Real Estate Information Archive


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Outlook for Spring 2016 Real Estate Market

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

It looks like it might be shaping up to be an interesting spring market. Although the trend of rising inventories is still taking hold, a combination of good weather and continued buyer interest at all price ranges, has kept For Sale inventories lower than we had expected which is good news for sellers. What won't be clear until April or May is whether the increased sales activity for the last 4 months is borrowed business from the spring or a true increase in buyer demand.

Under $250,000 inventories are falling and buyer activity is rising, causing a continued scramble to find a Home to purchase.  Although inventories are rising in the over $250,000 price categories, new contracts are rising faster than new listings, which is keeping the expected inventory jump this winter much less than anticipated.

For the economy in general, economists seem to be pessimistically optimistic. Economic activity is moving forward but at a slow enough pace that it is vulnerable to sudden change in any world activity. With stock prices lower, upper-end markets should slow as well and with stronger home equities, many more sellers will be able to sell, creating more inventory, and potentially slowing appreciation rates, if supply exceeds demand.  All that said, it is also as likely that buyer demand still has some kick left in it, as first time home buyers and as many “boomerang” buyers jump back into the market (see chart below).  So we will simply have to wait and see how the spring market unfolds. It does appear the real estate bulls vastly outnumber the bears in relation to the spring market and 2016 in general. So, with inventories low and demand still strong, those Sellers who may be waiting until spring to put their homes on the market should consider entering the market now.  

To get a feel for how far values have recovered relative to peak values back in 2005/6, here is a chart showing Michigan in comparison to the rest of the country. It shows Michigan back to 92% of peak values, which when adding in the pay-down of mortgages during the past 10 years, puts most Michigan homeowners with more equity than that at the peak.


So far it looks like an early spring for both the weather and for real estate activity, so for both buyers and sellers, don't be afraid to jump in now, the water might be still a bit chilly but it is heating up fast!



Current Mortgage Interest Rates


Loan Type Interest Rate APR
5/1 ARM Conforming 3.375% 3.474%
15-yr fixed Conforming 3.250% 3.465%
30-yr fixed Conforming 4.000% 4.103%
FHA 30-yr fixed 4.000% 4.791%
VA 30-yr fixed 3.750% 3.940%



Loan Type Interest Rate APR
5/1 ARM Non-Conforming 2.625% 3.155%
15-yr fixed Non-Conforming 3.250% 3.324%
30-yr fixed Non-Conforming 3.500% 3.521%
VA 30-yr fixed 3.750% 3.861%
VA 15-yr fixed 3.250% 3.427%

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Using your IRA for Real Estate Purchases

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


Self-directed IRAs that focus heavily on real estate investments are often referred to as "Real Estate IRAs." With a Real Estate IRA, your retirement funds can invest in all kinds of real estate and real estate-related assets. Explore the most popular real estate investment options for your self-directed IRA:

What Can I Invest In?

These are just a few of your options with a self-directed IRA. The real estate-related investments allowed in these retirement accounts are seemingly endless.

Looking for help with this type of investment, contact us today to get started with finding property and purchasing it rental or flip opportunities.  


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Bonding your home gas line and using CSST flexible tubing

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
This week's tip is about proper bonding of Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST), which is a common flexible gas line application that exists in many homes.

What is the issue? The use of flexible gas lines require the gas system be bonded to the electrical ground service in the home to prevent possible damage caused by electrical or lightning energy.

This week's tip will show you how to identify CSST in your home and determine if it's properly bonded.

*You can contact a licensed Electrician if you need help determining if you have CSST and/or your system is properly grounded.
 How to Identify CSST
The type of CSST which is most susceptible to electrical charge build-up can be identified by its yellow outer coating. CSST is frequently used because it's flexible and can be easily routed around corners and through wall openings. It will be attached to hard gas lines at some point, so begin by following the gas line in from your gas meter (which may be outside of your home). CSST may be located in a basement, crawl space, or attic space where gas is routed.

The photo to the left shows CSST at the connection to the hard gas line.

