Who is knocking at the smarter door?

SmartHome is quickly becoming the buzzword of the year. It was not that long ago that smart home technology and smart home security were thought to have limited interest among home buyers. But today, the reality is that almost everyone desires to have a connected home. Whether you are building or selling starter homes, or homes in 55+ communities, smart security products are becoming a desired and even expected feature among home buyers.

According to a 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trend report by the National Association of Realtors, the smart home market is expected to become a $130 billion industry by 2020. And smart home technology is no longer solely piquing the interest of early adopters or tech-minded millennials. In fact, 43 percent of Americans with smart home products are millennials 33 percent are aged 33-54; and 24 percent are age 55 or older.

And just as with kitchens and baths, the ability to increase a home’s value is another reason why smart security is catching the interest of a wide range of home buyers. According to the NAHB and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), installing smart home technology can increase the final closing price of a home by 3 to 5 percent. And a recent Coldwell Banker survey found that 72 percent of millennials are willing to pay $1,500 or more, and 44 percent are willing to pay $3,000 or more to make their home smart.

Who is knocking at the smarter door?

Tech-savvy millennials still thrill to the “cool factor” of living in a home with the latest and greatest technology. But they are not the only category of buyer that is enjoying the benefits of smart security.

Smart parents. Young couples are looking for a home near good schools, in a kid-friendly neighborhood, because they plan on having children soon. These parents are ideal candidates for smart, connected security. With smart locks, they would be able to monitor the comings and goings of their children through their smartphone. They could even use their smartphone to make sure the lights are on when their kids get home.

Smart seniors. Older couples (over 55) have decided they want to “age in place” and are looking for a suitable, possibly smaller home that fits their current and anticipated needs. These forward-thinking seniors are ideal candidates for smart locks. When part of a home automation system, smart locks can keep unwanted guests out, while granting access to loved ones, caregivers, and even first responders in emergency situations. Or maybe this couple is thinking about controlling their locks, lights and other devices from a second home.

Smart apartment owners. Home automation devices like smart locks not only add extra convenience and security to a potential rental unit, they also can make maintaining the building and controlling access easier than ever before.

Click to read the complete article at Custom Home.

Window Glazing Explained

Heat pumps, fireplaces, air conditioning and other technologies are key to a warm or cool home, but there’s another method to consider: Double glazing. By pairing this useful technology with efficient types of heating or cooling, you can create a comfortable home keeping the cold or heat at bay.

How does it work?

There’s really no technical wizardry involved with double glazing. It works by trapping air between two panes of glass – that’s it. The trapped air forms a layer of insulation, preventing heat loss (and gain).

It’s really the same as any other form of insulation, like fiberglass batts or polystyrene.

By installing double glazed windows, you also gain a few other useful benefits. For one, you’ll find condensation far less of an issue. Condensation occurs when the cold air outside your home cools the warm air inside, but thanks to the insulating barrier, the cold air cannot interact with the warm air, meaning no condensation.

Double glazed windows also permit radiant heat to enter the home, meaning you won’t miss out on the warmth of the sun in winter.

What about Low E glass and argon gas?

By using Low Emissivity (Low E) Glass with argon gas sealed in between the two panes of glass, you can increase the thermal performance of your windows even more. Basically, this means you’ll have a more consistent temperature in your home in both winter and summer.

Low E glass also blocks most U.V. rays, reduces sunlight glare in a room, reflects the sun’s heat away from the structure and helps prevent fading of furnishings and wood floors.

While windows with low-E glass generally cost 10 to 15 percent more than windows with standard glass, they can increase energy efficiency by 30 to 50 percent.

How can I get it?

If you’re already got a home or looking into buying one, you’ll want to consider retrofit double glazing. This means replacing the existing windows with new, double glazed alternatives to save on heating and cooling bills.

For those building new, in the planning stages of your project, just tell your builder or building company that you’d like to use double glazed windows.

Source: Trends, Thermal Windows, Inc.

What does your entry say to potential buyers?

When choosing colors for your entryway, think about how you want to greet your guests–and how you would like to be greeted too. Whether with a warm neutral or a deeper hue, your entryway’s paint color immediately sets a mood.

Mix and match neutral color choices on wainscoting, trim and walls to create a lively entry. Go big and bold colors for a strong and memorable first impression. If interior spaces are highly visible, carry the drama into adjoining rooms.

For all the tips and tricks see the full article at Benjamin Moore.

Is Greater Phoenix “Overvalued”?

For Buyers:

Interest rates have been increasing along with the inflation rate as of late, which has spawned a string of headlines about affordability. While the rate hike has knocked some buyers out of the market without a doubt, general affordability hasn’t taken a big hit yet. According to the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo, buyers making the median family income could still afford 65% of what sold in the Valley last quarter. A measure between 60-75% is considered normal.

