Real Estate Information

Ann Arbor Real Estate and Area Info Blog

Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 378

Adding Secret Spaces to your Home

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

Adding Secret Space to your Home

For decades, characters like Batman and James Bond have popularized hidden doors and clandestine passageways. Many homeowners have followed suit, adding secret areas to store valuables, provide a safe place in an emergency or create a fun playroom. Could a hidden feature make you feel safer, secure your possessions better or add to your home's appeal?

Conceal a Room With Books
Sometimes the best part of a bookcase isn't what's on the shelves but what's behind it. These large structures create the perfect veil for a secret door to an undisclosed room. An architect can help you work with the space you have and figure out the details, like which direction a door should swing.

Secure Valuables in an Inconspicuous Safe
A safe is an excellent option for storing and protecting assets like jewelry, passports and cash. But if leaving it in plain sight feels too vulnerable, try concealing it entirely. A wall cutout behind a picture frame, cabinet or mirror makes for an ideal hideaway.

Make a Stealthy Escape
Want an inconspicuous escape route? Consider installing an underground passage with a secret switch to activate it. For example, chess pieces moved into a specific position or a particular book pulled from a shelf can reveal the opening. You can also choose from biometric authentication such as a fingerprint or eye scanner.

You don't have to be a superhero or a secret service agent to enjoy hidden spaces in your home. No matter what you have to hide, a secret room or passage can keep it concealed.

Tom Stachler is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Builder working in the Saline and Ann Arbor Areas communities in Michigan.  Check out the Links above to search for real estate for sale or new listings and other realty related information .  Please contact us today for further assistance at 734-996-0000

Dogs and Cats Face Many Summer Dangers

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
Many summer activities we all enjoy can be dangerous for our furry friends, largely due to the intense heat. Here are some things to watch out for to keep our pets that live with us and are an important part of our families safe:

Dangers Outdoors

Heat Stroke or Heat Stress – Leaving your pet outside or in the car for too long can lead to heat stroke or stress. Tara Lynn, communications manager at the SPCA of Wake County, N.C., says the temperature inside a car can get to the point of extreme danger in less than 15 minutes.

“Cats will breathe with their mouth open, which is not good. They just basically can’t cool off. They’ll be unsettled or they’ll pace a lot. Bulldogs and dogs with smushed heads, smaller dogs or the ones that are really, really, really active, like a young Lab, are more prone to having it,” she says. “Their faces around their eyes will get red; their tongues will get red, as well. Their gums will be bright red. Sometimes they’ll vomit or have diarrhea. When those are happening, we are in dire straits.”Page Wages, a veterinarian at Care First Animal Hospital in North Carolina, says she’s seen two dogs die of heat stroke, both Labrador Retrievers. She said dogs will pant and not be able to stop, which usually they would after eight or so minutes.

Lynn recommends making sure your pets always have access to plenty of cool, fresh water.

“A good general rule is if you put the back of your hand down on the sidewalk or the street and leave it there for about five seconds, if it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely going to be too hot for them,” Lynn says. Hot Pavement or Hot Sand – Hot pavement or hot sand can burn the pads of your pets’ feet, which is very painful.

Sunburn – “Some pets, particularly dogs that have particularly thin hair or some dogs who don’t have much hair at all on their bellies, they can potentially get sunburned. So talking to your vet about some safe options for sunscreen is important,” Lynn says.

Snake Bites – Snakes come out at dusk and dawn, and have an increased presence at the beginning and end of the summer or after a big rain, Wages says.Wages says Neutrogena pediatric sunscreen is safe to use on dogs.

“Stay away from high grass areas around where there’s water. Those are usually where those guys will lurk and wait,” she says. “Just generally, the snakes put up a bit of a smell, so dogs and cats will be interested and might go investigate and get bit. If the dog or cat seems to be interested in something in the grass or bush area, try and get them away as quick as you can. If they do get bit, they need to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as they can.”

Bee Stings – Some dogs and cats, just like people, are allergic to bee stings. Their faces will swell up. Wages recommends Benadryl for bee stings, but some pets may need something stronger, like steroids.

Fire Ant Bites – Wages says pets will get a rash or a very swollen area around the bites, which are often concentrated around legs and feet.

