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Real Estate Perspectives 2016: Professionals in home industries answer our FAQs and share market insight

Aug 09, 2016 11:41AM ● By James Houck
By James Houck

Whether you’re looking to buy a first home, second, improve your current property, or poke around the market in general, keeping your finger on the pulse of the local real estate market is both worthwhile and fun. But don’t just take our word for it; take cue from many local real estate and home professionals who took their time to answer our questions about market variables and much more. What you’ll read could be as much fun as house hunting itself, as many of our contributors offering varying perspectives based on what they are actually seeing in our hometowns. The overall result is a well-rounded capsule of today’s market on both Western and Eastern Shores.


On the Topic of Real Estate


What is your opinion of today’s real estate market within your county/region of operation?

“The market today is vibrant. Over the last two years we have had a rapidly normalizing market. We have five times the number of first home buyers than just a few years ago.”
—Chuck Mangold, Sr., Benson & Mangold

“In my opinion our market is very strong right now, but also unpredictable. We are seeing activity on the very high end ($5 million-plus) recently that I haven’t seen since I’ve been in the business. This could be partly to do with people feeling better about the economy, however, I think it has more to do with buyers starting to recognize the value our area offers. In 2015, 25 percent of the sales in the Annapolis area over $2 million came from D.C. area buyers and I think we will only see that percentage increase. We are not seeing many, if any, international buyers in that price range.”
—Travis Gray, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

“The Annapolis-area waterfront market is strong right now. Early spring was particularly hot. Demand for correctly-priced homes is steady and rates are low. It is still a buyer’s market, especially as inventory increases, but we have seen some record-breaking prices achieved in some neighborhoods.”
—Brad Kappel, Charlie Buckley’s Mr. Waterfront Team of Long & Foster Real Estate

“The market is extremely active, but prices have remained rather stagnant over the past five years.”
—Scott Schuetter, Century 21 New Millennium 

“The current real estate market in Anne Arundel County is highly competitive. When speaking to prospective buyers I have found that they are frustrated with low inventory and high prices. Conversely, sellers tend to believe their home is worth more than the market can bear. I do believe when a home is priced correctly in a desirable area it will sell quickly. That being said, hiring an agent with integrity, market knowledge, and who will represent your interests, is paramount.”
—Parker Jones, Grace Ryan Real Estate

Are there any new laws/regulations in place this year that home buyers/sellers/owners should be aware of when entering property negotiations?

“It seems like the laws and regulations change daily when you are buying/selling property in the critical area. Waterfront buyers and sellers should consider working with professionals who specialize in this area. Working with engineers, arborists, pier inspectors, architects, and builders who understand the latest waterfront rules and regulations can save time, money and frustration.”
—Travis Gray, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

“There are numerous new laws and regulations. While they impact the buyers and sellers, they certainly impact all agents and how we do business. Most buyers and sellers won’t be aware of specific changes but they will notice more paperwork. Perhaps the biggest change is the new settlement process which buyers and sellers need to understand as soon as possible in the sales or purchase process. It takes much longer to get a loan processed and the title companies need more time to arrange closing.”
—Ray Stevens, Benson & Mangold

“In October the TRID regulations went into effect. The HUD-1 was replaced with the Closing Disclosure and lenders are required to give buyers three days after the final loan is approved to review the closing documents. Buyers need to be very proactive and provide their lenders with all required information as soon as possible. Sellers need to expect a contract to close process of 45 days or more, and be prepared for the possibility of settlement delays if an issue arises.”
—David Orso, David Orso Group of Century 21 New Millennium

When is the best time of the year to place a property on market? To purchase a property?

“Traditionally people believe that the spring market is the best time to sell a property, and it really is especially for waterfront homes. However, well priced homes that are professionally marketed sell all year long. For buyers, buying a home in traditionally down months like July and December can give them some additional leverage, especially if the property has been on the market through the spring or fall market.”
—Travis Gray, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

“The first of the year is the best time to place a property on the market. Historically, there is a high volume of buyers and low inventory.”
—Scott Schuetter, Century 21 New Millennium

“The market has become less seasonal over the years. January is often an excellent month.”
—Chuck Mangold, Sr., Benson & Mangold

What are some of the most desired amenities home buyers are seeking?