Let’s look at the historical cost of a 1,900 sf home in Greater Phoenix, for example. In March 2005, a home that size would run $281K on average. Today that same home would be $309K, $28,000 more (+10%). However, the interest rate back then was 5.9% compared to 4.5% today, meaning that the principal and interest payment has dropped nearly $100 from where it was 13 years ago for the same home. At the same time, the median family income rose from $58K to $69K according to HUD (+19%). Which is why despite recent increases in interest rates, the affordability of real estate in the Valley is still considered very good.

For Sellers:

Last April CoreLogic released a report ranking the Greater Phoenix area as “overvalued”. In fact, they placed 37% of our nation’s top 100 metropolitan areas in that category. As of May, after 6 years of higher-than-normal appreciation rates, the monthly average sales price per square foot has finally reached its place along the long-term 3% appreciation line established between 2000-2003 before the 2005 bubble and 2008 crash. Meaning that if we had fallen asleep in 2003, and the last 15 years were just a long horrible dream, we would have woken up today and not known anything had happened. Prices are where they would have been had the market followed the average long-term rate of inflation. That brings to light that current appreciation rates of 6% or more are no longer sustainable in the long term.

However, that doesn’t mean that prices will “peak” or “crash” anytime soon. Most likely as demand slowly wanes, prices will go flat and hang out until they once again fall in line with the rate of inflation, but don’t expect that to happen in 2018. Supply and demand measures today indicate an additional 3-6 months of positive appreciation for the majority of homes priced below $400K.

The commentary was written by Tina Tamboer, Senior Real Estate Analyst with The Cromford Report.

Open House Guide – Making the Most of Your Day

You’ve decided it’s time to make the move.

Whether a first-time homebuyer, outgrown your current home, or it simply no longer meets your lifestyle. The question is the same … where do you start? How do you know what to look for in today’s market? What inventory is available or is custom the way to go? Open houses let you test the market in your area so you can see firsthand what your budget will get you.

That is the beauty of the open house. Open houses are opportunities to get to know a home up close and personal. It’s also an opportunity to get comfortable with listing language such as “chef’s kitchen” and “spa-like suite.” You get to experience different homes and neighborhoods first hand. And the best thing? You don’t need an appointment or to bring your agent along.

If you don’t already have an agent, open houses are excellent ways to meet and begin a relationship with one. You’ll see how he or she markets the open house home, which gives you an idea of how they will market yours.

The Prep

Make a list of “must haves” and “like to have.” The required number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Do you want a formal living room or dining room? Is there a garage? Where are guests supposed to park if there’s no driveway? Do the ceiling fans and chandeliers come with the property? Where are the washer/dryer hookups? Do the washer/dryer come with the property? Does it have a dedicated pantry? Is there a homeowners’ association and if so, what are the fees? What are the taxes? There are tons of little questions you probably won’t think to ask on the spot, so come up with your list ahead of time and check off the answers as they become available.

Make a list of houses you want to look at. There will always be something not scheduled that will pop up, but it’s always good to have a plan. Your local newspaper, Zillow, and of course, your favorite Realtor, can be a great source of information. Mark down the houses you want to see and let the hunt begin! The bonus is in the spontaneity…seeing signs for homes that weren’t on your list!

Focus on one area of town each time you go out. Don’t spend your entire day driving back and forth. Spend a day looking at houses in one area of town and check out the local restaurants, activities, and entertainment options while you are there. Try to talk to people that already live there and get their opinion. If the area doesn’t feel like home, that part of town isn’t for you.

Open house etiquette

Even if your day off, try and look like a responsible buyer. No one will throw you out of an open house, but if multiple buyers show up at once, the best-dressed may snag the attention. Love the house? Feel free to take photos so you can remember certain details. Super serious? Take some measurements to make sure your furniture will fit.

Show up at the house as early as possible. This can be tricky if you have a lot of homes on your list. Put them in order of importance. The agent will have more time to give you and answer your questions if you show up at your top pick early. If you can’t make the open house until closing time. You run the risk of the lights being off and brochures packed. Rather than run the risk of not getting a thorough look and your questions answered, call the agent to schedule a private showing.

Guest registration. During most open houses, you’ll be asked to sign in, provide an address and telephone number. This helps the seller’s agent in follow up and is a courtesy to keep track of everyone who is walking through the home. If you don’t like the house, ask if they know of another listing in the area. Chances are they do.

Small courtesies. Don’t open closed doors without asking the agent first. There may be a family pet ready to run out. For privacy purposes, don’t open drawers or medicine cabinets in occupied homes. And not a good idea to blatantly criticize the house while in it, the person next to you may love what you hate. Finally, use a restroom facility before you arrive or after you leave the property.

