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Ann Arbor Real Estate and Area Info Blog

Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team


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The Biggest Land Owners in America

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

The 10 Biggest Landowners in America

There are many ways the ultrarich invest their money. One is real estate.

Every year, The Land Report documents the biggest landowners in America. To make it into the top 10 for the most recent year, you'd have to own nearly 1 million acres. The No. 1 person on the list, John Malone, who built a fortune in the media business, owns a reported 2.2 million acres.

Six of the individuals and families on the list own sprawling ranches in places like Wyoming, New Mexico, and Texas.

Just last year, Stan Kroenke -- owner of the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets, and other sports franchises -- bought the 510,527-acre Waggoner Ranch, which spans six Texas counties. With his other holdings, that's enough to rank Kroenke fourth on the latest Land Report.

A bar chart showing the 10 biggest landowners in America


Other notable ranch owners on the list include Malone, Ted Turner, the Singleton family, and the King Ranch heirs. 

The rest of the 10 biggest landowners in the United States are owners of timberland. The Emmerson family is the nation's second-largest lumber producer, controlling nearly 2 million acres of timberland in California and Washington. The Reed and Irving families are similarly major timber producers.

Together, these landowners control an estimated 14 million acres. That's meaningfully larger than the state of Maryland (7.9 million acres), but slightly short of West Virginia (15.5 million acres).

Tom Stachler is a licensed real estate Broker and builder living and working in the Ann Arbor Michigan area.  Please check out the Links on this website for further information about Ann Arbor and Saline Michigan Real Estate information, videos and listings.  

Preparing Your Home for Winter

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Q: What can homeowners do to ensure their Home is well prepared and more energy-efficient throughout the coming months?

A: Fall officially begins this month and Tom Stachler with Real Estate One in Ann Arbor and Saline Michigan areas offers the following home maintenance tips.

Gutters and Downspouts - Roof
Inspect the roof covering and flashing from the ground for indicators of wear, like missing, loose or cracked shingles or tiles. Water can seep into these areas and cause damage if left unattended. Contact a professional roofer for repair or a replacement evaluation if water intrusion is occurring or suspected.

Gutters and downspouts are critical in protecting your home from water damage. Fall is one of the most important times to check your gutters and downspouts to ensure they’re not rusted, rotted, disconnected or full of debris.

Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney, fireplace and vents at least once per year, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. A do-it-yourself inspection for creosote buildup can be performed by wearing goggles and a basic disposable dust mask. Take a flashlight and your fireplace poker and scratch the black surface above the damper (smoke chamber). If the groove you scratch is paper thin, no cleaning is needed. If it’s 1/8 inch thick, schedule a cleaning. If you have 1/4 inch of creosote, don’t use the fireplace until it’s cleaned—a chimney fire could occur at any time.

Ensure that all supply and return vents aren’t blocked or closed, as this causes the return duct to pull in cold air from cracks in windows and doors. In addition, the warm air that’s still trying to push up through closed vents will either start to leak out ducts that aren’t sealed properly, or be forced back down into your basement or floor cavities.HVAC
Get your furnace cleaned and serviced by a professional before the heating season begins. Also, clean or replace your furnace filters as recommended throughout the year. Dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency.

Trees and Bushes
Trimming trees and bushes provides many advantages to your home’s exterior. Trim so that all leaves and limbs are at least three feet away from your house. This prevents them from hitting the sides of your house when it’s windy, decreasing the amount of leaves and debris that will end up in your gutters.

Windows and Doors
Cracks in the seals around windows and doors allow heated or cooled air to escape, which can cost you money. Caulking and weatherstripping can wear over time, so check the seals around your windows and doors. One of the easiest ways to diagnose this issue is to close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. If the flame flickers at any spot, you likely have an air leak. Replace or add caulk or weatherstripping where needed.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

Proper Things to Run in the Dishwasher

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
Move over, dinner plates! The dishwasher can actually be used to wash a myriad of strange items. Below is a good rundown. A quick bit of common sense: if suds-ing up something super greasy or grimy (like an old hubcap), don’t mix your eatery into the same load.

Rubber Boots and Flip Flops – Want to wash your favorite rubber footwear? Pop them in the dishwasher upside down.

Kitchen Sponges – Toss them into the silverware tray for a speedy sanitize!

