Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Livingston County Real Estate News

Oct. 3, 2020

How Low Inventory May Impact the Housing Market This Fall

Real estate continues to be called the ‘bright spot’ in the current economy, but there’s one thing that may hold the housing market back from achieving its full potential this year: the lack of homes for sale.


How Low Inventory May Impact the Housing Market This Fall | MyKCM

Real estate continues to be called the ‘bright spot’ in the current economy, but there’s one thing that may hold the housing market back from achieving its full potential this year: the lack of homes for sale.

Buyers are actively searching for and purchasing homes, looking to capitalize on today’s historically low interest rates, but there just aren’t enough houses for sale to meet that growing need. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:

Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity…However, heading into the fall it will be difficult to sustain the growth momentum in purchases because the lack of supply is already exhibiting a constraint on sales activity.”

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), right now, unsold inventory sits at a 3.1-month supply at the current sales pace. To have a balanced market where there are enough homes for sale to meet buyer demand, the market needs inventory for 6 months. Today, we’re nowhere near where that number needs to be. If the trend continues, it will get even harder to find homes to purchase this fall, and that may slow down potential buyers. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comnotes:

“The overall lack of sustained new listings growth could put a dent in fall home sales despite high interest from home shoppers, because new listings are key to home sales.”

The realtor.com Weekly Recovery Report keeps an eye on the number of listings coming into the market (houses available for sale) and the total number of listings staying in the market compared to the previous year (See graph below):How Low Inventory May Impact the Housing Market This Fall | MyKCMBuyers are clearly scooping up homes faster than they’re being put up for sale. The number of total listings (the orange line) continues to decline even as new listings (the blue line) are coming to the market. Why? Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.comnotes:

“The post-pandemic period has brought a record number of homebuyers back into the market, but it’s also failed to bring a consistent number of sellers back. Homes are selling faster, and sales are still on an upward trend, but rapidly disappearing inventory also means more home shoppers are being priced out. If we don’t see material improvement to supply in the next few weeks, we could see the number of transactions begin to dwindle again even as the lineup of buyers continues to grow.”

Does this mean it’s a good time to sell?

Yes. If you’re thinking about selling your house, this fall is a great time to make it happen. There are plenty of buyers looking for homes to purchase because they want to take advantage of low interest rates. Realtors are also reporting an average of 3 offers per house and an increase in bidding wars, meaning the demand is there and the opportunity to sell for the most favorable terms is in your favor as a seller.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your house, this is the perfect time to connect so we can talk about how you can benefit from the market trends in our local area.

Posted in News, Seller News
Oct. 3, 2020

Big Trends in Showers and Tubs

The bathroom is not only a necessary room but also one that should evoke a sense of calm and serenity. You spend a lot of time in this space, so it should reflect a feeling you love. Click through to learn more about the big trends in showers and tubs.

Design trends come and go, and as we enter the 2020s, that fact remains true. You may be wondering what to expect in terms of tubs and showers — that is, which styles, designs and formats will we see in new home construction and bathroom remodels? Whether you want form and function or high luxury and style, a variety of tubs and showers will work for your home.

Separate Tub and Shower

One of today's most common trends is a separate tub and shower. If a home has room for both, homeowners are opting for a garden tub or other large tub option that is completely separate from a standalone shower. And, if there isn’t room for both, it seems like showers are winning out only slightly over a combination.

Open Showers

Another design choice we’re seeing a lot of in new homes is open showers. These are showers without doors or with clear glass doors. Some will have a clear glass panel shielding one side of the shower area. Others might have a swing-out or sliding glass shower door. Currently, shower rods and curtains are less popular than glass enclosures.

Natural Stone

Materials like tile will never go out of style, but natural stone is emerging as a popular choice. Natural stone like travertine, slate, marble and granite aren’t just for floors and kitchens. They make great options for shower enclosures in bathrooms. The use of natural pebbles for shower floors is popular as well.

Soaking Tubs

If you do have room for a tub in your new luxurious bathroom remodel, consider a soaking tub. Although jetted tubs remain popular, a large and deep soaking tub seems to be a popular choice. These tubs come in a variety of styles from modern to classic and everything in between, so it is easy to find something that will fit your tastes.

Shower Heads

Overhead rain showers are another popular choice. Multiple showerheads, including a complete wall of targeted jets, also are still seeing a lot of use. Ultimately, people are looking for low-flow showerheads that save water while still providing an invigorating and comfortable shower experience.

Call us today to talk more about the kind of bathroom you want in a new home.

Oct. 3, 2020

This Is What Happened When My Parents Moved In

When we built our home 11 years ago, my husband and I were committed to having my parents—then in their mid-seventies—come to live with us.

We built them an in-law apartment that is nearly 1,000 square feet, with a kitchen and laundry facilities. My mom and dad were fully independent at the time, but my husband and I felt it was better to be prepared for their decline and avoid scrambling if a crisis arose.

I naively imagined that my folks would be unable to go anywhere or do much of anything on their own as they aged. I envisioned myself sitting next to their beds, helping them eat and giving them their medications. I thought I might hire women from the nearby Mennonite community to help me take care of their daily needs.

The reality was that they were quite independent for nearly a decade. They came and went on their own schedule, did their own shopping, went to doctor’s appointments, ate out and even took short trips to visit family. Because we share an entrance to our laundry room, they would often pop their heads into my kitchen to say “hello.” On Sundays, we would share a family meal and my dad would mow our yard.

