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By TODAY real estate expert

Explainer: Corcoran: Five homes for $350,000 or less

  • Image: Texas home

    Each week, TODAY real estate expert Barbara Corcoran looks around the U.S. to see what homebuyers can get for their money. This week she goes from Texas to Massachusetts in search of truly unique properties you can get for $350,000 or less.

  • Spring, Texas – $319,900

    Image: Texas home

    4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths

    What could be wrong in a town called Spring? It’s just 30 minutes from downtown Houston. What a pretty exterior! It has a stately brick facade, double-height entry and arched windows. Take a look at this marble entryway and sweeping staircase! The staircase is only one of two – the second is in the kitchen. The living room has a treyed ceiling and French doors to the kitchen. The very formal dining room has wainscoting, nice molding and big windows. The kitchen is light and bright with a windowed dining area. In the backyard, there’s a big lawn, mature trees and covered patio. And you can tell the owner’s a Texas A&M fan!

    Click here to view the listing.

  • Owasso, Okla. – $339,999

    Image: Oklahoma home

    3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

    Owasso, about 20 minutes from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is an Indian word meaning “end of the trail” and it’s only been a town for 100 years. They love parades! They have seven every year. Their marching band will be in the Rose Bowl Parade this New Year’s! The old brick and wood door and posts give this home an old-time feel. The living room has a corner stone fireplace and hardwood floors. The combination family room and study has a vaulted ceiling and French doors. There’s crown molding in the dining room and a pretty arched window. Upstairs there is a big, sunny bonus room with a half bath. This backyard needs a big wood deck to feel more comfortable, but the half-acre lot has plenty of mature trees.

    Click here to view the listing.

  • Springfield, Mass. – $344,000

    Image: Massachusetts home

    3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

    Of the 34 us cities named, Springfield, Mass., is the first! Basketball was invented here and it is home to the Basketball Hall of Fame. One reason this contemporary colonial looks so big on the outside is its under-scaled wood siding on the front — but the statues should go! The two-story entry has a big staircase with views of the entire home. There are hardwood floors and lots of windows, but for sales purposes the living room is bit too stark and modern. The open family room has hardwood floors, glass doors flanked by big windows and gas fireplace. There are tile floors in the kitchen plus a sunny dining area and white cabinets. The upstairs loft has more sunny windows. The paved patio out back has a koi pond and perfect plantings.

    Click here to view the listing.

  • Knoxville, Tenn. – $344,900

    Image: Tennessee home

    3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

    In the 1930s Knoxville was known as the “underwear capital of the world” because it was home to 20 textile and clothing mills. Now it’s home to the respectable University of Tennessee. The reason this lawn is so perfect is the underground irrigation system. This is an old English-style brick home with traditional columns. The double-height entry has a blonde wood winding staircase. There are wood floors in the living room, a vaulted ceiling and another fireplace. The open kitchen looks easy to use and I like the sun-filled corner dining area. The small backyard patio needs a low fence to better define it, but the tall fence that surrounds the backyard provides privacy.

    Click here to view the listing.

  • Gainesville, Fla. – $349,900

    Image: Florida home

    4 bedrooms, 3 baths

    It’s hard to picture a contemporary log home like this in Florida – if not for the palm trees on the left you’d swear you were in Vermont! It’s on a secluded acre of land with four big bedrooms plus an office and media room! Living room has double-height ceilings and a wall of windows looks out on the wooded grounds. The glossy light blond floors are a great choice! The open kitchen has cherry cabinets, granite counters and a breakfast bar. The black refrigerator should be replaced. There’s a screened-in porch and wood deck overlooking the dense woods.

    Click here to view the listing.

Video: Great houses under $350,000

  1. Transcript of: Great houses under $350,000

    AL ROKER reporting: Time now for TODAY'S REAL ESTATE , where we're showing you homes on the market for $350,000 or less. From a classic colonial in Massachusetts to a contemporary log cabin in Florida , TODAY real estate contributor and our brick

    house , Barbara Corcoran , has our house .... Barbara , good to see you.

    Ms. BARBARA CORCORAN: Good morning, Al .

    ROKER: All right, let's start in the big state of Texas , and my sister-in-law lives in Spring , Texas . Hello, Annette.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Oh, serious?

    ROKER: That's right . Thirty minutes from downtown Houston , priced at 319,9. Four bedrooms.

