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NextHome announces new brokerage in Plainfield, Illinois

NextHome announces new brokerage in Plainfield, Illinois

Emily Tracy

Pleasanton, CA — November 19, 2020 — NextHome is pleased to announce the newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Crossroads, based in Plainfield, Illinois. The brokerage represents the sixth office location opened in Illinois for the NextHome franchise and the 527th NextHome office opened nationally.

Located on the southwestern edge of the Chicago suburbs, Plainfield offers plentiful open space and midwestern charm. NextHome Crossroads will serve clients across the Plainfield area including Joliet, Shorewood, Minooka, Channahon, Romeoville, Bolingbrook, and the remainder of Will County and Southern DuPage County. 

The brokerage is owned by Emily Tracy, an experienced broker/owner with a heart for helping others. 

Before becoming a REALTOR®, Emily built a career working as an estate planning paralegal. 

“I got into real estate because I saw a need,” Emily said. “These families need someone trustworthy to take care of homes after their elderly parents have moved out. These clients needed someone who they had already established a trusting relationship with who could handle all the emotion that comes with downsizing and selling your parents things.”

Emily obtained her real estate license in 2012 and began serving clients at the law firm. 

In 2014, Emily opened her own independent brokerage, Park River Realty, which she operated for two years. 

Emily continued to serve her clients with compassion and dedication as she transitioned to Baird & Warner in 2016. After two years, she began working with Spring Realty. 

During these years, Emily achieved remarkable sales success. Her sales volume reached almost $7 million and Emily’s average annual sales hovered around 35 properties. 

However, Emily always knew that she wanted to open her own franchised brokerage. She just needed the right fit to come along. 

“I didn’t want to recreate the wheel,” Emily said of her decision to franchise. “I wanted to find the right partner so that I could attract quality agents, have the right technology at my fingertips, and take advantage of strong marketing. I told myself for more than a year, ‘I’m going to save money, research, and keep looking until I find the right franchise.’”

In 2020, Emily discovered NextHome and was immediately attracted to the franchise’s branding.

“I wanted something modern, sleek, hip, young, and forward-looking,” Emily said. “NextHome checked all the boxes.”

In addition, Luke the NextHome mascot became a great conversation starter. 

“The dog is adorable,” Emily said. “Everyone seems to have a dog and Luke is a really great way to connect with people.”

Today, Emily is using NextHome’s branding, tools, and support to help clients and agents achieve their goals. 

“At NextHome Crossroads, our agents will get professional management and support and the knowledge that they can always come to me,” Emily said.

In addition to NextHome’s cutting-edge marketing, Emily’s clients also have access to her extensive expertise and deep concern for their goals.

“My clients know that I care about them,” Emily said. “I want to see them to get into the best fit for them, not what’s best for me.”

In addition to her “Humans over Houses” philosophy, Emily has extensive experience with home renovations and flipping. With her own two hands, Emily has helped renovate over a dozen homes and freely offers her perspective to her clients. 

When she isn’t serving her agents and clients, Emily volunteers her time with both national and local real estate associations. For the past four years, Emily has enjoyed serving with the Three Rivers Association of REALTORS®. The association covers both Will and Grundy counties and is about 800 real estate professionals strong. This year, Emily is serving with the National Association of REALTORS® on their Conventional Financing and Policy Committee. 

Emily is also a long-time member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Membership in the group is reserved for direct descendants of those who fought in the American Revolutionary War. For the past 15 years, Emily has promoted civic engagement, patriotism, and championed various veterans causes. 

Emily and her husband Chris have been married for 21 years and they are the parents of three children, Mitch (19), Spencer (18), and Amelia (17).

Please join us in congratulating Emily on the opening of NextHome Crossroads in Plainfield, Illinois!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome Pinnacle Realty opens in Southern Florida

NextHome Pinnacle Realty opens in Southern Florida

Debrah Sutherland

Pleasanton, CA — November 10, 2020 — NextHome is pleased to announce the newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Pinnacle Realty, based in Plantation, Florida. The brokerage represents the 78th office location opened in Florida for the NextHome franchise and the 525th NextHome office opened nationally.

The brokerage will serve clients across Florida’s Tri County area including Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties. 

NextHome Pinnacle Realty is owned by Debrah Sutherland, an experienced REALTOR® with a passion for helping others. 

Debrah obtained her real estate license in 2014 on the heels of a career as a legal assistant. Debrah’s days were filled with deeds, titles, and helping clients through foreclosures and estate planning. However, around 2014, her family and friends began sharing their experiences with REALTORS® and those conversations ignited her passion for quality customer service.

“They didn’t receive the highest quality service, and some had really bad experiences,” Debrah recalled. “I thought that providing great real estate service could offer a kind of job satisfaction I couldn’t get purely pursuing a career in law.”