Grill Rack – Is your grill rack covered in grease? Place it on the top tray and set the heat to high to get it gleaming Keys – Ever wonder how filthy your house keys get over the years? So long as none of your keys have electric starters, pop the whole ring into the silverware tray.

Hubcaps – Crazy, but true! Just add a cup of white vinegar to your detergent and hit start.

Tools – Get your favorite tools gleaming with a quick cycle in the washer.Nail Clippers – Pop these in the silverware tray and they’re good as new.

Contact Lens Cases – The dishwasher is a great place to sanitize these every couple weeks or so.

Proper Things to Run in the Dishwasher​

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

Little Caesars Arena - Detroit Michigan Information

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team


Have you been to the new arena and checked out Detroit's new young team in the very active District Detroit area?  No?  .....

We are giving a FREE pair of tickets away in a drawing. Sign up for your chance to Win by clicking here and in the remarks section put "Red Wings Rock". 

Little Caesars Arena in The District Detroit serves as the Home of the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and countless other sports, entertainment and community events. The District Detroit is 50 blocks of thriving businesses, parks, restaurants, bars and event destinations. Click here to learn more about The District Detroit.More Information about the new Arena

Rich with the tradition of the Original Six™ Detroit Red Wings and Detroit's incredible musical heritage, the arena also features state-of-the-art technology, fan amenities, and active community spaces like the Via, the BELFOR Training Center, and the Chevrolet Plaza.  Please click here for more information about this venue.  


Tom Stachler is a licensed real estate Broker and builder living and working in the Ann Arbor Michigan area.  Please check out the Links on this website for further information about Ann Arbor and Saline Michigan Real Estate information, videos and listings.  

Costa Rica Casa: Mel Gibson’s Jungle Vacation Home

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Costa Rica Casa: Mel Gibson’s Jungle Vacation Home


Costa Rica was one of the first getaway outposts for semi-expat Americans, thanks to its year-round tropical weather. It's consistently rated by the Happy Planet Index as the happiest country in the world with safe streets, cheap cost of living, beautiful parks, dozens of sandy beaches, excellent medical care, a thriving economy and only a hop, skip and a jump to the United States. Thanks to these many perks, about 70,000 Americans have moved to Costa Rica and thousands more have purchased vacation homes. One of those is actor Mel Gibson.

While scouting locations for his film “Apocalypto” in 2006, Gibson bought an entire 403-acre beachfront jungle on the Nicoya Peninsula. His estate includes three homes separated by an extensive canopy of trees stretching across the entire property. Each of the two smaller single-story homes has two bedrooms, vaulted ceilings, kitchens, verandas, air conditioning, and their own swimming pools and BBQ areas. Casa Barrigona has its own poolside cottage and Casa Dorada has a loft, giving each additional sleeping space.

The main two-story hacienda-style residence, Casa Guanacaste, overlooks the long, wide beach and has seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a large courtyard and pool and multiple terraces affording both ocean and jungle views.  All three villas are built with Costa Rican wood, with Spanish and Italian tiles and red-barrel tile roofs that create an extra-tropical ambiance.

Located on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, beach lovers will find white sand beaches along with nearby steep cliffs. Animal lovers will certainly experience their fair share of howler monkeys, and perhaps get a glimpse of an ocelot or sea turtle right on the estate's private beach.

Listed for: $29.75 million





Costa Rica

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

Staging the Most Important Rooms in Your Listing

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
Staging every room in a for-sale listing may sound ideal; however, it may be a daunting task to both the seller and the listing agent. If your seller can’t afford to invest in staging the entire Home, it’s OK to scale down—after all, it’s better to do a good job on a few rooms than to do nothing at all. When deciding which rooms to cut and which to keep, remember that not every room is created equally and that half the battle is decluttering.

Why Stage?
Because it’s primarily individuals rather than companies who buy homes, it’s important to appeal to the largest number and widest range of buyers possible. Even the most basic DIY staging (like having your client pack up their extensive porcelain doll collection or take down their numerous hunting trophies) can help buyers without those specific interests envision themselves in the home.

When buyers can picture themselves in the home, they’re willing to pay more. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Staging reported that 29 percent of seller’s agents reported a 1 to 5 percent increase in offer amount compared to similar homes. A further 21 percent reported a 6 to 10 percent increase in their offer amount. Staging also decreases the amount of time a listing will spend on the market. Photos of a nicely staged home make people more willing to walk through a property they found online.