    Ms. CORCORAN: And I 'm only going to say good things about this house if your sister-in-law lives there. But she must be a happy person. Who wouldn't be living in Spring , Texas ?

    Ms. CORCORAN: But look at the front of this house . This is probably a picture of perfection. I don't think I've ever seen better curb appeal in my entire life.

    ROKER: What do you love about this?

    Ms. CORCORAN: I love that the edging on the sidewalk, and the planting beds. There's fresh mulch. Why even the -- even those shades in the house are exactly even. God, there's got to be a neat person living in this house . It's particularly beautiful.

    ROKER: All right. What else do you like?

    Ms. CORCORAN: Well, I like the inside, too. It's not a bad follow-up. Look at that staircase. You know, that staircase is only one of two staircases. There's one not quite as big, but a huge staircase also in the kitchen that goes upstairs. It has that beautiful marble entryway. It certainly has a large living room . It's rare that I'll say that a house needs more furniture, but I say that's the loneliest couch in America . They ought to be putting a few more chairs in there. There is one big kitchen . It's almost like a whole house in and of itself.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. CORCORAN: I like the coloration of that kitchen . It's meticulous. It's hard to believe, again, that anybody's even living there. The backyard of the house is lovely. That deck, actually, after seeing such a big house inside feels almost miniature, but it's a good sized deck. And look at the mature trees. And don't you think somebody's spending a lot of time on that back lawn. Look at it.

    ROKER: It looks like a putting green.

    Ms. CORCORAN: I know, it's perfect.

    ROKER: Man. All right. Now let's move to Oklahoma . This is Owasso , we're going to look at a three-bedroom house . This one is 20 minutes from Tulsa priced at 339,999.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Now, this is a house in a town that's only 100 years old. The old town used to be called End of the Trail . It was an Indian name and so it was only incorporated only 100 years ago.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Look at the front of the house . Beautiful brick work. I think that miniature kind of collection of trees out in the front is a little bit odd. It should really be replaced by something busier and fuller to ground that house totally. But when you get inside, I particularly like that living room . You see that fireplace on the left?

    ROKER: Hm.

    Ms. CORCORAN: It matches exactly the same stone facade on the front of the house . And I think it gives a little bit of a unique feel and it ties into the front of the house . That kitchen , again, looks like a ballroom. It's meticulous. What could you do to improve that kitchen ? Not a thing. There's crown molding throughout the entire house . That's a little small table for that big room, but you can see the size of that dining room .

    ROKER: Yeah.

    Ms. CORCORAN: This house has elbow room to spare. If you go into that room, that's just a spare family room . It's almost as big as most people's kitchen and living room combined, but there you have it. Maybe they can move some of that furniture from that room into the big living room . And in the backyard they have mature trees that could actually use a nice comfortable patio out back. I think that's the only thing wrong with this house . But what a nice house for the price. It's only 339.

    ROKER: Nice. Let's head out to the Northeast , here in the Northeast . Springfield , Massachusetts , 90 minutes outside of Boston . We've got a contemporary colonial priced at $344,000.

    Ms. CORCORAN: And there are 34 US cities named Springfield , which creates a lot of confusion. But Springfield , Mass...

    ROKER: Where do the Simpsons live?

    Ms. CORCORAN: Ah, that's where.

    Ms. CORCORAN: But this is a very first Springfield , Massachusetts . They called that name first. It's home to the basketball Hall of Flame -- Hall of -- you know what I'm talking about.

    ROKER: Hall of Fame .

    Ms. CORCORAN: Thank you very much . And I wish we had seen that front a minute longer, because there's a great brick they play on that house .

    ROKER: OK, can you put that back up? Put the front back up real quick.

    Ms. CORCORAN: He -- oh I don't know, can you really do that?

    ROKER: Yeah, they can do it.

    Ms. CORCORAN: OK, all right.

    ROKER: There you go.

    Ms. CORCORAN: There you go. Look at this. You know why that house looks so darned big? One, it's big, but it looks really big because they have miniature siding on the front of that house .

    ROKER: Ah.

    Ms. CORCORAN: See how narrow it is? If you have a small house and you want to create a big first impression, you should always underscale your siding. Nobody really does it, it's the neatest trick in the book. But anyway, let's get back inside. There's a two-story entryway with a big staircase. And from the entryway you can actually see the entire house because all the rooms are wide open. It's kind of surprising to go inside and see how modern it looks . You wouldn't get that feeling from the outside.

