There's something about that "Open House" sign that acts like a magnet. Whether you're looking for a new place to live, keeping tabs on real estate in your neighborhood, or just angling for a sneak peek at someone else's private domain, the lure of an open door is strong indeed.
With the holiday season in full gear, this week we look at some of the best homes for entertaining. For sellers, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas may be their last chance to wow house shoppers before the winter doldrums. For buyers, the discounts are plentiful and the housing stock is top-notch. So whether you're looking for some late season staging ideas or are just plain fond of beautiful homes, take a stroll through our open houses of the week.
Open Houses for Nov. 26-27
Paradise Valley, Ariz.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 27 Location: Contact agent Price: $2,750,000 Property details: Imagine shooting the breeze with friends and family in this enormous desert stunner. This 6,176-square-foot home includes four bedrooms, five baths and breathtaking views of the stark Arizona landscape. From the exterior, the home appears to be hewn from the craggy hills. If ever you needed to host a holiday dinner for a dozen or so James Bond super villains, this would be the place.
Open house: Saturday, Nov. 26 Location: 1841 Outpost Drive Price: $2,149,000 Property details: Clean lines and a contemporary finish give this five-bedroom Mediterranean-style home's kitchen a modern flavor. Entertain guests in this, the chromed-out heart of the home, while preparing hard-to-pronounce aperitivos.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 27 Location: 1556 Parrott Drive Price: $1,295,000 Property details: But if you're fixing a more traditional holiday feast, consider entertaining in this cozy, earth-tone living room, complete with stone fireplace. This two-story, 2,620-square-foot home includes five bedrooms and three baths. See the listing for the rustic patio and pool/spa combination.
Open house: Sunday, Dec. 4 Location: 3013 Kirk St. Price: $1,230,000 Property details: Not every holiday season has to end with chestnuts on an open fire. For the tropically inclined, consider this four-bedroom Mediterranean with an ample backyard and pool. Even if you won't be taking a dip, consider using the poolside area for deep frying next year's holiday bird.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 27 Location: 5655 W. Long Ridge Drive Price: $283,490 Property description: Dollar for dollar, this three-bedroom family home is the nicest on our list. And aspiring home stagers, take note: Neutral tones, uncluttered space and classic furnishings -- all the elements required to make your home listing look like a million bucks. See the listing for some more great staging ideas.
Open House: Sunday, Nov. 27 Location: 12568 Jenifer Lane Price: $1,250,000 Property description: When your mother-in-law blathers on and on about her daughter's new whatever, direct her attention to your living room's centerpiece: the 1.5 story wall of windows, with unobstructed views of beautiful Town & Country, Mo. And with over 5,700 square feet of space, five bedroom and 10 baths, you may never even have to see the in-laws to begin with.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 27 Location: 7821 Chelsea St. Price: $945,000 Property description: It's not Thanksgiving till you've thrown around the pigskin, and what better place to burn off those holiday calories than in your spacious backyard. This Colonial-style home, located in the heart of Ruxton, has everthing you'll need for a successful Turkey Day, inside and out.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 27 Location: 620 Winding Creek Court Price: $599,900 Property description: There ain't nothin' like home cookin' in the South -- and with this fully-stocked gourmet kitchen, you'll have every tool imaginable for crafting the perfect holiday dinner. As for serving up some world-famous Southern hospitality, tour the rest of the home to see every charming room.
The Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan area’s greatest strength for those without an automobile is the prevalence of dense, easily manageable communities. This makes it exceptionally easy for residents to reach amenities such as groceries, restaurants, shopping and schools. The metropolitan area’s primary city, Boston, has the third-highest walk score in the country. The area’s public transit also has a relatively high service frequency rate, making its use that much more convenient for the city’s residents.
> Transit coverage: 96 percent (second highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 6.2 (second lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 25.6 percent (69th highest)
> Walk score: 65.9 (14th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.87 percent (14th highest)
Los Angeles is the second largest city by population in the United States, and its metropolitan area is fairly spread out. Due to its extensive public transit system the area has avoided a complete automobile-based culture. The metro area’s 19 transit systems have more than 500 bus routes. As a result, 96 percent of neighborhoods are within 0.75 miles to a transit stop -- the second highest rate in the country. Better still, commuters can catch a form of public transportation from their nearest stop every 6.2 minutes.