*The flexible adapter line that attaches directly to appliances (such as a gas stove or dryer) which allows movement of the appliance does not need to be bonded. 
How to Determine if CSST is Bonded
Bonding can be located anywhere from the gas meter to the first attachment of CSST. 

There are 2 ways the bonding could be made - 1) directly to the hard gas line, or 2) to the hex -shaped fitting on the CSST that connects to the hard gas line. 

Whichever technique is used, there will be a clamping device with a copper wire that runs out to the grounded source.
What if my CSST doesn't appear to be bonded?
The home to the left is bonded at the gas meter outside of the home.

If you have CSST and do not see apparent bonding, contact a licensed Electrician for help verifying.

*If you have CSST that has a black coating, it most likely is a newer arc-resistant type that does not require bonding per manufacturer installation standards.
We hope these tips have been helpful. Feel free to share it with anyone you think may benefit from it. 
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Ann Arbor's Growing Dioxane Plume- What is it and What do you need to know.

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

Recently, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been closely monitoring a dioxane plume that is making it's way towards the Huron River, Ann Arbors primary drinking water source. This is a major concern for residents of the area due to the toxicity of dioxane to humans. The agency is scrambling to minimize the potential risk of exposure.

Back in 1966 Pall Corporation- a global manufacturer of filtration products, dumped large amounts of dioxane into the environment. This went on for nearly 20 years, at that point the damage was already done. Unfortunately, due to state laws the DEQ cannot force Pall Corp to do a clean-up. Thus leaving the area polluted and at risk of the chemical spreading into our ground water.

It is unsure where or how the plume will spread, but local officials are growing increasingly concerned about dioxane reaching Barton Pond, primary drinking water source.

Officials from the Department of Environmental Quality discussed the situation with city officials and residents at a meeting of the local Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane. They are pushing towards stricter policies regarding clean-up. 

Pall Corp is working towards releasing a plan of action for the clean-up, but at this time no remedy has been put into place. The DEQ continues to work on establishing stricter laws.



Having trouble selling your home? Meet St. Joseph

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

Meet St. Joseph, the patron saint of real estate. For hundreds of years, people have invoked his power to help sell their homes.

Normally known to look after families, fathers, expectant mothers, immigrants, travelers, craftsmen, engineers and working people in general, St. Joseph the Worker might be most popular as an aid to real estate transactions, which could come in handy in this slow market.

To use the statue, Home sellers are told to bury it upside down with the feet pointing toward heaven. It can face the home being sold, or a new home. Some like to plant the statue near the For Sale sign or in the backyard. After burying it, serious sellers are told to say a prayer daily in front of the statue.

Condominium or co-op owners place the statue in a flowerpot near the entryway. After the property changes hands, sellers are instructed to remove the statue, to be displayed for good luck in their new home, or leave it buried to protect the home that just sold.

Over thousands of people have experienced the success of St. Joseph and selling their home, it may be time for you to invest in one

You can purchase this statue online by visiting or any local store that sells religious items.

Preventing and Addressing Rodents in the Home

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

Mice - Rodent Control Around Your Home

As much as homeowners enjoy the shelter and comfort of their home, mice, rats, and other rodents do, too. Not only do rodents make a mess, they can carry and spread diseases, contaminate food, and cause property damage.

The first step in keeping rodents out of the home is prevention. Rodents commonly enter homes, garages, sheds and other structures through small cracks and openings. Even a dime-sized hole is large enough for a mouse to get through. Common entry areas include behind stoves and refrigerators, around where water pipes enter the home, attics and crawl spaces, basements, and laundry drains. Outside the home, look for openings around windows and doors, gutters, and places where wiring, plumbing, and gas lines enter the home. Small holes can be stuffed with steel wool, which rodents cannot chew through, and caulked into place. Larger holes may require patching with metal, hardware cloth, or lath screen.

Removing food sources is another key to prevention. Pantry foods should be stored in metal or heavy plastic containers with tight fitting covers. Food-soiled cookware and dishes should be washed and kitchen surfaces cleaned soon after use, and pet food should not be left out overnight. If food waste is kept inside, it should be stored in a metal container until it can be disposed of outside in a rodent-proof trash can. If homeowners enjoy feeding wild birds, feeders should be located away from the house as spilled bird food is a real treat for rodents. There are bird seed mixes available that have been treated with hot pepper – unappealing to rodents and other mammals but birds are unaffected by it.