When Debrah approached the attorneys at her firm with the idea, they were thrilled to be able to fill a gap in their services. 

After a few years, Debrah’s real estate sales business began to really pick up. She left the law firm and devoted herself entirely to serving real estate clients. Throughout her career, Debrah has worked with both national franchises and boutique brokerages, providing excellent service no matter where she goes. She soaked up all the training she could get her hands on during those early years. Debrah also gained valuable experience by taking the clients that other agents tended to pass up. 

“So many didn’t want to have to work with rental clients, so I took that business,” Debrah said. “Over the years, I developed great relationships with these people and when they were ready to buy, I was happy to help.”

Through her dedication to her clients, no matter their needs, Debrah’s business has become almost entirely repeat and referral.  

Debrah’s hands-on experience molded her into a high achieving REALTOR®. She enjoys sharing that knowledge with other agents, and REALTORS® from across her area began flocking to her for guidance. 

“I love being in a position where I can provide value to other professionals,” Debrah said. “A lot of people have been able to reach out to me – and that’s what actually brought me to NextHome.”

As a team leader who personally closed about 35 transactions per year, Debrah was accomplished in her market. However, she knew that she wanted to build something that would elevate agents’ abilities and leave a local legacy. 

“I needed to build something that I could entirely dedicate myself to – a company that I could truly buy into,” Debrah said.

After deciding that brokerage ownership was her next step, Debrah found NextHome and it was exactly what she wanted. 

“I was looking for a company that offered amazing technology, expansive training, and a brand that was well-established,” Debrah said. “When I found NextHome it was all these things as well as a company culture that I felt comfortable with.”

Today, Debrah is creating a brokerage that is connected to her community and where agents can feel like they have found a home. 

“I want my agents to feel like they are a part of a family,” Debrah said.

Outside of building her brokerage, Debrah enjoys flipping properties with her husband Christopher Tyler, who is a general contractor. The couple has been together for more than a decade and they were married in 2017. 

Together they love cheering on Debrah’s stepdaughter, Asaciah, as she excels in soccer. 

Please join us in congratulating Debrah on the opening of NextHome Pinnacle Realty in Plantation, Florida!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome expands in New Jersey

NextHome expands in New Jersey

Allan Burns & Dave Garagiola

Pleasanton, CA — November 6, 2020 — NextHome is pleased to announce the newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Force Premier Realty, based in Howell, New Jersey. The brokerage represents the 12th office location opened in New Jersey for the NextHome franchise and the 524th NextHome office opened nationally.

Centrally located along a major area corridor, NextHome Force Premier Realty is poised to professionally serve clients across Monmouth and Ocean Counties along the Route 9 Corridor North and South, as well as the Shore towns to the East and towards Trenton to the West. NextHome Force Premier Realty offers the best agents in the business, who are mentored by a strong and experienced leadership team. 

Owners Allan Burns and Dave Garagiola offer a unique combination of drive and vision, as well as extensive backgrounds in real estate. 

Allan began his career in 1996, working with both nationally franchised brokerages and a commercial leasing company in New York City. Between 2004 and 2008, Allan and his sister Janine ran their own independent brokerage – Brayburn Properties. After 2008, Allan joined a nationally franchised brokerage where he built a successful team. Alone, Allan was doing about $8-$10 million in sales volume. 

The following year, his partnership with Theresa Kuyl produced $17 million in sales volume then that grew to $27 million with about 50 annual transactions. The accomplishment was especially extraordinary in a market where the average sales price hovered around $300,000. 

Dave entered the industry in 2010 as a commercial real estate consultant. In 2013, he shifted into residential real estate and joined the same brokerage as Allan. 

In 2017, Dave became a team leader at the brokerage, taking over Allan’s previous role. 

“Allan is very visionary,” Dave said. “He has a talent for taking the systems and models that exist and furthering what those things can accomplish by thinking outside the box.”

In May of 2020, Allan used his talents to open NextHome Force Realty Partners in Red Bank, New Jersey. NextHome Force Realty Partners’s strong leadership structure begins with its owners, Allan Burns and Theresa Kuyl. Dave joined NextHome Force Realty Partners’ Board of Directors, which is a robust team of top-tier professionals. To help provide unparalleled client service, NextHome Force Realty Partners associates have access to a full-time accountant, marketing division, contract to close support, and cutting-edge photos, drones, and social advertising. 

“We began to formulate ideas on what type of business relationship we could put together as far as the two of us opening additional offices and expanding the brand,” Dave said.

Today, NextHome Force Premier Realty is building on the success of Allan’s first office and expanding the brand throughout the Monmouth and Ocean County area. 

As office leader and Broker of Record, Dave is using his industry expertise to attract top-tier talent and strengthen NextHome Force Premier Realty’s reputation in the area. 