Hot Spots – Found on dogs, these are irritated, red lesions, similar to eczema in people. “They usually start with a bug bite they chewed on or an area they got wet from playing with another dog that just stayed moist. Bacteria will grow on any moist skin, and they’ll get infections,” Wages says.

Cookouts or Parties

Burns From Grills – “I think one of the main things is a hot grill, and dogs smelling whatever’s cooking on the grill and getting really close to the grill, and depending on what kind of grill, if they get under it, they run the risk of being burned or hot grease dropping on them and burning them,” Lynn says.

Certain Foods and Plants – Raisins, grapes, garlic, onions and chocolate are toxic to dogs, and lilies are toxic to cats. Lynn points out that raw meat can upset the stomachs of pets that aren’t accustomed to such a diet, so keep a close eye on what they eat.

Alcoholic Beverages – Dogs and cats can get drunk just like people, but they shouldn’t. Do not give beer or liquor (or marijuana, in any form) to your pets.

In the Water

Ear Infections – Ear infections are more common in the summer months, when dogs are swimming more. “Cleaning their ears routinely (with an appropriate ear cleaner) will help prevent them from getting an infection,” Wages says.

Limber Tail – This is when a dog has a sprained tail. It happens when dogs are playing in the surf at the beach and get turned over the wrong way, or if they’ve had a very active day.

“When a dog’s tail is sprained, they’re injured but they don’t know how to act. They’ll sit there and shake sometimes, but they don’t want to stand up because when they stand up, something hurts, but they don’t know what, so they sit down,” Wages says. “It’s really sad. Or, they’ll walk along and it’s just kind of limp behind them instead of wagging.”

With treatment such as pain medication, a muscle relaxer and sometimes laser therapy, dogs are usually better in three or four days.

Drowning – While most dogs know how to swim, it’s a good idea to put a life jacket on your dog, Wages says.

“Labs and breeds that are always in the water are fine, unless they’re going to be swimming for a while, in which case I’d put a life jacket on them. If you’re out on a boat in the ocean, I would put a life jacket on them, because if something happens to the boat and the boat goes over, the dog’s going to get tired of swimming,” she says. “Any older dog or dog that has an injury of some sort—had an amputation or one of their legs doesn’t work as well—I’d put them in a life jacket regardless. I’d highly recommend life jackets.”


Tom Stachler is a licensed Broker and Builder in the State of Michigan specializing in residential and commercial real estate in the Ann Arbor, Saline and surrounding MI markets.  Check out the new and MLS listings link above or use the helpful recommended Links info for info on other real estate matters.  

Dive In Movie Ideas

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

Have a Pool?  

Put it to use with Dive In Movie Parties for Adults or Kids.  Watch the video below for more Ideas.  

Tom Stachler is a Licensed Real Estate Broker and Builder in the Ann Arbor and Saline Michigan area markets.  Check out the helpful Links above for more resources or information.  

6 Ways to Keep Your Appliances and HVAC Running Strong

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



Most people enjoy summertime, but it can take a toll on Home appliances. With kids out of school, families typically use them more frequently and the heat and humidity forces them to work harder and longer. Extreme heat, summer storms and power outages can also damage appliances. All these factors can spell trouble if you’re not performing routine maintenance.

Here are six expert tips to keep your appliances and home running strong this summer:

  1. Clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils. Condenser coils help the refrigerator stay cool by releasing heat from the compressor. Dirty coils result in the refrigerator having to work harder to cool, which can result in expensive cooling system repairs.

Clean the condenser coils at least twice a year, removing dirt, pet hair, food and more. If you have an older fridge, the coils might be painted black and mounted on the back. Newer refrigerators often have the condenser coils on the bottom. It’s easy to clean them with a vacuum and a coil brush, available through

  1. Clean the gasket with a mild cleaner and then check the seal integrity with a solution of soapy water (just like you would do with an inflatable mattress). You can also use the dollar bill approach—close a dollar bill in the door so that it is only halfway in the fridge. If your gasket isn’t tight enough, it won’t hold the bill firmly in place. If the dollar bill falls out or slides down, look at scheduling a professional to replace the gasket.Clean and inspect your refrigerator’s door gaskets. A leaky door gasket, the rubber strip that runs alongside the door to form an air-tight seal with the fridge, can result in your refrigerator trying to cool the entire kitchen rather than the food and drinks inside.
  1. Change the air filters in your HVAC system. Homeowners should regularly change their air filters, as dirty ones can lead to increased energy bills and damage systems. Experts recommend changing air filters every three months at minimum and monthly during the summer if they are dirty.
  1. Clear away debris and clean HVAC condenser coils. Condenser coils release the heat from the AC unit to the outside. Dirty coils can reduce the unit’s ability to cool your home, forcing you to run it longer and use more energy.