If rodents are present, it is extremely important that they be removed properly prior to sealing holes and gaps. Snap traps are the most effective method of catching rodents; follow the manufacturer’s instruction for best results. It can take several days for rats to respond to a baited trap. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, snap traps are preferable to live or “humane” trapping, which can cause stressed rodents to urinate and increase possible exposure to disease. Once a rodent is trapped and killed, it should be wrapped in newspaper and disposed of in the trash. Any rodent – dead or alive – should not be handled with bare hands; use disposable rubber or vinyl gloves. Rodents are carriers of Hantavirus and other viruses and bacteria that can cause serious, even deadly, diseases in humans. A person can become exposed to Hantavirus while sweeping or cleaning up rodent droppings as particles become airborne and are inhaled. In addition, fleas, mites, or ticks may be present on the rodent, providing an additional carrier for the spread of disease.


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Economists Forecast Banner Year in Real Estate for 2016

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

As we ring in a New Year, Housing News Report asked six prominent economists to forecast what 2016 will bring for the U.S. housing market.

For housing, 2015 was a strong year, with home sales high and home prices continuing to rise.

Overall, the economists surveyed were cautiously optimistic about 2016 when it comes to home prices, home sales, interest rates and the impact of loosening lending standards that have recently been introduced by government agencies. Since 2016 is a Presidential election year, the economists were cagey when it comes to regulatory changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here’s what they are forecasting for 2016:

What will be the most important housing market trend(s) in 2016 and why?

Alex Villacorta, chief economist, Clear Capital: The two most important housing market trends to watch in 2016 will be the continued growth of rental rates and the moderating trend in home prices. The pattern seen in 2015 was largely characterized by a white-hot rental market, and if this continues, more households will likely choose to Rent over buy in 2016.

In addition to driving rental prices up and vacancy rates down, this trend disengages an increasing proportion of potential home buyers — evidenced by the lowest homeownership rate in almost 50 years. Adding insult to injury for the purchase market, increasing rental rates continue to make it more difficult for potential buyers to save up for a down payment.

In 2016 we’ll use data from Clear Capital’s Home Data Index to see, at a local level, when the tide turns from rental to purchase demand. Many markets are already hospitable for buyers, but we have yet to see the demand. This implies that consumer confidence and the inability to overcome the barriers to purchase are a real headwind to a fully engaged housing market, especially for first-time home buyers.

As the year evolves we’ll be watching both rent and purchase trends closely, as a waning pattern in rental prices will suggest that momentum is shifting to the broader housing market, which should result in a more robust price growth in 2016.

A headshot of Jonathan Smoke

Jonathan Smoke

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist, Demand for for-sale housing will grow and will continue to be dominated by older millennials, aged 25 to 34. This demographic has the potential to claim a third of home sales in 2016 and represent 2 million home purchases.

Two other demographics will also be dominant forces on the buy side but will also be a key part of providing the necessary inventory on the sell side. Gen-X is in prime earning years and thus is also experiencing improvements in their economic circumstances, which include more relocations and seeking better neighborhoods for their families. Older boomers are approaching — or already in — retirement and seeking to downsize or lock in a lower cost of living. Together, these two generations will provide much of the suburban inventory that millennials desire to start their own families.

Supply will also improve as a result of additional growth in new construction and particularly in more single-family construction. The growth will be in more affordable price points, which will help bring down the average new home prices and average size of new homes, which have grown dramatically so far in the recovery as builders principally focused on the move-up, luxury, and active adult segments.

Mortgage rates should also begin their long-anticipated ascent as the Federal Reserve attempts to “thread the needle” on influencing rates up without negatively impacting economic growth. The increases in mortgage rates will likely be lower than the increases in short-term interest rates created by Fed policy as global weakness and a strong dollar limit more pronounced movement in long bonds. Mortgage rates will also be volatile, moving up and down by day and week, similar to how we’ve seen the market in 2015, but the key difference will be a more pronounced longer trend towards higher rates.

