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Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Best Home Warranties on the Market


The following is a guest post by Amanda Turner, a freelance writer. Amanda will be contributing articles about various real estate topics here from time to time. Please welcome Amanda. 

Home Sweet Home Warranties: The Best Home Warranties on the Market



Home warranties are becoming more and more popular as safe and convenient options to take care of your home’s appliance maintenance that can occur through regular wear and tear. Typically, you have to go through the research of finding a reputable contractor for each individual issue that happens in your home, negotiate the price, and then make sure they do a quality job. With home warranties, you get the peace of mind of being able to simply pay a flat fee to have all of your home appliances taken care of by contractors that have already been vetted through the home warranty program, It’s as easy as submitting a ticket! Home warranties have become so popular that even real estate agents and home sellers have used home warranties as bargaining ships in landing a sale. Now, which home warranty do you choose? To get started on your research to find the best home warranty that’s right for you, take a look at these top picks.

American Home Shield

If you are looking for a great home warranty that allows you to fully customize exactly what you need to be covered in your warranty, then American Home Shield is a perfect option. You can choose from a selection of home warranty plans, plus have the option to build your own coverage. Be wary, however, one of the biggest drawbacks with American Home Shield is the list of negative reviews that lean towards a misunderstanding of coverage.

Select Home Warranty

The great thing about Select Home Warranty is the fact that they have no claim limits and their “per item” benefit limit is capped at $500 and $2,000 for each system. The drawbacks? You need to call them to get any type of pricing, which always leaves a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, and their contract has some pretty confusing verbiage. So be sure to get clarity on that.

Choice Home Warranty

Choice Home Warranty offers some of the most comprehensive home warranty plans on the market, even in their Basic Plans. What’s more? You can see how satisfied their customers are by the long list of positive customer reviews.

ACF Home Club

AFC Home Club is the perfect option for affordable coverage, and the great thing is they clearly list their home warranty plans and their cost. There is no variation depending on where you live! Take their reviews with a grain of salt, however, because even though they are mostly positive, it seems like their reviews are carefully monitored and not available everywhere.

First American

At only $28 a month, First American is by far the most affordable home warranty coverage you can buy. They stick to the basics, only covering appliances. So this is a great option if the bones of your home are in great shape, but you want to make sure your appliances are taken care of if something happens. While the service that First American is great, there are a couple of drawbacks. First, keep in mind that they do not serve in every state in the U.S. Second, keep in mind that their coverage is very minimal, only sticking to appliances, and they do not offer flexibility in their plans.


Thursday, December 13, 2018




Guest post - 

Updating Your Older Home For The 21st Century written by Cassandra Ali
Just because your home was designed and built prior to the rise of mobile technology doesn't mean you have to live like a Luddite. It is entirely possible to keep the classic charm of your home while integrating modern systems into it. You simply need to prioritize what you want, take great care in avoiding compromising the period aesthetic of your home, and work with professionals who are willing to hope you modernize your older home.

Find subtle ways to integrate modern systems 

For some people, concerns about needing to install monitors and similar devices can keep them from updating their homes to include the newest technology. Thankfully, you no longer need a console to control your smart blinds, modern kitchen devices, thermostat, and other forms of home technology. Almost any new technology, from your garage door opener to your fridge, can work with apps that you control on a tablet or smartphone. That way, you can reduce the presence of screens in your home that may clash with the classic look of the architecture and design. If app control isn't an option, it may be possible to install control panels that you can hide when not in use or that look like older devices and technology. Subtle displays that meld into your home's d├ęcor will fit better than overt displays of modern technology.

Focus on efficiency, use, and design

Just because you can purchase a fridge that integrates with Amazon and reorders eggs when you use the last one doesn't mean you need to. Instead of jumping on every new technological advance, focus on the ones that matter to you. Whether it's an adjustable, programmable thermostat with a high-efficiency HVAC system, an updated and eco-friendly fireplace, or a home entertainment system that allows you to hear your music in any room, there are technological advances that you want and others you don't care for in your home. 

Prioritize your updates on the systems and functions you want or need in your home. Eschew those that will complicate the appearance of your home without contributing to the ease of your life. Unless you're selling your house, there's no need to upgrade appliances you already use and enjoy.
Modern technology in classic style in older homes can work together brilliantly. You simply need to take the time to plan carefully before upgrading any components of your home. Everything from household lighting to your appliances may benefit from an upgrade. Provided that you do adequate research, it is possible to get the upgrades you want without destroying the look or feel of your home


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tread lightly on history…



What one can and cannot do to a historic house in remodeling projects is sometimes at odds with what one should and should not do.  Some cities, towns and villages have local ordinances that specify what can and cannot be done to the historic homes within their jurisdictions.  Some of those local ordinances are very restrictive, especially concerning the exterior appearance of the house. Those ordinances may exercise control over things like additions or modifications to the exterior of the house, even extending down to the colors that may be used on the house. In most instances there are less, if any, ordinances governing what may be done to interior of the houses. That lack of governmental oversight, combined with the need to make the old homes livable in modern terms, has resulted in many of these “historic homes” having little or no historic character on the inside.