“At the core of what we are creating is an office with great culture,” Dave said. “This way of being extends throughout our office, our agent base, and embraces a culture of producing at a high level. Attracting the right talent is important to strong growth, and at NextHome Force Premier Realty we embrace a culture that attracts the best of the best.”

Please join us in congratulating Allan and Dave on the opening of NextHome Force Premier Realty in Howell, New Jersey!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome announces Seattle-area brokerage

NextHome announces Seattle-area brokerage

Colleen Fischesser

Pleasanton, CA — November 5, 2020 — NextHome is pleased to announce the newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Experience, based in Chelan, Washington. The brokerage represents the 11th office location opened in Washington for the NextHome franchise and the 523rd NextHome office opened nationally.

NextHome Experience is ready to serve a diverse array of clients across Washington, from Seattle to Chelan. Under the leadership of broker/owner Colleen Fischesser, NextHome Experience is poised to provide an exceptional experience for those in the residential and land markets. 

Colleen is a veteran real estate broker, business owner, and top-producing agent who has been interested in real estate from a young age.

As the daughter of NFL player and coach, Mike McCormack, Colleen’s childhood was filled with frequent moves and new homes. 

“I was obsessed,” Colleen recalled. “I would beg my parents to take me to open houses as a teenager and I knew exactly when the newest real estate magazines were coming out. I had a fascination with houses. It was just something I have always really loved.”

In 1990, Colleen turned that passion into a career, starting with a small boutique brokerage before joining RE/MAX. Colleen would spend the next 25 years building a name and reputation as a top producer with the national franchise. 

In 2003, Colleen added “broker” to her repertoire of talents, opening an expansion office in western Washington. For the next two years, Colleen took on the responsibility of managing, recruiting, and training, as well as maintaining her personal production.

In 2005, Colleen purchased a local RE/MAX office where she led a team of agents and built a thriving book of business. Throughout these years, Colleen responded to market forces by expanding her expertise into property management. While brokerages across America were struggling under the weight of a national housing crisis, Colleen diversified and thrived.

Ever improving, Colleen became a student of a real estate coaching program in 2013.

“One day, my coach said to me ‘What do you think about becoming a coach yourself?’,” Colleen recalled. “It really sparked something in me. I realized how much I loved creating supportive and knowledgeable work environments. Coaching was an opportunity to embrace yet another purpose bigger than myself.”

In 2016, Colleen became a real estate coach. It was around that time that she also sold her brokerages on Washington’s west side and returned to full-time sales. 

As the years went on, Colleen started considering the next evolution in her career. An online advertisement for NextHome piqued her interest. 

“I was looking for something new and fresh and more relevant in today’s market,” Colleen said. “When I had my initial call with NextHome, the culture, the tools, the brand, all of it just spoke to me. I then had a clear vision of what the next five to ten years of my career will look like.”

Colleen was primarily attracted by NextHome’s value proposition for the agent. The franchise offered an industry-leading suite of tools, available with a single sign-on. 

“The tool kit for the cost is phenomenal in my opinion,” Colleen said. “NextHome’s culture is also great. It just checked all the boxes.”

Today, Colleen is building a brokerage of top-tier agents where clients have access to highly trained professionals. 

“I am thrilled to begin to build a culture of camaraderie, where as a team we work through hands-on workshops, training, and learning,” Colleen said. “I am excited to welcome agents who fit into this culture of an abundant mindset and who can both work hard and have fun.”

Colleen has been married for 36 years to her husband Russ, who is looking forward to retirement this year. She is also mom to three sons and grandmother to two grandsons and one granddaughter. When she isn’t working, Colleen enjoys wine tasting in beautiful Washington wine country and savoring great food. 

Please join us in congratulating Colleen on the opening of NextHome Experience headquartered in Chelan, Washington!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at

Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome announces new Wisconsin brokerage

NextHome announces new Wisconsin brokerage

Tara Feick

Pleasanton, CA — October 29, 2020 — NextHome is pleased to announce the newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Elite Real Estate, based in Sauk City, Wisconsin. The brokerage represents the 15th office location opened in Wisconsin for the NextHome franchise and the 521st NextHome office opened nationally.

NextHome Elite Real Estate is ready to serve all types of residential clients across southern Wisconsin. Located in Sauk City, the Sauk Prairie region sits along the Wisconsin River and is home to about 8,000 people. Just 30 minutes north of Madison, Sauk City offers an attractive assortment of boutiques, bars, restaurants, and local businesses. 

NextHome Elite Real Estate broker/owner, Tara Feick, is a Wisconsin native who deeply cares for her clients and the communities in which she was raised and lives in. Throughout her childhood, Tara watched her parents buy, renovate, and sell properties.

“I’ve wanted to be in real estate for a long time,” Tara said. 

Tara obtained her real estate license in 2011.

“Through all those experiences, I continued to be interested in real estate and getting into that world,” Tara said. 