“Most of my waterfront buyers want big views and protected water. This is hard to find in general as we usually see properties with one or the other, but they do exist and they are very desirable. I’m also starting to see more and more buyers who are expecting smart home technologies already built in to the home.”
—Travis Gray, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 

“While I work primarily in the Oxford zip code, which means I’m dealing in the Historic District with old homes, most buyers tell me they don’t want to buy into a large renovation. That is perhaps due to the average age of most of my buyers. Most expect, or at least desire, nice kitchens and bathrooms.”
—Ray Stevens, Benson & Mangold

“Renovated kitchens and baths. Buyers are willing to pay a premium for improvements that they do not have to pay for after settlement.”
—Scott Schuetter, Century 21 New Millennium

“Big views, privacy, turnkey homes that are totally updated, large master bedroom suites, state of the art kitchens, high ceilings, open floor plans to name a few.”
—Chuck Mangold, Sr., Benson & Mangold

“People want ‘walkability.’ They want to live in communities where they can stroll and get outside. Outdoor experiences are key. They are interested in screen porches, roof top decks, terraces, and three-season rooms. Today, 25 percent of the space in a property might be exterior spaces. Many people have sold their traditional two-story colonial homes and want similar square footage, but less bedrooms and more open spaces. More multi-functional spaces.”
—Chuck Covell, Covell Communities

What actions can home sellers take to ensure the highest sales price for their property?

“One: Prepare the home for market inside and out. Proper staging, curb appeal, and lots of decluttering are key to securing the highest possible price. Two: Price the property accurately. Over-pricing any real estate is a recipe for ultimately netting less than you would have if you priced it accurately. Three: Hire a professional who can create and execute a comprehensive marketing campaign complete with professional photography, video, aerial imaging, custom website, social media, extensive agent network (local and D.C. Metro) and local knowledge.”
—Travis Gray, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 

“To produce the best price for any property it must be well kept, both inside and out. I think the best way to obtain a sale in a reasonable time, and therefore the best price, is to price the property as close as one can get to the actual selling price. Real estate agents are good at this but if the seller disagrees with their agent they should consider an appraiser. If a home is fairly priced when it’s listed then it’s just a case of what buyer and seller will agree to. A good agent will price a property within five percent of what it will sell for. Too often the sellers demand a higher number in anticipation of negotiating. It’s true that some people will negotiate no matter what the asking price; it is also true buyers are well informed and know values today thanks to the internet. Therefore I recommend pricing a property very close to what the actual price should be.”
—Ray Stevens, Benson & Mangold

Should a home buyer make a first offer on a property below asking price and if so, by how much?

“The truth is every property requires a different strategy. With a robust marketing plan there is typically a great deal of buzz surrounding a new listing, which helps stimulate demand. In today’s market, new listings that are priced properly may get multiple bids. Thus, it is in the buyer’s best interest to make a strong offer with the cleanest terms possible.”
—Joe Bray, Charlie Buckley’s Mr. Waterfront Team of Long & Foster Real Estate

“This is completely determined by the list price in relation to market value.”
—Scott Schuetter, Century 21 New Millennium

“It depends on the property and the market. When I work with buyers, I conduct the same market and pricing analysis I do for my listings. I evaluate the market and the property’s condition and comparables, and make a recommendation to my buyer clients based on the data.”
—David Orso, David Orso Group of Century 21 New Millennium 

What is the most overlooked action/item home buyers make when negotiating a purchase?

“Get pre-approval before you see a realtor. Mortgages take longer and are more complicated you need to know what you are qualified for. Speak to a qualified lender.”
—Chuck Mangold, Sr., Benson & Mangold

“Taking advantage of today’s financing tools. There are construction and tax advantages that a builder can offer on a new home that can make this a very attractive financial arrangement. Buyers need to take advantage of all the financial tools to get the most cost effective price for their new home.”
—Chuck Covell, Covell Communities

What is the most recommended renovation/upgrade to a property a homeowner should make prior to placing the home on the market?