Eleven years have passed since my parents first moved in. The sudden death of my brother, who was just 50 years old, has sped up their aging and brought on some depression, particularly in my father.

Although Dad jogged regularly up until a couple years ago, he no longer even takes walks. He spends hours—sometimes the entire day—in his recliner, watching TV or sleeping. Once adamant about not giving up his driver’s license, my father rarely drives farther than three miles away, and only in the daytime when the weather is fair. My mom has become overwhelmed with taking care of his medications and doctor’s visits, so I’m in charge of those tasks now. They rely on me more and more.

The Consequences of Moving Elderly Parents Into Your Home

When my husband and I decided to move my parents in with us, I didn’t consider that our home would no longer be our refuge.

Even with their own private quarters, my parents and I still share a common entrance, and I often need to run up to their apartment at odd hours of the day and night. Sometimes I’m on a call or busy working in my home office when there is a knock on my door because they need something. Just the other night, it was after nine o’clock when I climbed the stairs to their apartment to fill Dad’s pillbox for the week.

I relish a little break now and again, but that respite isn’t always possible when your care recipients live in your home. I know that when I need to relax and wind down, one or the other of my parents might need something and I’ll have to shift back into “caregiver mode.”

This is the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make in my caregiving experience: realizing that my home is not my own, and it is certainly not my refuge, my safe space.

There are a few more things I didn’t anticipate when we made this decision:

  • Being an on-call cook. As my mom’s health declined, it became harder for her to prepare healthy, balanced meals. I knew they needed help, so I tried to share my leftovers or make extra portions for them. That wasn’t enough. I felt guilty every day knowing they weren’t always eating right, but I was not ready to commit to cooking for them full time. Thankfully, I found a program through the local hospital that provides hot, nutritious and tasty meals for a nominal fee. My dad is still able to make the three-mile drive to the local senior center to pick up these meals. However, one day soon, that will no longer be the case (especially in the winter months), and we’ll need to figure something else out.
  • Taking on new care tasks. As my parents have gotten older, their coping mechanisms have decreased. Simple tasks are no longer easy for them. They also get impatient with and less tolerant of each other. My mom was the one who always managed Dad’s medications and doctor’s appointments, but it has become too overwhelming for her. These are now my tasks.
  • Protecting against poor decisions. Older folks can often act like teenagers! I’m not talking about listening to loud music or partying. They increasingly make dangerous or unwise decisions due to diminishing cognitive skills. My mom has gone out on the most frigid winter days without a hat or gloves, and my dad will come down the stairs wearing shoes that aren’t buckled!
  • Catering to different needs. No two people age the same way. Their individual needs and capabilities (or lack thereof) are very different. My work as their caregiver is doubled because I have to treat each one differently. My mother is still sharp as a tack but lacks the physical strength and abilities she once had. My father, on the other hand, has more physical strength than Mom, but his cognitive skills have diminished. Managing two very different care plans at once is far more complex than I could have imagined.
  • Pursuing “perfection.” I never expected that I would often be my own worst enemy while providing care. I frequently put unrealistic expectations on myself, trying to be the “perfect” daughter by meeting their every need. I must be extremely intentional about maintaining a healthy balance. Even if I don’t think I have the time, I’ve committed to taking yoga classes twice a week and seeing a counselor to help me work through my challenges. Every caregiver needs “me” time.
  • Becoming a Jane of all trades. Caregiving means I perform tasks like cutting their nails, trimming my dad’s hair, buying their groceries and washing their clothes. There is a lot of learning and multi-tasking involved!
  • Going with the flow. Caregivers need to be able to change plans at the drop of a hat. For example, my husband and I decided it would be fun to throw a party for our 35th wedding anniversary, but unexpected complications from Dad’s minor surgery meant we had to cancel the celebration at the last minute. This turn of events reminded me of my days raising young children. When they got sick or had an accident, it didn’t matter that you had something important planned. You just rolled with the punches.
  • Acknowledging the need for support. I thought I’d be able to take care of my parents on my own, but that’s unrealistic. Caring for two aging loved ones and maintaining a healthy and balanced personal life is not possible. Support eventually becomes necessary, whether it’s in the form of adult day care, in-home care or senior living.
  • Realizing the effects of stress. By virtue of being a caregiver, my life could be shortened by as much as eight years, according to a study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University and the National Institute on Aging. The results were published in the Journal of Immunology and highlight the link between psychological stress and a weakened immune system. Mental and physical self-care is paramount for all caregivers to manage stress and prevent burnout, but this can be especially challenging when your care receivers live with you.

The Hidden Benefits of Living With Aging Parents

While caring for two parents has been twice as exhausting, there is another (brighter) side to consider. Caregiving has afforded me the unexpected gift of connecting with my parents—especially my father—in a way I never could before. When it’s just my dad and I going to his doctor’s appointments or stopping for a bite to eat, we chat, joke or just share some comfortable silence. This would not have been possible if my parents hadn’t moved in.

What’s more, both my parents tell me repeatedly how grateful they are for my help. I am so fortunate in this regard. My dad has even started calling me his “angel.” Caregiving is hard work, and I know that more difficulties lie ahead as my parents continue to decline. However, I am very much aware that these are memories in the making—experiences I will cherish long after they are gone.