After spending two years at a local independent, Tara joined a Keller Willams office in Madison. Then, at the end of 2017, she opened her own brokerage – Elite Real Estate. 

During her years as an independent broker/owner, Tara was able to help clients across southern Wisconsin. Her service area spanned more than 100 miles. 

“I love helping people,” Tara said. “I was very proud of the service we provided, and that we were able to help clients all across Wisconsin.”

As she opened her own brokerage, Tara’s goal was to provide absolutely unparalleled customer service. 

“I wanted to build a small brokerage where agents and clients are my focus,” Tara said. “Whether it is helping agents grow their business or helping clients along the way, I love doing whatever I can for them. I like to cater to my clients and agents.”

That desire to offer her agents and clients the industry’s best led Tara to NextHome. 

“I wanted more resources for my agents, for myself as well,” Tara said. “I want my agents to grow, and to do that I know I need to offer them tools that will help them succeed.”

After researching several franchises, Tara partnered with NextHome. 

“NextHome really stuck out to me,” Tara said. “It had the right mix of affordability and cutting-edge marketing as well as opportunities I would not have as an independent. I just loved everything from the get-go.”

Today, Tara is using NextHome’s tools and support to provide unequaled customer service. 

“I ensure that the level of customer service is unforgettable,” Tara said. “I will be available anytime for my clients and agents. That level of client service is No. 1 for me, and the agents who work with me will operate under that ideal.”

Tara loves to participate in and host community events. From Easter egg hunts in the Spring to pumpkin decorating events in the Fall, Tara is always looking for ways to reach out to the community around her. 

Alongside her fiance, Bob Phillips, Tara enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her two children Trevor (18) and Tiana (15), and Bob’s two kids Dimitri (19) and Payten (16). 

Please join us in congratulating Tara on the opening of NextHome Elite Real Estate in Sauk City, Wisconsin!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome Welcomes New Raleigh-Area Brokerage

NextHome Welcomes New Raleigh-Area Brokerage

Wayne Holt

Pleasanton, CA — October 23, 2020 — NextHome is pleased to announce the newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Reward, based in Cary, North Carolina. The brokerage represents the 27th office location opened in North Carolina for the NextHome franchise and the 520th NextHome office opened nationally.

NextHome Reward is located in the charming Raleigh suburb of Cary, where a vibrant downtown is in the midst of blossoming. 

From its central location, NextHome Reward is poised to help clients across the area including those in Raleigh, Apex, Morrisville, and Holly Springs. 

NextHome Reward is owned by local homebuilder Wayne Holt. Wayne has become a local expert in new home construction after spending more than 17 years building custom homes in the area. 

Before entering the real estate arena, Wayne was a successful business owner. He worked in insurance then opened his own Yamaha franchise, which he ran for more than 10 years. 

In 2002, Wayne became a licensed contractor and began building custom homes. He added to his expertise in 2004 by obtaining his real estate license and opening his own brokerage. 

Throughout his career, Wayne has specialized in new construction and has bought or sold more than 400 properties – may of those built by his company 

Throughout the recession, and the real estate slump that accompanied it, Wayne added another business to his portfolio. He began working with banks to provide assistance with foreclosed new home construction. With his expertise Wayne would finish the homes, then among with his partners list them and sell them.

“We did it all,” Wayne said. 

As the market recovered, Wayne returned his full attention to his custom home business. Throughout the years, Wayne has provided first-rate leadership and staff training that has enabled the company to reach a point where he can again embark on a new venture. 

As Wayne considered his next career move, he found himself sitting next to an old friend at a real estate continuing education course. 

“I’ve known Mark (Anderson, owner of NextHome Ideal Group) for more than 22 years,” Wayne said. “He had nothing but positive things to say about NextHome. To see him grow the way he has in his business over the past couple years, I knew NextHome was a good place for me to be.”

After delving deeper into what NextHome had to offer, Wayne was thrilled with the company’s marketing, education, and technology. 

From cutting-edge yard signs, to a fully equipped back office, Wayne now has access to industry-leading resources that give him a competitive advantage in his area. 

“All the pieces are there,” Wayne said. “What NextHome offers is truly comprehensive. There’s nothing missing and I think that will be very attractive to great agents, as well as clients.”

Wayne is looking forward to welcoming agents to NextHome Reward who love their industry and want to have fun. 

“I am looking for agents who are hardworking, friendly, and fun to be around,” Wayne said. 

Clients seeking new home construction will especially benefit from Wayne’s experience and leadership at NextHome Reward. 

Wayne has been deeply involved with the Homebuilders Association of Raleigh-Wake County since he began his homebuilding career. In 2013 he served as the association’s president. At the time, the association was the largest in the United States, with more than 3,000 members. 

Throughout the years, Wayne has also served on various homebuilder committees, and remains deeply plugged into the local homebuilding industry. 