Living RoomWhat to Stage
You don’t have to stage every room in a house to get good results. For example, it’s far more important to stage the living room than the laundry room. Here are the most popular rooms to stage, according to the 2017 Profile of Home Staging, as well as some ideas of what you can do in each:

Remove the oversized couch and other bulky furniture and substitute smaller, narrower options. This will make the whole room feel larger. Also, remove all personal photos and enough books, movies and knickknacks to give the shelves extra room, emphasizing how the home offers plenty of “room to grow.”

Pack up all the small appliances and do-dads cluttering up the counter, from the coffee pot to the can opener. Clear off the top of the fridge and get rid of all coupons, magnets, personal bulletins, etc. Once all the useful but non-decorative clutter is gone, consider adding a fruit bowl or flowers to add some color to the kitchen. It’s also important to declutter inside the cabinets to make them seem more spacious when interested buyers start poking around.

Dining RoomMaster Bedroom
Again, start by decluttering. The only things on the floor should be furniture and maybe a rug. Most bedrooms don’t need much more than the bed, dresser, end tables, and a mirror. Make sure the surfaces of the furniture are cleared of all personal items. Remove any laundry baskets, TVs, and items visible under the bed. Dress the end tables up with a nice decorative lamp and make sure the bed is neatly and attractively made. If the master bedroom is particularly large, you can also add a comfy sitting area.

Dress the table up with a nice centerpiece and some simple but attractive place settings, but don’t make the table feel cluttered. If the table sits six, lay out four places. If it sits four, lay out two. This will ensure the table looks spacious and inviting. Remove any extra chairs that are gathered around the room, and make sure there is plenty of light, as well.

If you want the bathroom to appeal to buyers, make sure it is spotless. Everything from the tub to the walls should look fresh and clean. You should also remove any medications from the bathroom and put out fresh rugs and towels. Adding a few decorative candles or jars to the shelves will help create a more spa-like environment, as well.

Child’s Bedroom Outside
The first thing a buyer sees when they visit your listing is the outside. Make sure the lawn is freshly mown, the bushes are trimmed, the driveway is clear of leaves and weeds, the windows are clean, and you have an inviting threshold.

Start by packing up anything that will identify who the child in the room is, such as school memorabilia, sports jerseys, trophies or photos. Most of the toys and all electronics devices should go, as well. Try to emphasize the child’s bedroom as a creative space. A desk or table can help with this. Keep the center of the room clear to emphasize plenty of play space, and use a gender-neutral color scheme to help buyers imagine their children in the room.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 


8 Best Upgrades to Personalize Your New Home

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

8 Best Upgrades to Personalize Your New Home


Custom white toned master bathroom with jacuzzi tubBefore you move into your new house, you may want to make upgrades. These add value to your investment, improve your home's function and allow you to express your personality. Plus, making upgrades before you move in reduces inconvenience later. Consider the following upgrades to make your new house feel like home.

1. Enhance the Kitchen

Quality kitchen upgrades ensure this room meets your family's needs, and they add value to your home. Consider several changes that improve the quality and function of your kitchen.

  • Get high-end, energy or water saving appliances.
  • Lower the bar counter from 42 to 36 inches so it's more accessible.
  • Install quartz countertops.
  • Add lighting under the counters.
  • Choose matching fixtures and hardware.

Worried about staying on budget while renovating the most expensive room in the house? It costs the average homeowner between $12,500 and $33,500 for a full kitchen remodel.

2. Redo the Flooring

It's definitely easier and more affordable to upgrade a house's flooring before you arrange all the furniture. Consider stain-resistant carpeting in high-traffic areas, or install hardwood in connected rooms for a sleek appearance.

3. Update the Bathroom

Spruce up a bathroom already in the house or add an additional bathroom before your move. When renovating a bathroom, consider your current and future needs, such as your family size or entertaining habits. Several possible changes include:

  • Install a double sink.
  • Install a walk-in shower or jacuzzi tub.
  • Choose decorative shower, floor, or wall tile.
  • Customize the lighting or fixtures.
  • Hang extra shelves for storage.

4. Bring in New Cabinetry

Before you unpack all your possessions, install new cabinetry that helps you get and stay organized. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets have a big effect on your home's function and appearance. Choose cabinet finishes and designs that match your personal style and color scheme. You can hang the old cabinets in the garage or attic to expand your storage space.