The constant tradeoffs between preserving the historic character of the house as it was built and accommodating modern living are decisions that all historic homeowners face. There are just many things in a historic home that don’t work in modern times or that are at a minimum very inconvenient to live with. When they were built things like insulation in the walls, thermal windows, heavy duty electrical systems, efficient and adequate heating and cooling systems and even adequate plumbing were not yet thought of or invented.

Most turn of the century (think early 1900’s and before) were built with hollow, balloon walls, with plaster on the interior,  and single pane windows. Some may have had a little insulation in the attics, but even that was not required or common. None of them had 2-pane thermal windows, although some may have had storm windows added later.

The electrical systems of the day used knob and tube central conduits with the few circuits that were built in at the time dropping off that backbone. There may have been one central ceiling light in a room and perhaps a couple of plugs – certainly, none were designed to accommodate the many electrical devices that we now find in homes, especially not in the kitchens of historic homes.

Many early homes were designed with the fireplaces as their heating system, with things like steam radiators coming into the picture in the mid to late-1800’s. Many were later converted to hot water systems and in the later 1800’s and early 1900’s the forced air systems came into play. The concept of air conditioning was not in sight when most were built and the ones with steam or hot water heating didn’t have any ductwork built into them. 

There seemed to be no reason why anyone would need more than one bathroom in the house when they were built and no better place than to put it on the second floor, out of sight of the public areas on the main level. The whole plumbing system of those old houses were probably built with galvanized pipe that is a health hazard that was not understood at the time.

Other things that made sense back in the day included using good oak for flooring on the main level and going to broad-board pine on the upper levels. Small kitchens were the norm, since they were used for cooking only and some of that may have been out doors anyway. Tub baths were the standard for baths, so showers and showering were oft an afterthought and not well accommodated by most bathroom setups.  

Most historic homes have had major system upgrades done to them over time in the electrical and plumbing areas, as well as in their heating and cooling systems; however, many of the shortcomings that came with their original construction may still be there. What is the current homeowner to do? How do you balance the trade-offs between the demands of modern living and preserving the historic character of the house?

As with most things, cost is the biggest factor in making these decisions. It is possible to recreate the historic details that one might want to preserve while using modern materials and technology.  There are companies that make modern thermal windows that look like the original old windows. Some even reused the old, wavy glass that came out of old homes to do that. They cost lot more than your standard replacement windows, but they preserve the “look” of the house. It is also possible to re-floor an old house with modern flooring that looks like the old oak plank flooring that was there, but it too is more expensive and just throwing in some modern flooring or putting wall-to-wall carpeting over the old, worn floors. Switching out to modern bathroom fixtures is probably more of a change; however, there are great reproductions of the old claw-foot tubs available, if you are inclined to put up with their inherent limitations in accommodating a shower. That historically accurate looking ring shower curtain and holder is never going to be as good as a modern shower stall.

What about major remodeling, like blowing out walls to open up the “cut-up” feeling of the old homes? Let’s face it, if you make that decision, you are going to lose a major historical component of the house. It really won’t be a historic home anymore, at least in that area. Some add-on are easier to accommodate and integrate that others. Expanding the kitchen is one. Adding a first floor bathroom is another. So long as the addition itself fits in with the surrounding architecture and the interior uses finishes that match the rest of the house, those will probably work and add value to the house. Just avoid the urge to blow out the wall between the kitchen and dining room and opening that up to the living room to create a great room affect. You will have just killed the historic ambiance of three rooms at once.

I guess the best advice when considering or planning updates to historic homes is that contained in the post title. Even if there are no local ordinances to restrain you, understand that a good part of the value in your historic home is its historic ambiance and doing things to it that remove or destroy that ambiance detracts from its value, rather than adding to it. If you absolutely cannot stand to live with the quirks and character of your historic home, sell it and move to a modern home. Maybe the next owner will be more willing to accommodate it’s character rather than destroy it.

Tread lightly on history

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We are already in the aftershock recession...

The real estate market in Southeastern Michigan has slowed as rising prices and lack of available inventory sent many would-be buyers to the sidelines as the year winds down. See the attached report from our broker, Dan Elsea -

http://reofamilymarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Bro_HousingReport_Q3_2018_REO_Dynamic.pdf

There is an inclination to just attribute this slowdown to a normal seasonal pattern; however, I believe that we actually seeing the leading edge of the next recession. There are other subtle indicators in the retail markets and elsewhere that reinforce my "gut feel" that what we are seeing right now is the quiet before the storm of another recessionary period.

The Wall Street gang would like us to believe that the recent volubility and drop in the market is just an "adjustment"; but I think it is more of a pullback by people made cautious by the last recession. Many people are starting to hunker down in anticipation of a few years of the pain of this recession.

I would compare this recession to an aftershock following a major earthquake. We had the major quake in the so-called "Great Recession" of  December 2007 to June 2009. At the end of that period there was an attempt to "return to normal", fueled by a Wall Street Rally that was based largely on great expectations. Stocks rallied and there was an expectation that wages would soon follow them up. That did not happen. Employment when up, but the jobs were mainly part time and lower paying that before the Great Recession.