To clean, you’ll need a garden hose, a spray nozzle and a water source. Before you begin, disconnect the power to the air conditioner. Most AC units have a shutoff box nearby. If there’s no shutoff box, find the circuit breaker in the home that controls the AC unit and turn the power off.

First, clear away debris and trim any overgrown grass or weeds near the AC unit. There is no reason to remove covers or fins from the air conditioner to clean the coils. Simply take a garden hose with a spray nozzle and wash the fins, (the outside of the AC unit) with regular water. Start with the top and work downward, washing away debris and blockage so the coils can release heat efficiently.

  1. If the automatic cycle isn’t fully drying your clothes, you should clean the moisture sensors with soap and water to remove the chemical residue left behind from dryer sheets. This residue can build up and trick the sensors into thinking your clothes are dry prematurely. Moisture sensors are thin strips typically located near the dryer vent.’Clean the dryer lint trap and moisture sensors. Our expert technicians recommend you clean the dryer lint trap after every single load to ensure your machine is drying clothes as quickly as possible, which will save you time and energy. Periodically, use a dryer lint brush to dislodge and remove any lint that the screen didn’t catch and clean up with a vacuum. Every six months or so, remove and wash the lint screen to remove build up, especially if you use dryer sheets.
  1. Clean and inspect your gas grill. With outdoor entertaining season here, now is a great time to make sure your gas grill is in working order. Make sure the gas is off, check the manual for how to remove the burners, then brush out the grill’s interior and burner ports with a wire brush designed for grills. When you start up the grill, let it burn for five to 10 minutes before using. Use cooking spray on the burners to prevent rust and tarnish and to keep food from sticking.

Before using your grill, you should also check for a tight seal and for leaks and cracks in the hose going to the propane tank or natural gas supply line. Use soapy water to detect leaks. If bubbles start to form, there’s a leak. If there’s a leak, replace it, as this can be a fire hazard.

Most homeowners are comfortable performing these routine maintenance tasks. If you don’t have time or want to maintain your appliances, check our recommended contractors list for an HVAC contractor.  


Tom Stachler is a licensed Michigan Builder and Broker helping families with their real estate needs in and around the Ann Arbor and Saline home and condo realty markets.  Contact us today for more information and feel free to use the handy Links above for immediate assistance.

Iconic Willis Mills Connecticut Home for Sale

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

Iconic Willis Mills Connecticut Home for Sale



This stunning, iconic Willis Mills property, designed in 1955 and built in 1956, is currently for sale at $2,550,000. Located in New Canaan, Conn., the 4,368 square foot is renowned as one of the most architecturally advanced properties of its time. The space blends glass, wood and stone, uniquely set in a lush, woodland hillside. Balconies and terraces meander throughout, and a Japanese garden and stone-lined pool offer a myriad of sleek, well designed spaces for relaxing, entertaining and more.

Spreading over two floors, four bedrooms and four bathrooms, the beautifully restored glass-walled home is a true architectural gem. Sitting on two acres of lush Connecticut land, the estate features many rustic elements both inside and out.

In addition to many magazine features, the home has been honored by the Architectural Record, Boston Arts Festival, Architectural Record Houses of 1957 and more.

You can view the home's unique listing video here. (Wait for agent John Engel to pop out from that tree!)

99176640-3 99176640-4 99176640-8 99176640-9 99176640-11 99176640-12 99176640-17

Listed for: $2,550,000

Tom Stachler is a licensed Michigan Builder and Broker helping families with their real estate needs in and around the Ann Arbor and Saline home and condo realty markets.  Contact us today for more information and feel free to use the handy Links above for immediate assistance.