New Home Sales & NAR Existing Home Sales - Jan05-Dec15

The move up in mortgage rates should be a net positive to the market as fence-sitting sellers and buyers begin to understand that rates are moving higher and decide to jump into the market while they remain at such historically low levels.

The final key trend is that rents will rise more rapidly than prices, adding to the already burdensome level of rents that exist in more than 85 percent of the markets in the country. In the near term, this reinforces the consumer’s decision to buy, but higher rents also start to negatively impact the pipeline for future purchases by keeping renting households from saving towards a down payment.

Where is the housing market headed in 2016?

Douglas Duncan, chief economist, Fannie Mae: Lots of discussion of the need for subsidy but the real problem is lack of income growth for low and moderate income households. There will be a discussion of the regulatory cost of land development which is an inhibitor to production of low to moderate income affordable housing. Rents will remain strong as a result.

A headshot of Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner, chief economist, Windermere: I expect that we will see more homes for sale. Homeowner equity started to recover in 2013 and has been steadily improving since that time.  As such, I expect that it will increase their likelihood of selling. At last — more inventory!  But I fear that it will still fall short of the supply needed to match demand.

Mark Zandi, chief economist, Moody’s Analytics: The most important housing market trend in 2016 will be the developing housing shortage. New housing construction has picked up in recent years, but it remains well below that needed to meet demand from newly formed households, second home buyers, and obsolescence of the existing stock of homes. Rental and homeowner vacancy rates, which are already very low, will continue to decline. This will continue to push house prices and rents up quickly. The housing shortage will be most acute for lower prices and affordable housing.

Peter Muoio, chief economist, Ten-X: Wage growth will be the key new ingredient for the housing recovery. We have been watching signs of accelerating wage growth percolate through different data sources, but 2016 will see clear and convincing evidence of rising wages. This will help with housing affordability and be the final ingredient for higher household formations and housing demand.


The other key 2016 trend will be the pace of interest rate increases. We know the Fed will pull the trigger, but the key question is how fast and strongly they continue to tighten in 2016, as that will affect mortgage rates.


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Looking to Get a New Home Loan or Re-Fi ?

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

John Adams Mortgage has an interesting new Program you might wish to explore.  If nothing else, you get a free Amex Gift Card.  See below for details and click here to Apply

Also, you can go to to get a list of the Area's best Lenders and Banks.  










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Mysteries of the Heavy Ball: Introduction

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


Do certain players really produce a "heavier" ball than others?

"The Heavy Ball." It's a mythical term. "His ball was so heavy it was like hitting a bowling ball." Most tennis players and coaches have had the experience of playing an opponent whose ball seemed unusually "heavy".

Maybe the ball seemed to get on top of you before you could respond. Maybe the ball felt like it was going to rip the racket out of your hand. Maybe it felt like the ball would by pass your strike zone altogether and bounce over your shoulder or even your head.

Everywhere I go in tennis I hear different versions of the same story. This player or that player had the "secret" of the heavy ball. It was Don Budge, Bjorn Borg, Tomas Muster, or Pete Sampras--or some legendary local college or pro player that you or I never heard of. "This guy hit the heaviest forehand I've ever played against."

So "heavy ball" is a term with a lot of connotations for a lot of people. But does it have any real meaning? Is there in fact any such a thing as a shot that is really "heavier"? If so can we understand it, quantify it, and/or teach it?

If the heavy ball does really exist, it must be some combination of speed, spin, and shot trajectory. But what combination? Is it something that's just natural for a few gifted or lucky players? Is there a way to intentionally maximize the weight of your shots?

In this section of Tennisplayer, we've set out to investigate these questions in a different way. Thanks to new filming and analytic technologies, it is now possible to measure the shot signatures of the top players and to distinguish how they play by the quality of the ball they produce.

If the heavy ball exists, is it some unique combination of ball speed and spin?