5. Update Electrical Wiring

Older houses may have outdated wiring or you may find that you need additional outlets in certain rooms. Walk through your house, visualize how you will use each room and plan any electrical wiring updates. With help from an electrician, you can add outlets in the living room to accommodate your gaming systems or wire the den ceiling for a new fan.

6. Wire for Internet Service

Improve security and speed in your new home with wired internet throughout the house. It allows you to install and use a variety of electronics, including security cameras, in any room. Full-house wired internet also prevents outside users and hackers from accessing your network and potentially harming your family.

7. Add Lots of Storage

Getting extra storage throughout your house before you move helps you completely unpack and organize your home the way you want. The price of installing a new closet is about $1,800,  Choose from a variety of cabinet types, shelving, and overhead storage designs and materials that match your needs and preferences.

8. Transform the Laundry Room

While you probably plan to use your laundry room primarily for laundry, you may wish to transform it into a functioning pantry, drop zone or mud room. Rearrange the washing machine and dryer hookup to make room for pantry storage. Consider adding a bench and hooks for shoes, backpacks and umbrellas, too.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

14 Times Pop Culture Predicted Future Technology

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

14 Times Pop Culture Predicted Future Technology

When the film-makers of yesteryear contemplated the future, it didn’t look like a very happy place—and not much has changed. You don’t need to look much further than the dystopian dramas that Hollywood is so fond of producing. But while sci-fi movies rarely predicted the nature of society, they did happen to predict a few items of futuristic technology. Did you know that 3D printing, the Roomba and Siri were all predicted by movies and television shows decades before they existed?

So the next time you scoff at a Hollywood blockbuster for being too far-fetched, take a minute to ask yourself if your grandfather would have believed that he would see a flying car in his lifetime. In the meantime, check out this visual guide which explores the 14 times pop culture accurately predicted the future!

Movies and TV Shows that Predicted Future Technology

Fiction and pop culture make bold predictions about the future all the time.

More often than not, these predictions are wildly inaccurate and become the source of mockery. However, every so often these fictional portrayals eventually become reality.

Whether it’s a film such as Minority Report, which accurately predicted multiple technologies we have today or a movie like Escape From New York that got many things horribly wrong; our culture has a fascination with trying to guess what the future will look like.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most famous fictional predictions of the future that turned out to be right. These predictions include such technological advancements as:

  • Space travel.
  • Smartwatches.
  • Virtual assistants.
  • Augmented reality.
  • 3D printing.
  • Autonomous vehicles.
  • And more!

Many of these technologies likely seemed far-fetched during the time of filming, and probably drew the ire of the public at the time. But those who predicted them are the ones laughing now as these technologies actually came to fruition.

Check out the fun infographic below to learn more about the times pop culture predicted future technology.


Looking back at these predictions is both entertaining and inspiring. In many of these instances, what once seemed like outlandish fantasy has become a normal part of our everyday lives. For example, business VoIP was likely dismissed as science-fiction at one point in time.

These innovations are a testament to the human imagination and drive to make that imagination a reality.

As artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to develop, there’s no telling what possibilities the future may hold.

Makes you wonder what movies will be right about in 20 years!


Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

Mortgage Rates Descend to Year Low

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team


Mortgage rates descended to a new year low this week, with the 30-year, fixed rate averaging 3.82 percent, down from 3.86 percent the week prior, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The 15-year, fixed rate averaged 3.12 percent, down from 3.16 percent the week prior, while the 5-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate averaged 3.14 percent, down from 3.17 percent the week prior.

“The 10-year Treasury yield fell to a new 2017-low [this week],” says Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “In response, the 30-year mortgage rate dropped four basis points to 3.82 percent, reaching a new year-to-date low for the second consecutive week. However, recent releases of positive economic data could halt the downward trend of mortgage rates.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers.  

Save Money by Converting from Oil to Gas Heating

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Save Money by Converting from Oil to Gas Heating: Here’s How


gasIf you have an aging, oil-fired heating system and are dreading the day you’ll need to replace or service your heating system, you may want to explore converting from oil to gas; heating your Home with a cleaner, more fuel-efficient system will shrink your energy bill in the process.