Wayne also held a home inspection license for several years and continues to be the region’s hyperlocal expert on new construction. 

Around the community, Wayne has passion for helping kids who face hunger. For several years, he donated heavily to the local backpack program run through his church that provided children with the nutrition they needed to succeed in school. 

Please join us in congratulating Wayne on the opening of NextHome Reward in Cary, North Carolina!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome announces new Bay Area brokerage

NextHome announces new Bay Area brokerage

Pleasanton, CA — October 22, 2020 — NextHome is pleased to announce the newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Landcastle Luxury, based in Danville, California. The brokerage represents the 80th office location opened in California for the NextHome franchise and the 519th NextHome office opened nationally.

The brokerage will serve a wide range of residential clients across the East Bay, including those in Danville, Walnut Creek, Alamo, and San Ramon. 

NextHome Landcastle Luxury is owned by Jim Brennan – a veteran of the real estate industry with a broad range of experience in land development, investment properties, and subdivision sales. 

Jim became a broker in 2000, but he has been an avid investor since the 1980s. The Butler University (Indianapolis) graduate began his professional life as a pharmacist who became well versed in sales and technology. Jim sold computers to pharmacies throughout the Midwest before moving to northern California. 

After moving to the Bay Area, Jim decided his true passion was for real estate. He transformed his deep experience in property investing into a career in land sales, becoming a broker and partner with his father-in-law to form Landcastle Real Estate. At first, they focused on representing developers who were creating master planned communities. Jim was involved in the genesis and the sale of lots in many well-known communities in northern California, including Mountain House and the stunning 5,000-acre River Islands Master Plan in Lathrop, California. 

“Helping builders find lots to build family homes was the feel-good part of the business,” Jim said. “I loved the fulfillment that came from my work and watching the communities come to life.”

As homes continued to rise, and Jim’s portfolio of success continued to grow, he knew that franchising was the right direction to steer his career. However, he never seemed to find just the right fit. 

“I’ve been thinking about franchising for the past 10 years,” Jim said. “I spent a lot of time trying to find the right franchise.”

Jim eventually discovered NextHome through a friend. 

“We became very close after building two spec homes together,” Jim said speaking of his friend. “We were looking for opportunities and he said, ‘here, what do you think of this?’ NextHome was exactly what I had been trying to find for the past 10 years. The more research I did, the better I liked it.”

Jim was initially drawn to NextHome CEO James Dwiggins’ vision for the company. 

“It was wonderful knowing that there was someone in charge who had the same kinds of values that I wanted to promote in my own business,” Jim said. 

In addition, NextHome’s suite of industry-leading technology was just what Jim needed to help his talented agents achieve their best. 

“The back office is always a struggle for small independents,” Jim said. “NextHome gives me a framework that takes care of the small things so that I can focus on the important things, our agents and clients.”

 With his foundation in sales, Jim was impressed by NextHome’s creative marketing. 

“The dog mascot is absolutely genius,” Jim said of NextHome’s mascot Luke. “Who doesn’t love dogs?”

Today, Jim is leading a brokerage of outstanding talent as he helps East Bay buyers and sellers enjoy a seamless experience. 

“That is our agent’s goal, to make each transaction as easy for buyers and sellers as it can be,” Jim said. “That is their job and that is where we excel.”

This year, Jim celebrated 30 years of marriage to his wife Colleen, although he is quick to point out that they have been together for 36 years. Jim and Colleen are the proud parents of Sean (27) and Kelly (24). Sean is a medical student at Loma Linda University. Kelly, an accomplished artist, is pursuing a degree in graphic arts at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz. 

Jim and Colleen love to travel together and are both joyful musicians. Although playing many venues in the past, their classic rock cover band has delighted fans at school fundraisers, parties and meetings across the Bay Area in recent years. 

Please join us in congratulating Jim on the opening of NextHome Landcastle Luxury in Danville, California!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

What are the Top Affordable U.S. Suburbs With a City Feel?

What are the Top Affordable U.S. Suburbs With a City Feel?

Increased opportunities to work remotely are pushing more Americans to rethink how and where they want to live. But even if there’s less of a need to live as close to urban job centers, traditional urban amenities — think restaurants, nightlife, museums and sports venues — remain a big draw and demand for city living remains high. As a result, many buyers may seek places that balance the space and affordability of the suburbs, while still maintaining that big-city feel.

A new “Cityness Index” created by Zillow and Yelp Inc. helps identify the U.S. suburbs that best strike that balance. Key metrics include housing affordability compared to the nearest big cities and to the country at large, housing availability, the mix and diversity of businesses — including restaurants, nightlife and the arts — and consumer reviews and check-ins.

