Author Archives: James Silver

12 Tasks to Tackle This Fall

Cooler weather is coming — prep your home for its arrival while it’s still nice outside.

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The kids are trudging off to school again with their backpacks, and leaves are falling from the trees.

Yep, it’s official: Fall is here. Now’s the time to finish up any pre-winter maintenance projects and get your home and yard ready.

Take care of these 12 tasks to get your home clean, warm and cozy for the cool days to come.

Exterior prep

1. Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt

Depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.

2. Clean out the gutters

No one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on.

While you’re up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar and repair it by tuck-pointing, if needed.

3. Turn off outdoor plumbing

Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come.

4. Start composting

If you don’t already have compost bins, now’s the time to make or get some. All those accumulated autumn leaves will bring you gardening gold next summer!

5. Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools

It may not yet be time to put them away, but go ahead and clean your outdoor furniture and gardening tools so they’re ready for storage over the winter.

6. Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers

Plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you’ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.


Interior prep

7. Prepare your furnace for winter duty

If you didn’t already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At a minimum, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before you start using it on a daily basis.

8. Clean the fireplace and chimney

Clean out the fireplace, inspect the flue, and ensure the doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now’s also the time to stock up on firewood!

9. Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside

Inspect your windows and doors. Check weatherstripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway and closing the door. The paper should not slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weatherstripping isn’t doing its job.

Also, now’s the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings, if needed.

10. Light the way

Bring as much light into your home as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight.

Add lighting to darker spaces with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.

11. Create a mudroom

Even if you don’t have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now’s a good time to think about organizing and stocking an entryway that will serve as a “mudroom” area for cold and wet weather.

Put down an indoor-outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack or storage bench for your entryway.

12. Home safety check

Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for daylight saving time.

Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so you’re ready for any winter power outages.

Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you can enjoy the season in your warm, comfortable home.

Originally published September 2016.


About the author


See Jane Drill has been teaching and empowering homeowners to take care of their own homes since 2013. With easy-to-follow tutorials and detailed explanations on a wide variety of home repairs, they encourage everyone, including beginners, to become a DIY-er and save money! They produce a new DIY video every week. Follow See Jane Drill on YouTube and Facebook.

5 Myths (and 5 Truths) About Selling Your Home

True or false: All real estate advice is good advice. (Hint: It depends.)

Everyone has advice about the real estate market, but not all of that unsolicited information is true. So when it comes time to list your home, you’ll need to separate fact from fiction.

Below we’ve identified the top five real estate myths — and debunked them so you can hop on the fast track to selling your property.

1. I need to redo my kitchen and bathroom before selling
Truth: While kitchens and bathrooms can increase the value of a home, you won’t get a large return on investment if you do a major renovation just before selling.

Minor renovations, on the other hand, may help you sell your home for a higher price. New countertops or new appliances may be just the kind of bait you need to reel in a buyer. Check out comparable listings in your neighborhood, and see what work you need to do to compete in the market.

2. My home’s exterior isn’t as important as the interior
Truth: Home buyers often make snap judgments based simply on a home’s exterior, so curb appeal is very important.

“A lot of buyers search online or drive by properties before they even enlist my services,” says Bic DeCaro, a real estate agent at Westgate Realty Group in Falls Church, Virginia. “If the yard is cluttered or the driveway is all broken up, there’s a chance they won’t ever enter the house — they’ll just keep driving.”

The good news is that it doesn’t cost a bundle to improve your home’s exterior. Start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and clearing away any clutter. Then, for less than $50, you could put up new house numbers, paint the front door, plant some flowers or install a new, more stylish porch light.

3. If my house is clean, I don’t need to stage it
Truth: Tidy is a good first step, but professional home stagers have raised the bar. Tossing dirty laundry in the closet and sweeping the front steps just aren’t enough anymore.

Stagers make homes appeal to a broad range of tastes. They can skillfully identify ways to highlight your home’s best features and compensate for its shortcomings. For example, they might recommend removing blinds from a window with a great view or replacing a double bed with a twin to make a bedroom look bigger.

Of course, you don’t have to hire a professional stager. But if you don’t, be ready to use some of their tactics to get your home ready for sale — especially if staging is a trend where you live. An unstaged house will pale when compared to others on the market.

4. Granite and stainless steel appliances are old news
Truth: The majority of home shoppers still want granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Quartz, marble and concrete counters also have wide appeal.