Over the last several years, researchers from Advanced Tennis Research( have been investigating these factors of ball speed, spin, and trajectory, and beginning to put the pieces of the puzzle together. A big part of the story is the evolution in technologies that makes this possible. And that's part of the ongoing story we plan to tell

Ball Speed

We'll start with ball speed, and the groundbreaking research Advanced Tennis scientists began on the speed of the ball in 1997 and 1998. This was the first quantitative study to measure the speed of the ball in pro tennis, beyond what the radar guns told us about the initial velocity of the serve. We not only studied the speed of the serve, but also of the groundstrokes, the returns and the volleys.

Although it's absolutely invisible to the human eye, virtually every shot in pro tennis lost half or more of its speed by the time it reached the opponent's baseline.

It's invisible, but every shot in pro tennis, like this serve, loses half it's speed between the players.

In the first article we go into detail about how we developed this information, what the results were, and what it might mean for players looking for an edge.

Ball Spin

After looking at the study of ball speed, we'll go on to look at the first ever study of the actual spin rates in pro tennis. In 1997, we filmed at the U.S. Open using a new high speed digital camera technology that filmed at 250 frames per second. This was the first time that live professional matches were ever studied by a camera that was fast enough to actually "see" how the ball spins.

How fast was a Pete Sampras serve really spinning? How about an Andre Agassi forehand? Our camera allowed us to answer these questions. During the course of 5 days, we built up and extensive data base of several hundred spin events with top professional players.

We found for example that there was no such thing as a "flat" first serve in the pro game. In reality, a 120mph Pete Sampras serve was actually spinning at an average of over 2500rpm.

We also found that although many people believed that Andre Agassi's forehand was hit with "heavy" topspin, it was actually spinning at about 1800rpm, less than half what some of the European players were developing.

Contrary to popular belief, Agassi's forehand isn't hit with "heavy" tospin relative to other pros.

We also saw for the first time what happened to spin during the bounce on the court. Surprisingly, we found the friction between the ball and the court created as much topspin as the initial hit (and sometimes more), something which had important implications for the creation of the "heavy ball."

These studies of speed and spin opened a window on the literally invisible world of ball dynamics. They also raised almost as many questions as they answered. 

We were able to put real numbers to spin and speed in pro tennis for the first time--key components in trying to understand the heavy ball. But how did speed and spin actually interact?

The next step in the research was to measure speed and spin simultaneously, instead of in separate studies. To do this required a new, more elaborate filming protocol and new original motion analysis software, developed by Nasif Iskander.

Nasif was able to measure the speed of 10 returns hit by Pete's opponents, as well as 3 returns hit by Sampras.

In 2000 we were able to put these new tools into action. We were able to film and compare the ball dynamics of two of the best servers in the history of the game in live tournament play: Pete Sampras and Greg Rusedski. For the first time we were able to measure the speed and spin of the serve over the entire course of the flight. Greg Ryan performed the critical and painstaking task of putting the together to form our most complete picture yet of the heavy ball.

How does speed interact with different types spin over the flight of the serve?

A critical advance in Nasif's software was the ability to measure the components in the spin of top players, for example, the level of sidespin and topspin in the deliveries of Sampras and Rusedski. In addition, Nasif developed a "shot simulator" that actually allowed us to measure how changing amounts of spin influenced the curve and the drop of high speed professional serves.

The results were again surprising. We found that there was in fact no such thing as a "topspin" serve, that the majority of spin in the deliveries of both players was sidespin not topspin. But a critical difference turned out to be the relative amounts of topspin.

These differences in the type and amount of spin had a significant impact on the quality of the ball they produced. And it had a significant effect on the total "heaviness" of the shot at the time of the return.

High speed filming shows that 2/3s or more of the spin on pro serves is actually sidespin.

Since Advanced Tennis completed its initial studies of ball speed and spin, the technology has continued to evolve, making even more detailed and precise studies possible that can contribute to our understanding of the nature of the heavy ball in new ways.

Currently Advanced Tennis is engaged in a collaboration with Hawk-Eye technologies in London, the developer of the "Shot Spot," which has taken a prominent place in ESPN tennis broadcasts, reviewing line calls. "Shot Spot" is based on amazing technology developed by the brilliant young English scientist Paul Hawkins, who first applied it in cricket.