Bruce Webb is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and has an extensive network of senior related referrals.

Posted in News, Senior News
Oct. 3, 2020

Is This Your Situation: How Do I Avoid Disaster When Flipping a Home?

A lot of TV shows make flipping a house look like a simple way to make a quick buck. But it can turn into a nightmare very quickly. Click through for 3 things to look out for when deciding if you should flip a home. 


Contrary to popular belief, flipping a house is an arduous process filled with a rollercoaster of emotions along the way. As a buyer of a potential flip, you need to ensure that you do a meticulous inspection when previewing the property prior to purchase. When a buyer does the initial walkthrough in a home, there are red flags that will pop up, and all you have to do is look around to spot them! Here are 3 warning signs that a home is not in a good condition to flip.

1. Structural Flaws

Curb appeal is everything. It's the first thing you see when you drive up to a house. During the first walk-around of the outside of the home, be sure to check if there are any cracks in the foundation. This can be a sign of trouble to come. If structural issues are not taken care of properly, it can prohibit a buyer from reselling the property. 

Be sure to have an engineer come and certify the property is structurally sound:

  • A slanting floor can also be a telltale sign of foundational issues.
  • Some slants, if not major, can be remedied easily and won't take up a big chunk of your budget.
  • A roof can be a costly repair, so ensure a roofer inspects it to make sure it will pass inspection when under contract.

2. Plumbing and Water Damage Issues

Most plumbing and water damage is easily overlooked, however, if repairs are needed, these can eat up a significant portion of your flipping budget. To avoid plumbing and water damage, check for spots on the walls that look discolored and feel the walls to see if they’re soft or mushy. If you see any of these issues, call an inspector immediately to check if there is any invisible further damage. These projects are not only expensive to fix, but can also be extremely time-consuming.

3. Recurring Toxin Issues

Upon the initial walkthrough, you will be able to see signs of any toxin issues. Toxin issues can be anything from old houses with asbestos in the walls, mold from water damage to a vermin issue. All of these pose serious threats to a buyer because correcting them is expensive.

Vermin issues can be extremely destructive both externally and internally. Such vermins include mice, rats or termites.

Be sure to look long and hard at a property before investing. If any of these warning signs pop up, you know to be cautious.  

If you want more tips to a successful flip, reach out to me today!


Posted in Buyer News, News
Oct. 3, 2020

Everything You Need to Build a Perfect Coffee Bar

Are you obsessed with coffee? Going out and buying your favorite coffee isn’t always the most cost-effective option. Click through to see how to build a perfect coffee bar so you can enjoy that premium experience at home.


For many people, coffee is an essential part of their day. It gets them up and gets them moving. But shelling out money for coffee at your local shop every day can add up quickly. For that kind of investment, you can make coffee right at home in your own coffee bar. Here’s everything you need to build a perfect coffee bar in your kitchen.

Identify the Right Space

The first step is to find the right place to set up your coffee bar. Kitchen space is always at a premium, so if there’s an out-of-the-way corner that can’t be used for anything else, it could be the perfect location. Keep in mind, there isn’t a bad spot for your new coffee bar as long as it’s accessible.

Build or Buy a Coffee Cart

Once you identify where you can put the bar, you need a place to store and use it. The sky’s the limit when making this decision. You can repurpose old furniture for the space by painting a dresser or cabinet. Or you can buy a bar cart, kitchen cart or shelves. If you’re feeling creative, you can build your own coffee cart.

Consider Your Equipment

Next, consider how you want to make your coffee. Some people like the convenience of single-cup pod coffee makers. Others want a more barista-like experience with a professional espresso machine. A drip coffee maker is perfectly fine, if that’s what you like. Whatever the case, invest in the coffee equipment that matches your specific tastes.

Punch It Up with Décor

Your coffee bar doesn’t have to be bare. The fun part is adding your personal touches. Some ideas include a coffee bar sign on the wall, cups and saucers on shelves or decorative touches that will help you start your morning with a smile.

Oct. 3, 2020

Is Now A Good Time to Move?

How long have you lived in your current home? If it’s been a while, you may be thinking about moving. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in 2019, homeowners were living in their homes for an average of 10 years. That’s a long time to be in one place, considering the average length of time homeowners used to stay put hovered closer to 6 years.

Is Now a Good Time to Move? | MyKCM

With today’s changing homebuyer needs, especially given how the current health crisis has altered our daily lifestyles, many homeowners are reconsidering where they’re at and thinking about moving to a home with more space for their families. Here’s why it might be a great time to make that happen.

The real estate market has changed in many ways over the past 10 years, and current homeowners are earning much more equity today than they used to have. According to CoreLogic, in the first quarter of 2020 alone, the average homeowner gained approximately $9,600 in equity. If you’re considering selling your house right now, you may have accumulated more equity to put toward a move than you realize.

Dialing back 10 years, many homeowners also locked in a fairly low mortgage rate. In 2010, the average rate was only 4.09%. This motivated homeowners to stay in their houses longer than usual to keep their rate low, rather than moving. Just last Thursday, however, average mortgage rates hit a new historic low at 2.86%. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac explains:

Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity, which is up twenty-five percent from a year ago and has been growing at double digit rates for four consecutive months.”