“Most shoppers just want to steer away from anything that looks dated,” says Dru Bloomfield, a real estate agent with Platinum Living Realty in Scottsdale, Arizona. “When you a design a space, you need to decide if you’re doing it for yourself or for resale potential.”

She suggests that if you’re not planning to move anytime soon, decorate how you’d like. But if you’re planning to put your home on the market within the next couple of years, stick to elements with mass appeal.

“I recently sold a house where the kitchen had been remodeled 12 years ago, and everybody thought it had just been done because the owners had chosen timeless elements: dark maple cabinets, granite counters and stainless steel appliances.”

5. Home shoppers can ignore paint colors they don’t like
Truth: Moving is a lot of work, and while many home buyers realize they could take on the task of painting walls, they simply don’t want to.

That’s why one of the most important things you can do to update your home is apply a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors also help a property stand out in online photographs, which is where most potential buyers will get their first impression of your property.

Hiring a professional to paint the interior of a 2,000-square-foot house will cost about $3,000 to $6,000, depending on labor costs in your region. You could buy the paint and do the job yourself for $300 to $500. Either way, if a fresh coat of paint helps your home stand out in a crowded market, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.



Mary was a newspaper writer/editor for 13 years and worked as spokesperson for a Fortune 500 Company before becoming a freelance writer. She has authored more than two dozen books for young readers and writes for a handful of regional home and garden magazines.

A Right-Sized Home for You: A Guide for Seniors

There’s a lot to think about when looking for the right home, including factors like price, location and square footage. If you’re a senior, there are other things to take into consideration. You need to think about your lifestyle, health, and mobility—things that can have a significant effect on how you’ll live in the years to come. Downsizing may be the goal of many older adults these days, but sometimes circumstances dictate a different approach.

Getting around

Seniors often experience diminished mobility as they grow older. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to think ahead and look for a home with an open floor plan and plenty of clearance in halls (at least 36 inches across) and doorways (at least 32 inches wide). A walker or wheelchair may not be necessary for you, but there’s nothing wrong with making sure you have adequate space in which to move around. Emphasize single-level homes in your search so that stairs don’t become an obstacle in years to come, and look for level transitions between rooms.

Number of rooms

If you expect family members will be staying with you from time to time, make sure there are enough bedrooms to accommodate everyone, along with a rec room for the grandkids. But be careful not to take on too much square footage so that cleaning and maintenance don’t become burdensome. A finished basement or a guest suite over the garage may be an ideal solution for your needs.

VA loans

Are you or your partner a veteran? If so, a VA loan can give you the financial advantage you need to get the home you want without paying a lot for private mortgage insurance or a large down payment. And you can get better rates through the VA than you could expect from a conventional or FHA loan agreement. Always do plenty of research on the best mortgage option for your situation before signing a loan agreement.

Financing options

There are no restrictions on home financing options for seniors who qualify and can show proof of a regular and sufficient income. Whether you opt for a conventional or reverse mortgage, think carefully about the length of your mortgage loan term. A standard 30-year agreement may be too long for some senior homeowners.

If you’re concerned about your ability to qualify for a favorable mortgage loan, bear in mind that some of the largest mortgage providers allow seniors to use “imputed income” from retirement funds, IRAs and other retirement assets in order to qualify for a loan. In other words, seniors can use the balances in these accounts to supplement earnings (on paper) without taking out any actual funds.

Financial advice

A financial advisor can make it easier to find the best deal for your situation. If hiring an advisor doesn’t fit your budget, there are many free credit and debt management services and programs. Credit counseling is a good place to start. A recent Ohio State University study found that people who received credit counseling reduced debt by nearly $6,000 in the first year and a half.

Senior real estate specialists

Look for a real estate agent who has experience meeting the special needs of senior homebuyers. Senior real estate specialists have additional training working with older adults, and many have earned an SRES designation. The National Association of Realtors can help put you in touch with a senior real estate specialist.

Be careful to right-size your home and mortgage agreement. They should suit your current and anticipated lifestyle needs. Finding a home that meets your physical requirements without overextending your budget ensures you’ve set yourself up comfortably for the next chapter.

Courtesy of

3 Reasons to Live in a New Home Before Renovating

New house? Hold that sledgehammer! You might want to hold off until you’ve settled in.

