Ah, Christmas, that magical time of the year when we gather with family, reflect on the year’s blessings, and binge on holiday movies. Yuletide flicks can be sentimental, hilarious, outrageous, or even disturbing (we’re looking at you, “Silent Night, Deadly Night”), but they almost all have one crucial thing in common besides the holiday itself: fabulous real estate.
“When we think of movies, we think of the stars that played a key role,” says Bruce Ailion, attorney and real estate professional at Town and Country in Atlanta. “However, most of us forget that the real estate was a key component and star of the production, too.”
Which home from your holiday film favorites would you pick to open gifts in over Christmas? Here’s a rundown of beloved holiday classics and their iconic homes.
1. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946)
This perennial holiday classic stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man who gets a peek at what life for his loved ones would look like if he hadn’t been born. (Spoiler alert: It’s not very cheery!) While the movie is set in the fictional town of Bedford Falls, director Frank Capra filmed critical scenes in upstate New York’s Seneca Falls.
And rumor has it that Seneca Falls’ Victorian-style Avery Partridge House, at 54 Cayuga St., was the inspiration for the “old Granville house” film set where George and his wife, Mary (played by Donna Reed), live in the film. The home was last sold in 1993 for $80,000 and has a current estimated value of $230,600. (Perhaps it’s such a bargain because the five-bedroom property has only 1.5 bathrooms.)
Still, the house “is exquisite real estate,” says Liz Hutz, an investor and co-owner of North Carolina’s Cash Home Buyers. “The current owners have kept the place’s traditional vibe.”
In fact, the home still has a functioning fireplace in the music room and front parlor, giving Santa two entry points.
2. ‘Elf’ (2003)
“Santa! I know him,” screams Buddy the Elf (aka Will Ferrell) in another of the holiday season’s must-watch flicks, “Elf.” Even though Buddy is in fact a 36-year-old man-elf, his father (played by James Caan) is dubious. One thing that’s very real, however, is the luxury co-op apartment where dad lives. The art deco building—also made famous by “Ghostbusters”—is on 55 Central Park West on New York’s Upper West Side. You’d probably recognize its large dining room where Buddy first douses his pasta with maple syrup.
“The co-op at 55 Central Park West is directly across from the famous restaurant Tavern on the Green,” says Annette Akers, licensed associate real estate broker at Serhant. “And the building also has an amazing rooftop deck for Santa to park.”
Interested? While we don’t know exactly which apartment inspired Buddy’s living quarters, a two-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment in this pre-war gem will set you back about $3,085,000.
3. ‘A Christmas Story’ (1983)
Nothing says Yuletide like the leg lamp prominently featured in “A Christmas Story.” The movie, which centers around young Ralphie’s obsession with getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, primarily takes place in this tidy four-bedroom, two-bathroom home built in Cleveland in 1895.
“The unique color and design of the house from ‘A Christmas Story’ captures the audience’s eye at first glance,” says Hutz. “No wonder the current owner converted the property to a tourist spot for Christmas lovers.”
Fun fact: The owner noticed the home for sale on eBay—for $99,990. (The property has increased in price to a soaring $233,000, according to Hutz.)
Yup, not only can you now book tours of the home to see a re-creation of the original movie set, you can also spend the night for $395. (Just don’t shoot your eye out!)
4. ‘Home Alone’ (1990)
You can’t buy the actual red-brick Colonial made famous by Macaulay Culkin, who played rubber-faced booby trap master Kevin McCallister in “Home Alone.” The 4,243-square-foot, four-bedroom home was sold for $1,585,000 in 2012 and is now estimated to be worth $1,943,600.
But a lucky few recently got to book the house on Airbnb for a mere $25 per night. A sleepover in the iconic Winnetka, IL, home included movie-inspired touches such as “a candlelit dinner of highly-nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese,” according to NBCChicago.com.
“It’s becoming a growing trend for iconic homes from movies to be available for rent on Airbnb,” says Brandon Zellers, a real estate agent with Spears Group in Destin, FL. “It creates instant buzz not only during the holiday season but year-round, ultimately adding value to the surrounding area rentals.”
And while reservations sold out this year, keep an eye out in 2022.
5. ‘The Holiday’ (2006)
Christmas and love seem to go together like Santa and cookies when it comes to holiday flicks. It’s no wonder then that “The Holiday,” with an all-star cast of Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and Jack Black, shows up on holiday must-watch lists year after year.
The film’s plot centers on two women who swap their homes—Winslet’s charming cottage in England and Diaz’s Mediterranean beauty in Los Angeles—over Christmas. And surprise, Winslet and Diaz find romance in each other’s charming abodes.
“Diaz’s Mediterranean jewel was the star of this film and perfect for the holidays,” says Chantay Bridges, a senior real estate specialist at World Enterprise Marketing in Beverly Hills, CA. “Everything from the doors to the two-story balcony is perfect. You can feel the magic.”
The seven-bedroom, six-bath home was sold for $9.5 million in 2019. And as the sprawling property comes with a rear yard with a fountain, pool, spa, paddle tennis court, rose garden, and guest area—as well as a film pedigree—the seven-figure price tag might just be worth every penny.
6. ‘The Best Man Holiday’ (2013)
“The Best Man Holiday,” starring Taye Diggs and Regina Hall, revolves around a group of friends getting together for the Christmas season as they sort through personal issues. Yet sometimes, it’s hard to pay attention to the characters because the house where most of the dramedy takes place is a 34,000-square-foot mansion.
Located in Toronto’s upscale Bridle Path neighborhood, the home—featuring an indoor swimming pool—was listed for sale in 2013 at $29,000,00!
“One of the more exciting types of real estate sales is selling these famous homes,” says Ailion.
We can only hope that this mansion will eventually be offered for $25 a night on Airbnb.