“Fresh, neutral paint and carpet is the most cost effective way to maximize the perceived value of your property. Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, so if you are going to put real money into a renovation prior to listing do it here. Most importantly get a good stager involved early and take their advice even if you disagree.”
—Travis Gray, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

“It’s difficult to say what kind of renovation a seller needs to make before a sale. For instance they may have a dated home but in good condition; just not up to today’s standards. In that case I believe they’re better off pricing the house in a range where a buyer can afford to make some renovations and upgrades. If a seller is going to renovate and he has an older home, then the money should go into bathrooms and kitchen. These upgrades will yield the best return.”
—Ray Stevens, Benson & Mangold

“Before listing, a homeowner should do a thorough cleaning of the interior and exterior of the home, declutter, paint, replace old or outdated carpeting, replace the screen door, freshen up the landscaping, and eliminate any odors.”
—David Orso, David Orso Group of Century 21 New Millennium 

“The kitchen is still one of the best renovations you can make before putting your home on the market. Whether you are have a big or small budget, the little things can make a huge difference. In the kitchen it can be as simple as changing the hardware, finishes, or paint color. If you have a larger budget you should consider upgrading the countertops, cabinets, or appliances.”
—Cynthia Wharton, Grace Ryan Real Estate


Home Finance/Lending


Are there any new laws/regulations in place this year that home buyers should be aware of when entering loan negotiations?

“There were extensive updates to mortgage loan disclosures (TRID) which endeavored to provide more transparency to the client and present loan information in a consumer friendly fashion. Clients are now required to receive closing disclosures at least three business days prior to settlement so they have a better understanding of the loan they will be receiving. Buyers should always remember to read their loan disclosures entirely to fully understand the loan program they are agreeing to.”
—Corey Galinsky, Vice President of Residential Mortgage Lending, Severn Savings Bank

“The new regulations regarding disclosures, closing cost estimates, and the required waiting periods for the borrower are very onerous and time consuming. For example, certain changes to the amount borrowed, Power of Attorney, additional borrower or guarantor can trigger new disclosures that could delay settlement of the loan.”
—Michael Cavey, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer with Shore United Bank

I want to purchase into a larger home for my family, but doing so is contingent on selling my current home—how do we bridge the money needed for the new purchase?

“Community Banks like Severn Savings Bank specialize in portfolio lending that can help in situations just like this. Bridge loans allow you to utilize the equity you have in your current property as collateral for your new home purchase. Our mortgage specialists are trained to understand that solutions are possible in both simple and complex financing situations.”
—Corey Galinsky, Vice President of Residential Mortgage Lending, Severn Savings Bank

Many banks offer bridge loans for this exact reason. A bridge loan is a short-term loan to allow time for the buyer to market and sell their current home before closing on a new property. The collateral for the bridge loan is based on the equity in the borrower’s current residence and the equity in the new residence while taking into account the final mortgage amount. At Shore United Bank (formerly The Talbot Bank and CNB), we offer competitive Bridge Loans and at the same time can preapprove the borrower for the final mortgage on their new home.”
—Michael Cavey, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer with Shore United Bank

How can a home buyer acquire the lowest financing rate possible?

“Rates are ultimately determined by the risk of the loan coupled with the current market. Banks and lenders assess your credit score, down payment, monthly income, monthly debt, as well as the purpose of your loan to ultimately arrive at your rate. Believe it or not, they are not all the same or one size fits all! The best way to get the lowest rate is to work with an advisor you trust and can provide you with multiple rate, term, and fee options for your specific goals.”
—Corey Galinsky, Vice President of Residential Mortgage Lending, Severn Savings Bank

“Borrowers can obtain the best rate possible by having good credit history, a sizable down payment, and consistent income. Borrowers may also want to consider an adjustable rate mortgage which can have an attractive initial rate compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage. Historically most mortgage loans are paid off or refinanced within five-and-a-half years due to a move or home refinance.”
—Michael Cavey, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer with Shore United Bank

What special considerations exist for home buyers purchasing a secondary residence?