Ten years ago, we couldn’t have imagined a mortgage rate under 3%. Looking at the math today, making a move into a new home and locking in a significantly lower rate than you have now could save you greatly on a monthly basis, and over the life of your loan (See chart below):Is Now a Good Time to Move? | MyKCMAs the example shows, you can save a substantial amount every month if you qualify for today’s low mortgage rate, and the savings can really add up over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Bottom Line

As a homeowner, you have a huge opportunity to move up right now. Whether you want to save more each month or get more home for your money based on your family’s changing needs, it’s a great time to connect to discuss the market in our area. Buyers are actively looking for more homes to buy, and you can win big by making a move if the time is right for you.

Sept. 3, 2020

What’s Trending Next? A Dozen Home and Design Ideas for 2020

From building and decorating materials to room sizes, colors, and lighting, gift your clients with the knowledge gleaned from crystal ball gazers as we look ahead to 2020’s trends. 

Almost everyone enjoys making predictions for a new year—and certainly for a new decade. How about cooking appliances that tell you how to roast and broil to perfection? Or, better yet, new homes that come with a personal chef?

REALTOR® Magazine asked our favorite real estate trend watchers and influencers what to expect in 2020 and beyond. For starters, most agree that gray is on its way out, while deep hues are becoming the stars in interior paint. And more homeowners are following the craze of decluttering and tidying up popularized by Marie Kondo so they can focus on experiencing joy in their home.

While some fads are natural evolutions and others are more far-fetched, we’ve whittled it down to a dozen that are sure to inspire your buyers and sellers alike. Plus, don’t miss five up-and-coming kitchen trends that are bound to spark interest and maybe a remodel.


modern dining room

© Morgante-Wilson, Werner Straube Photography



1. Comfortable Dining Rooms

Homeowners have decided they don’t want to give up their dining rooms—that’s in the past. Now they want dining rooms to be less formal and more functional, says architect Elisa Morgante of Morgante-Wilson in Chicago. The best way to do this is by investing in a multipurpose table that can take wear and tear, comfy chairs with high backs and armrests, and washable fabrics. Fun light fixtures are replacing delicate ones, and some traditional dining room furnishings are disappearing—such as china cabinets used for fancy entertaining, says real estate broker Jennifer Ames, partner at Engel & Volkers in Chicago.


dramatic curved staircase in foyer

© Morgante-Wilson, Werner Straube Photography



2. Fabulous Foyers

Homeowners know the importance of exterior curb appeal, but now they’re taking advantage of the foyer as another opportunity to impress, says Liz Brooks, vice president of sales and marketing for Belgravia Group, a development firm in Chicago. At Belgravia’s condo building Renelle on the River, foyers are “gracious” in size with walls to hang a mirror or art or offer views through to a living room and beyond. The architects at Morgante-Wilson like foyers in multilevel homes to incorporate a dramatic stairway with wider or more curved treads, risers, and railings fabricated from novel materials. Some include a clerestory or skylight at the top to flood the area with light, says Morgante.


Wood Clad Apartment Building

© Joaquin Corbalan - AdobeStock



3. Mass Timber

Mass timber is beginning to receive recognition as a smart building material because its production generates less carbon emission than steel or concrete, says sustainable architect Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning in Evanston, Ill. The material is also fire-resistant and strong and performs well during seismic activity, according to the Mass Timber Code Coalition. Plus, it’s cost-efficient and can be constructed faster since it’s prefabricated, and it can be used on walls, floors, and roofs—even in innovative sculptural forms. “With mass timber, there’s no waste on a site that must go into a landfill,” says Sam Ebersol, general manager of Mid-Atlantic Timber Frames, a heavy timber construction company in Paradise, Penn.


home elevator

© Morgante-Wilson, Werner Straube Photography



4. Home Elevators

As the baby boomer population ages, first-floor master bedroom suites are becoming more popular. But not every house or townhome provides space to include them. In cases where a home has multiple levels, an elevator provides help for those who have trouble climbing stairs, says Kipnis. He recommends building the feature in new homes, or at least leaving adequate space—3 1/2 feet by 4 1/2 feet on each level for future installation. The cost will vary depending on materials, finishes, and an electrician’s hourly labor charge, but the total expense might run about $15,000 per floor.


rooftop common area

© ARX Solutions, Dranoff Properties



5. Communal Oases

Developers of multifamily buildings now recognize that homeowners want a green space to garden, even after they’ve vacated suburban homes. And while rooftop gardens have become more prevalent, other green spaces are popping up, too, as more developers note their health benefits. Carl Dranoff, founder of Dranoff Properties based in Philadelphia, planted a two-level garden at his newest project, Arthaus Condominiums in downtown Philly, which will include a greenhouse to grow orchids, outdoor plots to raise vegetables, flowers, and herbs, and an extended lawn off a communal event space. A horticulturalist will offer residents professional expertise. The architecture and interior design firm CetraRuddy in New York has focused on adding greenery in another way—through large terraces that bring more light and air and a sense of space into the interior of its ARO building in Manhattan, as well as its surrounding block. Such tactics are more important in denser urban environments, say the building’s principals, Nancy Ruddy and John Cetra.