    ROKER: But it looks traditional on the outside.

    Ms. CORCORAN: You need -- and honestly that works a little bit against the house because people like to see what they get. And if the outside is traditional and the inside is modern it kind of takes a little settling in. There's a lovely kitchen .

    ROKER: Very contemporary .

    Ms. CORCORAN: It's not the biggest kitchen , but you can see how workable it is. I like those black countertops. It just works, it's sleek, it's modern, it's pretty, and you can picture yourself having a meal there. There's the staircase that goes up, down -- up and down through the center of the house .

    ROKER: Most staircases do go up and down, don't they?

    Ms. CORCORAN: Yes, you wise guy.

    ROKER: OK, just to clarify.

    Ms. CORCORAN: You're not supposed to point things like that out. Going to make me afraid to talk anymore, but there's the backyard.

    ROKER: Oh, I doubt that. Oh, yeah. I should be so lucky . Let's move to Knoxville , Tennessee . We're going to look at an old English style home.

    Ms. CORCORAN: You're terrible.

    ROKER: This one's for 344,9.

    Ms. CORCORAN: OK. Well, Knoxville used to be known as the underwear capital of the world because there were 20 textile factories there; not anymore. Now it's respectable because it's home to the University of Tennessee .

    Ms. CORCORAN: There's a house that has a little bit of a unique feature on it. And that has an old-style front door and columns that give it a kind of a rough, rustic kind of a look. But it's a very traditional house with a lot of peaks. And it looks kind of important from the outside. Once you get inside the floors are all in meticulous condition. There's your living room . We see they have very...

    ROKER: Is that too cluttered?

    Ms. CORCORAN: A little too cluttered. And on top of the clutter, I must say, the darkness of the furniture and the curtains really sucks a lot of the light out of this house , and that's a bad things when you're trying to sell.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. CORCORAN: There again, that's a beautiful room, and burgundy's a lovely color for the walls, and the wainscoting is lovely, but again, if that was light in that room would feel about 50 percent larger. So it's a great example of you can -- and again, that room, dark stools, a little bit dark finishes. It really works against the house , but you can forgive it because because this house is meticulous. And it really is in toothbrush move-in condition. So when we have a look at that master bedroom there they used light colors. Makes a big difference.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. CORCORAN: There's triple windows throughout the room. Every single bedroom in the house is almost as large as that. And that's a good shot from the sun of the -- from the side of the house . And the backyard is plenty big. It sits on a big acre and so it's more than enough room for someone with kids.

    ROKER: All right. Now, finally, Gainesville , Florida . This is interesting, a contemporary cedar log home . Four bedrooms, 349,9.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Yeah, this is a house that, to me, looks like a very, very fancy A-frame . And looking at that house , if not for that palm tree on the left flank there, I would swear I was in Vermont . You just couldn't picture this house in Florida , but there it is. It's definitely in Gainesville , Florida .

    Ms. CORCORAN: It's on a secluded acre of land. It has a lot of privacy, and you can see that privacy out those double-height windows in the -- in the living room . It's really like your own estate . Even though it's not so large it feels totally, totally private, the land area . There's glossy light wood floors that I think work really well in the house . They kind of don't go with those gray color couches somehow. You know, you would expect white couches.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Pristine feel.

    ROKER: Because it's so contemporary .

    Ms. CORCORAN: So contemporary . But hey, what the heck. Here's the kitchen . Feels a little on the dark side simply because of the choice of the color of the cabinets. It is not dark. It's got that big door and big windows. There's a screened-in porch, and if you're going to be Florida , you know they got that bug season. You want to have a screened-in porch.

    ROKER: Contemporary house -- I don't know, it's got even deer in the backyard.

    Ms. CORCORAN: Yes, it does. Those are real deer. That's not a Photoshop or anything.

    ROKER: Do they come with the house ?

    Ms. CORCORAN: They come with the house , and they'll also eat your tulip beds if you care to plant them.

    ROKER: A contemporary house tough to unload?

    Ms. CORCORAN: Well, yes. If it's very contemporary in an area that doesn't have a lot of contemporary houses it works against it because you're looking for the odd buyer. But this house is in great shape. It'll definitely sell.

    ROKER: All right, Barbara Corcoran ...

    Ms. CORCORAN: My pleasure.

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