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House or Condo - Which is right for you?

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

Ann Arbor, Home to more than 116,000 residents, has a wonderful selection of both condos and single-family homes. The city (ranked among the top 100 places to live in America in 2012 by CNN Money magazine) is noted for both its many job opportunities, and as the home of the University of Michigan, with all the sports, health care and education associated at this institution.

Should you buy an Ann Arbor house or a condo? Deciding whether to buy a house or a condo in Ann Arbor can be a tricky decision. There are advantages - and disadvantages - to both.

Advantages to Buying a condo
There are several advantages to buying a condo over a single-family home, and just a few of these are:

  • Little Exterior MaintenanceWith a condo most of the exterior and lawn maintenance, as well as the landscaping, is taken care by the homeowner's association. You don't have to worry about the grass getting mowed if you're out of town for a week or two, and in the winter the snow will get shoveled without having to break your back or risk frost bite.
  • Extra Amenities:  Condos frequently have amenities in their complexes that single family homes often don't have, such as fitness facilities, swimming pools and party rooms.
  • Security:  Depending on the type of condo you purchase, some will offer round the clock security against break-ins and vandalism. For instance, many high-rise buildings have door attendants and/or guards in the parking garage.

Advantages to buying a home
While owning a condo has some distinct advantages, there are also several advantages to buying a single-family home, such as:

  • No Common Walls:  With a single-family home, you don't have to worry about disturbing the people in the unit next to yours or below yours. Equally, you won't be awakened in the middle of the night if you neighbor decides to vacuum or practice their dance steps.
  • No Association Fee:  With a condo, the homeowner's association fee can be almost as much as your mortgage payment. Granted, this covers amenities like the swimming pool, maintenance on the exterior of the condo and sometimes even utilities. However, with a house, you only have to make one payment each month.
  • You Can Make Your Own Remodeling Decisions:  With a home, you can paint the exterior of your any color that suits your fancy, You can add shutters, plant a cactus and generally modify whatever you like. With a condo, you usually need to get permission to make any changes that affect the outside look of the building.

How to decide which type of property is best for you
Should you buy an Ann Arbor house or a condo? In addition to the advantages and disadvantages inherent in the type of property, there are other factors to consider when deciding between an Ann Arbor home or condo. One of these is location - some areas of Ann Arbor, such as the revitalized downtown area have more condos than other parts of the city. Conversely, some of the newer developments, such as Fleming Lake Estates and Woodland Ridge, consist mostly of single family homes.

7 Ways to Make a Smaller Bedroom Feel Larger and Work Better for You

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
Sometimes a small bedroom can feel more like a cave than a cozy refuge. If a space lacks natural light, smart storage and the right color palette, it can feel cramped and uncomfortable. But with the right techniques, even the smallest bedrooms can be much more functional and even look bigger. 

Use these professional tips to turn a bedroom, office, storage room or attic into a comfy bedroom for friends, family — or you.
modern bedroom by Shor Home
The perfect example.This little room has it all: The daybed (with extra storage underneath) almost makes the space look like a sitting room instead of a bedroom but doesn't take away from its cozy vibe. A wall-mounted nightstand and light fixture maximize every inch of floor space. A classic acrylic chair provides necessary seating but visually disappears.
1. Add built-in shelving.Shallow built-in shelving can help you gain storage and maintain floor space. Stick to shelving that's no more than 12 inches deep. The units here act as bedside tables, eliminating the need for extra furniture. Recessing the bed in the middle of the shelving prevents it from encroaching on much-needed floor space. 

If you go with built-ins in your small bedroom, try taking them all the way to the ceiling to make the ceiling look higher. And paint the back wall a contrasting color to create layering and depth.
traditional bedroom by Shannon Malone
2. Let in natural light. While you should avoid blocking natural light in a small room, sometimes the only place that makes sense for a bed is right in front of the window. If that's the case, try a see-through headboard (like the one on this metal frame) to make the most of your sunlight.
3. Go for mirrored closet doors. Using a mirror to double your room's visual square footage is a trick that's been used for centuries. In small bedrooms this often means replacing your closet doors with mirrored ones. The effect tends to work best when you can take the mirrors from floor to ceiling and wall to wall.
4. Use a daybed. A daybed can help create the illusion that the room is more of a small sitting area, instead of a small bedroom that's been taken over by a bed. Daybeds often have storage built in underneath too — another bonus for a small room.
5. Paint the ceiling. Painting the ceiling the same hue as the walls can help to erase the shadow lines that visually define a space. A white ceiling against a darker wall immediately shrinks a space — your eye can sense the room's size right away. When the walls and ceiling are the same color, it's harder for your eye to tell where the room's parameters start and end, so the room looks larger.
6. Install pendants. Don't take up precious bedside table space with bulky lamps and oversize shades; install pendant lighting instead. Hanging pendant lights from the ceiling creates a focal point while providing task lighting on each side of the bed. Just remember to measure carefully and hang them low enough so you don't have to get out of bed to turn them off.
7. Put up wall shelves. A nightstand can take up a lot of floor space in a small bedroom, and using just one with a double- or queen-size bed means that someone won't have a spot for an alarm clock, phone or beverage. A wall shelf on one side of the bed — or on both — can give a small bedroom a more open feeling and extra floor space, while giving you all the room you need for nighttime essentials.
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Cobblestone Farm and Museum in Ann Arbor, MI

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

Cobblestone FarmLocated within Buhr Park, in the very heart of Ann Arbor, MI, the Cobblestone Farm and Museum offers a glimpse at what life was like in southeast Michigan during the mid-19th century.

The property features a neo-classical style, cobblestone farmhouse, constructed in 1844 for Dr.Benahah Ticknor, a naval doctor. Today, the restored farm and farmhouse are open to the public and offer a variety of historic decorative art pieces and artifacts from the 19th century.

Special Events at Cobblestone Farm
Cobblestone Farm hosts a weekly farmers' market on Tuesdays, from May through November. The more than 25 weekly vendors offer local produce, plants, canned goods, flowers and dairy products.

The property is also the site of numerous special events, including: Living History Days, Michigan Log Cabin Day, Spring on the Farm, an Independence Day celebration, and Country Christmas.

Visiting the Cobblestone Farm and Museum
The Cobblestone Museum is open on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and admission is free.

The Cobblestone Farm and Museum is located at 2781 Packard Road in Ann Arbor.

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