geometric bathroom tile

© Kristie Barnett, The Decorologist



6. Graphic Bathroom Floors

Boldly patterned floors are adding a spark of interest in bathrooms that were recently trending very monochromatic and spa-like. Staging and design expert Kristie Barnett, aka The Decorologist, in Nashville, took this approach in one client’s homes. She used an encaustic, graphic floor tile, similar to those that show up along kitchen backsplashes. But Barnett adds one caveat for bathrooms: “When choosing this kind of pattern, it should be the lead actor in the show while other elements play supporting roles. A bathroom should still be a personal sanctuary, and too much visual noise could weary the eye.”


updated bathroom

© Renovation Sells



7. Remodeling Before Listing

Many homeowners don’t want to take on the work and extra cost of fixing up their home before they list. Yet many buyers don’t want to invest in a home where they know there are walls to paint, countertops to replace, and floors to resand. Consider the latest trend that helps remove buyer objections: a contractor who tackles the work and fronts the cost or who partners with a firm that provides financing. Sellers then pay back the funds at closing. The big reward usually is a higher price and speedier sale, says Mike Valente, a licensed general contractor who works with many homeowners through his Renovation Sells firm in Chicago. Compass, a national real estate firm, has established its Compass Concierge service to deliver a similar revamp option. A calculator on the company’s website helps suggests how much sellers might spend.


living wall in outdoor courtyard

© ArchiVIZ - AdobeStock



8. Living Walls

For homeowners downsizing to a property with a smaller yard—or for those who have trouble bending down—living walls offer a way to connect to greenery by growing plants, vegetables, and herbs along the walls of a home, garage, or outbuilding. Landscape designer Michael Glassman of Michael Glassman & Associates in Sacramento, Calif., says, “Gardening is going up rather than out for aesthetics and consumption.” He recommends vines like star jasmine and creeping fig, edibles such as tomatoes and cucumbers, and herbs like rosemary and basil. “Plant walls” resembling art are also showing up inside, especially when homeowners don’t have an outdoor space, says David Dynega, CEO of Detail Renovations in Great Neck, N.Y. 


fabric swatches

© Sunbrella®



9. Better Looking Performance Fabrics

Instead of looking only at fabrics that appeal for color, pattern, or texture, homeowners want materials that will last and perform—hence, the name they’ve earned: performance fabrics. Originally, they were designed for outdoor spaces, where the sun, wind, water, or inclement weather took their toll. But as the fabrics have become more attractive, designers and homeowners have started using them indoors, where they can withstand the wear and tear of pets and people, says Chicago designer Rebecca Pogonitz of GOGO Design Group, who’s a big fan of the trend. Greg Voorhis, executive design director of Sunbrella, well-known for its performance fabric designs, says his firm is seeing the rise of more textured chenilles, boucles, and chunky wovens. “They bring new energy into familiar spaces without sacrificing comfort or durability,” he says.



© Lendlease



10. Downsizing Homes, Rooms, and Ornate Features

The McMansion craze has been dead for years, resulting in more homeowners looking to downsize and millennials never planning to go big. “They favor experiences over owning large high-maintenance, high-cost homes filled with lots of stuff,” says Ames. “It’s the Marie Kondo version of shedding stuff.” Many home shoppers are also looking for simpler architectural detailing that pares maintenance and cost, as well as fewer rooms that will go unused, Ames says. Lendlease, a development company that created the new Cirrus building in downtown Chicago, heeded this mantra when it planned its range of scaled-down units and beefed up its many shared amenity spaces, says Ted Weldon, executive general manager. Sheri Koones’ new book, Downsize: Living Large in a Small House (The Taunton Press, 2019), offers an abundance of information for homeowners looking to pare down


Navy accent wall in dining room

© Sherwin-Williams



11. Deeper Hues

You can read into the emerging palette of deep hues a desire to counter global unrest, as some designers speculate, or you can take the colors as an antidote to years of pale grays. Either way, the darker hues are coming on strong. Pantone anointed “classic blue”—a very royal tone—as its color of the year. Could it be a nod to the Sussexes or appeal of The Crown? Sherwin-Williams’ Sue Wadden, director of color marketing, touts her company’s “naval” (SW 6244), “anchors aweigh” (SW 9179), “ripe olive” (SW 6209), and “dard hunter green” (SW 0041) as choices to visually mitigate stress. Another emerging trend: monochromatic rooms, donning a single paint color on the walls, trim, and ceiling.


billiard room

© Mary Cook Associates, Toll Brothers Apartment Living



12. Hipsturbia

Live/work/play has become a way of life for millennials who aren’t willing to compromise when they have children. As they move to the suburbs for more space, they choose communities with urban amenities—thriving walkable downtowns with dining, shopping, entertainment, public transportation, and jobs. “Success has a way of spreading,” the Urban Land Institute noted when it coined the term “hipsturbia” in its Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2020 report, says Mary Cook, founder of Chicago-based Mary Cook Associates. “Every development we work on today is located in areas that fit this formula and foster community interactions,” she says. One example is Toll Brothers’ Apartment Living Oleander building outside Atlanta, which offers residents flexible community spaces equipped with state-of-the-art technology to accommodate events, co-working spaces, and more. The building sits on Emory University’s expanding Executive Park campus near new medical complexes designed to attract health care professionals.