Zillow data shows extremely strong housing demand driven both by incredibly low mortgage interest rates and more millennials and Gen Zers reaching prime home buying age. This desire to move is also reflected in a recent Zillow survey of people newly working from home because of the pandemic, with almost two-thirds of respondents saying they would consider moving if they had the flexibility to work from home occasionally. The opportunity to telework could also give almost 2 million current renters an opportunity to relocate and buy a home in a more affordable area. There very well may be a “Great Reshuffling” on the horizon.

“At Yelp, we’re seeing consumer interest and requests for quotes for categories like movers, packing services and mortgage lenders increase in major metro areas, compared to the same time period last year,” said Yelp Trend Expert Tara Lewis. “For city dwellers who don’t want to sacrifice great amenities like restaurants, art galleries and nightlife, but are dreaming of a little more space and a more affordable lifestyle, these suburbs offer a similar variety of great local businesses.”

This demand is also driving up prices and depleting inventory. But using this data, it is possible for young people looking to buy and find space for their expanding families to bid farewell to big city premiums without giving up the feel of a city in amenity-rich suburbs.

Hundreds of suburbs nationwide were scored on the index, and we identified the highest scorer in each of the 50 largest U.S. metros. Waterbury, Conn., near New Haven and Hartford, topped our list, beating out Lowell, Mass. for the top spot. Filling out the top five are Joliet, Ill.; Sunrise, Fla.; and Pasadena, Texas.

Zillow and Yelp’s top 10 affordable suburbs with a city feel:

10 affordable suburbs with a city feel

1. Waterbury, Connecticut

  • Cityness Index Score: 67.6
  • Typical home value: $139,304

Nestled between New Haven and Hartford, Waterbury has a quintessential New England feel. Downtown Waterbury boasts the historic Palace Theater, the Mattatuck Museum for art lovers and a University of Connecticut satellite campus.

Housing affordability in Waterbury is another advantage — the typical Waterbury home is 30% less expensive than the typical home in New Haven, and 46% less expensive than the typical U.S. home.

2. Lowell, Massachusetts

  • Cityness Index Score: 64.7
  • Typical home value: $323,576

Located near the New Hampshire border about 25 miles northwest of Boston, Lowell offers a great balance of city-like amenities with suburban conveniences. Residents can immerse themselves in the history of America’s Industrial Revolution at Lowell National Historical Park or take a casual stroll along the Merrimack River, which winds through downtown Lowell.

Home values in Lowell are about half those in Boston. Brockton, Mass., also scored highly in our Cityness Index, demonstrating the number of affordable, livable city/suburb options available in the Boston area.

3. Joliet, Illinois

  • Cityness Index Score: 63.8
  • Typical home value: $155,018

Joliet is perhaps best known for being home to the Chicagoland Speedway, but there’s plenty more to this Chicago suburb.

Nearby Aurora almost made the list, but Joliet’s housing affordability advantage gave it the edge. The typical home in Joliet is about 40% less expensive than the typical Chicago home.

4. Sunrise, Florida

  • Cityness Index Score: 60.7
  • Typical home value: $243,078

Minutes away from the beach and the Everglades, natural beauty is never far when you’re in Sunrise. For sports fans, Sunrise is home to the NHL’s Florida Panthers and several golf courses.

Multiple Miami suburbs scored well in our Cityness Index, including Delray Beach and Boca Raton, but none beat Sunrise’s mix of affordability and city-like amenities. The typical home in Sunrise is 36% less expensive than in the city of Miami.

5. Pasadena, Texas

  • Cityness Index Score: 60.5
  • Typical home value: $168,080

About 15 miles southeast of downtown Houston you’ll find Pasadena, home to one of the largest urban wildlife preserves in the U.S.

Pasadena offers an affordability edge over Houston, with the typical home value 14% lower.

6. Lancaster, California

  • Cityness Index Score: 59.3
  • Typical home value: $320,494

Lancaster is located near the north edge of the greater Los Angeles area, within the Antelope Valley. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to the area each year for the California Poppy Festival to view more than 1,700 acres of the state’s official flower.

Housing affordability relative to the area shot Lancaster into the top 10 — the typical Lancaster home value is less than half that in the city of Los Angeles.

7. Hampton, Virginia

  • Cityness Index Score: 58.6
  • Typical home value: $188,373

With the Chesapeake Bay to the north and east and the busy harbor at Hampton Roads to the south, Hampton residents have plenty of options for water and beach activities.

Typical home values in Hampton are almost 60% less than the nearby city of Virginia Beach and 36% less than the U.S.

8. Marietta, Georgia

  • Cityness Index Score: 58.4
  • Typical home value: $318,069

Marietta is about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta, and offers residents easy access to Interstate 75 and everything Atlanta has to offer. This suburb’s spot in the top 10 is due in large part to its affordability. Although typical home values in Marietta are slightly higher than the city of Atlanta, it’s still relatively affordable compared to other nearby suburbs including Canton and Smyrna.

Known for its abundance of nature and parks, the culinary scene rivals that of Atlanta, according to Yelp.