To the average television viewer, this is exciting because it allows for the potential "instant replay" review of the controversial calls which frequently have an impact on the outcome of matches (not to mention the fragile emotional psyches of the players).

But in reality the "Shot Spot" technology can tell us far more, because it is actually measuring the entire trajectory of every shot hit in professional tennis. This means Shot Spot can tell us the exact speeds of the shots of the top balls at any point in the flight of the ball, as well as the path each shot takes.

How does the "weight" of Roddick's ball compare to Sampras?

The one factor that Shot Spot cannot directly measure is spin, which requires an additional, even faster high speed camera trained exclusively on the flight of the ball.

In 2004 Paul Hawkins agreed to collaborate with Advanced Tennis in taking the heavy ball analysis to the next level. This meant that Shot Spot would allow us to combine their speed and trajectory data with our high speed spin data. Together we were able to film matches of Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Marat Safin, and Lleyton Hewitt. This will allow us, for starters, to compare the spin Roddick generates on his serve to Sampras, or Federer.

Over time we hope the end result will be a comprehensive and even more accurate picture of what actually happens when pro players hit the tennis ball. Our goal is that by combining speed, trajectory and spin, we will be able to further unravel the shots of pro players and facilitate the quest for the heavy ball. So Stay Tuned.


Advanced Tennis wishes to acknowledge that the initial data on ball speed and ball spin was developed as a collaboration with Cislunar Aerospace, funded in part by a grant from the Learning Technologies Project at NASA. Their contributions are gratefully acknowledged.

Super Bowl 50: A Housing Highlight Reel

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

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl turns 50 this weekend. To mark the event’s golden anniversary, Census number-crunchers rounded up a collection of facts comparing life back in 1967 to present-day. The play-by-play includes housing stats, which we’ve broken down below.

In 1967…

  • The U.S. population was 197.5 million.
  • The median sales price of a new, single-family Home was just $22,700.
  • The average household size was 3.28 people.
  • Approximately 70 percent of adults lived in a home with their spouse.

In 2016…

  • The U.S. population is 322.8 million—up 63 percent from 1967.
  • The median sales price of a new, single-family home is $282,800.
  • The average household size is 2.54 people.
  • Approximately 50 percent of adults live in a home with their spouse.

Contrasting 1967 and 2016, the median new, single-family home sales price, though not adjusted for inflation, illustrates the rising trajectory housing has taken in the last 50 years. Notably, household size has shrunk by approximately 25 percent (or, in Census measures, nearly 0.75 people). Co-habitation has also taken on new meaning, as more households today are comprised of unmarried partners and singles.

Housing in Super Bowl team cities Charlotte and Denver has seen considerable change in the last 50 years , too.

In Charlotte…

  • In 1995—the year of the Panthers’ first season—the population was 473,355. In 2014, the population of the Charlotte metropolitan area was 2,380,314!
  • In 2014, the median value of an owner-occupied home was $169,400—6.5 percent less than the national median of $181,200.
  • In 2014, the median household income was $53,549—on par with the national median of $53,657.

In Denver…

  • In 1960—the year of the Broncos’ first season—the population was 493,887. In 2014, the population of the Denver metropolitan area was 2,754,258!
  • In 2014, the median value of an owner-occupied home was $276,800—53 percent higher than the national median of $181,200.
  • In 2014, the median household income was $66,870—25 percent higher than the national median of $53,657.

Denver, recently named the hottest housing market of 2016 by Zillow, has seen considerable change in the last 50 years. Home prices in the Mile High City reached new all-time highs at the end of 2015, making it one of just three cities that reported double-digit annual growth last year.

Home prices in Charlotte, recently named the hottest housing market of 2016 by, also peaked in 2015. The city and its surrounding areas will continue to experience an influx of new residents this year, thanks to expanding household incomes and a declining unemployment rate.

The hotness factor—and Super Bowl stakes—are high. Who will win the big game? Tapping this highlight reel, the outcome may be too close to call.

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11