Top 5 Kitchen Trends



© Dave Burk, de Giulio Kitchen Design


Instead of adding a 13th trend to the list, we decided to give kitchens their own section because they remain the number one focus in the home. The new fads being cooked up are giving this room an update in style, appliances, materials, and colors, as well as a way to enhance surrounding spaces since many are part of the open plan living-dining-kitchen area. While white may still dominate cabinets and countertops, other colors and materials are popping up—so are new technologies that help homeowners prepare food more effortlessly and healthily. Here are five kitchen trends to watch in 2020.

  1. Materials. GE appliances are showing an uptick in more white and black matte finishes as well as a new look of glass-covered stainless steel fronts that’s emerging. These new materials fit in better with other room furnishings, too, says Marc Hottenroth, executive director of GE’s industrial design division. Also showing up in kitchens is a greater mix of metals, such as brushed bronze and copper to help freshen appliances, which generally last about 10 years.
  2. Technology. Voice assistants now read recipes and cooking directions for homeowners so they don’t have to turn cookbook pages with flour-coated fingers. Appliances with gourmet guided cooking technology provide recipes and tutorials through an app that communicates with the appliance via Bluetooth. The chef no longer has to turn knobs to adjust temperatures. For instance, a rack of lamb might be roasted, then finished with a broil, which would all be adjusted automatically. And a new wall oven with hot air-fry capability is offering a healthier alternative to deep frying.
  3. Function. A new kitchen island is emerging, which combines an island with a dinette, according to Gena Kirk, vice president of design at KB Home, a national home builder based in Los Angeles. The island features a place to prepare meals at one height and an additional countertop that slides out at a lower level for people to eat around when desired. Scaled-down appliance sizes are becoming popular in smaller open-plan homes and condos. In its new Cirrus building, a 47-story tower going up on Lake Michigan, Lendlease camouflaged appliances behind millwork paneling, says Linda Kozloski, creative design director. The company also went with smaller, more European-size appliance choices because of the units’ smaller sizes, which helps counter rising construction costs. Example: a 24-inch-wide refrigerator was selected instead of a 48-inch model.
  4. Workspace. After so much buzz about whether to stay with granite or switch to quartz or quartzite, KB Home offers another idea: natural wood cutting boards for a portion of the countertop surface. The wood area provides a convenient workspace without having to pull out a cutting board or leave one out all the time.
  5. Details. Chicago kitchen designer Mick De Giulio, principal of de Giulio Kitchen Design, is introducing design character in novel ways to surprise and contradict. One example includes the hand-hammered finish on a stainless steel Bacifiore sink to add sophisticated sparkle instead of a plain-Jane stainless or ceramic white model. Another is the instillation of polished stainless steel toe kicks at the bottom of cabinets that hardly show the dirt, scuffs, or mess that painted wood ones do.

Trends are meant to inspire rather than make agents and their clients feel the need to rush into a renovation to make a house hip or more marketable than another. These points represent what’s new or coming through the pike. In the future, for example, there may be more technology that will warn homeowners about natural disasters before they occur. And before clients invests in any updates, make it clear that it’s best to do so for personal enjoyment rather than to boost salability.

Sept. 3, 2020

Sellers Are Returning to the Housing Market

In today’s housing market, it can be a big challenge for buyers to find homes to purchase, as the number of houses for sale is far below the current demand. Now, however, we’re seeing sellers slowly starting to come back into the market, a bright spark for potential buyers. Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com, explains: “Seller confidence has been improving gradually after reaching its bottom in mid-April, and now it appears to have reached an important recovery milestone…After five long months, sellers are back in the housing market; while encouraging, the improvement to new listings is only the first step in the long road to solving low inventory issues keeping many buyers at bay.”

Even with the number of homes coming into the market, the available inventory is well below where it needs to be to satisfy buyer interest. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports:

“Total housing inventory at the end of June totaled 1.57 million units, up 1.3% from May, but still down 18.2% from one year ago (1.92 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 4.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from both 4.8 months in May and from the 4.3-month figure recorded in June 2019.”

Houses today are selling faster than they’re coming to market. That’s why we only have inventory for 4 months at the current sales pace when in reality we need inventory for 6 months to keep up. But, as mentioned above, sellers are starting to return to the game. Realtor.com explains:

“The ‘housing supply’ component – which tracks growth of new listings – reached 101.7, up 4.9 points over the prior week, finally reaching the January growth baseline. The big milestone in new listings growth comes as seller sentiment continues to build momentum…After constant gradual improvements since mid-April, seller confidence appears to be reaching an important milestone. The temporary boost in new listings comes as the summer season replaces the typical spring homebuying season. More homes are entering the market than typical for this time of the year.

Why is this good for sellers?

A good time to enter the housing market is when the competition in your area is low, meaning there are fewer sellers than interested buyers. You don’t want to wait for all of the other homeowners to list their houses before you do, providing more options for buyers to choose from. With sellers starting to get back into the market after five months of waiting, if you want to sell your house for the best possible price, now is a great time to do so.

Why is this good for buyers?

It can be challenging to find a home in today’s low-inventory environment. If more sellers are starting to put their houses up for sale, there will be more homes for you to choose from, providing a better opportunity to find the home of your dreams while taking advantage of the affordability that comes with historically low mortgage rates.