“Most lenders will want to understand if you intend to use the home for your own personal vacation purposes or for rental/investment purposes. These occupancy changes can affect your interest rate, fees, and required down payment as the guidelines for investment properties are traditionally more strict than second homes.”
—Corey Galinsky, Vice President of Residential Mortgage Lending, Severn Savings Bank

“The loan requirements for a secondary residence are similar to a primary residence loan with one exception, the rate may be slightly higher.”
—Michael Cavey, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer with Shore United Bank

How much control do home buyers/sellers have in determining who handles settlement?

“The buyer and seller are allowed to choose the title company or attorney they wish to conduct the settlement. These organizations are required to pass any due diligence of our federal agencies, must be licensed within the region where they are conducting business, and must be in good standing with our industry associates. Clients are always encouraged to deal with experienced and trustworthy professionals who can protect their financial interests.”
—Corey Galinsky, Vice President of Residential Mortgage Lending, Severn Savings Bank

  “The borrower has the option to select a title company of their own choosing. If the borrower does not have a preference, the lender can provide a listing of service providers of local and reputable title companies. We do recommend the borrower talk with the title company before making a selection to be sure they are a professional and reliable firm who can handle their settlement timely and avoid any delays at the settlement table.”
—Michael Cavey, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer with Shore United Bank

What advice would you give home buyers/sellers to ensure the smoothest settlement possible?

“Provide complete and accurate information at the time of your loan application. Communicate effectively with your mortgage specialist to proactively address items such as the required documentation for your loan, updates in your employment, acquiring new debt, or changing your loan product. We are here to help make the process as easy and stress-free as possible, and effective communication is key. It should be a smooth sail, not a choppy ride.”
—Corey Galinsky, Vice President of Residential Mortgage Lending, Severn Savings Bank 

“Select reputable partners to help you, like your Realtor, banker, attorney/title company. Be organized and prepared with your financial information. Be responsive to additional requests for information from your lender. Be persistent with your follow up and understand that it takes time to comply with all of the rules and regulations of mortgage lending.”
—Michael Cavey, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer with Shore United Bank


Home Insurance


What are the biggest changes affecting home insurance that buyers should be aware of?

“Increased underwriting guidelines.”
—Matthew Hogans, The Hogans Agency, Inc.

What clauses should home owners pay particular attention to?

“Replacement cost language or the lack of this coverage. Flood coverage is not included in homeowners coverage.”
—Matthew Hogans, The Hogans Agency, Inc.

Are there any advantages or concerns in placing all your insurance (home, auto, life) with one carrier?

“It is best to place all of these lines of business with the same carrier to take advantage of various discounts.”
—Matthew Hogans, The Hogans Agency, Inc.

Are there particular inclusions you recommend to home buyers?

“Replacement cost coverage on the homeowners policy. Buy an umbrella policy. For the cost; this is the best value for any coverage.”
—Matthew Hogans, The Hogans Agency, Inc.


Interior Design/Staging/Décor


What are some general rules of thumb for home sellers preparing a property’s interior for sale?

“Clear the counter tops, remove the collections, remove most of the personal photographs. Remove heavy drapes, open shades…let natural light shine through. This is particularly important to do before the professional photographs are taken to showcase the property.”
—Elizabeth Foulds, Long & Foster Real Estate

“The home should be as pristine as possible. A professional cleaning service and professionally cleaned carpets, a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference. Know your competition. Ask your Realtor who you would be competing with and go see their homes.”
—Kathleen Enoch Coale, Long & Foster Real Estate

What color considerations (paint, décor, etc.) should a homeowner choose when preparing a property for sale?

A fresh coat of paint on the front door and mulching the beds around the house is important. Add a splash of color with potted plants.”
—Elizabeth Foulds, Long & Foster

“Neutral is best. Easy on the eyes. Think of how the model homes feature neutral colors, so everyone can see themselves living there.”
—Kathleen Enoch Coale, Long & Foster Real Estate


Architecture/Construction/Remodeling


What are the most sought-after home additions and/or remodels that homeowners make in today’s market?

“In today’s market we are seeing a pent up demand for whole house renovations. Most homeowners are now looking at staying put in their current homes while others are buying a distressed property and capitalizing on the low interest rates and lower home prices. We find almost all clients are looking at their home systems upgrades, and looking to add additional space. Others are finally renovating their home that they may have deferred doing during the recession.”
—Brad Lundberg, Lundberg Builders, Inc.