9. Norman, Oklahoma

  • Cityness Index Score: 58.2
  • Typical home value: $180,833

Home to the University of Oklahoma, Norman offers a small-town atmosphere with a vibrant nightlife and plentiful coffee shops and parks. Yelp users also give the local restaurant scene high marks. Homes in Norman are generally more expensive than those in Oklahoma City, but remain more affordable than the typical U.S. home.

10. Tempe, Arizona

  • Cityness Index Score: 57.9
  • Typical home value: $327,963

Just east of Phoenix and home to Arizona State University, Tempe is known for a bustling performing arts scene. Locals and tourists alike also enjoy soaking in the surrounding scenery while kayaking and paddleboarding at Tempe Town Lake.

Tempe home values are up 10% from last year, indicating a strong housing market. Listings are also up nearly 3%, offering extra housing options available on the market.


The Cityness Index is designed to highlight cities with vibrant amenities and relatively affordable housing, which result in a city-like environment in a more-affordable suburban region. Any city not included in the official name of a metropolitan area, as defined by the U.S. Census, were counted as a suburb in this analysis. The highest-scoring suburb in 50 of the largest U.S. metro areas were considered, with the highest scores among those making it into the final top 10 list of the most city-like suburbs.

There were four individual Yelp indicators evaluated for each suburb to determine its cityness.

  1. A mix of businesses similar to major cities
  2. A diversity of restaurant and nightlife businesses
  3. A diversity of arts businesses
  4. A high level of consumer activity

Among these, the mix of businesses indicator was given most weight.

The mix of businesses were found by comparing the distribution of open businesses across its major business categories, such as home services and restaurants, in each candidate city with the average distribution in several of the largest U.S. cities. Diversity of business type was measured across two sectors: (1) restaurants, food, and nightlife; and (2) the arts. Suburbs were compared by how many unique types of businesses, such as piano bars or diners, are present. Consumer activity was measured as the number of page views, reviews, and photos per business.

Zillow analyzed five main variables. The most impactful variables were targeting affordability of these suburbs compared to the principal cities in the metropolitan area and the US overall:

  1. Ratio of typical home values in the suburb compared to the principal cities, defined as those named in the official Census MSA name (e.g., Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington home values were used for comparison in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro)
  2. Ratio of typical home values in the suburb compared to the national median

The other housing related variables were targeting the availability of for sale, new for sale, and rental inventory:

  1. Ratio of new for sale inventory in the suburb compared to the principal cities
  2. Ratio of rental inventory in the suburb compared to the principal cities
  3. Ratio of existing for sale inventory in the suburb compared to the principal cities

In each of the Zillow variables, multi-unit housing was given extra weight in calculating inventory to emphasize housing availability in more dense, city-like parts of town.

The collection of Yelp indicators and Zillow variables were each given 50% of the overall weight for the final index. Scores reflect data from June 2020 to August 2020.

What to Do When the Inspection Report Isn’t Good

What to Do When the Inspection Report Isn’t Good

Whether you’re representing the buyer or the seller, the home inspection can be a critical time in the real estate transaction process. When the home inspection report is good, a collective sigh of relief can often be detected from agents and clients alike. When the home inspection report isn’t good, it’s time for agents to swing into action. Here are some steps to consider:

Know your market.

To some extent, reaction to a less-than-stellar inspection report may be tempered by whether you’re dealing with a buyers’ or a sellers’ market. If it’s a buyers’ market, sellers may be on the line to fix most of the deficient items noted in the report before the deal can continue. In a sellers’ market, buyers may not have as much negotiating power. It’s important to understand the current real estate climate and explain to your clients how the market conditions factor into home inspection expectations.

Work with the other agent.

As soon as possible, contact the other agent in the transaction to discuss the inspection report findings. Acknowledge that the report contains bad news and start the conversation about next steps. As much as possible, try to get a sense of their reaction and willingness to make concessions.

Ask for more time.

The real estate contract often specifies a date or timeframe for removing the home inspection contingency. Requesting an extension of that date may give you and your clients the chance to consider the report, gather additional information or estimates, negotiate repairs, fix deficient items, or decide your next steps. If you think some extra time would help keep the deal on track, request it.

Get multiple estimates.

If the cost of repair work noted in the report concerns the buyer or the seller, gathering several quotes from qualified sources may help pinpoint what exact costs are likely to be. In some cases, repair costs may be lower than the client’s project, which can be reassuring. If the estimates come in higher than clients predict, they have the accurate information they need for negotiation and decide whether to move forward.


With accurate figures in hand, have a heartfelt conversation with your clients to understand how the inspection report affects their financial and emotional commitment to the deal. Be ready to communicate their position to the other agent clearly.