In today’s market, many buyers forego fixer-uppers for move-in ready homes. As a result, significant opportunities abound in prime locations as homes that need work linger on the market.

In competitive markets, savvy consumers gravitate toward these homes that nobody else wants. Why? They can customize the home to their requirements and build equity along the way.

That said, I often recommend that buyers live in a new home for a while before undertaking any major remodeling or pricey home improvements. I’m not talking about lighting or plumbing repairs necessary to make the house habitable. Rather, I’m referring to discretionary remodeling, expansions and other improvement projects.

Here are three good reasons to at least consider holding off on the big home improvement projects until you’ve had some time to settle in.

1. Living in the home can change your mind

You may have grand visions for what you’d like to do to a home, based on its condition and your priorities at the time you buy it. But until you’re actually living there, it’s difficult to know exactly how you’ll use the house, what will work for you and what won’t.

Ultimately, it’s this day-to-day experience that will inform your home improvement decisions, instead of early notions of how you want your everyday experience to be.

2. After buying a home, you deserve a break

Buying a home is a massive project, an enormous change in your life and a shock to the system — if not your finances. I’ve seen buyers jump through hoops, spending months on end looking for a home. In some situations, it becomes a part-time job.

A home renovation can be yet another big and stressful project, what with all the decisions to make and contractors to deal with.

My recommendation: Take a break from the stress of buying your new home.

3. You need time to plan

Any renovation, no matter how small, should be designed with care. That means speaking to multiple architects, contractors or designers to get their take on your ideas and options — a time-consuming process.

An hour with a well-qualified contractor can uncover opportunities where you least expected them. For instance, even though it may be an added cost now, moving the laundry machines from the garage to the top floor during a larger renovation may save you time and money down the road.

Conversely, hiring architects and contractors while under the constraints of an escrow period is likely to cause problems for you later.

Some buyers want to jump into renovations because they don’t want to live in a construction zone or pay rent and a mortgage at the same time. While this may make some economic sense upfront, it can still cause costly problems later.

Often, buyers who said they don’t want a home that requires any work end up buying a home that needs at least some. It’s the natural evolution of the buying process. Rarely does someone end up buying the home they started off thinking they wanted.

While you should be open to doing work on a home, don’t feel stressed about getting it all done at once. Live as-is for six months to a year. Take the home for a test drive and see how it runs. You may be surprised at how your perspective and priorities change once you settle in.


About the author


Brendon DeSimone is the author of Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling. A 15-year veteran of the residential real estate industry and a nationally recognized real estate expert, Brendon has completed hundreds of transactions totaling more than $250M. His expert advice is often sought out by reporters and journalists in both local and national press. Brendon is a regularly featured guest on major television networks and programs including CNBC, FOX News, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, ABC’s 20/20 and HGTV. Brendon is the manager of the Bedford and Pound Ridge offices of Houlihan Lawrence, the leading real estate brokerage north of New York City.

3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)

Moving doesn’t have to be a waking nightmare. Here’s how to avoid a move from … you know where.

Moving may top the list of stressful experiences that can feel like a bad dream — one that can easily come true unless you take precautionary measures.

Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process, but the most common moving nightmares fall into three categories. Here’s how they typically play out — and how to avoid them.

Bad movers

Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.

  • The movers are late or don’t show up at all. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. Regardless of the excuses you receive, the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time.
  • The movers are careless or inexperienced. If your movers arrive late or lack the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience.
  • The movers are scam artists. In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated, based on alleged extra services. They may also hold your belongings hostage until you pay an extra “fee” as ransom or steal your more expensive belongings and discard the rest.

The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

Traffic problems

Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.

  • Traffic jams. The moving truck is delayed, and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.
  • Traffic accidents. If there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions. It’s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.
  • Breakdown. If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you’ll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What’s more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.
  • Parking issues. The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from your home’s entrance. In such cases, you’ll not only lose valuable time but also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.

Of course, there’s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.

Poor organization

Moving involves a lot of loose ends, and even the smallest oversight can result in a disastrous move.

  • Packing chaos. You realize you’ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers, and some items can’t be loaded onto the moving truck. Or maybe you don’t label the boxes properly. Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes result in lost time and money.
  • Furniture troubles. If your large furniture doesn’t fit through the doors, you may have to leave treasured pieces behind or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and delay your move.
  • Paperwork problems. If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won’t have electricity, gas and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won’t have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver’s license and car registration in time, you’ll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.
  • Overspending. If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget or pack all your items without sorting them out first, you’ll end up paying much more than you expected.
  • Safety issues. Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.