In fact, the Great Recession was the final death knell of the Middle Class working man - the union workers who, with overtime, could afford the bigger houses and the toys that went with the Middle Class lifestyle. Wall Street used the downturn and the changes in political power that occurred in Washington at about the same time to emasculate the unions and decimate the working Middle Class. The rich got richer at the upper end and more of the middle class was pushed down to join the poor at the bottom.

So this "aftershock" recession is actually the a reflection of the reality of people's lives finally matching their circumstances, rather than being fueled by the credit-driven optimism that Wall Street was pushing. The Wall Street band was playing "Happy Days are Here Again" and encouraging people to spend, spend, spend with credit in the hope that wages would rise and allow that credit to be paid off. Didn't happen! Not going to happen. The realization that a raise is not forthcoming is settling in and the valves of the credit-fueled recovery are being cranked shut.

Add to that the likely mid-term shift in the political environment in Washington and you have the classic ingredients for a recession. The good news is that the credit overhang in the general population (especially in real estate) is not quite as bad this time and the measures taken after the Great Recession have strengthened our financial system and positioned it better to ride this one out without bailouts.

That recession also took America down a notch in the order of things in the world. At the same time China was on the rise and India was awakening as an economic power. America is still the only "great power"; just maybe not as great in relative terms as before. That s another new reality that most have not yet figured out how to deal with for the future.

So, remember that you read it here. We have already entered the "aftershock recession" of 2018. How long this will last and how deep the "adjustment" will be are yet to be determined. I don't think it will be as long or as bad as the Great Recession; which I believe should be renamed "The Great Reset", because it did cause a wholesale reset of the economic and social structure of America.

I'll see you on the other side.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Granny's Attic Sale this weekend

The annual Granny's Attic Sale is this weekend at the Milford Historical Museum at 124 E. Commerce St in Milford, Michigan. This is always a favorite with folks coming to downtown Milford for the annual Sidewalk Sale that will also be going on. I think our sale has actually been going on longer than the sidewalk sale.

There are always treasures to be found at the Granny's Attic Sale because we not only get donations from Historical Society members and local residents, but we have tings that were left over from estate sales throughout the year. I've posted a few picture on our Milford Historical Society Web site. Be sure to click on Granny's Attic Sale to be taken to our News and Information page.

The sale is both Friday and Saturday from 9 AM until 4 PM on the grounds of the Museum. Get there early for the best selection. Carolyn and I have several Middle Eastern brass and copper trays like the one pictured on the web site that we brought back from our two year stay in Iran in the late 60's (before the revolution).

There are several nice pieces of furniture and lots of unique and unusual items. Maybe I'll see you there.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Open House this Sunday - July 1, 2018

I will be holding open the wonderful new listing that I wrote about (see post below this one) on Cooley Lake Road this Sunday, July 1 from 1 -3 PM. Come on out and see what luxurious county living is all about. This house won't disappoint.

To get a preview, watch the video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF-GykJpXMg

I hope I see you there. I'll have some fresh cookies.

Friday, June 29, 2018

New listing is the perfect home...

4910 Cooley Lake Road., Commerce Twp, MI  49382

If you have always dreamed of a home for entertaining, this is the home for you.

If you have always dreamed of a home on a paved road with car storage space for 4 or more cars and the ceiling height to put in a lift, this is the home for you.

If you have a large family or maybe a blended family with in-laws living with you, this is the hie for you.

If you have always wanted a pool and spa, this is the home for you.

If you are an avid gardener and have always wants a greenhouse, this is the home for you.

If you've dreamed about a home with a large master suite and great master bathroom, this is the home for you.

See all of these features and more when you watch the video below -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF-GykJpXMg

This is the home for you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Ultimate Home Seller To-Do Checklist

Here's a link to a guest article with advice for would-be home sellers. - The Ultimate Home Selelr To-Do List.. Enjoy and learn about the things you might need to do to get your home ready for the market.

Norm

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bathroom remodeling - how to save some money

It's remodeling season, when [people stop just thinking about doing those remodeling projects and actually start doing them. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most often remodeled rooms in most people's homes (not considering just painting any other room to be remodeling) and most costly rooms to remodel.

Here's an infographic that has some good advice on how to cut the cost of doing a bathroom remodel -  http://luxurycommercialbath.com/blog/how-to-save-money-on-your-bathroom-remodel-infographic/

Friday, February 23, 2018

Norm's Real Estate Tips - Title Insurance

Great interview video with Renee Copper of Title Connect on what Title Insurance is and why you need it. Watch now at -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0a-nIJFs78

Monday, January 29, 2018

Guest post on HVAC tips - Know when to replace your furnace

I've partnered with the folks at PickHVAC.com to provide some useful information about your home HVAC system. Their first post in on my Milford Team Web site at - http://www.themilfordteam.com/hvac_posts.html

I hope to bring you a whole series of informational posts from these HVAC experts, so stay tuned in.