January 8, 2019
Real Estate in 2019

While much in a new year can seem uncertain, one thing is clear: there are a lot of opportunities in the real estate market in 2019! If you tried to buy a home or sell your home in 2018, you probably noticed a few difficult trends: a very competitive market, few homes available, and rising prices.  Some of those will remain the same in 2019, and some will change. We also expect some new trends to appear.

Competitive Home Buying Market

Unfortunately for you homebuyers out there, the market will most likely remain very competitive. Driven by some of our other trends (looking at you rising prices and lack of available homes), the homebuying market in 2019 will still have many buyers for each available property. The good news? Things are slowing down. We predict 2019 will be the year that the housing market begins correcting back to a ‘normal’ number of available listings.

Low Number of Available Homes

As we mentioned, the number of available homes for sale in 2019 is likely still going to be low compared to the number of potential home buyers. The good news? The new home building industry is continuing to see growth in 2019. Brand new properties available in the market could help relieve strain on the crowded buying pool.

Home Values Are Still Rising – Just Not as Fast

In 2019, we will continue to see home values at record level highs. However, we expect to see the rate of appreciation in home values slow down or even stay level this year. What does that mean? More people may be able to realize their homebuying dreams as their ideal properties drop to or stay in their price range.

Design Trends Are Shifting

2018 was the year of bright, light and airy home design. Modern farmhouse style dominated – with sellers and buyers alike preferring white, cream, and gray color schemes. In 2019, we’re living in color! More and more homeowners are opting for color in their paint and décor choices. Also contradictory to the 2018 trends, patterns are making a comeback in 2019. And finally, in 2019, comfort is key. Homeowners are looking toward soft edges, plush fabrics and cushioned furniture.

 

Whether the market remains as it was in 2018, or shifts dramatically, one thing is certain. A Berkshire Hathaway REALTOR is the best to help you navigate buying or selling in 2019. Get in touch with us today!

January 1, 2019
Five New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

As you set resolutions for personal or professional growth, don’t forget to set some resolutions for your home too! Our REALTORS® share some of their favorite resolutions for homeowners.

De-Clutter

Are you struggling with too much clutter? Remember the love you had when you bought your home? Clearing the clutter is one of the easiest ways to fall in love with your home all over again! Try to set goals for getting rid of clutter – we recommend going through one room at a time, and sorting items into 3 piles: keep, donate, and trash. Then sit back, relax and enjoy!

Decrease utility bills

Are you looking for some savings? One of the largest home expenses outside of any monthly mortgage payments or insurance policies are utilities and services. Take some time this New Year to evaluate all of your utility bills and see if there are some savings to be had! Many utility companies offer energy efficiency programs or have guidance for how to proactively lower your bills. Don’t forget to re-evaluate services like cable, phone and home/lawn maintenance! Shopping around or eliminating can put well-earned cash back in your pocket.

Develop a cleaning schedule

Wishing you had a cleaner house? We’ve all been there! Sometimes it feels like the cleaning never stops.  Our REALTORS® recommend developing a daily/weekly/monthly schedule for cleaning. Make a list of things that should be done daily, weekly, and monthly, then chart out times each day to accomplish those tasks. When the cleaning doesn’t have an opportunity to build up, you’ll find it easier and easier to keep it up!

Plan any needed or wanted home improvement projects

Dreaming of a new look for your home? The New Year is the perfect time to turn those dreams into reality! Start planning for those remodeling projects now, and this time next year you’ll be enjoying your new space. Evaluate everything you would like to get accomplished and decide if you’ll DIY or hire professionals to assist. Ask your Berkshire Hathaway REALTOR® for their recommendation on professionals, or which home repairs come with the biggest return on your investment!

Safety First

Are you ready for all possible home safety issues? If you’re unsure, it may be time to audit your safety procedures and preparation. Ensure smoke detectors are functioning, replenish first aid supplies, and review items like electrical connections for signs of decay or fraying. Our REALTORS® also recommend creating plans for evacuating your house in the event of a fire or plans to take shelter in the event of severe weather.

December 22, 2018
Top 10 Activities to Do This Winter Break

Need to get out of the house this winter break? These are our favorite activities, in no particular order, to try with your friends and family!

Ice Skating

Find a local ice rink that has open skating hours, or to up the fun, hit one of Michigan’s many outdoor pop-up rinks! There’s Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Campus Martius Park in Detroit, and Millenium Park in Portage. Try searching for one near you!

Build a Snowman

Now this might be a tricky one this year, as not much snow is in the forecast for Michigan the next couple weeks, but if we do get some fresh flakes, try to create one of these snow person masterpieces!