The only way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing any of these all-too-common moving ordeals.

About the author MOVING.TIPS

Moving.Tips is a resource center that provides a complete solution for people on the move. From the pre-move tips, through the packing and moving day advice, to the post-move helpful information, it has it all. Moreover, budgeting your move and finding a mover can be child’s play when you have an ally like Moving.Tips.

The Monarch Club Towers Over Downtown Detroit With Panoramic Views

The tallest public bar in the city gives a bird’s-eye view of Comerica Park and other iconic buildings

 atop the restored Metropolitan Building in downtown, the Monarch Club rooftop bar opened on Saturday, May 11, with sweeping views of the Detroit skyline. Located on the 13th story of the neo-Gothic property that was once home to the city’s jewelers and watchmakers, it’s the tallest rooftop bar available to the public in the area. With three outdoor terraces, it’s an impressive vantage point to look out at the city’s iconic architecture.

Visitors can access the Monarch Club by wandering into the refurbished lobby of the Element Hotel and hopping on an elevator. The doors open onto the main landing of the 150-seat bar, which is filled in by plush, red banquette seating and a white marble-topped bar. A pair of double doors demarcate additional lounges for regular bar service or private events with access to two of the building’s three patio spaces. The rooms were once concrete boxes used primarily by technicians servicing machinery at the top of the building. No they feature finished blue walls, leather armchairs, and views of the city through arched windows.

The third patio area, which will remain open to the public regardless of private events, overlooks the north side of the building towards Woodward Avenue and Comerica Park. Each of the terraces is outfitted with tables and fire pits for relaxing and enjoying the scenery — maybe even some baseball game fireworks — during nice weather.

Chef Jared Bobkin, a Hell’s Kitchen alum who previously ran food services for the Oakland Hills Country Club, is overseeing day-to-day operations at the Monarch Club alongside beverage director Mike Eisenberg of Grey Ghost, Detroit Optimist Society, and Roast. The pair together with Monarch Club’s operator Azul Hospitality and the development team at the Roxbury Group came up with the bar menu. Both Bobkin and Eisenberg agree that the primary focus is on the drinks.

Zia’s Meatballs at the Monarch Club.

Eisenberg says he tried to develop a list of classic drinks like French 75s and gin martinis and break them up with more original drinks like the Sasha Says with El Jimador Reposado, maple syrup, and egg. There’s also a handful of beers and wine — especially the effervescent varieties that Eisenberg says pair well with patio drinking. Drinks range from around $8 up to $22. Bobkin’s snacks are designed to complement the cocktails with options like barbecue brisket sliders and Zia’s meatballs, a traditional Italian meatball topped with a crispy disc of parmesan cheese.

Photographer Michelle Gerard visited the Monarch Club ahead of its public opening when the spring weather cooperated to check out the lounges and most importantly those stunning rooftop patios. Take a tour of the bar in the link below:

Why That Personal Offer Letter Doesn’t Always Work

Home buyers seeking an edge during offers are increasingly writing personal offer letters directly to the seller to try to win over their hearts. But a new article at® calls into question whether this popular strategy works. In some cases, it may backfire, some agents say.

A person writing a letter with a pen on a desk

Helloquence – Unsplash

Many real estate professionals still point to the advantages of an offer letter, however. For one, buyers can share their personal story in the hopes of connecting with the seller. Tracey Hampson, a real estate professional with Realty One Group Success in Valencia, Calif., told® that she has a listing with three offers and favors the offer from a couple who shared that they’re having their first child and want to raise him in a safe neighborhood. She says she can relate, since she and her husband were in the same situation when they first moved into the home.

The personal letter can also be used to address any questions or concerns the seller may have about the buyer’s ability to finance the home. The buyer can use the letter to offer reassurance of their intention to close and get the purchase financed.

But some real estate agents say that personal offer letters can jeopardize a sale.

“There’s a belief that a letter tips the scales to the seller when negotiating the price and the inspection,” Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty in New York City told®. “The seller may interpret the letter as the buyers ‘showing their hand,’ and it could weaken their position to negotiate.”