“Homeowners are seeking to remodel their kitchen and master bath. For additions, people seem to be moving towards more intimate spaces. Family rooms off the kitchen are big. They often think about shrinking the dining room, but rarely do in the end. People on the Eastern Shore want to embrace their outdoor spaces, so screen porches are making a strong comeback. Never worry about making it too large. Once furniture is in place, it will be perfect.”
—Bruce Harrington, Bruce Harrington Construction Co., Inc. 

If a home buyer intends to make renovations/additions to a property they want to purchase, what special considerations must they address prior to doing so?

“Depending on where the client lives or where the home is located, special considerations must be looked at with regard to the following: Lot coverage: how much usable space is available based on the amount of impervious space that is allowed; Critical area requirements: if in the critical area what are the setbacks, or will you need reforestation, is a rain water management plan needed; Sprinkler requirements: sprinkler requirements vary by jurisdiction and how they mandate it. This can be a very pricey item sometimes and the requirements need to be identified prior to contracting a fairly extensive remodel or addition; and energy codes: some jurisdictions will require you to update existing insulation or plumbing to meet their requirements, checking with the local planning and zoning office will help alleviate this unknown.”
—Brad Lundberg, Lundberg Builders, Inc.

“It is critical to look at the plats and understand exactly what the history of the property is. Previous additions may have been approved with conditions. It is important to have a clear understanding of what state and county will allow in the area. Often, even state regulations are interpreted differently from county to county, so having an informed specialist proactively ask ‘what about this?’ can save a lot of cost and heartache. When doing an addition one needs to understand the impact of natural lighting; a great view in a room that has too much direct sun can be uncomfortable at certain times of the day. Clients may want to consider awnings, or a pergola or exterior structure to provide shading. It might seem an expensive option, but it will greatly increase satisfaction in the end.”
—Bruce Harrington, Bruce Harrington Construction Co., Inc. 

What protections can homeowners take when contracting work on their property to ensure a fairly priced, timely, and quality project?

“I always recommend checking references and reviews. But, most importantly, you should work with someone you feel comfortable with during the estimate and design phase. If you feel the contractors are informative and timely with their responses, chances are that this knowledge and responsiveness will carry over to the construction phase.” 
—Brandon Stewart, Coastal Outdoor Spaces 

“Get a couple quotes from contractors that were referred to you, be prepared with your list of questions for the contractor, check references, review the details of the contract thoroughly, once the contract is signed avoid making changes if possible, and educate yourself on the products being used. Go with a contractor you are comfortable with; having good communication and clear details will help the project run more smoothly, and avoid extra costs, delays, and disappointment.”
—Bekki Skeans, Design Consultant, Friel Kitchen and Bath

“Research, transparency, and relationship are the key elements to a successful project. Research the contractor, find others that have used them and get feedback positive and negative so that you can decide on your candidate. Transparency is vital in a home improvement project, understanding what you are paying for and receiving will help guarantee a fairly priced, timely, and quality project. Finally, chose a contractor you feel you can build a solid relationship with, a strong chain of communication, and trust throughout the project.”
—Brad Lundberg, Lundberg Builders, Inc.


Kitchen & Bath


What appliance trends/amenities are homeowners currently seeking with regards to functionality and ease of use?

“Refrigeration: well-lit LED interior lights; temperature zones for optimal food storage; and filtered air exchange. Cooking: speed cook/convection ovens are replacing the microwave; new advances in induction ranges/cooktops will start to increase popularity; simmer control; externally vented exhaust hoods with high cfm’s; and microwave hoods and recirculating hoods are phasing out.”
—Brad Lundberg, Lundberg Builders, Inc.

“Some have moved away from the professional six burner stoves realizing they may prefer more counter space. Trend seems to be toward wooden flooring which makes the kitchen warmer. Pantries remain a popular option. People desire a lot of storage.”
—Bruce Harrington, Bruce Harrington Construction Co., Inc. 

What aesthetic trends and materials dominate the market?

“Various shades of painted cabinets and man-made quartz or natural stone countertops.”
—Bekki Skeans, Design Consultant, Friel Kitchen and Bath

“Industrial/contemporary appliances with larger style handles and commercial level functions; stainless steel and slate grey are the dominating finish; built-in counter depth refrigerators.”
—Brad Lundberg, Lundberg Builders, Inc.

