Anyone who's been through the home-buying process in multiple geographic locations can tell you that your money doesn't buy the same amount of house in every location. To someone in a rural area of the Southeast, it can seem downright comical what people pay for their homes in places like New York City or Los Angeles, and vice versa.
A "million-dollar home" is an expression often used to convey a certain status when speaking about houses. Looking at what you can buy for less than seven figures in some of the nation's real estate markets is amazing, and some of the more rural homes will make you think twice about whether it's worth living in the city!
1. New York City
The most expensive real estate market in the U.S. on a price-per-square-foot basis, New York is one market where demand never seems to go down. In fact, from the peak value in 2006, the average Manhattan home value dropped by only about 10% at the very bottom of the market and has since rebounded nicely to right around its pre-crash levels.
At the million-dollar price point, a buyer can expect a condo or co-op similar to this two-bedroom unit on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Space is at a premium in Manhattan, and although this particular listing doesn't mention the square footage (not uncommon among Manhattan listings -- square footage is generally not one of the selling points), most of the listings in the million-dollar range are between 600 and 1,000 square feet. While this pales in comparison to some of the other markets mentioned here in terms of size, for people who want to be in the center of the action, the location just can't be beat.
2. Orlando, Fla.
By some accounts, Orlando is the most visited city in the United States and is home to attractions such as Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and more. What many people don't realize is how affordable housing is in the Orlando area. Orlando was hit pretty hard by the mortgage crisis, and home values have not fully recovered. In addition, Orlando is a very spread-out town, meaning there's a lot of land to go around.
A million bucks in Orlando will get you a very large, stately home like this 5,225-square-foot example. The home has five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a three-car garage, a heated pool, high-end finishes, and even a detached guest apartment that looks to be more spacious than the entire Manhattan condo featured earlier.
3. Alexandria, Va.
A suburb of Washington, D.C. (and the hometown of The Motley Fool), Alexandria is a short ride on the Metro from all of the D.C. action, making it a favorite of those who work in the city and want a little more space. Northern Virginia has always been a relatively expensive market, with a particular home's proximity to desirable landmarks (like a Metro station) playing a large role in the home's value.
In our price range, $955,000 will buy you this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with 3,700 square feet. While it may seem to lack some of the features of other million-dollar homes, bear in mind that this is an enormous home for its location right next to such a major city.
4. Los Angeles
One of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, the greater Los Angeles area is home to some of the most desirable locations in the entire United States. As might be expected, you don't get too much for your money here.
For just under a million bucks, you can buy a home like this three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom single-family home in the Hollywood Hills. Although the home is small, the location is excellent, and the home features high-end finishes and a backyard built for entertaining, with a hot tub and a nice canyon view.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes housing. A million dollars in Dallas will buy you this four-bedroom, 5,187-square-foot Mediterranean house with an extremely spacious floor plan, beautiful kitchen, high ceilings, and one of the most beautiful master bathrooms I've seen in a sub-$1 million home.