Other real estate agents say they’re advising their clients not to write one for the fear that it could lead to discrimination. “Most letters consist of the buyers explaining their lives to add a touch of emotion to their otherwise dry contact, which is why it has worked so long,” April Macowicz, a broker associate and team lead at the MAC Group RE in San Diego, told®. However, buyers may reveal personal information that could even prejudice the sellers against them.

“The Fair Housing Act states that buyers and sellers cannot discriminate on the basis of race or color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or familial status,” Macowicz notes. But this doesn’t mean that discrimination won’t occur, she notes.

How to Cope When You’re Relocating After a Loss

When you go through a major loss, you may not be prepared for how grief changes your everyday life. Adapting to these changes can be challenging, and part of that challenge is figuring out how to move forward. For some people, moving to a new home and possibly even a new city is the best way to move forward in life.

There are many good reasons for starting fresh in a new home after loss. Your old home may contain too many memories that are holding you back from creating a new life. Maybe this loss has led you to seek a career change or to explore a new hobby. Or you may want to be closer to loved ones who can support you right now. It’s absolutely essential to avoid too much isolation, which may mean moving to have your support system nearby. According to Tiny Buddha, giving yourself permission to move forward is one of the best ways to find yourself through grief.

Moving Basics

Whatever your reasons are for moving, all of these factors will impact what you’re looking for in a home and the overall logistics of the process.

  • Careful Planning – Since you’re already going through such a major life change, you’ll want to be extra careful about planning so that it’s easier to keep up with all the moving “to-dos.” Even if you’re a moving pro, critical steps can be overlooked if you don’t have a plan. Part of this should include a moving timeline for what needs to be done at each stage. Pay special attention to the critical period of about four weeks before your moving day. This is when you should have all packing supplies and a plan for packing and labeling strategically. Be sure to keep essential documents organized too. It’s common for your mind to be in a fog when you’re grieving, which is why staying organized is especially important.
  • Finding the Right Home – Buying a new home is always a big decision, and you want to find the one that suits your needs for this next stage in life. Go into your home search with an open mind, and consider what those needs are. For example, if you’ve lost your spouse, you may not need as much space and can save money by downsizing. You also want to think about the features you want in your new home. If you’re starting a new career or hobby, maybe you need space for a home office. Whatever you’re looking for, the most important thing is to communicate with your real estate agent about your situation so they can help guide you in the right direction.

Special Considerations

Even though starting fresh in your new home is a good change, moving can be stressful for anyone, especially for someone who is still grieving. It helps to be prepared for some of the tasks and emotions you will face.

  • Sorting Belongings – If packing includes sorting through your loved one’s belongings, be prepared to take enough time for this process. You don’t want to make any rushed decisions and get rid of something you end up regretting. If you aren’t ready to sort through everything, it’s okay to store some things until later. When you do tackle it, the blog Marty’s Musings recommends asking for help so it isn’t overwhelming. They also suggest setting achievable goals, and then giving yourself a reward for what you accomplish.
  • Managing Emotions – While you’re busy handling the logistics of moving, don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Grief is a time when you need self-care the most, which means meeting your physical needs like resting and eating a nourishing diet, as well as emotional care like engaging in positive grief activities.

Some people throw themselves into the nitty gritty of decision-making, while others feel stuck and have a hard time with decisions. Either way, it’s important to realize that moving forward doesn’t mean leaving grief or your loved one’s memory behind. Making this move may not be easy, but it is a positive step in the right direction.

Image by Tibor Janosi Mozes from Pixabay

Written By: Lucille Rosetti

14 Million Households Plan to Give Their Homes to Family

Move over, fine china — homes just might be the hottest new heirloom.

Americans are moving less than ever, according to Zillow’s analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. Just 4.2 percent of American homeowners moved between 2015 and 2016 — which is almost half the 7.7 percent rate reported in 1990.

According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, 86 percent of all American homeowners — defined as those who have owned their home for more than a year — have no plans to move in the next three years. Why? Those planning to stay in their homes list love of their home (58 percent) and neighborhood (45 percent) as the top reasons they don’t plan to sell.

A smaller, but still sizable, percentage of homeowners list a very generous reason for staying. Almost one-quarter (23 percent), a total of nearly 14 million households, say they’re not moving because they plan to pass down their home to a family member.