Go skiing or snowboarding

Northern Michigan has some absolutely wonderful ski resorts, who regularly keep their mountains covered in fresh powder. Not a fan of the ski lift or can wrap your head around the snowboard? We love a good time by the fire in the lodge!

Go on a winter hike or walk

This one is especially great along one of our amazing Michigan beaches! Watch the waves roll in and create the phenomenon known as “ice balls” – they usually happen every year.  Just be sure to wear some warm outerwear – it gets windy this time of year.

Shovel snow for your neighbors

We love this one! Have a neighbor who could use some extra help around the holiday? Get out and shovel their walkway or ask if there is anything else you can help with outside their home. Our agents are constantly looking for ways to give back, and this is an easy way to make someone’s day.

Take a holiday lights tour

Holiday lights tours are very popular this year, and for good reason! The light displays are often fun and whimsical, and the perfect thing to do in the evening. Try a professional one like these or create your own light tour by driving through your own neighborhood!

Visit an Indoor Waterpark or your favorite museum

Need some warmth but still want to get out of the house? Try visiting one of Michigan’s amazing indoor waterparks or visit a public museum – many have decreased ticket prices during winter break.

Try a new Restaurant

New place in town that you’ve been dying to try? Now’s the time!

Exercise

Feeling a little sluggish after those holiday meals? Get started on your resolution early and hit your local gym, or try a fun group fitness class like Yoga or Zumba.

Volunteer

Even after the holidays are over, your favorite local charities need your help! All for Good is an online hub to get connected with service opportunities in your community.

 

December 18, 2018
Last Minute Gifts for Homeowners

Rushing to find all of your last-minute gifts for this holiday season? Don’t worry, so are we! We’ve got great gifts for every homeowner in your life.  And BONUS: all of these can still get to you before the holiday!

For the Tech Savvy Homeowner:

Technology has the power to make every homeowner’s life easier. Give the tech savvy homeowner in your life one of these great gifts and you’ll be sure to get on their new favorite list!

  • Video Doorbell like Ring or Nest
  • Smart home assistants like the Google Home or Amazon Alexa
  • Wake Up Light alarm clock – we think this one is just so cool. Such a unique way to wake up if traditional alarm clocks fail you.
  • Smart TV like Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast or Roku
  • For the pet lovers in your life, try this awesome dog camera (this is going straight into our Amazon carts!)
  • Autonomous vacuum cleaners like the Roomba keep your home clean even when you’re on the go. Perfect for those with little kiddos or pets and their fur.

REALTOR® Favorite: the perfect accessory for any home, an LED toilet bowl light. For when regular lighting just won’t do.

For the Entertainer:

You can absolutely expect to come across this type of homeowner on your gift list – chances are they are hosting you this holiday! For the entertainers in your life, you cannot go wrong with one of these.

REALTOR® Favorite: Dinosaur taco holders. Okay, not so gag, just fun and so functional!

For the New Homeowner:

New homeowners need all sorts of things, trust us! But these gift ideas are sure to be both practical and fun!

  • Nothing says “I’m a new homeowner” more than the mini tool kit you probably gave them when they moved out. Time for an upgrade! Get that new homeowner a multi-tool set so they’ll be covered, that way, they too can enjoy trying all of the sockets before finding the right size.
  • Quality linens, towels or blankets. Same here – time for an upgrade. Out with the old, and in with the new! Plus, old towels make great things to keep in a garage or basement, just in case.
  • New homeowners are likely going to be welcoming guests to their home quite a bit. Help them be the host or hostess with the mostess by gifting a Bluetooth speaker, like this one!
  • See above – new homeowners host guests a lot. Gift a cute serving tray, or charcuterie board for those impromptu get togethers!

REALTOR® Favorite: Bug vacuum. Like a normal vacuum, but for bugs. Because no one likes creepy crawlies in their new home!

Stocking Stuffers

Keeping gifts small this year, or looking for simple things to pop in a stocking? These are all inexpensive options for the homeowner in your life.

  • Batteries – because nothing derails Christmas morning like only having 2 batteries when you need 4.
  • Command Hooks – we retract our previous statement. Nothing derails Christmas morning like hammering a nail into the wall. Command strips and hooks are so much easier, trust us!
  • Home improvement gift cards. So easy to pick up (at multiple locations or online). Check out the big chain stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Menards, but don’t forget your local shops well. They likely have gift cards or certificates as well!
  • Save their coffee table and gift these fun state pride coaster sets from Uncommon Goods

REALTOR® Favorite: Silicone pot holders, but in the shape of lobster claws. Or alligator mouths. We can’t get enough of these fun animal options!

December 10, 2018
Holiday Hosting Tips

Do you have out of town guests coming to stay with you this holiday? Hosting extended family for a large meal? Feeling a little unprepared or overwhelmed? We’ve got the best tips from our REALTORS® for hosting this holiday season!