When upgrading kitchen and bath appliances, what special considerations with regards to a home’s infrastructure should homeowners be aware of?

“Be aware of appliance sizes and the overall size of the kitchen space. Appliances that are above standard widths should be proportioned with the overall kitchen size. Pay close attention to appliance clearances and walk around space. Range/cooktop ventilation often times can be re-worked to vent to the exterior, but costs and location need to be considered. Exterior venting hoods may require make-up air depending on cfm limitations. Refrigerators that are counter depth will have less interior cubic inches than a standard depth. May consider selecting a wider appliance to make up for lost interior storage. Considering gas or electric.”
—Brad Lundberg, Lundberg Builders, Inc.

“Be aware of range hood venting! Stove size drives hood size. Hood size drives duct size. A large stove may necessitate 10” ductwork and there just might not be space available to run it.”
—Bruce Harrington, Bruce Harrington Construction Co., Inc. 


Landscaping/Hardscaping/Outdoor


What landscaping projects are best for “curb appeal” when selling a home?

“There are so many options for curb appeal depending on the budget. Obviously the front door, foundation plantings, and front walk area are usually the most admired. So I would recommend a Mortared natural stone walkway, accent columns or pillars with a newly lighted portico, or porch. Always consider low-maintenance accent plantings. All projects are high dollar items so create a plan with a professional and do a project in phases if not all at once. You will be the envy of the neighborhood.”
—Brandon Stewart, Coastal Outdoor Spaces 

“An overgrown yard detracts from a home. Prune plants, mow the lawn, sweep the steps and walkway. A few containers with plants can give your home a complete look. Try to bring the focus to the front door, either with a new walkway or new plantings in scale with the size of the home and front yard. A curving walkway can sometimes offer a more friendly approach to the front of your home, and a new planting can help tie your home into the landscape and soften all of the hard surfaces the house, walkway, driveway and street offer.”
—Meredith Cole, Landscape Designer, Homestead Gardens

“Many folks like to create an outdoor living space for relaxing, dining, and having fun with the family. Well maintained decks, porches, and patios are a good selling point. Also, a nice entryway and front door offers that great first impression!”
—Christine Fichtner, Fichtner Services Central, Inc.

“The best projects for curb appeal or wow factor really depend on the situation. It can range from a simple landscape plan with an inviting entry to adding a new front porch or portico. Defining a front yard space by adding a complementary picket fence or flanking the house with a decorative privacy fence can also add tremendous curb appeal in addition to the landscaping and entry way.”
—Sarah Ditto, Fence & Deck Connection

“When selling a home ‘curb appeal’ literally means getting a prospective buyer in the door by having a well-kept, appealing front entrance, such as an easily accessible driveway leading up to a charming front walkway made of flagstone, with well-manicured plantings that offer interest. Pots filled with overflowing flowering plants on the front porch. To take it one step further, having an inviting outdoor living space in the backyard with amenities such as an outdoor kitchen, pool, and patio area to gather.”
—Susan Canter, McHale Landscape Design

What lighting projects are best for “curb appeal” or “wow factor”?

“Landscape lighting brings your home and property to life at night, providing both curb appeal as well as safety and security. Illuminating the façade of your home with some soft up-lighting provides a dramatic affect and immediate curb appeal. Lighting surrounding landscape features such as up-lighting of trees or down-lighting onto beds will provide further dimension and character to your outdoor space at night.”
—Dianne Flury, Atlantic Lighting & Irrigation

What materials are most popularly used right now in projects?

