It may be Super Bowl weekend, but for diehard real estate hounds, it's also prime open house season. As the temperatures drop and some sellers call it quits, committed house hunters have first dibs on the homes still on the market -- and there are some real beauties out there.
From a breathtaking Mediterranean with a saltwater pool, to a tropical oasis in the middle of suburbia, we lay down the welcome mat at some of the most interesting open houses in the nation. So wipe your feet at the door and scroll right on through.
Open Houses for Feb. 4-5
Open house: Sun., Feb. 5 Location: Los Angeles Price: $2.95 million Property details: Who needs football when there are stunning homes like this to tour on game day? This Mediterranean-style five-bedroom looker was featured on the cover of "Secret Gardens of Hollywood and Private Oases in Los Angeles," and boasts such elegant features as a saltwater pool, architectural iron work and French doors throughout its brilliantly lit interior. Click the listing below to see what all the fuss is about. See inside this property.
Open house: Sat., Feb. 4 Location: Austin, Texas Price: $550,000 Property details: The Lone Star State does everything bigger, and Super Bowl parties are no exception. That's why this behemoth 4,000-plus square-foot home is going to be open to the public the day before the big game. That way, a year from now, when you're hosting your own Super Bowl party from this five-bedroom stunner, you can brag to guests (from the built-in wet bar, of course) about how you snagged your dream house on Super Bowl weekend but didn't miss a minute of the action.
See inside this property.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 5 Location: Fort Myers, Fla. Price: $1.245 million Property details: You can enjoy spectacular lake views from this estate home located in the private gated community of Gulf Harbour Yacht and Country Club. The stunning residence boasts 4,891 square feet of living space with formal dining and living rooms, two master bedroom suites, two guest bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths, and a family room with full service bar and dual fireplace. Plus, you get an expansive lanai area with a custom heated pool and spa with waterfall. Talk about luxury!
Open house: Sun., Feb. 5 Location: Short Hills, N.J. Price: $669,000 Property details: New Jersey football fans have a lot at stake this Super Bowl Sunday. The Giants' helmets might say "New York," but just about everything else about the team is Garden State, through and through. Which is precisely why hosting an open house in this rustic three-bedroom on Super Bowl Sunday is such a gutsy move. But when your house has charm to spare, why not go for the Hail Mary play? Besides, the tour runs from noon to 4 p.m., giving Big Blue fans plenty of time to make it home by kickoff. See inside this property.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 5 Location: Wellesley, Mass Price: $2.285 million Property description: This exquisite Tudor home in Wellesley Farms is the fusion of traditional aesthetics with contemporary comfort. Boasting a generous, skylit family room with gas fireplace, a natural wood library and a wonderfully bright chef's kitchen filled with state-of-the-art appliances, this home seamlessly blends the classic with the modern.
Open House: Sat.-Sun., Feb. 4-5 Location: Washington Price: $3.190 million Property description: This chic, Georgetown-style apartment is located in the prestigious community of Kalorama. Though it boasts a grand 1905 Victorian structure and gorgeous classic fireplaces, the five-bedroom, five bathroom home features all the latest luxury amenities -- including a private elevator! Our favorite feature? A custom spiral stairway leading to a fabulous roof deck, framed with tempered glass, and affording 360-degree views of D.C.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 5 Location: Mechanicsville, Pa. Price: $1.599 million Property description: This beautiful Pennsylvania home is located in the prestigious Stoneymead Enclave of estate homes. The unique five-bedroom, seven-bathroom residence boast a two-story family room with stone fireplaces, coffered ceilings and a wall of windows. A curved staircase flanks the living room, spacious dining room and gorgeous sun-filled morning room.
Open house: Sun., Feb. 5 Location: Honolulu Price: $3.395 million Property description: This classic Kama'aina estate boasts modern contemporary spirit and flair with its new chef's kitchen, soaring ceilings and gracious open floor plan. The home also boasts lush tropical gardens, and a poolside cabana (with wet bar!), creating a truly magical oasis for relaxed island entertaining. Best of all? Beach access close by.
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.