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.
Kick off the new year with a bang, as we crisscross the country in search of some of the most interesting open houses around. From a modern marvel in Miami to a sprawling mansion near Minneapolis, we skim the cream of the crop in our first feature of the year. Come along for the ride!
Open Houses for Jan. 7-8
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Open house: Sun., Jan. 8 Location: Ann Arbor Price: $435,000 Property details: Nestled among vibrant perennial gardens at the end of a scenic tree-lined lane, this delightfully quaint four-bedroom home is straight out of a classic storybook. The charming house has glossy hardwood floors, a spacious living room with wood-burning fireplace, a regal formal dining room, and a unique circular sun room with slate flooring and panoramic views of a landscaped backyard and its gorgeous mature trees. See inside this property.
Open house: Sun., Jan. 8 Location: Atlanta Price: $950,000 Property details: You can enjoy the classic beauty of this traditional, "clean-lined" Americana architecture with all the contemporary trimmings in this picturesque Sagamore Hills home, located on a sprawling 1.3 acre lot. The open floor plan features five bedrooms and spacious living areas, including a stunning great room and a formal living room with fireplaces, a gourmet chef's kitchen, a wet bar and wine fridge, and generous children's suites.
See inside this property.
Open house: Sun., Jan. 8 Location: Boston Price: $619,000 Property details: A colorful, two-bedroom home filled with character in a renovated brownstone that's perfect for couples or small families. The upper level's spacious open layout has gleaming hardwood floors, and a state-of-the-art kitchen with granite countertops and a breakfast bar. On its lower level are marble floors and spacious bedrooms. There are plenty of places to relax, including a generous living room with wood-burning fireplace, a stunning private rear deck and sunken patio -- or in that lovely Jacuzzi tub. This wistfully romantic, beautifully-redone, four-bedroom brick home on Lover's Lane is perfect for twosomes; with its pair of balconies, antique chandeliers and cozy, rustic detailing throughout, this home is an homage to old New England beauty.
Open house: Sun., Jan. 8 Location: Des Moines, Iowa Price: $260,000 Property details: This two-story brick beauty in the idyllic Waterbury neighborhood is the epitome of classic, understated Des Moines style. Rolling green lawns, gardens and leafy shade trees offer delightful views from your porch, where you'll find yourself easily thinking that you're living in the picturesque countryside. The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home includes a stunning fireplace, elegant natural woodwork and solid hardwood floors throughout.
Open house: Sun., Jan. 8 Location: Edina, Minn. Price: $1.975 million Property description: This sprawling mansion features timeless architectural craftsmanship on the outside, and luxurious, state-of-the-art 21st century amenities inside. Redefining the art of "row house" living, this custom-built home offers an English-style courtyard and the shops at 50th and France. Perfect for house hunters looking for move-in ready features with Old World charm. See inside this property.
Open House: Tues., Jan. 10 Location: Miami Price: $5.495 million Property description: This award-winning, four-bedroom, waterfront contemporary offers wide, unobstructed bay views from almost every room. It's luxury manifested -- with floor-to-ceiling windows, a heated infinity pool, elevators to all three floors, rooftop terraces and a boat dock with a large boat slip and lift. Need we say more?
Open house: Sun., Jan. 8 Location: San Francisco Price: $3.3 million Property description: This beautifully-renovated corner home on Liberty Hill was designed to capture the eastern, southern and western lights. Make this stunning mansion your home and enjoy daily, unobstructed views of the bay, hills and valley from your south-facing view garden and deck (cocktail in hand, perhaps?). Cook up a storm in your high-end chef's kitchen decked out with Gaggenau appliances, catch a movie or two in your massive media room, or simply relax with a glass of wine by the fireplace. Yes, this home truly has something for everyone.
Open house: Fri.-Sat., Jan. 6-7 Location: Oro Valley, Ariz. Price: $795,000 Property description: Enjoy quiet privacy coupled with stunning panoramas of city lights and five mountain ranges from this captivating 3.97-acre retreat at the end of a remote cul-de-sac. This glamorous yet refreshingly intimate four-bedroom hilltop home features polished and scored concrete floors, a designer chef's kitchen with stainless steel commercial appliances, and a luxurious pool and hot tub that can be accessed from a lavish master suite.
See inside this property.
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.