This is good news for younger generations, who may be struggling to afford to buy their own home or living with their parents while saving up to buy one. In fact, over the past two decades, there’s been a marked increase in the number of young Americans aged 18-34 living with their parents — 33.4 percent in 2016, compared to 27 percent in the late ’70s.

This increase isn’t driven by younger generations who may be putting off moving out — it’s driven by older millennials. Since 2012, the percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds living with a parent has actually started to decline, while the share of 26- to 34-year-olds living with parents continues to increase. If their parent(s) are among the households planning to pass their home down, maybe they won’t ever have to fly the coop.

Family financial gifts play a big role in helping people buy homes, above and beyond those generous families giving their entire home away. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, 14 percent of all home buyers who purchased a home in the past 12 months used a gift from a family member or friend to help pay for the down payment. That number jumps to 20 percent for all millennial (18- to 37-year-old) home buyers.

Top featured photo from Pexels.

About the author


Prior to joining Zillow, Whitney ran content strategy for Hired, communications for CreativeLive, reality TV gossip reporting for Wetpaint, and acquisitions for Sasquatch Books.

Maximizing Space in a Small Kitchen

Small kitchens can be a challenge. Use these tips to set up a kitchen that lets your inner chef shine.

Many homes come with kitchens that are less than ideal. The lighting can be terrible, the appliances old, the floors grimy … and counter space? Well, that’s a nice idea.

Get the most out of the kitchen space you do have with these tips.

Make room

You can create extra space, even when it seems impossible. Over-the-sink covers, cutting boards and colanders help increase your workspace.

Burner covers for your stove and a large cutting board or tray can create extra counter space when you’re entertaining and want to set out snacks (provided you don’t need to use your stove).

Fold-up tables (attached to the wall or stand-alone) offer extra space when needed. If there’s room, a butcher block or island instantly create food prep or storage space.

Another simple way to create space? Pare down your belongings — especially on the counters — and only keep the necessities.

Go vertical

A wall above the stove may be perfectly suited for a pegboard where you can hang pots, pans and utensils. Magnetic knife and spice racks can fit into small wall spaces under cabinets or above sinks.

Refrigerators can serve as storage space for magnetic spice racks, towels, pot holders, or dry-erase boards or chalkboards, which are both useful and decorative. And over-the-cabinet hooks and towel racks add extra storage quickly and easily.

Use bookcases

Small bookcases are a kitchen’s best friend. They are perfectly narrow, they come in many heights and they offer tons of storage options.

In addition to keeping cookbooks tidy, they can also hold pots, pans, dishes, food items, storage containers and baskets.

Add hooks to the side of your bookshelf to store aprons or other lightweight tools.

Add art and color

Art and color are fast ways to personalize a small kitchen. Color-coordinated kitchen accessories become art in and of themselves, and a simple color palette lets the eye rest in a small space.

When using every inch of space, don’t forget to leave room for a few decorative elements. Hang attractive tea towels with pushpins for a practical splash of color. And fresh flowers on a shelf or table instantly brighten the space and add life.

If you have a windowsill, an herb garden is the perfect way to use the space and bring vibrancy. You might even consider installing a vertical garden.

Cover eyesores

Every older kitchen has at least one eyesore: an ancient microwave, a scratched-up refrigerator or a hideous vinyl floor. If you’re not ready to put down the cash for a remodel, cover these as best you can.

Cover exposed sink pipes with curtains attached to the bottom of the sink (bonus: extra storage space). Store your old microwave or replace it with a newer, more attractive version.

As for scratched or just plain ugly refrigerators and appliances, adhesive vinyl can create a like-new look in a matter of minutes.

Cover unsightly floors with kitchen-friendly mats that also make standing at the counter easier on your feet, and refresh old cupboards and drawers with plain or patterned drawer liners.

Upgrade lighting

Lighting in any kitchen is hard to get right. Many fixtures make the space feel dated, and upgrading bulbs and cleaning light covers will make a difference right away. Consider installing adhesive under-cabinet lighting to better illuminate your workspace.

If you can direct your lighting, such as track lighting, make sure it points to the kitchen triangle — that well-worn path from the stove to the sink to the refrigerator.

If overhead lighting is scarce, consider using table lamps and even floor lamps. A floor lamp in a kitchen might seem odd at first, but put it at the end of a counter or tucked behind a table, and you’ll be grateful for the extra light.



Natalie Wise, M.A., covers real estate and celebrity real estate for Zillow.