After you’ve assessed market conditions, have an accurate understanding of costs involved, and have communicated with your clients, it’s time to negotiate. In some cases, you may be negotiating which repairs the seller needs to make before the deal can close. In other cases, you might negotiate a reduction in selling price or a credit at closing to cover the repair costs. If you’re facing an unusual inspection issue, seek advice from trusted colleagues who may have handled similar situations in the past.

Request documentation.

For everyone’s protection, specify that sellers submit documentation of repair work performed from qualified service professionals. It’s also a good idea to schedule a follow-up inspection or a walk-through to confirm that the negotiated work was satisfactorily completed.

Add American Home Shield® Home Warranty Coverage.

300,000 real estate transactions per year include American Home Shield home warranties, and for a good reason. In addition to offering important budget protection for covered items, American Home Shield coverage can help mitigate unexpected home inspection issues to keep transactions on track. Home warranty protection can also offer valuable reassurance to buyers, especially when the age or condition of covered home systems and appliances are in question.

When home inspection reports are disappointing, it’s important for clients to see their agent responding calmly and deliberately. They will always remember the valuable, professional, and steady guidance that you offer during a critical time.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

NextHome Finders Realty opens in Eastern Tennessee

NextHome Finders Realty opens in Eastern Tennessee

Cody Rife

Pleasanton, CA — October 15, 2020 — NextHome is pleased to announce the newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Finders Realty, based in Johnson City, Tennessee. The brokerage represents the 11th office location opened in Tennessee for the NextHome franchise and the 517th NextHome office opened nationally.

The brokerage will serve the needs of residential clients across eastern Tennessee including Elizabethton, Kingsport, Bristol, Telford, Jonesborough, and Johnson City. 

NextHome Finders Realty is owned by Cody Rife, a highly credentialed real estate educator who is driven to provide concierge-level service. 

“When Johnson City locals are out and about and they see NextHome Finders Realty signs, I want them to expect that extra level of service,” Cody said. 

Cody began his real estate career in 2013, with a nationally franchised office. In the years that followed, he gained experience working with both boutique and franchised brokerages before opening his own independent office, Tri Realty, in 2018. 

Cody’s early years in real estate were peppered with awards and recognitions. Throughout his time serving clients at Keller Williams Johnson City, Cody was consistently recognized as the top agent in his sphere. He was recognized in his early years as his brokerage’s Rookie of the Year and he holds numerous NAR designations. 

Eventually, Cody discovered his passion for coaching, which led him to coach people at his own brokerage.  

“I always knew I wanted to open my own brokerage,” Cody said. “I kind of jumped around on purpose to learn as much as I could – I wanted to learn what I needed to do to open my own office. I started Tri Realty with the mentality that I want to be able to provide something that is better for my peers than what is out there.”

Cody is passionate about local agent success through education. He began coaching, started speaking nationally, then became a real estate educator with Kaplan University. 

Cody is also a dedicated member and volunteer with the Young Professionals Network. It was through this network that Cody connected with a NextHome agent and discovered all the things the franchise could provide.

“Eventually all the little things were becoming the bane of my day,” Cody said of running his own brokerage. “From the marketing aspects to technology tools, I knew that there were many things a franchise could provide that could help me grow my business, reduce busywork, and realign my focus on the truly important things.”

Cody had first reached out to NextHome in 2018 but had postponed committing. In 2020, the NextHome binder came out of the drawer and, when Cody dusted it off, he was stunned at how the company had grown over a few short years. 

“There was something to this,” Cody said. “Since partnering with NextHome the assistance and support that I’ve received has been incredible. I love the quality of the branding and I am thrilled to be able to provide truly eye-catching marketing.”

Cody is excited about the quality marketing packages he can send agents into appointments with. 

“It’s the little things that will put us above the competition,” Cody said. 

Today, Cody is building a brokerage where agent education is a priority and where clients have a superb experience. 

“We want to give a white-glove level of service,” Cody said. “We want people to come to expect quality. In addition, education is something I’ve always preached to my agents. In that downtime, there is a great opportunity to level-up their knowledge so that when they are busy they have that little bit of extra that they can deliver to our clients.”

Cody is a top-ranking instructor with Kaplan University and overseas students in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky as they pursue their real estate education. 

“I am excited to get people excited about the career of real estate,” Cody said. 

Cody is also heavily involved with the Young Professionals Network on a local, regional, and national level. He has served in numerous capacities with the YPN including as a regional director, a local chairperson, on the state diversity committee, and as a representative for the Fair Housing Policy Issues committee. 

“Service has really been top-of-mind for me in my business,” Cody said. 

Cody is celebrating nine years with his partner Erick Kesse and together the couple are in the process of adopting their first child. 

In their spare time, Cody and Erick enjoy kayaking, boating, hiking, backpacking, or anything that gets them outdoors. 

Please join us in congratulating Cody on the opening of NextHome Finders Realty in Johnson City, Tennessee!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.