prices in order to meet buyers’ expectations. A slowdown in home price growth is a tell-tale sign of a market trend shifting from a seller’s to a buyer’s market. With sale prices flattening out and dipping, a buyer’s market is almost certainly in the works.

buyer's market_media prices falling

Paying close attention to the real estate market activity for a few months can help you pinpoint the type of market you’re currently in. It definitely helps to have a professional real estate agent crunch the numbers for you to really make an accurate conclusion about whether or not a buyer’s market is emerging, or has already emerged. One thing is for certain: when there are more sellers who need to sell compared to buyers who have to buy, you can bank on having the upper hand.

LeBron James Sells His Coconut Grove Mansion For $13.4 Million

After a controversial move from Cleveland to the Miami Heat, basketball phenom LeBron James recently made his move back to his roots. And he’s left an opulent Miami estate home behind.

James sold his Coconut Grove mansion for $13.4 million. Although he originally wanted $17 million for it when it was listed back in October 2014, he eventually settled for a few million less.

Not a bad investment, considering the Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward paid $9 million for it back in 2010. James dropped the listing price to $15 million in April 2015, which attracted a serious buyer who still managed to shave off another $1.6 million.

Lebron James_Miami

It took a while to find the right buyer, for a variety of reasons. While the million-dollar neighborhood of Coconut Grove is highly sought after, the big money tends to gravitate more towards Miami Beach. Coconut Grove is considered much more residential compared to other hotter neighborhoods around Miami Beach, which could have played a key role in causing the listing to go somewhat stale.

Director of luxury sales for Douglas Elliman, Chris Leavitt, says that if the home was located on islands such as Star Island, Indian Creek Island, Palm Island, or La Gorce Island, it would have gone quickly, even with a steeper price tag. In fact, the home probably could have sold for a lot more than what James managed to walk away with had it been situated in these other baller communities.

Nevertheless, James managed to make over $4 million compared to what he paid for it five years back.

3590 Crystal View Court is secured behind walls and gates, and is located at the end of a cul-de-sac surrounded by much less expensive homes.

LeBron James_gated community

According to listing details – which describes the property as “the most opulent estate in Miami” – the three-story mansion was constructed in 2010, and features six bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms. Walking into the home will bring you into a grand double-height foyer with marble floors and a majestic curved staircase.

Lebron James_staircase

The kitchen boasts a double-island with a stainless steel tile backsplash and wine cellar. On the main floor is a dark wood-paneled library and office, as well as an eight-seat home theater.

On the second floor you’ll find the living room featuring a walkout terrace and wet bar. Nestled within the en-suite bedrooms is the master bedroom suite that opens up to an intimate waterside balcony. Guests can enjoy privacy in the separate guesthouse that’s perched above the detached three-car garage.

Lebron James_sports car

Amazing views of Biscayne Bay can be enjoyed off the roof top terrace, as well as off the multi-colored LED-lit backyard. The outdoor oasis is filled with a summer kitchen, infinity-edged pool, and even a dock that can accommodate a couple of 60-foot boats.

While one would expect homes of this caliber to feature a cutting-edge security system and a generator (which this one has), an elevator isn’t exactly a typical feature in this particular neighborhood – and this pad has it.

Lebron James_Biscayne Bay

According to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s office, the 12,178 square-foot property has been assessed at $8.6 million, with annual taxes hovering around $200,000.

James has reportedly moved back to his seven+ acre, 30,000 square foot estate in Akron, OH, which features six bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and six half bathrooms.

The Look for Less: Hardwood Floor Alternatives

Hardwood floors remain the most popular in homes, apartments, and condominiums. They up the resale value of a property and add to the visual appeal of each of a home’s rooms. But real wood can be expensive, especially if a homeowner is seeking a specific look. To purchase the wood, have it installed, and have it properly finished to achieve the desired look costs money. For families on a budget, this can put hardwood floors out of reach.

But today there are several options for consumers seeking that hardwood look without the price tag. Here are a few alternatives to more expensive flooring that will achieve the same look at a fraction of the price.

Laminate

laminate-flooring

Laminate has grown in popularity over the years as the quality and options have improved. Using a photographic appliqué, laminate can mimic the look of wood while being made from synthetic materials. Laminate flooring can mimic a wide variety of hardwood floor types, from light to dark wood and everything in between.

In addition to its affordability, laminate flooring is also extremely durable, making it easy to clean and maintain. Laminate is a “floating floor” type, which means it can be installed by simply setting the pieces down and locking them together. This ease of installation can also save homeowners money, since it doesn’t require a specialized amount of expertise and it can be performed much more quickly than traditional hardwood flooring installation.

Engineered Hardwood

engineered-hardwood

Engineered hardwood binds plywood together to create a strong, durable floor at a fraction of the cost of real hardwood. The top layer is a strip of real wood of the type specified by the customer, creating the look of traditional hardwood floors. The veneer is finished to give the same polished look. It is usually impossible to tell the difference between real and engineered hardwood flooring.

Obviously one of the biggest benefits of engineered hardwood is cost because it only uses a thin layer of attractive wood, it can be manufactured and installed for a fraction of the price. It can also be more durable, holding up better through changes in humidity levels.

Less Expensive Wood

less-expensive-hardwood

One way to save money when selecting a hardwood floor is by moving toward a less expensive type of wood. American hardwoods like oak, maple, and ash are less expensive per square foot than more exotic hardwoods like tiger wood or teak. Oak is the most popular type of hardwood flooring but ash tends to be one of the least expensive.

If you have a specific look in mind, there may be a cheaper option that achieves the same effect. Lyptus, for instance, looks very similar to mahogany and comes with a lower price tag. A flooring specialist can show you the two woods side by side and let you make the decision.

If you’re shopping around for hardwood flooring, be aware that there are many options that can save you money. Determine the look you want and speak to a flooring professional to discover how you can get that look while still staying within your budget.