Bottom Line

While we still have a long way to go to catch up with the current demand, inventory is slowly starting to return to the market. If you’re thinking of moving this year, let’s connect today so you’re ready to make your move when the home of your dreams comes up for sale.

Posted in News, Seller News
Sept. 3, 2020

A Guide to Caring for Narcissistic Parents

Narcissists: you can’t leave them, it’s nearly impossible to love them and you feel like you want to pull your hair out whenever you’re around them.

Laura Thomas, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist based in California who helps clients of all ages deal with a variety of mental health issues, claims that narcissistic tendencies often become less pronounced as a person ages. Yet many family caregivers—especially adult children—would say that they deal with self-important seniors daily.

Whether they come in the form of an uncompromising parent, a selfish sibling or exploitative in-laws, narcissists can be a difficult burden for caregivers to bear. Although true narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is deeply ingrained and notoriously difficult to treat, learning about this disorder can help family caregivers better navigate relationships with aging narcissists.

What Is Narcissism?

Known as narcissistic personality disorder, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) describes narcissism as a specific set of impairments in one’s identity and self-direction, impairments in interpersonal functioning and pathological personality traits. Narcissistic behavior is marked by antagonism, which involves a lack of empathy for others, attention-seeking (grandiosity), manipulativeness, deceitfulness and callousness.

While most people tend to have a rigid concept of what a classic narcissist acts like, there are a few different types of narcissism. A narcissist can be a grandiose peacock who struts about, flaunting their imagined sense of superiority in your face, or they can be charming and outwardly caring—until you get in their way. Covert narcissists may come across as shy, self-deprecating, introverted and/or sensitive. In fact, their penchant and knack for manipulating those around them can make some narcissists difficult to identify.

Dr. Thomas suggests avoiding black and white thinking when it comes to spotting narcissism. Like many mental disorders, NPD exists on a spectrum. “We all have a degree of narcissism in us,” she explains. After all, self-preservation is a basic evolutionary trait in many animals, especially humans. To complicate matters further, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder often have additional mental health issues, such as depressive disorder, substance use disorders, or other personality disorders.

Could You Be Caring for a Narcissistic Parent?

If you think you may be caring for an elderly narcissist, consider how pervasive your care recipient’s sense of self-importance is. Do their needs, no matter how trivial, always come before those of others? Are they hypersensitive to criticism? Are feelings like fear, obligation and guilt a regular part of your caregiving routine? Does your care recipient encourage or provoke these emotions to use them to their advantage (a tactic known as emotional blackmail or FOG)? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it doesn’t necessarily mean your parent is a narcissist. However, understanding their thought processes can help you learn how to navigate these more abrasive aspects of their personality.

It is also important to consider whether a senior’s personality is much the same as it has been over the course of their life or whether new characteristics are emerging. If they have been noticeably ostentatious, manipulative, attention-seeking and self-absorbed for years, chances are that they have always been (and will likely always be) a narcissist.

However, a senior who suddenly develops some narcissistic tendencies following a major life event, such as the loss of a spouse or the onset of a major health issue, may be suffering from a different mental disorder like depression Dr. Thomas notes. Grief and anxiety can manifest in strange ways and it is important to rule out new or unusual changes in mood and behavior. In some cases, these symptoms can be more easily treated, or they may point to an underlying medical problem like the onset of dementia.

What Causes a Person to Become a Narcissist?

For a family caregiver, it can sometimes feel as though one is constantly surrounded by self-important people who demand our time and attention but offer little to no thanks and refuse to reciprocate.

For true narcissists, their behavior patterns often extend far into their past, but they do not emerge fully formed from the womb. Dr. Thomas notes that pinning down specific causes of narcissism is tricky. She says that self-centered people are generally a product of the confluence of two greatly influential forces: their biology and their environment.

It makes sense. People are genetically programmed to be concerned for their individual health and well-being, even when it sometimes comes at the expense of others. Furthermore, NPD is thought to be hereditary. If you combine those biological features with certain environmental factors, such as neglect, abuse and/or over-parenting, it’s not difficult to see how a person could develop narcissistic tendencies.

How to Deal With a Narcissistic Parent

The dynamics that exist in a caregiving relationship are complex for even the most “healthy” and tight-knit families. When a care recipient exhibits narcissistic tendencies, it can be both frustrating and extremely painful for the person trying to provide care for them.

Meredith Resnick, LCSW, author of When Your Parent Is a Narcissist, feels that taking care of a family member who is narcissistic can make interactions exceedingly difficult to navigate. “Because patterns between aging parents and adult children are typically long-standing, the emotions involved can be pretty intense,” she admits.

It is easy to become entrenched in an unproductive cycle of emotional blackmail and verbal blow-ups if caregivers are not careful when dealing with a narcissistic mother or father. If a senior is behaving in a selfish manner, Resnick says that the best option is to avoid being baited into outright confrontation at all costs. Before directly challenging an aging narcissist, the caregiver should first determine what they want to achieve by confronting the problem. If the issue is a minor one, it might be best for the adult child to cede the “victory” to their parent.

If, on the other hand, the issue affects the health and well-being of the caregiver or their care recipient, then the caregiver should seek to address the problem in a productive way. One way to do this is by aligning what you want the narcissist to do with their own interests. For example, if your parent refuses to take their medication because they think the prescribing physician is a “quack,” simply remind them that they’re more likely to have to attend another appointment and endure the doctor’s uneducated ramblings if they don’t take their pills. Conversely, if they take the medication, they’ll be able to avoid further “unnecessary” trips to the doctor’s office.