“The most popular material used in my projects are the maintenance-free material that mimics Mother Nature’s beauty. The natural grains in wood, variegated colors, beveled stones, and more that makes your new home improvement project pop with beauty and has many years of enjoyment.”
—Brandon Stewart, Coastal Outdoor Spaces 

“Natural stone never ages and is timeless, and can blend in with various existing materials a property may have.”
—Meredith Cole, Landscape Designer, Homestead Gardens

“The use of LED lighting fixtures has become the popular and preferred standard in our lighting systems. The benefits of an LED system are lower energy usage and cost savings, longer lasting fixtures, and a high quality light output that does not dim over time. For the customer who wants additional tech features, the most recent innovations in LED systems are fixtures that have zoning, dimming, and color changing ability as well as WIFI capable transformers that can be controlled with a smartphone app.”
—Dianne Flury, Atlantic Lighting & Irrigation

“Many homeowners in our area are looking for materials that are low-maintenance, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly. We get a lot of requests for GAF lifetime warranty shingles, metal roofing, James Hardie fiber cement siding, and Marvin windows.”
—Christine Fichtner, Fichtner Services Central, Inc.

“We are definitely seeing a trend in customers moving to low maintenance materials for both fencing and decking. As prices become more competitive with these materials, the return on investment time frame is becoming less and less.”
—Sarah Ditto, Fence & Deck Connection

“Travertine has become very popular for patios and pool decks. Flagstone is a perennial favorite for its classic look.”
—Susan Canter, McHale Landscape Design

We hear the terms “Eco-scaping” or “Bay-scaping” often; what does this mean and can my (any) property incorporate it?

“Bay-scaping is all about conservation landscaping, and means promoting an environmentally friendly landscape that can help to preserve and protect the waterways and local environment that surround our region. Bay-scapes utilize native plants which can help to provide a habitat for local species and reduce the need for chemical applications of pesticides and herbicides. They also have adapted to local conditions which means they require less watering. A native planting also helps to reduce erosion and storm water runoff, which will ultimately help to improve water quality. You can also incorporate practices of Bay-scaping by using rain barrels on your gutters to catch rainwater which can be used to water your garden, placing a birdbath or fountain in your garden to provide a water source for birds, bees, and butterflies, and planting a rain garden to capture rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces.”
—Meredith Cole, Landscape Designer, Homestead Gardens

“Bay-scaping in our industry would include using building materials that are earth-friendly and natural, and incorporating or blending structures such as decks and porches into the environment. With so many homes on the water in our area, it is especially important to install durable materials that can withstand that environment.”
—Christine Fichtner, Fichtner Services Central, Inc.

“Eco- scaping and Bay-scaping means using plants that are native and use less water and no fertilizer. It also refers to reducing storm water runoff from your property by using rain barrels, rain gardens, and bio swales or depressions that catch or slow down storm water and allow it to infiltrate into the ground.”
—Susan Canter, McHale Landscape Design


Pool & Spa Design/Service


How has the pool installation industry changed in the past 20 years with regards to materials and methods?

“The methods are pretty much the same however there are a lot more choices in coping, tile, and plaster. We also have salt systems, remotes, etc. that were in their infancy 20 years ago but are now working much better.”
—Kip Seyfferth, Catalina Pool Builders

What is the typical length of time for a project, from concept to completion?

“Typically from the time a customer decides to build a pool it takes about one to two weeks to secure permitting. Most projects are completed five to six weeks after excavation is done. The exception to that is an extensive project or bad weather.”
—Kip Seyfferth, Catalina Pool Builders

When is the best time of the year to begin a pool installation?

“I have always said that the best time to build a pool is always today! The reason is that the sooner you start the sooner you will swim. We build pools all year round. Some of the phases we cannot do in very cold conditions but a lot of the phases we can. We usually build about 30 to 40 pools over the fall and winter to get 50% to 90% of the project done. That way you usually only have a week or two to finish and the customer will have the pool for the entire season. If you start a pool in the spring it could take eight weeks or more due to the fact that everyone is busier and you have to deal with a lot more rain which can delay the process for a few more days for every day that it rains to wait until it dries out to continue the project.”
—Kip Seyfferth, Catalina Pool Builders

 


Thinking Plus-55 Community?


There’s a real estate business model that may be right for you.

If you’re considering the pros of moving into a Plus-55 or retirement community, there may be an “amenity” available that you hadn’t even considered. The opportunity to buy/sell your property directly with community management versus individual buyers and sellers. Wherein you purchase your property from the community entity, then sell back the property directly to them as well; thus eliminating the lengthy process of putting a property on the market. The community, in turn, then sells directly to a new owner.