Diane Keaton’s Restored Oceanside Getaway -Home Flipper

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

Now up for grabs: one of Diane Keaton’s early restoration projects, a Laguna Beach house steps from the sand, with views of the Pacific Ocean, beach and rugged cliffs. Built in 1928 for the J. Roy Smith orange tree groves family, when the idea of having a beach house was coming of age in California, there were many excellent lots from which to choose. The Smiths chose a bluff overlooking the wide beach of Shaw’s Cove, which afforded protection from storm waves and an expansive view. The Home was built in the Mediterranean Revival style with stucco, decorative Spanish tile accents, wood beams, carved doors, ironwork and terraces surrounded by lush plantings and an outdoor fireplace to toast one’s toes on chilly evenings.

At 71, Keaton has not slowed down. In addition to having written three books, she is well-known for her photography. The mother of two adopted children, she also owns her own wine company, The Keaton. In her spare time, she is a home flipper with a long history of Buying, remodeling and selling houses in enviable locations—houses that exude as much charm as the woman herself.

Keaton is one of a number of Hollywood celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Aniston and Meg Ryan who collect and sell homes as a side gig. No stranger to building restoration, Keaton watched her father do the same for most of her childhood. In 2004, Keaton bought the beach house for $7.5 million and worked her magic in the restoration, preserving and accentuating its fine original details. Taking two years to complete, she sold the 4,158-square-foot, four-bedroom, six-bath house in 2006 for $12.75 million. The space recently went back on the market impeccably maintained, with the same staggering views through the receding oceanfront glass walls that open the living and dining rooms to the trade winds. The wide sand beach at the bottom of the private stairs has the rarity of a water toy garage for kayaks and paddle boards.

Listed by: Hanz Radlein, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties and Michael Johnson, Villa Real Estate
Listed for: $15.989 million

Tom Stachler is a located in the Ann Arbor and Saline Real Estate markets and a long time Michigan Broker and Builder.  Contact our team if you require assistance with purchasing or selling your home.  

11156 PInehurst, Plymouth, Michigan

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

11156 Pinehurst, Plymouth, MI Luxury Condo for Sale

Coming Soon: 4 Bedroom Plymouth Condo with Walk Out & Wooded Views

Great location for commuters wanting easy access to M-14.  This wonderful Home is for sale and located on a cul du sac that backs to a peaceful wooded common area.  This Rare 4 Bedroom unit sports a walk out basement with high ceilings and 3pc plumbing or a third full bath.  You will love sitting on the elevated deck that provides peaceful sunset views over a quiet wooded common nature area.  

The main floor has like new hardwood flooring finishes with a cozy kitchen providing plenty of seating and storage with Maple cabinets, ambiance counters and Stainless Steel Appliances.  The living space has a bright airy ambiance with soaring ceilings, Gas Fireplace with mantel and plenty of oversize windows include a Bay bump out and first floor master bedroom suite.  

  • 4 Bedrooms
  • Walk Out Basement
  • 2.5 Baths - Basement Prepped for 3rd Full Bath
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Gas Fireplace with Mantel
  • Corian Counters
  • Maple Cabinets
  • Freshly Refinished Hardwood Flooring
  • Freshly Painted Deck/stairs
  • Wooded Views of Common Nature Area
  • Walk out Basement has Higher ceilings & Prepped for Additional Bath
  • Cul Du Sac location
  • Easy Access to M-14

​​Click Here for more photos and info

Open house Sunday from 2-4pm July 9th.  Call Tom Stachler now to get on the first to show list.   


Mortgage Rates: How Low Will They Go?

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

How low will they go? Mortgage rates limboed down again this week, with the 30-year, fixed rate—3.88 percent—marking a new low for 2017, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). Both the 15-year, fixed rate and the 5-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate moved down to 3.17 percent.

“The 30-year mortgage rate fell two basis points to 3.88 percent this week,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “However, the majority of our survey was conducted prior to Tuesday’s sell-off in the bond market which drove Treasury yields higher. Mortgage rates may increase in next week’s survey if Treasury yields continue to rise.”

Tom Stachler is one of the Ann Arbor and Saline Michigan's leading real estate brokers with over 25 years of experience in the Ann Arbor and surrounding areas.  Check out the MLS Listings link above for a list of thousands of real estate listings for sale in Michigan.