Questions to ask

There are lots of factors to discover. Pull out your “must have” list and ask away! It’s more than buying a home, it’s also buying into a lifestyle. Ask the agent about the local flavor. If a biker, hiker, or walker, ask about trails and paths. If you love art, ask about local art walks or fairs. Have them specifically point out points of interest so you can stop by while in the area.

Make a point to ask questions about the home too. Have they received any offers to date? Is the seller motivated? If the price dropped, why? How many days has the property been on the market? How much are utilities and taxes? Is there a homeowners’ association? Are there any specials assessments or extra fees?

Courtesy is required here. If the open house is busy and other prospective buyers are milling about they may want a moment to ask a key question or two; keep your questions to a minimum. You can always follow up with the agent later.

Questions to answer

Be prepared to answer questions about what home features you really want, your price range, bedroom requirements, and whether you already own a home. The showing agent can save you some time if the home doesn’t meet your minimum requirements and may be able to direct you to another open house in the neighborhood.

This is probably not the time to talk about your income, how your search is going, and when you need to move. Disclosing this information to an agent you have not retained to represent you, may put you in a disadvantaged negotiating position.

Neighborhood Research

Visit local shops and restaurants. Grab a cup of coffee at the neighborhood coffee or sandwich shop. Keep your blood sugar up or get a boost of caffeine, maybe you’ll meet some of the neighbors.

Check out the Neighborhood. Does it look friendly? Are there restaurants, shops, parks within walking distance? Does it appear to be dog-friendly? What’s the traffic like on weekends and weekdays? If you have kids, look for other children they might play with. If you are empty nesters, see what they may have available for cultural adult activities.

Enjoy the experience of exploring as you take these important steps to find a home and writing the contract to begin a new chapter in your life.

We’re here to take you on private showings any day of the week as well as sit down for a cup of coffee to discuss the details and help you through the process of buying and selling a home. We love what we do and are passionate about helping you achieve your home ownership goals.

Honey Don’t Forget the Kids

Kid’s rule when it comes to home buying decisions.

55% of U.S. homebuyers with a child under the age of 18 at the time of the home purchase said their child’s opinion played a factor in their home buying decision. With millennial parents between the ages of 18 and 36 children have an even greater influence; ranking 74% according to a new Harris Poll survey commissioned by SunTrust Mortgage, a division of SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI).

What do kids want? Top requests by pint-sized buyers include their own bedrooms (57%), large backyards (34%), neighborhood parks and activities (25%), schools (24%), lots of friend prospects (24%); and of course, swimming pools (21%).

“As a parent of two kids, I know from experience that including children in the home buying process is not only fun for the whole family, but also educational for our home buyers of tomorrow,” said Todd Chamberlain, head of Mortgage Banking at SunTrust.

Renters ranked in with children under the age of 18. According to the survey, 83% of these renters said the opinion of their children will be a factor in future home purchases.

Renters for a Weekend or a While: What’s the Best Use of Your Investment Property?

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Renters for a Weekend or a While: What’s the Best Use of Your Investment Property?


The residential rental market is now the fastest-growing segment of the housing market. In the United States, the demand for single-family rentals, defined as either detached homes or townhouses, has risen 30 percent in the past three years.And in Canada, rental units now account for nearly one-third of the country’s homes, with particular demand for multi-family units, including apartments and condominiums.2

At the same time, the short-term, or vacation, rental market is also booming. The popularity of online marketplaces like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO has helped the short-term rental market become one of the fastest-growing segments in the travel industry.3

Now, more than ever, there is an abundance of opportunity for real estate investors. But which path is best: leasing your property to a long-term tenant, or renting your property to travelers on a short-term basis?

In this post, I examine the differences between the two investment strategies and the benefits and limitations of each category. 

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The Top 5 Reasons

Before I delve into the differences between long-term and short-term rentals, let’s answer the question: “Why invest in a rental property at all?”

There are five key reasons investors choose to real estate over other investment vehicles:

  1. Appreciation

Appreciation is the increase in your property’s value over time. And history has proven that over an extended period, the cost of real estate continues to rise. Recessions may still occur, but in the vast majority of markets, the value of real estate does grow over the long term.

  1. Cash Flow

One of the key benefits of investing in real estate is the ability to generate steady cash flow. Rental income can be used to pay the mortgage and taxes on your investment property, as well as regular maintenance and repairs. If appropriately priced in a solid rental market, there may even be a little extra cash each month to help with your living expenses or to grow your savings.

Even if you only take in enough rent to cover your expenses, a rental property purchase will pay for itself over time. As you pay down the mortgage every month with your rental income, your equity will continue to increase until you own the property free and clear … leaving you with residual cash flow for years to come.