Converting from oil to gas is an increasingly common move, especially in the Northeast, where more homes are heated with oil than in the rest of the country. Here are some of the many factors to consider when deciding which heating source is best for your home:

Converting from Oil to Gas Heat Saves Money

The numbers don’t lie. Heating your home with natural gas is cheaper than heating with oil. But comparing the current market price for the various fuel sources won’t tell the whole story; after all, oil and propane are measured in gallons and gas is measured in therms.

To accurately examine the cost of fuels based on the heat content they generate, the U.S. Energy Information Administration recommends using this formula—cost per million British thermal units (BTU). In states like New Hampshire, Michigan and Massachusetts, natural gas is the clear winner, according to this comparison provided by the N.H. Office of Energy and Planning, which details the average price per million BTU for gas, oil, propane and other fuel sources.

Natural Gas – $9.88 per million BTU

Fuel Oil – $19.85 per million BTU

Propane – $39.64 per million BTU

Average residential energy bills are much lower for households heating with natural gas, according to this 2016-2017 winter heating bill data from the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

RelatedLooking to Save? Here’s How to Find the Best HVAC Company

Estimated Average Residential Winter Heating Bills for 2016-17

Natural Gas – $728

Fuel Oil – $2,171

Propane – $2,176

Homeowners who heat with gas are also less vulnerable to price swings. This is at least partly because a greater percentage of natural gas used in the U.S. is produced domestically, while we remain much more dependent on petroleum-producing nations for our oil supply.

Switching from oil to gas can also produce savings because gas furnace systems generally cost less than their oil-burning counterparts. Because oil burns hotter, the furnace must be built from more robust materials to withstand the heat.

Heating with Gas is Cleaner Than Heating with Oil

Taking steps to reduce your impact on the environment is an increasingly important consideration for many people. There are also financial savings to be realized by converting to a cleaner-burning system.

For example, because heating with oil produces more carbon buildup than gas, having the system regularly cleaned is essential for safety as well as efficiency reasons. Studies have shown that a buildup of 1/16 of an inch of soot can decrease overall system efficiency by 7-8 percent.

The need to regularly replace oil filters also adds to annual maintenance costs, which can be as much as two to three times higher than for gas heating systems.

Does Your Home Have Access to Natural Gas?

To reap the potential benefits of switching from oil to natural gas heat, you’ll obviously need to have access to the supply. Is there a nearby gas main? If not, are there plans to expand into your area?

If you do have access, you’ll need to contact your natural gas distributor to discuss running a line from the nearest gas main to your home and installing a meter to measure your usage for billing purposes. If not, contacting your area’s natural gas provider will enable you to determine if there are plans to expand access to your location.

The expenses involved in getting your home connected can vary. The utility may perform this function at little or no cost for homes that are relatively close to the nearest pipeline (after all, they want your business). However, if you live at the end of a long driveway or in an area that might present excavation challenges, the charge to get you hooked up can be fairly significant.

If you do decide to convert from oil to gas, remember that the utility isn’t going to dig into frozen ground to run a line to your house in the middle of winter; plus, they may be booked up in the fall, so spring and summer can be a better time to schedule that work.

For homes that do not currently enjoy access to natural gas, propane can be another option that burns cleaner than oil. However, because it is a more expensive fuel source (cost per million BTU) than both gas and oil, saving money on your energy bill is not generally a motivation for making the switch to propane.

One More Good Reason for Converting to Natural Gas

One additional quality-of-life consideration is that heating with oil requires you to have one or more unwieldy oil tanks, usually located in your basement. These tanks deteriorate over time, potentially causing a safety hazard. Plus, they produce odor and grime.

Many homeowners find that getting rid of those bulky fuel tanks creates an opportunity to make better use of your basement space for tool shops, laundry areas or family playrooms.

When you’re considering making the switch from heating with oil to heating with gas, start by getting some expert advice from a trusted home heating contractor who can conduct a thorough analysis of your home’s existing system and thermal design, and then have an in-depth conversation about your objectives and options.

Tom Stachler is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Builder serving the Michigan Real Estate Market and specializing in the Ann Arbor, Saline and surround areas for residential and commercial real estate.  Check out the All MLS Links above for property for sale or contact us at 734-996-0000 when convenient.  

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 390




Contact Information

Photo of Tom Stachler Real Estate
Tom Stachler
Real Estate One, Group One Realty Team
555 Briarwood Circle
Ann Arbor MI 48108
Direct: (734) 996-0000
Fax: (734) 661-0102