Narcissists may be master manipulators and notoriously difficult to care for, but there are strategies that can help you get your way without wanting to pull your hair out. Most family caregivers are uncomfortable with using these techniques at first but learning to detach and set boundaries will help. These things just take practice and a firm commitment.

3 Rules for Defending Yourself Against the Aging Narcissist

An elderly narcissist is unlikely to change their behavior. In fact, psychologists agree that NPD is particularly challenging to treat, even in young, physically healthy people.

Dr. Thomas admits that caregiving for a narcissist is likely to “challenge one to the core of their being.” She offers these three recommendations for caregivers who find themselves in this situation:

  1. Do as much as you can to get respite care, maintain a social life of some sort and engage in activities that you enjoy and that rejuvenate you. This will prevent caregiver burnout.
  2. Work with a mental health professional, such as a counselor or psychologist, to help you sort through your feelings and hone the tools you need to recognize and cope with emotional blackmail.
  3. Set personal limits on how much contact you are willing to make and stick to your boundaries no matter what.

It is also important to remember that a relationship with a narcissist is essentially a one-way street. Those with NPD tendencies are so caught up in themselves that they have a limited ability to love other people, understand their perspectives or value their emotions. Truly accepting this reality will help you acknowledge your role as a protector and provider for someone who lacks the ability to reciprocate with feelings of love, appreciation, or even tolerance.

Respect Your Limits While Caregiving

Resnick and Dr. Thomas both urge family caregivers in this situation to take responsibility for their personal emotional state. Remember, you cannot control a narcissist; you can only control yourself. Your number one goal should be finding out how to help a narcissistic parent without losing yourself in the process.

If you are struggling to come to terms with your feelings and your mental and physical health are suffering, it is likely time to set stricter boundaries with your care recipient or walk away altogether. In fact, professional health care workers from in-home care companies or in senior living facilities may be more successful in providing quality care because they do not have a personal history with the senior and are therefore more immune to their emotional blackmail.

The last thing a narcissist wants is for their caregiver’s needs (or anyone’s needs, really) to supersede their own. Caregivers are selfless individuals, and those with NPD often use this to their advantage. BUT you must remember that you are important, too. Your health and happiness matter. Making meaningful changes to your care plan will require you to act in your own self-interest for once. Many family caregivers must make the difficult decision to go low-contact or even no-contact with their narcissistic parents. It will be tough, but this is certainly not something to feel guilty about; it is a necessity.

Bruce Webb is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and has an extensive network of senior related referrals.

Posted in News, Senior News
Sept. 3, 2020

Current Buyer & Seller Perks in the Housing Market

Today’s housing market is making a truly impressive turnaround, and it’s also setting up some outstanding opportunities for buyers and sellers. Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling a home this year, there are perks today that are rarely available, and definitely worth looking into. Here are the top two. 

The Biggest Perk for Buyers: Low Mortgage Rates

The most impressive buyer incentive today is the average mortgage interest rate. Just last week, mortgage rates hit an all-time low for the eighth time this year. The 30-year fixed-rate is now averaging 2.88%, the lowest rate in the survey’s history, which dates back to 1971 (See graph below):Current Buyer & Seller Perks in the Housing Market | MyKCMThis is a huge advantage for buyers. To put it in perspective, it means that today you can get a lower rate than any of the past two generations of homebuyers in your family if you decide to purchase at this time.

In addition, the National Mortgage News notes how today’s buyers have increasing purchasing power due to these low mortgage rates:

“Purchasing power rose 10% year-over-year…With interest rates hitting record lows, buyers were able to afford $32,000 “more house” as of July 23 than they could the year before with the same monthly payment.”

This is a great perk for buyers who are hoping to potentially get more for their money in a home, something many are considering today as they re-evaluate the amount of space they ideally need for their families. It is an opportunity not seen in 50 years, and one not to be missed if the time is right for you to buy a home.

The Biggest Perk for Sellers: Low Inventory

Today, there are simply not enough houses on the market for the number of buyers looking to purchase them. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Total housing inventory at the end of June totaled 1.57 million units, up 1.3% from May, but still down 18.2% from one year ago (1.92 million).”

The red bars in the graph below indicate that the inventory of homes coming into the market continues to decline. It was low as we entered the pandemic and has reduced even further this year. Houses today are selling faster than they’re being listed, and that’s creating an even greater supply shortage (See graph below):Current Buyer & Seller Perks in the Housing Market | MyKCMThe lack of inventory has been a challenging situation for a while now, and with low mortgage rates fueling buyer demand, inventory is even harder for buyers to find today. Buyers are eager to purchase, and because of the shortage of homes available, they’re encountering more bidding warsThis is one of the factors keeping home prices strong, an advantage for sellers. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR notes that this trend may continue, too:

“Home prices rose during the lockdown and could rise even further due to heavy buyer competition and a significant shortage of supply.”

With low inventory and high buyer demand, homeowners can potentially earn an increasing profit on their houses and sell them quickly in this sizzling summer market.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling at home, there are some key perks available right now. Let’s connect today to discuss how they may play to your advantage in our local market.


Posted in Buyer News