> Transit coverage: 89 percent (eighth highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (11th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 58.9 percent (2nd highest)
> Walk score: 57.6 (29th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.78 percent (17th highest)
Utah’s population is expected to grow from 2010’s approximately 3 million to 4.4 million in 2030. Salt Lake County accounts for more than one-third of the state’s population. To accommodate this growth, the Utah Transit Authority has plans to add four more lines to its light rail system, TRAX, up from its current three lines. This investment is meant to improve transportation for the suburban and exurban population to the city. In the winter, the UTA runs ski transit lines in addition to its rail and bus services.
> Transit coverage: 83.7 percent (12th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.1 (10th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 47.5 percent (10th highest)
> Walk score: 60.4 (23rd highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.79 percent (16th highest)
Denver has bus service, light rail lines and an airport shuttle service. The city is currently undergoing a multibillion dollar expansion of its transit system, called the FasTracks Expansion. This plan is meant to increase light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid-transit lines. The project, which is expected to be completed in 2019, currently faces a $2 billion shortfall.
> Transit coverage: 95.6 percent (third highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 6.9 (fifth lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 58.4 percent (third highest)
> Walk score: 54.5 (34th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.56 percent (seventh highest)
The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area’s public transportation is overseen by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Like Los Angeles, the area relies heavily on buses, running about 100 routes. Public transit covers 95.6 percent of neighborhoods, the third greatest in the country. Public vehicles also run under seven minutes apart, the fifth smallest frequency. The metro area also has the seventh highest rate of commuters who travel to work by bicycle.
> Transit coverage: 85.3 percent (11th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.8 (15th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 33.4 percent (35th highest)
> Walk score: 73.6 (sixth highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.07 percent (ninth highest)
Seattle’s public transportation system not only includes bus and rail transit, but a monorail in the city center, as well as ferries. The city also has the sixth highest walk score in the country, due to its high number of easily accessible amenities. According to Bicycling magazine, Seattle is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and “has a 10-year, $240-million bike master plan that seeks to triple the number of journeys made by bike and add 450 miles of bike paths.”
> Transit coverage: 97 percent (the highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 9 (18th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 59.8 percent (the highest)
> Walk score: 63 (19th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.95 percent (12th highest)
Honolulu currently does not have an urban rail system, but its bus system helps cover 97 percent of neighborhoods — the highest rate in the country. Additionally, almost 60 percent of jobs are accessible within 90 minutes to those who live in neighborhoods covered by transit. This is also the highest rate in the country. Nevertheless, the city is planning a $5.5 billion rail project called the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. This will include 20 miles of track, connecting East Kapolei with the Honolulu International Airport and downtown Honolulu and will end at Ala Moana Center.
> Transit coverage: 89.6 percent (seventh highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 4.5 (the highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 36.6 percent (25th highest)
> Walk score: 85.3 (the highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.52 percent (32nd highest)
New York City and its surroundings rank first in the nation for total number of passenger trips and government spending per capita on public transit, according to U.S. News. It also has the highest rate of service frequency. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2010 operating budget was $13.4 billion. The average weekday ridership for the city is estimated to be over 8.4 million trips. The city also has the highest walk score on this list, thanks to the ability of city dwellers to reach just about any amenity on foot.
> Transit coverage: 83.5 percent (13th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 7.4 (eighth lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 39.9 percent (16th highest)
> Walk score: 66.3 (13th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 2.23 percent (second highest)
Portland is such a good place for people to live without a car due to both its public transit system and the ease of walking and biking around the city. The metropolitan area is served by TriMet, which in addition to other services offers a Free Rail Zone — a region that includes most of downtown Portland and where light rail and streetcar rides are always free. The city has a number of benefits for bike riders, including designated bike-only areas at traffic signals and free bike lights. It has the second highest rate of commuters who ride bikes to work in the country.
> Transit coverage: 91.7 percent (fifth highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (12th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 34.8 (30th highest)
> Walk score: 84.9 (second highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.65 percent (sixth highest)
San Francisco is held in high regard for its many successful transit systems, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Rapid Transit district. These systems cover nearly 92 percent of neighborhoods -- the fifth highest rate in the country. San Francisco also has the second highest walk score and is excellent for bicyclists. Commuter rails within the city allow bicyclists to mount with their bicycles, and there is a bike shuttle across the Bay Bridge to help cyclists during rush hour.