A key component of the American Dream for decades has had a white picket fence around it and a swing set in its backyard. Homeownership has long been the brass ring for our hard work, a prize for our achievement, a barometer of our success.
Approximately 64 percent of Americans own the roof under which they sleep each night. The median house price in the United States jumped 6.5 percent from a year ago to an all-time high of $263,800 last June. But as with all things real estate, it’s about location. Good schools, well-paying jobs, low crime, good weather and access to services all influence where we choose to live.
We looked at homes listed for sale in some of the cities along the HuffPost Listen to America bus tour route to see what’s on the market at $250,000, $500,000 and $1.5 million. Special shout out to our friends at Realtor.com and Luxury Portfolio for their help.
What $250,000 will buy you in ...
St. Louis, Missouri
A charming four-bedroom, two-bath home with hardwood floors, skylights and an updated stainless steel kitchen. Good schools and walking distance to a kid-friendly public park. Square footage: 1,769.
This three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home is located in the gated community of Brookes Crossing, near the Pinnacle Mall and inside the Trussville city limits. It has hardwood floors, a designer kitchen and an upstairs loft that can be used as a den or office. The complex has a new community pavilion with a grill and fireplace for neighborhood cookouts. No square footage listed.
This two-bedroom, one-bath country cottage just underwent a total facelift. It was remodeled with top-of-the-line appliances, has a brand new kitchen, bathroom, roof, energy-efficient windows, doors and floors and high-end window treatments. Square footage: 1,365.
This five-bedroom stately home is tucked against a woodsy tree line and babbling creek. It has a grand two-story entranceway and more than 3,400 finished square feet, a first-floor master suite and laundry. Formal living room with high ceilings, catwalk overlooks and a paved basketball court outside.
Located on a tree-lined street, this open-floor-plan home features scraped hardwood floors in the living room, dining room and throughout the three bedrooms. The updated kitchen has slow-close cabinetry, granite counters, stainless appliances and a wrap-around backsplash. In the master bedroom, enjoy a vaulted ceiling and updated master bath. There’s a covered front porch and concrete rear patio. Square footage not listed.
What $500,000 will buy you in ...
Little Rock, Arkansas
A brick-lover’s dream house, custom built on a quiet cul-de-sac lot. Gourmet kitchen with breakfast bar, big center island and plenty of counter space and storage. Three bedrooms on main level and large bonus room upstairs. A lovely screened-in porch overlooks a protected green space and a creek. Square footage: 3,601.
Six bedrooms and four full baths on 0.75 acres, surrounded by pastoral green. Two master suites ― one upstairs and one on the main level. Not to mention you can probably hop on over to Graceland and dance with the King whenever you want.
This nearly new (2014 construction) 3,188-square-foot home has four Texas-size bedrooms and three full baths. There’s a game room upstairs with a built-in homework desk. The wrap-around closet even has a window seat, suitable for parents in hiding.
Asheville, North Carolina
Think big. This 5,270-square-foot home has four bedrooms and six baths, a media room, sauna and bonus rooms. There is also a 600-square-foot rear deck and a large yard for play or gardening.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Here’s a breath-stealer for fans of Southwestern architecture. A stunning contemporary home with 2,107 square feet and oodles of high-end amenities. Luxury kitchen with white cabinets and crown molding, granite countertops, marble backsplash, cooktop, built-in double oven and microwave, and a kitchen bar with a shiplap accent. Custom floor-to-ceiling fireplace, and the master bath has a walk-in shower with custom tile surround and dual shower head, dual sinks and a large walk-in closet with custom shelving.
Chicago Common Pink Brick ― or Chicago Pink Brick, as it is more commonly known ― adorns the exterior of this 2,670-square-foot Milwaukee home. Designed by Milwaukee architect Tom Van Alyea, the French Provincial has hardwood floors, a circular floor plan and chef’s kitchen. But ah, those bricks ― reclaimed to be re-loved.
What $1.5 million will buy you in ...
New Orleans, Louisiana
Views and an oversized steam shower with 54 jets. What else could anyone possibly want in a house? This Craftsman gem has arched windows and doors, bamboo flooring, and all the bells and whistles and smart home technology you could want. There are three bedrooms and two and a half baths in 4,891 square feet of minimalist delight.
Asheville, North Carolina
Set on 24 acres, this secluded 3,058-square-foot luxury home was designed by Asheville architect Bill Ashe. Less than a 20-minute drive to downtown Asheville, the property has its own hiking trails. There is custom-made red birch cabinetry, two stone fireplaces, seven skylights, cherrywood floors, granite counters, a detached artist studio and three water features. Three bedrooms, three baths.
The pool! The walls of glass! Award-winning architect Les Wallach designed this 4,476-square-foot beauty that sits atop a 2-acre lot and has views of the Catalina Mountains. The dramatic entry foyer was made of hand-quarried stones and select wood ceiling and floors. But this house had us at the pool. See what we mean here.
Kansas City, Missouri
Can we please get a nice low whistle for this one? At 6,134 square feet, this house is the answer to all your security concerns. It is a self-contained fully sustainable compound right down to the multiple and strategically placed safe rooms. Five bedrooms, five baths, the highest fireproof ratings and zoned for high security. Plus, it’s awfully pretty.
This all-brick Colonial has a grand two-story foyer with a winding staircase and views of rooms beyond. An elegant formal living room features a mantled fireplace flanked by built-in shelving. Spacious formal dining room with wainscoting and hardwood floors. Limestone kitchen counters, large center island/breakfast bar, stainless steel appliances and a butler’s pantry. Just a stunner at 8,642 square feet.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story listed a home as for sale in Fort Benning, Georgia, that in fact was located in Hiawassee, Georgia.