Luxury Homes: How to Tell if You’re Getting a Fair Price

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

Luxury Homes: How to Tell if You’re Getting a Fair Price


Expensive Real Estate, How to Tell if You are Getting a Fair Price on a Luxury Home

By Anica Oaks

Buying a luxury Home isn’t as straightforward a process as one might think. This market has a lot more variables when it comes to each property, making it difficult to establish an exact market value on a home. That being the case, buyers may wonder if they’re getting a fair price on a luxury piece of property. If you’re in the expensive real estate market, here are some steps to take to ensure that the price for your home is fair.


It should be said that comparing two luxury homes isn’t the same as comparing other types of real estate. When you buy a “normal” home, your REALTOR® will look at similar homes in the area, keeping in mind the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. However, luxury homes aren’t built with that in mind. When you compare these types of homes, you may want to look at features like great views (if it’s a penthouse), privacy, sports features, etc. This gives you an idea of what’s on the market.

Know What You’re Looking For

Once you’ve looked at a couple of properties and have had a chance to compare them, you should be able to develop a “must-have” list. Think about your financing options as well. All of these will become a factor once you’re ready to buy.

Hire an Expert

Like any other profession, the real estate market has professionals that specialize in high-end homes in certain areas. These REALTORS® know what properties in the area are going for and how to find good deals.

Additionally, quality real estate professionals can tell you what types of transportation amenities are in the area. This is especially important if you’re moving into an area that’s very different from your current location. Hiring someone who knows how the flow of a geographic area works will be better able to steer you toward a good location.

Timing and Motivation

Once you’ve done the first three steps, you’ll finally want to start narrowing down the properties you’re looking at. It’s at this time that you’ll be able to make an offer on a home and more importantly, hopefully, get it at a fair price. 

Luxury homebuyers should consider the timing of their purchase. They may be able to get a better deal on a home in the winter than in the summer. The same can be said for homes that go up for sale at the end of the year. These homeowners may want to get rid of the property by year’s end for tax purposes.

Additionally, you may also be able to secure their luxury home at a reasonable price if the seller is motivated to sell. But be warned. Homes priced to sell go fast, in sometimes as little as two weeks. If you find a luxury home at an excellent price, be sure to ask your real estate professional to make an offer on it.

Buying luxury real estate at a good and fair price is a process. You should start by doing some research and by hiring a real estate professional who specializes in the luxury market. From there, compare the different homes on the market. Finally, once it comes time to buy the home, look for a motivated seller. This factor, combined with all of the previous work you’ve done, will help ensure that you’ve gotten the best price for your new place.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan Licensed Builder and Broker serving the Ann Arbor, Saline and surrounding real estate communities.  Please check out the ALL MLS listings for a list of Active status homes and condos for sale.  

Are Shipping Containers the Future of Swimming Pools?

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

Are Shipping Containers the Future of Swimming Pools?


Interesting Idea: One Canadian couple is making a splash transforming shipping containers into backyard swimming pools. (We always knew those shipping containers were universal!)

Paul and Denise Rathnam launched Modpools earlier this year and the idea has taken off, with orders mostly coming from the hottest locales in North America, particularly California, Nevada, Texas and Florida.

“The traditional pool is a symbol of excess and waste. This is a little more modern, more modest. We’re repurposing something rather than recycling. This pool can be resold, and you can take it with you if you move," Paul Rathnam told Vancouver Sun.

It's an interesting concept, for sure, and the design, once installed, looks pretty slick. It's as if your backyard was always destined to house a shipping container.

The standard size Modpool is eight feet wide by 20 feet long, and just over five feet deep. It also comes with a clear, acrylic window on one side, which is actually a pretty spiffy design element. Customers can opt to add another acrylic window on the other side for a see-through look if they want one.

In Canada, after delivery, a Modpool will cost you $35,000 plus tax, which could be a cheaper alternative for families planning on installing an in-ground swimming hole.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan Licensed Builder and Broker serving the Ann Arbor, Saline and surrounding real estate communities.  Please check out the ALL MLS listings for a list of Active status homes and condos for sale. 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 378




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