Make a List & Check it Twice

Making a list is going to set you off on the right foot as you prepare for your holiday hosting. You can organize everything that needs to be done inside and outside of your home, food you want to serve, activities you want to plan, put it all in a list!

Tidy Up

When you have guests over, whether that be for one evening or a week-long stay, you want things to be organized and clean, so you don’t have to stress during their stay.  Start by putting clutter away, especially in high traffic areas like the kitchen and living room. Then focus on cleaning floors, surfaces and windows. REALTOR® tip: imagine you are trying to sell your home for top dollar – less is more!

Stock Extras

Nothing ruins a party quite like running out of toilet paper!  Make sure you add household needs like paper towel, napkins, disposable tableware if you need it, and yes, toilet paper, to your grocery list. You’ll also want to stock extra snacks if your guests are staying overnight – crackers or cookies that you can grab quickly and easily will just add that extra touch for your guests.  REALTOR® tip: make a small welcome kit for visitors – with small travel size shampoos or toothpaste – you’ll be the hero of their stay with little pieces like this!

Decorations

Every REALTOR® knows that curb appeal and staging are key to selling a home – but it is no different for hosting around the holidays! Spruce up your entrance both inside and out – it’s the first thing your guests will see.  Keep your decorations easy and stress free by re-using pieces in your home year-round or adding small touches of holiday greenery to existing décor.  Dn’t forget to set the mood for your gathering using sounds and scents. Also, check out our blog last week for REALTOR® tips for decorating: https://www.bhhsmichiganrealestate.com/blog/5-holiday-decorating-tips/

Food & Drinks

When it comes to preparing your menu, go with items that will earn you big points while taking minimal work.  Include dishes that can be prepared ahead of time or eaten at room temperature, so you don’t have to cook all day to get a meal out. Absolutely let the store help you out here – pre-made cheese trays or side dishes are definitely your friend! You could also opt for buffet style instead of plated meals – people can serve themselves and it is less fuss for you. For drinks, keep your guests in mind – have a few alcoholic and a few non-alcoholic options available, plus don’t forget options for kiddos if they are joining.

Ready for the Party to End?

We’ve all been there. You’re exhausted and ready for bed, but your guests are still having a great time! Start wrapping the party up by lowering the music, turning on some lights, and blowing out any candles. Dole out leftovers in some fun to-go boxes, and if all else fails, start cleaning. Trust us, they’ll get the message!

Not hosting this year?

Don’t forget some small host/hostess gifts! REALTOR® tip: stock up on small gifts all year long, and you won’t be caught off guard this time of year looking for the perfect thing to bring to the party. Here’s a few options to get you started:

 

Above everything else, make sure you have fun this holiday season, whether you are hosting 2 or 20 people. Enjoy time with your guests, and try not to stress over the rest!

December 3, 2018
5 Holiday Decorating Tips

What does your home feel like around the holidays? Cozy and warm, colorful and bright, organized chaos (or just plain chaos)? Today, our REALTORS® are sharing their tips and tricks for decorating inside and outside this holiday season.  Did we miss any? Share your favorite decorating tips below!

Color is your friend!
  • Feel free to experiment with some out of the box colors like gold, silver and pinks! Not everything needs to be red, green and white.
  • Garlands everywhere! I love introducing greenery throughout the house. Pinecones add a great touch too.
  • Develop a theme by collecting items that work well together. For example, several pillows on a similar color scheme can tie together any living room decor!
  • Try white as a base color – all of your favorite holiday colors pop against a crisp white background.
Using Scent to Decorate
  • Scent is one of the strongest senses tied to memory, so to create those happy holiday memories, use essential oils or other products to add those classic holiday scents! We love cinnamon, clove, spruce and orange together for a great aroma.
  • Have an artificial Christmas tree, but missing that pine scent? Use real wreaths or sprigs of real pine throughout your home to get the same impact.
Collections are Key
  • Don’t shy away from multiples! A collection of nutcrackers, dreidels, portraits and others can look amazing featured on a mantel or hearth.
  • Classic design tip – decorate in threes! Small vignettes in groups of 3 really catch the eye.
  • Use what you’ve got – don’t feel like you need to completely re-work your existing decorations. Re-purpose collections and containers that are useful all year round by switching out fresh items like greenery or wintery flowers.
  • Extra ornaments? Put them in a large glass jar or bowl and decorate a countertop or bookshelf too!
Cherish the Memories
  • Don’t knock craft projects or your kiddos’ homemade decorations. Chances are, you’ll treasure these more than the store-bought stuff.
  • Remember to take photographs! Whether you use the same decorations year after year, or try something different each holiday season, record those memories in photos. Then use the photos in next year’s decor.
Storage Tips