  1. Hedge Against Inflation

Inflation is the rate at which the general cost of goods and services rises. That means as inflation rises, the money you have sitting in a savings account will buy less tomorrow than it will today. On the other hand, the price of real estate typically matches (or often exceeds) the rate of inflation. To hedge or guard yourself against inflation, real estate can be a smart investment choice.

  1. Leverage

Leverage is the use of borrowed capital to increase the potential return of an investment. You can put a relatively small amount down on a property, finance the rest of the investment with a mortgage, and then profit on the entire combined value.

  1. Tax Benefits

Don’t overlook the tax benefits that can come with a real estate investment, as well. From deductions to depreciation to exemptions, there are many ways a real estate investment can save you money on taxes. Consult a tax professional to discuss your particular circumstances.

These are just a few of the many perks of investing in real estate.  In the next section, I’ll explore the differences between long-term and short-term rentals.

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When most people think of owning a rental property, they imagine buying a home and renting it out to tenants to use as their primary residence. Traditionally, investors would use their rental property to generate an additional stream of income while benefiting from the property’s long-term appreciation in value.

In fact, that steady and predictable monthly cash flow is one of the key advantages of owning a long-term rental. And as an owner, you don’t usually have to worry about paying the utility bills or furnishing the property—both of which are typically covered by the tenant. Add to this the fact that traditional tenants translate into less time and effort spent on day-to-day property management, and long-term rentals are an attractive option for many investors.

However, there are also limitations to long-term rentals, which often come down to your ability to control the property. Perhaps the most obvious one is that you do not get to use the home or closely monitor its upkeep (this is different from a short-term rental, which we’ll share in the next section).

In addition, while you can usually generate a steady, predictable income stream with a long-term rental, you are limited in your ability to adjust rent prices based on increasing or seasonal demand. Therefore, you may end up with a lower overall return on your investment. In fact, according to data from Mashvisor, in the 10 hottest real estate markets, short-term rentals produced “significantly higher rental income” than long-term rentals.4 

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Short-term rentals are often referred to as vacation rentals, as more and more travelers enjoy the benefits of staying in a home while on vacation. In fact, according to Wells Fargo, vacation rentals are steadily growing and predicted to account for 21% of the worldwide accommodations market by 2020.5

Investing in a short-term rental or funding your second-home purchase by renting it out can offer many benefits. If you purchase an investment property in a top travel destination or vacation spot, you can expect steady demand from travelers while taking advantage of any non-rented periods to enjoy the home yourself. In addition to greater control over how your property is used, you can also adjust your rental price around peak travel demand to maximize your returns.

But short-term rentals also have risks and drawbacks that may dissuade some investors. They require greater day-to-day property management, and owners are typically responsible for furnishing the property, upkeep, and utilities.

And while rental revenue can be higher, it can also be less predictable based on seasonal or consumer travel trends. For example, a lack of snowfall during ski season could mean fewer bookings and lower rental revenue that year.

In addition, laws and limitations on short-term rentals can vary by region. And in some areas, the regulations are in flux as residents and government officials adapt to a new surge in short-term rentals. So make sure you understand any existing or proposed restrictions on rentals in the area where you want to invest.

Urban centers or suburban communities may be more resistant to short-term renters, thus more likely to pass future limitations on use. To lower your risk, you may want to consider properties in resort communities that are accustomed to travelers. We can help you assess the current regulations on short-term rentals in our area. Or if you’re interested in investing in another market, we can refer you to a local agent who can help. 

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Now that you understand these two real estate investment options, how do you pick the right one for you? It’s helpful to start by clarifying your investment goals.

If your goal is to generate steady, predictable income with less time and effort spent on property management, then a long-term rental may be your best option. Also, if you prefer a less-risky investment with more reliable (but possibly lower) returns, then you may be more comfortable with a long-term rental.

On the other hand, if your goal is to purchase a vacation or second home that you’ll use, and you want to defray some (or all) of the expense, then a short-term rental may be a good option for you. Similarly, if you’re open to taking on more risk and revenue volatility for the possibility of greater investment returns, then a short-term rental may better suit your spirit as an investor.

But sometimes the decision isn’t always so clear-cut. If your goal is to purchase a future retirement home now to hedge against inflation, rising real estate prices, and interest rates, then both long- and short-term rentals could be suitable options. In this case, you’ll want to consider other factors like location, market demand, property type, and your risk tolerance. 


If you’re looking to make a real estate investment—whether it’s a primary residence, investment property, vacation home, or future retirement home—give me a call. I’ll help you determine the best course of action and share insights and resources to help you make an informed decision. And if your plans include buying outside of the Twin Cities area, I have an extensive regional and national network of top agents and I can refer you to a local agent who knows the local market. Contact me to schedule a free consultation!

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.



  1. USA Today –
  2. The Globe and Mail –
  3. Phocuswright –
  4. com –
  5. Turnkey Vacation Rentals –