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When it comes to real estate porn, white picket fences generally don't make it. The more eccentric or extraordinary the house, the better.
The team at Realtor.com has released its year-end list of 10 Craziest Places to Live, and it includes everything from a bunker to a custom build for a country music singer.
"These homes attracted the most attention on Realtor.com, and when you look at them, it's not too hard to imagine why," said Alison Schwartz, a spokeswoman at Move, which operates Realtor.com. "Their unique features make them stand out in their communities, as well as on a national scale."
Now for those 10 distinctive houses.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 27 Dec., 2013
Location: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Price: $25 million
Square footage: 13,801
This pirate-themed spectacle known as Villa Whydah was named for a ship that sank in 1717. Built in 2012 for an anonymous owner, it has been on the market most of this year—and the price has dropped $10 million.
The compound, in a gated community known as The Preserve, is situated on nearly 400 acres at Botany Bay. It resembles a personal resort, complete with a 4,000-square-foot pool, two guest cottages, a caretaker cottage and helipad access. All the flooring is coral stone.
But its No. 1 attribute is the 270-degree views of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, with daily wildlife visitors that include turtles, dolphins and rays.
For a getaway within the getaway, Whydah offers a medieval-style turret with an observation deck and a mahogany-paneled office designed like captain's quarters on a pirate ship.
Location: Amberley, Ohio
Price: $1.79 million
Square footage: 3,123
Frank Lloyd Wright designed this Usonian Automatic home in 1953 for a car dealer, who had commissioned the project for an initial cost of $25,000. After nearly 60 years with the original owner, it hit the market for the first time early this year. Of the 270 Wright homes in existence, only seven are in the Usonian Automatic style.
The remarkably preserved house is made of concrete textile blocks with coffered ceilings throughout—some sporting 18 karat gold leaf. When lighted at night, it gives off a golden glow through about 400 inset windows. All the original furniture, also designed by Wright, is included in the price.
Location: St. Croix, Virgin Islands
Price: $2.75 million
Square footage: 6,000
Built in 1971, this six-bedroom villa at Butler Bay Plantation incorporated the ruins of a rum factory—once one of the island's largest. The factory tower now serves as an outdoor living room.
There are more historic ruins on the grounds, including the original caretaker's cottage. Among the property's lush flora are two of the world's oldest baobab trees, which can live for over 1,000 years.
Location: Ancram, N.Y.
Price: $4.25 million
Square footage: 2,746
The Chinese artist, sculptor, photographer, filmmaker and activist Ai Weiwei is clearly proficient in many fields. He's distinguished as the architect behind the 2008 Beijing Olympics National Stadium, but thus far he's designed just one house in the United States.
That very modern house was on the market this year and sold in August. The minimalist main structure has just two bedrooms. Large square windows offer views of the understated manicured property and the surrounding Catskill and Berkshire mountains.
Location: Malibu, Calif.
Price: $3.9 million
Square footage: 4,170
Harry Gesner is a Malibu architect lauded for his striking designs as well as his James Bond-worthy lifestyle. As The New York Times noted, he "tussled with leading men, like Marlon Brando and Errol Flynn, and fell in love with leading ladies, like a young June Lockhart."
This creation's name even echoes a Bond movie. It was available to rent for $40,000 a month earlier this year but sold in September. That lucky owner got a three-story view of the sea—and possibly some intrigue.
You know what they say: A man's home is his castle. They also say that "Game of Thrones" is an extremely popular television program. It therefore was a no-brainer that a collection of castle-like homes became an instant hit on Realtor.com.
These houses—from New York to California and Washington to Texas—comprise the enchanting snowbound Night's Watch in Sandpoint, Idaho, for just $1.6 million and the walled Castle Post in Versailles, Ky., for $30 million.
Location: Armonk, N.Y.
Price: $5.5 million
Bathrooms: Five full and one half
Square Footage: 7,138
This pointy-topped villa was designed by Danish crafter, sculptor and sometime architect Jens Quistgaard, of Dansk Scandinavian modern tableware and cookware fame.
It's nestled in an upstate New York forest overlooking a private 10-acre lake. In addition to the great room's dramatic, vaulted peaks, the house features a handcrafted wood spiral staircase.
Price: $9.9 million
Bathrooms: Nine full and four half
Built for country performer Darren Kozelsky, this cylindrical curiosity features geothermal heating and cooling and is designed to allow lots of passive natural lighting. It also boasts a large, curved infinity pool.
The property, listed for almost $10 million early this year, is no longer on the market.
Location: Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Price: $2.75 million
Bathrooms: Five full and one half
Square footage: 6,073
Of all the outlandish amenities of modern luxury homes, the rare observatory certainly never fails to impress. Accessed via a spiral staircase from the office, this one has a star-mapping GPS feature. Telescope views also can be broadcast on TV screens throughout the house.
More conventionally, this custom home features a Jacuzzi and steam shower in the master suite. The balcony, which has a spa, waterfall and fire pit, overlooks citrus trees, a rose garden and saltwater pool.
Location: Lewis, N.Y.
Square footage: 3,200
Converting unused underground missile silos into homes has been done before (including a multiunit survival condo). They continue to fascinate, as evidenced by this property's spot as the year's No. 1 unique home.
This former Atlas missile silo is burrowed into the Adirondack Mountains, in upstate New York, with the living space in the former launch control center.
Those Sputnik-appropriate furnishings and analog switch-and-dial consoles are all included. Maybe it's not an everyday living space, but what a great themed weekend retreat—not to mention a hideaway from the end times.